Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Approaching 2 months

My little man will be two months old tomorrow! Can you believe it? I certainly can't!  (Funny story--his birthday is the 22nd, but 3 times now, I've said or acted like it's the 23rd. What's wrong with me that I can't remember my own son's birthday?)

We're continuing to adjust to our new life. Things are just so much more difficult and different than I imagined they would be. I adore my son, but he's a little sinful person, full of personality and preferences and even annoyances. Even now, I can already see that while he's very sweet, he's very impatient and can be very stubborn. I think he got both of those traits from me. Every time I see glimpses of them, I just pray that he'll learn to get out from under their spell more quickly than his mommy has. It continues to amaze me that he can have so much personality at such a young age. It also tells me that I'm going to have my work cut out for me!

I'm learning to pray differently than I used to. Maybe it's different, and maybe it's just more. I've found that in the middle of the night when I'm at my wit's end because he's up for the 4th time, I spend time praying over each little inch of his body. I start at one end and go to the other and then back again. I pray that his feet will one day carry the good news to those who have not yet heard it. I  pray that his hands will be gentle, and strong, and capable, and used for service. I pray that he'll have ears to hear the Lord. I pray that his little mouth will grow to be one that speaks kindness, love, and truth into people's lives. I pray that his mind will be sharp, and focused on heavenly things. I pray that his heart will be tender. I pray that his eyes will see people as Jesus does. In praying those things, I also pray them for my husband and I. I want us to be the kind of people who model the kind of person we want him to be.  And I know for me, I have a long way to go in pretty much every department. It's a good thing that our kids start out as babies: it gives us time to make mistakes and changes before they're old enough to remember! So anyway, I try to focus on praying rather than on counting the minutes until he's done eating and I can go to sleep.

This is going to sound silly, but I've found that the biggest challenge with motherhood (aside from the insane sleep deprivation) is that I can't reason with him. I can't tell him that I know best and so he should eat or go to sleep or whatever. (Well, I can tell him these things, but it won't do either of us much good). I can't ask him why he's crying or tell him that if he just settles down, changing his diaper or putting his clothes on will go much more quickly and then his source of irritation will be over. I want to tell him that mommy knows what he needs and what is best for him so would he just comply, please? I know this may sound like a "duh!" moment--like, "Duh, Jen, of course you can't reason with a newborn!" but I guess I didn't realize how much I depend reason for communication (bear with me--I know THAT sounds stupid too but I can't explain it better, so just blame my sleep deprivation). As I sit there wrestling with him, trying to tell him that he'll have a much easier time eating and he'll get what he wants sooner if he just calms down, I wonder how many times God feels the exact same way with me. He's communicating, He knows what's best and what I need, but I'm just not getting it. I'd rather cry and arch my back and fight instead. This part of parenting is teaching me a lot about patience and creativity.  I have to be patient through the inability to communicate as I  normally would, and think creatively for new solutions. Thankfully God is patient with me, and is also persistent in trying to communicate with me when traditional methods fail, so I try to remember those things when it's 2:00am and I just want to cry because I'm so tired.

The biggest surprise has been the sleep deprivation. Honestly, this is my biggest area for struggle. The get up to pee every 2 hours part of pregnancy started really early for me, so I was already sleeping only in little spurts for a long time before he was born.  But he'll be two months old tomorrow, and he still only sleeps 3 hours at a time, maximum. I think I can count on two hands the amount of times he's slept longer than that. And 3 hours is if I'm lucky. Normally, it's two. I have lots of friends whose children were sleeping 5, 6, even 8 hours by this age and I'm so very jealous. I feel like I'm nearing the end of my ability to keep going at this pace. And I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong. Like there's something in my diet that makes my milk metabolize too quickly. Or something in my parenting style that's not helping him learn healthy sleep habits. Or something wrong with my capacity for patience that I feel like I can't keep doing this.  I guess that's my biggest prayer--for sleep, for all of us. I knew sleep deprivation would be a way of life--I guess I just didn't know it would be this prolonged. Really, Matthew is an easy baby in a lot of ways so if sleep is our biggest problem, I know I am blessed. But I still pray that relief is very near. Right now I feel like I operate on borrowed time--like if I do *anything* other than sleep when he's sleeping, I'll regret it later. That makes it really hard to tend to my marriage and other relationships, to want to do anything like go to church or even do the grocery shopping, or to keep up with my tasks around the house. I know I CAN let some of those things go for now, and I have, but some things (marriage, church, friendships!) I WANT to resume and I just feel like I can't, at least not the way I'd like to. I still think of EVERYTHING in terms of "could I be sleeping right now?" Like I said--I knew this would be life for a while, but I didn't realize it would be so long with such minimal improvement. I just feel overwhelmed in this area-it's hard to find a balance for things.

DH is a wonderful daddy. I always knew he would be. I love to listen to him talk to Matthew, sing to him, play with him. Most every morning, DH takes Matthew out to do errands with him so I can get a couple hours of deep sleep, rather than that half-awake-listening-for-the-baby-sleep. It's such a gift for me, and it also blesses my heart as a mommy and wife to see them spending that time together. Hopefully, years from now I won't still need that sleep assistance, but I hope they'll still have times like that together that Matthew can remember.

Matthew is just a love. Around week 3-4, he started discovering his hands-looking at them, putting them in his mouth, touching them to each other, touching his face, moving them, clasping them--so cute to watch. Once, he caught glimpse of his feet and his eyes got huge, as if to say, "WHAT are THOSE!?" Week 5-ish, he started exploring his mouth. He makes the funniest faces. He sticks out his tongue over and over and over again like a little froggy. He'll make the taco shape with his tongue, too, or form a big O with his mouth. He smacks his lips and does fish-face.  It's so DARN cute. I love to watch him just explore what he can do. We've seen a couple of sort-of smiles--I hope we see the real thing, soon! With all this mouth-action, he's also started drooling--cute in its own way, but kind of gross, too ;)

Last week, he was sitting in his bouncer and he reached up and smacked the toys. At first, I thought it was incidental because he tends to flail, but the next day, he did it, very deliberately, while sitting in his carseat. That was fun to see. This week, he's just enjoying looking at things. I watch him just gaze at his surroundings-his mobile, pictures on the wall, whomever is holding him, etc. He loves to be sitting up too. He can hold his head up about 80% of the time and he can even turn it to look at things. His Aunt Tina bought him a Bum.bo seat--I can't wait for it to get here so he can sit up to his heart's content!

He also LOVES to be outside. LOVES it. DH says the great-outdoors is Matthew's drug. He can be fussy-fussy-fussy, and you take him outside and he's instantly mesmerized. This weekend we took a picnic in a park and all 3 of us lay on a blanket and just watched the world go by. It was perfect. I'm grateful we live in a climate where we can be outside pretty much a little bit of each day, all year round. Remind me that I said that when it's July and I'm grumpy about how hot it is!

Last week, we reached another milestone--he had his first cold. Thankfully, it was mild and went away quickly, but that was no fun!

DH took today off and we had a 3 day mini "stay-cation" (I hate that word!). We just stayed home, turned off our phones, and only went on the computer to play rummikub with each other. We went bowling, we went on a picnic, we had a lunch date outside near a lovely fountain, we did errands, we played games, we took walks, we napped, we worked in our garden--it was wonderful just to have some connect time with each other. We were both feeling a little frazzled and disconnected from each other, so the R&R time together did wonders for us. It was fun to enjoy our new little family in a little bit more than just survival mode.

Well, speaking of sleep, it's very late, and I need to be getting some. I'm sorry I go so long between updates, but hopefully he'll start sleeping better and I'll want to spend time doing something other than sleeping!

Oh, PS: His baby dedication will be April 17 at our church if you're in the area and you want to join us. Service starts at 9:00am.

PSS: His two month check up is next week and we need to have made our decisions about vaccinations by then. Please join us in prayers for wisdom--I didn't expect to struggle so much with this decision. (Disclaimer--I appreciate your prayers, but I'm not looking for opinions on vaccines right now--I'm having enough trouble sorting out my own thoughts! I do have lots of research and resources already.)

Anyway, goodnight! I will leave you with some pictures (c'mon, we all know that's why you're really here!)  ;)

All in green for St. Patty's Day!

Chillin with dad

We were on a walk. Matthew wanted to be held, and Lewis was tired of walking. So DH picked up Matthew and Lewis got to ride home.

Chubby Cheeks!

Close up!


  1. Thanks for the update! I think about all of you often! I think it amazing how EA babies tend to look just like their mommies and daddies! Looking at the first pic, I thought, "WOW. He looks just like his dad!" Then, in later pics I couldn't get over how he has mommy's eyes. Very cool.

    Glad you are adjusting to this new leg of your journey. May sleep be with you! (I feel like this will be my biggest struggle as well).

    Don't wait so long to update next time!

  2. What a DOLL!!! Congrats and hang in there with the sleep. I'm sure you've gotten TONS of advice, but I'm going to throw some your way, too - Makenna has always been a rockstar sleeper (maybe because we let her sleep in her swing for the first 2 months of her life - yup, all night long, swinging away listening to crickets chirp:)) BUT I have heard from friends that 2 great books to checkout are Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Babywise. One friend swears by Babywise - went from the situation you are in to great sleeper in like 2 days. Reading your updates I'm pretty sure you've probably read all the books and heard all the advice, so if you are rolling your eyes at more mommy advice, go ahead, I'd probably roll my eyes at me too:) ha! Enjoy every minute of that little guy - he is precious! What an amazing gift EA is!

  3. Jen, I loved the update. your little family is beautiful. :) Your words of self-doubt kill me girl! I can totally relate on the sleep issues. Mine didn't sleep through the night until after she was a year old. I remember thinking all the same things you expressed. I remember my mom telling me all her 4 kids slept through the night by 2 months. I asked her why....her response: "By then I was too tired to wake up in the night." no baby monitors back then. Lol! I guess I want to tell you you are not alone and, somehow, the frustrating infancy just makes the "reasoning" years that much sweeter. I didn't even enjoy zoe until she was a year old and I felt SO guilty about that after dealing with infertility. Anyway...love you and you are doing fantastically!

  4. He is just adorable! I am sorry you are so sleep deprived, it is really hard to get through that. I feel your pain. My 2nd daughter did not sleep through the night until at least 9 months. We searched and searched for "the" reason and just could not find one. The good news is we did survive (somehow). I am glad I have photos though because so much of that time is a blur! Hopefully it encourages you to know that from a little over 1yr until the present she is a great sleeper and rarely wakes up at night.

  5. Love the update, Matthew is such a cute little dude!!! :) I will be praying for sleep for the 3 of you. It is very painful, I just want to encourage you, it. will. get. better! (Slowly, but surely...) But yes, it is oh so painful- I remember being so suprised by that too. Hang in there, (you will want to do other things rather than sleep, one day soon, it happens slowly!) Thanks for the darling pictures of your sweet boy. We are praying for you!

  6. Jen - I know what you mean about sleeping through the night. Please check out this site.
    It made me feel so much better. My baby is 7 mths old and no - he's not sleeping through the night and it sounds to me like that's OK for a totally breastfed baby. Do not let others make you feel bad. I got so tired of people asking if he was sleeping thru the night, that I started saying, "Yes, he's sleeping fine." You are a wonderful mommy - never doubt it.

  7. Oh, he is so adorable!! Glad you updated~ I've been thinking about you. I just love the way you pray over him, so sweet. I am very afraid of the sleep deprivation part of parenting because I know that I don't function well on little sleep. Praying you get some much needed rest! Enjoy your little guy!

  8. Hang in there Jen! You are doing a great job. God gave you your precious Matthew, and He will continue to strengthen you and give you wisdom each step of the way. You are not alone!
    Thanks for the pictures. He is so 'pickin cute'!

  9. Matthew is adorable!! Those cheeks! Oh my goodness : ) I totally remember when Sadie was a newborn, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I kept wondering how I never knew how hard it was all going to be. I saw that another post mentioned the book Babywise. It was what we followed and Sadie slept through the night at 8 weeks to the date. A lot of my friends use this method too and all of them have had success. But, whatever you choose, God will give you the grace and strength to endure, my friend. And I promise that it gets SO much better as they continue to grow and become more independent. I am loving this stage with Sadie right now. I am almost nervous to have another newborn, but I think that the second time around won't be quite as traumatic for me. Just know that you are not alone! Lots of moms feel the same way. Hang in there!

  10. Golly, Jen, I bet you kiss those chubby cheeks every day - what a cutie!

    Just for what it's worth, I know that many people have used Babywise and kept their common-sense and it's been helpful for them, but if you do go that direction, make sure to do a bit of research first (I know you're all about the research, so you probably don't need me to tell you that!) because it has been linked to some failure-to-thrive and even death cases when parents have taken it too seriously.

  11. I see the Babywise recommendations and I think I read before that you were reading that book earlier. I have read Babywise and like it to an extent, but if you have a tendency toward the notion that if you do everything right then everything will go the way you want it to, like I do it can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy when everything doesn't go as planned.

    I think if you follow the babywise suggestions, your baby will sleep better than he would have otherwise but some babies really are born better sleepers than others who still won't sleep well even if you are doing everything right from your end.

    Even the babywise polls suggest some babies don't sleep through the night early when you follow the plan, just most of them do and that for boys it is usually a little later. Boys typically are hungrier and their digestive system is more immature. Also, weight is a bigger indicator of when they can sleep through the night than age so if your child happens to be low-weight for his age then it might take longer.

    And, you know what the biggest surprise was, even after my first-born started sleeping an 8-hour chunk? He started waking for other reasons like separation anxiety, teething, accidentally rolling-over in his sleep and freaking himself out. Though, once they stop waking up from hunger, at least they sleep decent chunks occasionally. The No-Cry Sleep Solution and Babywise were a good combination to help balance me out, and I think you said you were reading that one too, which means you are doing everything right! You are doing all the tips and they aren't working, which unfortunately is just life this side of paradise.

    There are a few tricks though that have helped me tip the scales in my favor a little. Pick one night feeding that you want to try to eliminate. If daddy can go in there this usually works even better because food isn't so much on their mind. First, make sure there are no gas bubbles, this is a horrible culprit for multiple wakings in my kids. They are really gassy and when they are so still and sleeping at night it wakes them up crying whereas in the day they kind of wiggle it out of their systems. Then, see if you can get them to fall back to sleep without a feeding... stand on your head if you have to. This can be very frustrating to them and stressful for mom and dad but, if they go to sleep and stay asleep until the next time they usually wake up to eat, then they have become 'addicted' to that feeding more than needing it for food. If they don't sleep very long and then wake up again, then they are actually hungry. Then you need to try and get more calories into him during the day time, one way or another and that should help the night wakings. Part of the problem though, is that if they are eating a lot at night, they don't demand as much during the day, even if they eat frequently it is less ounces per feeding probably. So if you can get him to skip even one feeding for three nights or so, he will be hungrier in the day and eat more per feeding then and you'll have extra milk in the day because he didn't eat as much as normal the night before. It is kind of a vicious cycle. I've even been so desperate to only give half a feeding during the night because they just wanted it so bad and wouldn't relax, which is a gamble because you think they will wake up again sooner, but if it is a want rather than a need, they actually will sleep as long as they ever do and you are tipping the caloric scales in your favor.

    As for the vaccines, it is no fun to make a decision knowing that no matter what you do, someone will think you are wrong and harming your child. Feel free to use your best judgment and then not talk about it, because people can't criticize what they don't know :)

  12. Hey Jen, two quick comments:
    1) have you tried nursing lying down? That SAVED me with the sleepless nights problem. When baby woke up, I could nurse him back to sleep while still dozing myself. It took a little work to help him learn how to latch lying down, but once he got it, my life totally improved! :)

    2) If you choose to read Babywise, it might be wise to also read some discussions from the "opposition" to that style of parenting. I've read the book, and it is very seductive in the "if you do x, y, and z, you will be following God's will AND your baby will be perfect" sense. And it is easy for new parents to get so involved in following the babywise rules that they lose touch with their God-given mommy sense. There have been some really tragic child deaths linked to Babywise training. Just...do your research (and of course being you, I know that you will!)