Monday, February 17, 2014

Baby Sophia, Four Months!

Our baby is getting so big!! Definitely developmentally, not so much physically, although I’m grateful that she consistently climbs the curve between the 25 and 50 percentile (for weight, length and weight, and head circumference).

When Sophia was 3 1/2 months old, Jake found it pretty funny to watch me go through developmental charts and declare how advanced she is, already doing things on the 4 and 5 month old lists. What a smart baby we have!!

 Loved seeing some skin on one of our few very hot days this past rainy, cool month
Shortly after turning three months, Sophia began having extended HAPPY periods of awake-but-not-eating times for the first time ever. During those times, lasting up to 20 or 30 minutes maybe 2 times a day, she’s pure delight as she interacts with whoever is around her…or is even happy alone, how about that!! Our very favorite is when she tries out new babbling and cooing sounds. You know she’s REALLY happy when she clasps her little fists together and “sings”! 

 Looked all over town for this floor gym. We've gotten a lot of mileage out of it! One of the boys will often lie beside her and play too, adding extra entertainment.
She can entertain herself better now that she can play with or chew on her hands, bring a toy on her play gym or seat closer to her face, and hang onto a rattle. The boys love getting her to do little things and she loves the attention!

 I think brother Samuel gets the best smiles and laughs out of her!

She has definitely discovered her hands!

 Daddy says this bib actually says "nasty", ha!

Even so, I’d say that “feisty” is still the best all-around word to describe our loud, spirited baby!
One of several attempts to get good pictures of our little "Laura" in her bonnet... 

About a month ago, I felt like I finally started to at least be able to "read" Sophia's signals better. What a RELIEF!! By recording her schedule religiously for 8 days right after she turned 3 months, I realized several things. She needs WAYYY more sleep than what she had been getting, but never peacefully put herself to sleep when tired as our Bolivian babies do (and do when out, in the car, on a noisy bus, in the busy Baby Home playroom, church, etc.). Turns out they weren't much help in preparing me for this whirlwind of a baby!

I also discovered what a brief period of awake time she can have between her night sleep and morning nap. I learned this just in time to be able to add subjects to the boy’s homeschool! The difficulty is the timing (different every day because she wakes at different times every day) and the length, varying from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Makes it a challenge to plan!

As much as I have longed for some sort of schedule or routine with her, now we have one with going to sleep and it means I must avoid leaving the house near a potential naptime. Generally speaking, naps (and bedtime) must take place in the same place and same way every time: firmly swaddled, in her crib, with her favorite blue pacifier! Church on Sunday morning has gotten a little harder because she can’t sleep as well or as long in the sling as she did at first. After two difficult Friday nights, she and I are not going back to Youth Group for a while, either. (Part of that is the challenge of keeping the three boys entertained, too, and still having some attention left for Jake and the youth—it’s like a three ring circus!)

And secondly, I insist as much as possible that she eat only every 3 hours. Many times she was so overly tired, I'd give in to letting her nurse, which was really just a snack, which made her MAD, which made me feel like a terrible mother for not having more milk immediately at the ready. Now I feel she's big enough to stick to 8 feeds max per day/night! Occasionally she’ll go 4 during the day if she takes a long nap, but sometimes she eats every 2 hours in the morning or evening.


As for nighttime, we’ve had 3 different versions the past few weeks, my least favorite being when she kept her 3 hour pattern throughout the night - for nearly 2 weeks! When I would go to bed at midnight and then be up for 30 minutes at 1, 4, and 7am….. Doesn’t make for a very restful night!! I was just glad that the milk was keeping up, thanks to fenugreek. Now she’s generally going 5 hours before she wakes to eat the first time at night. Besides that, no matter what her schedule, if her arms come free from the swaddle blanket or she needs her pacifier (anywhere from once a night to once every hour), I have to help her out. Good thing she sleeps an arm’s length away!!
Speaking of sleep….. The entire period between 3 and 4 months was very rough. How she resists “letting go”! Sometimes I can trace it to her possibly being too wound up or overstimulated, even from a bath in the evening when she’s already tired, something that supposedly relaxes babies. In any case, we’re in for a long round (to the tune of an hour or two) of nearly solid screaming where often nothing helps.

After some very long, trying nights a few weeks back, we bought some medicine for gas. Sometimes it seems to work, sometimes not. I’ve taken probiotics for two weeks but haven’t noticed a difference. Sometimes we use essential oils to help her digestion (like ginger) or for calming (lavender). More than once Jake has put a drop of lavender on his baby sling as he paces the floors with her! I’ve tried baby massage again, which quiets her for a few minutes, until she’s bored with it - or overly tired/stimulated? I’m currently off dairy to see if that helps anything. 

Jake and I have had some good discussions recently about how to better support each other during the hard hours, how to get all the housework done, proper attention for the boys, etc. Yesterday I told him that maybe this experience will make our future babies seem easy, in the same way Spanish seemed so easy for me after studying Russian, ha!

 Book reading time!!
I've just had to pull back once again to tune in as much as possible to my family's needs. Even though she's out of the newborn stage, I can't meet the expectations of rejoining the church music team just yet or being involved in long meetings at Casa de Amor, particularly because of how demanding she is when awake and because of still feeding her so frequently.
Overall, I think she and I have made great progress together this last month. There is nothing better than being able to respond to her needs, and nothing worse than not understanding what she needs!!

We found some Baby Mozart DVD copies! A handful of times when Sophia's been in a good mood, all the kids will enjoy helping her watch one, for usually just 10 or 15 minutes at a time. (A side benefit is the boys being drilled in English at the same time!) 
Baby's first trip (outside the womb) to the Coronilla, the infamous hill near the outdoor market/poor part of town where "my" group of street kids live. 

What happy faces when they saw Sophia's! They've begged to meet her since the week she was born. My boys declared these guys "very good" even with such beat up/cut up faces and bodies, I think just because they were so enthusiastic about seeing us. (The boys aren't pictured - they were busy the whole time meeting all the Coronilla dogs and new pups.) 

The boys were thrilled with the gift of a puppy! He went straight to live at Casa de Amor II!

Finally official!! Sophia's US passport and her "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" birth certificate.

*Little update: since writing the bulk of this post several days ago, we have had two great days and nights of good napping and almost no screaming!! It is SO WONDERFUL to have more sweet times with our baby and look forward to her happy/awake time. :)

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