Adventures in Sleep Training

17 Feb

Well, we did it. We bit the bullet and started sleep training our precocious, persistent, 7.5 month old.

The term “sleep training” gets a bad reputation because it sounds like you’re just letting your baby cry himself to sleep. But our goal was to not focus on the crying, but instead establish healthy sleep habits for him by allowing him to practice falling asleep on his own. I’m led to believe that it’s actually a positive practice because sleep deprivation is just as harmful as a nutritionally deficient diet. And for Milo, this was very much the case. He was waking up every 2 hours and needed to be nursed back to sleep. So, he was still eating several times a night at 7.5 months (which is not necessary), and he would often sleep in our bed because if I tried to transfer him to the crib, he’d wake up and cry, and I’d have to start all over again.

After reading Dr. Weissbluth’s book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” and doing some extensive research behind the different methods and outcomes, we decided that “extinction with a cap of 45 minutes” would be our method. Babies are much smarter than we give them credit for, and Weissbluth says that anything shorter than a 45 min interval will teach them to learn the cry limit and be rewarded with parental soothing if they can outlast the parents. We also had to go with extinction with a cap (instead of graduated exctinction or check-ins), because soothing has the opposite effect on Milo. It only causes him to become more hysterical when he sees us.

The extinction method is supposed to take 3-5 days until the child “gets it.” So far, it’s been 5 nights for us. Here’s the breakdown of each night:

Night 1:
– Cried for 38 minutes and then fell asleep at 7 pm
– Woke around midnight for a feeding and fell back asleep
– Woke at 3 am for a feeding, but this time he wouldn’t go back down and stood and cried for TWO HOURS. By then it was close to 5:30, which is about the time he normally wakes up for the day, and he wasn’t backing down, so we just got him out.

Night 2:
– Cried for 43 minutes and then fell asleep at 7:15 pm
– Woke up 3 hours later, but I had decided to cut out his first feeding since he technically didn’t need it. He cried for about 30 mins and put himself to sleep.
– Woke again 2 hours later, and this time I fed him because he was doing his hungry cry (or maybe I was just imagining it).
– Slept 4 more hours and woke up for the day.

Night 3:
– Cried for 20 minutes and then fell asleep at 8 pm
– Woke up 4 hours later. He cried for about 30 mins and put himself to sleep without eating.
– Woke 2 hours later, and I fed him.
– Slept 4 more hours and woke up for the day.

Night 4:
– Cried for 40 minutes and then fell asleep at 6:30 pm
– Woke at midnight. This means he slept for 6 hours straight (!)
– Fed him, he only fussed a little bit, and then he slept for another 6 hours.

Night 5:
– Cried for 45 minutes and then fell asleep at 7:20 pm
– Slept for 8 hours straight (!!!)
– Fed him, he cried for about 45 mins, and then he slept for another 2 hours.

Night 1 was the hardest, Night 2+3 were very similar, and Night 4+5 were progressively better. As you can see, there hasn’t been much of a decrease in his crying before falling asleep at bedtime. BUT there has been a significant improvement in him staying asleep longer and being able to put himself back to sleep when he wakes at night. Plus, they say that healthy babies will (and should!) normally fuss for 5-20 minutes before falling asleep. I’m still nursing him once at night, since I didn’t want to cut him off cold turkey… but we’ll be weaning off that nighttime feeding in the next week or two.

Do I wish I started earlier? Sort of. Maybe not THAT much earlier, but probably as early as 4-6 months. It would have been easier if he wasn’t able to crawl/pull up yet. It’s pretty heartbreaking to see him on the baby monitor standing in his crib while holding onto the crib rails, wailing. But he does eventually sit back down, and then lay down (on his tummy) when he’s tired.

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I know we’re not finished, and that there are a lot of roadbumps ahead (infant/child sleep is such an unpredictable thing), but I’m still really glad that we stayed consistent for these last 5 nights and gave him the chance to learn that he doesn’t need mama or milk or a pacifier to fall asleep. He definitely surprised us with how quickly he caught on. Yay Milo!

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

30 Jan Chung Family PF

… And just like that, it’s 2016.

Our little family has grown so much in the last 7 months, and we’ve learned A LOT from each other in that short amount of time. I am so thankful for my husband’s willingness to help out around the house – laundry, dishes, dog duties – he does it all without complaining! I’m pretty sure I would’ve gone crazy by now without him there to keep me sane.

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We’ve fallen into a pretty good rhythm with work and school and home. Milo is a very well-adjusted kid, and he handles pretty much everything life throws at him. I’m so proud of him! Whenever we go out, everyone comments on how we have such an easy baby, and I’m grateful for that. He doesn’t sleep through the night (and probably never will), but I’ve come to terms with it … Lord, give me strength. Haha.

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He eats really well, though! So far, he’s tried a few pureed veggies/fruit (peas, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, zucchini, pear). He’s shown some allergic reactions mainly because of the contact against his skin (around his mouth). This poor boy suffers from sensitive skin and eczema, so we have to be careful when it comes to introducing new foods.

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MONTH 4: This guy wants to MOVE. He doesn’t like sitting or laying down for long, he prefers to lock his legs and stand. He’s discovering his voice and likes “telling” you how he feels about XYZ. He used to be a doll in the car seat, but has recently begun screaming bloody murder on the way to/from daycare. It also looks like the teething fairy has arrived, and we’ve paid for it dearly the last few nights. Let’s hope we all come out the other side of this in one piece!

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MONTH 5: He likes to claw at your face as he tries to fall asleep, grabs the plate in front of you and pulls it hard so that food spills everywhere, and dressing him is like trying to wrestle clothes onto an octopus. He’s also starting to show stranger anxiety by screaming, just in time for the holidays. Little angel.

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MONTH 6: He’s blowing raspberries, loving his solids, and trying to crawl aka scooch on his bottom. He likes scratching his fingernails against different surfaces when he’s bored. He also just cut his first tooth! It takes up all my energy to take care of this spunky, active, non-stop mover, but it’s my greatest joy.

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MONTH 7: He gives the cheesiest, happiest, crinkly eye smiles, and his shrieking has turned into full on yelling for attention. He loves ripping apart tissues and napkins, and he can chew through cardboard (don’t ask how we know this). He can pull himself up and tries to sidestep while holding onto something. Quite a few times I’ve walked into the nursery to find him standing up in his crib, grinning at me. Oy.

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Man. It’s going to be his first birthday before we know it! I need daily reminders to slow down, savor, and cherish these moments. Milo is already a little light to others, and my prayer for him is to grow into a kind boy with a soft heart.:) I love him so much!

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Our (Crazy) Life with a Baby

29 Sep

Sorry I’ve been so MIA! The first 12 weeks of Milo’s life were filled with ups and downs, and we’ve finally gotten into the swing of things. He has grown so much in the first 3 months, and it’s been a lot of fun bonding with him at home. But now I’m wrapping up my maternity leave and going back to work this week, which means Milo also starts his adventures in daycare. It’s so bittersweet.

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MONTH 1: He’s overall a pretty mellow baby (thank goodness he didn’t inherit my temper), but he’s constantly fidgeting and definitely has his fussy moments – especially during his growth spurt this past week. Loves being swaddled but can kick his way out of one in 30 seconds flat. Hates diaper changes and baths. He’s already making great eye contact and trying to crawl during tummy time! Here’s to many more sleepless nights ahead.

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MONTH 2: His crazy wild hair goes every which way, and he fidgets so much it’s like watching him ride a bike. He’s getting more expressive and vocal, and he’s as stubborn as a mule yet endearingly patient. His favorite pastime is staring at the shadows on the wall. He is 24 inches long and weighs 13lbs, which means he has already doubled (!) his birth weight.

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MONTH 3: He loves sucking on his hands, and he’s turned into a drooling machine. He’s rolled over from tummy to back 6x. He laughs and squeals when he’s in a good mood, but boy, can he let out a mean scream when he’s mad about something (usually when we’re dressing him after bath time). He also makes these hilarious piggy snorts when he cries, and either the hair dryer or vacuum cleaner will stop his crying promptly.

Here are some short tidbits/tips I’ve learned from the first 3 months of parenthood:

  • Once you have a baby, you will never sleep again. But it’s true when they say that your body will adjust. As someone who used to LOVE sleep, I’ve learned to deal without it.
  • You will learn to do a lot of things one-handed, or sometimes it just won’t get done. And I’m slowly learning to be okay with that.
  • Breastfeeding is HARD. But I’m so glad I stuck with it, and now it’s one of my favorite ways to bond with my baby.
  • Going out is waaaaay harder, with all the stuff you have to pack, and possibly needing to nurse in public or find a place to change baby’s diaper. Sometimes it’s not even worth leaving the house!
  • Acid reflux will make your life (and your baby’s life) miserable. So. Much. Spit Up.
  • Explosive poops are a thing. And if you have a baby boy, you WILL get peed on during a diaper change.
  • Pumping sucks. Especially when you have to pump constantly in the first few weeks of baby’s life because they’re not gaining enough weight. And now that I’m going back to work and need to provide Milo’s daycare with breastmilk, it’s going to become a necessary part of my daily work routine. Sigh.
  • While a baby doesn’t need much, here are a few items that I would highly recommend getting:
    • Several lightweight blankets. You can use them to swaddle at home, or cover the car seat when you’re outside, and even lay on the floor if you need somewhere for baby to hang out in public.
    • A good odor-absorbing diaper bin. This was something we didn’t think we’d need, but it’s super convenient to keep next to the changing table in the nursery.
    • A pack&play or portable bassinet. If you’re not planning to use the crib for the first few months, this is the perfect alternative to keep in your bedroom.
    • Burp clothes and bibs – we use so many of these, especially with all of the spit up and drool.
    • Portable changing pad. This has been a life saver when we need to change baby in public (public bathrooms seem a million times dirtier once you have a baby).
  • Last but not least, every milestone will seem like the biggest accomplishment – every little smile, the first time he rolls over, when he starts babbling and “talking.” Your heart will just explode with joy and love for this tiny human. It makes it all worth it!

Introducing: Baby Milo!

5 Jul

HE’S HERE! My due date was July 3, but I started feeling contractions on June 25 at around 3 pm. They started getting really bad at midnight on June 27. I labored at home until about 9 am, when I felt like it was time to get to the hospital. The contractions weren’t regular yet, but they were reaching a pain level that made me wonder if we were getting close. Because we live 5 minutes away from the hospital, we decided to go in just to get checked and see how far along we might be. Turns out, I was already 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced, so they admitted me right away.

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I got an epidural within the hour, and it was AMAZING (besides the fact that you’re bedridden and need to have a catheter inserted). I was able to rest and spend the day talking with Paul and my mom. My wonderful midwife continued to check me, and at 8 cm she noticed my contractions were slowing down, so she broke my water to move things along and I reached 10 cm at around 8 pm. It took another 45 minutes for the baby to descend further down (this is when the epidural started wearing off, so I felt most of these contractions, along with an intense urge to push). I started pushing at around 8:45 pm, and Milo was born at 9:30 pm on June 27. (I only pushed for 45 minutes! They actually had to tell me to slow down because I was pushing too fast and the cord was wrapped around his neck so they needed to maneuver him out correctly.) He weighed 6lb, 8oz and measured 20.5 in long. They laid him on my chest, and he immediately peed and pooped on me.

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Welcome to the world, little one!

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He loves to peep at us with only one eye open

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Such a sweet sleeper. His face is so expressive.

Over the next few days, both of our families visited us in the hospital and brought us food. They are SO in love with Milo, and it was so fun watching them coo over him.

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Such a proud daddy!

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Paul’s parents

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My parents

After a 2 night hospital stay, we were discharged. Because his bilirubin levels were a little high at the hospital, they had us come back the next day for a follow-up. They discovered his levels had shot up, and ordered that we put him on biliblanket therapy to bring them back down to normal. Because of his jaundice, he wasn’t able to suck/nurse as strongly as he should, so he was also losing weight (he went from 6lb8oz to 5lb15oz in just two days). They had us supplement him with formula for a few days to get him to gain weight, in addition to hoping the biliblanket would work. We had to go back to the hospital every day for a blood draw and nursing session with the clinic. After a week, he was back at his birth weight and his levels were low enough that we could remove the blanket, yay!

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Hooked up to the biliblanket

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He looks like a little glowing alien

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Baby Buddha

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Snuggles with daddy

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Holding daddy’s finger so tightly

We are so in love with our little man, and we can’t believe we get to be his parents! Now we just need to work on getting him nice and chubby, and building up my milk supply through pumping. The sleep deprivation isn’t that bad (I honestly thought I would be a zombie, but I’m not… yet), and our little family is starting to settle into a routine. Even Dodger has been pretty mellow and following us around the house all day and night. I do love when Milo is sleeping (mainly because it makes for cute photos like these):

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The Final Countdown – 36 Weeks

3 Jun

I’m 36 weeks pregnant and have officially entered my 9th month of pregnancy – eek! I have two more weeks of work until I go on maternity leave, and only 28 (!) days left until my due date. The third trimester has been interesting. Not crazy difficult, but definitely harder than the first and second trimesters. I heard time slows down towards the end of the pregnancy, but it seems to be speeding by…

Here are my third trimester bump photos:

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How far along: 36 weeks
Total weight gain: 28 lbs
Maternity clothes: It’s been harder finding clothes in my closet that fit. I don’t want to buy a ton of new stuff this late into the pregnancy, so I’m cycling through the same 2-4 outfits every week.
Sleep: I’m waking up a few times throughout the night to pee and let Dodger out, and then I try to get back to sleep but can’t (usually because there’s SO much activity going on in my belly – I can tell that these 12a, 2a, and 4a feedings will be something I should get used to…) so I end up browsing on my phone until he goes back to sleep. Oh and I’m always waking up sweating. Thanks, hormones.
Exercise: Very light exercise. I will be completely winded after, like, 4 stairs. Or from walking around the house. And my feet hurt if I’m standing up for more than 5 minutes. I get Braxton Hicks contractions whenever I’m too active, so I’m trying to take it easy for the next 4 weeks.
Best moment(s) so far: My baby shower! My childhood best friend, sister-in-law, and two younger sisters hosted the shower at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. It was so much fun, and I feel so blessed by all of the love and support that we received from our close friends and family.
Miss anything: Not having a double chin…😦
Movement: Lots of slow rolls and jabs, starting to get painful (and it makes me a little nauseous). Sometimes I swear he elbows me in the side HARD. He also gets the hiccups at least 3x a day. He’s been head down this entire pregnancy, so I feel his hiccups near my cervix and his kicks near my ribs (I’m super ticklish, so sometimes it’ll make me jump/squeal when he pushes his feet into my side). But I love feeling his movements, it’s still the best thing about pregnancy so far. I’m going to miss it!
Food cravings: Smoothies, boba, popcorn chicken, burgers, applesauce, cheese, cookies.
Mood swings: I’ve been fairly happy/excited lately, the nesting/anticipation is starting to kick in.:) Especially now that we’re almost done with the nursery.
Have you started to show yet: With 4 weeks left, I’d hope so. It’s crazy comparing my recent pictures to my second trimester posts (here and here). It’s been gradual, but I’m really glad I documented the growing bump every week so I can look back and remember what it looked like.
Gender: It’s a boy!
Belly button in or out: It’s gone completely flat – not an outie yet!
Wedding rings on or off: They’re finally off – they still fit, but not comfortably and I’m scared that my fingers will swell and they’ll get stuck!
Looking forward to: Going on maternity leave in two weeks. I’ll be able to get the last few things checked off my list, and then it’s just waiting for baby Milo to arrive.😀

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