Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Liam is 4 Months!

Liam is starting to show his little personality! He loves to sit and look at you and chat and smile and giggle! He giggles when you tickle his sides or kiss on his cheeks and neck! I've seen him smile and coo at his toys, and sometimes he just giggles for no reason! He is liking to chew on his fingers and he's starting to hold onto toys and bring them to his mouth. He spends a little time in the jumperoo and he likes his bumbo seat and always enjoys time in the swing. Ava was not a swing baby so this is a nice change! Liam is drooling everywhere and thankfully spitting up doesn't happen nearly as much anymore! The amount of laundry I'm doing has greatly decreased now that there are less blow outs and spit-up rivers! He likes baths and hates tummy time! He is still in 6 month clothes and size 2 diapers, but I'm sure 9 month clothes will be needed soon! He is already 15+ pounds! Strangers who ask how old he is are always shocked when I tell them because he looks so big!

He has been really talkative this last week or so and is getting the hang of playing with a toy in his hands. I love the way he looks at Ava! He could be crying and then she walks into the room and he just stops and stares at her! I love catching the moments where Ava plays with him and leans in to kiss him and pats his hair.

This month, we did the dreaded SLEEP TRAINING.

I was hoping it wouldn't be necessary for Liam, but I found myself with a baby who consistently cried every time I rocked him to sleep. Sometimes it was more like screaming. Even at bedtime when I would nurse him right before laying him down, he was fussing and crying. I would get him to sleep, and then he would wake up as soon as I laid him down. We would have to try multiple times to get him back to sleep. And this had been going on for a good 6-8 weeks, so it's not like it was just a growth spurt or mental leap. This was just my Liam!

The thought of sleep training kept popping up, but I didn't really want to do it. But it was exhausting to deal with a fussy baby all the time. I had dull headaches a lot of the time from the shrill screams in my ear throughout the day. And he was so fussy during awake time too -  not content with playing alone for more than a few minutes at a time. I dreaded leaving the house because he always cried for at least half of our trip out. And let's be real - I also have a toddler who demands my attention, so I was feeling like I was spread too thin. I felt Liam could really benefit from some self-soothing skills. The kid has zero! He won't take a pacifier and doesn't have reliable coordination for thumb sucking yet. And we weaned the swaddle and he was clueless as to what to do with his arms.

So once again, I thought, what could be the harm in trying to sleep train? He already screams his head off anyway!

I was scared though, because Liam already cries so much I was afraid sleep training would send him over the edge!

As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised!

Ok well the first nap was just completely horrible. I didn't know if his crying was ever going to end. I just waited and hoped. He was never hysterical or breathless or coughing or sputtering. If that happened, I knew to just end it.

It took him 70 minutes to fall asleep.

70 minutes of thinking:
"what am I doing?!"
"I don't know if I can do this"
"please, Liam, just fall asleep, it gets better!"

Since sleep training Ava, I knew that the first nap is so hard but then it drastically improves from there.

Liam's second nap only took him 15 minutes to fall asleep, as well as the rest of his naps for that day! I was so excited and relieved and proud of little boy! He was a very quick learner!

I also noticed a change in his behavior that day. He was much more content to play with his toys without me right next to him or holding him. I assumed it was just because he was exhausted.

The next day, he could fall asleep in less than 10 minutes by the end of the day, and he was still playing happily! And he was waking up happy and smiling after his nap. He normally cried immediately upon waking.

And the next day was even better! All naps under 10 minutes to fall asleep and happy baby!

I really wasn't expecting sleep training to affect his mood in such a positive way. I feel like I have a new baby! His naps are still mostly only 30 minutes each, but I know from Ava that there is nothing I can do to lengthen them.

So that was the beginning of this past 4 weeks or so! I'm glad it's over!! Liam still cries before falling asleep, but now its literally just for a minute. He is much happier overall and I'm SO GLAD I sleep trained little guy! With a move coming up that takes us halfway across the country, I knew I needed to do it! There's too many other things to stress about right now!

We had been told that Career Course was a "relaxing time" in an Army officer's career.

I don't think I've felt relaxed yet!

I suppose maybe from the soldier's perspective since the daily structure is different, but it has just been a busy time for us!

We arrived here and then I had a baby. Then I had recovery. Then we had a newborn. With a toddler. Then we find out Chris's orders are taking him out of the country. Then we have to plan E V E R Y T H I N G that goes along with a PCS, which is a huge pain. I think its more annoying this time because we just went through this 7 months ago! There are so many things going on. We were house shopping, and now we are in the process of closing.

That in itself is very stressful.

We are thinking about what needs to be done to clear this house we currently live in.

We needed to schedule packer and movers and have our inspection and work on dates and how to manage moving days while Chris is still in class.

We are planning our itinerary for the 2-day drive with the babies and the cats.

We need to plan what needs to happen before Chris leaves the country.

He needs to book his flights and think about what he still needs to buy and what to pack.

All of this is stressful! I feel like we are planning and organizing like 5 major life events and we are up to our ears in it!

I also feel like I blinked at it is time to move again!

We only have 4 more weeks left in Georgia.

We hope to squeeze in some more day trips before we go!

I'm done with gymnastics for Ava. All she wants to do is bounce around and throw massive fits when I try to get her to do anything else. We had to leave after 5 minutes in class today because I just couldn't do it for another 25 minutes.

Ava is talking more and more! She can identify the colors green (gree!) and blue (bwoo!) and today she counted one (uhn!) two (tchoo!) unprompted! She knows a few shapes - heart (har!) and star (sar!) and moon (moooo!). She's trying really hard to put sentences together with her increasing vocabulary, so its getting easier and easier to understand what she wants! Her latest interests are dumping out all of her buckets of toys (mainly just her play food and cars), carrying around her play ice cream, playing on her slide, and hopping and singing and dancing everywhere! And of course her iPad. And her brother - "wee um!", she says! Most of the time she just calls him "baby"!



I'm so ready to come home. To be around people we know, to have something to do, somewhere to go...it's going to feel great to be there! It's unfortunate that I wasn't able to make a friend or two while we were here, but that's about what I expected to happen since I was busy having a baby and all that.

I hope these next 4 weeks FLY by with minimal stress!!

In the meantime, I'm really trying to stay positive. These kids wear me out. And I know its just for a few short years. I can't tell you how many strangers smile and tell us "Enjoy them! They don't stay that little forever - it goes by so fast!". I think it's because they see how young the kids are and probably immediately remember the struggles of being a new parent with young kids, and they remember needing to be reassured that it's not this hard for forever. It's like they can just see it; exhausted parents who need a reminder from someone who's been there. They're saying "You can do it!". It is kind of nice to hear it because, for that moment, it does make me stop for a second and look at my kids and I'm reminded of how much they fill up my heart, and the struggles of today really aren't that significant. The days are long, but the years are short! And I can just see it in their eyes that they miss their tiny babies. So I shall *try* to embrace these tiring months!!

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