Thursday, July 21, 2011

Parenting Book Reviews

I have been wanting to write this for some time and just either forgot or had something else to write that was more pressing.  I have a few friends who are having their first babies over the next few months and I thought I would give my two cents on parenting books I've read.  When I was pregnant a friend of mine told me that there were three books I needed to read.  Of course I ordered all three and tried to read them all before Jackson was born, even though that didn't happen I did get them read by the time he was eight months:)

Book #1- Happiest Baby on the Block
I did manage to read this book before Jackson was born.  I am so glad that I started with this book out of the three.  I absolutely loved this book.  The book shows how important it is to swaddle babies.  I know there are babies who "fight" it or absolutely hate it.  Jackson definitely did not enjoy the process of getting swaddled, but once he was swaddled he was able to breathe a sigh of relief it seemed.  All my husband and I had to practice with before Jackson was here was a stuffed animal, which is way easier than a squirmy baby.  I remember my husband looking on youtube to see videos of swaddling when we were in the hospital.  We could never do it the way the nurses did, but we figured it out.  The book also discusses the loud sshhing (not sure how to spell that).  In the womb there are loud noises and the author discusses how we need to make a similar white noise type sound.  The author also talks about swinging and sucking as ways to soothe the baby.  Jackson was not big on the swing until he was a little older and it took him a while to get the hang of the pacifier (I tried not to encourage it in the beginning since I was nursing).  Jackson was 6 1/2 months old when we stopped swaddling him.  He slept so well when he was swaddled that I hated to wean him of it.  He still sleeps with white noise and a pacifier.  All in all, this was a great book.  I think the first two weeks of being parents is the hardest, so it might not seem like  the 5 S's will work, but they do if you stick with it.

Book #2- On Becoming Baby Wise
I'm sure most of  you have heard of this book.  I remember hearing about it before I was pregnant, but I didn't know what all the fuss was about.  I had heard that it's very strict, not good for nursing mothers, and there can be a lot of crying.  Well, I did agree with parts of the book and some it I did not agree with.  I liked how the authors tell you that the first two weeks you need to not focus on the clock, but work on getting in full feedings.  During the first two weeks you're learning how to be a mom and the baby is learning what it's like outside of your body.  I was a little nervous about sticking to the schedule since I was nursing and my greatest fear is that I would not be able to feed my baby boy.  I did like the routine of feeding, play, nap.  However, this routine did not always work for me.  If Jackson feel asleep nursing, I was not about to wake him up to play.  The idea is that you start putting your baby to bed awake and they learn early on how to put themselves to sleep.  We have just recently started putting Jackson to bed awake and letting him "cry-it-out".  I enjoyed rocking him to sleep and he just recently started getting squirmy when I would rock him, like he wanted to be put down.  I started rocking him for maybe 5 minutes then putting him in the crib and, for the most part, he goes to sleep.  He does have those days when he's fussy or just upset that I left him when he will cry for a few minutes before going to sleep.  I guess, now that I'm writing this, I can't really give an accurate opinion of the book since I didn't follow the instructions exactly.  I can tell him that it did help me to get into a routine, even though the times may not always be the same (his nap length might vary, or he might want an extra feeding).  I'm all about the schedule, but just when you get a schedule down the baby decides that it should be changed:)

Book #3- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
I really liked this book.  I started reading it after Jackson was born, and I should mention that I did not start using the information in this book until he was about 7 months old.  In the book the author goes on to talk about how important sleep is to infants and how if they don't get enough sleep during the day, it can make for a more sleepless night than normal.  I had always assumed that if Jackson didn't nap well during the day, he would be exhausted and would sleep extra good.  Turns out, for me at least, that the book is correct.  The author says that we should put the babies to bed drowsy, but not asleep.  He also says to never wake a sleeping baby.  I had heard this, but I was neurotic about Jackson nursing enough times per day that I did wake him up.  After reading this book, I definitely stopped it.  Jackson was a pretty good sleeper from day one.  We had to wake him to feed him and initially he wasn't gaining weight as he should, so I guess it was ok to wake him.  When Jackson starting teething, his sleeping schedule got off course.  He had been sleeping through the night, but all of the sudden was waking up at 1am or 3am.  I had just gotten used to not waking up to nurse/pump that when he started waking up in the middle of the night again I felt like a zombie.  That is when I finally decided to implement what I had read.  The author said that once you put the baby to bed, you leave him there until 7am.  So, one night I laid on the couch while my sweet baby cried.  I knew if I went in there and left him again he would only be more angry, so I just waited.  The book says to let them cry for no longer than an hour.  I was determined to do this.  My husband had to get up early for work the next day, so I didn't want to wake him just so we both could listen to the baby.  Jackson cried for 32 minutes and was back to sleep.  I almost started crying again, because I was so proud of him.  I should let you know that I had tried this "cry-it-out" for an hour method a month prior and he cried for the entire hour.  We had made huge improvements when he only cried for 32 minutes!!  

Now, for naps I rock him for 5-10 minutes and put him in the crib whether he is asleep or not (most often he's already asleep).  At night, he nurses to sleep and I'm fine with that.  I have a number of friends who say that I need to put the kibosh on that, but I don't plan on doing that anytime soon.  There are occasions when he wakes up from naps or doesn't go to sleep right away and he plays/cries/whines.  As I write this, he's crying in his crib.  He hasn't had a good nap all day and I know that is why he is having a tough time going to sleep now.  We're getting close to the hour mark, so I'll go in there and get him.  By the way, the book says to let them cry for an hour and after that if they are still crying to get them.  Sometimes they'll be so exhausted from crying so long that they'll fall asleep in your arms and sometimes not.  Jackson has never gone to sleep after a crying spell.  I definitely could not have let my newborn cry for an hour.  I cried the whole hour that Jackson cried when he was 6 months.  The book also mentions going in to soothe the baby every five, then ten, then fifteen minutes, but do not pick them up.  For me, this didn't work.  It was an all or nothing thing for us.  Every time I went in there to "soothe" Jackson, he would settle down but as soon as I left he would go ballistic.  I knew when I was going to let him cry it out that I had to be prepared to leave him for an hour.  I started off with 30 minutes and we kind of worked ourselves up to an hour one day.  After the hour of crying at 6 months we waited a month or so and then it was down to 30 minutes and it wasn't hysterical crying like it had been.  My advice, like I've said in another post, is that you will know what to do.  You'll know what feels right and what feels completely absurd.  Even now, there are days when I can handle the crying and then there are days when I can't.  And just when you think you've got that baby all figured out they will go and totally change everything:)  I hope this helped someone out there.  Sorry it's so long:)

Friday, July 1, 2011

So Much to Say.......

Do you ever have one of those days when you just feel down?  I wouldn't go so far as to say depressed, but just down.  Let me start by staying I absolutely love staying home with my little man!  Some days, like today, I just feel like is this all there is?  I don't know, I think the newness and excitement of being a stay-at-home-mom has worn off and reality is setting in.  Also, this was the first week I did not have to go in to work to help out the person replacing me.  Even though I was so excited to quit working and stay home, I kind of liked still going in once a week and feeling needed.  I told my husband, as I was crying, "they don't need me any more"!  He told me him and Jackson need me:)  
Josh has been working a lot of hours lately and I know he works so much so I can stay home.  I love that he is such a hard worker and not lazy, but I miss him.  I miss having adult conversations and the adult conversations we do have seem to be me complaining about something.  He gets home around 7pm then it's bath and bed for Jackson.  We go to bed soon after and I feel sometimes like we're just roommates, not husband and wife.  I know we both are exhausted by 9pm but I want to talk with him and enjoy his company, even if it is for only a few minutes.  
I went to a mom's group this morning and I was talking to the other moms about my prayer needs and one mom mentioned that the first thing to go out the window when you're feeling down or overwhelmed is your quiet time with God.  Now, I had minimal quiet time when I was working and by minimal I mean maybe 15 minutes when I was pumping.  I had such great intentions when I quit working to have more quiet time and I've had less than when I was working.  I feel like there is so much to do around the house when Jackson is sleeping and I'm always thinking, "I'll start reading my Bible faithfully tomorrow".  The problem is, tomorrow never comes or Jackson doesn't nap well or there is something else we need to do.  There is always something to keep me away from that quality time with God.  So starting Monday (when Jackson naps), I'm committing to reading my Bible and prayer before I do anything; cleaning, workout, watch my recorded shows.  I know this lack of quality time with God has allowed the enemy to creep in and put thoughts in my head and I'm going to start taking every thought captive.  I refuse to feel defeated, down, depressed, deflated, or frustrated with myself.
Another mom mentioned to me something someone had said to her when she was a new mom.  "You are the only one who can be mom to Jackson.  That is a great thing, but it is also very lonely because you are the only one who can do it".  At the time, it didn't really sink in but even as I type it out it makes more sense to me.  This job is a 24/7, never ending job.  There is no lunch hour or quitting time.  Please know that I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to have quality time with my son and to be a blessing to my husband by staying home.  I wouldn't trade this job for any other job.  This is the most rewarding job and the most difficult job I've ever had.
In baby news.......
Jackson is getting his top teeth and they are way worse than the bottom ones.  I'm working on getting him to nap in his crib.  He has been napping in our bed, but now that he rolls and crawls it's time that he naps in his crib.  He has been going down for his naps with little to no rocking.  This makes me a bit sad, but I know it's for his own good.  I still rock him for a few minutes before his nap, if he lets me.  He is crawling all over the place!  He went to bed last Monday and woke up on Tuesday and could crawl.  He sort of does this inch worm type of crawl, especially when he's excited or trying to get somewhere fast.  I need to video tape it so I can remember what he looks like.  We have an artificial ficus tree in the living room and it has ivy leaves around the base of it.  Jackson loves playing with the leaves he can reach.  We try to tell him no.  I have flicked his hand (not hard) so he knows that he shouldn't play with it and nothing has worked.  It's like there is a magnet in those leaves drawing his little hands in:)  Yesterday he pulled the tree over on himself, he wasn't injured.  You would think after that he would surely stay away, not so.  The two of us are stubborn so we just sit there by the tree and argue about it.  I told my husband that one of us is going to give in and it's not going to be me!  
My verse for the day:  Psalm 34:18-19
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all"
I needed to hear this today and I hope it's encouraging to you!