Friday, July 20, 2012

Lessons from Eloise

My baby girl is 11 months old tomorrow. I'm spinning out at how fast the time has gone. Are we really almost at her first birthday? I really can't believe it. 

Every day, Eloise is turning more and more into a kid and leaving the last remnants of her babyhood in her wake. She is a high speed, full throttle baby. Constantly watching, reaching, trying to work out what's going on around her. 

When people tell you your life will change when you have a baby, it's a gross understatement. It's more like my life was reborn. Not only in obvious ways (sleep deprivation! a new constant companion! body changes that are way too personal for a blog!) but in fundamental ways that I could never have imagined.

1. I'm more patient than I was before - by a long shot. Having always been someone who wants everything to happen right away, Eloise has definitely helped me to slow down and accept that somethings take longer than I'd like to happen - and even to appreciate this.

2. Unconditional love. I thought I had known it before, but the way I feel about Eloise has been with a depth of love I didn't think possible. Just thinking about things potentially happening to her sends my heart racing. The idea of her growing up and leaving me makes my eyes tear up. 

3. Tolerance of others. I'm also a very intolerant person when it comes to other people, but thanks to Eloise that has also improved a lot. It's much easier to understand now how hard everyone's life may be, and I really try to be as kind as possible to everyone, even rude people on the subway. Everyone has their own daily struggles and I'm trying to give nasty-ass people the benefit of the doubt that the day they're hideous is a day they're finding too hard to cope with. 

I'm not only looking at my baby, but also at myself, as a work in progress. I hope that as I try to teach her about life, she continues to teach me about how to live it as a kinder, gentler, better person. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Eloise - Month 10 - 11

Our little girl is growing up so fast. She's becoming more and more like a toddler, and less like a baby every day. I'm so proud of her growth and development, but also a little wistful already for the baby we don't have for much longer. I'm so happy to see such great qualities in Eloise already. She's fearless, curious and generous.

We've been out and about a lot this month! Cousin Sara came to visit, so we've been siteseeing all over the city - such as the Empire State Building, Alice's Tea Cup, Central Park, FAO. We also went to fun things with Alec while he was on paternity leave, like the Bronx Botanical Gardens. We finished up the end of the month with two stroller tours, of the Guggenheim and Whitney.

Developmental

  • Standing with confidence now! Lets go of surfaces and balances on her feet. 
  • Cruising around the room using furniture to balance on.
  • Dismounts easily from standing onto her cushy rear.
  • Takes steps on the walker or if we're holding her hands.
  • Pulls herself up on our legs, the appliances, furniture, everything. 
  • Dancing! Bops to music.
  • Nods her head for yes and shakes it for no.
  • New words: "up" and "yeah".
  • Reaches to be picked up on command. 
  • Understands "no".
  • Comes when she's called.
  • Hand-eye co-ordination getting really good. Can pick up things like single peas with her thumb and forefinger and put them in her mouth.
  • Very chatty. Doesn't make any sense yet, but is very serious about telling us things and nodding her head vigorously. 
  • Managed to get a block shape into the correct hole in the box.
  • Teething, but no teeth broken through yet.
  • Much more affectionate. Lots of hugs.


Food

  • Eating really well. Three solid meals a day, plus snacks in between. Prefers large chunks that she can hold and gnaw on. Typical meal for the day: Breakfast: plain, full-fat yoghurt, half a banana. Snack: Half a banana. Lunch: Usually when we're out, so a puree pack of baby food, plus bits of whatever I'm eating. Snack: rock melon, watermelon, cheese. Dinner: Leftovers from food I've cooked for myself and Alec, like pasta, steamed vegetables, baked vegetables, veggie burger patty. 
  • Getting much better at drinking water from a cup and water bottle. 
Sleep
  • We completed sleep training with success. Eloise started sleeping from 7pm - 6:30-7:30am. AMAZING. We had a few nights where she woke at 6am, or at 10:30pm, but for the most part, it seems like our sleep issues have been solved.
  • Naps: Down to two naps a day. One at around 8:30-9am for anywhere from 1 - 2 hours, and 12:30pm for about 45mins to an hour a half. 
Empire State Building.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Sweetest Thing

As Eloise nears her first birthday, I'm savouring every moment of her babyhood - in particular, holding her as she sleeps.

In the early months when I spent 90% of our time holding her while she was asleep, it was an amazing peaceful time, holding this tiny person whose life I had created and was entrusted with. As she's gotten older, I've been holding her while she sleeps less and less.

Now that I don't nurse Eloise during the night anymore, the only time we share these sweet moments together is at bedtime, when I still nurse her to sleep every night. It's the most beautiful part of our day together. I hold her in my arms as she nestles in, my strong, wriggly girl who struggles against me all day long, finally still, peaceful and content. The muscles in her face relax and she looks so soft and small again. I can't resist smelling her beautiful head, kissing her forehead and rocking her a few times, holding her tight, before placing her in her crib.

I know that our time doing this is so limited. In the mean time, I'm savouring every night we have together and storing up these beautiful memories in my head for the day when this part of our relationship is over.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sleep Training

We've had a bad history with sleep, my baby and I. I tried on several occasions when I was really desperate to sleep train her, but with no success. Probably because the times I tried were when I was at my most desperate, like when she turned out to be teething for the first time.

With Eloise approaching 10 months old and still waking 2 - 3 times a night, we thought it was really time to try and put an end to the night feeds and then night waking.

We had advice from our paediatrician, who suggested a method where we could wait to go in and feed her at night in increasing intervals, and when feeding her, pull her off earlier than usual so she could fall asleep on her own.

We tried this method for several nights and it did nothing.

Next we tried the Ferber method, where we let her cry and went in every 10 minutes to talk to her, but didn't pick her up or feed her. The first night she cried for an hour and a half. Miserable.

A few days of this and things were improved - I no longer was doing night feeds! - but were not great, as she would get more upset after seeing me go in.

We had a meeting with Dr Michel Cohen, who is a sleep expert, and he basically told us we were doing everything wrong (d'oh). His advice was to shut the door after her night feed, and don't go back in till 7am.

This sounded barbaric to us, but we were heartened by our success from the previous nights, so decided to give it a shot. Night one, she woke up and cried for 45 mins, then slept till 5am, cried for an hour, then slept till 7:30. Nights two and three, slept from 6:45pm - 6:30am solid. Night four, slept till 5:45am, cried for 25 mins, then slept till 7:30. Night five, slept 6:45pm - 8:30am. AMAZING!!!!

I can't believe it's actually working, and we're actually getting sleep! Such a miracle.