Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's ahead?

Before we get onto other business, I should start with some sleep highlights, it's only right, I know you have all been waiting with baited breath...

Firstly, starting the day before Christmas Eve Levi began doing an 8 hour stretch at night (and would then go back for another few hours before getting up for the day) was good while it lasted. A Christmas miracle if you like. Last night we were back to a 6.5 hour stretch, I'll still take it!

He has started taking two, 2 hours naps in the day. This is great but it pushes bedtime back to 8 or 9pm.

I love our video monitor. It has let me see that twice in the last few days he has woken up mid nap, chatted a little and then put himself back to sleep for another hour or so. I am really hoping that this helps him  put himself to sleep in a month or so when we implement some sleep training...It will certainly help me to know he can do it (and that he can sleep 8 hours without feeding!)

He has more recently started taking a long time to settle to sleep for naps and for night so it's only reinforcing my desire to sleep train him. I want to be able to read him a story, sing a song, and put him down to sleep. None of this endless rocking and shushing and nursing to sleep.

And now onto other business;

Pretty sure Levi is ready to start eating actual food. He grabs at everything we eat and watches us intently when we lift fork to mouth, his bright eyes pleading for a taste. He is a pro at drinking sips of water from our glasses or cups. The recommendation here in the U.S. is to wait until 6 months even though the more general rule in sometime between 4-6 months.  On January 11th he will be 5 months old so we might use that as our compromise. I think that avocado puree will be his first food...goodness knows I am less than excited to see how this new food affects his diaper contents but I guess its all just part of the process. And my excitement to be making food for him is a pretty strong incentive too. He's growing up so fast.

I have been feverishly truing to capture these early days and months on camera, in pictures and video clips so that I can remember them in spite of the sleep deprivation that they include. I was going to make a photo scrapbook for his first year, but realised after starting that this would be a huge book. Instead I decided to break it into books covering three months at a time. I had the first one finished and ready to get printed for when I had a coupon, and Shutterfly did a 40% off promotion - don't mind if I do! I have just worked to get all our Christmas pictures into the second book. It is so much easier, and less intimidating to this project one event at a time rather than trying to do the whole 3 months at once. Especially because I am much more likely to have 10 minutes to work on it than I am to have scraped out 5 straight hours.

I often wonder if we had other children how much of this type of memory keeping I would have time to do for them. Levi gets his memory book and calendar completed every month, pictures taken for every month 'birthday' as well as the photo books...that's a little overkill I know, but it's my love language or something? I can't help it, I just love to do it.

Speaking of, I think that watching Levi grow so quickly has truly affirmed my desire for more babies in our family (it was never really a question, but we were not sure if we would try again for another pregnancy or move straight to adoption). As the new year approaches and people begin to voice hopes and dreams for the coming year, its hard for my heart to find peace. I would love for the coming year to include another pregnancy - just some of it, not the whole 9 month shabang, that would be crazy. We have many, many friends who will be welcoming babies into their lives in 2013 and it is hard not to envy their ease of process.

We can pray and hope that we will be blessed for a second time, but as we know there are no guarantees. Starting the process means we open ourselves up to the possibility of loss, or even losses. It might seem silly to even be thinking about this stuff now,  after all it will probably be almost a year before we make any sort of decision one way or another but hoping that 2013 will be a "fruitful" year weighs heavy.

I guess it goes to show that the sleepless nights, and the stress and worry that babies bring does nothing to stop a mother's (and father's) heart from desiring more little ones to make their families feel complete. We believe there are still more to come before we will feel that way about our family. Whether they end up being biological or adopted we have a longing and a belief we have yet to meet all our brood.

If it comes to mind please pray for us and our family as we consider our options and seek the Lord for direction in this new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Levi's First Christmas

What a wonderful Christmas it was. Of course I know that Levi had very little idea what all the fuss was about but Jeremy and I loved watching him experience all the festivities. Hoping that you all had a lovely day, celebrating with loved ones.

Here are just a few shots of our day...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New normal

I remember life before 19 weeks ago when my baby arrived, but I admit it's slightly hazy. Life feels so different now, less rock'n'roll more radio 2 :)

Levi goes to bed between 6 and 7pm and after that I have an hour or so before the yawning begins and dreams of a cozy bed fill my mind. Realising that this was a new normal, made me think about what else had become 'normal' since I became a Mum.

It is 7.45pm on Saturday night and both Jeremy and I have been in PJ's for over an hour. This is not a one off lazy Saturday night, this is our new normal.

My new normal is being in bed before 9pm.

My new normal is choosing an outfit for the day based on what smells least like spit-up.

My new normal is sleeping no longer than 5 hours at a time.

My new normal is drinking hot beverages, lukewarm or tepid.

My new normal is washing the same load of laundry at least twice before I remember to put it in the dryer.

My new normal is speed showering.

My new normal is  a day filled with snuggles and kisses with my sweet baby.

My new normal is pretty amazing. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

All The Laughter Holiday Card
View the entire collection of cards.

It's all about the sleeping...or lack there of

The rest of the week has made up for the sleep deprivation of the first few days. Levi had a day and night of lots of pooping and that seemed to help him settle. Not to be too graphic but I would be uncomfortable too if there was that quantity of stuff inside me.

We have all been sleeping much better since his bowels started behaving.

Earlier this week I was beginning to feel like I had bitten off more than I could chew with this motherhood business. I am signed up to take a class online starting in January, and I am planning to restart driving lessons in earnest - these two things in themselves feel like a lot on my plate - the driving especially because as much as I want my license and I need my license I am so very anxious about the actual getting behind the wheel. I want to believe it's possible but it is hard to imagine myself feeling confident enough to drive by myself. It sounds silly to many of you who have been driving since your teens but it's the truth. When I was taking lessons before my confidence increased but it's been a while now and my nerve has well and truly gone again. Taking it slowly, and prayerfully I hope 2013 will be the year that I will finally cross getting my license off my bucket list.

I digress, but when motherhood is hard and tiring I feel like I am barely making it through the day with a baby who is clean and fed and anything additional feels completely overwhelming.

And then on days like today, when we got good sleep and Levi was his normal cheerful self, I feel like those things are not more than I can handle.

There is a Christmas Eve carol service at our church followed by a cookie reception on the 24th and church members were asked to bring a dozen cookies if possible to make sure there is enough for all the guests and visitors. At the beginning of the week the visions of beautifully decorated sugar cookies that had pooped into by head when I heard the announcement about bringing cookies almost brought me to tears. How was I ever going to have time to make cookies? I am already going to bed at 7pm and I'm still exhausted where would I fit in baking and frosting? I am such a failure. And suddenly I am in tears over making cookies...or not making them.

And then today, the visions of sugar cookies are back, more elaborately decorated than ever and my schedule suddenly seems to be wide open, I can even see some time for scrapbooking...

It just goes to show that sleep truly makes all the difference. When I sleep I feel like I can be the mother that I want to be and that Levi deserves...when he keeps me up all night I want to pull the duvet over my head, and cry into a big mug of sweet, milky tea because it feels as though I am failing at everything.

So this year for Christmas, I am asking Santa for some good nights sleep to carry me into the new year and the new school term with a good perspective, not to mention a calm that can make driving seem possible too.

My degree and driving license have been on my list for years..possibly decades, and I would love to get one or both of them crossed off so I can dd something more exciting to the list for 2014!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

He brought it...

Apparently Levi took the "bring it on" from the end of my last post literally. We had a day of wonderful long naps yesterday but it meant that he was a little off kilter and took his last nap at about 4.45pm, I let him stay sleeping on me because I was happy for him not to get into a deep sleep so he would take a shorter nap and still go to bed at a reasonable hour. After about 30 minutes I started moving around and he woke up. I assumed that after this sleep he needed to stay awake for a while before he went down for the night but I think that was a mistake. he was still so sleepy I think we could have done our bedtime routine and put him down for the night between 6 and 6.30pm and he would have been out for the count. Instead, he was overtired by the time he was splashing around in the bathtub and having his final feed. He usually falls asleep nursing but last night he was WIDE awake. I rocked him and J watched him and after he went down around 8pm he was stirring and wriggling and obviously not comfortable or in a sound sleep.

His first stint was about 4.5 hours and that was the longest stretch. Boo. Then he was having a hard time settling every time I put him back to sleep.Yawn.

At 5.30pm when I put him back to sleep I heard him stirring before I had even left the room so I picked him up and brought him back into our bed. I was hoping I could nurse him while I was laying down so that I could catch a few more z's when he settled to sleep but alas he was grunty and gassy and sad, uncomfortable and tired, poor thing. Poor mummy. By around 6.30am he had grabbed a few still moments of sleep on and off and I was still awake. I heard Jeremy start to wake at the same time I felt Levi had peed through his jammies - the second pair that night - and I reached my limit. Defeated I pushed Levi across the bed to J and burst into tears. I mumbled something incoherent about having had no sleep and the baby being wet again and I rolled over and burried myself under the covers.

Usually Jeremy would have an objection to being woken so abruptly with orders but I think he felt the fatigue and despair in my sobs and swiftly removed our very (by this point) awake and chirpy baby boy from the bed to let me catch 30 minutes slumber before he had to get ready to leave for work. Those 30 minutes were not  all spent sleeping, it took a couple to drift off, but the 27 minutes of rest I did get were enough to get me out of the blubbering cover hiding and ready to parent for the day. Helped too by the tea and banana that J brought up for me before he left.

Levi was awake and super sweet for a while and then passed out and is now asleep in the bed next to me.

I want to sleep too but I am wide awake now. Of course. Biggest of bummers.

I am not wanting this blog to become a place to report our sleep successes and woes, I am hopeful and prayerful that they will become much less unpredictable and therefore blog worth soon, but for now I want to mke sure that when I talk about it I am giving a complete narrative and not just highlighting the better days.

I am not sure how to cope with the poor sleep when it feels like his gas is really the culprit in making him so unsettled. He just wants to nurse for comfort and I have nothing else to offer so I let him.

Even with the sleep deprivation of today I am excited for the day. It snowed over night and while I don't want to be outside in the freezing temps for too long with the baby I am excited to have planned a little walk to get coffee with a friend and her sweet month old baby girl later this morning. I am not even sure the snow will still be there by then but the glimmer of the white on the ground is the most beautiful thing to wake up to...even when you are waking up still sleepy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift of Time - and a sleeping update

It is 9am. I am still in my PJ's and I am sitting in front of my fireplace, enjoying the warmth it's flooding into the room. Baby boy is sleeping in the motionless swing a few feet away, snoring his sweet little head off.
His relationship with sleep and naps has naturally become pretty consistent generally and we are finding our way with this new rhythm.

We feel pretty proud of how well he has adjusted to early bed times and sleeping in his crib and J and I are appreciating some evening time together. We put Levi down between 6 and 7pm (depending on his naps) and after some stories and songs and his final feed he goes down pretty easily.

We have decided that we are going to postpone full sleep training until 6 months but are making sure that we are consistent with the routine to help him prepare for sleep. A few reasons behind this including friends stories of much greater and lasting success at that age, plus information about the emotional development that allows little ones to better understand and remember their behaviour and how it was responded to once they hit six months.

In the evenings, Jeremy and I enjoy the quiet to catch up about our day and connect, and recently, to wrap presents, write Christmas cards and do some Christmas baking. Having said that, I confess that I am usually ready for bed by 8.30pm at the moment, this motherhood thing is exhausting!

Levi usually does a longish stretch between 6 or 7pm and around 1 or 1.30am when he wakes for a feed. Wish such an early bedtime, it means I don't get the full benefit of a long stretch of sleep but see above, I am getting more of it than you might imagine :) But we recognise it is for his best that he goes down at that time and seeing his positive and easy adjustment to the routine only confirms what we read.

He then wakes up between 3.30 and 4.30am  (between 2 hours 45 minutes and 3 hours later) for another feed.

His night feeds last between ten and fifteen minutes and he is asleep again. If he stirs significantly before 3 hours and I can feel confident he isn't hungry then I usually wake J to go in to change his nappy and resettle him, which usually works and he is back to sleep without ever really waking up. We are hoping that in time his need for food during the night will decrease and we can confidently let him soothe himself without going in, but because he is breastfed, our pediatrician has told us he may genuinely be hungry through the night at 3 hours intervals so for a bit longer and of course I am happy (or at the least willing)  to get up and nurse him if he needs it. If his feedings get significantly shorter, I might start giving him water and see if its just the sucking he needs rather than the substance. He eats well during the day.

After the 3.30am feed Levi usually wakes for the day between 6.30 and 7am.

I titled this post the gift of time because I am starting to get used to this earlier and more abrupt wake up and start to my day. Levi is a pretty happy chappy generally but first thing in the morning he is seriously A.dorable! He is soooo chatty, like he has missed having someone to talk to while he was sleeping, and he laughs easily, simple precious. Quite honestly I am not a morning person, so I have little energy or desire to do anything much first thing in the morning. I am not rushing to get to chores or "to do" lists, I simply want to enjoy my baby. We read stories in the nursery while he first wakes up and then we go downstairs, I make a cup of tea, grab something easy to eat for breakfast and then we play. I have an hour or two of simply enjoying my son. I would never have chosen to be up and going so early after such a broken nights sleep but having it forced upon me because of Levis schedule has been a special time and I am so thankful.

It is truly a gift.

When I get up and going with Levi early, he is ready for a nap around 8.30 or 9am and he sleeps well. It give me time to get dressed and ready for the day, throw on some laundry - or blog :) So it's good all around.

I am not holding too tightly to this routine because if I have learned anything in my parenting experience so far its that these little people change at the drop of a hat and they like to keep us on our toes.

Bring it on kid, mama's ready :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Four month pictures

I love taking the time each month to document how quickly our little man is growing and changing. Looking back it's hard to believe that the little tiny peanut with the '1 month' sticker is the same kid that I snapped pictures of holding his head up and starting to find his balance sitting up.

Here are a few pictures and I love that along with his growth they are capturing his cute little personality. He has started pulling this funy face when he sucks in his lips like a gurner, it's so funny! He is also blowing bubbles which makes for a very wet shirt on a daily basis. He is so aware of everything around him, he takes it all in.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear Levi - Four Months Old


You continue to make my days brighter, and seeing your smiles and joy at the Christmas lights just warms my heart.

You have had a busy month baby boy, at your 4 month check you weighed in at 15lb11oz, 50% again and you are 26 inches long continuing to stay in the 86th percentile. You also had your second round of shots which proved to be hard on your little body and made you pretty unhappy, poor guy.

You have come on leaps and bounds in other ways, you are just starting to discover your feet and I see days of much more complicated dressing and nappy changes as your grip gets stronger!

Your favourite new skill however, is blowing raspberries. I guess your Dad and I blow raspberries on your belly on a daily basis so it's not as if this is super surprising. You were just laying on your change pad and suddenly a loud raspberry noise came from your mouth! I tried to get a video of it but I guess you are still trying to perfect it. But boy it's cute to watch you.

Your gums bother you some days and the drool has started in earnest. I put bibs on you now because otherwise we would have to change your shirt multiple times a day. I hope you get some teeth soon. You are getting much more coordinated and you chew on your hands and fingers and put everything possible you can in your mouth. You have become firm friends with Sophie the giraffe who lets you chew on her without complaint!

You are not rolling over all the way yet, but when we play on the floor you can roll onto your side with ease.

Your neck is so strong, and your legs have followed suit. You love when we hold your hands and you pull yourself to standing. Nana and Grandad got you a Jumperoo for your Christmas present but let you start using it now because you love to stand so much. You just smile and laugh as the lights flash and the music plays with every movement you make. If you were not having so much fun I think the noise would drive Daddy and me crazy!

Your sweet personality continues to shine through. You are a pretty laid back little dude. You can turn on the charm when a pretty lady smiles in your direction and can certainly ham it up when you have an audience.

We moved you to sleep in your crib in your own room after we got back from England, and we also started putting you to bed at a reasonable hour. We say your bedtime is now sometime between 6 and 8pm depending on how your naps have gone during the day. I miss waking up with you but I am so proud of how well you have adjusted and now I look forward to hearing you chatting and singing to yourself over the monitor when you wake up. That's how we know you are rested and ready to wake up. Through the night you still wake up a few times but you are always sad, but in the morning you are happy and ready for the fun of a new day.

You are my special boy and I love seeing your little personality come out and watching you learn new skills as your body grows and develops.

It is hard to believe that it is only four months since you arrived. I can't remember life without you but I know it wasn't as much fun...or quite as tiring :)

Love you Buggy,
Mama xx

Monday, December 3, 2012

Anticipation and Advent

News just came through this morning of a royal baby on the way for William and Kate. Exciting news for sure but my gut reaction is a reminder that I still have some wounds from our losses that have not fully healed even after the birth of my sweet boy.

I expected that once we had a baby, pregnancy announcements wouldn't carry the same sting as they had done when we were experiencing miscarriage after miscarriage. And to some degree I was right. I feel genuine joy when people make their announcements but the idea that people can plan their families (to some degree) or that they can be surprised by a pregnancy still makes my heart heavy. I have no idea if we will ever be blessed with another pregnancy but if we begin trying again we will be back to charting and taking temperatures and medications just in case...I find it hard not to wish it was different, easy, simple.

And as I begin to go down that unhelpful thought road, I am reminded of the miracle that Levi is. I am reminded of the years of anticipation that preceded his birth and the lessons which were learned along the way. I see the intimacy within my marriage deepening as we walked the road to parenthood together even facing the twists and turns. And I am especially reminded that the anticipation made his birth even sweeter for us.

I love the advent season and I am excited that this time is such a sure reminder of the gift of anticipation. The waiting for Jesus to come and the opportunity for growth and love and relationship in the waiting are so clear in the stories of the Bible. The build up to Christmas can get crazy with gift buying and the stress of the season, but as believers we must remember that it is a time of anticipation. A time that prepares our hearts for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th and reminds us of the significance of that event in our lives. I am always thankful that our church publishes an advent devotional because having it helps to focus my eyes and settle my heart to the peace and real reason for this time.

The Bible shows that although Jesus' birth was predicted the details remained veiled. The hopeful anticipation of believers was a beautiful theme. Jeremy and I do not know what our family will look like when it is "complete," we do not know if our future children will be biological or adopted or a mixture of the two. We are yet to meet them that's all we know, but we trust firmly that God does have a plan and a perfect design for our family.

I love the line in the Christmas carol,'O Holy night' that talks of the "thrill of hope" because I identify so much with that concept. The details of the future are uncertain but we can anticipate God's plans coming to pass in our lives; His grace transforming our hearts; His truth giving us purpose and joy; the gifts of the Spirit working to make us more like Him; and abundant life making us reflections of Him to the world. This can really be a thrilling experience as we put our trust fully in the Lord and leap without fear into the life he has for us.

Lord, in this advent season please restore my hope in the plans you have for my life and family, and increase my anticipation for the life you have set before me and fill my heart with your peace in the waiting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Names. sleep and Christmas

It is pretty funny that we agonised so much over choosing Levi's name. We searched for names that had meaning and that spoke something specific over our little man and yet since he has been born we rarely use it, instead around here he is known as;

Bugadoo, Bugadoodle
Toots Magee
Rooty tooty fresh'n'fruity
Stinky McCute-butt
Farty Stink Bum
Fussy Fusserson
and my personal favourite, Farty McFly

Yes, there is a certain gassy theme. It seems that continues to be an issue for the little man. He can get really uncomfortable and it interferes with his sleep, but once the flood gates open and he has well and truly emptied his bowels he sleeps like a champ. Hence the 9+ straight he did a couple of nights ago. I woke up after about 8 hours in a panic and just had to turn up the monitor to see if I could hear his breathing - I could and then I laid awake for an hour until he woke up. Of course, he had gone to bed at 7pm so I didn't get the full gift of 9 hours of sleep but I got some, and Jeremy and I managed to have some time together to just talk and catch up on life which was special too.

The early bedtime is working well for Levi and for us and he is doing well sleeping in his crib. The 9 hours was certainly an anomaly but he has been sleeping pretty well without  any crying it out. After more conversation and books reading we decided that we didn't want to do that intentionally until he was 4 months old and he is still a couple of weeks out from that. The more I thought about it too the more I felt like sleeping in his crib at night was a big enough adjustment. Without the sleep training, Levi doesn't take naps in the crib longer than 25 or 30 minutes, much less that the 1.5-2 hour he was doing in the swing. We decided that we would let him sleep in the swing if he was struggling with naps so he has taken his last nap of the day in the swing a few days this week to make sure he got some good rest before going down at night. The sleep book we have been referencing makes the point that children learn sleep routines as much as learning to sleep by crying it out so we are hopeful that the consistent nap-time and bedtime routines will help Levi anticipate sleep and hope that that will help when we do more sleep training in the near future.

I am loving the internet for my Christmas shopping. Usually trawling the mall at this time of year is something that I love. I think I am one of the few people who would say that but the hustle and bustle is all part of the holiday fun. This year however, the boy makes it less enjoyable. Having him on slightly more of a schedule makes outing of any substance pretty tricky. It is just a season and one that I am embracing fully but it means that I am having to shop a little differently. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in our house and I am excited to introduce Levi to lifetime Christmas movies soon. I am really enjoying all the creative Elf on a Shelf happenings I am seeing in my FB newsfeed and so look forward to future years when Levi will be experiencing the magic of that and so much more through this season. Right now, the tree lights are just about more than he can handle!

Here he is watching us put them up, and below we get up close and personal with the lights!


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