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Shadows

Shadows of the gospel and of the Christian faith are everywhere. We just need to look.

Yesterday M was walking in her walker towards me, but every time she would try to pass her clip-on high chair she would stop moving forward. The clip-on high chair was closer and too distracting. 

So she’d end up moving backwards from looking at the high chair. 

And then getting frustrated that she wasn’t near me. 

It was a gentle reminder that it’s hard to go where we aren’t looking, and a reminder that when the Lord doesn’t feel near enough, it may have been because our eyes had wandered elsewhere.

View More: http://jessiechristensen.pass.us/madelyndaniellefrancis

Baby Sleep Schedules: 0-6 Months

Now that M is down to 2 naps (7 months old) and I feel like I can breathe again, I thought I should document the scheduling for the first 6 months of her life for future reference.

birth-2 weeks & 2 weeks-1 month | “operation survival”

Things we focused on:

  • establishing nursing relationship & milk supply (feeding every 3 hours during the day, full feeds); we stopped waking to feed at night when M was well over her birth weight at her 2-week check-up
  • pre-sleep routine: diaper change, swaddle, song, down in crib
  • minimizing sleep props (rocking, holding, nursing to sleep, etc.)
  • sleeping in the crib (except her witching “hour,” which lasted from about 6-10pm)

Schedule at 1 week:

7 DWT (nurse, diaper change, sleep)
7:35ish-10 nap
10 wake, nurse
10:45-1 nap
1 wake, nurse
1:45-4 nap
4 wake, nurse
4:45-7 nap
7 wake, nurse
7:45-10 nap (fussy pants, usually slept on us)
10 nurse
10:45-ish “down for the night” — usually fussy, slept on Chad
2 MOTN feedings at 3 hours from the previous feed.

Schedule at 1 month:

DWT 6:30, nurse
7:15-9:30 nap
9:30 wake, nurse
10:30-12:30 nap
12:30 wake, nurse
1:30-3:30 nap
3:30 wake, nurse
4:30-6 nap
6 wake, nurse
7-8:30 nap (this “nap” was mostly on Chad or me — super fussy)
8:30 nurse (she would usually wake up)
9-ish down for the night
1 MOTN feed; mostly around

Summary:

I stressed wayyyyy too much about scheduling (first time mom problems) and probably should have cleaned a little less and slept a little more. M basically slept the entire month, so going out was stressful knowing I’d have to wake her up. I was also new to town so most relationships weren’t the most life-giving, so I think next round will be significantly different!

1-2 months | “operation bye-bye witching hour”

Things we focused on:

  • DWT (desired/daily wake time) to help regulate M’s 24-hour cycle
  • stretching the night sleep cycle

Schedule at 2 months:

7 DWT, nurse
8-10:30 nap (this was her best nap of the day so I’d let her sleep)
10:30 nurse
11:30-1:30 nap
1:30 nurse
2:30-4 nap
4 nurse
5-6 nap
6 nurse
7-8 nap
8 nurse (we aimed to cluster feed to fill her up; she would fuss most of the evening hours anyway up until 8/9 weeks)
9 bedtime
11 late evening feed — M would wake up when I fed her but would go straight to bed afterwards.

Summary:

This was the month we traveled to Maui for my father-in-law’s wedding. M was just shy of 6 weeks old. She did great on the flight–slept on me almost the entire time (did one eat-wake-sleep cycle). Turns out M would also nap on me while we went out and slept incredibly well.

2-3 months | “operation earlier bedtime”

Things we focused on:

  • dropping the late evening feed, which happened at 10 weeks

Schedule at 3 months:

6/6:30 DWT, nurse (when we dropped the late night feed she was doing about 11-hour nights)
7/7:30-9:30 nap
9:30 nurse
10:30-12:30 nap
12:30 nurse
1:45-3:30 nap
3:30 nurse
4:30-5:30 catnap
5:30 wake time
6:30 nurse & bedtime around 7/7:30

Summary:

M dropped the late night feed and never looked back–okay, she may have looked back once or twice since then. Haha. This was also the first month we left M with non-family members after she went down (one time for a nap) and went on a few dates/outings. It was hard, but we did it! And she slept! Yay!

3-4 months | “operation drop-a-nap”

Things we focused on:

  • ridding of the crap-nap (45-minute naps)
  • stretching wake time
  • stretching the 11-hour night to 12 hours

Schedule at 4 months:

6 DWT, nurse (just kept creeping up!) — wake times dramatically increased this month
7:30-9:30 nap
9:30 nurse
11:15-12:45 nap
12:45 nurse
2:30-4 nap
4 nurse
6 nurse & bed

Summary:

This month’s “schedule” was all over the place. :) Every day was different, or so it seemed. I kept playing with wake times and we ended up on a 3.5-hour-ish schedule.

4-5 months | “operation drop-another-nap”

Things we focused on:

  • figuring out whether M needed 2 or 3 naps

Schedule at 5 months:

6:30 DWT, nurse
7:30/8 nurse again
9-11 nap
11:30/12 nurse
1-3 nap
3 nurse
5:30 nurse, bed by 6

Summary:

We figured out how to keep M’s naps long: nurse twice during the first wake time. The problem, though, was that she was between 2 and 3 naps. Instead of going with 3, I pushed for 2 too soon. She was overtired every night at bedtime and would cry for what seemed like forever–every, single, night. (Insert tears-down-the-face emoji.) On days where a nap went to crap and was short, I would try to squeeze in the catnap… Anyway, if I were to do it again, I would keep 3 naps for longer until she was ready to drop it.

5-6 months | “operation no schedule”

Things we focused on:

  • going with the flow: colds, travels, vaccinations…
  • surviving 10-day vacation sharing a room with M

Schedule at 6 months:

6:30 DWT, nurse
7:30/8 nurse again
8:30-10 nap
11/11:30 nurse
12:30-2:30/3 nap
3 nurse
5:30 nurse & bed around 6

Summary:

I’m pretty sure she only abided to that schedule twice the entire month. With getting her first cold, going to California, and then coming home to vaccinations, we basically flew by the seat of our pants. It was terrible, but it definitely taught me to always continue with the schedule and to watch out which sleep props I introduce when M isn’t perfectly healthy or when she’s thrown off schedule. In retrospect, I would have just kept her out with me late instead of having her cry it out at my mom’s without me there, all while she was overtired… Oh gosh, thinking back on this month was painful!

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3 Tips for Babywise Success

Chad and I both have type-A personalities and thrive on routine, schedules, and to-do lists. It seemed to be a no-brainer that we would, for our own sanity, try to set some sort of routine for our baby as well. We were recommended to use Babywise from a number of friends and started with M day 1.

For those who are not familiar with Babywise, there are plenty of misconceptions around it, and some parents hold so strictly to a schedule that it’s unhealthy for them and the baby; however, when done correctly (and from what I believe, as the author intended) Babywise causes both the parents and the baby to thrive. I found this SparkNotes version of Babywise helpful if you’re interested–it’s far more than just about scheduling!

We are 7+ months in to doing the Babywise routine with M. She follows the eat-wake-sleep pattern, “eats” full meals when she nurses for maximum nutritional benefits, and falls asleep on her own when it’s time for bed. We couldn’t ask for a happier, healthier baby.

There are a few things that I need to remember for our next kid, though. So today, while I feel sane and my baby is napping right on schedule, I have a few tips for the future, stressed out version of me that perhaps you could find useful as well.

3 tips for Babywise scheduling success:

  1. Remember that every baby is different.

    What works for one family doesn’t work for another, and trying to conform your baby into someone else’s will suck the life out of you. My next child will probably not be exactly like M. He/she might not sleep through the night at 2 months, and that is okay. Every baby is different and that is a good thing. Your primary job is to love your baby and care for him/her, however s/he was designed (Psalm 139:13-16). Training is important, but it will look different for your baby than it does for mine.

  2. Babywise principles are meant to serve you, not the other way around.

    At the end of the day, a human being cannot be controlled or manipulated into a robotic schedule. Even with the best routines and on the days where you do “everything” right, your baby still might not sleep on cue or sleep as long as they should. On those days, ask for help. Get outside of your head, humble yourself, cast your anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:6-7), and try to replace fixating on the problem of your schedule/sleeplessness on something greater. Or have a glass of wine. :)

  3. Flexibility will not kill your scheduled baby. Flexibility is also good for your soul.

    Just like your life shouldn’t revolve around you, you shouldn’t revolve it around your baby. Remember your priorities, and if you’re anything like I am, try to schedule at least one schedule-stretching event a week. Don’t throw your baby’s schedule out the window, but it’s never too early to start training your baby that their world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes they will need to stay awake longer or go to bed earlier, or sleep in a foreign place. Sometimes they cry. It won’t be the end of the world and each outing gets easier!

In the coming days (hopefully tomorrow) I will be posting an overview of M’s schedules for the first 6 months, with tidbits I’d learned in our scheduling successes and failures. Stay tuned!

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When Egg Pancakes Lead to Spiritual Thoughts

This morning as M was “eating” her scrambled egg pancake, I was reminded of Hebrews 5:12-14 where Paul talks about maturing into solid foods, comparing physical maturity to spiritual maturity.

Healthy babies come out of the womb knowing how to drink and digest milk. They get hungry frequently because their little tummies can only hold so much milk at a time and are often gassy because their digestive tracks are too immature to process all the nutrients in the milk. Similarly, spiritual newborns (new believers) need to be fed the foundations of the Christian faith and can’t/aren’t meant to “digest” the intricacies and nuances right away. However, as babies grow their tummies expand and digestive tracts mature, so they eventually grow into eating solids and self-feeding.

I had always stopped there when thinking through this analogy of moving on to solid foods–until today! A 7-month old’s approach to solids is way different from a 28-year-old’s approach, which seems like common sense… but I’d never thought it through in the spiritual sense.

My 7-month-old can pick up food, break it apart, and gum some of it down, but let’s face it: most of the food ends up on her face, in her clothes, or on the floor. Her digestive system is also still too immature to handle many foods, so combined with her lack of motor skills & chewing skills, there’s only so much she can chew on (pun intended). In a similar sense, a Christian who has only recently started self-feeding isn’t going to be able to digest quite as much as one who has been walking in the faith for 20 years.

We don’t engage a 7-month-old like we do a 28-year-old. We also don’t expect a 7-month-old to stay on baby finger foods forever–we teach them to use utensils and chew their food as their bodies also get stronger and become able to digest it.

Might I remember watching M eat her scrambled egg pancake today, mindful of friends who have more recently moved to solid foods, and strive to eat like an adult, (so to speak), knowing and loving Jesus more as I process more solid foods in my walk with Him!

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Why We Went to Church with a 4-Day-Old

M was 4 days old when Chad and I took her to church for the first time. Some called us crazy, but we wanted to prioritize gathering with our church family on Sundays from the very beginning. Maddie was healthy and I had a sufficiently traumatizing, but rather easy delivery (only in active labor for 10-ish hours, effective epidural, few complications)… Chad also led me well in this because I honestly didn’t want to see a single soul, hardly knew anyone since we had just moved up to Vancouver 3 weeks prior, and was so sleep deprived I couldn’t tell you my last name; but showing up that first Sunday made the following Sundays easier to get to. (Chad also only had 2 weeks off, so I needed to take advantage of having his help getting to church while I had it.)

In retrospect, I’m so glad we did it and hope we can have a quick turnaround with our future kids. There will always be an excuse (preventing newborn illness, sleep deprivation, nap schedules, inconvenience) if we don’t prioritize church gatherings, or whatever it may be that is important but easy to skip.* Anyhow, God was gracious and helped us start a good rhythm for our new family of 3. M didn’t get sick or catch some incurable disease. I couldn’t walk, but I showed up and participated as much as I could–which, for me, was hanging out in the nursing moms’ room the entire service and then leaving during the last song before everyone got out. Lol. And if I were to do it over again, the only thing I would have tried to do was stay through the entire worship service.

I knew having a kid would change everything, and that centering my life around my child would be tempting–but it is far more tempting than I imagined. It is so easy when the world says, “It’s OK for you to center your life around ____ if you’re ____” when God says, “It’s actually always about Me. Worship Me alone.” I’m not gonna lie, some Sundays I give in to M’s nap schedule and show up late, or leave early because I just don’t feel like talking to another person; however, I am forever grateful for that first Sunday. It was a “win” for us to be there, and I hope we have many more of those moments to look back on as a family.

*There are times when skipping church is needed (illness, vacation, special events), but it should be the exception, not the rule!

 

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A Mother’s Love is Just a Shadow

It seems like yesterday that M was 2 days old. I didn’t recognize my body, didn’t remember what sleep felt like, couldn’t walk… But alas, just like everyone seemed to say, time flew by way more quickly than I anticipated.

I never thought I could love a helpless little human as much as I do. She doesn’t conform to my schedule, give me days off, or do as I say, and yet on the hardest days all I want to do every night is to (sleep, and) do it all over again the next day–most days with a schedule change.

It’s crazy to think that even with the amount of love I feel for M, it is nothing in comparison to God’s love for his children. My earthly, limited, imperfect love is true and right, but my motherly love is merely a shadow meant to point me to the One who loves infinitely and perfectly.

May I seek to shadow His perfect love well to my daughter, remembering how much I’ve been loved first.

The Danger of Moving On Too Quickly

This week three years ago, my mother-in-law passed away (what seemed to be) out of nowhere. Though it didn’t surprise God, it surprised me. Chad and I had been married just over 4 months and we were about to close our failing business (our first major failure individually and together). Marriage had been hard and there was a lot we had yet to work through in our relationship… and then this hit. As I reflect on my MIL’s life this week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reblog this post from Chad. I hope it reminds you as it reminded me of how important it is to grieve well.

Chad A. Francis

Nothing can prepare you for tragedy. When tragedy comes, it’s going to mess you up. That’s why they call it a tragedy. It’s tragic. Something has gone horribly wrong. You can either be wrecked by it or you can be numb and seek false comforts that will disconnect you from the reality going on around you.

My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 46 this week. The reaching out of friends and family during this time has been incredible – few times have I felt more loved than this. And yet in so many of the messages I’ve received, there’s been this very well-intentioned theme of minimizing the sorrow, trying to explain why its all ok and why we’ll be able to move on. Again I know the intention is good, people are caring for me the best way they know how, but I’m learning that to…

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