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It’s three in the morning

3 Jul

A combination of hot weather and high allergy season is making life in our household unbearable. I am just collateral damage in this little skirmish of discomfort. I’ve got no allergies, and the skin of an alligator. Plus, I don’t much care about hot or cold – my Midwestern upbringing and all. My only bane is that I have trouble falling back asleep if I somehow find myself up in the middle of the night or early morning. And so, the discomfort of mama and baby had me up at 3am.

Baby has a cough but no fever, which means that every 30 seconds or so, all through the night, he’s coughing himself half-awake. I think it is because his nose is stuffed up, and that as he relaxes into sleep, he tries to breath through his nose rather than his mouth. Congestion, catch, cough cough. Rinse. Repeat.

Finally, I picked up the little sleepy hotbox and held him to my chest and shoulder, where he eased up his breathing and fell back asleep. We ended up sleeping on the sofa together, in front of the window air conditioner unit, him sleeping on my chest. It was sweet, and intimate, and hot and not restful. Baby likes to kick his feet a bit while sleeping, and since he is still in the shoes and brace, this means a little jab in the gut every so often.

We did drift back into sleep finally, until a couple of hours later he half-woke again. At that point, I picked him up and tipped him back into his crib, where he slept until 6:45 or so. When he did wake up for reals, he was in a good perky mood. “Did you have good sleeps?” we ask him every morning when we take him out of his crib. Big smiles, “yes,” he always answers.

This too shall pass, and the weather will turn, and he’ll be too big to sleep on my chest, and he won’t really want to anyhow. For now, even looking back at three in the morning, everything is wonderful. Full of wonder.

The cryin’ aint never gonna stop

23 Aug

I don’t know if there is a causal connection here, but yesterday I write to my family updating them on baby’s development: “He is delighted with the world, probably 85% of the time. Just giant smiles, giggles, a halting but increasingly full-throated laugh. About 10% of the time, he’s just chill. And the other 5% he fusses, cries,
complains, and does other baby-like things.”

And this morning he wakes up at 3:50am crying, not going back to sleep. And now it’s 4:50am and I’m sitting here awake writing a blog post. WTF, baby?

UPDATE @5:25AM: The baby finally stopped crying. Or else the blood leaking from my ears has succeeded in muffling the sound.

Dead man walking

3 Aug

At least that is how I feel today. After getting home from HI around midday, I’ve gone from high energy to low energy, to dead on my feet. It didn’t help that baby, who went to sleep around 7:30pm last night, woke at 9, then 10:30, crying hysterically. 40 minutes later, like the awesome parent that I am, I was still all, ‘screw you, baby, cry it out sucka!’ But baby mama relented, went to play with our poor little thing, and then around midnight he (and partner) apparently went to sleep.

And they were still sleeping at 6 this morning! I, meanwhile, trudged off to my day job, which I had been neglecting for weeks (vacation? Pah!). And here I sit, like the dead, looking at my schedule and screen and trying to remember, wait, what did I even come here for this morning?

Anyhow, things in our household are back on rails. The dead iphone, which baby mama tossed in the washing machine, has limped back to life for now. A bag ‘o rice has delayed the inevitable corrosion and digital death for a bit of time at least. Ah, rice, you are both delicious AND an effective moisture wicker. When the rapture/heatpocalypse/snowpocalypse/zombiepocalypse comes, surely you will survive unscathed.

Things are afoot as well, baby-wise. Brooklyn baby is getting close to being mobile. It’s just a hop skip and a jump from there to mobile, agile, hostile. He’s got four teeth on top, and a couple on bottom; he craps bigger than Billy Crystal.

On the agenda this week: pick up my computer, contemplate a replacement phone, make some more baby food (pearsauce! peachsauce! minestrone soup!), get some sleep, re-find my bloggidy-voice. Finish Dance with Dragons. Gear up for more Sunday supper.

Remember, siate la fiamma non la falena!

Water

1 Jun

I got a little cute with my attempts to get baby to sleep through the night. I had been reducing the amount of formula per ounces, from 1 scoop / 2oz. to 1.5 scoops, to 1 scoop. Then last Thursday I decided to just full-on give the boy water instead of any formula at all, at his 2am wake-up.

The result? He took two tries at the bottle, looked at me like I was a total asshole, and began to cry. I responded by putting him back in his sleep sack and trying to get him to go back to bed. His polite rejoinder was to cry on-and-off for the next three hours, until baby mama fed him at 5am.

On Friday, bleary-eyed and pissed off at everyone and everything, we packed up and went to Boston to visit ohana for the weekend. I got a wicked summer cold. We switched all the back to baby mama doing the midnight feeding as breastfeeding rather than bottle. Baby continued his 3am wake-up, then 5:30 wake-up throughout the weekend. Then wife got sick for the ride home. Now we’re home, baby is back to waking up at 3am, then 6am, I fed him in the morning with a full-flavored formula bottle, and now he’s getting a cold.

So, yeah, definitely lost that round.

Cry it out, boy!

25 May

I wrote what I hope was a thoughtful response to a parent on a support group board, about sleeping and crying it out. It turns out that it was our ‘CIO story’, in the sense that people apparently like to share the nitty-gritty of these kinds of experiences. I thought I would reproduce and maybe expand here. Sharing is caring.

I mentioned that we were doing this a bit ago. It’s been about a month or so since we started the CIO razzamatazz. Here are more of the gory details. If you don’t care about our baby’s sleep habits, you should go read about Huguette Clark and her massive amount of money and weird obsession with dolls. Who gives you the best content, eh? I do.

Anyhoooo. Let’s go in three steps. First, how much and when sleeping is happening. Second, the crying. Third, the plan.

1. The sleeping.

Right now, baby gets his nighttime routine started around 6pm, a holdover from when we had to give him 23 hrs/day of shoes and brace time. As a result, ‘shoes go on’ time remains around 7pm, with the ‘shoes come off’ time has shifted back to 1pm. Which means that around 6:15 or 6:30 he gets a bath. So, 6pm playtime, 6:30 bath time, 6:45/7pm shoes go on, then baby mama feeds him the good good breastmilk, and then he goes to sleep around 7:15. At this point, he is pretty conked out, and he rarely puts up any fuss at all.

He sleeps until around 1am, well, 12:30am-3am. But there is definitely a nighttime wake-up and feeding. Baby mama historically fed him at this point, then put him back to sleep. He would then wake up around 5-6am, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Historically, I would do this feeding with formula, give him his sweet sweet vitamin D dropper. And then if he seemed tired, I would try to put him back to bed. Usually I would play with him for another 30-45 minutes, then put him back to bed. And he would then sleep again until 7:30 or so.

Then a morning nap, around 9:30. He would sleep for sometimes as much as 2 1/2 hours. Then a spotty afternoon nap, if one at all. Then evening rolls around and we start over. Roughly, he’s been sleeping 12+ hours a day. Shazaam.

2. The crying.

Our policy for now is to let him cry it out. We ‘Ferbered’, so that we began by giving him 2 minutes, then 4, then 6, etc. We have settled on about a 17 minute maximum before we go in and verbally try to sooth the babe. For daytime naps, if he doesn’t sleep within about 30 minutes, we give up on the nap. The ‘crying’ timer starts when it rises above whimpering.

At night, if baby mama nurses him, he will go right to sleep. On occasion, she has something she’s doing, and I do the routine with bath and bottle. I can expect him to cry for 5-15 minutes before he settles, especially if I do something between bottle and bed (i.e., bath=>shoes=>bottle=>bed is ok, bath=>bottle=>shoes=> is not so ok, bottle=>bath=>shoes=>bed is almost a guaranteed cry).

If he wakes up before 1am and cries, we let him cry it out. This can last as much as 20-30 minutes. Then he’ll sleep until 2 or 3am for the ‘midnight’ feeding. Sometimes he sleeps all the way until 3am, gets a midnight feeding, and then still wakes up at 5:30 wanting to get started.

The immediate morning nap (6:30-7am) usually entails some crying, and it’s hit or miss whether or not he will sleep then. If he doesn’t within 30 minutes, we treat it like a nap and give up. 75% of the time he will nap.

3. The plan.

We are trying to eliminate the midnight feeding, which our pediatrician says is not strictly necessary at this point. We have done this in stages. The first stage is to switch who feeds him when, so I now do the midnight feeding, and baby mama does the 5:30am feeding. Seeing her up and about at 5:30am is, if you know my darling wife, awesome and shocking.

And now I’m starving him out. He gets about 5oz. of formula, but I’ve been reducing the amount of powder that mixes with the water. So he started at 2 1/2 scoops (1 scoop per 2 oz.). Then 2 scoops. Now 1 1/2. Soon it’ll be water. We’re hoping he just decides that water is not worth getting up for and just sleeps through. So far, it’s just pissing him off a little. We’ll see where it goes from here.

Miscellany:

– Baby now rarely cries for more than 5-15 minutes before settling down (though sometimes does, especially for daytime naps).

– We never moved out of the room, though it is still tough to hear him cry, esp. for my spouse. I kind of want him to get used to the noise.

– He sleeps in a completely jack-knifed position, with his feet essentially next to his mouth. Seeing him do this with shoes and brace is disconcerting at first, but it seems to work for him so WTF.

– He’s still in that totally cute space where he will wake up, open his eyes, and be completely delighted with the world. If you look at him at this moment, he gives you his $10M smile. Clearly his father’s son in this respect.

There’s no crying in baseball!

27 Apr

At the end of last week, young BB was getting over a cold. He had acquired a charming habit of coughing, then sneezing, then waking himself up, then crying. About every two hours. And our normal approach to that point was to hold him and rock him until he was ‘just about asleep,’ then place him into his crib. This was my approach, by the way. The Brooklyn Dad method. Trademark. Hilarious.

However, when the kid wakes up every two hours, and screams his ass off when you place him in his crib, this method sucks. Bad. Your back starts to hurt from rocking him, you get that band of tightness around your head from the lack of sleep, you start to wonder if perhaps they were right about you all along, that you aren’t really suited to parenthood after all. And won’t the crying stop, make it stop make it stop make it stop.

Good times.

This goes on for a few days. Silly baby has of course parlayed his minor upper respiratory infection into a 24/7 need-fest, and we fell for his shit like Charlie Brown kicking a football. I actually stood there at 2:30am, rocking him, placing him finally and gingerly in his crib, tiptoeing back into bed, and he would start crying the moment my head hit the pillow. Seriously, how could he even know how to do that?

Finally, I get all, ‘fuck it. I’m letting him cry.’ And baby mama throws a shit: “You can’t just let him cry without a plan!” “It’s mean to let him cry!” “I’ll stab you in your sleep and then we’ll see how you cry, you cold-hearted monster!” (ok, that last one was a bit of a stretch, but more a difference of degree than kind).

Of course, I’m not backing down at all. Instead, I get all indignant and belligerent: “Well, what else do you have in your magic bag of tricks?” “He’s safe, he’s not hurt, it’s fine to let him cry!” “Just go sleep on the couch if you can’t take it!” “Your crouching motherhood grip is no match for my hidden father fists of fury!”

And finally, baby mama – at this point, alarmingly rocking a baby whose voice had amped up to 11 – sticks him down in the crib and gives me a “Fine! Fine! You do what you want!” and stalks out of the room.

At this point, I’m thinking “yay! I win! I win!”

Yeah, right. I took a deep breath, gave her an In your face, yeah, that’s right!! apologized to my angry and shaken wife, we both stepped back and took a breath, and we agreed that we could try to do a ‘let him cry’ scenario, but not tonight. We could definitely use a plan, and not my Grand 3am Plan (officially the Fuck It, Let’s Just Let Him Cry Until He Sleeps Or Pops His Spleen Plan).

A day or two later, baby mama had read Ferber, and we rolled out the infrastructure to Ferberize our baby, with charts and graphs and timers.

It’s been about 3 or 4 days since, and things are going well. The first day he cried for 20-30 minutes when going to sleep, and another 20-30 when going to nap. The next couple days, these times dropped pretty dramatically. We don’t need to swaddle the boy no more, and we don’t hold him in our arms rocking him to sleepiness. He has slept as much as from 7:30pm to 3:30am, then a feed, then up again at 6:30am, then back to sleep for another hour or two. He’s napped for a two hour stretch (once). We haven’t done away with the night feeding, but I suspect we’ll be down to one/zero pretty quickly.

And credit where it’s due, the baby continues to be, but for the blip around his illness, easy to soothe and quick to adapt. Not that I’m keeping score or whatever, but our baby is probably better than yours. And it of course follows that we’re probably better parents.

All things considered, this was an argument that has had (so far) a good resolution. Not like that one where she almost slammed my phone onto the ground, and I raised my voice in front of her mother.

Oh, and as pre-insufferable Tom Hanks says, there’s no crying in baseball.

Feels like it’s been a while

14 Mar

I know, right? 5 days, and I’m feeling like I’m neglecting my journal. The pressure to keep up, man, it’s tough. I continue my campaign of daily, impromptu forms of kindness. A good friend chimed in on some tempest in a teacup thing with some travel arrangements, noting that he refuses to get upset at things that don’t upset him. Hells yes, good advice. I refuse to get upset at stuff that doesn’t upset me.

To clarify about Portland, it’s a combination of a real place we often consider moving, but also our shorthand for a place that we might move to if we were un-moored from NYC and didn’t know where we wanted to land. We learned that others think of this as Philadelphia. Some even think of Queens. But there is definitely a sense among our friends that if we could get it together with some friends/family, we would collectively move somewhere. I read this as a desire for more community, that many of us really lack, as well as the warm-fuzzies that we often feel when we spend time with people whom, you know, we actually like. Also, it’s an acknowledgment that our lives are really not tied to anyplace right now.

What else? Sleep has now occupied that space in Baby Mama’s brain where the latest anxiety/project/obsession goes. I’m continually impressed by her ability to fill this space with varied stuff (breastfeeding, the state of our apartment, housing, her job, whether to have a child). And though I often make fun of her for never letting this space stay empty and, well, make her less anxious, I do also benefit pretty dramatically from her anxieties. I know, right? Win-win. I get to make fun of her for her anxieties, feel superior to her for it, and then benefit from the spate of activity that happens as a result.

So, right, sleep. As a marker in the sand, the baby is now 3 months old, as of yesterday. And he has slept, over the past 2-3 weeks, from 7:30 or 8pm to about 12:30pm (last night was weird, with Daylight Savings Time, and he slept until 11:30). Then we feed him, and he goes back to sleep, until about 4 or 4:30am. Then we feed him again, and he sleeps until 6:30-7:30am. Sometimes he’ll go back to sleep after that, but it’s really hit-or-miss. But it’s generally a 5 hour, 4 hour, 3 hour pattern. And we feed and change him in between each period.

Baby mama is equipped with expert opinion and a plan, to make him sleep more and longer. I am a big advocate of the rear naked choke (i.e., the Sleeper Hold), but this apparently is not on the table. Which is bullshit, because that bad boy is proven by Science™