days go by

they say it gets easier as the children grow older… and it’s true. ezra is already 8 months old and he rarely gives me trouble. penny, on the other hand… she has been having better days lately and it may be because she’s well-rested. penny had been going through a weird phase a few months ago where she began waking up between 5-5:30am every morning. sometimes she would yell out but other times she was mostly quiet as she tried to go back to sleep.

at first, i thought it was because she had to use the potty but she kept waking up early for about a month. i brought it up to her pediatrician at penny’s 2.5 year visit, and he advised that she only nap for 1.5 hours. while researching online for help with toddler sleep, i did find an article where the sleep expert, kim west aka the sleep lady said toddlers between 2-3 years old should only be napping for 1.5 hours to protect night sleep.

our pediatrician warned us that it would take a week or so for results to show. it was tough at first because penny would be cranky whenever we woke her up from her nap since she was trying to make up for the early morning wake-up. she still can be cranky when we wake her up but it has been working because she is now waking up between 6:30-7… or sometimes even after 7am! she went from sleeping 9-9.5 hours during that month of hell to 10.5-11 hours!

maple street playgroup

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painting a pouch

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recent snow day

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like penny, i transitioned ezra to two naps a little earlier than the norm. both kids were ready for two naps because their last nap (a catnap) made their bedtime too late and resulted in less nighttime sleep overall.  plus, their first two naps were long (1.5 hours each) and i would have to wake them up from each one! a 2-nap schedule means we can do more during the evening hours, too.

i’ve been brave lately by bringing both kids out and about. recently, the mom’s group had a chuck e. cheese playdate so i brought both kids after they woke up from their nap. (another great thing is that ezra’s 2nd nap is usually around the same time as penny’s nap so i get to rest, too!)

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Penny couldn’t figure out how to go up this. the platforms were too high for her.

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nice action shot

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i don’t think i had ever been to a chuck e. cheese, even as a child. i always hear horror stories such as the viral videos of parents having a full-on brawl while their children watch. i decided to give the place a shot since we had never been there. the one in manchester is actually the 2nd-largest in new england! what’s neat is that there is a separate toddler section so you don’t have to worry about your little ones getting overrun by the older kids.

the rides moved a little too slowly (even for toddlers) in my opinion, and the hot chocolate one was weird, but penny seemed to enjoy herself. her favorite ride was the train. the children also climbed up padded platforms to go into tunnels and slide down a spiral slide. penny really wanted to go down the slide but couldn’t figure out how to climb up the platforms. other kids were being creative by using the netting to hoist themselves up, but penny didn’t even want to try. i wish she wasn’t so tentative at trying new things, but pushing her will only make it worse.

i also brought the kids to a holiday party held at one of the mom’s homes. the location being only 7 minutes from our home definitely made it easier to attend. still, i was a half hour late because of penny, stalling. it’s so hard to get her to go anywhere right after her nap and she shuts down when we try to rush her. i had to entice her by saying there would be “new toys” at the place we were going to.

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K combing Ezra’s hair 🙂

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penny enjoyed playing with the new toys, and also sat down with some of the other children to snack on fruit and crackers. she actually does better with sitting and eating (and feeding herself) when we are out! it really does help when she is sitting with her peers to eat. learn by example, right? ezra, as usual, was his own chill self. one of the moms offered to watch him so i could eat, and another mom put his shoes on when we were getting ready to leave. it takes a village!

i’ve been saying this for quite some time but i need to start taking better care of myself. i used to skip lunch and try to nap but forgoing meals aren’t good for my body and overall energy either. in fact, i used to eat so little during the day that my stomach chronically hurt. when i did eat, i was never satisfied because i could have always eaten more but i didn’t because i wanted to try to get some shut-eye.

my stomach hasn’t been bothering me lately so i guess i’m on the right path. i just need to start working out again… especially since we are planning a tropical getaway in march. i like having four seasons and i like snow but winters drag on in new england.  for sure, by march, we will be sick of being cooped up indoors. (i’m already tired of it now.) although nervous to be traveling with two little ones, i also am excited to share this experience as a family of four.

i took both kids to the playgroup at our town’s library.

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the size of ezra’s hands are catching up to his big sister’s!

michaels sells art projects by creatology. some are 3+ but most are 6+. this christmas sign was 6+ but i purchased it anyway thinking penny could do it anyway. now i know why they upped the age for seemingly simple project: their attention span! it seemed easy enough to just to put stickers on the sign but penny got bored of putting the little stickers like the individual letters on it. she liked working on the penguin the best (the part we tackled first.)

 

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after 14 months without a haircut, i finally got one last week. it was a big change: i had over 12 inches chopped off! i feel so much lighter and don’t have to battle tangled hair on a daily basis. i did have hair remorse soon after the new ‘do was unveiled but it went

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hair today, gone tomorrow

i was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it has.

during pregnancy, my hair became thicker and more lush. i had a lot of hair to begin with but pregnancy hormones caused less of my hair to fall out. naturally, we shed hair every day but this process stalls during pregnancy making it seem like you’re growing more when in fact you’re just losing less. my normally paper-thin fingernails were also stronger and seemed to be growing at an alarming rate. (i felt like i was clipping my nails all the time!)

now that i’m 3.5 months postpartum, the hair-shedding process has begun. i began noticing strands of hair on my arm, on my clothes, and in penny’s clenched fists! while rocking penny to sleep, i noticed how stray hairs kept tickling my forehead prompting me to repeatedly, but ineffectively, brush them away. these, i saw, were baby hairs. what’s interesting is that penny has been losing hair as well. however, i feel like she’s losing it more so because she’s been grabbing at her own hair. now that she’s more environmentally and physically aware, she’s always staring at her hands and using them to feel and grasp. she’s been tugging at her hair mainly on her left side so it’s noticeably thinner on the left side of her head.

there’s really not much you can do to prevent hair loss. i still take my prenatal vitamins every day and it still happens. the good news is your hair eventually grows back. same with the baby’s.

a more serious problem that i’ve been recently experiencing is the gradual loss of my milk supply. every summer around this time i develop a chronic cough that is caused by an excess of mucus. i’m not sure if it has to do with allergies or the weather, but it keeps me up at night… and has also awoken penny many times while holding her because i haven’t been able to suppress it. i began taking mucinex dm last monday and i noticed that i was producing less breast milk. i couldn’t feel my milk come in and penny began fussing while nursing because, i assume, there wasn’t enough milk. prior to this incident i never had to switch breasts while nursing because penny had been satiated from nursing on one side. now, she would begin fussing around the 5-minute mark and she would unlatch/relatch for another 5 or so minutes before getting hysterical. after i switched her to the other side, the same thing would happen.

besides the mucinex, i believe that my supply has been decreasing because penny has been distracted. during the 3-4 month mark, babies become hyper-aware of their surroundings and stare at objects in an almost trance-like state. no matter where i nurse, penny unlatches to look at something, be it a lamp, a blanket, or artwork. i even nurse in penny’s room with only a small table lamp on but something always manages to catch her eye! because she has been consuming less, her sleep has been impacted as well.  she used to sleep a good stretch of 6+ hours a night and then she began waking up only a few hours after going down for the night. three days ago it was 11:30pm, and two nights ago she woke up at 9:30pm! she didn’t just wake up needing to be rocked back to sleep; she was guzzling 4 ounces of milk! since she was consuming less in the day, she was making up for it at night. not fun.

*edit: last night she slept from 7pm-4am! i didn’t set my alarm to pump because i thought she’d wake up a lot sooner. just as i finished pumping she woke up so i couldn’t nurse her, but dennis bottle fed her 5 oz (to make up for the long stretch of sleep). she drank it all and slept for another 2.5 hours.

unfortunately, i think the nighttime wakings have been exacerbated by the dreaded 4-month sleep regression. though named for the fourth month, this sleep regression can happen anytime between a baby’s third-fifth month. this usually occurs because the baby is developmentally growing at a rapid rate (like rolling!), and with all the stimulation they are getting during the day it becomes difficult to sleep at night. furthermore, the baby’s sleep cycle starts to mature. this is where rem sleep comes in and babies find it tough to switch from one sleep cycle to the next. ever wonder why your baby repeatedly wakes up around the 45-minute mark? this is why. since penny’s nighttime sleep has been getting interrupted, she’s also trying to make up for it during the daytime.. and then she’s not tired enough at night to sleep in longer stretches.. it’s a vicious cycle. supposedly, you shouldn’t introduce any new sleeping methods (i.e if you don’t use a pacifier, don’t introduce a new crutch now.) because it should all go back to “normal” eventually. the question: how long will this last? it’s different for every baby. some claim their baby only goes through it for a week but others can last as long as six! i sincerely hope it’s not the latter for me.

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny doing tummy time on her pororo mat

penny on her new pororo mat

recently, we purchased a pororo mat (korean company) for penny. they retail for a little over $100 on amazon for the large mat. a little pricey (and this is the sale price), but totally worth it. penny does most of her tummy time and play time on here. since i’ve been consistent with tummy time, penny has started to roll over! dennis was the first to witness it during penny’s 14th week and i was finally able to see it for myself at her 15th week. since then she has been rolling from tummy to back nearly every day.

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the first thing i have penny do when she wakes up for the day is tummy time either in her crib or on the floor on top of a blanket. a great way to encourage your baby to like or, at least, endure tummy time is to provide things for her to look at. i usually get on the floor with her and talk to her, and i also lay out toys in a half circle so she’s turning to the side to look at them.

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here she is looking at her mobile. she’s still got a lot of hair! that “bedhead” is actually what her hair looks like every day because of two cowlicks on the back of her head. i liken her hair to donald trump’s -_- for some reason, double cowlicks have a bad reputation: anything from being left-handed (why is this bad?) to autism! these are all myths, of course… and penny is already showing preference for her right hand so that theory is incorrect. as penny’s hair grows longer and thicker, it should lay flat… but for now she always looks like she got caught in a windstorm.

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a mirror is a great way to encourage baby during tummy time.. and it also raises self-awareness.

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i just noticed that all the toys i laid out were all gifts 🙂 the lamb chop puppet that penny is fixated on was given to me by one of my former students.

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for babies that hate tummy time, putting them on your tummy counts! the wonder weeks app also suggests games like “airplane.”

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sweet father-daughter moments. i’ll be able to witness more of these on any given day because i’m taking a year off from work to be a sahm (stay-at-home mom). i’m so excited to be able to witness penny’s milestones and just being able to BE with her all day… before penny was born, i thought 4 months was enough time to bond with her but clearly not as i found myself in tears the first few months, dreading the day i would have to return to work.

dennis encouraged me to stay home not only to ease my distress but he truly believes that the best person for penny is me. no one else has that -bond- with a baby quite like the mother. this is one reason why i am so devastated by my supply issue. i’ve been pumping every 3-4 hours to bring it back up, nursing whenever i can, drinking mother’s milk tea, and eating, eating, eating. i’ve already started to see an increase but it’s still not enough particularly in the evening before bedtime. it’s quite disheartening to hear penny cry because she’s not satisfied.  at least i am able to (hopefully) rectify the problem without having to worry about work as well. i love teaching but it can’t top being penny’s #1 teacher. she’s growing and learning so much every day, and i don’t want to miss anything.