Monday, September 18, 2017

Finn's Sleep Training

I know sleep training can be a sensitive subject, especially when it comes to Crying It Out.  I know that every.single.parent. is doing what they believe is right for their child, despite what sleep training method they choose or don't choose. 

Two things you should know about me:

1. I don't drink coffee.  I just cannot get past that bitter taste.
2. I don't do well on lack of sleep.  Some people can (ie my husband), but I am not one of those people.

Therefore, I know I need to get a solid eight hours of sleep at night to be a pleasant, functioning person. This was literally my biggest fear about having a baby.  I knew that, even though we had NO CLUE what we were doing, we would figure it out and Finn would make it.  We'd definitely screw up a time or two, but he'd be okay in the long run.  Instead, I was more worried about how we would all make it if we were running on so little sleep.

The first six weeks were a fog.  We were waking up every two to three hours and feeding, which was tough, but Finn napped so much during the day and Mike was home, so I was able to nap and catch up on sleep.  Survival: check!

Then, a miracle happened and Finn started sleeping for longer stretches of time! Most nights we could count on him to sleep a solid five or six hours when he went to sleep and then wake up every three hours for the rest of the night. We were in heaven! Not only were we surviving, we were thriving!!

I think we got cocky and someone wanted us to have a nice little reality check because right around three months, Finn decided sleeping was for the birds.  There were nights where he would wake up every hour and other nights where he wouldn't sleep anywhere except my arms.  He also decided that I was the only one who could put him to sleep, which was exhausting.  Add in that we were traveling abroad and then in the United States and we were a HOT MESS.

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We asked the doctor about it at his four month appointment and he said that it's normal for babies his age to have a sleep regression, but it was probably also all of the moving preparation that added to his poor sleep performance.   Unfortunately, our first month back in the United States was as chaotic as our last one in Berlin, bouncing around from place to place.  I know people are understanding when it comes to babies crying, but I was so self-conscious about waking up our hosts every hour that Finn woke up, I began feeding him, just to keep him quiet.  There were some nights where we nursed five times over an eight hour period.  Guys, I was struggling.

I knew once we got into our house in Groton, we were going to do some serious sleep training with Finn.  Mike and I spent HOURS researching how to get Finn sleeping for longer stretches.  I knew that he probably couldn't last all night without eating (which was fine!!), but that he definitely didn't need to be waking up every hour or two.

After hours of research, we knew that Crying It Out or the Ferber Method was what was going to work best for us.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy and that Finn might not be the only one crying, but that it would be worth it in the long run.

So, one night we were FaceTiming with my parents and Finn had gone to sleep for the night.  About 45 minutes later, he woke up and I sent Mike up to try and console him, knowing that it was probably a lost cause (remember, no one's allowed to put him to sleep except me, according to Finn).  I was frustrated because I just wanted to talk to my mom and dad. That's when Mike came out of Finn's room and suggested we start sleep training that night. I agreed out of desperation and so it began.

That first night was rough.  In hindsight, FaceTiming with my parents was the perfect distraction because we had some extra support to keep us going.  The first night, we started out "easy."  After Mike went in to console him, we waited one minute before going back in.  Then, three minutes, then five minutes, then seven minutes and then ten minutes.  After we reached ten minutes, we just kept going back in every ten minutes.  We'd alternate who went in to try and keep it neutral and we tried to only stay for a minute, which is hard when he's still crying.

At some point, Mike was ready to give in (he's secretly a softy!), but everything we had read said that once you start, you have to stick it out.  Let me tell you, that wasn't easy.  Mike and I were struggling and my parents were, too!  Luckily, they've done this three times (although, I'm pretty sure my dad blocked it from his memory because he didn't remember doing it at all.  My mom, on the other hand, definitely remembered it, especially when my brother flung himself over the crib!) and knew that it's worth it.

After an hour and a half (!!!) at 8:30pm, Finn fell asleep!!  Guys, that moment was maybe as exciting as the moment we returned to the United States.  Mike and I sat there in silence wondering if it was really true.  And, believe you me, it was! He had fallen asleep on his own!! Hallelujah!  We went to bed and hour and a half later wondering how long he would sleep.  We had told ourselves that, if he woke up before the four hour mark (so before 12:30), he would need to go back to sleep without feeding.  Guys, he slept five and half hours!! I felt like a whole new person!  I fed him and he went straight back to sleep.  He did wake up once in the middle of the night and cried for about twenty minutes (we went in after ten to comfort him) before falling asleep again.  I did end up feeding him once more that night, but overall, it was a complete success.

An hour and a half later and this is what we got

Since then, we've been met with nothing but success! I was worried about nap time since crying for twenty minutes for a thirty minute nap is hardly worth it, even according to the experts, but he usually only cries for about five minutes before falling asleep for a nap.  Bedtime takes a little bit longer, but we rarely have to go in more than once to comfort him before he falls asleep. He still wakes up twice during the night to eat, which is completely fine at this point.  He's still only five months old, so asking him to go twelve hours without eating is a lot to ask. We've watched him (on the baby monitor....we don't DARE go in his room when he's sleeping) wake up, cry for a minute or two and then fall asleep.  Guys, this is what I dreamed of! I know letting your baby cry it out is tough and definitely isn't for every mom or baby, but it worked for Finn and us and we're all sleeping better and are happier people!

Pure Bliss!

Sleep on Finny, sleep on!
Sweet dreams, everyone! This mom and dad are off to (hopefully) get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Finnegan: Five Months

We have enjoyed every month with Finn,  but I think this past month was my favorite.  I know I say that every month, but it is truer and truer every month.  That being said, month five was exhausting.  We traveled, did some sleep training and (unsuccessfully) introduced solid foods. It's definitely been a month of trial and error for Finn, but we're still loving each new phase.

Eating: Breastfeeding is going well and we're back to having no issues.  The kid likes his milk!! We tried to introduce solid foods this month with no real luck.  We started with sweet potatoes and he seemed indifferent.  Then, we introduced avocado, which he turned his head away from. Butternut squash and bananas brought basically the same reaction.  He also became really constipated (TMI? Sorry Finn!), so we decided to take a week or so off and try again. I'm in no rush to get him eating solids, especially since breastfeeding is going so well still, but I figured we'd give it a try and see how it went. 

Sleeping:  If I was writing this post ten days ago, it would have been completely different. I would have been bleary eyed and probably not wanting to talk about Finn's terrible sleep habits.  A combination of traveling, a sleep regression, and me not wanting to wake our hosts in the middle of the night meant that we spent many nights awake every two hours, often with me feeding him to get him back to sleep quietly.  Once we moved into our house in Connecticut, we bought him a crib, dresser and rocker and kicked him out of our room.  We also began the Cry It Out method, which, despite many critics, has been a Godsend.  After the first night where he cried for an hour and a half, he's been a great sleeper.  Our little guy slept EIGHT hours the other night and consistently will sleep from 7:00pm when he goes to sleep until 1:00am or 2:00am. I think he still needs to wake up once or twice in the night to eat, which is fine.  I'll take that over waking up five or six times!

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Noises:  He's still a big talker and will often shriek if he's having fun (mainly in the bath!).  We've heard a laugh once or twice, but it's rare.  The few times we have heard it, our hearts have melted. 



Milestones: Rolling has become extremely common here, but almost always from his back to his stomach (the harder one).  He can roll from his stomach to his back, but he struggles with it and can't always do it when he wants.  Just today, he pulled himself up onto all fours and started rocking back and forth like he wanted to crawl.  It lasted a few seconds before he fell flat, but it was still another step in the crawling direction!! He's reaching and grabbing for anything and everything to put in his mouth, which means everything from my sunglasses to the lobster on our boat is a possibility.  Still no teeth, though.  Speaking of going in his mouth, he's definitely back to sucking his thumb.  Ever since we started the cry it out method, he's been using that to calm him. Whatever works, dude.  

Helping Mom cook or distracting Mom from cooking? You decide.

Likes and Dislikes:  I had been dreading our drive up to Connecticut ever since Finn decided he didn't like the car because I was worried he would scream for the entire drive.  I was reassured that even if he started out the drive screaming, he would eventually calm down and learn to tolerate the car.  Well, that never happened and he screamed the entire drive up there.  Despite that horrific experience, he seems to tolerate small trips (to the grocery store, Target, etc) better after that. His other major dislike this month was solid foods, but I think he'll enjoy them once he gets a little bit bigger. He's discovered lots of fun things this month, as well, his two favorites being the swing and the bath.  We kept waiting for him to realize that he could splash around in the bath and it finally happened! Hooray!  He also loves the bucket swing! We have a playground near our new house, so we usually go on the swing at least once a day.  So much fun!!

Nicknames: Finn, Finny, Big Guy, Dude, Little Dude, Bud, Buddy, Buddy Bear

Clothing Size: Still in 6 month clothes, but some of them are looking a little bit tight.  I think we can get another month out of them before we have to pack them up and move completely in to nine month clothes. 

Diaper Size: Still size three!!

Height: Who knows.

Weight: A lot. :)

Travel: Finn traveled to DC, saw his first Major League Baseball game, met his great grandmother and ton of his parents' friends.  He also traveled to Maine and spent the weekend with his new friend Addie, as well as moved to his new home in Connecticut.  Travel wasn't always easy (still recovering from that car ride up north), but we did it!

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Meet Finn and Addie, the newest members of the Smogans!

Four generations of Hogans

Finn was so inspired by his time in DC, he decided to run for president.  I'd vote for him over the guy we have now!

Sometimes I have to catch my breath because I'm so overwhelmed with how much I love this little guy.  His smile when I come down the stairs in the morning is the perfect way to start the day and watching him discover new things every day is always an adventure. We love you, Finny, and are so thankful to be your mom and dad. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maine with the Smogans

After three weeks in Virginia and Maryland, we knew it was time to head north and start transitioning to our new life in Groton, CT.  Our VW Golf arrived in Baltimore while we were in DC, so we picked it up before making the trek up to CT.

Finn is a wonderful baby and is pretty easy going for the most part.  One thing he does NOT like, though, is riding in the car, especially when no one is in the back seat to distract him.  The thought of driving six hours with him in the car was enough to make me want to cry, but I knew it had to be done. I figured he would cry/scream for a while before he realized it was pointless and just suck it up, but that never happened.  We started out with me and Finn in the CRV and Mike in the Golf, with the intention of switching halfway, but I quickly learned how to adapt and just drown out the crying.  Is that bad?  Whatever.  I figured I had already gotten used to this type of travel, that I shouldn't put it on Mike and just deal with it.  Plus, driving the new car is so much better than the old Golf ;) 

Anyways, we made it to Connecticut and our friends Matt and Katy (and their daughter Addie) had a bottle of wine waiting for me.  We couldn't get into our house until the day after Labor Day, so Matt and Katy were so generous and offered to let us stay with them for the week.   This gave us a chance to run some errands and get things in order before Mike started school.  

It also allowed us to spend Labor Day in Maine!  Mike can't really take time off over the next six months, except for holidays, so we knew we wanted to use Labor Day to explore some of New England. Matt and Katy had been planning to travel somewhere as well since Matt had a four day weekend, so we all packed up our cars and headed north to Portland for the long weekend. 

We had an awesome AirBnb that made traveling with two babies (Addie is 15 months and Finn is 4.5 months) and a dog so much easier.  It was a two story, two bathroom house, which a large kitchen and living room and a yard.  I think we'll be staying in more places like this for our future travels!  

Mike, Finn and I arrived in Portland mid-afternoon on Friday and stopped at a local brewery before grabbing dinner in town and heading to our AirBnb.  Addie, Beau, Matt and Katy arrived around ten, so we hung out for a bit before calling it a night.

The next morning, we had a reservation for a lobster catch boat ride that left from downtown. On the dock in front of our boat, there was a little piece of the Berlin wall!! How funny!  It's like they knew we had just come from there!

We were early, so it gave us some time to take in the scenery on the dock and let Addie run around before boarding the boat. And who am I kidding, take tons of pictures while we wait!

My guys

 We got on the boat and they had a photographer there to take everyone's picture with a live lobster.  I kind of wish we had bought the picture because Finn legit reached out and grabbed his claw. I'm pretty sure he would have tried to put it in his mouth if we hadn't stopped him.  What a guy...

We took our own pictures instead of overpaying for the professional one.  I'm sure that would have turned out better, but oh well. These will have to do

Our favorite California family!  If only the sun wasn't in Matt's eyes...

It wasn't long before we were catching lobsters.  Well, by we I mean the captain, but we were there to watch, so it kind of counts.  He was great at explaining which lobsters to keep and which ones to throw back. I think we kept about half of the lobsters that we caught, while the others had to go back because they were too small or a female breeder.  Anyone who was on board for the boat ride had the opportunity to buy one of the lobsters and take it to a restaurant to be cooked.  We didn't do that, but I think it's such a cool opportunity!

Someone likes the boat ride!

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The "We're submariners.  Leave the boating to us." face.

Mike helping put bands on the claws!

 Eventually both Addie and Finn fell asleep.  I don't blame them.  The rocking of the boat and the cool breeze could put almost anyone to sleep!!

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After the boat ride was over, we walked around Portland for a bit before heading back for nap time.  Portland is a cute little town with lots of fun little shops, but there isn't a TON to see,  so it was the perfect size for an afternoon.

Sunday's forecast showed rain in the afternoon, so we knew we had to get up and out of the house early if we wanted any chance of doing something and staying dry. There is a lighthouse near our AirBnB that had a park and food trucks selling lobster rolls, so it was the perfect place for us!  We could even bring Beau!

We hung out at the park for a while afterwards so Addie and Beau could run around and so that we could all get some fresh air before the rain came.  Finn enjoyed a little photo shoot as well.

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There was a famous food truck nearby selling lobster rolls and we obviously couldn't pass up the opportunity!! While we all agreed that we would have preferred our lobster rolls to be warm since it was chilly outside, they were absolutely delicious!  Fresh lobster is hard to resist!

We headed back to our AirBnb and spent a rainy afternoon hanging around the house.  Katy and I went to Trader Joe's and bought maple syrup cookies.  We then went home and the four of us ate all of the maple syrup cookies. :D #sorrynotsorry.  We ended our weekend with clam chowder for dinner and a happy end to summer!!

Girlfriend opted for the spaghetti over the chowder and clearly enjoyed herself :D

We headed back on Monday morning and reluctantly got ready to enter the real world. Mike had his first day of school and I was going to get things in order so we could move into our house.  We have definitely had a memorable summer (and two years!), but I think, in a way, we are all ready for this new chapter of the Hogan history.