First off, Happy Halloween! In the Harper household, October has been a month focused on one of the scariest things facing new parents… sleep and schedules. So, in the hopes that this might be helpful to someone out there, I wanted to share what we’ve been doing.

By the time he was 2 months old, Culhane was having his last feed around 10:30pm, falling asleep by midnight and waking to eat again around 6:30am. Although that was an 8 hour cycle (over 6 hours of sleep) and technically “sleeping through the night,” it was leaving me with less than 6 hours each night which was not enough. Sometimes I would try to put him to bed earlier (9 ish) but whenever we did, he would wake me at 3am to eat. Most recently, this happened on October 10th and 13th, and when I got up for the 3am feeding on October 13th I decided that it was time to officially start sleep-training. I stayed up after his feeding and just read through the night about sleep-training strategies and techniques. (I’m sure I’m not the first new mom to have been up in the middle of the night, reading about sleep!)

At 14 weeks and 14 lbs, I knew he was definitely old enough and big enough to be sleeping longer stretches. Culhane had also started getting a little fussier and I felt like he was just in need of more night-sleep, and either way, I knew that I was ready for it. He had an appointment with his pediatrician on Oct. 14 and his doctor also gave me the go-ahead to push for longer night-sleep.

Michael and I talked about it and both agreed that, while it might be tough for a few nights, it was the right thing to do for Culhane and for our family. I had read (and heard from others) that the best way to get your baby to sleep through the night was to “put him to bed at a reasonable hour and return the next morning at 7am.” I knew that for us, this would mean enduring a painful night-cry or two, but we felt like it was time. So, on October 14th I fed him his 6th and final feed earlier at 9:15pm. He was asleep by 10:30pm and we got all geared up for a long night and a painful “cry-it-out” session, but instead something amazing happened…he slept until 7am! Of course I hardly slept at all because I was worried and staring at the monitor all night. Since the night before he had woken up at 3am I thought that it must have just been a lucky fluke. The next night we moved his last feed up another hour and I was SURE that this would be the terrible, dreaded, tear-filled night, but again, not a peep until 6:30! Since then he’s only woken up once in the middle of the night at which point he cried for about 10 minutes around 3am before falling back asleep.

Anyway, this was all working better than we could have hoped and he was so much happier in the mornings, but there was still one issue…I am not a morning person. He was going to bed earlier and sleeping well, but he was still waking up around 6:30am. Since we are working towards a 12 hour sleep, I didn’t want to end up on a 6:30-6:30 schedule since that wouldn’t fit our lifestyle very well. This is tricky though, because everyone says that it’s much easier for babies to go to bed early and wake up early, but we got a major stroke up of luck. Just as we were trying to get him to sleep in longer in the mornings, Brazil entered daylight savings time and we “sprung forward” an hour! This was a huge crutch in getting Culhane’s schedule to line up with our ideal timing. He did wake up and start crying the other morning at 6:30am and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I decided to let him cry for about 5 minutes and he fell back asleep until 8:30am.

Of course it’s still a work in progress (and we still need to work on getting him to fall asleep and stay asleep at the end of the day), but right now we’re generally feeding at/around: 8:15am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 5:30pm, 8:15pm, asleep by 10:00pm (with small naps in between each feeding). We really like this schedule because it still gets him good time with Michael in the evenings. Interestingly enough, I’ve probably had a harder time adjusting to the new schedule. Although I was dying for a long, good night’s sleep, apparently my body had gotten used to waking up after just a few hours, so I’m still trying to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep, but we’re definitely making progress!

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Conflicted Culhane

Who to cheer for: his dad’s alma mater, the Boston College Screamin’ Eagles, or his great grandfather’s alma mater and his mom’s favorite team in college football, the Clemson Tigers? What to do? Any advice?! DSC_0776DSC_0747DSC_0775DSC_0753DSC_0770DSC_0736

Colt: Month 3 Photo-Dump

My handsome young man! 2 1/2 months

My handsome young man! 12 1/2 weeks

Paige & me (with both babies in the background)

Paige & me (and two sweet babies in the background)


Superman has some chubby little legs!

Milk drunk face...

Milk drunk

From one to the other...

In the blink of an eye…

Mailey & Colt. Car-seat twins.

Mailey & Colt. Car-seat twins.



Loving bath-time these days!

Loving bath-time!

Snuggle bug

Snuggle bug

Big boy!

OK so the overalls are clearly still too big, but they’re just SO cute!

Somehow that poo traveled all the way up to his armpit! You can see it in the mirror...

Somehow that little poo traveled all the way up to his armpit! Check the reflection.

Dad's little helper.

Dad’s little helper.

Melts. My. Heart.

Melt. My. Heart.

Love how his tongue flattens out but curls a little when he cries. Sad but adorable!

Love how his tongue flattens out but curls a little when he cries. Sad but adorable!

My serious little guy!

My serious little guy!

The key to a good wake-up is getting in a nice good stretch...

The key to a good wake-up is getting in a nice solid stretch-session…

Thinking about stocks and bonds.

Thinking about stocks and bonds.


Happy little chubster!

Hanging with Tia Paige & Tio Trent!

Hanging with Tia Paige & Tio Trent!

Love this face.

Love this face.

Definitely has his dad's expressive eyebrows.

Definitely has his dad’s expressive eyebrows.

I can't handle it!

I can’t handle it!



Meet Colt's good friend, the bird!

Meet Colt’s good friend, the bird!

Sweet boy

Sweet boy



Goodnight kisses from Dad.

Goodnight kisses from Dad.

Recife & Porto de Galinhas

This past weekend Culhane and I joined Michael on a quick work-trip of his in the northeast of Brazil. He had a Friday morning meeting in Recife so late Thursday afternoon we headed to the airport for Culhane’s longest flight yet – 3 hours. The plane was full so we opted to carry him in the front-pack. We brought bottles for the flight and ended up giving him a little bit during take-off since he started crying, we fed him a full bottle in the middle of the flight since it was time for him to eat, and then I nursed during the landing since the change in pressure was clearly bothering him. He cried a bit during both takeoff and landing, but feeding definitely helped. 

IMG_3857We arrived Thursday evening and after dropping our things off at the hotel, we headed straight out for dinner. Recife is known for great seafood and specifically for a few local dishes so we ordered it all.IMG_3235

The next morning I was thrilled to wake up to this view from our hotel window!IMG_3866The only problem, however, is that Recife is known for their prevalence of shark attacks, so we opted not to go swimming here.IMG_3243So, on Friday afternoon, after Michael was finished with work, we drove an hour and a half to the beautiful beaches and turquoise waters of Porto de Galinhas where we stayed Friday and Saturday nights at a resort hotel on the beach.

DSC_0494Culhane didn’t seem crazy about the pool, so we tried the beach!DSC_0518Michael taking him for his first ever dip in the ocean.DSC_0535DSC_0550DSC_0559He really wasn’t sure what to make of the waves, and Mama didn’t want him in the sun too much, so we moved under an umbrella and relaxed in the sand.IMG_3943IMG_3946After a great day at the beach, Culhane was a happy little guy!IMG_3879IMG_3888Staying hydrated with lots of fresh, cold coconut water.IMG_3965Playing in the grass.DSC_0570On the flight home I nursed both during takeoff and landing, we changed 2 dirty diapers, and I think he only cried for about 45 seconds. Superman indeed!

Culhane’s 3rd Month!

Colt, love. You are 3 months old today!  Happy happy!3 months

Colt developments: Baby love, you are developing so perfectly into such a wonderful little man.

Although you started smiling last month, you have smiled so much more this month. One of my favorite developments is that when I come to your crib to get you for your first morning feeding, you stop making noise and you smile up at me so big! It makes me feel like you really know me and are happy to see me, which obviously melts my heart and brings me so much joy. You smile all through the day but especially when you’re on the changing table and I’m singing to you (you totally think I am a super cool pop-star). We have learned that the little dimple in your chin functions like a smile button and nothing makes you smile like your daddy does. You two just adore each other.

A few weeks ago you rolled over for the first time! You were on your tummy and rolled over to your back. I was the only one to see it but I called for your dad to come in and you immediately did it again for both of us! Since then you’ve done it sporadically a few times.

This month you really started batting at and grabbing onto objects above/in front of you. You have discovered your hands and while you’re not really sucking your thumb yet (although you do it every now and then), you are putting your hands in your mouth and playing with them more. You are kicking like crazy on your changing table, in the bath tub and during play-time these days, and your legs feel much stronger when we stand you up. You are holding your head up much better and really enjoy sitting in your bumbo seat. You’re also doing these funny things with your mouth and tongue – like you’re discovering the world by tasting the air. It’s hilarious and adorable. You are also “talking” a lot these days – making the sweetest coos and sounds.

Health: You are a healthy, growing little man! Your pediatrician is traveling so our appointment isn’t until next week, however I think you’re a little over 14 lbs – more than double your birth weight! You moved up to Size 2 diapers and are so sweet and chubby – rolls and rolls galore! And your skin is just milky, creamy perfection. It is so soft, snuggly and kissable all over. I seriously cannot get enough.

Eating: Still 100% Mama’s milk. You’re generally a great eater – spending about 6 minutes on each side, although we had a tough week this month where the feedings were pretty rough. It was like, 2 minutes in you would come off and start screaming like I was harming you versus giving you precious nourishment from my own body! You would always need to burp where you would produce these amazing spit-ups, and then we would go through it again a few times. That happened regularly for about a week and now you’ll have a feed like that once every 2 or 3 days, but nothing major. Normally you’re wonderful and it’s fun, sweet time for us. You are getting bigger so you kind of wrap around me more and have started holding on to me, taking occasional breaks to smile, all of which I love.

I thought my body was regulating my milk supply a little bit more but lately I seem to still be way overproducing. I try really hard not to pump after or in between feedings because I know it makes it worse, but sometimes I just can’t help it – especially in the mornings because although you eat great then, I’ll have been making milk all night long, and you just can’t eat enough. Even after a good morning feed I’ll still pump an average of 8 oz and a few times this month, I’ve overflowed the bottles while pumping. At any rate, it’s a problem that I’m thankful to have, as it means that I am able to provide you with all that you need.

Sleeping: At night you sleep 6-8 hours, all swaddled and in your crib. During the day you usually have a long nap after your first morning feed and another long one in the late afternoon, but then much smaller cat-naps between other feedings.

At night I usually don’t get to sleep until 30 minutes – an hour after you go down, so I’m typically getting 5-7 hours of sleep at night. Sometimes I can make it on 6 or 7, but if possible I like to join in on that first morning nap. It makes me feel so much better the rest of the day, but it’s also tricky because it makes my day start much later and then I have a difficult time getting myself showered and getting much “accomplished” since you basically only have one other long nap during the day.

Schedule: We usually start the day at 6:30 or 7am. You eat, get changed, and then we play for another hour or so. This is some of your sweetest, smiliest time and even if I’m exhausted, I absolutely love it. We always sing the “This is the day the Lord has made” song during this time. After you’ve been awake for an hour and a half, you get sleepy so I wrap you back up and lay you down for your big morning nap, where you usually sleep for another 2-3 hours. Then you wake up again to eat at 10:30 or 11am, after which point we are basically on a 3 hour feeding cycle schedule for the rest of the day. You get a bath every day – usually in the afternoon – and then your last feed is generally around 10:30pm. You have a bed-time song, and I love when your dad and I can sing it and put you to bed together, although I regularly end up laughing so much I’m in tears. Between your sleepy, confused little face and your dad’s singing…I can’t handle it. You typically fall asleep by 11:45pm, and then we do it all over again!

Each individual cycle starts with a feeding and then a diaper change (because your favorite place to fill up that diaper is in my arms while you’re feeding — amazing), then we have various play-time activities including tummy time, reading, singing and dancing to music, playing on the activity mat, sitting in your bouncy seat or bumbo seat, taking baths, going for walks in the park (or the grocery store), and generally just playing with Mom and Dad. I also try to have Portuguese TV on in the background for a couple hours each day. You usually play for a while and then go through a “transition” where you are still up, but you’re getting tired and like to have your paci for a while before taking a nap.

A normal day for us would be feeding at: 6:30am (long nap), 11:00am (bath), 2:00pm (little outing), 5:00pm, 8:00pm (no nap), 10:30pm, asleep by 11:45pm.

Mama: This month I told my boss that I would not be returning to work as I had previously planned. There were a lot of things that factored into this decision, but the ultimately I just couldn’t imagine leaving you with someone else all day. I recognize that many people don’t have the luxury of this choice (nor is this the right choice for everyone!), but since I do have the option to be the one taking care of you all day, I desperately want to do it. You are my precious angel and I love every second with you. Even when you’re just napping I feel like I’m missing you!

That being said, it is an adjustment to stop working outside the home. It’s an odd dynamic – being so “busy” with you that I can’t get many other things accomplished. At the end of the day I’m not sure whether to feel like I did a ton or like I didn’t do anything!

I have faith that I will return to the workplace again in the future, but for now I’m not going to try to predict when that will happen or what it will look like. Right now I am just thankful that I have you, sweet boy, and that I get to hold you, love you, feed you, play with you and care for you all day, every day.

Overall I continue to love being a mom, being your mom, more and more each day. I was never a baby-person before you came along sweetie, so I wasn’t really sure how I would do, but I actually think I’m doing pretty well! I have been so thankful for the confidence that God has given me in being your mom. Although I certainly don’t always know the absolute best thing to do for you at every moment, I feel confident in the decisions that your dad and I are making for you and for our family. I think I expected to doubt myself a lot more than I do, or have more freak-out calls to my mom, but so far God has guided us well. Anyway, I am totally over that whole “mom-guilt” thing — I know that we’re doing our best and you’re doing just great, so I’m happy and thankful.

Thoughts: Baby love, I cannot get enough of you. I know I have said this before, but you just bring so much joy into this family – we are so happy to have you Culhane. You make us laugh all the time with your sweet noises and funny faces and I have decided that my favorite feature of yours is your mouth! It’s just so cute when you’re sleeping, smiling, even when you’re crying.

My sweet love, you are so amazing and get more and more adorable each day. I stare at you and just want to get absorbed up into you and your preciousness. I know that doesn’t even make sense, but there aren’t words for how I feel when I look at you.

But as amazing as these past 3 months have been, I was surprised to realize that I actually don’t want to rewind and do them all over. Each day brings new fun and happiness, so while I am constantly wanting to freeze time and live in a single moment forever, later I never find myself wanting to go back to that moment because you have given us new, greater joy since then. It really does just keep getting better. Praise be to God.DSC_0643DSC_0632DSC_0634DSC_0675