Tuesday, January 24, 2012

B is for...

One of the most elegant women I know sent me a poem in a blue hardcover book with illustrations of rain boots inside.

The poem is called B. 

She sent it because my little S was baptized on Sunday, the same day that her own first grandchild was also "sealed as Christ's own forever." (that quote is the part of the baptism liturgy that freaks Andrew out the most. I love it, which tells you something about how each of us feels about being "sealed forever.")

It's the sort of poem I'll read over and over and I'll probably cry every time.

Just like I do when I look at pictures from J's baptism, or re-read my own blog entries in the days after I met each of my daughters. Or, sometimes, just how I do when I stop and feel how it is to be me in this basement condo that is somehow full of energy and light. I have so much to do it's ridiculous and yet...someone sent me a poem today. What a wonderful life. ♥

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Five Months!

Oh, hey - somebody is growing up fast!!! 

I haven't had a ton of time to blog lately what with school starting up, maternity leave over, a couple new jobs underway and new shows back on TV. But things are going along smashingly. Baby S continues to be the smiley-est baby in the universe, bestowing her grace-and-light-filled, "hey I am glad to see YOU!!" smile on just about every human being with a face who is lucky enough to make eye contact with her. She is flipping both ways now and has recently located her feet. So she has a lot going on too, what with the flipping over and eating her feet and so forth. S and J continue, over a week in, to be a co-sleeping powerhouse. You can see that J's toddler bed is up next to S's crib and J takes her responsibilities as oldest sib in the room quite seriously, usually popping up to check on her baby several times before settling down to sleep herself. Interestingly, the state of said baby seems to be irrelevant. A couple times now I've watched on the video monitor as J has fallen peacefully asleep in the midst of the lively upper register shrieking and babbling that S often engages in before going to sleep herself.

There is snow in Seattle today, or there was yesterday and apparently will be tonight. I love snow days here. It's a lovely excuse to hunker down and enjoy hearth, home,and family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Four people, two cats and 736 square feet: the Sleep Edition

Last night I followed my usual solo night-time routine, what I do the three nights each week that Andrew is away at work. It involves reading, checking email and catching up on work, maybe some television on the internet, sometimes writing blogs or papers and definitely more time on facebook than is warranted. I also do the stuff that Andrew does on the nights he is here - load and start the dishwasher, check to make sure there is formula made up for the night, feed and water the cats, that sort of thing. The thing that made last night special wasn't what I did, but rather the ambiance. I got to do it with the lights on, because my little S slept in the bedroom with J. This is extremely exciting for me.

Hands down one of the big advantages of the way our condo is arranged is the way it maximizes liveable space. It's basically two giant rooms, so it doesn't feel small or cramped despite its size. None of the square footage is wasted on features like hallways and mudrooms which, while nice, aren't places people spend a lot of time living. As we've grown into the space we have decluttered repeatedly and moved toward maximizing open floor space, so much so that someone who came to visit during Christmas exclaimed "it looks bigger!"   However, as we've attempted to manage sleep with an infant, a toddler, and one of the adults working nights this openness has worked against us.

Once we got J sleeping on her own (covered here), we decided she slept better in a completely different space from us so she had the "bedroom" and we installed a murphy bed in the living room. This has been the situation for about a year and a half. Jubilee has been a really great sleeper since she moved in to her own crib/bed, and she usually logs between 12 and 13 hours of sleep each night. This setup worked great for us, too. We would say goodnight to J, shut the door and have the living room(our sleeping space)/kitchen/full bath to ourselves all night. We loved it.

bed, toilet, sink - everything the day sleeper needs!
Then two things happened at once: S came along and Andrew got a permanent job (yay!) working nights(meh). We knew that he would work nights in the beginning, everyone does. So the challenge then became where he would sleep during the day - if he was in the bedroom then that meant he would be disturbed whenever a baby needed to nap. We decided to get creative with the odd long, skinny half bathroom off the bedroom and built him what we affectionately call the "sleep cave" by hacking an IKEA bunk bed.

At the same time, while we were toying with the sleep cave idea, we got the call about baby S. We built the cave while we waited to hear if she would be ours, and Andrew slept there for the first time after we got back from our trip to get her. So we went from our cozy and stable sleep arrangement of J in her room us in ours after 7pm, with Andrew and I going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to the madness of juggling an infant who was seriously opposed to sleeping anywhere but in our bed/my arms and Andrew either at work or asleep 21 hours a day 3-4 days a week. I reviewed the book on baby sleep that we love and decided that we would have S in the bed with us to start. With the murphy bed a co-sleeper wasn't practical and I had a feeling she wouldn't tolerate it anyhow. So J retained sole proprietorship of the bedroom/family room and when S started going to sleep at 7pm when she was six weeks old I just adjusted. She would sleep on the bed and I would hold her until she fell asleep and then put her on the bed, sitting in the dark reading on my Kindle or working by the light of the computer. When Andrew was home he was usually all wonky from nightshift and the darkness made him tired so he went to bed at 7pm too, waking up at 4 or 5 and spending the early morning hours either reading, computing, or working out.

It all worked out okay but quite honestly I found the hours between 7 and 11pm pretty dark and lonely, with everyone asleep but me. I also found it hard to imagine how we were ever going to get both girls in the same room for sleeping - J was so used to her peaceful and solitary sleep time that she would start awake anytime someone opened the door. I looked on the internet but didn't find much aside from vague assurances that "the older one will learn to sleep right through it." Andrew seemed to think this would be the arrangement until S was old enough to be sleep trained and make it all night.

But that's not what happened. S had a couple rough nights in our bed, waking every 1-2 hours and wanting just 1-2 ounces of formula before dropping off again. So we decided to see if she'd changed her mind about sleeping on her own. She had! You could hardly call it sleep training - while she did fuss a bit it was nothing like what we experienced with J, who was much older when she learned to put herself to sleep.  We're talking five minutes of low level protest before sacking out and staying asleep for 6-8 hour stretches. After two days she had it totally under control. It was amazing. I was still sitting in the dark at night, but she was sound asleep in the pack n play.

So last night I took the leap and put them down together. And they did it! It took about 45 minutes to get them down, mostly because J kept popping up to check on the baby who was completely asleep within about two minutes. J didn't sleep through the baby's night wakings, but she handled them well. The first one she barely woke for and the second she did get up and turn on her nightlight and want water and a lullaby but she was easily resettled. I bet within a week she doesn't wake at all. Tonight I had class and Andrew was on deck and apparently things weren't quite as smooth  (at one point J very clearly requested "baby out!")but they did it and when I arrived home there were two slumbering heads on the video monitor. And the lights on in the living room/our room. And my husband still awake, because of the whole lights being on thing.

And suddenly it feels like our space works again. I don't imagine it will be smooth sailing forever or even that we won't have a few rough ones the next few nights as our girls get used to each other's night sounds and wakings but at the moment I'm feeling pretty optimistic, imagining the years ahead and those two heads whispering secrets to each other after lights-out, and how they will never be able to remember a time when they didn't go to sleep and wake up together.

I never would have imagined that S would be sleeping on her own this early, this easily, and in the same room as her big sister. It feels pretty darn good.