Saturday, October 10, 2009

1 month old

Dear Nathan,

You just turned one month old... mommy has been looking forward to this as I've been told that the first month is the most difficult... which means it's going to get easier soon. Yay!

It has been a trying month. The first 2 weeks were relatively easier because all you did was eat and sleep. You'd fall asleep after each feed and wake up 3 hours later for your next feed. Mommy was pretty amazed at how you'd wake up almost exactly 3 hours after your last feed. From week 3 onwards, you didn't fall asleep immediately after each feed. You'd want to stay awake so I had to think of wake time activities to keep you occupied. Then came the hard part - putting you to sleep. After the wake time activities, you'd start fussing, and it's clear to me that you've had enough and would like to sleep. But you had difficulty falling asleep on your own in your cot. Mommy didn't want to rock you to sleep as I was afraid that it'd become a habit. I also didn't want to let you suckle to sleep as that'd be a bad habit too. So... I really didn't know how to get you to sleep. You can cry from the end of one wake time to the start of the next feed... and you crying makes mommy cry too. After lots of prayer, and speaking with friends who've just had babies, we're managing better at the sleep front. I'm still hoping that you'd sleep thru the night by the time you are 8 weeks old. It's really tiring as I've not slept more than 3 hours ever since you arrived. Sleep - one of the things we need to continue working at.

We struggled with breastfeeding. You were rather fussy and impatient and I had trouble getting you to latch on properly. Improper latching resulted in sore and cracked nipples. Thankfully mommy has a pretty high threshold of pain. So I continued latching you although it was painful. Now, we've both gotten the hang of it. I enjoy holding you in my arms, and watching you suckle. Such joy!

You hated bath times. You'd bawl from the time you're undressed and wouldn't stop till I've finishing bathing you and dressing you. I bought you a bath seat as I thought it could be because you were feeling insecure with just mommy holding you, but you still continued crying in the bath seat. I tried getting you to hold on to something so you'd feel more secure, but you still wouldn't stop crying. Until I figure out what works for you, you're only having one bath a day. It's just too stressful for mommy.

Your daddy has been a wonderful husband and doting father. Mommy is so thankful for him. I've never really seen the fatherly side of him, and was amazed that he took on the role of daddy so easily. The first day I saw daddy in his work clothes after the delivery, I teared. You were still undergoing phototherapy and when he came to kiss me goodbye in your room, I teared. He stayed home for the first 5 days or so after your arrival, and I was getting used to having him around. I suppose I was feeling overwhelmed.

Dear God, please continue to grant me the strength, wisdom and patience as I learn how to care for Nathan and meet his needs. I pray that Nathan will be able to feed well, sleep well and grow well. Give Dean an extra portion of your strength as he has a heavy work load. Bless our little family of 3. Amen.

In spite of the lack of sleep, stress and tears, mommy and daddy are still so thankful for you. You've brought both joy and tears. I'm sure we'll do better going forward as mommy and daddy get better at our jobs as parents. Meanwhile, be patient with us as we try to decipher your cries and meet your needs. We love you loads!

Hugs and kisses,

Monday, October 5, 2009


I posted the following shoutout on Facebook and was pleasantly surprised to get 32 responses! I was getting desperate as I can't seem to get Nathan to fall asleep on his own. It was comforting to know others who've struggled with the same problem (some still struggling), and the solutions they've found.

Dean and I were talking about how blessed we were that there are so many of our friends are expecting babies at about the same time as us. Other than Nathan having playmates in future, it also helps us as parents. I'm so thankful for friends who've just gone down the 'new parents road'. They have been so encouraging. Hearing how they dealt with various issues with their newborns has helped me to handle Nathan better.

I can't stand it when folks talk about how taking care of babies is easy, or that we've got an easy baby, that sleeping thru will naturally happen... even more so when it comes from people who 'farmed out' their babies from the time they were 2 months old. If they hardly saw their babies in the week, and left the baby care to someone else, of course it is easy. If you've not had to deal sleep depravation, breast feeding and changing diapers in the middle of the night, I do not want to hear your mindless comments.

Other than hearing from loved ones and friends, the two books that I've found helpful are Gary Ezzo's On Becoming Baby Wise and Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby. Incidentally, these two books were also recommended by our friends. I don't follow Gina Ford's strict schedule, but I apply the principles. Both books are based on the feed-wake-sleep principle. The idea is to repeat these three activities in the right order, in rhythmic cycles. As Gary wrote in his book,"routine leads to consistency, consistency leads to stabiliszation of each activity... as a result, the whole family is blessed by the order brought to baby's day".

I started off feeding Nathan on demand, which resulted in a 3 hour cycle. Wake time needs to follow after feed time. It is easy to put baby to sleep immediately after a feed, especially at the beginning because babies naturally fall asleep at the breast. But the books says that if you allow that, baby doesn't take a full feed, he sleeps but wakes up shortly after because he's still hungry. You'd end up with a baby that doesn't feed well nor sleep well, and a very tired mom who has to feed very often. Snack feeding is something to avoid at the very start. The idea is to ensure that baby stays awake to finish a full feed. Having fed well, play with him till he's tired (usually you'd be able to tell cos he'll start fussing). When he's tired, settle him in his cot wide awake. You want him to learn how to sleep on his own, without the need for sleep props.

With all the suggestions gathered, I'm slowly figuring out what works for Nathan. I found that swaddling Nathan helps him to sleep better. Else his arms will be flailing about, and he wakes himself up. Nicely swaddled, I'd sing him a bedtime song. The same song all the time so he'll recognise it as his bedtime song. On good days, he'll fall asleep shortly. Some days, it takes a bit of effort. If he still doesn't sleep, I'll put him on his tummy, and pat his bum. He'd fuss for a bit cos he generally doesn't like being put on his tummy. But after a few pats, he'll usually fall asleep. In the day, I do not draw the curtains so he'll be able to differentiate day from night. For nights, there are no wake times. If I talk to him, it'll be in hushed tones. He's put straight back to bed after a feed. With the full feeds and routine established, you're working towards getting baby to sleep thru the night. My goal is to get Nathan to sleep thru by the time he's 8 weeks old so that both Dean and I can rest better.