Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sleep problems

They say that whatever sleep "technique" you are using is alright if it works for you.  And every baby has a different temperament, and every family has different style.  That's why I've always been wary of all the literature out there to sleep train.  Oh, and the MCADD, which means that we still have to feed at night.

But whatever we are doing is not working for us right now.  What to do?  Have we taught her really bad sleeping habits?  (On that note, is it possible to treat an FOD baby to the  "normal" sleep training techniques?  We have to feed her on regular intervals.)

She used to sleep fine, waking up a couple of times a night when she was due for a feed.  It's like her internal clock knew to expect the next meal.  But this last couple of week have been bad.  She keeps randomly waking up, we adjust her paci, sometimes that's not enough and I have to feed her.

In a couple of weeks, we'll be meeting with her Metabolic Specialist, and they should be giving us the go-ahead to go 5 hours between feeds (and in another month 6, then 7, then 8!!!).  But I can't help but think that it sounds like a bit of a joke.  Riiiight.... She won't sleep 5 hours in a row...  We haven't had to wake her to eat in a while.  Since we stopped setting the alarm a couple of months ago, we've let her hunger cues wake us.  Usually it's every 4 hours at night.  It's been 4.5 or even 5 a few times, but not usually.  And the last couple of weeks, it's been every 2-3 hours.

She also was sick last week.  Is that why her sleep patterns are still messed up?  Is this a temporary issue until her body completely rids itself of all traces of the virus?

Or, the more typical culprit, is it a growth spurt?  I know there's supposed to be one at around 6 months.  It would explain why she's nursing sooooo much at night. It would also mean it's temporary, which would be wonderful

Or maybe we need to go back to co-sleeping.  Or move the crib to her own area of the room.  I don't like this second option because we still have to nurse twice a night, and I'd rather not have to *get up* for that.  But I'm not too excited to bed share again, I've enjoyed these last few weeks where we sprawl and take over our mattress.

I don't like second guessing so much.  Ha ha, I better get used to it, it's part of this whole parenting gig, right?
We are thinking of trying the No Cry Sleep Solution, from the Baby Whisperer books, as soon as Cupcake and I make it to the library.

Will that even work with an FOD kid?  I fear that Cupcake will wake up, we will get her back asleep, only to have to wake her after an hour and half to feed.  Something about that feels very counterproductive.  More on this as it progresses.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What do you do with a crying baby in a car?

Yesterday we had a strange crying incident at the grocery store. Cupcake was getting fussy near the end of the shopping session, making tired nooses, sounding like she was *about* to start crying.   That's not the strange part, btw, that's just a baby getting tired of being out for errands all afternoon.

The crazy part was once we got her in the car seat, thinking she'd finally relax and let the car lull her to sleep.   Oh, we were so naive.   Apparently, what she wanted was to scream and cry uncontrollably.   I'm not usually so utterly defeated by my own child, but there was NOTHING I could do to distract her. My songs, rhymes, and sleep-shushes fell on deaf ears.   She just kept crying.  And have you ever been trapped in a car with a hysterical baby?  Exactly.  

I felt so helpless.  I knew in my heart of hearts that there was nothing actually wrong with her - she wasn't hungry, in pain or had a dirty diaper.   She just looked tired.   Actually, I suspect that we finally learned today what true over tiredness looks like. (The books talk about it, but I swear I thought being over tired was just parents being dramatic, which wouldn't be the craziest assumption ever.  My apologies.)

Eventually I had no choice but to give up and cry along side her. After a few more blocks of this Nate and I switched places.  I drove us the rest of the way home and he finally managed to distract her, though briefly, with a rattle.  It was sooooo exhausting.   We got home, got her out of the car seat, and I rocked for not even two minutes and she was OUT. (Nate, mean while, was his usual rock star self and unloaded the groceries, carried our stuff and parked the car)  On a side note, we had to aspirate her nose, which was probably a huge factor in her frustration.

Blegh, not fun.

On the positive side note, we now KNOW that we're not cut out for CIO (Cry It Out) as a valid form of sleep training.  I'd always suspected that letting a baby cry just didn't "jive" with our temperament, but now we have confirmed it.  

Granted, proper CIO involves making sure all your baby's basic needs are met, and then letting them cry in a controlled environment while you cover you ears in the other room.  But my heart broke for Cupcake screaming in the car, tears flowing freely down her red cheeks.  It stressed me to no end.  Sure, letting her cry for 30 minutes might get her to fall asleep at night on her own, but I just don't think I'd be able to sleep knowing that she had cried so much.  Call me sappy, but I would just have bad dreams of Cupcake being in a crisis and me not being there to help her.  Nate is right there with me, so we're a unified front.   And what's good is a sleeping baby if you can't catch a wink yourself?

Well, glad at least we got that part of our parenting philosophy figured out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Babywearing an under-the-weather baby

If I wasn't enough of a baby-wearing fan, I can now add a new dimension:  keeping your sanity while your baby is sick.

Cupcake's had a cold, which I talked about on my last entry.   So, as anyone who's feeling yucky, she wants to be held more.  So I've been using our sling a lot, the same one I maligned before because it's on the big side.  The thing with this sling is that I can't take it outside, it just doesn't feel secure.  However, in the safety of home, when Cupcake wants to be cradled, its the perfect thing.

I'll just bounce on our yoga ball, and have her on the sling.  Sometimes she falls asleep on it, other times it's just not comfortable so I'll have to get her out and hold her on my lap on the couch.  The house is falling apart, but I could care less.  Cupcake is sick, and I want to make sure she's as comfortable as possible.  I mean, when I get sick, I like attention and hugs (really, I want my mommy).  So why wouldn't my baby be any different?

I've also been using the Ergo a lot, since she also naps on that.  The main problem is that she's been needing me to be moving-moving-constantly-in-motion. It's okay, it's what she needs.

We also hit a baby-wearing milestone, if you can call it that.  Yesterday, while she was sleeping on the ergo, I managed to successfully use the bathroom without waking.  I'm not sure if it was an inevitable turn of events, but I'm still amused that it happened.

So, yay for baby-wearing.  Not just for carrying the baby outside.  If it wasn't for my carriers, my arms would be falling off right about now.  I love holding her, but I can't wait until she's feeling better and wants to play on the floor again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today's sickness scare

I know that childhood illnesses are common.  My mom likes to joke that babies go from having the sniffles, to stomach aches, to growing pains, to teething, to having the sniffles again. (rinse, lather, repeat)  This doesn't make it any easier when they are sick, specially if you've been told your baby has MCAD and a common illness could land them in the ER.

We are currently going through Cupcake's third cold of her life. The first one was just a stuffy nose and dry cough that would. not. go. away.   The second was at about 4 months, and included coughing, stuffy noses and a slight fever.  We gave her L-Carnitine and were in touch with the Metabolic center, but it never got out of control.  Then we had this scare.

Actually, I don't know if we are fully out of the woods yet, as we are in the middle of the cold, but things seem to have stabilized.

After having a HORRIBLE night where Cupcake's coughs kept waking her up, she seemed to "wake up" around 7 am.  Now, this is ridiculously early for her, as her usual morning starts around 9:30 am.  Since she'd been waking and feeding through the night, I thought it was just another cold related issue and proceeded to feed her while lying next to her in bed.  She ate, things were normal, and then she projectile vomited all over herself, my pillow and the fitted sheet.  Gross.

Also..... the he!!?  I'd never seen so much partially digested breast milk in my life.  I didn't even know my boobs could hold that much liquid.   She calmed down after a couple of minutes and I set her on her stroller (her new favorite place to sit and play) while I removed the sheets and attempted to clean up.  Then, about 10 minutes later I tried to feed her again, and half way through she started to cough and.... she projectile vomited again, this time mostly on my pajama pants and the floor.

I'm usually not an alarmist, but man, this is exactly what her Metabolic doctor warned us about.

So I'm having a thousand thoughts a minute while I try to figure things out.... I have Mt Sinai on my contact list and have to call them..... where is our ER letter.... why isn't Nate back from dealing with our car battery.....  do I feed her? do I wait?  Does she have a temperature?   Do I have to go to the ER right NOW?   And if so, do I just take her on the carrier? Should I pack the stroller?  And where is my insurance card?

The Metabolic doctor called back and didn't really help my nerves.  Basically, they said to try feeding her one more time, and if she vomited again we should go to the ER immediately. I was in slightly hysterical tears at this point, and its a good thing Nate got home, because I was probably making Cupcake anxious. 

So I tried feeding her again, this time holding her head very high and very slowly.  After a couple of minutes, when she pulled off to breathe, Nate took her.  She cried, probably still hungry, but calmed down when he took her to the bathroom to look at her reflection.  After 10 minutes, when were sure the milk was staying in her system, I gave her a little bit more.  We did this 5 more time, and she thew a couple of more times, but this time we knew that at least some of the milk was staying in her system.

So we decided that she was okay.  I was still plagued with doubt.  Were we mocking the gods, playing it too close?  Since she had still thrown up, had she ingested enough?  Would we recognize when she became lethargic, and would it be too late at that point? 
I hate second guessing myself, specially since I tend to believe little colds are just part of the human experience.

We ended up going to our regular pediatrician, since Cupcake had a low-grade fever, who examined her and informed us that she did not have an ear infection or bronchitis.  In other words, just a cold, and the fever should pass.  At this point I allowed my body to finally relax, secure in the knowledge it wasn't anything serious.  It wasn't a major infection, it wasn't the flu.

She might still throw up again tomorrow.  Hell, we could still end up in the ER. But I think the worse is over.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Flying with a baby

We've just spent 10 days visiting the grandparents in Texas, and man, it's been amazing and exhausting.

This is actually Cupcake's second trip on a plane, but the first time she was 2 1/2 months and slept the entire flight. (Of course, at the time, I was super terrified of having that baby that would cry the entire plane ride.  Silly me, not realizing that babies under 3 months sleep and sleep and sleep some more).  Five-and-a-half-month-olds, however, stay awake for 2 hours at a time, need to be entertained, and have clear idea of what they want.  And they like to express it.

So here are my tips for flying with a baby older than 4 months, old enough to be awake, but not quite crawling/walking yet.

 -  Take a carrier.  We had an Ergo (awesome!), but really, any carrier that your baby is used to will do.  We were able to move around the airport with no problems, and Cupcake was close to me at all times.  We took a stroller as well, but we just piled it with all the stuff and rolled it (hello free airport cart!).  I even used the Ergo to rock her to sleep while we were flying.  I just bounced around the cabin during the roaming times.  People probably though I was crazy, but who cares, the baby was content.

- The stroller/car seat can be gate checked.  We also had Nate go into the plane first (when they called for all the people with small children to board early) so he could take care of disassembling the stroller, getting our carry-ons on the overhead compartment, and get our space set up.  I went in at the very end to minimize the time cupcake would spend in the plane.

- If possible, see if your neighbors can move to another row.  This worked wonderfully on our flight to Houston, where we had three seats to ourselves.  Cupcake had room to sit, stretch, and we were able to change her diaper on the seats.  On the flight back, however, we had no such luxury, as it was a full.

- Take a boppy pillow.  Seriously.  Though it seems like a bulky item to take as a carry on, it helped us sooo much.  We just crammed it into a rolling carry-on and took it out once we were on the plane.  I was able to breastfeed comfortable, support her so she could sit on her own seat, and have her nap on me without my legs going numb.

- This is an oldie but goodie, but feed during takeoff and landing.  I discovered that once cupcake began to be upset with landing, I didn't care who saw my boob, it was just about keeping my baby happy.  And you know what?  no one seems to care if you feed your baby on the plane.  I guess people would rather have a nipple  flash than hear a cranky crying baby, and I don't blame them.

- Pack three extra outfits.  Because yes, they will have a blowout on the plane.  Not in the airport.  Not right before you leave, while still in the comfort of your home (unless, of course, you have packed all their clothes and the cab is waiting outside).  And they will need changing.  So it's easier to just prepare for the diaper equivalent to the apocalypse.

In the end, what made the biggest difference was having both of us there with Cupcake. Even though the bulk on the baby entertaining and soothing fell on me (she seemed to have a serious case of mamitis), it was still reassuring to know that Nate was there to hand off the baby when I needed to use the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sleep training an MCAD baby?

MCAD and sleeping through the night don't go hand in hand.  So while many fellow moms are debating their parenting philosophies regarding nighttime, we are secure in knowing we are not going to get a full night sleep for many months.  Whether Cupcake wants to or not.

It's surprisingly freeing, and we also figured we wouldn't have to deal with sleep training.  After all, the ultimate goal in all the techniques is getting the baby to sleep through the night uninterrupted, so it didn't apply to us.

And yet....

Originally we had to set the alarm and dream feed Cupcake, as she would sleep the whole night with no problems.  Back in those first three months we though we had the best baby EV-ER, and we would curse the MCADD that wouldn't let us sleep.  Then the 4 month sleep regression happened, and she started waking up a couple of times a night before the alarm clock.  This was fine, as it felt much more natural to feed an awake and hungry baby than a sleeping one.  But waking 2 times a night begat 3 times a night, and before we knew it, she was waking 4+ times and I was feeding her every time.

It made sense to nurse her for every night waking.  Firstly, its the fastest way to get her back asleep.  But mostly it was a way to make sure she wasn't fasting at any point in the night.  However, this system is not sustainable, and even the most dedicated of moms needs to get sleep once in a while.  We had to figure out a way to get her back to the 4 hour nighttime schedule.

We started our own version of sleep training.  No crying, lots of rocking and soothing, and eventually, at just about the 4 hour mark, we'd feed.  The idea is that she'll be actually hungrier then and eat more, which will hold her over for another 4 hours.  I just can't have her lightly grazing every night, it's too much for me and I end up being a snappy mom the next day from sleep deprivation.

It's not a fool proof system.  One of the nights we managed to soothe her back to sleep at 4:30 am, only to find her asleep at 6 am when she was due to eat.  Which then gets us in the never-wake-a-sleeping baby conundrum.   So... should I feed her at 4:30 have her graze every 2-3 hours (and she'll eat when she's awake, yay), or try to get her in a schedule but have to make sure I'm setting the alarm?  I like the stability of her eating on a schedule at night; I don't have to worry about tracking when she ate last, which is hard to do when one is half asleep.

The books don't have answers.  There doesn't seem to be any advice out there for this type of situation.  So we soldier on, doing our modified sleep training, and as we rock her, we imagine the Rocky theme in the background.  Actually, I have sung her to Rocky music to sleep before. She seems to like it.

Joining a Mom group

I remember a time before I joined the neighborhood parent group.  Those dark days when I thought it might be silly to join an email list-serve (that, and our group actually charges a nominal joining fee).

What was I thinking?

I honestly don't know how we would have survived the last 4 months without our mom group.  I say four months because we had help from family the first month of Cupcake's life.  And I was still recovering from the c-section and getting my bearings with this whole parenting thing, so I was in no condition to socialize anyway.  Since we joined we are now part of a community, we interact with other moms and babies, we exchange parenting advice, we laugh and cry together, and mostly, it's an excuse to get out of the house.  It's a reference point.  I joke to Nate that those are my work meetings, and them my co-workers.  It makes sense if you see parenting as a job (though underpaid, under-appreciated, and much more rewarding), so these outings are part of the social interaction would happen at every office.

Not that I'm preaching, but every new mom (specially those that aren't back at work) should join a mom group.  Yes, I thought it might be silly too.  But then I realized that when I first moved to NYC, I joined a volleyball team with the intention of making new friends through a common interest.  And I made some wonderful friends there.  So really, why shouldn't I join a group where we had the new-parent aspect in common.

Now our schedules are full.  Mondays it's one coffee shop,Tuesdays another, Wednesdays play-dates at rotating houses, Thursday's free, and Fridays a nearby cafe.  There have even been brunch outings on the weekends.  These outings fill our days and add a sense of structure to our week.  And all this through the worst of winter, so I can't wait to see how active we'll be now that the weather is getting nicer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New blog format

There.  I did it.  I moved over to Blogger, where the grass is indeed greener.  

Nate has been strangely supportive of my re-hauling of this blog, as he's usually more reticent of too much internet.  In all honesty, I'm anti-internet too, but I think that we all need an outlet from life when it begins to get overwhelming.  i mean,   I could talk his ear off with everything going on in my head, or I can write it down here, and still talk to him for hours, but not as much.

Hopefully this platform will be everything people say it is.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Getting the hang of the Ergo

Finally!  We did it!

Cupcake has taken to the Ergo carrier, and will now stay happily on it for long periods on time.  On Saturday she even fell asleep on it when we went out.  And once we got home she stayed napping for her usual 40 minutes, even though she was bundled up for the outdoors.

This is a new chapter in our baby wearing and our mobility.  I will once again be able to take her places without worrying about taking the stroller down our stairs.  We used to do fine with the moby and/or bjorn, but at some point she stopped napping on it, and it became very limiting since I'd have to make sure we were back by nap time or risk a total meltdown.   I think I still prefer the stroller, since there's no constant weight on me and she naps beautifully on it, but it's nice to know that once again we can hop outside for a quick errand.

La Leche League meeting

I'm officially obsessed with parenting.  What can I say, Cupcake just turned 5 months, and she's just so .... awake, aware of the world, and opinionated.  And those opinions include not wanting to nap longer than 40 minutes at a time, a dictator-like control of exactly when she wants to be held and for how long, and waking up several time through the night to... hang out, I guess, I'm not sure what her agenda is there.

The night wakings are of particular stress to me.  Not just because I'm someone who enjoys my sleep (will I ever get to experience the wonders of sleeping in again?), but because they intersect with parenting philosophies and her MCADD needs.   Most of the people in our Mom group seem to be going through sleep training, or at least the most vocal moms.  And I hear them comparing CIO stories, or how their babies are now sleeping 10 hours straight, or whether it was hard to give them tough love but now they're sleeping in their own room, etc.  Why does it feel like they all joined forces and did this at the same time?  Did I miss the sleep training memo?   I was beginning to feel like the odd duck.

Then I met the lovely ladies of our local La Leche League chapter.  What an amazing group of women dedicated to breastfeeding and helping each other through the process.  And also,we  finally saw the crazy attachment parents I'd been waiting to meet since I found out I was pregnant.  I was beginning to think Brooklyn had become mainstream.  And boy, they were incredibly reassuring to  my parenting instincts.  Sometimes it's good to see the extreme version of your parenting philosophy, and have that mother content and functional, to appreciate your own position in the middle.

Their attitude towards nigh wakings was refreshing.  I'm paraphrasing the things they would say:

- I love the night feedings , its my chance to bond with my baby, just the two of us without all the distractions of the world

- Its how I make sure she's getting all the nutrition she needs

- You must feed regularly through the night to keep your milk supply, what, you don't feed 5 times through the night, oh you poor dear!

- Of course I co-sleep, it makes it so much easier to feed those 5 times per night that the baby needs for nutrition and bonding!

Finally!  People who respond to night-parenting by breastfeeding and think it's great!  When talking to other people who are sleep training, I'd always felt that MCAD was the only reason why I was staying up with the baby.  Now I realize that there are many many wonderful (not insane) mothers who also feed on demand at night.  It's a way of seeing our night routine as a parenting choice rather than the consequence of Cupcake's disorder.

Next meeting is in a month.  I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Today is one of those days when I feel that I'm failing as a mother.  Cupcake has needs that I just can't meet.  Where did my chill happy baby go?  Why was she replaced with the fussy machine that needs constant attention?

I joined our mom group in a walk in the park.  After surviving a brutal winter, today was one of those spring days that makes people prematurely decide the cold is over (it's 50 degrees you say?  Off with the coat!).  Yeah, the wind chill factor actually made it much less desirable to be out than we suspected.  Nevertheless, it was nicer than its been in a while, so we went to do the Park loop, which is probably about 3 miles long.

So off we are, Cupcake in her stroller, me with my tennis shoes ready for action.  Within minutes Cupcake falls asleep, as she's wont to do.  And life is good.  But then we had to stop so a fellow mom can feed her fussy baby, and I realize that it's awfully close to cupcake's feeding time too (I had topped her off right before leaving, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that she's sleep through her feeding time.)   I guess the lack of motion woke her up, but once Cupcake was up I figured I might as well feed her too.  She fed fine, just one side, and seemed content with it.  Or maybe she wasn't fully content, but it was so windy and cold, and she so uncovered, that I decided that she'd eaten enough to satisfy her metabolic needs.  In any case, she went back on the stroller and proceeded to munch on her toy.  I thought nothing of it.

What followed was 40-60 minutes of constant whining.  Her pacifier kept falling off and I'd reposition it, then she'd take it off herself and suck her finger, then she'd look sleepy and need the paci back, and start the process all over again.  It was windy, and I wanted to cover her from the drafts, so I had to open the stroller every time she needed anything.  Her hands felt freezing since they were wet and covered in drool.  Stressful, to say the least.  And all this was happening at the furthest point of the loop, so my only choice was to keep going, going, going until we reached our side of the park.

I'm so frustrated.  I feel like I'm failing at some mothering skill that made everyone elses' babies hang out happily on their strollers the duration ofthe ride.  Other kids stay on their carriers for hours, or take long 2 hour naps on their strollers, or seem overall better adjusted to the realities of being outside of the house for long periods of time.  Cupcake can do everything on 40 minute limits.  She naps on her stroller with no problem, but once the 40 minutes are up she needs to be OUT NOW.  There's also a time frame on her carrier, and she wont sleep on it.

I'm so overwhelmed by this low attention span problem.  I can't take her out for long periods of time.  What will happen when I want to take her to Manhattan and she gets fed up with her stroller/carrier when we are there?  There's no turning back at the point, I'm afraid.

This just feels so permanent, like it will never end.  It gets better, right?  They learn to stay in one place longer, their antsiness gets more under control, doesn't it?  I really hope it does.