Sunday, October 5, 2014

3 Months: The End of the "Fourth Trimester"

Oh, my baby girl!!!

She has officially left the newborn phase, and is now an infant!

She has been changing so fast lately...I also noticed a lot of changes in her around 8 weeks. It must be those growth spurts!

So we didn't end up weaning her of her swaddle. I tried weaning at naps for 2 days with just one arm out, and I couldn't even get her to sleep while holding her. Her arm would just whack her in the face and wake her up once she was asleep. So I decided that it wasn't quite time. She has been busting out of her swaddle a lot lately, so I'm hoping she gets used to that feeling and will make the weaning process a bit easier the next time I try.

She has gotten really good at putting herself back to sleep during the night, though. I'll watch her on the monitor and she will have her eyes open and then whip her head back and forth and wiggle for a few minutes and then she's asleep again. I've been trying to lay her down for naps and bedtime before she is 100% asleep so that eventually I will be able to lay her down awake and she can just drift off. We are nowhere near close to that for naps, but I feel like it might be possible soon at bedtime. There have been a few nights where I lay her in her crib to swaddle her up at the end of the bedtime routine (fresh diaper, lotion, jammies, read a book, nurse) and I realize once I'm done wrapping her up that she's already asleep. The few times that has happened, I have just left her in her crib, thinking "ah man, I don't get to rock her to sleep?!" BUT, it makes me hopeful for her being able to put herself to sleep in the future. I read online that putting themselves to sleep at night is a different skill than at nap time during the day. I'm really not wanting to do the cry it out method. I'm hoping that she will continue to be easy to put down with just about 10 minutes of rocking, which is the case most of the time. That's not so bad!

I realized the other day that Ava was fussing at nap time because I was putting her down too early! Poor girl - she was crying because she wasn't done playing! She can handle around an hour and a half, sometime 2 hours, of awake time before she needs to sleep. Mornings she's more sleepy. We recently adjusted her bedtime from 9:00 to 7:30. Her last nap was always such a fight, so the change made sense. I was reluctant to do so because she had just started to consistently sleep from 9 to 5 in the morning...so glorious!! But the nights were becoming no fun and it was hard to find time to make dinner and keep her happy. The first night she woke several times. The second night she slept til almost 6!! But then a growth spurt popped up on us. The girl eats and eats at night! And it is showing in her chubby legs and arms. I tried to dress her in a size 3 month romper and it was too tight - in the thighs! She had red marks on her legs before her first nap time! So I've been getting much less quality sleep lately, but I'm learning to cope!

I noticed a remarkable difference in her tummy time since the start of this growth spurt. She has learned to prop her arms underneath her to bear weight, instead of bearing it on her belly. She now will chat with her toys while doing tummy time, and the other morning I had her on her belly on the changing table and she was laughing at her daddy!! I never thought we would reach that point! I have done a variety of methods with tummy time. In the beginning, we were mostly doing tummy time with her on our chest in the recliner. We had her on the floor like only once a day for a few minutes. Well, our pediatrician said that wasn't enough. I should have known better; I know how important tummy time is! I started using a propping pillow that came with her play gym (think mini boppy pillow) or I would lay her flat on the play gym. I would make her toys make noise and use mirrors and talk to her, and as much as I hated to make her lay there and cry, I saw that once she got frustrated that she was using her body differently and moving in ways she wasn't when she was calm. So I knew I had to let her get to that point to figure out how to work her body! Then I would mix in a few sessions with the boppy. She was still a bit small to use it for tummy time, but she seemed to like it a bit more. I put a big toy that played music and would light up to grab her attention. The bottom line? I tried to make tummy time different for her each time. I think what really helped was when I started doing sessions on the changing table. I'd change her after her nap, and then flip her over. She liked that she could see more since she was off the floor, and I was able to bend down and have some "FaceTime" with her. I think that kind of tummy time is still her favorite!

She has really been exploring her voice over the last month! Cooing, babbling...squealing...screeching...high-pitched screams (SO LOUD), and her latest: grunting repeatedly. So many noises! She sounds like a parrot most of the time!

It is so much easier now to do things that I want to do during the day when it's just me and Ava. She can handle staying awake longer. She actually enjoys car rides now that she can see everything and look out the window (I read that babies have full vision by 3-4 months). Now that she doesn't hate her car seat anymore, (although we discovered she hates being awake in the car when it's dark outside, probably because she can't see anything) I am taking her with me on my jog-walks more often (half jog, half walk, haha). When it comes to falling asleep, she prefers the motion of the stroller when I walk, not when I jog, so I have to walk when she's trying to fall asleep.

I have to say, even though I am getting up a few times a night recently, I have adjusted well to lack of sleep...without the use of caffeine! I really can't nap during the day because her naps are so short; by the time I fall asleep she wakes up 15 minutes later. Sometimes I snooze with her in the chair in her room, but it's not a very restful nap for me. It hasn't been as hard as I thought to get outside and exercise because she is content the whole time and I get one "free nap" - the stroller does all the work for me. So I look forward to our outings. I try to do it daily, depending on the weather and if we have errands to run. The busier I can stay during the day, the less I notice my sleepiness. Unfortunately, the nights that Ava sleeps well, I still wake up every few hours, wondering if she's awake too. She won't cry for me until she's been awake for a good 5 minutes, but I usually hear the rustling of her movement or her lip-smacking over the monitor before she cries. Unless I'm completely exhausted. It's like my body anticipates her waking up. So either way, I'm waking up at night!

She loves to hang out in her play gym and have conversations with the hanging animals and bat at them. She enjoys gnawing on her wrists and munching on her fingers. She's definitely teething, but fortunately it's not so bad that she is out of sorts, she's just drooling and putting everything she can [muster the coordination for] in her mouth. Only once in awhile does she fuss about it. It usually is right after a feeding, and she likes to grab the burp cloth while I burp her so she can chomp on it. She enjoys her baths and likes to sit in her bumbo seat and bop her toys on the tray. She discovered the tv a few weeks back, and I try to keep her angled away from it, but she manages to find it! I have used my phone for tummy time to get her to look in different directions! She will sit in our laps and scroll through Facebook with us! :) For some reason she is mesmerized by the back of my phone, too, which makes it so easy to get really good photos of her looking directly at the camera! I have to work to get her to smile, though. If I put my phone right next to my face, she prefers to look at the phone over my face, and she has a very serious look on her face while she studies it!

She's getting so big! She's almost outgrown her velcro swaddling blankets. Just in the last few days, I have noticed that she prefers to sit in her bumbo seat. She still likes her play gym, but I think she's getting used to being upright and likes it more. I can't wait for her to have the muscle control for the jumperoo...I think she's going to love it!!

It's great to finally be at a place where Ava is not so much constant work. She used to be so tricky to get down for a nap. Lots of rocking, no sudden movements or sounds (even with the sound machine), and if you couldn't get her in her crib without keeping her perfectly still, she'd start to squirm and then wake up. And of course, these military housing units are old and creaky, so on the way out of the room you could count on waking her up if you stepped on the wrong part of the floor. And I'd finally get her down, she would wake up in 20 minutes. She is still the queen of the short nap, but instead of a bajillion naps a day (which was so exhausting to have to go through all that each time) she is down to 4/5 naps a day. I'm really trying hard to keep her up for 2 hours between naps. It seems to be helping a lot - she's much easier to get to sleep (often times her eyes are shut within 30 seconds of rocking) and squirming in her crib is now her way of getting comfy and drifting off from light sleep into deeper sleep.

Since she doesn't take long naps, her awake time is usually when I get stuff done. I just sit on the floor with her in between chores. We got this play mat and I am in love with it! The price has been sneaking up on it - it was $73 and we waited too long to buy it and had to spend $94 on it. But it is HUGE; it is longer than our love seat! It is a gel mat, so it makes getting down on the hard floor to play with her so much more comfortable! Plus, you just wipe it down to clean it. And it's reversible...and has so many cute teachable things on it!! I can't wait for us to count the cows and find all the ducks together!

The newborn phase is over!! She wasn't a particularly fussy baby, in fact, she really didn't do a whole lot of crying. But it was such an adjustment and a steep learning curve! I felt like I would finally get to know her and then something would change (developmental leaps, growth spurts, teething, shots). I am thankful we had a small stash of infant medicines so we didn't have to run out in the middle of the night to buy it all.

We have figured out a few things that make her giggle! She likes to be bounced on the bed - her eyes get really big and she opens her mouth wide and laughs! She also likes it when you make her "dance" and bounce her while you hold her. Singing to her as well is what really gets the giggles going! The other day I was holding her in the backyard and sorta stomping around with Duke, and I realized she was laughing! What a goofy girl.

I sure did love little tiny baby Ava, but the newborn phase is just not for me. Some say that's their favorite phase...I was way too stressed and exhausted to enjoy it much! I couldn't get out of bed without help for 2 weeks. I didn't feel "normal" until 4 weeks postpartum. I couldn't drive until 6 weeks. I didn't feel the "okay, I have the hang of this" until about 8-10 weeks. And now I feel so much more joy and don't feel overwhelmed very often. 

I am so blessed to be able to stay at home with my baby. I try very hard not to take that for granted. My husband has made a lot of sacrifices to get to where he is today so that we can be a one-income household. I have dreamed of doing this very thing for my entire adult life, and now it has come to be my reality. That is what grounds me when I'm feeling frustrated when Ava is fussy or won't sleep like I want her to, or she doesn't just let me sit and do what I want (blogging!). I get one chance at this day with her. And then she's one day older, growing up before my eyes. 

I am happy I have the educational background that I do - I can't even begin to count the number of hours I have spent working in an infant classroom. Fall semester my senior year of college my practicum was in the infant room, which was 20 hours per week. PLUS I worked Tuesday and Thursday mornings in an infant room at a local preschool. So whenever I feel overwhelmed with Ava, a singular baby, I think back to my time working with 9 babies. All. Day. Long. I am excited to implement some of the things I have learned with Ava!

And yes, I plan on doing circle time with her! We will sing about the days of the week and look outside to check on the weather. I'm on the hunt for infant crayons (yes, they exist...they are the shape of a small egg for easy grasping) and I'm beginning to look up edible fingerpaint recipes on Pinterest. I'm going to teach her sign language. And Spanish. (Pull up your google app on your phone and say "ok google" and ask how to say a word in spanish...it will pronounce it for you!) Ahhh...I can't wait to finally do these things with my own baby!

And meanwhile there are dishes in the sink and dirty dog print floors and dust on every surface and an abundance of crockpot dinners.

SO what.

I have my Ava.

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