Baby Schedules & Sleeping

Call me crazy, but I value sleep.  I also value routines, they make me happy, they make me feel secure and in control.  So when having my first baby, I knew that this was something that was going to be really important for me as a parent. I ALSO knew that the routines I hoped for might not work out, so I did have an open mind… but I was sure as heck going to try 🙂

People often say to me things like “Oh you are so lucky you have a good sleeper!” and although I know I am lucky because yes, Rocklyn IS a good sleeper, there was also a TON of work that went into getting her that way. It did not happen the night she came home and it certainly didn’t happen without a little persistence, consistency and gentle nudging.  There were a few tricks/things I did over the first 10 weeks of her life that I feel really helped.  The real proof will be if this all works for baby #2,  who I am sure will be her own kind of special.

  • Write it down:  I really did make it a mental point to hold zero expectations the first few weeks she was here and just had one goal of getting to know my new baby girl and learning motherhood.  However, I DID write down everything she did.  The times she nursed and for how long, the times she slept and for how long, etc.  This might seem crazy, but it was SUPER helpful for me to understand her patterns.  This is also something I still do when I notice she might be going through a change or regression. I am very visual, so it helps me to really see the big picture of what is going on and maybe how things can be adjusted.
  • Baby led schedule, not yours:  When I would mention that I started putting my newborn on a schedule, I got a lot of funny looks.  BUT to be clear I didn’t put her on MY schedule. I didn’t force anything.  I simply followed her natural patterns that I had taken note of and tried to make them more consistent over weeks and months.  When I noticed the magic time she wanted to eat was every 3.5 hours, I decided on set times every day to feed her. When I noticed she would fall asleep around the same times every day, I would put her down right before she was actually asleep and let her practice falling asleep on her own and created those as consistent nap times.  This of course did not always go smooth, but I was pretty dedicated on doing the same things at the same time every day, it helped me with being confident l really think it helped her become comfortable quickly in her new world and new routine because her day was very predictable.  I am a big believer in sticking to routines with kids, I think it helps them really thrive…and gives Mama some sanity 😉  No joke, Rocklyn has followed roughly the same routine with some tweaks here and there through 16 months old.

In the early stages when I was trying to get her used to napping in her crib, she would wake up and then fall asleep in my arms minutes later. It was a process before she took a long nap in there.

  •  Nursing to feed, not for comfort:  This is probably kind of controversial, but to be clear I am not against moms who nurse their babies for comfort, truly! You do you! Nursing my baby was very important to me, but I unfortunately had a weird relationship with it and didn’t love it like other women do. It made me pretty anxious actually (which is another post for another day).  I wanted to be able to give her the nutrition she needed, but I also did not feel comfortable becoming a human pacifier.  So, I would only nurse her when I could tell she was actually hungry, otherwise I would give her a pacifier, or find other ways to soothe her. Once she was gaining enough weight and we got the doctor okay to stop nighttime feedings, I held off as long as possible to feed her at night. I would not just immediately stick her on my boob to calm her down if she started fussing.  I would rock her, sing to her, etc. and many many times she would fall right back asleep.  Sometimes I would nurse, but for the most part she kind of picked up quickly that I was not going to nurse her at every cry.   I learned a lot of the time she just needed some skin to skin/mamma love and that didn’t have to mean eating.  At 8 old weeks she was sleeping through the night and pretty much has been since.

 

 

  • Crib Habits: Something else we did once she was in her crib at night/during nap times was soothe her IN her crib. We would do everything except take her out unless absolutely necessary, especially at night. I did not want her to get into a habit of crying just to be picked up, especially when it was time to sleep. Babies are smart little tricksters!  But for us, it helped Rocklyn become a really good self soother and even now when she has her nights of being awake for chunks of time, she typically just talks or sings to herself and doesn’t need us to go in there.  To this day, if she is crying at night or during nap time, it means she really needs something like a diaper change, isn’t feeling good or is just going through a regression/phase that usually passes pretty quickly.  There is a method in the book “The Happy Sleeper” called the sleep wave that talks about this as well.

Up until about a month ago (when she was right around 16.5 months) we have had little to no sleep issues.  However, she just recently started not being super consistent with the length of her naps and having random awake times in the middle of the night pretty often.  Nothing too terrible, but it has definitely been a noticeable shift.  So we are starting a gentle transition from one to two naps right now, which I am totally okay with as it allows her to be able to do fun stuff in the mornings before baby sister is here!

Often times if we needed to go somewhere during nap time, she was so accustomed to sleeping that she would sleep anywhere during that time frame.  Now that she is older, that doesn’t happen too often as she gets too excited.  This picture was on a plane ride right during her usual morning nap time when she was 12 months old. Her sleeping in a new environment at night while on this trip was a whole other experience 😉

The downside to doing all of this was that I didn’t leave my house much during my maternity leave because I was so focused on getting her into a routine, getting her used to her crib etc. and taking trips out of the house tended to mess with that. Granted, she was born in December so it wasn’t hard to stay in BUT by the time I went back to work she was in such a good routine and such a great sleeper that it made it worth it.

 

Random Mom Thoughts

Hi, Friends. It’s been a while. I wrote a majority of this post while on a quick work trip to St. Louis a few months ago.  Ironically, the last time I posted back in August I was also on a work trip. I suppose when I have those rare chunks of time on a weekend where I am sitting in a coffee shop for hours, I have more time to ponder and let words flow.  Now that I am a Mom, I do actually write more than I did before…because there is always so much on my mind to decompress! Most of these things I tend to keep private.  I feel extra vulnerable talking about motherhood for some reason. While I do feel more confident in my role as a Mom than I have in any other role in my life, I am still not immune to second guessing, breakdowns and judgement.

I have had so many thoughts and reflections in these last 18 months (yes, my BABY is 18 months, WHAT?) but I often worry about sharing them, because I never want another mom to think that just because I write about the way I do things or how I feel about certain topics, that means I judge you for doing or feeling something different.  That is NOT my intention.  Not even a little bit.  I believe that whatever you feel is best as a Mom IS the best.  Maybe it is breastfeeding.  Maybe it is formula.  Staying home or going back to work?  Cry it out? Co-sleeping? You do you, Mama.  I think you are awesome no matter what.

So, instead of sharing the thoughts and experiences I have had thus far one by one, I tucked some of them away in this blog and have them saved under my “Mommyhood” tab in specific categories.  If you want to read them, go for it.  If you don’t, that’s cool too, scroll on.  Writing is how I sort things out.  It also helps me to have something to look back on and remember as I approach having baby #2.  Maybe I will do things the same way, or maybe it will be a whole new experience!

I don’t really know much. I am only experiencing and learning as I go, I think that is what we are all doing.  But I DO know this; Motherhood is an amazing journey, yet it can also be incredibly lonely and isolating.

I also have SUCH a problem with this crazy expectation that we HAVE to be in this overwhelmed exhausted state all the time, it is just the life of a Mom, right?!  NO. I don’t think it has to be. I really don’t.  It just so happens to be an easy thing to succumb to in motherhood. But I really don’t think it has to actually BE that way all ALL the time. That is not the kind of life I want to live and it is certainly not the kind of Mom I want to be. That being said, it is still something that I have to work hard to stay away from.

There are days where I feel like I am the only one that thinks about taking care of everybody and getting everything done, that worries about things I shouldn’t worry about, that has has my heart ache every moment I am away from my baby (yet oddly at the same time still desperately needing away time). The weight of the world seems to be so heavy on my shoulders, but is it because I put it that weight there?  I don’t know.  I am coming off a pretty busy season and not to mention a pregnant hormonal mess, so I think I am feeling a little more vulnerable than usual as I write this.

But I DO believe we have a choice in the kind of life we create for our families. We have a choice in the kind of parents we are and the kind of environment we raise our children in.  I want my girls to absorb my happiness, not my stress. I want them to feel my love, not my exhaustion. I want to be fully PRESENT when I am with them. Which is why I also now as a Mom, say “NO” more than I ever have before in my life.  I no longer feel obligated to do things to make other people outside my family happy or meet others expectations. This has come at a cost of losing some relationships, which I do value and miss, but ultimately having a large social circle and commitments outside of work and family is just not a priority for me right now.

It amazes me sometimes that I have gotten to be this way, considering just a few years ago I was constantly fighting a schedule that was packed to the max and saying yes to everything and everybody. Not to mention falling asleep anytime I sat down because I was always so tired.  But now, aside from my very busy seasons of work, my life is so much more relaxed  and wonderful. I am so much more committed to keeping my time sacred and doing things that bring me joy and doing those things well, because that ultimately brings my family joy and allows me to feel like I have a handle on this life. Finally.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

Pumping & Flying Like a BOSS

Pumping is probably the least glamorous thing ever, even more so when you are trying to figure out how to get it done while traveling/flying. But it IS possible! When I was interviewing for new positions, I took 4 flights in a matter of 10 days.  The nature of the positions I was interviewing for were remote/work from home admission positions for Colleges that were in different states, hence the flights.  So I figured out really quickly how to navigate pumping/traveling with breast milk in airports and flying.  So here are some of my tips!  Keep in mind, this was traveling without baby.

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I bought a little mini canvas cooler, although I wish I did have a plastic one because as your ice melts it leaked through my cooler a little bit, nothing major though.  They will allow you to carry it on with you no problem and it doesn’t count as an extra carry on.
You will put it on the belt through security as you would everything else and then somebody will take you aside to check it.  They just run a test on the milk itself, and it is super quick.  Just a little awkward when they are pulling out your milk and everybody is looking 😉   Bring ice blocks if you have them because they typically will not make you throw those away.

To Bring:

  • Your pump, obviously and maybe 2-4 bottles to pump into at most, I recommend only using bottles while you are actually pumping and bags for storage
  • Mini Cooler
  • Ice blocks
  • Breast milk bags:  this is where I stored all the milk I pumped on the trip too, not bottles, bags pack so much easier in the cooler and you can fit more in.
  • Empty ziploc bags:  Just in case your ice blocks melt or are not as cool, you can get some ice from a restaurant or McDonalds in the airport.
  • Little mini wash clothes just in case of leakage or spill etc.
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wipes
  • Portable charge for your pump in case you are not able to find an actual outlet

In terms of actual pumping, most airports have a nice Mother’s Room with a comfy chair, outlet and sink.  Be sure to find out a head of time if this room is actually before or AFTER security as it does vary at some airports

Hope this helps! 🙂