Adventures in sleep training

Whoever thought of the phrase "sleeps like a baby" obviously wasn't referring to my daughter

Whoever thought of the phrase “sleeps like a baby” obviously wasn’t referring to my daughter

At six months, Stella has been hitting every milestone on time, sometimes even earlier. She turns on her sides and back, she grasps toys with a firm grip, she coos and laughs and makes great eye contact. She can’t yet get us the remote control or fetch us a beer from the fridge, but we’re working on it. For the most part though, she has been on point on just about every single developmental milestone.

Except for one thing. ┬áHer sleep. That glorious activity that is essential to every person’s sanity and survival. For several months now, Stella would be nursing every two hours at night. I lie in bed in complete terror, looking at my baby’s perfectly angelic face and hoping to the lord almighty that she stays asleep. Which, of course, she doesn’t. Two hours after she drifts off to sleep, she would start squirming. Small, but not imperceptible, squirms, which would then develop into full blown thrashing. All this with her eyes closed. I would sigh, pull up my shirt, and do the one thing that ends the thrashing: nurse her. A few minutes later, a satiated Stella would drift off to slumber once again. I meanwhile, would be wide awake, looking at my husband sleeping beside Stella, blissfully unaware of the murderous looks I was throwing his way.

So now I’ve taken it upon myself to fix this problem that I might have created. There are many many sleep training methods, but all of them boil down to the following general categories:

1. Cry It Out Method – This method encourages mothers to do just what the name suggests, let their baby cry it out. This is also called the Extinction Method, which was popularized by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. The idea is to set a bed time, leave your baby to sleep, and go back the next morning. You presume the baby will cry herself to sleep for a few days, until she learns how to self soothe.

I, cannot, for the life of me, do that to Stella, although I make no judgments on parents who do. Parents who opted for this report a well-rested, happier baby. Still, the thought of leaving Stella to cry her lungs out, and making no attempt to soothe her, makes ME want to cry. Option number 1 is out.

2. Controlled crying – Again, as the name suggests, this method involves crying, but in graduated stages. Also known as the Ferber method, this method involves checking the baby at timed intervals, making small attempts to calm the crying baby such as a pat on the bum, or a soothing voice, but ultimately still leaving her to soothe herself.

At this point I might have to say that I am a wuss and I cannot stand the thought of letting my baby cry, for any amount of time, and not doing anything about it. All the sleep training guides also point to negative sleep associations that hinder a baby from sleeping well. One of which is nursing them to sleep. Sorry naman. Guilty as charged. But what is a sleepy, bleary-eyed mom to do when the only thing that would calm a baby down is to nurse her? ┬áThe sleep trainers say that a baby should learn how to put themselves to sleep without these “crutches,” whether they’re nursing, or rocking to sleep, or ssshing, or patting the baby’s bum.

I will just have to find a way to sleep train Stella without any form of crying. (Incidentally, there is a book called the No Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley, which I have yet to read).

The first order of the day is to make sure that Stella’s getting enough milk during the day so she doesn’t have to feed at night. I read that one of the reasons a baby is wakeful at night is because they might not be getting enough nourishment during the day. This might be true for our situation, seeing as how my breastmilk supply isn’t the greatest. I have also noticed that Stella seems to nap better when I give her expressed breastmilk in a bottle, as opposed to simply nursing from me directly. I’ve increased her milk intake, up to 4 oz per bottle during the day when I’m away in the office, and tonight I will give her an additional bottle after our final nightly nursing session.

So help me God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Mommy and Baby stuff… for now

So many toys!

So many toys!

Before I had a baby, I didn’t realize how much stuff we were going to have to deal with. It’s a whole armada of bottles, blankets, clothes, what have you. Like many moms before me have wondered, how could one tiny human being need so much stuff? It’s mind boggling how easily these seemingly little things accumulate until they’ve managed to take over our entire house, and our entire lives. The Mom stuff is a whole different matter. Breastfeeding pumps, nursing covers, diaper bags, the whole shebang just never seems to end. Still, there are some things out there that to me are just worth the extra kalat. Here are some of my favorite mom and baby stuff that have so far made this new motherhood journey easier for both baby and me.

1. Exergen thermometer
This is every paranoid mom’s best friend. You just swipe the thermometer on their forehead and it gives you an accurate measure of the baby’s temperature without waking the baby up if they’re sleeping. Plus, and more importantly, this gives a reading which is about as accurate as a rectal thermometer. I could never bring myself to use one of those, so this is really the next best thing.

2. Mama’s and Papa’s stroller
I searched high and low for strollers before settling on the Mamas and Papas Armadillo Flip Stroller. It fulfilled all my requirements – has to be useful from birth to toddler (so we don’t spend on another stroller when Stella grows bigger – and we all know babies grow so fast!), has front and rear suspension for a smooth ride for the baby, easy to navigate in most kinds of terrain (perfect for strolling in the mall or walking in parks), easy to fold and store, not too bulky, can be inward or outward facing, and has a big basket for extra storage. Also, it’s not too attention grabbing like some other super expensive fancy schmancy strollers being pushed around by the sosyal mommies at the Fort. Or maybe I’m just envious. Har har. Anyhow, Stella seems to be comfortable enough in it so that’s the most important thing.

3. Lillebaby Airflow carrier
When we’re not using the Mamas and Papas, like when we’re just running a short errand, we use our Lillebaby carrier. The choice was actually between this or the Tula and I ended up going with the Lillebaby because one, it was cheaper, and second, the Lillebaby was suitable for a newborn whereas the Tula needed an extra infant insert if it will be used for newborns. Stella has fallen asleep in the Lillebaby so I take that to mean she’s comfortable in it.

4. Nosefrida Snotsucker
This one has been a godsend, particularly because Stella is so prone to congestion. Her nose gets stuffed so easily and it’s hard for her to breathe and breastfeed, which in turn makes it hard for her to sleep. And when baby doesn’t sleep, mommy doesn’t sleep as well. This little sucker gets the stuff out in no time. We find that using a saline solution beforehand works even better. But this one is so, so handy especially for kids and babies.

5. Crane humidifier
Still on Stella’s problematic congestion, I find that a combination of the Nosefrida snotsucker, the saline solution, plus this Crane humidifier pretty much keeps Stella’s congestion at bay. The Crane works beautifully. Just put in some water, and the thing can run for 24 hours straight. Perfect if you’re like us where the aircon is sometimes on practically the whole day.

6. Pigeon teether and lip trainer
Since every cool kid was sporting a Sophie the Giraffe teether, we went ahead and bought one. P1,250 bucks for a teether! Lord. And of course we discover that Stella prefers the cheap ass Pigeon teether, which is just P250. Oh well. The teether is made of soft silicone and can be sterilized. Lesson learned: never again will I be carried away by hype! Or, well, I will try my very best not to.

7. Skip Hop Activity Gym
This activity gym keeps Stella entertained for a good 10-15 minutes. And what good is a mere 10-15 minutes? I didn’t know too, before I became a mom, but let me tell you all the beautiful things that can happen in just 10-15 minutes: I can take a nap, I can take a shower, I can cut my nails, I can check Facebook in peace, I can eat my lunch with both hands, the list is endless.

Stella’s baptism

I was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic household and before we got married, I told Jaime one of my non negotiables was that I wanted to raise a Roman Catholic family. Growing up, my family always followed the traditions: mass on Sundays, Visita Iglesia on Holy Week, fasting on Good Friday, watching the Ten Commandments during Lent( Incidentally my dad also made us watch El-Cid and Ben Hur during lent, movies that had absolutely nothing to do with Lent, but apparently for my dad, bless his heart, any movie that starred Charlton Heston in sandals, parading about in chariots, pretty much made for Lenten movie fare.)

Anyway, I digress. I would like to think that my faith, as well as my husband’s, is an integral part of our lives, and it was, is, my fervent hope that the same will be for our daughter, and all our children, should we be blessed with more. More than just being an excuse for a get together with family and friends, and more than just fulfilling some family tradition, Stella’s baptism was a happy occasion because not only does she now get to share our faith, we her parents are also able to offer her to the Lord, for His guidance, love, and protection.

Welcome to the Christian world, my darling star.

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Love love love this beautiful cake by the talented Tazzy Cakes!

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Catering by Passion Cooks. The food and service were superb.

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Passion Cooks also made the beautiful backdrop. I wanted a “little bird” theme for Stella’s baptism and they were able to execute it perfectly.

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My labor story

My labor story began innocently enough, as many labor stories do: I woke up from a dream and thought I had wet myself. I assumed it was just another one of those pregnancy related indignities. As if the relentless weight gain, the pimple ravaged skin, the gassiness weren’t enough, one must also deal with incontinence? Christ.

It wasn’t until I stood up that I realized my water bag just broke, in slow, furtive trickles that signalled impending labor. After forty weeks, I can only be too relieved.

After making sure it was indeed what I hoped it was, I went downstairs to inform my parents. “Ano wala pa ba?” they asked, the way they had done for several weeks already. I told them as coolly as a cucumber could, that my water bag had broken. Immediately their eyes went straight to my legs, which had by then gushing copious amounts of water. My mom, bless her heart, asked if I had just wet myself. My dad, according to the help, just stared at the small puddle of water that had accumulated around my feet.

I ate breakfast, took a shower, and phoned my husband, who incidentally had a rare work assignment on that Saturday. I told him not to panic and that I could wait for him and that I was absolutely in no pain.

The contractions began while I had been doing my makeup in the car, first in small manageable waves. They were so small and so imperceptible that I even assumed I would be sent home to await real contractions. By the time we got to the hospital, I discovered then and there that I was already 4 cm dilated.

Never too busy for some things

Never too busy for some things

With some smugness, which I now realize is laughably misguided, I thought, this is labor? It’s not so bad after all. I had visions of myself smiling beatifically at the nurses, who would marvel at my fortitude and forbearance in the midst of the harrowing upheaval that is childbirth.

Fast forward to three hours later and I’d begun yelling at the nurses for epidural, saintly mother be damned. I was, to be frank, in a world of pain. I was actually beyond pain, and whatever pain threshold there existed, I had crossed it and landed somewhere between projectile vomiting and hurling invectives, both of which were aimed in the general direction of my hapless husband.

Unfortunately, labor did not progress and by 8 pm my doctor decided that I had no choice but to undergo CS. By then I was semi delirious from medication and I remember signing a form that I didn’t even bother to read.

My husband does not remember much about the few moments before I was wheeled into the delivery room, although he does remember me asking him to check if my makeup and lipstick are still intact. My vanity, it seems, knows no limits.

I was shivering when they wheeled me into the delivery room. I wasn’t fully unconscious when they began the procedure and thankfully I felt no pain, just cold. By 8:37 pm, the baby was out and I was, officially, a mother.

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I had scoffed at those who said you forget the pain as soon as you set eyes on your child. How overly sentimental, I thought. But in my case it turned out to be true. Those first few precious hours with my child in the recovery room were my favorite. It was just me and her, cooped up in our little world. I remember thinking how big she was. And how beautiful and how perfect and how my heart has expanded a million times over. Until now, months after that day, I look at her and marvel at this tiny creature who is my child.

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I suppose the birth story ends the same way it began. In a dark and quiet room, where dreams are made.

Nice to meet you, my darling

Nice to meet you, my darling

Before...

Before…

... and after

… and after

Postscript:
After a few minutes of being ushered in our room, the hospital’s fire alarm went off. As if we weren’t terrified enough at the prospect of being left with a newborn on our own, now we have to contend with this? You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought, while I simultaneously planned our escape. Jaime will have to carry the baby. And I, would I walk? Would I be wheeled out? Thankfully the fire alarm turned out to be a false alarm, much to the complete relief and annoyance of the patients. So how about that? My day started with what I thought was a false alarm, only to end up with a real false alarm. You really can’t make stuff like this up.