Tag Archives: progress

Sam at 4 (and a bit) months

Sam at 4 Months

Sam at 4 Months

Happy 4 months Sam 🙂 You have turned out to be one of the happiest, most rambunctious, noisy, roly poly, grinning little wriggler. Luckily for Mum, you are still quite the snuggler too.

Snuggles, but with Dad.

Snuggles, but with Dad.

Well, we are back from our 4 month check-up, somewhat chastened. Last time we visited the pediatrician, he told us that we should not be rocking Sam to sleep in our arms / feeding him to sleep, but establishing a bedtime routine where we comforted him, soothed him, got him sleepy and then put him in crib sleepy, but awake. Dr. Injac said that we could pat him and sit with him while he was in his crib, but he should learn to recognize sleep time cues, so that he could soothe himself to sleep in his crib, with us nearby. Then at 4 months, it would be easier to just put him down and leave him. A sort of step-by-step approach.

It all sounded absolutely fabulous…

….in the safe confines of the Doctor’s office.

At home it was a different story. It sort of worked until Sam figured out that the boppy was a sleep cue – whereupon he went ballistic when he saw it. Then he figured out that ‘lights out’ meant crib time was coming, and went equally as spare. He would wail, and we would soothe him, then as we put him down he would wail again. This would continue until he would fall asleep in my arms during one of the soothing times, and boom – objective not achieved.

In Mummy's arms only, please

In Mummy’s arms only, please

I guess I should at least be pleased he’s smart / streetwise?

Honestly, it eventually slid to me (or Wes, but I like to do the bedtime when I have been working) just cuddling him to sleep, and then laying him oh-so-gently down. Periodically I would ask Wes if we should be stronger with Sam, but he wasn’t keen and asserted that he was too young. Although not entirely comfortable, I would give in. I asked some Moms and got a mixed bag of answers. Although my head wanted a better routine… my heart was not quite in it. Without Wes pushing as well, I would put it off.  

130210_0002

Today at the pediatrician’s we saw a student first. She asked us about sleeping, and we said he was going down at 7 and then being fed at 10.30, 1.30, 3.30, 5.30. She asked if he was eating much at those times, and when we said “Not really”, she said “Because we expect formula fed babies (oh the guilt!) to sleep for 8 hours by four months”. Right. I confessed that we had forgotten the baby monitor twice – but Sam’s room is next to ours so we’d hear wails, if not grumbles – and she said that she was not surprised.

She asked how he was going down and we were honest. We asked what to do – what should we do about him crying at bedtime? What should we do with the night waking? And she said that she didn’t know (!) but would get Dr. Injac. Well… at least she was honest.

So… Dr. Injac came in with a twinkle in his eye and said “so… I hear you are a softie…”. [Me??]. He laid it on the line: the kid should he sleeping through the night. He said that our job as parents was to love Sam, and to protect him, but to help him manage the stresses of life – and sleeping well, on his own, was a stress we had to help him negotiate. Unless, of course, (in his words): we wanted those thighs to continue into childhood (another pitfall of formula I guess). So, he said to leave him when he cried at night, if it was fussing, not if it was unhappy wailing.

I hesitantly confessed that we had forgotten the baby monitor twice. Before I could qualify with an urgent and embarrassed ‘But we’d hear if he wailed!” Dr. Injac said “Good”. Dumbfounded I stared at him. He grinned and said “The vast majority of babies across the world do fine without monitors…”. I admitted that when he had forgotten the monitor, we had woken at ~ 5 to a sleeping Sam. At ~ 6 Sam had woken up, not cried, seemed very happy and not seemed starving – he had eaten a good breakfast, but not until he had woken up a bit.

“So…” said Dr. Injac

*pregnant meaningful pause in which he looked optimistically at me, and I looked desperately blank pretending not to know what was coming*

“… turn the baby monitor off”.   I then asked what to do about bedtime. With some amusement Dr. Injac said “what I told you last time. Let him cry. For 5 minutes. Go in… soothe him… reassure him… pat him. Then go. Go back after 10… then 15…. up to 40 minutes”.”Forty??”.
“Forty.”
*glaring from me*
” It won’t get there.”
*cuddling of Sam from me*
“If you’re a softie – sit with him. Just leave him in his crib.”.

He grinned and said “And if you’re going to tell me that this is your special time with Sam, just you and him, and your favorite time of being with him… that’s just fine. I am sure he will learn to sleep on his own in college”.

Ouch.

Then

with a soft smile he said “Two to three days. That is all. And he’ll sleep. You’ll feel better. He’ll feel better. And… it’s the only way he is going to get a sister”. So, let me say at this point: I felt Dr. Injac was offering his advice on what was best, and not telling us what must happen for the healthy development of a baby. He did not push us, or be mean, and although he was strong in his opinion, he was kind and understanding. I think he made jokes because he knows us well. Personally I think there is no best way to sleep train, and no best time. It depends on the baby, and probably more, on the parents and what they want. I thought I would be an attachment parent-er. I wanted to be. It just didn’t work out. I couldn’t breastfeed…. Sam hated baby wearing until he was old enough to face out (~4 months)… I was at work and so on. And it just didn’t really click for me. I was actually glad we had moved Sam into his own room at 3 weeks – it felt right for Sam, and for us. And although I love to comfort my boy, and love to stop his tears, I had personally been uncomfortable with a completely Sam-led night. Great if it works for you and your family (all methods pretty much end up the same, I figure), it just wasn’t for us. Had it been, when the student asked how he was sleeping, instead of a worried recount, I clearly would have given a breezy “just fine”. So. With deep breaths and hardened hearts (and cheery wheat beer and Malbed wine, and pecan butter ice cream) Wes and I tried it tonight. Settled Sam in his crib, and turned the baby monitor sound off. Our monitor has video, and a little sound bar, so that even when the sound is off, you can see if there is noise in the room.

There was noise. On and off in bursts. Grumbles and wails. Usually at the first sound of wails I go up, but Wes reminded me that we were giving it 5 minutes. Deep breath. On the DOT of 5 minutes I RAN upstairs and softly said “Sam” and went in his room. I got there just in time to see him find his thumb and fall into a deep sleep. We have not had a peep since.

 

If, IF, it sticks, I think we were lucky enough to hit it at the right time: the time when Sam was old enough to self-soothe, but young enough not to form memories about what was happening – that happens at about 6 months, and at around 7 months you get object permanence and all the vagaries of the accompanying attachment anxiety. So, hopefully we lucked out. We’ll see. Would we have gone for a 40 min cry session? I doubt it. I don’t know. A child who goes to bed easily, and independently is very important to me… I just don’t know how important until tested I guess.

Finding his length

Finding his length

The rest of a the visit was a breeze. Despite looking chunky

Chunky monkey :)

Chunky monkey 🙂

Sam is 60th %ile for weight (16 lbs, 4 oz), and 56th %ile for height (25.5″) – still basically an average Joe. His head is only 26th %ile though – pin head! I have a pin headed baby! So, maybe his little head makes his body look chunky!

Not such a chunker as we thought.

Not such a chunker as we thought.

The Doctor mentioned solids, but I am not interested in introducing them yet. If Sam was breastmilk fed, I would definitely wait until 6 months. As he is not, I will *think* about it at around 5 months. 5.5 – 6 is a rough target, unless I happen to think he is extremely hungry before that. Dr. Injac mentioned rice cereal and bless my awesome husband, he knows how important nutrition is to me and said “we were hoping to avoid grains for a while; are fruits and vegetables OK instead?”. Dr. Injac said that that was fine – it wasn’t his view, but he said rice cereal was mainly used because it was convenient (he did say not to put it in a bottle), and that the French blamed America’s obesity problem on early grains, and not enough vegetables early on. He said whatever worked for us was fine, the main thing was to get Sam used to different tastes and textures. Seems to me that, like with sleeping, advice changes and waxes and wanes, and ultimately, you need happy comfortable parents doing something they believe in. So, any time between 4 and 6 months for food is fine – depending on your instinct. Mine is later… some say earlier. Dr. Injac did say to get messy and have fun with it – now that was advice we could go with.

War wounds.

War wounds.

Then vaccinations. Boo. Sam didn’t flinch for the first one, wailed at the second, but I managed not to cry (I did eat cake after though 😉 ).

Other than that, Sam has been having a wail of a time.

He loves his bumbo:

Bumbo tray viking

And hanging around in his new bouncer:

130306_0008

He *almost* crawls. He moves forward across the floor to his toys, but only as a kind of belly shuffle, using the surface as friction (not his muscles). If he is on a slippery floor he can’t slither forward and yells in frustration.

A successful slither

A successful slither

No sitting yet – he makes a rubbish weeble, he wobbles, but he also falls down:

He is great at reaching for, and grasping his toys. He can even grab his big rattle in tummy time, upend it, do a little push up, and negotiate it to his mouth for a good ol’ chomp. Vocalizing – yes, a lot. But not babbling yet, he is just grunting and wailing. I can’t wait for his first proper pre-speech sounds!

Although, Sam did recently discover how to screech, in joy.

For 20 minutes.

In the car.

Until he completely lost his voice.

 

 

Joy 🙂

He is just a happy, happy baby.

130301_0010

Anyone got any sleep training advice or experiences to share?

What I was up to while M.I.A.

This has helped my recovery

This has helped my mental recovery

I’m back. You may not have noticed that I had gone… but it has been a relatively long time since I posted. I blame busy-ness. I would like to blame time business (too much stuff to do), but I know me, if I want to do something, I make time for it. Really, I have not been in a good emotional place for a while and that lead to a combination of (1) needing to sit on the sofa watching mind numbing TV at night and (2) feeling too raw to write my thoughts down. It is all past (passed? I never know which one to use) me now, so I feel OK to write about it. In a nutshell:

First, I did not cope very well with my MRSA surgery

Actually, that is an understatement. I turned into a giant baby about it. I still don’t know why, but I utterly fell apart over the surgery. It wasn’t even that painful. I will say that it was deeply shocking to me to go to the Doctor’s for some anti biotics, and to leave being told I needed surgery under a general anesthetic. It bought back a lot of the feelings I had going to the OR after birth, and the thoughts I had when I came around in ICU and was told I was not out of the woods, but they were doing their best. Of laying there, with my son watching me, discussing with Wes about who we would call to warn about possible impending bad news, rather than the great news of Sam. About lying there thinking of the people he was telling while he made the ‘phone calls, feeling bad I was wrecking their night (I remember telling Wes not to call Clio becaue it was 4 am in England, and him saying ‘she will want to be woken up Lekki!’) and all the time wondering how the hell we had gotten to this place so quickly.

Anyhoo, the surgery went fine, was a piece of cake, and I came around only slightly sore (I mean geez, a med student with a fish knife could have done it). So, really I should have been fine. I should have bounced back. Bouncing back is what I do. It’s my thing. Like when I weightlifted with a fractured elbow. Or negotiated the gym on crutches. Or finished my training plan with stress fractures. Or fell down a waterfall and climbed back up. Instead I let Wes do Sam’s night feed that night, and on Saturday took Sam to bed with me and refused to move, for the whole day. Wes was pleased, I think, but very shocked. He came and bought me lunch in bed, and seeing all my stuff around me said “Wow, you really are planning to stay here then?”.

Recovery Day!

Recovery Day!

Yes. Yes I was.

That was only the beginning of me starting to lose it. I went to the surgeon two days later to have my dressings changed. I expected to see a cut. A skin wound. I did not expect to see an inch long, and 3/4 in deep hole into my flesh. I did not expect to stare down into my flesh and see all the white and yellow and red and so on. In fact, I was so shocked I handed Sam to the surgeon and promptly lost my lunch.

The surgeon told me I had to pack the hole with gauze twice a day. I had to pull the old stuffing out, and stuff it with new stuff. I had hydrocodone to deal with the physical pain, but mentally, I couldn’t hack having a hole in body. I cried for 40 minutes when Wes told me that I absolutely had to change my dressing. I hid from him. I sobbed. I begged him to leave it. I ranted that no one should have to deal with this (while fully aware that people deal with far worse every day). I shrieked at him “You don’t get it! No one should have a hole in their abdomen! Not an every day person! I know you were an EMT and saw car crashes and dead children and far worse, but that is a whole different spectrum. That is a different scale! On the everyday scale no one should have to deal with seeing their flesh! It’s not at the acceptable part of the everyday scale! This shouldn’t have happened to me!”

A somewhat confused Wes dryly remarked “At least I didn’t marry someone really dramatic or anything”.

To this day, I have no idea why I flipped my lid so utterly. Wes thinks I have not processed everything from Sam’s birth, and that this was a reminder. That burying all my emotions about the hemorrage caused them to surface with this little surgery.

I don’t know… there may be some truth in that… I don’t know. I do know that having hardly spoken about it (heck, I didn’t even really blog about it), I have the urge to grab people by the lapels and go “Do you know what I went through? Do you know they told my husband that they didn’t think I would make it? Do you know they told me that? Do you know what it is like to lie in bed, with your baby watching you from a friggin plastic box, while doctors just look sorry and worried, and use vague phrases like ‘you are not out of the woods’ and lie there dealing with the guilt that your nearest and dearest are hearing about this because you can’t make yourself better? What it is like to hear about a difficult birth and want to be sympathetic, but want also want to yell “you were carrying your sweet kid home, in your arms, with your partner so proud, before I was allowed to be in a room alone with my son, and while my body had failed and I had let everyone down and was just lying there in that stupid state?”. But then I remember that from everyone’s super kind emails to me.. yeah… they do know that, and it is only me who doesn’t 🙂

All that is left from surgery

All that is left from surgery – super recoverer!

On the upside though, (1) I am processing all that as best I can; (2) all the self pity has ended, and (3) the MRSA is totally gone and I am all healed. My surgeon (who is 75! – 75 – !) was so shocked at how quickly I healed, he did a double take. I have no pain, and just a little scabby scab. Sure, my lucrative bikini modelling career is prematurely halted, but I can deal with that.

Me before my MRSA surgery. No, really.

Me before my MRSA surgery. No, really. It was that bad.

So, I dealt with it by sitting on the sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Second, work has been stressing me out. I set myself a number of goals for my first year as faculty: submit an NIH grant every cycle, and apply for one other grant each cycle. There have been 2 cycles, I have submitted 5 grants – boom. I also wanted to submit three first-author papers – done, collaborate with the ARIC group – done and get my student through her exams – done. So I did everything in 9 months not 12, but instead of making me feel good, it made me freak out.

I had my annual review. I understand that when you go for these things, you are supposed to pain a picture of ‘yes, I am awesome. See? I am a wonderful member of your community, worth far more than you ever have realized, and I have identified this tiny, surmountable weakness which when I conquer will make me even more invaluable to you’. Me? When my Chair said “So – how do you think you are doing?’ I had a meltdown and said that I had lost all my time management skills, that I was not only not working to full capacity but barely putting in 9-5, that my motivation had changed and I no longer cared about papers and prestige and that nothing I was doing was sustainable long term and I had been busy but not useful. Then I said ‘it is lucky my annual review was not last week, because I was crying about all this back then. Now I am just stressed about it’.

Ha. Luckily for me I have an awesome Chair. He said that my changing priorities (less about papers, more about advancing Science) was just a sign of maturity and made me a more welcome person in his Department. He said that time management after a family was incredibly hard – that he has struggled with it, but solved it. That he could not solve it for me, but was sure I would solve it on my own, if I just gave myself time and space and patience. We talked about ways of making my research more sustainable.

I also received an email from a dear friend / mentor / surrogate sister who pointed out that I had undertaken marriage, new job, new city, new baby, serious health problems.. all within 16 months. It was OK to lose focus a bit at work. To not have the energy to feel passionate about it. To feel like work and success are the not most important things. To feel that Sam, and our home, and my family are more pressing, and need to be clung onto more dearly.

And my mentor at UT put it most succinctly when she said “I told you not to give yourself a hard time until a year after Sam’s birth! In 9 months, you can give yourself a hard time. Until then: NO.”

So, I chilled and yes, I was very busy getting 3 grants in in Feb, but I was also very busy drinking Chocolate Stout on the sofa. Good times.

(3) I was not quite as chilled about giving up breastfeeding as I had thought. In fact, I didn’t want to give up, so I have kept on pumping, only to the following rules: no more than 3.5 hours a day & no stressing when my supply is weirdly low (think 1.5 oz after 45 mins). I just focus on getting Sam some of the antibodies and microbiota and stick at what I can give. However, it was a hard adjustment. And when I had to go from pumping 8-10 and feeding at night to 100% pumping & dumping and 100% bottle feeds, Sam decided he was not going to take the breast at all anymore. He still prefers the taste of breastmilk to formula, but even when he is super sleepy at night, he won’t drink from me, or even suckle. Little rat (lovable rat). It broke my heart.

But… it is all good now. I pump a reasonable amount and just supplement. I offer Sam my breast, he spits it out. I hug him a little tighter while I bottle feed him. It’s all good, but that also contributed to me need to sit on the sofa and eat Whole Food’s Pear and Almond Dark Chocolate. Yum.

Why wouldn't you do this anymore Sammy-Sam? Rat bag.

Why wouldn’t you do this anymore Sammy-Sam? Rat bag.

So, sofa + Grey’s Anatomy + Chocolate Stout + Pear and Almond Dark chocolate, with my puppy, has been pretty sweet. And very restorative. But, I have not done nothing…

I finalized and submitted a paper, which is now under review at Atherosclerosis. I got 3 grants in, and made a clear plan to my R01 submission (in 1.5 – TWO years – long term). I got my student a good plan to make sure she is productive and successful (that worries me a lot) and I wriggled in some quality time with my son – even bringing him into work if I had been working late and so missing his playtime all week.

Sam with Shine Chang - a very eminent Professor at MD Anderson. He doesn't know how lucky he is!

Sam at work with me, with Shine Chang – a very eminent Professor at MD Anderson. He doesn’t know how lucky he is!

I have also been doing paper crafting (fancy word for making cards!):

Birthday card for Wes

Birthday card for Wes

Baby shower card

Baby shower card for Bing

Good bye card for my OB practice

Good bye card for my OB practice

Thank you card for me WONDERFUL OB who is sadly moving :(

Thank you card for me WONDERFUL OB who is sadly moving 😦

(including some not pictured things on their way to friends in the UK – yes!)

AND, because the other thing making me sit on the sofa and sniggle Walter is my OB leaving (yes, the lovely Dr. Boswell – of to do community work! Sob), I mad some cookie monster cupcakes to say goodbye to her:

P1010675

I also hung out with friends, and ate excellent Dim Sum (which I have not found since I left the UK!):

Mmmmm.... Dim Sum...

Mmmmm…. Dim Sum…

So… it has been a time of just processing and chilling, and looking after my son and myself. In that time, little Samuel has turned 4 months! So, I will write a post on that next.

Sorry for the brain dump. Feels good though.