Thursday, May 29, 2014

12 Weeks

After the early successes with Audra sleeping swaddled last weekend, this past weekend she decided she actually did not like being swaddled, at least for naps. I did not give up too easily since it does seem to help her sleep (once she is asleep), but since she squawked and flailed and fought every nap, I tried leaving one of her arms out instead. She did well with that though, so I guess it wasn't the end of the world - I also just didn't want to lose my newfound freedom so quickly of being able to leave her for naps :)

Audra seemed to be having more gas issues overnight this week, so she would start kicking more around 11:30pm. Sometimes I was able to get her to resettle by putting my hand on her (or under her, in one sleep-befuddled instance), but other times she fully woke and was none too pleased about it - and me neither, since the earlier she wakes the first time, the more disrupted my night becomes since she will then wake every couple of hours after that for the rest of the night. And there were also a couple of nights (in a row, which made it all the better) where I didn't get to sleep more than 1.5 hours at a time the entire night. I'm still able to function surprisingly well after all that (ignoring my forgetfulness and the fact that I'm messing up homonyms now, which is driving me crazy), but the first few minutes after I realize I have to get up for the day after a rough night are the most difficult. But then Audra throws in a night like last night, where she slept from 6pm until her first wakeup at 3:15am, and things suddenly seem awesome again :)

Josie once referred to Audra (or maybe just her smile, it's not entirely clear) as "Big Happy", and that seems to be an apt descriptor for her :) She is as happy as can be in the mornings, and is just beautiful with her smiles and cooing... if only she would let me catch her at it with the camera! She gets so distracted by having a camera in her face that I haven't been too successful with capturing just how happy this little baby is. Well, except for in the car and when she's overtired - she's definitely not happy then. And after several weeks since the last time I heard her laugh, she chuckled again in her sleep this week - I'm still hopeful that she'll start laughing soon while she's awake too :)

Audra went back to the doctor on Friday to get the rest of her 2-month shots, which she seemed to handle pretty well. She didn't wake up screaming from her next nap, as she did with the first set of shots, although since the roughest nights of sleep were those right after her shots, maybe her sleep was still affected a bit. She's now up to 16lbs 8oz, and at this rate, it looks like she'll be out of 6-month clothes within the next few weeks. I've been able to keep up with her just fine too, which is nice not to have that stress. Since I struggled a bit with pumping enough for Josie at first, I purposefully tried to keep my supply greater than what Audra needs, at least until she settles into daycare more and is eating a consistent amount each day. She has been eating about 16oz a day at daycare (sometimes more, rarely less), so I've been able to keep up by pumping every 2 hours at work (so 4 times total), freezing about 4oz a day, and not having to pump before bed or overnight - yay!  If she continues eating about this much (and I continue pumping more than she needs), then maybe in another month or so I'll feel comfortable enough to drop a session during the day.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Mesmerized by the ceiling fan]
[First time in the Bumbo - she was thrilled]
[About done with the camera blocking her view of Mommy]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

11 Weeks

One full week of daycare down, and Audra is doing much better with it now :) While she's still not doing too well with sleeping there yet (just little cat naps throughout the day, and maybe an hour nap when it's naptime for the bigger kids), she is very happy throughout the day... as long as she's not left alone. She apparently cries if she's not being held or isn't in the main room with the rest of the kids, but that just makes sense to me. Why would a defenseless little baby be content being left alone? Maybe some are and my perception is just skewed since Josie was pretty high-touch too, but I'm fine with it. I'm sure as she gets bigger and more mobile that she will be more content on her own anyway.

Although Audra is only getting maybe a couple of hours of sleep at daycare now (down from the 5-6 hours she was getting before), she is now getting 2-3 hours more at night, so I'm hoping it's balancing out for her. I was able to bump her bedtime up, so she's now usually taking a short nap on me when she first gets home and I'm eating dinner, then I'll wake her up when I'm done, get her ready for bed, then nurse her down again. She's normally asleep by 7:30pm now, but the even bigger change is that she is swaddled and sleeping in her crib for the first stretch of the night :)
Screenshot 2014-05-17 at 9.38.20 PM

What a difference a couple of months makes for a newborn! The last time we tried swaddling her and putting her in her crib was when she was first born, and she kicked and flailed every 15 minutes and then woke after a couple of hours. Now she's been sleeping pretty solidly from 7:30pm until about 1:30am, although it does kind of fall apart after that. She wakes up mad/hungry now that I'm no longer catching her before she fully wakes up, so I'll nurse her and leave her in bed with us the rest of the night. The last couple of nights were good in that she just woke up once more around 5am, but she tends to be so restless after the first feeding that there were several nights when she was awake again every 1-2 hours for the rest of the night.

So there are some tradeoffs to her earlier bedtime and sleeping in the crib - I'm excited to have maybe 20 minutes with just Josie now before she goes off to bed too, and then I even have an hour or so to myself after that... usually spent cleaning and preparing for the next day, but once Ryan and I actually sat down to watch TV together for the first time since Audra was born :) The downside is that I'm actually getting less sleep though, since I'm going to bed a little bit later now and she's waking up more frequently than she was when we were exclusively bedsharing.

Audra just seems like a different baby now, although I'm not sure if it was all her own development or because of daycare. But she is just so much happier when she's awake now, and for much longer stretches. I did eat some foods this weekend that she seems to be sensitive to (broccoli and butter, most likely), since her face broke out again and she was much more gassy. The gassiness didn't seem to bother her as much as it had been though, which is a good thing, although of course I'm going to try to be more diligent about diet. Her crying has also changed some, and she sounds much more melodious now... which is much preferred to her normal top volume, stress-inducing cry, which she still does every day on the drive home :( She's also squealing some, and having adorable little conversations with us.
But overall, the transition to daycare/back to work seems to be going pretty well. We're still getting used to our new routine, and will hopefully find some more efficiencies so we can get more time back. Mainly probably buying more pump/bottle stuff so we don't have to wash those every day, and once I start working from home again, that will help with keeping the house clean (since I clean during what would have been my commute time) and the food prep (since I pack the following days' meals when I make up my breakfast and lunch that day). We've found little things like that - and prepping as much as we can the night before - are really helpful in getting everything done that we need to.

Daycare has also given me a much welcomed shift in perspective, since it's helped me realize (again) that it isn't as important as I've built it up in my head for Audra to get these huge chunks of sleep during the day. She's very tired when we pick her up in the evenings, but since she's sleeping well overnight and happy during the day, I'm trying to let go of my worries about her some and just enjoy spending time with her, even if she's awake when I think she should be asleep :) I'm just appreciating my time with her more, as it's so concentrated now... and although I'm only seeing her awake for maybe 1-1.5 hours a day during the week right now, I know I just need to be patient and eventually we'll get more awake time with her in the evenings too.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[She does love the stars on her swing]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

10 Weeks

The big item for this week is that Audra has now started daycare, and Ryan and I are back to work. Audra had a half-day on Monday, which didn't go too well. I had told her daycare provider that I would pick her up around noon, but we could go longer if she was doing well... and I got the call at 11:45am asking me to come get her early :( She wasn't crying too hard, but still enough that we didn't want to make her go longer if it wasn't necessary, so I picked her up and she was awake for maybe 15 minutes before she conked out on me for the rest of the afternoon. She did much better on Tuesday though, still crying some in the morning and only sleeping a half hour at a time, but she was apparently soothed by a pacifier and being swaddled, and she had lots of smiles and kicking for me when I picked her up :)
[All ready for her first day at daycare]

Audra had fought her first bottle at daycare but did better with the rest, once they figured out how she preferred to be fed (apparently the bouncy seat was preferable to being held). However, she was also very fussy, especially after eating, so I suspect she may be sensitive to something I'm eating and/or having some silent reflux issues. I had cut out dairy as soon as she was born, but will be trying to cut out the other common culprits (wheat, soy, peanuts, corn, eggs) as well as what Josie reacted to (strawberries, broccoli) to see if that helps, especially since I just started eating strawberries, which may have coincided with when she started getting fussy.

Oh, and how she has been fussy. The end of last week was actually really rough, as she had troubles napping (waking up as soon as she fell asleep and then crying), was still upset during and after nursing, and then had a few evenings of screaming to the point that her voice got hoarse again :( She's also still congested, so probably just doesn't feel that great to begin with, but we just tried to get her through it with comforting her as much as we could and wearing her for her naps, if that's what it took. She's doing much better now though - still some fussiness in the evenings, but no longer inconsolably crying at least.

I also wonder if her bedtime isn't quite right for her. We've basically been trying to keep her asleep/calm the last few hours of the day anyway, so now that she's waking up earlier for daycare and getting less sleep during the day, I'm going to try tinkering with her bedtime to see if an earlier one would work for her instead. She had been going to sleep around 9:30-10pm, and I tried putting her down an hour earlier last night (with only partial success), so we'll see where we end up in the next couple of weeks.

As for me, returning to work ended up being harder than expected. Since I was already working a few hours a week, I thought it would be a fairly easy transition since I was ready to jump back in with both feet once I started back full-time, and I've done the whole daycare thing before. If only it were that easy! Instead, I spent a good part of the time apart from Audra on Monday crying and moping since I missed her so much, and Tuesday I spent most of the day worried about her, given how Monday was a bit of a rough start for her at daycare. It's also been harder to be at work than I was expecting - obviously being able to have a cup of tea or meal or bathroom break whenever I want is nice, but I've just been a bit emotional about seemingly innocuous things: emails from before I went out on leave wishing me luck, the old familiarity of my "home away from home" (i.e., the mother's room). I know it will get easier and I just have to hang in there for now, but I also wonder if it's hitting me harder too since while it's a bit overwhelming to think how many months of disruption are ahead of me (re: pumping every two hours), it's also tinged with sentimentality since this is an inconvenience I'm happily undertaking for my last baby.

Ryan and I also had our various projects for while we were on leave, since there's something about having a baby that makes us reassess the stuff we have and what we want out of life ;) Oddly enough, after prepping the cloth diapers and gearing up to start using those for Audra, Ryan and I both decided we were ambivalent enough about them that we shouldn't bother incurring the extra laundry. So instead I've been working on selling those. Beyond that, my major "project" was just taking care of Audra, and apparently not doing anything that I planned to do, like reading a ton of books, catching up on TV shows, and doing a few Coursera classes. I guess that was a perk of staying in bed for the overnight feedings, since I was sleeping rather than doing all that stuff instead ;) And after talking about it for a couple of years, we finally got annoyed enough with our bank for Ryan to pull the trigger on switching over to a new bank (which ended up being a bigger deal in actuality than it may seem here). Besides that, Ryan has been working on a bunch of stuff for the house, but I'll save that for a separate house update post :)

This past weekend was also my first Mother's Day since completing our family :) We went out to eat with my mom and Ryan's family, and Audra slept through most of it while in the carrier. It was a fun day, and there was even a point later that afternoon when the four of us were piled in our bed, with half of the family crying (hint: it wasn't me or Ryan), and I was simultaneously exasperated by the crying and the messiness of this time in our lives, and yet still so grateful and happy to have the opportunity to mother these two little ones.
[Dressed up for Mother's Day]
[With my mom/her Nana :)]
[The whole gang for Mother's Day brunch]

Miscellaneous cuteness:
IMG_1428 IMG_1426    IMG_1514
[With the blanket my mom made her and the outfit my aunt made her :)]
IMG_1515 IMG_1478
[Wearing Ryan's Easter outfit from 37 years ago ;)]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Last month we decided it was finally time to go (mostly) all-in on the potty training. Josie had been having "potty time" for probably about six months now, when she would get to run around pants-less in the pool room (which isn't carpeted) while Ryan shot some pool, and while she got fairly reliable about using the potty then, we never really progressed beyond that. After a few nudges from her school (perhaps everyone in her class was sent home with a potty training letter, but maybe not...), we decided we'd take advantage of her having a three-day weekend for spring break to ditch the diapers and see what happened. What happened is not what I was expecting - instead of lots of accidents ("learning opportunities", as I was calling them in my head), she just held it instead. So not many accidents, but also not a great solution either. Nevertheless, we sent her to school that Monday with half her wardrobe in her backpack, and received it back throughout the week ;) But after a couple of weeks of accidents, she seems to be getting it now. She's still in diapers for naps and overnight for the time being, but the accidents have decreased and she's doing quite well... and was recommended to move up to the next class at school now too :)

Josie was quite funny last month. One of her teachers mentioned that Josie is her shadow, following her around all day, holding her hand, and trying to help her. Josie then refused to say good-bye to her, and grumped that "I not a shadow, I'm Josie!" Josie's favorite place also appears to be the grocery store, as she asks nearly every day if we can go to the grocery store after school. Once when I actually told her yes, she flung her arms around me and said a fervent, heartfelt, "Thank you, Mommy!" One of her longest spoken thoughts so far was when she explained to me, "I no like hot sauce, it's too spicy. I like blueberries, grapes, maybe?"

To her delight, Josie came down with another cold, so she announced several times a day that "I'm sick! I am sick!", since when she's sick I give her elderberry syrup :) She also likes to ring the doorbell when we're coming in from outside, and then allows only one person to enter the house at a time so she can properly greet them - or so she can greet whoever is already in the house, as when she went inside and said "Hello, Roomba!" ;) She is recounting her experiences more too, and actually told me about what she did at school rather than just answering yes or no when I questioned her. She also told me that "Daddy talked and talked and talked to a man" at Goodwill, which was one of the first times she called him out on something- I have a feeling it won't be the last, though ;)
[Didn't realize I was recording at first, but thought this was still funny snippet of a typical conversation with Josie] 

She has been exploding with imaginative play lately - she actually started played with her cars (giving them drivers and destinations), and was going on and on about going to the doctor. She started pretending to pour tea and eat oranges a few weeks back, but now is telling us that there (invisible) cats, blobs of food that look like animals, and that her spoon is cat. She still loves mirrors, and I've caught her more than once explaining things to herself in the mirror.
Josie still seems to be doing well with Audra. She seems to have an unerring ability to know just when Audra has fallen asleep though, so she can suddenly appear to wake her - once by announcing it's awake time because it's light out, another time by stopping directly in front of Audra's swing to (loudly) ask where her phone was. She'll also serve as a liaison since once I'm set up to nurse Audra, she'll find Ryan to tell him I'm ready and will yell at him to give me the baby :) She'll say hi to Audra when they're both in the car now, and will pet her head, stroke her face, and seem genuinely delighted when Audra smiles at her. We learned fairly quickly not to leave them alone together (as I came back to Josie getting ready to cut Audra's fingernails), but I'm trying to at least give Josie the semblance of some privacy with her, since she seems to not want acknowledgement all the time and has asked me not to look at her sometimes. So I watched her in the mirror the other day, and was touched to see her climb onto the bed where Audra was, get all up in her face with an expectant smile, and then wait for Audra to smile back :)

We hosted the Easter festivities at our house again this year, which is just getting more fun as Josie gets older. She ate a decent amount for dinner, seeing as how it was served during her snack time, and seemed incredulous about the tiny amount of pie I gave her for dessert, then earnestly asked everyone else if they wanted pie. She did well with the egg hunt, and then had a dance party in the living room after dinner. She especially loves playing with her cousins, and it's been so cool to see them interacting and how much fun they have together :)
Given my preoccupation with Audra's sleep lately, I thought I'd give an update on Josie's sleep too. She doesn't always nap at school, but is still napping a solid 2-3 hours on the weekends (usually 12:30-3ish), although we'll wake her if it gets to be 4pm so it doesn't interfere with snacktime or her overnight sleep. We still help her get to sleep for naptime - we had been cuddling with her in her chair for about 10-15 minutes until she fell asleep and then moving her to her bed, but given that she is pretty big at this point and moving her is not a very graceful endeavor anymore (i.e., I've almost dropped her as an errant leg got caught up on her bed rail), we just started laying with her in bed until she falls asleep instead.

For bedtime, we start getting her ready by 8:30pm (dimmed light, baby massage, pajamas), and then she climbs into bed and we'll usually lay with her for a few minutes for some end-of-the-day cuddles, although we've also just tucked her in, given her a kiss, and left her a few times, and the end result is the same. She's then on her own, sometimes falling asleep quickly but usually gets some energy out first (singing, clapping, appearing to do a cheer routine) before she falls asleep, almost always by 9:15pm. All sleep at home is done in her bed now and alone (except for the few minutes of cuddling at the beginning and the rare occasion that we stay with her if she's sick), sleeping until we wake her at 6:40am on weekdays, and usually waking just after 7am on the weekends. She does occasionally wake at night still, but only rarely needs help getting back to sleep now. Given the situation with Audra's sleep, Josie's sleep is encouraging to me now, since we're fine with the path we took to get there (including bedsharing/cosleeping with her until she was over a year old), and we're very happy with her current sleep situation. Audra's sleep may be better or worse by time she reaches this age, but it at least reminds me and helps motivate me to be patient and supportive as we navigate through these early months of baby sleep :)
Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Josie and her "work computer"]
[So much stuff needed to leave the house...]
[Planting "her" peach tree with Aunt Alyson on Earth Day]
   IMG_1277  IMG_1386
[No idea why Ryan is under the coffee table, but it sure is funny!]
[The kid likes to dance}

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Since I wrote about our routines for Josie (here and here), I thought I'd record our current routine for posterity too, before it all changes with us returning to work next week :)

Our days normally start around 6:45am, when Ryan goes to wake Josie up to get her ready for school. I stay in with Audra until about 7:15am, when I attempt to sneak out of bed without waking Audra (almost never successfully) to get dressed, eat breakfast, and help see Josie off to school. If I don't take Josie myself, then I'll play with Audra for a bit until usually just before Ryan gets back.
She nurses the first time around 8-8:30am, and since I've given up on napping with her, I normally feed her on the couch since I'm more comfortable there for long periods of time. Audra will usually nap on me for 2-3 hours while I catch up on my internet browsing, TV watching, and book reading, unless I decide to try moving her to a swing for her nap instead.
Ryan is in charge of the cooking while we're on leave, so he'll get some fabulous lunch together and I'll either eat on the couch (if Audra is still sleeping), or we'll eat lunch together with Audra in her bouncy seat. After lunch is usually more nursing/sleeping, obviously with playing mixed in there too :) Playing at this stage usually involves laying her on my lap and singing her songs (she particularly liked one that was comprised entirely of the word "snorty" repeated over and over again), while playing with her feet and hands.

Our backup plan for when Audra doesn't fall asleep after nursing is to put her in the carrier, and then we'll either all go on a walk, or Ryan will go out and do yardwork with her. He normally takes her on a second walk mid-afternoon, which is when I'll stay behind and clean/put in my hour of work.
[Ryan contemplating the garden he's building - look closely and you'll see baby legs sticking out of the carrier by Ryan's waist]

I usually nurse again around 4pm, and if Audra is awake afterward, I'll hand her off to Ryan and then go pick up Josie from school around 5pm. Once Josie's back home, the naps get a bit spottier, but Audra will normally sleep off and on for another hour or so before bedtime, usually in the carrier.

Ryan will also take her for a walk in the evening if it's really been a long time since Audra last slept, since she gets more upset/erratic as the day passes and she gets overtired, and then sometimes she won't calm down even to nurse. On a good day, she'll nap around 5-6 hours total over the course of the day. On a bad day, we can normally still eke out 3 hours of napping, but it's far more labor intensive, since when she's having a rough time sleeping most of her naps only occur in the carrier, and we must be walking (or in least in motion) the entire time.

We try to do some outside time with both girls after dinner, and then Josie starts getting ready for bed just before 8:30pm. Once Josie's in bed, I'll go take a shower/clean up while Ryan entertains Audra, then I start nursing her down by 9:15pm. She is usually asleep between 9:30 and 10:30pm, and there seems to be three options so far: she falls asleep quickly and is out for the night, she falls asleep quickly and then wakes a half hour later to nurse again, or she is still awake (and usually upset) after nursing, in which case Ryan sometimes takes her back to walk with her for a while before I try nursing again.

I try to fall asleep when I'm nursing Audra down (since that seems to help knock her out too), then I wake up again to pump around midnight. She normally wakes for a diaper change and to nurse sometime between 2:30 and 5:00am, with the likelihood of a second wakeup increased if she wakes up earlier the first time. She also tends to sleep more restlessly the last couple of hours, so she's often comfort nursing most of the time or I prop her legs up on mine, which seems to settle her again. Then the sun comes up and we do it all over again :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

9 Weeks

And so ends our last full week of Audra's life at home. While I'm still a bit disappointed that I'm not taking off the full 12 weeks as I had originally planned, it seems a little balanced out since Ryan ended up staying home with us longer than the 7 weeks he had originally planned. So Ryan starts back at work on Monday, and I'll be doing half days Monday and Tuesday as Audra starts daycare, and then I'll be back to full-time on Wednesday, when she'll be 10 weeks.

Given that, I've been trying to get in as much time together as possible, since I'm not going to have constant access to Audra cuddles every day after this week. So I've just been having her take her long morning nap on me, which means hours of her sleeping on me while I catch up on the internet :) I think she's been needing a bit more comfort for whatever reason this week too, since - once we got past some nursing issues - she's been comfort nursing much more than usual (through most of her naps this week), so hopefully this is helping meet a need of hers too.

This week was a bit of a rough one from a nursing perspective. Audra was very fussy about nursing for at least the first part of the week, to the point that she was starting to refuse feedings. Now, I probably offer to nurse more often than she actually needs, but it was still disconcerting that she was fussing and upset enough that she wouldn't eat. She even cried through most of yoga and refused to nurse, so due to that and her wailing the whole way home again, I'm most likely going to skip yoga this week, which would have been our last time anyway. It just doesn't seem worth it to put her (or me) through that :(

Sleepwise, she's been napping for a decent amount of time overall, although still primarily on one of us or in the carrier. She also gave us her longest stretch of night-time sleep yet - 8 hours! She's of course still a baby, though, so inconsistency is the name of the game :) For example, two nights before the "8-hour stretch" night, she didn't fall asleep nursing, wouldn't be consoled by anything Ryan tried, and then after half an hour of that, she was hysterical and yet then fell asleep right away while nursing. She does make us work for it sometimes, but all in all, she could do much, much worse.
Audra had her two-month well baby appointment this week. She measured in at 15lbs 1.5oz, 24 3/4" long, with a head circumference of 15 1/2". While her head measurement was in the 90th percentile, her weight and length were off the charts. She's hitting all of her milestones and doing the wonderful baby things she should be doing now (smiling, vocalizing, kicking), so everything looked good. She also got her first vaccines, and while she did super well with them at the time (taking the oral Rotavirus one quite well, and then only crying for a few seconds after her DTaP/Hib/polio shot), three hours later, things got a little hairy when she woke from her nap just scuh-reaming. Nursing was not happening and bouncing her was not cutting it, so we quickly departed for a very brisk walk. After pitifully crying for a while (even while sleeping), she finally settled down and did fine for the rest of the evening, and even the overnight wasn't too bad, although she did wake up for the first time at 2am, which is a couple hours earlier than normal.
[The calm before the storm - back from the pediatrician, but before the screaming started]

Audra seems to be more aware of her hands now, and seems to be controlling them better too. She has gotten them to her mouth to gnaw on more deliberately than before, and even grabbed a rattle for the first time :)
She had the most adorable conversation with Ryan the other day, comprised entirely of the two of them cooing at each other :) Too bad she clams up as soon as she sees the camera come out though, but hopefully I'll be able to catch more of her cooing before it goes away. She also went to her first movie this week. The cinema drafthouse by us has baby days, where the lights are a bit brighter, sound is turned down a bit, and a crying baby won't get us kicked out ;) She did super well (ignoring the diaper blowout), taking a nap, nursing, and sitting contentedly in our laps the rest of the time.

Miscellaneous cuteness: