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In: Family Blog

March 14, 2013

Kiddisms #3

Milo: “The wind is not moving today”.

 

Milo copies Lilia and says: “Watch this, Lincoln.”

Linc: “Who is Lincoln?”

Milo points at me (Nicola) and says “him”

 

Milo is trying to pump air in the tires of his bicycle: “I need to put punk in my motorcycle.”

 

I take Felix’s rectal temperature. Milo says: “I want fever in my butt too.”

 

Milo: “Stop squishing me, Felix. Mami, Felix is squishy. Like Ava. Ava is ssss … smart.”

Nicola: “You are smart, too.”

Milo: “No, I’m not smart, I’m a big boy.

 

Milo: “Mami, you are Superman.”

Nicola: “And what is Felix?”

Milo: “Felix is a real small Superman.”

February 12, 2013

Baby Sleep Logic 101

People who think that sleeping like a baby is a good thing clearly have no clue what infant sleep really is like. Unless they mean to say that they wake up every few hours, want to sleep anywhere but in their bed, and can only fall asleep with the help of pacifiers, white noise machines, or by sucking their thumb.

When such clueless people (aka me 3 years ago) have a baby, they will try to apply their adult sleep habits to how their kid behaves or how they expect them to behave. Especially when babies are out of the newborn stage and start resembling a human, it just happens naturally to expect babies to follow common sense sleep logic. After only a few weeks of disappointment and sleep deprivation you begin to understand that they don’t. But you still wish they did. Then, when you finally gave up hope that they ever will sleep like a normal person, for some reason you still instinctively treat them as if they did. Only when you have fully and totally accepted that they just don’t make any freaking sense, is when they will surprise you with sleeping like a pro. Only for one night, of course.

SleepyKid-2

After months of frustration, I compiled this 101 of baby sleep logic to keep reminding myself that kids aren’t just small versions of us. As a parent of two ultimate sleep fighters, I might have dealt with some of these issues to the extreme and I am sure that other babies follow different nonsensical patterns. Luckily our babies were pretty good night sleepers and only had problems with naps during the day. And – I just broke baby sleep rule number 1:

1. Don’t jinx yourself. The day you brag about how well your child sleeps, it will be over. It’s like they want to prove you wrong and practice their rebellion early on. So do your happy dance quietly, but never ever post any sleep success on Facebook.

2. Babies only sleep long / deeply / independently / (enter your happy word here) when you don’t expect it or it’s super inconvenient. Not when you need to get something done or at their regular bed time, only when you actually have places to be.

3. On that same note – kids only sleep in on weekdays when you already have a tight morning routine, so you will end up having to wake a sleeping baby (=#1 parenting sin).

4. Babies wake up earlier the later you out them to bed. The natural bed time for most babies is earlier than you think / than it is convenient for going out for dinner. So, you might have the genius idea to try to push their bed time later. Sure enough the kid will wake up at 5 AM the next morning. Trust me, don’t you ever mess with a bed time that works for your child!

5. Also, the less / crappier a baby sleeps, the less / crappier a baby will sleep. Unlike an adult, kids won’t make up for sleep deprivation the following night. Once their regular sleep pattern is disturbed, it can only get worse and takes at least two days to go back to normal.

SleepyKid-3

6. Most babies don’t just close their eyes when they are tired and magically fall asleep by themselves. Those hilarious videos on Youtube where a baby falls asleep with his face in the food bowl only happen to 1% of us parents and only when you let your baby get seriously overtired (see rule #7 for overtiredness). The other 99% need to be put to to sleep by your active effort. Rocking, Singing, holding for 30 minutes have been reported in our house only to lead to a 30 minute nap.

7. When toddlers get overtired, they don’t voluntarily go to bed, but go nuts instead. They will run in circles, throw toys, yell at the top of their lungs, and go deaf as far as your reprimands are concerned. Afterwards they are so amped up that they will take twice as long to fall asleep as usual.

SleepyKid-7

8. Most babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently. In one way or another. After dealing with putting your fussy baby to sleep for a few months it is very likely to get fed up and just let them cry themselves to sleep. It happens to the best of us. And then magic – suddenly your kid knows how to fall asleep. For Felix all it took was one time of crying for 3 minutes until he realized: “Wait, I can do this.”

9. It takes only one day to untrain good sleep habits, but a full week to retrain. Typically happens when your kids are sick or teething, that you just have to rock them to sleep again even though you know they are perfectly capable of falling asleep by themselves and you have already done everything you can to alleviate their pain.

10. Night terrors are very different from nightmares, and you won’t know which one your kid has when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, until you go into their room. If you are able to calm them down, then it was a nightmare. If they freak out when they see you and then continue to scream the house down for the next 20 minutes, it was a night terror and the best approach would have been to stay the heck out.

 

Well then, good night everyone!

January 18, 2013

A Not So Merry Christmas

This year one of my big goals is to start all Christmas preparations way earlier than usual, so that I can finally experience a season of joy and peace rather than chaos and stress. But before that, let’s just wrap up last year real quick, shall we? 2012  was Felix’s first Christmas and Milo’s first time that he really understood what was going on. I had big dreams and plans to make it very special for our boys, but then life happened. Felix got very sick (sinus and ear infection, plus a bad cough with wheezing and trouble breathing) and Milo had a super emotional cranky phase. On top of that both kids were teething. Nobody in our house got nearly enough sleep and between December 17 and 27 we just wished for it all to be over.

We barely managed to get all Christmas preparations done and just wanted the kids to get better. The negative highlight of our holidays was spending Christmas Day with Felix at the urgent care clinic. No wonder we didn’t quite feel the festive spirit, right?

At least Milo didn’t seem to notice, so he had a good time with ripping presents open. We were wondering beforehand whether we would go with the whole Santa story or not. In the end we just kept it unspecific were the presents came from and I don’t think Milo cared enough yet. So maybe we will revisit this philosophic question this year. And are wishing for only one thing: Healthy and happy kids.

On these photos we look deceivably happy and healthy, but I swear we were all miserable inside. At least we won’t forever be reminded of a not so merry Christmas by these photos.

January 18, 2013

I’m Bigger!

That’s Milo’s favorite sentence these days and he can’t seem to stress it enough. Notice how he is not only big, but bigger? What he is trying to say is that he is a big boy and trust me, we are holding him up to this statement as often as needed. I think he got it from preschool, where the older class is allowed certain things that the little ones can’t do.

In some aspects Milo is really becoming a big boy. He goes to preschool 5 mornings a week and is learning so much. His speech is exploding and now 80% English and in full sentences. He is holding conversations with his friends and they can play totally self sufficiently together. Also, just like a big boy, Milo has a girlfriend. Actually, one in school (her name is Veda. They show each other their lunch boxes if you know what I mean ;-) and a different one in his free time (Lilia). He is definitely into older, dark haired girls. And they love him too.

Milo is now also using the toilet big boy style. About three months ago he started to become interested in the potty and voluntarily used it every time before bath or bed time. Sometimes also in the morning. Since he showed interest, knows how to pull pants down, and can say what he needs, I figured we’d give official potty training a shot. For Thanksgiving I had 4 days off and with united efforts Linc and I started mission potty training:

  • Day 1: Put Milo in underwear or without pants and sit him on the potty every half hour to get him into the routine of going potty and avoid accidents. Successfully even through the Thanksgiving party. We still put on a diaper for his nap and at night.
  • Day 2: Spacing potty visits out to every 1 hour. One accident. Milo had been holding his poop for two days because he doesn’t want to do it in the potty, then it plopped just out on the floor when he was without pants.
  • Day 3: Milo is tarting to say when he needs to go potty, but you gotta be fast because it comes out the same minute. So, we still put him on the potty eery hour. Another poop accident. This time in the pants.
  • Day 4: Discouraged by the poop accidents and the fact that Milo doesn’t seem to be able to hold stuff in, I put a diaper on him in the morning. But he doesn’t want it, so I explained to him how he needs to hold the pee in when he feels it coming and that he can use his hands to hold his junk if needed. He totally got it! (Sometimes I still underestimate this child’s brain growth and tend to give up instead of explaining things. Gotta get rid if that habit. He’s a smartie after all.) From then on we only put Milo on the potty before leaving the house or sleepy time and relied on him to let us know when he needed to go. No accidents! He’s successfully holding everything in until we get to a potty. even when out and about.
  • Day 5: First preschool day without diapers. I deposit 3 extra pants and underwear, but he doesn’t need them.
  • Day 7: After one week with diapers only for sleeping, the nap diaper is now staying dry. So we skip it and only keep the night diaper.
  • Day 30: Night diapers have been dry for two weeks, so we ditch them as well and never looked back.

That’s how Milo became completely dry within only a month. Much easier than anticipated.

He IS my big boy.

December 6, 2012

Family of Four

You ask – we answer.

So, how are we doing as a family of four?

  • Milo is still great with Felix. He sings him songs, makes him smile, and generally just cares for his wellbeing. When we are driving in the car and Felix starts to cry, Milo tells him ” No weinen, Felix. Gleich da” (“Don’t cry Felix, almost there”) He even said it the other day without Felix in the car when we were approaching our house and then got all concerned when he noticed that Felix wasn’t with us.
  • Milo is good with us now too. Right after Felix’s birth he had a major power struggle / tantrum phase. Whether it was related to Felix’s birth or just coincidence (Hello terrible twos!), we will never know. There were weeks when he would do only the opposite of what we said, not follow the simplest request, and throw things on purpose just to provoke us. All day long. Every single chore like a diaper change, getting him to eat, or change his shirt became a power struggle. But somehow we got through it. With lots of patience and persistance. I guess Milo understood that some things in life are non-negotiable and the only place his tantrums will get him is his room.
  • We, the parents are close to a burn out. We are basically just functioning. Taking care of babies, work, taking care of errands, sleep for a few hours. Repeat. At the end of the week we really miss spending quality time with each other and somehow manage to squeeze in an hour long in-house date night. But with Felix becoming less needy and Milo being pretty cooperative these days, things are definitely starting to look up.
October 10, 2012

The Booby Trap

Disclaimer: This is a post about female breasts – mine to be precise – and there won’t be any photos. This is a vent about my love-hate relationship with breastfeeding.

I breastfed Milo for 6 months and thought about quitting every single day. In the end a dehydrating attack of food poising made the decision for me. I am hoping for something similar to happen with Felix again. Not the food poisoning (most liquid evacuation of my body ever!!!), but something that gets me off the drug at a reasonable point of time.

Yes, breastfeeding is a drug. Once you start it, it is really hard to say no to the rush of Oxytocin from it – that blissful hormone that balances out at least a little bit of all the other stress. Why did I start breastfeeding? Because it’s the natural thing to do, it’s best for baby, and it’s free. Also it is kind of convenient not having to remember to pack any more stuff in the diaper bag (bottles, formula). And not having to clean bottles. I also can’t deny that I really dig my temporary boob enlargement. Finally some normally sized breasts that fill out bras.

It will be a sad day when they disappear forever. But also a liberating day. Breastfeeding is a very exhausting one-person job. A job that is entirely on me – day and night. If you know me, you know how independence is the essence of my being and being pinned down like that is causing slight symptoms of depression. Not only because of breastfeeding, but in combination with total exhaustion I secretly cry a little bit every day.

I hate breastfeeding with a passion. When baby just wants to use me as a pacifier for hours, when I have to be sitting down in a quiet spot at an event instead of being able to join in on the fun. When the boobs get too full and you have to abort any activity or outing after 3 hours just to get back home to being sucked empty again. Also, breastfeeding is very messy. Milk. sprays. everywhere. I go through at least three burp cloths a day just to catch half of the leaking milk and will still find milk spots on all our couches. For something that’s so natural, breastfeeding is not as easy as it should be. I think I don’t know any mom who hasn’t had issues with undersupply, oversupply, baby not latching right, food sensitivities via breast milk, etc.

My boob’s problem is a forceful let-down. Meaning that the milk shoots out very fast and strong. Causing baby to pull off and it spraying everywhere. Alternatively causing him to gulp, swallow lots of air, and become very gassy and miserable. I could pose the question if this really best for me and my baby, but it doesn’t matter because I know I will keep going anyway.

September 14, 2012

Night And Day

With the first child you kind of have no clue what’s gonna happen. What is he gonna look like? How is labor gonna work out? Which day will he born? Will he be a good sleeper?

With the second one you think you know and expect everything to be the same as with the first one. I couldn’t imagine Felix to look any different from Milo, I thought labor is gonna feel exactly the same and be a slow process again and I thought he was gonna be born a few days before his due date. Guess who was wrong.

Felix’s labor and delivery was very different from Milo’s birth experience. Since I never told Milo’s story, let’s rewind real quick. The whole process was pretty straight forward with Milo. I had some slight crampiness the two nights before everything started and didn’t get much sleep. Regular but painless contractions started at 6 AM on the 11th of August 2010. Linc and I went to Target to get some last supplies and had lunch at Cosi. At that point the contractions were 5 minutes apart and I could not stand to sit on my butt during contractions. Imagine that big pregnant lady at the restaurant standing up from her chair every 5 minutes.

Around dinner time the contractions became really painful and I couldn’t talk through them any more. They mostly were a huge pain in the butt. Literally. Milo’s head must have been pushing on a nerve down there and all I felt was (beware, major TMI) a knife up my butt with every contraction. Around midnight we went to the hospital. I was 4 cm dilated and the contractions became further than 5 minutes apart again. My whole body was just tired from standing up for 12 hours straight. So after 12 hours of trying to natural I decided to get some relief through an epidural and could not thank the anesthesiologist enough for putting it in quickly. It was another 11 hours before I could push Milo out for 1.5 hours. For a total of 18 hours of active labor the result was a totally exhausted mom.

 

And then came Felix. Or so I thought. I started to have regular but painless contractions on Thursday evening, August 9. Getting all excited that we will have a baby that night, we finished some last minute house cleaning and bag packing. Then I decided to lay down for a bit to preserve energy for when things get painful. Well, I woke up the next morning and the contractions were gone, no baby here. What a disappointment!

The same thing happened the three following days. Sunday it was Milo’s birthday. We went to the park and had a nice family day together. I was having the same fake contractions the whole time, but had kind of given up hope that they would ever turn into real labor. I swore that I would probably have the baby at home because I wouldn’t believe it when the real thing would finally happen.

Sunday night I did some baby shifting exercises because I figured that all these practice runs were meant to bring the baby into the right position. He had been facing backward the whole pregnancy and babies that lay that way have a harder time coming out. Little did I know that this was exactly the help my little man needed. I lifted my belly during a few contractions, then laid down to sleep, when all of a sudden I felt a big shift inside of me, almost like a pop, and contractions became 3 minutes apart and painful immediately after. This was at 1 AM. We waited another 2 hours at home to make sure it was the real deal and then checked into the hospital at 3 AM. At that point I was well into active labor, but still managed to breathe through the contractions. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as with Milo and most important – it wasn’t in my butt. These were real manageable contractions. I was so happy to experience some normal non-crazy labor.

Over the next few hours my cervix kept dialating 1 cm an hour, but my contractions started to grow further apart to every 6-7 minutes. Therefore the midwives suggested to break my water to speed things up again. At this point I was still able to manage the contractions without pain meds, but the thought of having them every 2 minutes instead of every 6 made me decide to get an epidural before breaking the water. Everything was going so calmly that I did not want this peaceful labor experience ruined by a crazy finale. I will never find out if I could have done it completely without pain meds, but I do know that I had the nicest and peaceful labor experience I could wish for.

After breaking the water at 8 AM and 8 cm dilation, contractions came back to back and got me fully dilated in less than two hours. I started to feel a lot of pressure in the upper belly and asked the nurse if I could up the dosage of the epidural. Turns out that pressure was the baby ready to come out. I was fully dilated and ready to push. Unfortunately the midwife was helping somebody else at that time and it took her seemingly forever to get to me. By the time she got there, Felix almost slipped out by himself. It took only 2 pushes and he made his entrance to the world. Best. Moment. Ever! Meeting my two babies have been the overwhelmingly happiest moments in my life and make the whole 9 months and labor so worth it. I love giving birth and would to it again every year, if it didn’t involve ending up with more and more children.

We are pretty sure that our family is complete now. Milo has a buddy, our bedrooms are all occupied, and we are ready to move on with our lives – getting back to do fun things like bike rides, camping, rolling down hills, and such. While newborns are certainly cute and I love my new son, they certainly put a hold on your life for a good few months. I couldn’t imagine being restricted by pregnancy and a newborn sleep schedule for a good part of my active life. Now just a few more months and we’ll be back in business!