The 6 am kind of love

Cliff is not a morning person.  He loves to stay up late into the night, and wake up late in the morning.  If he ever had to wake up early, he is groggy and grumpy for a long time.  I used to get up every morning and make him a double shot espresso so he’ll be alert enough to drive to work. Even with a few shots of caffeine, he is not a happy camper early in the morning.

But Joshua changed him.  Joshua is a morning person.  Well, maybe all babies are, but this guy definitely likes to get up early.  His internal alarm clock goes off at 6 am every morning.  Sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a little later, but mostly it’s 6 am.  It has been this way for a few months now.

Cliff decided that in order for him to spend any time with Joshua during the day, he will need to get up at 6 am with him.  That way they have a couple of hours together before Cliff has to go to work.  I wasn’t going to deny Cliff the pleasure of getting up at 6 am every day.  I am such a good wife!  Ha!

So every morning, Joshua wakes up around 6 am, and Cliff goes to pick him up from his crib.  What surprises me is that Cliff is very cheerful with Joshua at that time in the morning.  He talks to Joshua and coos over him, all WITHOUT coffee!  At 6 am!

The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that Cliff is totally in love with Joshua.  No other person or strength of caffeine has ever had this effect on him.  Only Joshua has the power to wake him up so early and actually make him happy.

Sometimes I lose my cool

As much as I’d like to think I’m a great mother with unlimited amount of patience, I have to admit I’m not.  When I have had enough sleep, had something to eat, preferably had some coffee, then I’m totally up for dealing with any situation.  I can have a lot of patience.  But these days, with an 8-month-old, the things that makes me level-headed don’t always happen.

Like this morning, Joshua woke up around 5:30 am and started crying.  There goes my getting enough sleep criterion.  So when Cliff brought him into our bed and he refuses to go back to sleep, I think I said “effing hell” and rolled over to cover my head with my pillow.  Or like the other day when he woke up from his nap too quickly and refuses to go back to sleep, I said to him, “go the eff back to sleep!”  The F word just slips out so easily.

Then after these incidents, I always feel so guilty for losing my cool.  I mean, isn’t there a hormone that makes me an angel of a mother once I’ve had a baby?  Shouldn’t I have inexhaustible amount of patience for my child?  Aren’t all mothers out there calm and collected at all times?

I just just imagine Joshua’s therapy sessions starts with, “When I was a baby, my mother swore at me all the time, and that’s why I am a crack head with a long rap sheet.”  Ugh!

Sleeping through the night

For the past two weeks, Joshua has been sleeping through the night every night.

Sometimes he wakes up and cries for a short period of time (less than 30 seconds) and falls back asleep. But I don’t consider that truly waking up. It’s more of an interruption to his sleep.

He sleeps for a minimum of 7 hours straight, and once even reached 9 hours straight. He generally wakes up around 5 am for a feeding, then goes back to sleep for roughly 2 more hours.

In addition to sleeping through the night, he is also napping longer. If it’s very quiet at home, he would sometimes nap 1 1/2 hour in the morning, have a short 1/2 nap after lunch, then another 1 1/2 hour nap in the afternoon.

His new sleep pattern is making our lives so much easier. I no longer feel like a zombie stumbling around during the day. I am so grateful that he was so quick to learn to sleep through the night!

Another good night of sleep

Last night we continued with the sleep training. After his bath, massage and nursing, I put him down in his crib. He cried for maybe 5 minutes then fell asleep.

This time, he slept till past 3 am. That’s over 5 hours!

At around 3 am, he probably could have gone back to sleep. He was tossing and turning for 15 minutes. I decided to nurse him only because I was ready to burst. After that, he fell asleep pretty quickly until 6:30 am.

Only waking up once at night is such a treat for me. I am starting to feel more positive towards his sleeping habits, and hope this trend continues!

Slept for almost 5 hours straight!

The public health nurse recommended to wait till 6 months of age to put a child through sleep training (aka “cry-it-out”). Joshua is just over 5 1/2 months old now, and we figured he is ready for the training.

It’s been 5 1/2 months since I last slept through the night, and it’s been about 2 months since Cliff has slept through the night. What concerns us the most, is that Joshua wakes up every 1 1/2 to 2 hours every night. We worried that he isn’t getting good quality sleep and it will affect his development.

So last night, we went through the regular pre-sleep routines of jolly jumping and a massage and nursing, and I put him in his crib. Normally I would stand there and pat his back while he cries, until he falls asleep. But last night, I put him down, said good night, and then I sat in the glider watching him.

He was not happy that I didn’t pat his back. He cried, as expected. But what surprised me was that he wasn’t really crying that hard. It was sort of a whiny cry to show that he wasn’t happy, but he certainly was far from hysterical.

What surprised me even more, is that he fell asleep after only 20 minutes!

It was about 10 pm when he fell asleep. After 2 hours, he woke up. We had previously decided to give him 10 minutes before we attend to him. And guess what! He fell back asleep on his own in 8 minutes. AND, he skipped his 2 am feeding and slept till just after 5 am!!

I consider the sleep training last night VERY successful. He cried a lot less than I expected, and slept a lot longer than I expected. Hopefully this good trend will continue, and very soon he will be sleeping on his own through the night like a champ.

Sleep training

For the past 2 1/2 weeks, I’ve stopped letting Joshua take his naps on me. This has made nap times very difficult, because he cries and cries when I put him in his crib. It takes a long time to sooth him to sleep.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing by continuing to train him to sleep in the crib on his own. It just seems like whatever effort I put in doesn’t have much of a pay-off. When he used to nap on me, he napped longer and I got to snooze a bit as well.

At night, he still wakes up 2 or 3 times. Last night we started to only feed him once during the night (rather than twice). This is an effort to reduce the number of times he gets up in the night. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not the most optimistic about this training, because I think Joshua likes it when we sooth him back to sleep or nurse him back to sleep…either way I think he’s going to continue getting up 2 or 3 times a night.

He’s a week shy of 4 months old. That means it’s been almost 4 months that I had a full night’s sleep. On one hand I’m getting more used to this, but on the other hand I think I’m just getting used to being over-tired all the time. I do look forward to the day that he sleeps through the night. I think it will make a world of difference for how I feel physically and mentally.

Anxiety of a new mom

One of the hardest things to deal with, for me being a new mom, is the anxiety I experience. Dr. Lee tells us to never restrict the amount of formula Joshua takes, and the lactation consultant tells us that we should. The lactation consultant tells us not to swaddle him, but the book “Baby Whisperer” says to do so. “Baby Whisperer” says never let your child nap in a swing, but others say let them nap wherever they like. Some people think that a parent should be fully engaged with the child at all times, and some think that we should let them have their own quiet time to be on their own.

With all the conflicting information, my Type A personality, and the desire to NOT screw up Joshua’s life, I am always so anxious about every little thing when it comes to Joshua!

A part of me wants to just shut out all the advice and trust my own instincts. But then another part of me thinks that if I don’t listen to advice, I could be messing up Joshua’s life without knowing it. Either way, I’m hooped. When Joshua was born, he didn’t hand me a “How to be a Perfect Mom” manual to follow. How am I suppose to know what to do in all situations?

Joshua is 10 weeks old today. It has taken me THIS long to figure out that I’m never going to be perfect, and I just have to roll with what comes our way. Coming to this conclusion is a huge step for me, as a lot of the anxiety just washes away. It’s almost like, I’m going to mess up somewhere, so let’s just have fun while we’re at it.

So I’ve made a conscious decision to relax, and enjoy motherhood. If Josh grows up with a complex because we swaddled him, or let him nap in the swing, or let him decide the amount of formula he drinks, or used cloth diaper, or slept in a basinet for three months, then he would have to figure out a way to work through the complex (and I’m going to be there for him every step of the way).

Coming to this decision also doesn’t mean I love my son any less. It actually means I love him so much that I am willing to admit that I will never be perfect, and trust that he will still turn out to be a balanced and confident child.

Sleep

For the last two nights, Joshua had a stretch of sleep lasting 4 hours. It made a big difference in how I feel physically to be able to get the longer stretch of sleep. It felt so refreshing to be able to sleep for 4 hours straight! It also enabled me to get out for our morning walks with a little more energy, and be more willing to walk up the steep hill from the beach. I’m determined to lose the weight gained from the pregnancy!

The little amount of sleep I got in the last 5 weeks has not taken away any of the joy of having my baby here with me. I still look at him sometimes and cry because I’m so moved by his beauty.

The view at Kitsilano beach:

This BMW is all decked out for Christmas:

Daddy fell asleep on the couch with Joshua:

Hitting the wall

The past few days have been a blur. Joshua stays up fussing until about 2 am, then feeds a few time at night, and I am just exhausted. On my walk with him today, I called Kathleen and I just bursted into tears. I can’t think straight, and I feel bitter towards Cliff and his work. I want to take everything out on Cliff. When he took this job, he told me the hours will be very little so he can help me with the baby. Now it’s the complete opposite, and I feel like screaming at him at least a few times a day.

Since mom left for Taiwan on Joshua’s one-month birthday, I had even less help. Now we have to get our own groceries and cook our own meals, I think I’ve missed a few meals without realizing it. Things were busy enough with Joshua when mom was here, now it’s even busier.

I know that the first few weeks I was of the opinion that this tiredness will be short-term and not a big deal. Today I had the thought that I’m so tired that I just want to have someone watch Joshua for 8 hours so I can sleep for 8 hours straight. I guess I have used up my reserve energy, and now am running on empty. Kathleen calls it “hitting the wall”. It sure feels like a big thick wall I am hitting.

Parenthood is the most rewarding and tiring thing I’ve ever experienced.