Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Long Morning

Silas has picked a new favorite book for now, "Go, Dog! Go!" and he likes to call it the "Go go doggie book." This is great except when I try to put him down for a nap and he starts to get all sleepy and then jumps back up in his crib yelling, "Doggie! Doggie! Book! Gogogogogo!"

Luckily, I'm finally hearing an absence of "doggies, sleepy doggies, hello doggies" from his room, so it MIGHT be safe to assume he's went down for his nap.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Adventures in South Florida

Silas and I went on a mini-vacation down to south Florida to visit some friends. The five hour car trip is now officially the longest distance I have driven with Silas by myself. It wasn't even that bad. On the way down, he was on the cusp of a nap for about two hours, and kept crying out "nurse please!" but when I did stop, he was too excited by the trip to actually nurse. Oh well.

He doesn't sleep very well when we're traveling, so our days became sort of weird. Normally we're up by seven-thirty on a good day. He decided to bring that back about an hour and a half. And once he was awake, he woke up our friend's kid too. So we would have breakfast, let the kids play for a bit, head to the park, let them run around for awhile, get back home and it would still only be ten in the morning!

The first day down, we headed into Ft. Myers proper to see the Edison Festival of Lights. The parade was billed as an amazing nighttime parade and there were people lining the streets so thickly that the kids wouldn't have been able to see anything. Apparently people go down and tape off sections of the sidewalk up to a week in advance to get a spot.

But here's the thing. The parade kind of sucked.

I don't know how they do paraded by you, but where I'm from, a parade starts within five minutes or so of the start time and proceeds in an orderly fashion - you have your fire trucks and police cars and high school bands and cute floats, interspersed with Shriners on tiny motorcycles and the occasional baton twirling brigade.

This parade was supposed to start at seven. At seven, one single police car raced through the street. Silence. Ten minutes later, there were a few marching color guards. Ten minutes later, there were more fire trucks and police cars than I've ever seen in a parade before. Maybe I'm a buzzkill, but to me, three or four of each is sufficient to wow the children and start a parade. They had a small fleet of ten to fifteen of each.

Then another ten minute wait. Then another color guard and some cheesy floats and some politicians in cars. Since it was dark out, it was hard to see who was who and why they were there.

The highlight of the parade was seeing the Clydesdale horses. They were amazingly huge and followed by some ponies that looked like Sophie and Sherlock in comparison.

After that, we ended up leaving. The fireworks were nice though and walking around downtown had been pleasant.

The next day was a jet-setting kind of day. After hitting the parks in the morning, we made cookies and headed to the neighborhood luau (where we later learned up to 100 people had attended). Between me and my friend and our two kids, we probably brought the mean age down to, oh, fifty. But don't get me wrong - everyone was nice to us. We sat by an inflatable palm tree and Silas refused to wear his lei and we cheered on some people playing cornhole.

From there, we realized it was already four in the afternoon and it was a mad dash to the Greek festival to see the dancing and get some baklava. The kids were less impressed by this, so we didn't stay long, but it was still fun.

The best day was Monday. We went to the aquarium and the beach. There was a slight hitch to our plans - none of us realized it was President's day, so the aquarium and the beach were significantly more crowded.

At the aquarium, Silas enjoyed looking at all of the different sea creatures. His favorites were the manatees and the clown fish. For some reason, when he saw the clown fish, he had to point to each one and say "fish!" even though we had passed by many other fish already. There was also an area with giant plastic models of some coral and fish (they were ten times bigger than life-sized) and Silas stared up in awe at the towering coral.

We packed up and headed towards the beach near noon. Oh, the beach. Our first indication that we were screwed came about the time we pulled into the parking lot and realized that every spot was full and every row was full of lines of cars waiting for a spot to open up. We were optimistic at first, but by the third time a parking spot opened up JUST behind us while we waited behind someone waiting for a person to back out, we gave up. We went to Publix for lunch. This Publix didn't have any seating or benches, so we had an impromptu picnic on the sidewalk. The kids seemed to enjoy it and it beat trying to feed two young kids in their carseats.

Being gluttons for punishment, we headed back to the beach after lunch. I like to call it eternal optimism. And guess what? There were parking spots! Whew. Plus, we had only missed out on the extra strong middle of the day UV rays, so our skin was safer anyhow. (Always a bright side). Even better? Running on the beach for a couple hours wore out the kids so much that they slept on the way home, and after dinner, Silas slept from 8:30 to 5. That was the first time he's ever slept so well away from home. I would have rejoiced, but I stayed up until 11 to watch ice dancing (mostly worth it!) and waking up at 5 was still a bit rough on me.

The drive home was much better than the drive down. Silas napped for most of the trip to be honest. I think he was still worn out from the beach. Traffic was light most of the way and the weather was good, though I admit I prefer a bit of an overcast sky during a long drive.

I hope to go down and visit again in March and coming up shortly after that, we'll be heading down south again when Smiley runs in the Tough Mudder with some friends. I can only hope Silas will continue his positive trend of kind of sleeping better while we're away!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Silas is now sleeping through the night. Probably.

About 12 out of the last 15 nights, Silas has slept through the night. I guess his "sleep through the night" switch was flipped, though I couldn't tell you how or what did it. He turned 17 months old last week, so it's been a long time coming. I don't know if 15 days is long enough to become retrospective, but again - almost 17 months of waking up three to infinity times a night means the last two weeks of good sleep feels like forever (in a good way).

The switch is leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings on baby sleep. Seventeen months is a long time for me to go without good sleep at night and whereas Silas could nap during the day, I had to often use that time to study or do housework. But we tried crying it out for a bit and it didn't work for long. So, here is a list of six things that did or did not work to get Silas to sleep through the night.

6. An early, early bedtime

Silas likes to hold onto his naps. He was napping three times a day for several months before he finally transitioned to two naps a day, a few months before his first birthday. This meant that for most of his first year, he had a late "bedtime" of nine or ten. When he dropped his late evening nap, I pushed his bedtime up to 7:30 and then 7 and then sometimes 6:30. Occasionally he would sleep for a long chunk of time when I did this, but he was still up two to four times a night.

The nice thing about the super early bedtime was that I had some time in the evening to be an adult. The not so nice thing was that I still had to get to bed early myself if I wanted any meaningful sleep. It's all dandy when the baby sleeps for six hours straight, but when that means he wakes up at one in the morning, I had to be in bed by ten just to sleep for three hours in a row.

Now that he's sleeping through the night, he typically goes to bed between 7:30 and 8.

Conclusion: An early bedtime had a small effect on Silas sleeping for a longer chunk of time in the first part of the night.

5. Naps

Again, Silas likes to nap. There was a brief period of two or so weeks around thirteen months where he started to fight his naps and I was going to transition him to one nap a day, but that passed; I suspect he was simply testing his boundaries. He currently still naps twice a day, usually for about an hour or two each nap. I read a lot about how napping too much during the day could upset sleep, but let me assure you - cutting down on his daytime sleep meant I would be up every hour with him at night.

Lately we've gotten to the point where he will nurse and then ask to go to his crib and nap. I currently call this the "golden age of napping" because he then says "sleepy doggies, bye-bye doggies" and babbles to himself for a bit (anywhere from one to thirty minutes) and then falls asleep peacefully. And with two naps a day, I have time to clean up, do laundry and read and write constantly. It is amazing.

But that's a bit of a tangent. Over the last two weeks, Silas has not reduced his nap time even as he sleeps through the night. (I'm obviously overjoyed by this).

Conclusion: Naps are impossible to figure out. The time Silas spends napping each day seemed to affect his sleep negatively; if he didn't sleep enough during the day, he didn't sleep well at night. However, more sleep during the day did not correlate with more sleep at night after a certain point. Overall naps seem to be mostly independent of his sleeping through the night habits.

4. Nursing

Silas has nursed at least once over night since he was born. And for a long time, he was nursed to sleep. I had read a lot about nursing being a sleep association, but even when he wasn't nursed to sleep (as in the time we did cry it out), he would still wake up to nurse multiple times. I know that many books/professionals also indicate that babies should no longer nurse overnight much sooner than seventeen months, but thankfully at least one guy has my back. (Dr. Sears writes that babies might go up to eighteen months before dropping the overnight nursing).

For a long while, he had a bedtime routine that ended with him reading some books and then nursing and then being put in his crib awake but drowsy. He usually fell asleep without crying on these nights, but woke up often to nurse again by one.

Coinciding exactly with when he started sleeping through the night, Silas dropped his bedtime nursing. In fact, the two nights these past two weeks that he slept poorly were the two nights in which he was nursed closer to his bedtime than the other nights. Most nights he nurses for the final time around six now. I remember the first day it happened. We had been out at a friend's house and I had nursed Silas beforehand. When we got home around 8:30, Silas had fallen asleep in the car. Smiley brought him inside and put him in his crib and he didn't wake up, so I figured I'd head to bed myself and just wait for him to wake up at midnight wanting to nurse (which is what he has done countless other nights in situations like that). Silas slept until five the next morning!

When I tried to take nursing out of the bedtime routine in the months before, it backfired and he was up more than ever. So I think that the breakthrough is more on his decision to drop nursing at bedtime rather than me trying to force it.

Conclusion: Once Silas decided to stop nursing before bedtime, he slept through the night. However, experience showed me that he had to make the decision, not me.

3. Food intake and activity level

It starts VERY early - well-meaning friends and parents suggest putting a tiny bit of rice cereal in a bottle to get your baby to sleep through the night. From there, the suggestion is that if you make sure your baby eats enough during the day, they won't wake up at night. Well, I was nursing Silas and didn't feel like using formula or pumping to give him a bottle when he was younger, and when he got older, I noticed that there was no correlation between how much he ate during the day and how well he slept at night. Absolutely none. Some nights he would eat a lot at dinner and wake up a lot. Other nights he'd eat a lot at dinner and wake up a few less times. Sometimes he would eat very little during the day and wake up only twice. Other times, he'd eat a little and wake up six times. You get the idea, right?

Going hand in hand with that is the concept that if you wear out a baby during the day, he'll sleep better at night. This also had no correlation to how well he slept at night. And on days when he skipped his nap because he was at the park playing, he slept even worse at night.

Conclusion: Food intake had little to no impact on Silas sleeping through the night. Activity had little to no impact on his sleep either.

2. Teething

Oh, baby. My dear little Silas started cutting teeth early and hasn't stopped yet. At seventeen months he has all of his teeth minus his two year molars. His bottom eye teeth are still working their way all the way out, but they have broken through the gums. Some nights when Silas seemed to be extra upset, I would give him some ibuprofen in case he was in pain, but he rarely slept better on those nights. It is possible that since all of his teeth minus the two year molars have broken through that he is now able to sleep better at night. I guess I'll get my answer when his two year molars start to make an appearance.

Conclusion: Teething might have a horrible, negative impact on Silas sleeping through the night. It's possible that he did not sleep through the night until now because he has seriously been working on cutting one tooth after another since five months. However, ibuprofen did not seem to help, so I suspect it is less likely that teething had a huge impact.

1. A bedtime routine

I'm not going to make a blanket statement here; maybe your baby thrives on a bedtime routine. Well, I don't and neither does Silas. For several months I kept his bedtime the same - put on the overnight diaper and pajamas, brush teeth, turn on quiet music, read a couple of books, nurse, put baby in crib.

The past two weeks have not been that routine. He doesn't nurse. Sometimes we read books, sometimes we don't. Sometimes he puts on his pajamas and plays for a while longer before brushing his teeth. The lack of routine has not affected his sleeping through the night.

Full disclosure: during the day, we have a rough routine of wake up, breakfast, naptime two hours after wake up time, play time and lunch, naptime three hours after waking up from the morning nap, playtime and dinner, bedtime roughly four to five hours after waking up from the afternoon nap. Silas typically doesn't watch TV until after his afternoon nap if we watch anything. And that's about it in terms of routine.

Conclusion: A bedtime routine did not help and only stressed me out when I felt like I was deviating from it. I am not a good routine type of person and it stands to reason that my son might not be either. We use loose guidelines. It is not probable that the routine hurt anything, but I am super happy to not have to worry about it.

Final Conclusion: Now that I've spent forty-five minutes typing "Silas sleeps through the night" seventy-six times, I bet you that the moment I hit "publish," Silas will wake up every half hour tonight.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Year of Exercise!

This past Saturday marked my one year weight lifting anniversary. Though I had enjoyed mandatory gym class for four years of high school because I like to move around and be active, once I graduated, I didn't do much exercise. Well, I walked. When I was at college, it was important to me to find apartments that were within walking distance and cheap. So "walking distance" was extended to a mile and a half to two miles away from the college (still not really bad at all, except on the below zero cold days) and I walked a lot, but that was it.

Upon graduation, I moved down to Florida and at one point, Smiley and I did P90X together for a few months, but that couldn't last. Daily exercise DVDs of an hour and a half were too time consuming and there is only so many times you can listen to Tony Horton tell you to act like "a pterodactyl backing out of trouble. Caw!" before you rage quit in the middle of a workout.

Cut to about 19 months ago. I was pregnant with Silas and shambling left and right. My walking pace was a brisk two miles an hour if I was lucky. Some of my friends decided to get together to start working out regularly. Smiley and I had a garage. They decided to work out at our house.

Three times a week I would see my friends as they came over and worked out. First I was pregnant and then I had a tiny newborn - there didn't seem to be enough time or energy in the world to get me to start working out with them.

But, around the time that Silas was five months old, I was tired of hanging around inside. Inspired by the strides everyone else had made, I started lifting weights with my friends.

A year later, I'm still not particularly impressive at it. I can't squat my body weight and I can only bench half my body weight on a good day, but I still enjoy it and I strive to do my best (and have good form).

I could have never done it if my friends didn't make the commitment to come to our house three times a week; that means I can do a set while one of my friends graciously holds Silas and then I can go into our house to let him run around and play. When it's bedtime, I can put him down to sleep in his own crib. There is no way I would have done this for this long otherwise.

The only thing that sucks is the protein requirement. I'm still struggling to find a way to eat more protein. It stems from certain quirks and issues of mine, so I think it will take me awhile longer, but maybe eventually I'll get there. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy hanging out with friends and lifting heavy things and putting them back down.