Many things have been going on in the Bradshaw house the past few days. Nora started complaining about an earache on Wednesday evening. She was running a low-grade fever that evening, but didn't seem to be acting out of the ordinary, so I didn't really think much of it. On Thursday, her fever remained and she kept mentioning her right ear, unsolicited. I called the nurse, and she said it may be swimmer's ear, so she called us in some drops. After some confusion at the drugstore, we finally got our drops Thursday evening....that was dramatic, trying to put drops in Nora's ears when she was in pain and not wanting to cooperate. By Friday, her low-grade fever started to escalate and I just knew she wasn't feeling well. We went to dinner with JB's parents, and when we got home, I took Nora's temp and it was 103.7. I woke up on Saturday morning and got an appointment right away. Dr. G confirmed that Nora has a double ear infection! She was so pitiful yesterday and was definitely not feeling well. Thankfully, though, she was seemingly feeling much better by last night and her fever has started to decline. This morning it was only 99. Praise the Lord for healing and for antibiotics!
In Liam's world, I have been trying to make some changes. Up until this point, Liam has been in a pretty tight 2.5 hour feeding schedule during the day. About three weeks ago, we introduced rice cereal, and since then, he gets a tablespoon of a fruit or veggie mixed in with the cereal two times a day. He usually gets a bowl after his first feeding of the day and around supper time. Sleep hasn't been going so well for Liam---or should I say, not going so well for Momma. He takes a pacifier when going to sleep, which is nice because he goes down so easily and the paci is great when we are out and about to keep him calm. However, in the middle of the night and oftentimes naptime, he stirs in his sleep, realizes that he has lost his paci, and then cries until I come in to reinsert it for him. As you can imagine, this can get old very fast. Some nights I only run in there once or twice, but there are several nights a week where it takes him several tries before he settles down. I am so exhausted sometimes that I just end up sleeping in the twin bed in his room because I don't know how long it will take and I don't want to keep running back and forth between our rooms. For quite some time now, I have known that it's time to let him soothe himself to sleep, which may mean crying it out for a bit, but to be honest, I have been too lazy to let that happen. I would rather miss a few minutes of sleep here and there (so I think), then stay up the duration of his crying. So many nights I would go to bed with the intention of letting him cry it out, only to cave in around 3:00 am when he wakes up because I am too tired to think straight. As Liam is growing and wiggling and rolling over, it is becoming more and more apparent that the longer I wait, the harder it will be. He is so aware and is pretty mobile for his age, so if we don't get this ball rolling, it will be a nightmare to incorporate later on.
I had this deep, wishful thinking that the introduction of cereal into Liam's diet would cause him to stop waking up in the middle of the night. So far, that hasn't stopped him. I have also been wondering when he would stretch from the 2.5 hour feedings to a three hour schedule. I mean, he's a big, healthy boy and I just keep assuming that he requires more food throughout the day than Nora did as an infant. By this point, she was already to a 4 hour feeding schedule. I don't mind feeding Liam every 2.5 hours during the day, but I was curious about how/when this would change. Also, Liam takes 3-4 naps each day. His first and second naps usually last about 45 minutes, while his long nap (3rd feeding cycle) usually lasts anywhere from 2-3 hours. At this point, he takes a 4th nap some days and other days he doesn't seem to need it, so we skip it. I just look for his cues on that one.
I decided last weekend that I need to just bite the bullet. I have a feeling that he is close to beginning the teething process, and another thought I had about procrastinating even more is when he DOES begin teething, how will I know the difference between teething and stirring in his sleep. I also don't want to wait till he is teething to let him cry it out because that's just mean! If he's in pain, I need to tend to him. I have started letting him cry himself to sleep when he wakes in the middle of the night. The first night I did this, he cried for ten minutes total. I was very surprised that it took so little time, but I was relieved! It is so hard to listen to your baby cry. The second night went just like the first where he only cried for a few minutes, then was out. The third night, however, was just terrible. We ended up caving in and giving him his paci. Nora was sick that night, as well, so we were just trying to choose our battles. Last night, he did wonderfully. He stirred three times total. The first time he cried for no more than 10 minutes and I heard him stirring two other times, but I'm not even sure he actually cried. He woke up at 7:30 am, so I got him and we started our day. That was a total of a 9 hour stretch without me intervening at all.
In doing some reading, I came across an article that mentioned the importance of putting baby down for naps at the appropriate times. It said that many moms try to keep babies awake between naps as long as possible because they assume that the longer baby is awake, the more tired baby will be, and the longer he/she will nap. Those are my thoughts exactly! It seems to make sense to me. The article went on to say that babies have a window where they are good and awake, but that we need to put them down for their nap at the appropriate time which will actually allow them to sleep better during naptime. After reading it, I knew this sounded familiar, and I think I was given similar advice with Nora. Baby's awake time depends on his/her age. The mom who wrote the article gave a schedule of her baby girl's day, detailing the duration of wake and nap times. Her baby girl is just a few weeks older than Liam. I decided I would try her advice. I was a bit skeptical, though.
Yesterday we were going to be home all day because Nora was sick. After Liam's first feeding, he had a bowl of cereal and some awake time. I watched him closely for signs of sleepiness and after about one hour of being awake, put him down for a nap. He slept for 1.5 hours, causing his next feeding to be exactly three hours after his last feeding. Wow, I thought! That was a coincidence! We'll try it again next naptime. So, after I fed him, we played and had awake time, then I put him down again just over an hour of being awake. He went down again and slept until I woke him for his next feeding. After having two good naps, I thought for sure his next nap would be a wash. This third nap is typically his best nap of the day, so I was anticipating it being a short nap since he had already slept much more than normal. When it came time to go down for a nap, he seemed exhausted. I myself was completely worn out from a rough night, so I went to lay down thinking it would only be a short amount of time before Liam woke up again. When I woke up, I was surprised that 1.5 hours had gone by without a peep from either kiddo. It seems that the advice seemed to work. Liam went on a three hour schedule all day yesterday without any intervention from me besides putting him down for his naps earlier than I had been.
Today hasn't gone quite as smoothly. He has taken longer naps than usual, but they weren't quite as long as yesterday. I think the advice from the article is valid, but part of me thinks that God's grace was more than sufficient for me yesterday in Liam sleeping more because I had a sick girlie and was tired myself. I think I will continue to try to be more attentive to Liam's signals that he's tired instead of forcing him to stay awake because I think he'll sleep longer if he does.
I share all of these things more for my benefit than for any other reason. I am constantly praying for the Lord to give me wisdom in making these decisions for my baby boy. I am asking for grace for myself and for Liam. Lord, give me restful sleep, no matter how long it is. Help me to be content in this season of less sleep because my boy will be grown before I know it. I know, also, that His grace is always present for me and that he always gives me what I need to get through each day. Lord, give grace to Liam and help him transition easily. Teach me when to give grace to him and when to train him. I know I don't have all the answers, and I know I may have a different perspective in a few months. I am also aware that the decisions I make aren't the same for other people. Help me, Lord, to be patient and not to be anxious. Help to cherish my husband and my children and to savor every moment we are given together.