Monday, April 19, 2010

Week Nine



Thora's ninth week of life brought a number of new changes.

First of all, she found her thumb. They looked like they were meant to be together. A few cute pictures later, though, and she lost it again. I try to help her but she still can't find it for long. Oh well. Her coordination seems to improve every day, so I'm sure there will be a happy reunion, eventually.

Second, she made a new friend. Thora loves our shower curtain and stares at it, talks to it. She is so happy in the bathroom hanging with the shower curtain that we are now spending a lot of time in the bathroom together as a family. I sit on the exercise ball in there with her when she's fussing, telling her ridiculous stories ("Once upon a time, there was a plastic shower curtain who wanted more than anything to live with a family with a baby girl. And one day...") and once I even had my dinner in there because nothing else was working and I was so hungry! Ridiculous, but effective.

A friend of ours loaned us her Storchenwiege. I can't decide which I like more, this woven wrap itself or its name. It's really fun to say Storchenwiege. Of course it's the only German word I've had a reason to say in the last five or more years, so I say it all the time. I am starved for German. So much so that I read Thora Hänsel und Gretel in German last week. She didn't mind and I had so much fun.So Storchenwiege. Storchenwiege! The cool thing about this wrap is that I can once again be the champion multitasker I love to be. She can sit in it and I can do things with both hands. Up until now every blog has been written using the Hunt and Peck single-handed method. But right now she's in it and I am typing with both hands! It's a miracle!

Also, we went to her two month pediatrician appointment. We managed to avoid vaccination yet again, although I think next month I will be giving in, at least to one of them. We learned that Thora's grades have improved (see last month's grades here http://thorathebee.blogspot.com/2010/03/grading-begins.html). Must be all that tutoring! If you recall, last month Thora got a 90% in weight, a 93% in height and a lousy 78% in head circumference. This month, she got an 83% in head circumference, growing a full 2 cm in one month and going from a pathetic C+ up to a passable B-. In weight she's up to 95% and, incredibly, in height she is off the charts. That's what they said, off the charts. What does that mean? How can you be taller than more than 100% of babies your age? Is that extra credit? So now she has an A- average. I am so proud. Kidding, of course. Another mother said to me, that must mean there are babies out there who are in the 5th percentile, the 10th. Are there really such tiny babies out there? She and I both seem to keep on meeting babies somewhere in the 90th percentile. So where are all these little tiny kids?

It's kind of amazing how tall Thora is. I mean, her paternal great-grandfather is 6' 8" so I guess it isn't that amazing when you think about it. But I am not 6' 8" or anywhere even close. I am 5' 4" if I stand up really tall and stick my chin out and throw my shoulders back. And I carried this Amazon in my belly. And I carry her every day. (And why am I not losing my last 10 or so pounds of baby weight? If lugging this 13 pound giant around all the time doesn't count as a workout then what does?)

Anyway, I know all babies grow at different rates and that she may slow down while others catch up but now I am worried about things I know nothing about. What if she develops faster? She is vegan so at least she won't be ingesting cow's milk and all the horrible hormones in it that are causing menarche in 8 and 9 year old girls these days, but what if she's the tall girl in the back? The one who has to wear a bra before everyone else? That was the opposite of my experience. I was always the kid at the front of the line, the front row in class pictures, the baby. And I played the role, too. Crybaby, whiner, can't take a joke. Flat chested. I was a year younger than the rest of my classmates so I really was smaller and less mature. Thora's birthday is in February so she will be the same age as her classmates, not pushed ahead like I was. Though I was proud of being younger because I felt it meant I was smarter, I was definitely at a disadvantage in some ways. It was just one more reason for me to get picked on and not know how to laugh it off. If Thora is the tallest kid in her class, if she is the first to wear a bra, at least she will be on a fair playing field being the same age as the other kids.

One thing I really hate about going to the pediatrician is the lecture on sleep we get every single time. Generally, I love our pediatric practice. They have several offices around the city so we were able to go to one near us when we lived in Brooklyn, and now we take the C to their midtown office. They are progressive and they take our insurance. They don't give me a hard time for delaying vaccines, they support breastfeeding exclusively, they answer all my frantic questions patiently even though I am sure they hear them all a thousand times a day ("Is it okay that she's so tall? Will her stork bite go away? Is it okay that she's so drooly? Is she normal? Smart? Not retarded? Am I a good mother?") But I do not like is the sleep talk. I am very pro-attachment parenting and opposed to sleep training. My schedule is Thora's schedule. I don't believe in making her adhere to a schedule that is convenient for us. Easy for me to say, I know. Because lucky for us, Thora decided all on her own about three or four weeks ago to start sleeping through the night. I told this to the pediatrician proudly and thought she'd say "Wow, that's great!" like everyone else does. Instead she asked when she goes down, how many times she wakes up to nurse, how late she sleeps. And wouldn't you know, she thinks we're doing it all wrong.

There's nothing like a conversation with the pediatrician where the sentences start with "Babies her age should be doing..." to make you lose every shred of parenting confidence you have because your kid isn't doing it. She should be able to sleep 12 hours, they said. She should not need to nurse at night, after all it's just comfort nursing. She should be able to this, to that. I was scared to admit that we were co-sleeping, that she hates her bassinet. But I like co-sleeping, so what's to admit? I was all rattled. But I kept my cool in the office and said "she's doing very well and if I have any more questions, I'll be sure to ask, thanks!" End of subject. I knew that Thora was doing great and that her nursing in the middle of the night wasn't just comfort nursing (and, as my dear and very logical friend Julie pointed out to me, "so what if it's comfort nursing? She's a baby! What's wrong with comforting her?!"). Despite what Dr. Sleep Training said, I knew that I should consider myself lucky that she sleeps 12 hours at a stretch with waking up once or twice in there for a quick nurse, a diaper change. But still, the message I was hearing was right out of a lolcat picture: "baybeez: ur doin it rong!"

So what did I do?

I started sleep training her! Well, no, not really. I did think about it though. What do I really want? Right now Thora goes to sleep around midnight when we do. She sleeps with us. She stays asleep until about four or five, and then when she wakes up she nurses for about thirty seconds and falls back asleep. Then she wakes up again at around 8:30 or so and is up for a while. That's when she nurses longer. Sometimes I change her. If we are home that morning, she falls back asleep within a half hour. If we have somewhere to go, she protests and fusses until she's settled in the Moby wrap and then she passes out. Either way she eventually drops back to sleep and doesn't wake up until almost one in the afternoon.

Which is awesome when I want to get stuff done in the morning. But then I stay in all day some days, afraid to wake her by putting her in the Moby. Now that I have the Storchenwiege, I can have her nurse and nap in there in the morning and still get work done. And it really sucks that we have no evening, because she's so fussy before falling asleep that we can do absolutely nothing together. We take turns holding her so I can cook and we can each eat dinner alone and quickly so we can take the baby from the other. Not ideal. We thought it over and then our friend Mark chimed in when I asked him, "If your kid's sleeping until noon, you're f-ed. Seriously."

So yesterday I woke her up at 10. She wasn't happy about it, grunting and grumbling sleepily, but she stayed awake. And she fussed much less in the afternoon and early evening. She dropped off around 9:30 in Johnny's arms, so we brought her to bed and lay down with her. I read to her and sang to her for over an hour, almost falling asleep myself, but by 10:40 she was really asleep.

It was amazing! She stayed asleep and we got to do grownup things together. I washed the dishes while Johnny dried and put away. We drank tea. Ate pretzels. Watched an episode of Carnivale. Our pinkies were dry!And before we knew it, it was after 1 am and time for us to get to bed too. Thora stirred but didn't really wake. It was awesome and I could not wait to do it even earlier the next day.

What I didn't think about was that if she was going to bed at 12 or 1 and waking for that half-hour at 8:30 or 9, it would stand to reason that if she went to sleep around 10 instead, that half hour would come a lot earlier. And sure enough. she was up at 6 and I, bleary eyed and feeling like I did when she was a newborn, struggled to wake up with her, get her changed and fed and back to sleep. It was worth it though, because she eventually did fall back asleep and we all got up around 9:30. I even feel brave enough to try to work on minimizing that half hour, because according to my pediatrician, at two months they should be able to sleep 12 hours straight without getting up to nurse. I don't know a single baby that actually does this, but maybe Thora will be the first?

12 comments:

  1. Good morning Mama, from thumbs to dating...

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  2. Who is your pediatrician? Twelve hours? That is crazy advice and not at all in line with the physiological and emotional needs of the vast majority of infants. Going by the anthropological evidence, 3-4 *years* is a more likely time for kids to go through the night alone.
    And when she turned two, Margot was in the 95% for height and the 5th for weight. She's filled out some since then, but they are just growth curves, not grades!

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  3. I don't know of any baby that actually slept 12 hours straight until they were well into toddlerhood, unless they were "sleep trained" and allowed to "cry it out" until they fell asleep. I think your instincts are right on, mama. Yes, you can fine tune her a bit, especially if you are planning to go back to work. A wise yenta in my neighborhood told me an old Yiddish proverb: If you let the baby cry when it is little, you will be crying when it grows up. I think it was meant to say that if you take care of the baby's needs you won't have "issues" when they get in their teens. Don't know if that is really true, but I never had an ounce of trouble/rebellion from my kids. I look back now and think WOW!

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  4. Lisa, we go to Tribeca Pediatrics. I was warned even before she was born that they are great but that they are really into sleep training. I don't know from anthropological evidence, but it really doesn't make sense to me either. Like I said, I stop those conversations when they start because I hate them so much.

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  5. Oh yeah. Tribeca is known for being bonkers with their sleep training advice. This article is great: http://kathydettwyler.org/detsleepthrough.html

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  6. 12 hours sounds crazy to me too! Anna stopped her night nursing at 9 months, and at that point I really did believe that she didn't need it and was messing with me. She did fine after 1 or 2 nights. But like everyone else has said 12 hours at 9 weeks seems nutso to me.

    Thora is a tall, healthy girl now! Anna used to run 90th for height but her appt last week had her down to 60th (I'm 5'10 so 90th seemed right by me). Things go up and down, I don't know that we can predict anything. You've got a healthy, sweet girl there and you're doing right by her every day.

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  7. Here's a quote :)
    "Human children are designed to be sleeping with their parents. The sense of touch is the most important sense to primates, along with sight. Young primates are carried on their mother's body and sleep with her for years after birth, often until well after weaning. The expected pattern is for mother and child to sleep together, and for child to be able to nurse whenever they want during the night. Normal, healthy, breastfed and co-sleeping children do not sleep "through the night" (say 7-9 hours at a stretch) until they are 3-4 years old, and no longer need night nursing. I repeat -- this is NORMAL and HEALTHY."

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  8. I am glad my instincts were dead-on. Thank you all for reassuring me I know what I'm doing (sort of). Mary, I love the quote from your yenta neighbor. It makes perfect sense to me!

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  9. From one sleep deprived mama to another - I feel your pain. Thanks for sharing, it makes me feel better about my choices to co-sleep and feed on demand :)

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  10. It sounds like Thora already sleeps quite a nice stretch, you might just want to bring her in your actual time zone. It helps if you wake her up and start an active day at the same time every day. You also might want to try practicing the "dream feed". Encourage her to go to sleep for the night about 12 hours before you want her to start the day with you. Once she is used to falling asleep at that time (and it's likely that she will, if you woke her up about 12 hours before) enjoy some adult time and the free pinkies. Before you are ready to call it a day, probably 3 or 4 hours later, quietly pick her up and nurse her right where she is sleeping, in the same quiet corner she is used to sleeping in, wherever it is. It's even easier if you co-sleep and if you fall asleep right next to her after the dream feed. Whichever way you do it, the idea is for her to wake up just enough to feed, and then get right back to dreamland with a full belly. That way you can have a longer stretch and postpone the next wake-up call to a time that is more in tune with a normal night sleep. I was never able to make it work with Mila - she'd always wake up too much and was such a challenge to get to sleep - but I recently discovered that Adina is a natural at it. And once again, the lesson is that so much depends on the baby. So yeah, it might work or it might not, but it's worth a try!

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  11. Do not discuss sleeping arrangements with your pediatrician!:) You handled it perfectly by closing that conversation. Sleep- with whom, where, which hours of the day- is a lifestyle issue, and therefore NONE of the doctor's business. You are quite capable of inquiring about a problem should one arise. It sounds like she sleeps very well for her age, anyway, and I'd be afraid to mess with that too much. If you can nudge her to more convenient hours, sure, but trying to eliminate a night feed or check-in is just absurd.

    Nursing for comfort is absolutely what they're supposed to do- the baby is born and expects there's tigers and monkeys out here, and therefore needs to check in and make sure, "hey, did the tribe forget about me? No? Great, safe to relax and rest, then." This is why cosleeping works so well- and I loved having my babies in bed with me, waking up to see a fat three-month-old smiling at me, having woken at the same instant.

    Right on, yentas! You plump up both their bodies and their spirits with all the boob/love they can take for the first few years- then the foundation is laid. Imagine a world in which ALL babies grew up with never a doubt that they were loved, that they were valued, that their emotional as well as their physical needs were of utmost importance to the people around them, that they are truly safe, that if they cry someone will answer them. We don't withhold water for fear of spoiling a plant- we give it as much as it wants.

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  12. Surely, she felt in love with him. Pictures of the lady with the man showed her love and affection. The pictures were for resumeservicesau in this vain of the affection and for the depiction of the inclusive terms of the relation.

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