Abby’s 3-months-old

Newborn parenting this time around

Parenting a newborn is difficult.  Even the second time around.  I’m up early this morning.  I’ve been up since about 1:30 a.m. off and on… I had the stomach flu on Wednesday and have been recovering.  For the last 4 hours, I’ve been hot and cold, tossing and turning with an icky stomach and achey breasts.  The achey breasts is because I made the decision not to wake up Abby at 10:00 p.m. to feed her.  She had a bit of a fever around 7:00 p.m., and I couldn’t bear the idea of disturbing her good sleep.  Well, 10 1/2 hours into not feeding her, and I’m paying for it.  For those of you that know what a “dreamfeed” is, I gave her one of those a few minutes ago and gave up on sleep for myself…  (I thought about pumping, but I fear mastitis.  In 3 months time, I’ve had 7 plugged ducts and 1 round of mastitis… Oh, and Abby won’t take a bottle…)

Parenting is hard, no matter how you look at it.  The second time around I have so much more confidence but still so many questions.  I have confidence that I can read Abby’s signs/cries.  I’m not always bewildered when she’s fussy with questions of “Is she hungry?” or “Is she tired?” But, I am still bewildered with questions like “Why won’t she go to sleep right now when she’s so, so tired?” and  “Why does she keep waking up at 4:30 a.m. when she used to sleep ’til 6:00?”

I’ve been reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, and it has helped me the most.  He makes me feel like what’s going on with my baby is normal and that there are steps we can take to help her get more rest.  Only I still have some residual Babywise scars.  I say that because I followed the Babywise model pretty strictly with Sophia, and I found much success.  She slept through the night very early and up to 12 hours well before my breasts needed her to.  I followed Babywise, and I got her on a schedule.  I expected her to sleep when it was time, and I clocked her feeding times.  It worked out well at night, but during the days there was a LOT of crying… and some days not much napping.  That’s just not going to work when I’ve got a 22 month-old to also be parenting.

We got back from a trip to Arkansas nearly 2 weeks ago and Abby was off her “schedule.”  That is, she no longer wanted to nap for more than 45 minutes, and she no longer slept through the night.  She also had 3 evenings straight of crying between 3-6 hours… what one might mistake for colick… I had to take action.  Poor Da-da was coming home to a chaotic household and had to rescue a frazzled Mama by rocking a screaming baby all evening.  We all needed rest and peace of mind in our household.  The action I took was following Dr. Weissbluth’s idea that an overtired baby won’t sleep well, but a well-rested baby will sleep well.  He says that a baby her age cannot be up for more than 2 hours without getting overtired.  I decided to watch her like a hawk for signs of drowsiness and put her down immediately.  What I absolutely couldn’t believe was that after a night of sleeping 14 hours (waking up for 2 feedings), she was tired and ready to go to bed 45 minutes after she woke up in the morning; that is, 20 minutes after she finished breakfast!  Isn’t that counterintuitive? Even to a “seasoned” mother… Ha!  Seasoned. So, I’m struggling with this scenario every morning at 8:15.  She’s only been up 45 minutes, but she’s yawning… put her down?  Is it too early?  I don’t want her to cry too much.

We’ve had so much success.  She finally took a two-hour nap on Tuesday!  I attribute this to 1) my constant evaluation of her sleepy-state and 2) a new, innovate swaddling cocoon called a woombie.  I’m not sure if it’s a miracle blanket, but I am sure that it helps.  Abby hates being traditionally swaddled, but she can’t sleep without it.  Her startle reflex is too great and she waves her arms all around.  The woombie lets her have movement inside the swaddle while still keeping her from waking herself up.  She can still chew on her hands through the blanket, since she can’t get them out.  The first time I put her in it, she giggled and cooed at me!  She went down that evening without crying, and I was choked up with joy.  She’s gone down a few times without any crying and has taken a few 2 hour naps… I’m in love with the woombie, mostly because Abby is happier in it, and I’m going to order another one.  However, that all being said I believe the continued success is a little more about timing than it is about a miracle blanket.  If I put her down overtired and fussy, it doesn’t matter if she’s wrapped in a cloud, she’s gonna cry when I leave her.  I’ll say, though, the protest crying before naptime has been significantly shorter than pre-woombie, sometimes not even more than a minute or two.

Okay, it’s 6:30 now.  I’m going to go make some coffee for my hubby.

hilarious play with Sophia

Sophia’s language is blowing up.  She’s coming up with new words and stringing more words together all the time.  It’s so fun to see.  Her pronunciation is pretty terrible, but she’s definitely got strings of sounds associated for different things.  The worst is probably “dutch” for chair.  Not really sure why she says it quite like that…

I witnessed a pretty fun pretend playtime today.  Sophia loves to play “diaper change.” Basically she takes any babydoll or stuffed animal she has and says “Baby, poo poo.”  Then she goes and gets a diaper and diaper cream and baby powder and pretends to change the babydoll.  Well, lately she’s been talking about her Bear.  While I was nursing Abby this morning, this is what I heard Sophia saying:

“Beh, nie nie.” (Bear, night night.) She lays him down and covers him up with a burp cloth.

“Beh, why. Shhh, shhh.” (Bear is crying.) She rocks him and makes a sad face and shushes him.

“Pupsh off.” (Please take it off.) She points to the bear’s collar and hands him to me.

“Beh, poo poo.” (Bear went poo poo.) She lays him down and goes and gets one of Abby’s diapers.  She spends minutes trying to get it on him. After it’s wrapped up something silly, she says, “Yay! Beh, nie nie.” She rocks him for a few seconds.

“Beh, poo poo… Fah… Beh fah.” (Bear pooped.  Bear farted.)  I laugh.  “Bear farted?” I say.

“Ya!  Ha ha.  Beh fah! Ha ha!  Mom-ma fah!  Ha ha.  Ab-bey fah!  Ha ha. Momma fah! “ This goes on and on.

Don’t ask me how she learned the word fart! No, I’ll tell you.  She came back from Mammaw and Papa’s knowing a bunch of new words and one of them was fart!  So, we’ll blame the dirty vocabulary on them!  Ha!  The first time she said it, she said it after she farted, “Fah!” After clarifying that she did indeed say fart, we couldn’t stop laughing and she wouldn’t stop saying it.    Well, I guess we encouraged it because now she says it all the time!

weakness revealed in the waiting

2:00 p.m. My most difficult hour.  Abby is cranky and tired.  It’s time for Sophia’s nap.  I’m at the end of my patience.  I’d like some time to myself. Today at 2:00 I laid down Sophia and picked up Abby.  No big deal.  No nap for me today. I feed Abby.  I soothe her.  I lay her down.  The fussing begins.  I take myself downstairs and I notice my shoulders are tight, my neck is stiff and my mind is racing with worry.  I say to myself that I’ll get a snack, lay on the couch, try to chill out while I wait for her to stop crying.  The thing is I’m not hungry. I’m worried, I’m unbelievably stressed out, and I want immediate comfort and solace.  What I really want is for someone to tell me, “Don’t worry.  She’ll go to sleep soon.” (Sometimes I text Da-da and he tells me that.  Thanks, Da-da.)

I do this a lot.  I reach for a snack as I wait for her to fall asleep.  I reach for a snack after she falls asleep wondering if this is for real.  I reach for a snack when 30 minutes has passed because she could wake up any minute.

I think what is revealed in my time of waiting on Abby to fall asleep is my complete inability to control this situation.  I cannot make her go to sleep.  I can’t guarantee that she’ll sleep for any amount of time.  I can’t make sure Sophia stays asleep, either.  I can’t control these babies!  So as I wait for her to fall asleep, I worry; I reach for my quickest comfort, and I don’t receive comfort at all.  My girls’ naptimes are often wasted with worry and pacing and indecision.  I can just snack, I don’t need time or energy for that.

This post isn’t about over-eating.  I realize my weakness to snack when I’m stressed, and I must give myself grace here.  Awareness of that tendency is the biggest battle.  What this post is about, though, is that there’s something in my waiting time that I need to pay attention to.  Something has been making me so stressed, irritable and cranky.  I think it may simply be that my day is not mine to control.  I may be able to control parts of it, but I cannot control my children.  Abby will sleep when she sleeps, and Sophia will act how she’s going to act.  I can help Abby sleep, and I can discipline and help Sophia’s behavior.  But, I cannot control them.  I can’t make Abby sleep, and I can’t make Sophia be still during a diaper change or not throw a tantrum as we’re trying to leave the house.

This waiting is revelatory if I pause and take note.  This waiting reveals my need to control and my inability to do it.  This waiting reveals my weakness and my need for the Father.

I was reminded of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

As I wait for Abby to fall asleep, I want to humble myself (I cannot control this situation.), pray (Lord, be with me.  Help me trust You.), seek His face (He is with me.  He is trustworthy.), and turn from my worry and need to be in control (He is in control.) He will forgive me and heal me.

That feels like a deep breath.  Lord, give me a deep breath.

pulling my hair out

I’ve just spent the last 2 1/2 hours holding a fussy 7 week-old. Ugh.  Every time I set her down or put her down to nap she’d scream like somebody pinched her.  I put her on the breast every 30 minutes when everything else failed.  I tried rocking her to sleep, feeding her to sleep, she won’t take a pacifier… I don’t know, am I terribly impatient?  Her crying grates on my nerves, and after 2 hours I’m done.  After many of my own tears, I finally just laid her down and walked out of the room.  I looked at the clock and said, “I’m not going back in there until 3:00.”  That would’ve been like 13 minutes later.  I haven’t been able to take her crying lately.  A few minutes of crying in the crib, and I feel like I have to rush to get her.  Only it doesn’t help when I rush to get her.  Somehow, I seem to make matters worse.  The more times I go get her, the harder it is for her to fall asleep.  She cannot, will not fall asleep on me.  I don’t know.  Do I overstimulate her or do I smell too yummy and she can’t take it?  Maybe, I’m just too impatient.

So, Abby just fell asleep at 2:55.  She cried 7 minutes.  That’s not that long.  The thing is that I never know how long it will be, and these thoughts keep running through my head like, “This is it. She’ll never go to sleep. This will last all day and evening. I’ll never get a break. What’s wrong with me?” It’s so much harder for me to take the crying this second time around.  Sophia had to cry herself to sleep; it’s the only way she would go to sleep.  I guess that seems to be the case with Abby, too, but it’s just so dang hard to listen to it when I feel so helpless to do anything about it.  And, it’s especially hard when I’ve got a cranky toddler getting into everything, being needy and defiant all while the baby cries.  And, getting them to sleep at the same time?!  Could there be anything more stressful?  I think I need to take that pressure off of myself.  It’s just too difficult.  I wonder if my stress is noticeable to her?

I need some ME time. Why is this parenting thing so hard?  Why are newborns so difficult?

We took some pictures the other day and this morning when things weren’t hellish.  I hope you enjoy them.

who has time to blog?

Wow, so having two under two is just as much work as I thought it’d be.  No, it’s more.  My new sweet daughter is most precious, though she seems to cry all the time.  I think you forget just how much a newborn cries when you’re used to a toddler…

As a matter of an update: Abigail Eliyah Spicer was born December 11 at 4:33 p.m., 8 lbs. and 20 inches long.  After finally getting checked into the hospital at 2:30 p.m., I popped her out quickly thanks to a friendly anesthesiologist.  Lord, did I forget how much labor hurts!  If I deliver another, I will get a doula!

Abby is sweet.  She looks and acts so different than Sophia.  Her skin is pink and her hair is red and her eyes are a deep blue.  She has sweet red birth marks all over head and back.  We’ll see in the coming year how her looks change.  So far she is a completely different newborn than Sophia was.  She likes being swaddled, she’s easily overstimulated, and she nurses wide-awake, quickly but sloppily.  (Sophia hated being swaddled, slept anywhere, and always fell asleep at the breast.  She had yellow skin, brown hair and gray eyes…)  Abby sleeps too much at night and not enough during the day.  Oh, and also she’s kinda fat.  We need to photograph her arms!  They have the most amazing rolls!  Plump!

It’s been a rough 6 weeks.  As you can imagine, I’ve had no time to blog.  We started sleep-training with Abby on Friday.  Today, I am having much success!  Both of my girls have been asleep at the same time for two hours!  Yayah!  After trying to nap, cleaning house, washing dishes and doing laundry, here I am.  The most difficult thing with sleep training during the day seems to be catching Abby’s drowsy signals before she gets overtired and soothing her in time to put her in her crib calm, yet awake.  (Sophia doesn’t help this!  I’ve been so annoyed and so in love with her lately.)

Back to the rough 6 weeks.  We’ve been worried that Abby has the infamous “colick.”  If it’s simply defined as 3 hours of crying 3 days a week, then she has it for sure… But, we have good days.  And, those seem to be related to how well and often she sleeps.  An overtired baby is a cranky one!  We seems to have it diagnosed as gas and overtiredness.  Ask us next week… 😉

Here’s a few pictures.  I’m sorry we haven’t taken more.  I’m sure I’ll be telling her that in a few years, too.

Still asleep at 5, say what?!  I guess, I’m going to have to wake them both up!

a teething casualty

No, we don’t have a dog.  We have a teething baby girl.  Sophia’s been teething so hard that she chewed through this brand new Elmo board book.  Bless her heart.  She’s getting her four K9s all at the same time.  (Hence, the ornery behavior lately?)  We actually awoke to her screaming and bloody this morning.  Who knew that teething would cause your gums to bleed?  These 4 will make a total of 16 teeth!  For reals?  She just started getting teeth not but 4 months ago.  Once she’s done getting teeth, we may find out more about her personality.

18-months

At dinner tonight, Sophia held up her cheese, touched it to her chest and said, “Mine. Mine. Mine…. Mine… Mine…” over and over and over again.  Yes.  She has learned the word “mine.”  Last week she learned the word “no” and thoughtlessly answers “no” to everything.  If I had the patience to count how many times she said no in a day, I’d reach a number I haven’t personally counted to in a LOOOONG time!  Sophia is 18 months-old today.  I really wanted to celebrate today as a half birthday, but things didn’t go as planned.  It began with an early morning of crying and a swollen, achey mommy.  After a complete meltdown over a poopy diaper change, the day got off to a terribly start.  18-months old and I think I will say that the “terrible twos” have begun.  Her tantrum fits are taking on hitting and thrashing around, screaming and yelling “no,” running away, hiding and throwing herself on the floor.  Could we ask for a better time for this?  Really?  I actually wouldn’t be so upset about this stage happening now if it weren’t for the running away. She’s not listening to me when I ask her to do something, and on the way inside the house today she ran toward the street, laughing and thinking she was playing a game with me.  A car was coming but thankfully saw her and stopped.  She never made it off the curb, but I’ve never been more scared in my life.  I chased after her as quick as I could, snatched her up, and scolded her real good.  Something’s gotta change.  She can no longer be trusted to follow me indoors.  The hold my hand when we’re outside rule is officially in place.  Argh.  And, right before I have another one to hang on to…  Pray for me.

Parenting.  Yup.  We have definitely begun to discipline and punish.  I’m afraid I’m going to have a lot of adjusting to do as we really buckle down on Sophia’s behavior.  I want to discipline well, not out of anger and frustration but out of a heart that wants to guide her to good and safe behavior and her heart to one full of love.

heavy nesting

Well, we’re less than 4 weeks to the due date, and I’m nesting hard!  I hope I don’t go into labor anytime soon because I’ve got some projects in the works.  The upstairs bathroom needs all manner of storage solutions/decorating, and our bedroom (where the new baby will sleep for a time) needs to be rid of a hideous border, needs curtains, and needs a pretty major rearrange to accommodate a small nursery in the corner.  I just got the supplies to get started on these major projects.  I hope they don’t prove too big.  I finally have the energy and my foot has finally healed enough that I am rerring to go! Tomorrow we go in for the first “weekly” appointment where my cervix will be checked for dilation and ripening and what-not.  So, tomorrow we’ll know a little more if I am being a little too ambitious…. 😉

In other news Sophia has been hilarious lately!  I’ve really been realizing how much she’s growing up, too.  Her language skills are on the verge of blowing up.  She’s just started rote repeating us and her verbal comprehension is freaking unbelievable.  She doesn’t have all the sounds to work with, so repeating us is pretty funny.  A few minutes ago I was working on putting a shelf together for the bathroom and getting frustrated as one does with nothing to work with but an allen wrench and sweaty palms… when I exclaimed emphatically, “Oh crap!”  Sophia, only inches away from my side, says, “Oh sap!”  Wow!  That was a first!  Better watch your mouth, Mommy! Good thing she’s not around when Mommy and Daddy are playing video games… 😉

A few days ago, she first verbalized the word “no.”  She’s been shaking her head no for at least a year, but this is the first time the sound “no” or anything sounding like it came out of her mouth.  And, she said it for the first time yelling it 6 times in a row when she didn’t want to do something.  Woah!  She never does anything half-way, I’m realizing.  Since then, we have heard “no” at the door when Daddy goes to work, “no” when I take something away from her, and “no” when I’m putting her diaper on.  Argh!  I could’ve done without that word for a while.

We’ve also noticed that she understand so, so much.  When Will and I have been talking about something, she has understood just enough to go get something that one of us has mentioned and bring it to us.  Will and I are talking about going somewhere, out to eat or something, she goes to the door, picks up my purse or my shoes… Will and I were talking about Christmas gift ideas and I said, “I should get a pencil and paper and make a list.”  She immediately goes and finds paper for me to write on.  Mind you, we are not talking to her. We were talking to each other. She’s off playing by herself… or so we thought!

Moral of the story: your children are listening.

5 weeks left

We just got back from a 5-weeks left OB appointment.  I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.  Baby’s doing great.  Momma’s doing great.  To catch up to my weight gain in the last pregnancy, I still have 25 pounds left to gain!  HA!  That shows just how swollen with water I was last time.  My feet still look relatively normal, as does the rest of me.  I’ve experienced a few random times recently when my hands and feet puffed up, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to a certain kind of sitting for a certain amount of time.  Church last Sunday was the most recent scare.  Every time it happens I think, “This is it.  Here’s comes 20 pounds of water weight!” Thankfully, it goes away with some lying down.

I’m starting to get some of that end of pregnancy energy–nesting energy?  My foot’s doing a lot better, and I’m just excited to be up doing stuff.  Sophia’s not as excited as I am.  She cut a new molar last night, and either she’s having residual pain today or we may see a match on the other side in a few days.  Bless her heart.  I’ve been cooking up a storm today (more on that later) and she hasn’t appreciated the lack of attention.  I tried to let her help me wash dishes and chop vegetables, but everything seemed to end up in her mouth.  The new tooth explains recent biting, screaming and putting dirt and sand in her mouth.  Bless her heart.  I can tell she’s in pain.  She’s chewing her finger raw.

I found out some really disappointing news at the doctor today.  Because of the flu season and the extra swine flu scare this year, they are changing the labor and delivery hospital visitation rules for the next couple months.  For the duration of the labor and recovery, i.e. for the duration of Mom and Baby’s stay at the hospital, Momma and Baby are allowed ONE “designated support person” in the Birth and Women’s Center.  That’s right, ONE visitor.  ONE.  No other adults are allowed.  So, Daddy, in our case, right?  And, that’s it.  No grandparents, no siblings, no friends.  And, no children are allowed, period.  That’s right.  Sophia won’t even be able to visit us!  I’m freaking out a little.  I want the transition to be as least difficult as possible, and if Sophia is not even allowed to come visit us, see where we are, and get used to what’s going on, isn’t it going to be weird when we pop home from our two day vacation with a BRAND NEW BABY that she’s never seen!  She can visit us in the lobby, but that’s it.  I don’t think we can bring a nursery baby out to the lobby…  Hopefully, I’ll feel like stepping out there in my beautiful hospital gown to say Hi…  Oh…  But, what can we do?  It’s for our protection…