Here we are, one month later and SO much bigger, brighter, and grown up! My itty bitty newborn is gone, replaced with a wide-awake baby who just. wants. to. play! A lot has changed in just one month, and yet also, so little. I think every day I notice Cora doing something even more amazing than the day before (“Look, she’s grabbing and pulling out all of my hair!”). Some things remain the same. “Poop” is still probably the number one word in my house. I go back to work soon, which will hopefully get me back to a less poop-oriented vocabulary. Oh wait…I teach Kindergarten…

Anyway, we’re still experiencing some of the same struggles of last month, but we’ve also improved in other areas. We’ve made some changes, and we anticipate making even more in the next couple weeks while I get ready to return to work, wake up at an ungodly hour, and continue to do all the things. We shall see. Whatever each day brings, Cora’s sweet, smiling face always reminded me that I am seriously the luckiest. I’m so grateful to be her mama. Zach and I were just talking about how insane it is to love someone that much. Of course we love each other SO MUCH, but the love you have for your baby is a painful sort of love. Heart-wrenching. When I think of Cora upstairs sleeping right now, it literally makes my heart ache and eyes get blurry. I don’t get it. I never will. But it’s so freakin’ cool.

Cora is looking long and lean – 25 inches long, and 13 pounds. She wants to eat constantly, and our pediatrician thinks it might be wise to start experimenting with food early to keep her satiated. Any tips? We’ll probably start with my personal favorites: avocado and sweet potatoes.

I still have been consulting the Healthy Sleep, Happy Child book on occasion, but I’m also going with what my very inexperienced gut tells me, along with about 1000 google search results. Expert I am not.

Loving and Hating

Cora LOVES when we get her when she wakes up. It is the most precious thing to see her smile and wiggle out of sheer joy and excitement. It’s almost like she can’t contain her happiness. It is 100% my favorite time of the day. Zach and I fight over whose turn it is in the morning to go get her. Today we decided to be nice and share. While she was very hesitant about going out in the cold (like mother like daughter), Cora loves being outside now that it’s finally starting to get warm. We walk just about every day now, unless its down-pouring, and the fresh air on her face makes her so happy. Cora loves putting everything and anything in her mouth. It might be some initial teething, but I’m not sure. Right now she’s really digging her feet. She can pretty much fit an entire foot in her mouth. It’s impressive. She also loves these bunny ear teethers that she got for Easter, but we really have to keep an eye on her with them because she misses her mouth and pokes her eye. She also loves her stuffed giraffe, which we’ve named “GiGi,” and Mr. Bird (also nicknamed by dad). She FINALLY likes bath time (a.k.a. tubby time). She no longer screams when we take her out into the cold air butt-naked. Progress, people!

Cora loves when we sing to her and play music. Her current favorite’s: The Wheels on the BusBaby Beluga, all the high-pitched Frankie Valli songs, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and New York, New York (my husband’s go-to karaoke song. He can’t give it up). She’s been enjoying classical in the car – it seems to calm us both down. She is still really into her piano mat. It keeps her entertained for quite awhile. She even loves tummy time now and has been trying to roll over herself to get there. Once on her belly, she will roll back over to her back. She is looking so strong! I’m predicting an early crawler, but don’t we all? Cora really prefers to be sitting up, interacting with the world, and facing out. I just got her this activity center and can’t wait to get her in it this week! Her other favorites include faces, mirrors, playing airplane with daddy, and reading with mommy.

Cora does not like pacifiers. It’s unfortunate, since we have about 30 of all different shapes and sizes. She will occasionally use a Wubbanub, but really only if we are on a walk in the stroller. Oh well. I’m not up and down at night to put it back in her mouth so I’ll take it! She really doesn’t like having to wait for her food when she’s hungry, and she lets everybody know about it. Can’t blame the girl, really. She also never really has enjoyed being carried in a baby carrier. I’m hoping this changes now that we’re out and about more often. I was really looking forward to baby-wearing, but Cora felt otherwise! She also dislikes being carried and held like a baby, unless she’s nursing and being rocked to sleep.

Night Sleep

Cora is doing SO WELL at night! I’m taking that as a big win this month, because at 3 months I was struggling hard. I discussed in my Cora’s 3 Month Update post a few changes we were thinking of making, and I’ll tell you what we did (and what worked).

I started doing dream feeds for a few days. I went up to bed around 10pm, fed her while she was basically still asleep, and put her back down. She had gone to bed for the night around 8pm. She still continued to wake up every few hours to eat, but would fall asleep while eating. I wasn’t convinced she was hungry, and she was so restless (loud) in her bassinet. Zach would try to comfort her and soothe her back to sleep, but I would end up feeding her anyway so his efforts to give me some more rest were valiant, yet fairly useless. Tempers ran short. About two weeks ago, I decided enough was enough, knowing I was going to be one unhappy mama unless we changed things up significantly.

Enter Cora’s crib. Why didn’t we do this sooner? I put her down that first night and had a good cry. And then she slept for 8 hours. We put her down around 7:30, and she woke up to eat at 3:30. She ate and went right back to sleep until 7am. This has more or less been her schedule since that night. She’ll occasionally go to bed later than this, and I noticed that she actually wakes up earlier to feed. I think she’s overtired on these nights, so we really try to stick to a consistent bedtime. Zach has also been on bedtime duty. It started as a way to get her used to the bottle. She is finally taking it more consistently, although I really didn’t think it was going to happen before I went back to work. I’m so relieved. She drinks about 6 ounces of expressed breastmilk before bed. I think she drinks faster from the bottle and stays awake to finish, so she sleeps longer. That’s my theory, anyway! I miss putting her to bed, but she’s doing so well that I don’t want to change it!

We also changed the swaddle we were using. This was more or less by accident, because we forgot her regular swaddle at my in-laws, and had to use one that she initially hated a month or two ago. We started using the Love to Dream Swaddle UP, which allows her to keep her hands by her face to self-sooth. She never took a pacifier to help her sleep, so I think this helps. The swaddle still is very snug and cozy around her tummy, which helps to inhibit that darn startle reflex, and the arms up position is more natural for babies. She loves it now. We even just purchased the Love to Dream Transitional Swaddle UP to prepare her for her arms to be out. We anticipate her rolling any day! (Although, again, I know nothing).

So night-time sleep, knock on wood, is good for now. YAY!

Nap Time

Nap times haven’t been great. Cora consistently wakes up for the day around 7am (if she wakes earlier and is content, we let her hang in the crib until around 7), and goes back down within 2 hours (9am or earlier if she starts to show sleepy signs). Things really haven’t changed in this department in that she is still only sleeping about 25-40 minutes consistently, and has a really hard time self-soothing back to sleep.

This has caused me a lot of anxiety. It can be so stressful to get in the shower (which is my new favorite thing to do by the way. Solitude, anyone?) and then immediately hear your infant child wail at the top of her lungs. Like, seriously, what is going on in there? You were just SO ASLEEP. You can’t possibly be awake enough to produce that much noise. The neighbors are going to think something is up.

I let her cry a few minutes just to see if she can put herself back to sleep, but she just gets more upset. I try to nurse her back to sleep, which makes the problem worse. She started relying on me for these nap time sleeps, and as soon as I put her back down, she startles awake because she’s no longer in my arms.

Afternoon naps have been even more messy, so I’m not going to go there. Totally hit or miss.

Yesterday, actually, I decided that this had to change because I would spend my entire morning going in and out of the nursery, trying to get her to nap. It was a mess. I was tired. She was tired. I was cranky. She was cranky.

I’ve been using a method of graduated extinction. I change her, nurse her (just for a few minutes because she has a full feed after she wakes up), burp her, and sing her a song while she’s awake but drowsy. I put her down in the crib, awake but drowsy, give her a kiss, and say “I love you, time to sleep!” and then I leave the room cringing and on the verge of tears myself.

I set my timer for 5 minutes, and if she’s still crying, I go back in, softly soothe her, rub her belly, and maybe sing a song. I tip-toe out again, and set the timer for 10 minutes.

Yesterday’s first nap was a fail. After 30 minutes we stopped, changed her diaper, fed, and played for a little bit. We tried again an hour later (she had to be so tired!), and after the 10 minute timer ended, she was asleep! She slept for an hour an a half.

Today’s first nap she was asleep by the time the 5 minute timer ended. She woke 45 minutes later when our town’s fire bell went off. Yes, you could imagine my frustration.

I’m writing this during her second nap. She was again asleep by the time the 5 minute timer ended, and 45 minutes have gone by. She has woken twice in those 45 minutes and has put herself back to sleep once (at 27 minutes). She’s awake and whimpering now, but sounds like she might still sleep. So I’m giving it another minute.

Maybe this is harsh. I don’t know. It’s killing me inside, but the poor girl is exhausted come 5pm (never mind my own mental state).

I think we are getting somewhere, but it might take a few days of us really toughing this out. Hopefully I can update you all with great news in a month, but at that point, I’ll be back at work, she’ll be another month older, and life will look unrecognizably different. Yet again!

OKAY so she’s not going back to sleep…gotta run. We have yet to try blackout curtains, but they are our next strategy. Do you use them in your nursery? Please share your favorites and if you think it’s worth it! Please also share your favorite games and activities for this precious age! What are your kiddos’ favorites?

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