Friday, June 29, 2012

On Becoming "Ben-Wise"

Before Ben was born I knew everything.  I read the books on baby sleep and felt like I was ready to conquer the task.  My child would be a sleeper. Andrew and I both planned for him to be sleeping through the night when he was four months old so that Andrew would be able to study for the bar exam uninterrupted.

But then, Ben was born.

I love to sleep.  Even before I had a baby, going to bed past 10 o'clock was rare.  I've always enjoyed waking up early to exercise, catching a cat-nap after work and heading to bed early to do it the next day.  I never realized how tired I would be once my perfect little schedule was interrupted for what felt like forever.

In the hospital right after Ben was born, I remember nursing and finding him wanting more to eat sooner than the 2 hour mark I was told by one book I should wait to arrive.  I couldn't stand to hear him cry and therefore, the mommy buffet opened and my relationship with "on-demand" feeding began.

According to some experts we did everything wrong.  I fed Ben whenever he looked hungry (and if you all remember how big he was, he looked hungry all the time.)  I let him cluster feed in the evenings after I returned from work and (take a deep breath) I nursed him to sleep.

When Ben wasn't sleeping "through the night" by six months, Andrew and I were both frustrated and those around us were happy to give us advice.  "Let him cry it out," "Give him a pacifier," "Does he have a comfort object,"  "What is his schedule like?" "Put him to bed earlier."  "Co-sleep?"

We tried everything.

Crying it out--never worked--especially not in the middle of the night.  There were nights he would wake up, fuss and go back to sleep but there were nights he would wake up and wail away like someone was pulling out his toe-nails one by one.  It became easier for us to go in, attend to his needs and put him back to sleep than to listen to him cry for hours.

Pacifier?-- Ben spit pacifiers across the room from the time he was tiny.  I think I purchased every single one Target had to offer without any luck.

Comfort Object? --At about 14 months he became attached to a giant penguin.  Not the soft blanket scented like his dear mother or the plush dog toy.

Early bedtime= a party at about 3 a.m. because he was awake and ready to go.

Schedule?  Yeah right. On days where he didn't have a schedule he slept better than those where I worked hard to get him down for naps at 10 and 2.  I did eventually figure out that if he took two naps I had to wake him after an hour.  If I let him sleep longer than 2 hours during the day, 3. a.m. party.

Co-sleeping?  Ben's version of an all night party with his mama and dada.

Right now my child is sound asleep.  His afternoon nap is almost over.  A nap that he put himself to sleep for after playing in his crib for a few minutes without nursing.   Tonight he will go to sleep around 9 o'clock after daddy and mommy snuggles, a glass of milk and a few hundred books read and he will stay that way until 8 o'clock.  If he wants to go to bed earlier than that he will show us by snuggling up on he floor without a fuss.  Tomorrow he will take a nap around 1 and sleep for 2 1/2 hours.  The rest of the day he will be happy and full of laughter and Andrew and I will be well rested.  Andrew took an active role in getting Ben to sleep about 5 weeks ago which has helped Ben transition to sleeping through the night without his mom nearby.

For Ben, and dare I say for most babies, reaching the goal of sleeping through the night happens when a child is ready.  For some lucky parents, like a dear friend of mine from Morgantown, it happens when the babies are 6-8 weeks old.  For others it takes a lot longer.  I do think you can help them get there but for some babies, like Ben, it is a milestone they must reach when they are ready.  What I do know is that even though I was sleep deprived for a while I don't regret a single second of snuggling my little guy.  There were some nights I felt crazy (for most of those 3 a.m. parties) but now that he is giving up nursing and another baby is on the way, I cherish the moments he still wants mommy cuddles.
If baby #2 is struggling to sleep through the night like Ben did I might enlist Andrew's help a little earlier but perhaps we'll be "lucky" parents and he or she will sleep earlier.  If not, I'll just look back and remember that it will pass, the child will sleep and we will all come out alive.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ben's New Role

On or around December 31, 2012 Ben will go from being the cutest baby ever to the cutest big brother ever.  He is already showing how helpful he will be by mocking me when I get morning sickness and finding it absolutely hysterical when I actually get sick.  At least he keeps the mood light!  We are all looking forward to our new addition!  (Although we aren't entirely sure what Tessa's reaction will be.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

17 Months--Welcome to Toddlerville

My baby is all grown up!  He is chatting away, running around, climbing on everything and eating with enthusiasm.  Everyday we feel blessed with what a joy he is.  He is truly happy all of the time and makes us laugh daily.

Tall and skinny!  He continues to shoot straight up and I feel like he grows daily.  He is solidly in 18 month clothing although his skinny little waist sometimes makes his pants fall down.  (Thank goodness for cloth diapers that help keep his clothes up!)  He just started wearing size 4 shoes.

His head continues to grow to Brautigam proportions and I noticed the other day that his 18-24 month hat left marks on his forehead because it is getting too small.

Teeth:  8-12.  Four on top, four on the bottom and two molars on the top and bottom that are poking through but no all the way out.

Eating:  Solids three times a day, nursing two-three times a day.  Snacks here and there as needed.  He loves butter, bread, peanut butter,avocados, donuts, Parmesan cheese, Gouda, real strawberries, potstickers, smoothies, risotto, ice cream, bananas, blueberries, peas, pizza, etc.  He enjoys drinking milk, juice and water and especially loves orange juice with heavy pulp--just like his parents.

Communication:  He continues to be a little chatterbox and is quite the mimic.  He has some definite words and tries out new sounds and new words every day.  He is getting a lot better at communicating what he wants to us which is a blast.

Sleeping:  I think it is safe to say that Ben sleeps through the night.  In the past month we have had fewer nights with wake-ups than nights he has slept.  A key factor in Ben's sleeping is Andrew.  My dear husband has helped so much with nighttime parenting and Ben has adjusted quickly to not having his mom come to serve the buffet in the middle of the night.  It is wonderful!  Ben naps from 1-3:30, goes to bed around 8:30-9:00 and wakes up between 7:30-8:00.  I don't think he will ever go to bed very early but since he is cheerful all of the time we think his sleep needs are being met.

Favorite Toys:  Ben LOVES trucks.  They are the center of his world.  Truck books, trucks on the street, trucks in the house--if it moves and has wheels it is an object of desire.  He likes to stack his trucks, make them zoom across the floor and even have one in his crib during nap. He loves bikes as well and seeing his daddy's bike is always a fascinating object of delight.  His own little ybike has  seen a lot more use over the past month and he enjoys taking it outside and riding up and down the sidewalk.

He continues to enjoy balls of all sizes and has started throwing and kicking them.  He loves watching his Tessa play fetch and tries to initiate games in the house with her.  He likes his blocks, fisher price barn and animals and anything he can stack.

Books are an important part of Ben's everyday life.  If Andrew is sitting on the floor, Ben will bring him book after book.  He has gone from simply sitting and listening to us read to pointing out things on the pages and trying to say what they are.  We both love reading to him and enjoy watching him get such joy out of pictures and words.  He often looks at books upon waking from his nap or in the morning.  He loves balloons and if he has one he will hold onto it until I pry it out of his finger.

Favorite Things to Do:  Go "bye-bye."  As soon as Ben wakes up and gets his diaper changed he asks to go "bye-bye."  He will drag his stroller to the door, wait on his bike by the door, bring me shoes, put on his hat, etc.  One of his favorite places to go is his grandmom and granddad's house.  He loves to go for walks in the stroller, walks in the baby carrier, trips to the store and the playground.  Recently he's enjoyed time at a friend's pool.  He continues to love to help in the kitchen by watching the mixer, testing out what we are making and stacking pots and pans.  He enjoys helping me vacuum and will follow me around either holding onto the vacuum or pushing his popper toy.  He loves snuggle time in our bed at night before he goes into his crib and in the morning when he wakes up.  Bath time is a highlight, especially if there are bubbles.    He loves to visit his dad and grandparents at work across the street and enjoys banging on his grandmom's office door with his chubby little hand when it is shut.  He initiates games of "peek-a-boo" and enjoys patty-cake.  

Movement:  Ben runs around through life leaning forward as he tries to go super fast.  This month marked the beginning of his career as a climber and he works fast.  In two seconds he can climb on top of the table.  His favorite thing to chase around the house are the dogs.  He continues to love on Chopper every chance he gets and Tessa is increasingly tolerant of him (especially when he has a ball to throw.)

Skills:  He can feed himself with a fork and is working on a spoon.  He tries really hard to drink out of big cups but still ends up really wet.  He can identify his head, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, belly, toes, fingers, arms, and legs.  He is starting to be diaper aware and will pat his diaper and say "diapa" when it is wet or poopy.  If his diaper bag is nearby and he needs a change he will sometimes bring his changing pad over to me.  He tries really hard to put on his hat and has started trying to put on bibs at mealtimes (this coming from a little boy who HATED bibs a few months ago.)  He likes to "help" me get him dressed and has started grabbing clothes to put on when he gets dressed.  He blows kisses when we are leaving places or when people are leaving our house.

One of our favorite things about Ben right now is his cheerful personality.  He loves to laugh and to try to make his parents laugh.  He is incredibly social and is happy in every situation.  We never worry about taking him places because everywhere we go he is a joy.  We are so blessed to have such an adorable, wonderful little guy and every single day with him is a gift.