3 Months old

Today, Haruka is officially a 3 month old. She has made tremendous progress since birth. Although she still cries a lot, she also smiles and even laughs a lot. Milestone-wise, she has been progessing quite nicely. She coo’s and makes a lot noised with her mouth. She’s able to clasp her hand together, and seems to enjoy doing it. And lately, she has been making stong efforts in trying to roll over. It’s only a matter of time now when laying on the dining room table will be a thing of the past.

Haruka’s physical growth is progressing quite nicely as well. She’s even starting to grow out of her clothes. Over the weekend, we went to the local supermarket, where they have sort of a maternity area where you can change diapers or even feed the baby. They also have a scale and a measuring block where you can weigh and measure a child. We weighed Haruka and her growth progress is as follows:

Growth Comparison Chart

at birth 1 month old 3 months old difference
Height 51cm 54.5+ cm 57.0 cm +6.0 cm
Weight 2706 grams 4236 grams 5650 grams +2944 grams
Chest size 30.5 cm 36.0 cm NA NA
Head size 31.0 cm 37.3 cm NA NA

Since birth, Haruka has grown about 6cm which is roughly 4 inches, and has more than doubled in weight.

The Trip to the Supermarket

We got our new SUV last Friday, so our first family trip in it was to the supermarket.  It was also Haruka’s first trip there, and at first, we weren’t quite sure how she’d react to being around so many people in such an open environment, but she seemed to enjoy it.  While strapped tightly to her mom, she looked around a lot and took in the sights gracefully.  Never once did she as much as whimper.  I think “newness” of everything kept her occupied.  Eventually, the busyness of the supermarket must have overwhelmed her and she fell asleep in her sling.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Haruka, comfortably sitting in her sling. 

Another shot

Haru, alseep at the supermarket 

Haruka trying rollover, but with no success…yet 

Dangerous Bedding

There has been some improvement in Haruka’s evening crying.  The new strategy seems to be working well.  Its still not perfect, because there are times when Haruka wakes up earlier than usual, but it’s still a big improvement over the seemingly endless crying  we had to endure before.

For the last couple of days, Haruka would only cry for only 15 to 30 minutes in the evening, then fall asleep until one of us wakes her up for her bath.  Before, she would cry the entire time which was about 3 to 4 hours. We would then bathe her, feed her, and put her back in her  crib.  She’s learned that 9:30 is her bedtime so she no longer cries then.  Through the web camera, we can see her fiddle around a bit, then she would eventually go to sleep. By 10pm, she is completely asleep and usually doesn’t wake up again until the morning.

One disadvantage over the new schedule is that we’ve found Haruka has become a restless sleeper and tries to change positions a lot. Since she wears a swaddle blanket when she sleeps, she can only really move up or down in her crib by kicking her legs.  Unfortunately, we have found that this can be quite dangerous because there were times I found her complete buried underneath her bedding. Excessive bedding or babies who  slide underneath their blankets during the night is said to be a common cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  Because of this, I have been very nervous about her bedding. There was a time when I found her completely covered from head to toe, and when I yanked the bedding off of her, she gasped for air.  I don’t know if the gasp was from breathing very little air, or if was from being surpised over me pulling the blanket off her so quickly.  Other times she would just cry, and one of us would just pull the blanket off of her face.  Never the less, I need to find a solution to this problem before something really regretful happens.  We do have a smaller and lighter blanket that we received as a gift from a friend, but we use that a lot during the day when she is in her cradle.  So maybe swapping the blankets is the solution.  But it is still quite cold here so, the question is whether or not the smaller blanket and the swaddle blanket would be enough.

Here are some recent pics:

This is a screen shot from the web camera on Haru’s crib.  As you can see here, her bedding is just about to cover her face.

Haru is still only just over 2 and half months old, and yet she has been able to hold her head up and steady for a few weeks now.

Another shot of her holding her head up.

One more

Haruka’s Frustrations

In my last entry, I wrote that I probably won’t write again for several weeks, but the wife has been nagging to keep this blog updated.  We have been strategizing new ways to minimize Haruka’s crying spells during the evening hours so we can regain our composure and our sanity, and although it has only been a few days in the running, we have had some degree of success.

My wife was concerned that leaving Haruka to cry uncontrollably could have adverse affects on her in the future (example: silent baby syndrome -where a baby loses confidence in his/her parents and doesn’t cry at all  for anything) . Admittedly, there are a lot articles on the web that support this theory.  However I argued that picking her up every single time she cries will make her dependant, and will leave very little time for the both of us to do anything (house cleaning, caring for the dogs, dinner, or just relaxing).  As it is, the dogs are starting to show signs of neglect and depression, which really saddens me.

So last week, the wife and I sat down and thought of ways we could regain  some of our personal and quiet time without neglecting Haruka.  One thing we know for a fact is that Haruka will cry between the hours of 6pm and 9pm, no matter where she is, or what we do. This is a constant.  And because of this, one of us would have to carry her and try to comfort her as best we can, but usually ends with failure.  Also, we found that we would have eat dinner at different times so that one parent could comfort the very tempramental child.  This was extremely stressful on all of us, because my wife feels that dinner time communication is very important, and I tend to agree.  Additionally, it wasn’t doing Haruka any good either because she cries anyways whether we carried her or not.

My theory was that, with the TV going, the wife making all kinds of noise while cooking, the dogs going nuts in the living room, and me just being irritated by it all, Haruka was being over stimulated and could not sleep.  Hence, she did what any baby does when they’re uncomfortable, cry.

So I  came up with an idea, and that was to put her in her crib immediately after her 6pm feeding whether she was sleepy or not, and to monitor her with a web camera that I had installed on her crib.  For the first couple of days, it seemed that things weren’t working to design.  Haruka cried uncontrollably for at least an hour.  Since her crib was upstairs in our bedroom, we could barely hear her, but we could hear her none the less.  And from the web camera, we could see her waving her arms about, and throwing a wild tantrum.

The first day of the experiment was very difficult for both of us, and at times we were both tempted to take her out of her crib and bring her back downstairs, but I insisted that we do this for at least three days.  Three days of this won’t kill her, and it sure won’t make her a silent baby.

On day two of the experiment, she was put to bed at 6pm, and like the day before, she threw a huge fit and cried most of the time.  But then we noticed that she would fall asleep at almost precisely 8pm, as if something told her it was time to stop crying.

Day three, same deal. We put her to bed at 6pm, and she would cry off and on until almost precisely 8pm and then abruptly stop.  Sometimes she would go to sleep, other times she’d just stare off into space until one of us picked her up at 9pm, her bath time.

Day four, a small change.  We put her to bed but this time we used her swaddle blanket and wrapped her tightly.  She whined and whimper for about an hour, but didn’t really throw a huge tantrum.  Then she fell asleep at about 7:30pm.

Today, she cried on and off until about 7pm, stared at the ceiling for about 15 minutes, then immediately fell asleep.  Although not perfect, we are gradually seeing some good results, and everyone is a lot more relaxed.

Moreover, as a postive side effect, Haruka doesn’t fall asleep after her post-bath feeding like she did before, which means she drinks more milk, which in turn let’s her sleep longer, and through the night.

Regarding the Hand  

Since last week, Haruka has learned that she has hands.  She would sometimes lay in her crib or cradle and just stare at her hands for several minutes.  According to the Baby Centre (yes I spelled it right) website This process is called regarding the hand.  Its the first step in being able to use her hands effectively and do things like grab objects, instead of the usual anarchic movements.

But with her new found discovery of her hands, came new frustrations.  I didn’t think that 3 month old babies had the ability to become frustrated, but Haruka clearly demonstrated that they can.

Haruka tries to immitate what we show her (which is amazing in itself), but when she isn’t able to do what we do, she gets upset and cries.  For example, I would repeatedly open and close my hand, and Haruka would watch this very intensely for several seconds.  Then she would look at her own hand and try to open and close them.  When she is able to do it, she’ll just put her hand back down or look at my hand again.  But when she can’t do it, she would show frustration and cry.

At first I thought this was a fluke, but she repeated this behavior several times, and it can be repeated again.  So I strongly believe that 3 month old babies do get frustrated when they cannot do something.

Traveling in Style

Since Haruka was born, we have a dire need for a bigger car, or at least something with four doors.  So for the last few months I have been looking for something that would satisfy the family’s need for more doors, more space, and adequate trunk space, but at the same time something that’s not boring or under-powered.  Personally, I don’t mind driving an SUV but I never wanted to own one; they’re just not my style.  So after careful looking, I found an SUV that’s not so SUV’ish.  It’s big enough, roomy enough, yet has the power of a Porsche Cayenne, without the pice tag of one.

So last Monday, we took a family excursion to downtown Yokohama and picked up just what we all needed, a Subaru Forester Cross Sports Turbo.  Not the most beautiful machine in the world but it does the job, and a pretty descent second car.

Here are some pictures from the last two weeks. The gallery will be updated next week.

Haruka sitting on the floor just before she fell over. 

Showing off her big feet

Drying off after a hot bath.

Her most recent photo taken last night

Finally, here is a picture of our new Subaru.  Actually its slightly used.  We’ll take delivery at the end of the month.

Deep Deep Frustration!

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Haruka is becoming less newborn infant-like and more closer to a happy gruggling  and cooing baby.  I may have well jumped the gun when I made this statement, because in the last couple of days, it seems that she has behaviorly reverted back to  being a newborn again, which has deeply frustrated me.

Coming home to a crying baby has become routine for me, and I have gotten used to it.  And up until very recently, it was easily remedied by simply playing with her.  Then it was just a matter of her feeding and changing, and then she would fall asleep.  And during this time, my wife and I  would have dinner, and then prepare for Haruka’s nightly bath.  Occasionally she would either wake up while we were having our dinner and whimper a bit, but then she’d fall back to sleep. Or sometimes she would not sleep at all and just quitely lay in her cradle.

Since last Wednesday, Haruka’s dinner time whimpers has escalated in full fledged temper tantrums that would last until the very late evenings,  and it has been very difficult to get her to sleep.  And to add to this, it seems that her mid morning feedings are back as she has been waking us up at around 3:30 AM.

All of this has psychologically taken a toll on me lately.  It’s really frustrating to spending a whole day at work dealing with people in general, being stuffed aboard an over-crowded train, and then come home to even more chaos.  I don’t mind having to keep her attention all the time, or even playing with her after a tiring day at work.  As a matter of fact, it’s a joy to be able to put a smile on her face because it makes me happy to see her happy.  But I do wish that I could have some moments peace, at least at dinner time.  It’s the only time I really have left to unwind, and lately I feel that that has been taken away from me.

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly difficult day at the office.  Despite having been stuck in a two hour meeting with clients, I was still able to leave work relatively early. But for some reason, Haruka’s dinner time temper tantrum had got the best of me.  In the midths of all the crying, shrieking, and blood curdling screams which at times looked as if she’d stopped breathing, I pushed my dinner away and told my wife that I could no longer deal with the dinner time chaos.  I had lost my appetite and spent the rest of the evening trying to calm the screaming child down. But the one thing that frustrated (angered) me the most, wasn’t Haruka’s crying, but rather my wife telling me that I had an attitude problem.  This attacking statement not only saddened me very deeply, but also made me question my abilities to deal with parenting all together.  And to add insult to injury, I wasn’t even able to put Haruka to sleep last night.  She had only drank three quarters of her milk when her crying had flared up once again, and this time nothing I did would make her stop.  She was obviously sleepy and wanted to sleep, but I wasn’t able to do anything for her.

My wife eventually took her away from me, and was able to get her to stop crying, which made me question my competency even more.  I was so distraught by this, that I couldn’t even bare to be in the same room, so I decided to go to bed early.  I know that Haruka is not intentionally trying to make things difficult for any of us, but I find myself reminding myself of this more and more lately, which has been very mentally challenging. 

I thought about last night carefully, and my wife’s comments towards me, and I made somewhat of a wish list of what I though would make things personally easier on me:

  • I wish that Haruka would not cry as I try to eat dinner.  She demands so much of my time as it is, and dinner time is really the only time I have left to myself.  I need peace during this time to maintain my own mental stability.
  • I wish my wife would be more understanding of my feelings , better recognize when I am frustrated and help take the load off when this happens, and not make such harsh statements when I do get frustrated and be more comforting or offer advice.
  • I wish my wife would make better efforts in researching the root causes of these problems instead of relying on me to do the research and give her solutions all of the time.
  • When I do give a researched solution to problem, I wish that my wife would at least try them or research them on her end, and not criticize or prejudge without even attempting to do so.  And I also hope that understand that I would not try anything that would mentally or physically harm our child.

Finally, since I really want to keep this blog positive, I probably won’t be updating it again for another several weeks until the situation here has improved.

Unspoiling a Baby?

Today, it snowed for the third time this year in eastern Japan.  The snowfall wasn’t as significant as the one we got last Sunday.  It was more like tiny beeds of ice falling out of the sky.  It seems that this winter is the coldest in recent times in Japan.  Does this mean global warming is a hoax afterall?

Lately, there has been a somewhat of a heated debate around the household as to whether or not you can actually spoil a baby by carrying him/her too much.  According to Harvey Karp M.D. (the author of the book I have been reading about calming colicky babies), babies generally within the 0 to 6 months range cannot be spoiled and should be carried to gain their trust.  However, from my personal observations of other children and also watching Haruka’s behavior,  I strongly believe that this theory is inaccurate.

When my mother-in-law was here several weeks ago, she warned that carrying a baby too much can make them too dependent on you.  At the time, I had no opinions on her warnings, since Haruka was still a newborn and had yet to show any signs of dependencies on being carried.  So at the time, I accepted it for what it was: just her opinion.   However, over time, and for the last couple of weeks or so, I have noticed that perhaps there is some truth behind this.

Every evening when I come home from work, the moment that I walk through the door, I noticed that about 70% of the time my wife is carrying Haruka.  At first, I thought this was no big deal.  As a matter of fact, I prefer to come home to calm and quiet house rather than a house with a screaming baby every night.  And after I change out of my work clothes, Haruka would immediately be handed over to me to hold until dinner time, when she is placed back in her cradle.   And usually, Haruka would become very fussy and start to cry while we have dinner.  This has become a nightly occurance now, and a new source of stress for me, because I have to contend with listening to Haruka scream violently all throughout dinner time.

So lately, I’ve been wondering if the action of being passed from parent to parent, and held throughout the evening is actually spoiling her.  This is of course, going on my own ongoing theory that babies should cry only when there is a real reason to cry (need to be changed, fed, sleepy, etc..) , and that crying for no reason is due to colic.   I also often remind myself that although she has shown great improvements over the last several weeks, Haruka is not out of the colic woods yet.  As a matter of fact,  colic has a second peak at 3 months, and Haruka is quickly approaching the 3 month mark.

But the one thing that makes me believe that her dinner time crying is due more to just being spoiled and less to do with colic, is simply because she stops crying almost to the very second that she is picked up, and starts crying again when she is put down.  This obvioulsy shows that she prefers to be carried rather than swinging in her cradle, hence a developing dependence on being carried all the time.  I am not saying that Hruka should NEVER be carried, but rather there is a time and place for it. And constantly carrying a baby, which my wife seems to do throughout the day, leaves very little time to do anything else, which can be very problematic.  The parent’s should be the ones to set the pace not the baby.

So what happens when a baby becomes spoiled and depends on the parent to carry them all of the time?  I have actually seen the outcome of what seems like a child who had been carried all of the time by their parent(s).  Here are a couple cases:

Case 1: A few months ago, when I took my wife to the hospital to get a sonogram, there was an older couple (perhaps in their early to mid-fourties, with a very young little girl (maybe two or three years old).  Both parents treated this little girl as if she was a miracle from god, so I kind of made up a little scenario in my head that perhaps the couple had a hard time conceiving and that this child was their last chance miracle baby, hence they spoiled her rotton.  The father carried the child the whole entire time they were there.  Even when he took off his jacket, he was very careful not to set the child down, who by the way was wide awake.  And to add to this, he was standing up the whole time.  Not fully understanding what was going on, my wife and I looked at them and though that this was really odd.  Eventually, the father looked to be a bit tired and attempted to sit down on one of the many empty sofas in the waiting room.  He squated down about three-quarters of the way, when he was abrubtly stopped by his daughter screaming “STAND UP!  STAND UP! STAND UP!” repeatedly until the father stood straight up again.  He then paced back and forth, with his daughter in his arms, while the mother just looked on as if this was something he should be doing.  The father attempted to sit down a few other times, and was stopped everytime by his daughter’s screaming.  Ultimately, they left the hospital after their nearly three hour wait in the waiting room.  The father carried the child the entire time and wasn’t able to sit down, not even once.

Case 2: This happen just the other night.  An older woman, probably in her late fourties or early fifties and somewhat frail and small in appearance, deboarded a commuter train with a little girl who looked to be about 4 or 5 years old.  The little girl was pouting and crying while being towed by the woman.  The woman then looked down at the little girl and asked “what’s wrong?”.  The little girl looked up and said, “I’m tired; carry me!” to which the woman responded, “grandma is tired too.  I can’t carry you, you’re too heavy”.  The little girl then threw a tantrum and cried even louder.

Now perhaps case 2 is somewhat normal in that small kids don’t have the stamina that adults do and tire easily.  And maybe in such a case I would carry my daughter to a point where there were less people, or at least stop somehwere to rest if at all plausible.  But in my opinion, the couple in case 1 are quite plainly unforgiveable.  A child needs to be disciplined, epecially when in a public areas.  Maybe I am a bit strict when it comes to this, but after my daughter is able to walk, not toddle, but actually walk, that will end of me carrying her around in public places unless circummstances merit it (like she falls a sleep, or is really tired to the point where she cannot walk without sitting on the ground every few minutes. )  A child needs the opportunity to graduate from being a baby to becoming a kid.  My wife’s cousin(who has a 2 year old boy)  has a similar a stance as me, but she tends to take it to a relative extreme.  She absolutely refuses to carry her son and makes him walk. And if he falls behind or wanders off, she’ll just continue walking until he does catch up.  As a result, her son is able to keep up with her really well in public and rarely falls behind.  Futhermore, he never asks to be carried, because he’s learned that it just won’t happen.  Although I don’t want Haruka to think that I will leave her behind or won’t pick her up under any circumstances, I do want her to learn independence and self-reliance.

So, is it too early to begin this process now?  Perhaps yes, but I still contend that a baby should not be picked up evertime he/she cries.  They need to be self-soothing and self-reliant so that the adults can do other things like have dinner.  I can spin yarns about how I nearly raised myself as a kid, but that’s another story and something that I don’t want Haruka to experience.

Haruka, sporting her new outfit that mom bought her.

Haruka the court jester

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Today it snowed in eastern Japan, which is the second time within the last two weeks.  This time around, it snowed pretty hard so the snow piled up on the roads and on the roofs of the houses.  As much as I would love to take Haruka out in the snow and let her experience it, she is still much too small for the cold weather.  Perhaps this time next year, it’ll snow again, and Haruka can enjoy playing it with the dogs.

Our backyard blanketed in snow

Haruka has been sleeping better at nights.  We’ve been experimenting with putting her to bed earlier in the hopes that she sleeps longer, and until the morning. Fortunately for all of us, it worked like a charm.  Haruka now sleeps from 9pm to 6am or sometimes later, which give my wife her sleep time back.  The only drawback to this is that she tends to be more fussier throughout the day and sleeps less.  Instead of the usual 3 hour naps, she tends to sleep only 1 or 2 hours now.  I figure that she just needs some adjusting to her new sleep schedule.

Finally, Haruka is characteristcally becoming less and less a newborn, and more and more a baby.  She laughs a lot more and getting use to life outside.  She seems to recognize that she has hands now, and is learning  to grasp things.  I guess its about time to think about buying her toys that she can hold now, as opposed to things she could only look at.

Enjoying her bear suit

Laughing at the funny noises I’m making