Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Can't Afford That

Sweet Pea has been asking "why" for a while now, but in the last month it has become her response to practically everything I tell her. This can be fun (why is it cloudy?) and it can be frustrating (why can't I have another Lego set?). Sometimes I choose an answer I regret, because it leads to more confusion, more questions, and me doubting my own answer. One of the worst of these, I think, is the "we can't afford it" answer. First of all, it doesn't make any sense to her - money is just everywhere to her, and she sees us give money to salespeople and them giving us money right back (change). When she plays at buying things at home, imaginary money always changes hands both directions. How can a three-year-old be expected to understand things as complicated as paychecks, tax returns, and budgets? Secondly, I don't like this answer because it often rings false to me. When there is something that we really need, we buy it. We have credit cards for just that reason. Although we technically can't afford my husband's physical therapy sessions for his knee, he needs it so we do it. So maybe it's time to work on the concept of needs vs. wants with my daughter? Even then, though, the "affordability" explanation still doesn't work because sometimes, we buy things just because we want them, even though they may be outside of our budget.

One such thing was our recent session with the amazing photographer, Amanda Reed. She took family photos for us when Stella was around 18 months old, and I treasure them. I wanted to get some new photos with our newly expanded family, and was lucky to see she was offering a special for newborns. No, we didn't need these photos, but they are something that I really really wanted. They are gifts for us, for our extended family, and for future generations of our family. As Joe said, this isn't exactly something that we could wait to do until we had saved the money for it, as our baby won't be a baby forever. So affordability can become quite complex, with all sorts of calculations of personal value and values in addition to the hard facts of dollars and cents. It seems like maybe the best answer to Stella's "why can't I have that?" at the store is simply, "because you don't need it" or "because I said no." For now....

Here is one of the photos from our session in February:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nap-Time Tools

Siblings cuddling in the morning. Isn't she sweet!
Baby Henry is a fantastic sleeper. He has been giving us 6-8 hours uninterrupted at night for the last couple of weeks. He also takes long naps (often 2-3 hours) during the day, and is able to sleep in a variety of locations, including on his own in a bed. This is pretty shocking to me as my first child would pretty much only nap in my arms or in her car seat in a moving car for many months. One book that has helped me to understand baby sleep needs is The No-Cry Nap Solution. Stella was likely over-tired much of the time, and although lots of family members suggested that she needed more sleep, I couldn't figure out how to get her to sleep more or how to nap without me. Many days I didn't mind holding her for naps, but she probably could have slept longer if I had been able to put her down. Simply laying her down in her crib or co-sleeper when she was drowsy never worked for her, although I did try.

With Henry, I have been much more open to using tools to help him sleep. Stella never used a pacifier, Henry has had one since week 2 (with no disruption of nursing, luckily). The pacifier often helps him drift off easily. Stella also liked to suck to sleep, but for her it would be comfort nursing. That would mean though that milk would keep flowing and she would eventually get upset and spit up all the excess milk she was taking in. Another tool we have just started using is a white noise machine. The one we got is inside of a stuffed giraffe, and has a timer and 4 different sounds. He loves it! It really helps to block out the other noises of the house (particularly his older sister) and allow him to nap longer. I avoided those kinds of things with my first child, thinking that I didn't want to give her something I'd just have to wean her from later, or have her become to dependent on "things" for comfort. Having more experience now, I realize that infancy and childhood are a never-ending series of transitions. Yes, he will have to wean from the pacifier eventually, just as he will have to wean from the breast, learn to sleep in his own room, learn to walk, start eating solids, etc. etc. etc. So, I am not as worried about ending with the pacifier as I can see it is just one of many changes that we will go through together, when the time is right. And if it helps him to sleep now, then I am definitely using it! Holding Stella for naps was a sweet time, and I do still hold Henry for maybe one nap a day or so (he naps at least 4 times throughout the day), but not HAVING to hold him for every nap has given me so much more freedom and allowed me to still play with Stella and care for her and our house with much greater ease. Sometimes, the "things" of modern life really are a blessing! I do still believe that not all babies need all of the products that are marketed to us, but I am more open to trying some of those tools than I used to be.

Babies do constantly change and I expect that our great sleeper may start waking more at night as he passes through milestones. But it sure is nice for now! I hear him waking from one of his marathon naps now... Happy sleeping, everyone!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fussy Weeks

We recently went through two challenging weeks with Henry. First, he was having trouble napping for no apparent reason, then he had a stomach virus. I was worried that I had done something to screw up his natural ability to nap, and we were never going to get back on track! However, the last few days he has been pretty much back to his pleasant, long-sleeping self. Even before this, several friends had recommended the book The Wonder Weeks. I finally got it a few days ago, and reading it helped me discover that the unexplained wakefulness/grouchiness before the illness was my little sweetheart likely passing through his 8-week fussy period. And now he has new skills! Smiling and interacting! Batting at objects! Knowing when he's about to get fed! I've read about a third of it, and am finding it is so helpful for understanding baby development and anticipating changes that will come. It also is an important reminder that sometimes babies are more fussy not because we are doing something wrong, but because they are going through major changes in the way they experience the world and they need extra comfort and support during those times. I love the full title of this book:

The Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate your baby's mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward

 What a great way to think about baby's fussy times - as leaps forward! I highly recommend this book.