How did that happen?
I’m a little tempted to go back and read my posts about Tristan from the early days but I’m not far enough away from them yet. I won’t even link to them here. You can do a search under “HELP, MY BABY IS TRYING TO KILL ME.” Or just search under “Tristan.” Either one. To sum it up, Tristan was a very fussy baby. (But also very sweet and very cuddly.) He still is what I would call “high needs.” For example, just now, he woke up from a 1.25 hour morning nap (not bad). I fed him and changed his diaper. After about 10 minutes on a blanket with rattles and me by his side he became hysterical. He’s not one of these laidback babies who will chill on a blanket or in a chair or swing for very long. It turned out that he was tired again (we’ll get to sleep later) so exactly 1.25 hours after he woke up from his morning nap he’s back down again. At age six months. There’s a lot of inconsistency in his schedule and a lot of guessing — is he hungry, tired, in pain, teething, just needing attention?
I always fear that I come across as complaining on this blog. Maybe that’s why I took a little time off. Any mother of any child will understand that my love for Tristan is, in the words of Jules Renard, “like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties.” Even after a very poor night of sleep my heart remembers that big smile he gave me at 4 am. My brain shuts out the crying and fussing. I really love how cuddly and snuggly this baby is. I can’t squeeze and kiss him enough. Yet I know the consequences of stress and sleep deprivation on my mental and physical health. This is all a big balancing act and, of course, a learning process. I’m a student of these two children of mine. They teach me and challenge me every single day.
For my wonderful followers of Tristan’s early days, I wanted to give a few updates…
Reflux: Tristan is still on medication for reflux but I think we should start weaning him from it soon. He still spits up a bit but there is no fussiness related to eating anymore. (I’m still breastfeeding exclusively but I’m ready to supplement with formula every once in a while when I need a break and I choose not to pump.) If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know I went dairy free because we suspected that T was sensitive to milk. About two weeks ago I slowly began introducing dairy back into my diet — namely cheese and ice cream. I’m still determining how he’s handing it but he seems to be doing just fine. I certainly don’t plan to over do it with dairy and I don’t think I’ll ever drink straight milk again. (I love my coconut milk.)
Starting solids: We skipped baby cereal and went straight to “real food” about a week ago — sweet potatoes, avocado, banana, bagels. I’m not opposed to making baby purees (like I did with Elise) but we’re also trying what’s called Baby Led Weaning. The idea is that when the baby is developmentally ready to eat, he will. And he can eat what everyone else in the home is eating. (Very little added sugar or salt, of course.) Tristan is interested in food but still isn’t totally getting it. Right now he’s playing and tasting food and gnawing on big chunks of bagels and banana. I suspect that in a few weeks he’ll get better at picking up food and putting it in his mouth.
Sleep: I really believe that good night sleep sets the tone for the baby’s day sleep, eating habits and temperament so this is an area we still need to work on. If you remember the early days, Tristan slept with us out of necessity. (I’m not exaggerating when I say that he was held or worn or sleeping up against us 24 hours a day.) Cosleeping, for us, wasn’t simple. He needed me to fall asleep and stay asleep, and at 3 months he started going to bed at 7 pm. This was extremely difficult to manage while also caring for a 2-year-old. Around this time (3-4 months) he started to “grow out” of the fussiness so we decided to transfer him to his crib. We chose to teach Tristan how to soothe himself. What that means is that I now put him down awake but drowsy and he falls asleep on his own. (Usually within 1-2 minutes, no crying and with the help of sucking his thumb.) So yes, in order to achieve this it took some crying. Looking back, that was the right decision for us. I’ll never “blanket” recommend it because every situation is different. That said, he’s still waking up twice to eat between the hours of 7 pm and 7 am. I know for a fact that he doesn’t need that first feeding (11 pm-ish) because he starts to fall asleep when I start feeding him. We’ve also tried just not responding to him (like we did last night) and within 10 minutes he was back to sleep. He then got up around 3 am to eat. My view is that if he were really hungry, he’d put up more of a fight to eat at 11 pm. Our plan is to get rid of that first feeding NOW and then deal with dropping the 3 am feeding when he’s a bit older. I think this should help with his day sleep, too. Right now he takes about three naps a day but they are never at the same time or for the same duration. I certainly don’t need him to be on a schedule but I suspect he might be a happier baby if he’s given the structure. Oh, and a little random — just days after we taught him to fall asleep on his own, he stopped screaming in his car seat. It was as if he learned to soothe himself awake and asleep.
Other developments: Tristan is sitting up, rolling around, getting up on his hands and knees. I welcome the mobility! Maybe he’s fussy because he just wants to keep up with his big sister.
How is Elise? The girl can’t get enough of “Baby Nay Nay.” This is good and bad. She’s great at making him smile when he’s having a fussy day but I have to watch her like a hawk. Lately she’s been trying to sit or lay on top of him. Cute, huh?
So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know and more. Wait, one more thing. Do you see a resemblance?
Tristan on the left, Elise on the right. Both at 6 months.