Dec 21, 2014

Longest night.

Tonight is the longest night of the year, and apparently the longest night ever. So it is fitting that last night I decided to start with some light sleep training for the wee one. She is already so fat and happy, and we are already so accustomed to bouncing her. I just remember fat little baby Henry, gaining weight steadily and the bouncing getting harder and here we are trying to help sweet little Marnie learn how to sleep, and so far...not so bad.

I've had her on a schedule for about a week now, and it looks like this:
7:30: wake up, 1st feeding, she hangs out in her bassinet and watches the wind blow through the trees outside while I fix us all breakfast
8:30 first nap
9:30: wake up, 2nd feeding, play with Henry and Marnie
10:30: second nap - sometimes in the wrap if we go outside to play or run errands
12:00/12:30: wake up, 3rd feeding
1:30: third nap - her longest nap of the day
3:30/4:00: wake up, 4th feeding
5:00: fourth nap
5:45: 5th feeding, time to get dinner ready - she plays in her bouncer until she starts fussing, then into the wrap for her last nap of the day
6:30: fifth nap
7:15: wake up
8/8:30: bedtime

FIVE NAPS. Of course, this schedule is flexible - a partly aspirational - based on when she sleeps and eats. I mostly try to have her awake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, and eating every 2.5 - 3 hours. It works pretty well most days. If she seems hungrier or to need me more some days, she gets fed and worn in the wrap a lot more. Her night wakings are still ridiculous - 11, 2, 4/5/6. But she's still young and I mostly feed her when she wakes up, but Mark will take her if she does her gassy fussy wake up at 5 and won't go back to sleep. It's very kind of him, and I'm not sure at this point how to get her to stop waking up at those times other than not feeding her. I hope at some point she gets the drift that it's not worth waking up for if she's not eating. [Nervous laughter]

Anyway we didn't do sleep training with Henry until he was about 9 months old. 9 months! He was still waking up all the time at night and I was back at work full time and just exhausted. I look back on the things I did and can't believe the willpower and tenacity I had for that first baby. I guess you just don't want to mess them up...and then you have a second baby and think WHAT WAS I THINKING. For me, I realized that most of the decisions you make as a parent are shaping you - as a parent and adult - rather than shaping your kid into what you want them to be. I didn't want to let Henry cry when he was a baby, but none of us were sleeping and it made for a miserable time most nights. I wanted to be a compassionate parent, but I wasn't doing what was best for me or Henry. So I'm trying to do a better job this time around. And also I just want to sleep again. There is a funny written-for-adults kids book called Go The F*** to Sleep and I think of that every time it's 4 in the morning and my loud snorting grunty baby won't settle. It makes me laugh, and the sense of humor is the only thing between me and insanity, so thumbs up!

It's a cruel thing - non-sleeping babies and tired mothers. Because if you were reading above, she takes 5 naps during the day and then there's bedtime - that's 6 times of putting a baby to bed every day. And if you have a baby that hates to sleep, your life can get frustrating so quickly. That's why we do the wrap, we have nightly dance parties (me, Henry, and Marnie), and Henry actually has been so pleasant and sweet. Sometimes after I've put Marnie down for a nap, he looks around and says - Hey lets wake up Marnie!! He adores her. If she cries, he puts his fingers in his ears and looks at me, annoyed, then he'll say, Mama, Marnie is calling for you.

Once we get this sleep thing down, I'll start venturing out of the house a little more. But honestly with these dark and cold days, we are just as happy staying inside baking cookies and watching Christmas movies together. Not a bad life.

Dec 18, 2014

Papa Mickey

Papa came to London and stayed with us for a MONTH. Crazy town. What would I have done without him? More importantly, what would Henry have done without him? He flew back on Tuesday and spent last night in the ER...with a kidney stone! Maybe we pushed him a little too hard while he was here? Feel better, Papa! This picture was taken the day he left. Awww we miss you, Papa!

Dec 17, 2014

Marnie June.

Marnie had her 1 month birthday on Monday. Time is flying by so fast and it's slightly upsetting. This newborn phase passes by so quickly and I am just in that tired loopy phase of new baby - sleepless nights and stealing naps during the day, and just loving on this baby when she is awake. She has the prettiest dark eyes that just stare into mine and observe the world around her, and it feels like we've known each other forever. But both my kids are asleep right now, so I'd thought I'd take advantage of this free time to share a few things from the past month.

I'm not going to share my full birth story here, but I'll give some of the highlights. I went into labor at 41 weeks and 1 day, on November 15. Those of you following along may already know - that is Henry's birthday. And yes - spoiler alert - Marnie and Henry have the same birthday. So that will make for an interesting family birthday dynamic! Contractions started lightly around 11pm on Friday evening, November 14, and I spent most of the night on my bedroom floor breathing through steady contractions - taking a bath, using the exercise ball, and sleeping as much as possible in between contractions. At 7:15, Henry was awake, excited to have birthday waffles. We made his waffles, while I took contraction breaks every 3-5 minutes.

We left for the hospital around 9am, had three strong contractions in our taxi on the way there, and at 9:30 we were admitted by the midwives to the Birth Center, and I was dilated to 5cm. I spent the next two hours pacing around a dimly lit room to the music of Beach House, kneeling over an exercise ball, using gas and air to get through the more difficult contractions, and finally got into the birthing tub around 11:30. I wasn't planning on a water birth - only planned on laboring in the tub - but when the moment came I couldn't imagine getting out of that warm tub, so I stayed in and I'm so happy I did.

I pushed for about 15 minutes and she was born at 11:54am. I lifted her gently out of the water and brought her to my chest. It was one of the most powerful and beautiful (and painful!) experiences of my life. I wish I had better words to capture how it felt and how I felt. We cuddled for a few minutes and then Mark cut her cord, and we just marveled over our little baby girl who looked so much like her big brother - same serious face and even the same little nose wrinkle.

I absolutely loved everything about the experience of birthing at the Birth Center at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. I love the midwife model that the UK uses, and I love the support they offer to mothers who want to try and birth without an epidural. I tried so hard to have a natural birth with Henry, but it just wasn't in the cards. I can't even compare how much easier this birth was. As my friend and former midwife told me, "Second labors are what keep the world populated", I was so happy to have a positive birth experience and grateful for the midwives who kept me motivated and cheered me on when I felt like I couldn't go on any longer. I literally said at one point, just pull her out of me, i can't do this anymore, but they cheered me on and told me you're almost there! you can do this! 

We named her Marnie, which is a Scottish name meaning "of the sea", since she was born in the water. June is a throwback to June Carter - a little bit of Americana to remind her of her roots - even though she was born in London. And no, she does not qualify for British citizenship, she is an American citizen. We already have her passport (taking a 6 day old to the American embassy was crazy to say the least).

We've been settling in happily as a family. Henry adores Marnie and kisses and hugs her all day long. My dad has been here for the past few weeks to help with Henry and the baby, which has been the only thing keeping me sane (and rested. lots of sleeping while the baby sleeps while Henry entertains Papa). I feel so lucky to have two healthy children, and grateful for the chance I have to raise another sweet little baby. Two kids! I still can't believe it!