June 2008

My “miracle blanket” arrived on Friday, and after three days and three nights of using it, I can honestly say that if I could find the person who invented it I would kiss them. And buy them a steak dinner.

In fact, Stephen’s nap this afternoon has been so long and peaceful that I had time to swiffer the floors, do two loads of laundry, and write this haiku:

Inner, outer wings
Oh how snugly you swaddle
Houdini contained


My little Houdini has gotten even better at breaking out of his swaddling – but unfortunately NOT better at staying asleep once he escapes. Last night I put him to bed at 8, and had to go in at 12, 1 (fed him this time), 4, 5, and 6 (fed him again) to reswaddle him. Waking up five times in the night is not my idea of a good time, especially since he’s been sleeping at least 4 hours at a time for over a month now! I ordered a Miracle Blanket several days ago on the recommendation of one of my friends and a fellow mother of a baby Houdini, but it has yet to arrive and clearly the SwaddleMe is not containing my rowdy boy.

I think I have come up with a pretty sweet interim solution, though. For his morning nap today I improvised something that I think is similar to the Miracle Blanket (click here for a video showing how the blanket works). I used both of his SwaddleMe blankets – I put one on him, tucking the wings over his arms and under his body (like the inside wings on a Miracle Blanket) and then put the second SwaddleMe on as per normal. So far he’s been asleep for 1 1/2 hours without waking up needing to be reswaddled, which for daytime is pretty much a record (usually about 1/2 an hour into his nap I have to go in, reswaddle and repacifier him). So I’m still hoping my Miracle Blaket arrives soon, but in the meantime I’m feeling rather clever for coming up with a way to make what I have work.

I’ve been using cloth diapers on Stephen since his umbilical cord fell off, and up until now have only tried prefolds with waterproof covers. We tried Thirsties covers, the Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, and Bummis Super Brite, and hands down my favorite is the Thirsties covers. I usually change his diaper every time I feed Stephen, so about every 2-3 hours in the daytime and every 4 hours at night or so (he has done 5 and 6 hours stretches at night, but it’s not every night yet…sigh). With this changing frequency, I usually have no problems with leaking even though he’s a pretty heavy wetter.

Just in the past week or so, however, Stephen has started getting really upset when I change his diaper at night, so I’m looking for ways to not have to do that. We have some disposables left over from the ones we bought to use our last few days in the States and our first couple of days here, so I’ve been using those at night partly to use them up and partly so that I don’t have to change him. I started looking into some of the one size pocket diapers, though, because I figured that might be a good way to get him through the night without a diaper change and not have to buy disposables once we use up what we have. Plus, the pocket diapers are a lot easier for babysitters, which we eventually hope to have.

Since I haven’t used anything other than prefolds, however, I was really pretty overwhelmed by the different options in pocket diapers. I was pretty sure I wanted to try the one size variety so that I wouldn’t have to buy larger diapers in a month or two, but even in that sub-category there are several different brands. Like so many other things with babies, different brands/styles seem to work really well for some people and really poorly for others, depending on the baby’s build, the hardness/softness of the water in a given area, the detergent used, etc. etc. I was so happy, then, when I found the One Size Pocket Diaper Sampler package at www.nickisdiapers.com (here is the link to the sampler package)! I got four different one size diapers, so I can try all of them and see what works best. Assuming they work pretty well, I will probably end up getting some additional liners to stuff them with, but this way I get to really test out the different types.

I realize that this makes me a big nerd, but I’m looking forward to trying out the different varieties and evaluating which ones work best for us…I’ll keep you posted!

I walked to the closest open-air market this morning, which is about a mile from our apartment. After the experience of trying to navigate our neighborhood’s sidewalks (and especially the 12-inch curbs) with our bulky infant stroller I decided just to put Stephen in the sling and carry a backpack for whatever produce I bought. Last week I chickened out at the prospect of having to bargain and therefore bought only two melons for which I probably paid way too much, but this week I was determined to come home with some produce.
Here’s what I got, all for 19.50 YTL (Yeni Türkçe Lirası, or new Turkish lira), which is $16.20:

Clockwise from top left: “black cabbage” (looks similar to collards or cavolo nero to me), walnuts, mystery green (more on this later), spring onions, spinach, mystery herb (marjoram?), basil, apricots, tomatoes, plums, peaches, peppers, cucumbers.

Thanks to my stellar (read: nearly nonexistent) Turkish skills, I ended up with two unidentified items. The first is the aforementioned mystery green, which we ate for dinner and may or may not cause us to see visions later tonight. I’m including a detailed picture below…extra cool points for anyone who knows what it is. The texture of the leaves is sort of similar to watercress, but it has pretty much no flavor at all:

The mystery herb (picture below) we think might be marjoram. It looks like tarragon, but smells like oregano. Combined with the basil, mystery green, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some oil and vinegar, it made a lovely addition to our salad tonight.

To be on the safe side, I did wash all of our produce in a diluted bleach solution. Of course, as Danny is already sick I’m really only protecting myself at this point. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

After two straight days of more screaming and wailing than I’ve heard out of such a little person in a while, I think I might have to admit that unswaddling/thumb sucking is not going to work right now. Stephen ends up knocking his pacifier out of his mouth but is still not totally able to keep his thumb in long enough to soothe himself, resulting in much frustration for all involved. I’m trying not to feel guilty for putting both of us through the past two days by telling myself that trial and error is the only way to learn, and at least it was only two days…right?

The good news is that our air freight is getting here Tuesday, so Tuesday night Stephen can have his bath in his own baby bathtub again and he can sleep in his own crib! Even better, Danny and I will have our knives and cooking utensils and spices back. Because of Turkish customs regulations we couldn’t put anything electronic in our air freight shipment, so our nice coffeemaker and our food processor and such are making their way here in our regular household goods shipment and will take another couple of months to arrive, but having our own pots and pans will keep us happy for a good little while.

Yesterday was definitely not a complete success, but neither was it an unmitigated failure. The morning nap, during which I wrote my last post, went relatively smoothly — it only lasted about 45 minutes, but sadly that is not entirely unusual with Stephen’s resistance to naps. The afternoon nap, however, was a different story. Stephen cried from about 11:30 on and off until almost 2, sometimes sleeping for fifteen minutes but mostly fussing and crying and occasionally screaming his head off with reckless abandon. When I tried to give him the pacifier, he pushed it out of his mouth when he tried to get his fingers in there, but then when he did get his thumb into his mouth half the time he cried harder. Finally, about 2:15 he fell asleep. He even woke up at 2:50, cried briefly, and put himself back to sleep without me intervening (I stood outside his door, which was cracked open, for a couple of minutes before rushing in and happily he soothed himself!). I decided he had the right idea and crashed myself for an hour, and when he woke me up at 3:50 we both felt much better about the world in general.

He napped again from 5-6, and went down without much of a fight. At bedtime, he actually fell asleep with his thumb in his mouth without crying at all, but then woke up two hours later at 10 and was immensely frustrated when I tried to get him to suck his thumb to go back to sleep. After about fifteen minutes, I decided that maybe swaddling is still a good idea for nighttime for the time being, as the prospect of three hours of crying in the middle of the day is very different than the same three hour period in the middle of the night. As it is he’s back to only sleeping four hours at a time (after three glorious weeks in which he slept a six-hour stretch followed by two shorter stretches and twice only woke up once in the night), so anything I can do to get him to sleep a little better at night is still worth it.

This morning’s nap went pretty smoothly so far — he only took about ten minutes to fall asleep. I had to prompt him to get his thumb in his mouth a few times by rubbing my finger along the inside of his upper lip, but he’s definitely getting the idea better today than he did yesterday. Maybe next week we’ll try again to leave his arms unswaddled at night, depending on how he does with that during the day.

There are two types of people in this world, process people and goal people. Danny is a process person — he enjoys the process of doing things and learning things, and even if he doesn’t achieve the objective can see what he gained from going through the process. I am not such a person. I enjoy accomplishing things and meeting goals, but do not generally enjoy the process of something for its own sake. This can be very frustrating when it comes to something that is more process than achievement, like learning a language or, as I’m learning, raising a child, and I’m trying to overcome my tendency to fixate on the goal to the exclusion of the process.

This week, for instance, I’m trying to help Stephen learn to self-soothe. I’ve always hated his love affair with the pacifier, not because I feel so strongly about pacifiers per se but because I want him to learn to calm himself down and get himself to sleep, not to be dependent on this bit of plastic that can be lost. Especially with all the traveling we’ve been doing and will continue to do, I don’t want to be worrying about whether we packed enough pacis or constantly attaching the pacifier to his clothing so it doesn’t fall on some gross airline floor or sidewalk somewhere when we don’t have a spare. I also don’t love that he’s just figured out that if he spits the pacifier out, we have to come back into his room to put it in, thus granting him a temporary respite from sleeping alone in his crib. He’s finally to the point where he can get his thumb into his mouth, and loves to suck on it, but has not yet figured out that he can put it in his mouth when he’s upset or tired and wants to suck on something to go to sleep, he’s still looking for us to stick his paci in his mouth for that.

I know there are downsides to him sucking his thumb as well, but the way I look at it right now he’s going to suck either the pacifier or his thumb, and of the two of them I personally would rather him be able to calm himself down without needing an external prop. It will be another few months before he can pick up a pacifier and put it in his mouth, but his thumb he always has with him and he can do it himself right now, so for me it’s the lesser of two evils. I sucked my thumb as a baby (I think) and so did my sister, and both of us turned out to be healthy responsible adults. We both needed braces, but that was not related to the thumb-sucking.

So today begins the training. For the first time in a month, I put Stephen down for a nap without swaddling him. I noticed that after the first few times I put the pacifier back in his mouth when he inevitably knocked it out, he started moving his hand toward his mouth to grab my hand (which was holding the pacifier). So the next time, I didn’t pick up the pacifier but rather just put my hand near his mouth, and when he grabbed for it I moved my hand out of the way so that he could get his hand into his mouth. He sucked happily on his thumb for a few minutes, and then flailed his arms as he is wont to do and lost his thumb. I again put my hand down near his mouth as if to insert the paci, and with a little gentle nudge he got his thumb into his mouth again. We’re now going on ten minutes of silence, so maybe it worked this time!

To bring this back to the process/goal thing, I had to realize that if I want Stephen to learn to self-soothe, I’m going to have to temporarily accept that it will take longer for him to fall asleep at naptime (thirty minutes this morning versus the standard ten or fifteen) but that eventually it will pay off. This was initially a little hard for me to swallow as it’s been a struggle for the past week or so to get him to fall asleep at naptime without histrionics, so part of me just wants to get him to sleep as quickly and painlessly as possible, but I really think the drama has been because he’s outgrowing the swaddling/pacifier routine and needs help to figure out a new routine that will work now. So we’ll see.

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