I love this picture of Patrick, Anna, and my brother.
Since having Anna, my life has obviously changed a lot and overall it’s definitely for the better. I’m happy being a stay-at-home mom and think that Patrick and I started having kids at the right time in our lives. I love playing with Anna, I’m finally catching up on my sleep (most days), and I think this summer is going to be awesome with lots of time spent outside. I do still have days where I find myself feeling overly anxious and sometimes I do wish I could get out more, but that’s slowly getting easier, too. I have to remind myself that there was a time when Anna was only a couple of months old and I couldn’t be away from her for more than an hour or so because she never took a bottle. I try my best to remain flexible because my life is going to continue to change a lot as Anna grows up, when we decide to have another baby (still not there yet), and when I decide if I’m going to start working outside of the home more or not.
For exercise now, I chase Anna around and walk on the treadmill* for about 30 minutes each day during her nap (sometimes longer if I’m watching a dramatic episode of House of Cards). I used to be really into Crossfit and even continued it during my pregnancy, but I honestly can’t imagine doing those types of workouts right now. The whole idea of Crossfit is to increase your capacity for functional, real-life fitness. The workouts are very intense and it would take a long time for me to build back up to that level of fitness without being so sore that I couldn’t take care of Anna. The exercise that I get throughout the day from lifting Anna, carrying her around, wrestling her to change her diaper, and generally just being on the move is functional enough for me.
When Anna is older and can either handle being in childcare at the gym or is in preschool, I probably will go back to doing some form of group exercise because I really do enjoy it. For now, though, I’m pretty happy with just walking.
*I feel very lucky because my parents have a treadmill in the house, which means I don’t have to go to a gym to use one. It’s been great during the colder months and when Patrick and I do buy another house, having space for a home gym is going to be one of our priorities.
This past week was wonderful. I love watching Anna learn how to walk and she seems even happier now that she can move more independently. The weather finally warmed up, so we’ve been able to spend a lot of time outside at parks again, which I love.
I wanted to wait until Anna’s sleep had consistently improved at night before writing about it, and I’m happy to say that I think we’re at that point! About 5 weeks ago, I started the process of night-weaning her and teaching her how to go back to sleep on her own. I started with a 5-hour stretch of not nursing and then gradually increased the amount of time. When she woke up, I would wait a few minutes to see if she could settle herself back to sleep and if she couldn’t, I would go into the room and pick her up to comfort her and then lay her back down in her crib and talk to her while she went to sleep. The first night it took about 2 hours, but after that it really didn’t take her that long at all to settle back down. Now she can typically go from her bedtime around 7:30 pm until 5:30 am without needing me to come into the room. After her 5:30 wake up, she usually goes back to sleep until around 7:30, which is a huge improvement from waking up 4-5 times per night! I’m very proud of both her and myself about it.
Anna has started to string a few steps together. She’s still hesitant, but is slowly gaining confidence and trying to walk more frequently.
Today we were stuck inside for Raleigh’s second big snowstorm of the season. Anna’s still too young to really appreciate the snow, so we just watched it from the window.
I keep meaning to write about different or more in-depth subjects (I’ve been thinking about writing a post on healthy body image and good eating habits for a long time), but I’ve been completely exhausted by the end of each day. Maybe some day I’ll have more time to work on the blog. For now, chasing around after my little toddler is keeping me very busy .
Now that Anna is a little bit older, I try to get out of the house and do something fun with her each day. Some days that means just going to the grocery store (luckily she still likes that), but most of the time I try to plan an activity where she can move around and interact with things. Raleigh is a pretty amazing city for young kids because not only does it have wonderful parks, but there is also Marbles Kids Museum. We just discovered it last week and it’s like a series of giant playrooms for her. They have separate toddler areas in almost every room and have exhibits like a pretend veterinary office, a grocery store, a school, a workout area, and a big Lego room. It’s made our winter much better so far! I was getting stir crazy and Anna’s current nap schedule is pretty much the opposite of all of my other friend’s kid’s, so it was challenging to get out for play dates. I’m still definitely looking forward to warmer weather, but for now, we’re doing OK .
- -Anna saw her first snow (she was not a fan– she put her hand in it and started crying)
- -She slept through the night for the first time in many, many months!
- -She took her first steps while holding onto our hands. Now she walks around the house like that.
- -She’s started having her first tantrums. We officially have a toddler.
Although I’m fine now, earlier today I had some really strong stomach pain that left me unable to do anything but curl up in bed and cry for a few hours. I can tell how much becoming a parent has changed my life because one of my biggest concerns was that if the pain continued, how would I care for Anna? I feel so thankful to have had the help of Patrick and my parents to get through it. It’s such a relief to be feeling better.
The very next day after posting that Anna was still going strong with 2 naps/day and was sleeping better at night, she started refusing her second nap and has been waking up very frequently at night. It’s like she knew!
Coincidentally, I also bought her an amber necklace the day before she started refusing naps. Although controversial, some people believe that the necklaces reduce teething pain. I’m not really sure if it works because she’s actually been sleeping worse since I put it on her, but who knows– maybe her frequent wake ups are unrelated to teething and it is really helping her. Either way, we’re keeping it because I think it’s really cute and Anna loves necklaces.*
Since Anna’s sleep has still been all over the place, I’ve finally become motivated to follow The No-Cry Sleep Solution to do gentle sleep training. The plan takes about 6-weeks and gradually teaches babies to settle themselves back to sleep through a series of steps. First you start reducing the amount of time that you nurse the child to get them back to sleep, then you pick them up and rock them back to sleep without nursing, and then you comfort them in their crib until they eventually learn to go back to sleep by themselves. I like the approach because both Patrick and I feel uncomfortable with letting her cry for long periods by herself at night. To me, it seems like using nursing to fall back asleep is a habit that I’ve helped her to form, so it doesn’t feel right to just abruptly cut that off. I’m very hopeful that it will work and that, eventually, we’ll all be sleeping better. For now, I’ll just stop writing about it when Anna does start sleeping better because I seem to be jinxing myself .
*Some people worry that amber necklaces pose a choking hazard for babies under 1-year-old. The necklace that we bought her is from a reputable store, is individually knotted, and is not long enough for her to get it around her chin, so I feel comfortable with her wearing it.
When Anna was only 1 month old, I met a mother and her 1-year-old son and remember thinking, “Anna will never be that old or that big!” Of course, she is now, and it’s just crazy to me that she’s even older than 1 year.
She LOVES using her walker and I think she’ll probably take her first independent steps soon. She only learned to crawl 2 months ago, so I’d say that’s pretty quick progress. She’s always been a big talker, but now says a lot of words, including mama, dada, bye-bye, hi, uh-oh, woah, this, and that. She’s usually pretty happy and is still going strong with 2 naps each day. Her sleep at night is a little bit hit-or-miss, but recently has been better.
Now that Anna is getting more independent, I’ve been able to do things like take a dance class in Durham and get out at night a little more frequently. Overall, things aren’t as stressful as they used to be when Anna was younger, with the exception of her sometimes still having frequent wake-ups at night. I feel very lucky that I get to stay at home with our daughter and really enjoy spending time with her.
I used to worry that other people will think that I’m “that” crazy parent because of things like not letting Anna watch TV or have processed sugar, but recently I don’t care anymore–I feel confident that we’re doing what’s right for Anna. Patrick and I were going on a walk the other day and I told him that I think that the majority of good parenting is trying to set your kids up with good routines and long-term habits. All kids are different and obviously you need to do this in a developmentally appropriate way, but right now I think it’s best for Anna to be learning how to move around, spending lots of time outside, and learning what unprocessed foods taste like while her preferences are still developing. Eventually we will let her watch TV and loosen up about what she eats, but right now I think she’s doing fine.
I’ve also felt much better because her sleep at night is slowly improving. Patrick has been able to put her to bed at night a few times this week and has also been able to get her to go back to sleep in the middle of the night, which has been wonderful for me. We took advantage of him having the last two weeks off to try to work on this. We still don’t leave Anna alone if she’s crying at night, but have been able to comfort her while sitting next to her crib or just holding her instead of her solely relying on nursing to go back to sleep.
I’m not judging parents who do things differently than Patrick and I do and other than writing about it in this blog, I’m generally not very outspoken what we do with Anna. When it comes to raising kids, I think that people’s feelings can get hurt very easily because a comment about what you do with your child can be taken as a criticism of what the other parent is doing. That’s not my goal at all with this post– I just want to share that I’m happy to be feeling more confident and relaxed about our choices.