Monday, May 19, 2008

Laughing Fit

Kai couldn't stop laughing tonight while I was getting him ready for bed. I coughed, he laughed. I smiled, he laughed. I looked at him, he laughed. I actually had to calm him down a couple of times, because his laughter was threatening to turn into tears. He cracks me up. In other news, he went beyond his necklace fixation today when he discovered my earrings. I won't be wearing those around him for a while.

Here's a somewhat grainy, very short snippet from his laughing fit. I love this kid so much.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tummy Time!

Kai is generally a big fan of tummy time. No wonder, since all of his new tricks can be done from that starting point!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

For Tired Parents

and anyone else who is sleep-deprived! A game published by the BBC to test the impact of your sleep deprivation on your reaction times. I am apparently hovering between a sluggish snail and an ambling armadillo!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Another New Trick!

Today was Kai's 4-month well visit. He's just about doubled in size at 16 pounds! He's in the 75th percentile for height (almost 26"), weight, and head circumference. Which means not very much at all, but it's reportable data, so that's fun.

I thought that with his shot this afternoon, he wouldn't be up for much other than nursing and sleep when we got home. He was distressed, to be sure, but after a nap, I moved Kai to the middle of our bed, where he rested on his back while I got ready to nurse him. Except then, in a sudden turn of events, he decided to roll over from his back to his tummy, shocking both me and himself! And then he did it again a few moments later.

Between that and his new slow-mo breakdancing move (scootching himself around 180 degrees while on his tummy), I think we're facing impending mobility. And must now begin babyproofing. Tom and Marissa were right. We should have done that while I was still pregnant!!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sweetest Thing Ever

After posting (lengthily) about sleep last night, I had a very sweet night of sleep next to Kai. Not sure how many times he woke up (there were a couple of diaper changes that both of us slept through), but with the exception of twice when he made it clear he was hungry, he fell back asleep by holding my hand whenever he woke.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

4 Months Later...

Bob reminded me this morning that it has been a while since I last posted. I do have a few thoughts that I've been mulling over of late.

First, though, I can hardly believe that just four months ago at this time, I was entering into the active stage of my labor, getting ready to meet Kai for the first time. It is true what they say. I have a hard time fathoming that he has not always been right here with us, part of our day-to-day lives. And at the same time, the rapidity with which he keeps growing, developing, and changing shocks me. I want to freeze time so that it will stop moving so (too) quickly.

My thoughts at the time of Kai's four-month "birthday" (I warn you, this has turned into a long post):

Kai is the best meditation teacher I have ever had
After years of struggling with monkey mind during meditation, Kai has me existing far more in the present moment than I ever have before. When he's hungry I feed him. When he yawns I begin helping him to sleep. When he shudders, or looks at me a certain way, I know he has a wet diaper, and I change it. Peaceful existence requires paying keen attention to what Kai is doing right now, and for the most part, I'm able to stay right there with him. When I don't, well, that tends to be when both of us get frustrated. I've also struggled in meditation with the concepts of "doing it right" and obsessing with what others think. More on "doing it right" in a moment, but as far as what others think....Now when I encounter new people or new environments, somehow the knowledge that I was able to create this life out of love, that my body gave birth powerfully, and that it continues to nourish and sustain Kai...well, somehow that knowledge trumps everything else.

Parenting, Breastfeeding, Sleep...
I've been thinking a lot about how important it is to be at peace with whatever parenting style one chooses, while also maintaining an open mind and some flexibility. After much reading, Bob and I felt drawn to what is known as the attachment style of parenting while I was pregnant. Once Kai was born, all of our instincts confirmed that this was the right choice for our family. Basically, this means that I breastfeed on demand (and Bob bottlefeeds expressed milk on demand) as opposed to on a schedule, we spend a lot of time wearing and holding Kai, we co-sleep (sometimes Kai sleeps in a co-sleeper bassinette attached to our bed, but lately, he's sleeping better in bed with us - we take the required precautions to ensure his safety). And most importantly, we really work to tune into him and respond to his needs.

Most of the time, I feel really secure in our choices. We've done a lot of reading and research, and have been most persuaded by the evidence that supports what we're doing. And our instincts tell us it feels right. But there's so MUCH out there about parenting, about how to make sure you don't "ruin" your child. Sometimes it reminds me of wedding porn, which, if read in large enough quantities by even the most level-headed of brides-to-be, can easily persuade folks that if two people really love each other, the proof will be spending at least $20k on a wedding. When it comes to parenting literature, it's easy to let self-doubt creep in.

And in the US, the biggest money maker of parenting literature and advice concerns sleep. If you are a relatively recent parent, then you know about the maniacal obsession that exists with infant sleep in this country. There are so many schools of thought, and so many "programs" or "strategies" to train children to sleep "correctly." And so many definitions of correct.

I've done lots and lots of reading about sleep, and paid attention to our experience with Kai, as well as to the experiences of parents we know in real life and literally hundreds of other parents on the bulletin boards at (my favorite support network). I've ordered a book from Australia that I couldn't buy here and I've obsessed with the best of them, not because I generally have a problem with the way Kai sleeps, but because I want to do what's best for him.

Here's the conclusion I've come to: sleep development is not linear, and is not entirely in the control of parents. The best strategy for a parent/baby couple is whatever strategy works. If that's the swing, that's the swing. If the crib, then the crib. If it's holding your little one, well, then, hold your little one. There seem to be some babies who are outliers, who either sleep really, really well from the get-go with rare deviations from that pattern or who persistently wake up once an hour all night and catnap through the day, seemingly regardless of the various strategies employed by their parents. Most babies, though, whether their parents sleep train them or not, seem to go through phases of sleeping better and worse, and, eventually by the time they are a few years old, can fall asleep well on their own.

So I have decided to completely disregard the school of thought that says my child must fall asleep a certain way, otherwise his "sleep associations" will be "bad" ones. Somehow he manages to fall asleep sometimes by himself (not most of the time, but every so often), sometimes by nursing to sleep, sometimes with a pacifier, sometimes while one of us wears him, sometimes by having me rock him and sing to him. Sometimes in the car, sometimes in large groups of people, sometimes in a dark, quiet room with white noise playing.

Lest you think he's one of those "easy babies" for whom sleep comes easily, let me correct you at this point. This kid can resist sleep with the best of them. It's just that I've concluded that there is nothing wrong with helping my baby to sleep. With the exception of the past week or two, during which he's had a cold and been teething, he generally was waking twice nightly to nurse. With co-sleeping and nursing side-lying, I never even really woke up. He's still very young, and breastmilk digests super fast, so I assume he's hungry when he wakes. I know some little ones can go longer stretches without eating, and heck, maybe he could, too, but my instincts tell me he's truly hungry.

Some nights lately, he's woken up multiple times each hour between midnight and 5am. That's harder. Much harder. Much, much harder. I decided to take a wait and see approach and it's already getting better (last night we went back to two wake-ups, but I fully expect that tonight could be another long night). But you know what? Like I said before, he's teething and just got over a cold. He's also at a classic age for sleep "regression" - there's SOOO much going on for babies his age developmentally and all the changes they experience in their sight, hearing, touch, and cognition get processed during those sleeping hours. They "rehearse" new developmental moves like the motions involved in rolling over or sitting up or walking. Given what goes on around four months, it really is no wonder to me that he's somewhat restless. When he wakes up normally, I nurse him back to sleep. Even if it's just for comfort, I'm okay with that. Because of the combination of his reflux and my continued oversupply, though, I have to be careful not to overfeed him. So given the way he's been waking at night lately, I nurse if it's been two hours or more since he last ate, and I rock him back to sleep if it's been less than that.

As far as naps go (another obsession of us new parents), mostly if we wear him or hold him, he'll sleep for up to two or even three hours at a time. Every once in a while, I can put him down after he's asleep and he stays that way. Mostly, though, if he's not held he sleeps for 20-45 minutes whereas if he's held he'll sleep for up to three hours. We're blessed that Bob stays home full-time so we can support this styles of napping. On weekends I take almost all the naps, and as long as I don't resist the pattern (consistent with what the experts say about sleep patterns, Kai has minor awakenings after 5, 10, and 20 minutes - sometimes he needs help returning immediately to sleep, sometimes he does it on his own), I find that I can sit and read the NY Times on my iPhone, or sit and meditate while I hold him, or, if he's being extra cooperative, I can lie down holding him and take a nap myself.

As a working mom, I actually particularly appreciate the time at night when I nurse Kai, and the hours I spend holding him for his naps. At the advice of a yoga teacher, I try to focus on the feeling of his little body in my arms, memorizing it for the day he's too cool for hugs or the day after he leaves for college, when I will remember this time not for the sleep deprivation, but for the sheer joy and love and privilege of parenting an infant, a little creature who exists still with no malice or ill-will, who is whole and perfect, and whose needs I happen to be perfectly created to meet.

I write all of this not so much to say that what I am doing is right or wrong, but more to say that what has become important to me is trusting my instincts. I do my homework, and I pay a lot of attention to the cues that Kai gives me. I'm happiest when I accept him and his sleep (and everything about him) exactly as it is, and meet his needs based on that acceptance.

There's little else to say than that word. I love Kai more abundantly than I ever knew it was possible to love.

I have also become, for the first time in my life, utterly obsessed with babies. When I find out someone is pregnant, I go nutty. I diligently check other people's baby blogs for the latest on their wee ones (my favorites are those that my friends Karen, Kris, and Rebecca keep for their progeny).

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Daddy Diaries: The Many Moods of Kai

Here are some pics from the last few weeks that highlight Kai's ever-changing moods.....

I let him try out sitting in the big person chair this day. I'll call this one bored. Or possibly confused:

Taking a bath with mommy. Definitely concerned or frightened. Demon eyes are a bonus:

This one I'll call dignified (but it's probably a repeat of confused):

Seriously distressed (I blame the hat):

Finally, my favorite. Super-duper happy:

I have much video to share, but I haven't figured out how to sufficiently compress the video so that it's small enough to post. I'll have to consult with Lauren and one of us will post it soon.