Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tandem Nursing and Weaning

I'm not ready to wean and nor is my son, who is 14 months, but the time is near...I have an impending business trip back to NYC and I will not pump.... so on my return, no more "mimi" (which is my son's term for nursing, combined with pointing at my breasts). If I didn't have the trip planned - right after he turns 15 months- I don't know how I would wean. Particularly as lately he has been sick and nursing more. It's our special cuddling time.

The main reason I want to wean is that despite my doctor's assurance and my own research, I remain skeptical that nursing throughout my pregnancy is a good idea. In order to nurse my son, I must create extra nutrients and I fear that I will be taking this away from my second child. Also, my son will be 15 months and even though emotionally neither of us is ready (for nursing provides such a special connection with your children) he is eating solid foods and hardly surviving off my milk. He wants to nurse - and now requests it - in the mornings, when he is unwell or when he injures himself and when he goes to bed- all instances when he wants to be nurtured and not because he is missing something vital from his diet. A secondary reason (and after I already resolved to wean at 15 months) is that it has become painful to nurse (albeit nothing compared to my stygian first two months before his frenulectomy) and worse, lately every time I nurse, I get contractions (again, nothing compared to the contractions of actual labour, but enough of an ouch factor to add to the mix). My doctor warned me about this, but she assured me it wouldn't lead to a miscarriage, but one wonders...

So my plan is to first cut down to strict twice a day and then once a day and then scuttle off to NYC and leave hubby to handle Day Zero....ha ha ha ha ...while I will be crying in NYC since I will have a weaning period too and since it would be my first time away from my little one.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind (He's walking!)

We knew this day would come. Just like I waited in tense anticipation when he would say "mmm" to have the consonant progress to a name I had never been called (we are all born with different names and most of us end with the same and most important- mama or dada), I have been waiting weeks to see my little one make his first steps.

Around his first birthday, he was very adept at getting up by himself and within a week was walking, albeit with much trepidation, while he could hold onto something. He was side-stepping across the walls and child fences around our house and slowly walking with us when we held his hand or when he had his walker. My dad, who was here visiting over that time, was determined to be here when the big moment came and as any programmer, tried to program my son into walking. "What he needs" my dad decided after careful study of his subject, "is for his concentration to diverted" he mused. My husband and I agreed. He was so careful in his steps and so unwilling to let go that it seemed fear was holding him back rather than any ineptitude. After all, the poor guy certainly had his fair share of falls, including a recent nose dive onto our wooden floorboards (replaced that weekend by a fluffy carpet - floorboards may be chic, but they are your child's nemesis), so we could hardly blame him for his caution. Then followed weeks of the walk circus. We were waving toys around, enticing him with food, music - you name it, all the glory of the world was just a few short steps away.

And it bloody well worked. One step! Two Steps! Three Steps! Four! We were elated. Soon, there must be more.

The first time he took two steps, enticed by a Rubik's cube (my dad seems to think that if he buys 2 Rubik's cubes every time he sees my son, he will by osmosis), he fell on his arse when he realized that he was walking, due to our cheering. Thus followed our paradoxical pantomime in which we tried to be concomitantly nonchalant and yet encouraging at the same time. We would like to think that our contorted reactions aided his progress, but after a few small steps here and there, he was taking a few every day. And then he ran across the room.

One day he was crawling. The next, running. It does go by so fast. We were elated! And then... Holy shit, he can touch that now? He's turning on the stove! He's opening the drawers! He's opening the doors! He is running head first into the shelf! We had to ramp up safety features fast.

What I find very interesting is that from the moment your child starts to walk, they walk. Even though they're much more adept and faster at crawling, they eschew this mode of movement and firmly take on their bipedal state. My son has not crawled at all since he could walk (save for crawling with his buddy through a material tunnel that gave them seemingly endless joy), even when I have crawled in front of him (when he was crawling, it would give him such joy when we joined him for a crawl). It's as if he understands - and accepts- that to crawl is beneath walking (I couldn't help it) and that one would only crawl if they couldn't walk. It's the primal example of cultural immersion at work. Or maybe he's so excited that he can walk - his arms outstretched, partly for balance, partly to state to the world I CAN DO THIS! - that he forgets to crawl. My husband reckons he's just happy that his knees don't hurt anymore.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Big Sleep (Sleep Training)

Week 2 into sleep training, we were amazed at how well our son was sleeping. He was finally sleeping through the night. It's as if he would wake up, realize we weren't going to come to his aid and without hope of cuddling comfort and with no energy to expire, he would snuggle himself back into the sheets. There were a few nights when he cried out and we came in to change his diaper, but after following a strict rule to check, change if needed and offer water, we leave immediately. Hubby is now taking full control of night duty, as we are (sadly) weaning of nursing (and there's Baby No2's placenta building to work on during the night).

It hasn't been easy. It's viscerally painful to know that your child is crying and that they are crying because of a situation you placed them in. One major hurdle for parenting, at least for me, is applying the old adage that 'you have to be cruel to be kind' - for instance, with sleep training. While sleep training has made a huge positive impact on our lives, our son is learning a life skill - how to put himself to sleep and is patently sleeping better. We've had to make a lot of decisions in the past year that willingly caused our son pain for his greater good, including authorizing quite painful medical procedures. He has been catheterized multiple times and had to have an IV at 11 weeks, which involved excruciating trial and error. At this moment, we can't explain this to him (I still do, as I explain everything to him). Later, we may have to make decisions that we can explain to him, but that he may not understand or agree with. It's a difficult path, but one that is easier by going through it together. We stand strong in front of our son, but behind closed doors, we cry together.

There have been hiccups with sleep training. When hubby came late one night, my son thought he could turn me. When I was away, he performed a full show for his dad. When grandma came over, finally assured of success, he upped the production budget and exploded crescendo after crescendo, but to no avail (though I have my doubts if mum were left on her own without us). I am still amazed at how well developed our son's manipulative skills are. He is acutely aware of our weak points and is merciless in attacking them. It's a constant battle of wills and admittedly he wins more than a few, but with respect to his sleep, we are winning.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sleep Training

Why did we not do this earlier??? That's the main result after less than a week of sleep training.

We made the mistake from the beginning (our son is 13 months old) of rocking and singing our son to sleep. It made sense. It was the caring, loving thing to do. We could cuddle with him. We enjoyed it for the most part and invariably would fall asleep with him. At times, it would take a long time to get him to sleep, a few times over an hour, and we would be frustrated with him. Every time, whether we fell asleep with him or not, we would be exhausted. Our night would end at 7.30 pm. At least mine did, so much for planning to work, ha!

If I fell asleep with him, he would want to nurse the night through, waking up intermittently and seeking out my nipple. Neither of us could rest. My husband, who chided me for falling asleep with him, decided to be gracious and exclusively take over the night shift when I got pregnant with our second recently. I must admit there was no small gloating and schadenfreude on my part when hubby kept falling asleep with him and our little one kept waking and wanting to cuddle, waking up his dad.

"That's it!" my hubby, exasperated, shouted the conclusion of our son's coddling. "We are training him!"

My first reaction was to grit my teeth as I spent nearly a year waking up throughout the night to nurse. P takes the night shift for a week and now we're sleep training. My second reaction was to limp out a smile, for I knew it was best. L had to learn how to go to sleep by himself and we were hindering the development of that aptitude for him.

But how to stand not running in and nursing him when he cried?

It was all rather easier than we thought. We had heard horror stories. My friends' daughter cried for over an hour straight. As L cried, we cried, watching him on his webcam from our room and wondering whether we could cave. The first few nights he would go to his toys and cry (our son sleeps on a queen bed on the floor, but that's another story) and then he would crawl back into bed. It took about ten minutes. We felt victorious, watching him sleep. The next few nights, he didn't even leave the bed and was asleep in a few minutes. Ah, sweet, sweet, victory! He's also been sleeping better. Before, he would wake up at least once if not twice a night, but since sleep training (which may or may not be a coincidence) he has not woken up at all.

A miracle!

We still can't believe it.

If only we had done this sooner...Sleep training may sound harsh, but it's better for all of us.