Monthly Archives: January 2011

night weaning: night six

As with everything having to do with sleep and BG, this hasn’t been as cut-and-dry as we thought it might be. After a few nights sleeping with just J, BG was sometimes sleeping longer stretches and was certainly not asking to nurse as much. In fact, he was startling to settle himself to sleep much more. Then he hurt himself pretty badly one day by falling with a toothbrush in his mouth (we are still beating ourselves up about this), so J and I decided that night weaning was on hold and that I would sleep with him and do what it took to keep him comfortable. Fortunately, he did not have an all-night nurse-a-thon, and in fact slept pretty well. The next night, J tried to take over again, and he simply refused to sleep after his first wake-up at 1:00am or so. This is unusual for him because despite his many wake-ups, BG has always been good about going back to sleep fairly easily and quickly.

We decided after that that a change was in order, especially because J had to go back to teaching today. This meant that last night, I was going to sleep with BG, and from the time he went down to around 6am, I was not going to nurse him at all. It had become clear from the previous couple of nights that even though the boy was sleeping longer, he still knew he could ask for “na-na” when he woke up. Last night, he could ask, but I had to tell him no.

Oh, did it suck to say no.

The first time he woke up, he asked to nurse and tugged at my shirt. When I held my shirt down, he started crying, but he would try again and again. After he calmed down a little and wanted to try to fall asleep again, he tried asking again, and I reminded him that na-na was for daytime that nighttime was for sleep. He replied, “Oh, nooooooo…” and melted into positively devastated tears. Eventually, J popped in, and he calmed for her a bit, and then I walked and walked and walked him to sleep.

Two hours later, he was awake again, asking for na-na, but this time he got mad and started pulling my hair. It took an eternity to get him back to sleep walking and swaying with him, but he finally did fall back to sleep only to wake up the moment I tried to put him down. We did this for an hour until 6:00 rolled around and J and I both decided it was enough, that we would turn the lights on, declare it daytime, and move out to the living room to nurse.

Today, he has nursed every five minutes it seems, just to make sure he still has access. I fear tonight will be another hard one. Every time I’ve read or heard others tell their stories of night weaning, however, it seems that after a few nights, they get it, so I’m hoping my son doesn’t take long. I don’t know how long we can all stand this. At least tonight my wife will have ear plugs to help her sleep.

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bg is mobile

BG has been working hard to build his confidence to walk for some time now. For Christmas, his grandparents gifted him a push toy that has helped him realize that he can, in fact, walk. With the help of that, he has been practicing more and more, and has even taken steps between J and I from time to time. But this week, on Wednesday, he figured out how to stand up on his own without holding onto anything. And then he start walking across the room. Over the last several days, he has begun walking from one room to another, and while he still drops back down to crawl when he wants to quickly get somewhere, more often than not, he walks when he wants to move, and he does so with the most adorable smile on his face. Needless to say, we’re endlessly proud, and a little scared too. It’s weird to see this boy walking, to see him cover so much ground so quickly!

Below is evidence of his newfound mobility, but I think this deserves some setup. You see, BG loves to help with laundry, so what you will see is BG returning from his bedroom to the living room where I had just finished stuffing and folding his diapers. He likes to take his diapers to his room one at a time. As he walks back in the room, he is saying “More. More. More,” because clearly he is ready for the next diaper. Yes, we know how fortunate we are that our seventeen-month-old does chores.

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first haircut

Our boy has always had very fine, very fair hair, but he’s starting to get a fair amount of it in the back and on the top as evidenced below:

So, after finding our son with matted messes on the back of his head every time we have taken him out of his carseat of late, we decided it was time for his first haircut. Our lovely stylist told us when we first started going to her when he was just a couple of months old that she wanted to give him his first cut, so to our lovely stylist we went today.

Her first step was to hand him a comb and to cover me in a drape. She told me, “I’m sorry to say it, but he’s not going to like this.” Sure enough, he immediately asked her to put the comb back, “In! In!” he demanded pointing at her drawer.

She then quickly got started. Our stylist has two boys of her own, and she has given lots of first haircuts. She told us they always cry like she’s cutting out their brains. BG was no exception:

But in the end, he did survive, and he’s got a cute new big boy haircut to show for it. I only cried a little on our way out to the car. I held the envelope with the snips of his hair–the hair he was born with—and welled up at how much he has grown. Oh how I love my handsome boy.

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night weaning: night 1

Okay, so last night wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It could have been worse, and it could have been better. I had so much anxiety that I couldn’t get to sleep until about 12:30, at which point my wife came out to tell me BG wouldn’t sleep anywhere but our bed. She opted to leave him there with her for awhile. Sadly, my poor J cannot sleep when she and BG are there alone together, so she was awake a lot of the night. Apparently he went down in his bed again around 4:00 and then woke her (and me) up positively wailing at around 5:15. She brought him out and asked me to come to bed and help out, which I did. This was the first BG had nursed since before he went to bed at around 6:30pm–the longest he has ever gone! Needless to say, he was very serious about his nursing once I got there. I’m okay with that, though, and I’m hoping that we can get to about 6:00 most days before he needs to nurse. That I could handle.

As for how the night itself went, apparently, BG only asked J to nurse once or twice, and one of the times, he was lifting her shirt hoping she would finally relent and let him nurse with her (he’s always been convinced that she should). Alas, she did not, and he fell asleep with some cuddles instead. One can’t blame the boy for being persistent! There were no tears between 12:30 and 5:15, which is far better than I had expected. Unfortunately, we’re all also very tired from the disruption in our usual sleep routines (and for J, just from staying up most of the night), but I’m hopeful that once BG is broken of his nighttime habit, the sleep will come longer and more easily. Tonight we’ll do the same thing (after J has a long afternoon nap). After going through it, I doubt I’ll have the anxiety I did, and I’m looking forward to the sleep.

In other news, if all goes well with his naptime, BG is getting his first haircut today! Photos to come, of course.

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sofa surfing

First, I want to thank you all for your wonderful support on my last post. I have been a little funny about sharing this out in the open, so to have such encouraging feedback once I finally decided to throw it out there is very lovely and affirming. I will be sure to keep you all abreast of the developments of this pursuit!

Tonight, I am, for the first time, sleeping in a room separate from my son. My wife is taking over nighttime parenting for the next few nights in an effort to get the boy night-weaned. I am sleeping on the sofa to keep temptation away. I am listening to him cry right now. I know she is comforting him and that he is safe and will ultimately go back to sleep, but this is so damn hard.

When I nursed BG before bed tonight, I told him that “na-na” was going night-night tonight just like he was. I don’t think he understood. I don’t think he will understand, but we are hoping that once na-na isn’t available all night, he’ll be a little less distracted by it and will get some sleep. That’s the theory anyway. That’s what everyone says will happen. I don’t know if it will, but I do know that we’ve only got a few days before J starts teaching again, and then we’ll have another four days before she can solo nighttime parent again. It would be nice if he got the hang of it in just a couple of nights. Do you hear that BG? Sleep, big boy, sleep.

One would think I would welcome a night like this to get a full night’s sleep–something I haven’t had in over sixteen months–but I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much more than J will. The anxiety sets in every time I hear him crying from our room. So much for the no-cry part of the no-cry sleep solution. I have a feeling we’ll all shed some tears tonight. I just have to remind myself that this is going to be good for all of us. It is, right?

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a calling

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a Sunday in Labor & Delivery at a local hospital. While I would love to tell you I’ve been keeping a big secret from all of you, the real reason I was there is almost as good. Some friends of ours whom we met last year–our first real life lesbian mom friends–were having their second baby, and they asked me to attend the birth. And though the day ended in my friends sending me home because they were going to have to have a cesarean birth, it was such an incredibly rewarding experience.

When these friends asked me in November if I would consider being there for them, it was in the midst of their attempts to cope with the other partner’s very traumatic birth experience two years prior. I loaned them a book, and J and I spent a fair amount of time talking with them hoping to help them move on from that experience so that they could have a more positive outlook for this birth. It was so rewarding helping them through this, and we began to see a difference in how the birth mom was feeling.

About a month later on the Winter Solstice, J and I were taking a drive in part to get BG a nap and in part to just enjoy the lovely day and one another. I talked about how excited I was to be there for our friends’ birth, that this felt really incredible and that if I liked this, maybe I would look into doing the work to become a doula. J began talking about the fact that she has always seen me as a healer, that I have always had this healing energy, and then in that moment, she said, “I think you were a midwife before.”

In that moment, my breath caught in my throat. Tingles ran through my entire body. My scalp vibrated. I started weeping. Somehow, I knew she was right. Nothing has ever felt more right.

Now I should say that I’m not one to react so strongly to possibilities of prior existences. I like the idea of having been here before, but I’m not sure about anything, so often I dismiss thoughts of having had one experience or another in a past life.

But I honestly believe that in a life before this one, I caught babies. Even now as I type this, the chills come right back and the tears well up in my eyes.

However, I am living in this life where I am an academic. I teach writing–when I have the opportunity to teach. I am an intellectual who loves intellectual pursuits. I’m tens of thousands of dollars in debt from my education. So of course the logical next step for me is…right. That’s my problem. I have been so stuck in recent years. I entertained going back for another advanced degree in a more lucrative field. I have thought about continuing what I started when I got my degree which is freeway flying from one college to another. But this is hardly a life, especially with a child. I have tried landing the full-time, tenure-track position, but it turns out I am simply not competitive enough to thrive in academia. That said, this has been my identity for so very long, yet I’ve always felt a little like an imposter, like I really should be doing something else, like I fell into this teaching business without ever finding my true calling.

A calling. That is what I have found.

With the birth of Baby Genius, with my pregnancy, my whole experience with preparing for his birth, and the birth itself, I discovered a passion for childbirth. I don’t have a passion for birthing lots of babies (I have maybe one more in me, but I’m no octo.mom), but I can’t get enough of birth stories of talking with women about their birth experiences of advocating for women in their birth experiences. I can’t think of a more life altering moment in a woman’s life, yet this moment is so often controlled by outsiders, by fear, by external pressures, by hospital protocol. I want to help with all of that. I know I can. I need to do this.

And so, I guess I’ve found that I’m going to be a doula. That is my first step anyway. I know that if I dedicated enough–and I’d like to think I am, I can be a childbirth educator. I can teach! And from there, who knows. I might take it further, or I might find that doula work and childbirth education are exactly right for me.

All I can say is that for the first time in my life, I’m not following a path that someone else suggested for me. I’ve found something that feels genuinely perfect. And when I have told those close to me–and there have been only a few I have told–people respond in the most incredible way. They nod, smile knowingly, and tell me, “That is perfect.”

Today I took my first step and bought a book from DONA’s required reading list for doulas-to-be. In a week, I will send in my registration form and a deposit for my training workshop (which just happens to be held at the birth center where I had hoped BG’s birth would be–and is taught by the doula who gave us the tour of the hospital where we didn’t have BG). I am on my way, and it feels so right.

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changes

It appears that we are coming to the end of the days of two naps–not that two naps ever meant much of any time spent sleeping. Our son has slept poorly from about four months on, and naps have been no exception. Typically, they have been no more than half an hour or forty minutes, but they have been consistent. We could rely on him taking a nap sometime around 9am and another sometime around 2pm. For the past month or so, the morning nap has been iffy, and if he has a morning nap, the afternoon nap has been hard to catch. Yesterday, we found ourselves with a boy who took a twenty-minute nap around 10am and then nothing. All. Day. Long. He was a mess by the time bedtime rolled around. There’s that myth that if a kid doesn’t nap, said child will then sleep all night or for long periods of time at night. But as I said, it’s a myth. He woke up nearly every hour throughout the entire night. Bleh.

But today was a new day, and we are accepting that we are going to have a one-nap boy now. While we tried for the morning nap, he refused and just had some quiet time snuggling instead. We then tried an early afternoon nap, and lo and behold, BG slept for over 90 minutes! He woke up cranky because he had been so very out, but the rest of the day was great, and he went down so smoothly tonight. I have my fingers crossed for the rest of the night.

We are in the midst of our No-Cry Sleep Solution implementation. There have been some good nights and some bad nights, but we’re finding a path toward more organized sleep. The first step is to get BG to stop the all-night nursing marathons, but we’re doing this while also training him to sleep in his own bed for most of the night. It’s a challenge. One night, after trying to put him down for two hours in the middle of the night, I found myself scribbling angry notes in our sleep log. Looking at it in the light of day, it looked like the scrawlings of a serial killer. I was a mess, but it’s all part of the strategy, and when I look at other factors, we are seeing improvements. He is sleeping for longer stretches at the beginning of the night. When he does nurse in the middle of the night, he does so very briefly then unlatches himself, rolls over, and falls back to sleep on his own, often for a number of hours. These are positive changes, and I have to look at these little gems glittering amidst the muck that is gentle sleep training.

I have to say, sometimes I wish I were equipped to let him cry it out, that we could find a faster solution, but the fact is, I’m not, and J is not. It just isn’t an option we can entertain, so we will continue to slog through this way until our son finally sleeps well. I feel it on the horizon.

Sleep is not one’s entire life, though. Recently, BG has discovered that outside is one of his favorite things in the whole world–perhaps because it is the whole world. He wakes up in the morning and wants nothing more than to go “outside! outside! outside!” Sadly, outside here is our balcony (overlooking a lovely creek) or toddling the sidewalks around our apartment complex. He can spend countless hours doing both right now, but what the boy really needs is a small yard. We all do, and we’re working harder than ever on getting him (and us) just that.

In the meantime, we have lots of visits to the park to keep our boy outside nearly as much as he wants to be.

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our sweet, sweet boy

BG has long been an affectionate boy, but he is even more so lately. He especially loves hugging J and I together. He has these moments when one of us is holding him and he gathers his other mom in to join the love fest that inevitably lasts a few minutes. It’s the best feeling. He’ll hug back and forth, all the while saying “Awwww,” and then he’ll pucker up for kisses from each of us.

Yesterday, he took this family love fest to a whole new level. J and I were working through a problem, and because we’re both emotional people, we were crying a little. It was a very low-key exchange, but we were emoting. BG had been playing by himself, but he saw us and decided to come over where we were. He picked up his big stuffed bear, whom he loves to hug, and then he asked to get up on my lap. I picked him up, and he indicated he wanted me to hug Bear, so I hugged Bear. He then hugged me with bear, and then, he grabbed for J and pulled her in for a big family hug with Bear in the middle. It was such a lovely moment, and we were awed by our boy’s sensitivity.

But then he did something that blew us away. As usual, he puckered to kiss each of us, so we both kissed him. But then he placed one of his hands on each of our faces, and he pulled our faces toward each other so that we would kiss. We did, and he continued to hug us together. We both wept.

I’m in awe of this moment. I know I’m biased and I’m inclined to think my child is special, but he really is. He’s got such a big heart, and he is already so beautifully empathetic. I only hope we can continue to foster this in him.

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how is that possible?

Has it really been nearly two weeks since I last posted? That just doesn’t seem possible. I do have good excuses. For example, some friends of ours just had their second baby, and we’ve been trying to help them out here and there. We’ve also had visitors from afar, and we’ve been rental hunting, so we’re sort of busy. More than that, my wife is still on her winter break from teaching, so we’re spending lots of family time together. We even managed to get a hike in over the weekend, which we haven’t done in ages–not since I was about six months pregnant.

We looked at a house today that was promising, but it was also on the busiest street in our new town and had the steepest driveway I’ve ever seen. Our car literally groaned as we tried to inch our way down. It was an okay place but ultimately not the greatest arrangement for us. It was a good way of dipping our toes in the water again though, and we’ll continue looking more actively in the coming month or so.

We have begun the work of applying the No-Cry Sleep Solution. We’ve had the book since our sleep problems started when BG was four months old, so I’d say it’s long past time to put them to work. So far, we’re in the tracking stage to see where we’re really going wrong and what we need to resolve, but in the process, BG has been sleeping longer stretches at the beginning of the night. Last night, he slept for six hours straight. That’s the longest he has ever slept. The rest of the night was shit, but that first six hours (most of which were still waking hours for us) were pretty great.

Amidst working on his sleep, BG has almost become a true toddler. He has taken more and more independent steps, and while he still isn’t quite confident to truly walk on his own, he’s really working on it and prefers to take one of our hands and say “Let’s go. Go, go, go,” as he walks around the house. It’s really quite cute. He spends the majority of his day on his feet now, and he’ll walk to us or between two base points (sofa to chair, for example), so it’s really a matter now of him building his confidence. He now has a couple of push toys, so he grabs one of those anytime he wants to walk somewhere. He has also been known to walk our big blue exercise ball around the house with a large grin on his face. So he’s walking; he’s just not ready to make it official I think.

I do have more to write about, but it will have to wait for another day. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just got to break the ice when it’s been this long–just write, already.

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oh, wise internets, can you please help?

I have a confession: my son has never once slept from night until morning. Oh, sure, he’s slept for a five-hour stretch–the technical “sleeping through the night”–a handful of times, but when it comes to truly sleeping through the night, it’s been a no-go for sixteen months. Nearly a year ago, I started bringing him into bed with me more of the night so that our family could get some sleep. And as you may have guessed, while this no longer resulted in the frequent ups and downs, it was the beginning of a new habit: the all-night nurse-a-thon.

But we’re ready for that to change. It needs to change. I have a sneaking suspicion that if BG weren’t nursing all night, he’d actually sleep for longer stretches.

So this is where you, wise readers, come in. We’re ready for night weaning and getting BG to stay in his bed for the majority of the night. His current schedule looks like this:

7:00pm: BG goes to bed (nurses down).

10:00pm-ish: BG wakes up wanting to nurse and then goes back to his bed.

12:30-1:30: BG wakes up again, wanting to nurse, and more often than not joins me in the bed and does not go back to his own bed. He often nurses off and on most of the night, and while his wake-ups are very brief, they are plentiful.

6:30am: BG is awake for the day.

So, keeping in mind that we’re not going to be doing any cry-it-out in his crib by himself (it just doesn’t work for any of us), do you have any advice? What sort of night weaning worked for you or others you know? How do you get a sixteen-month-old to understand that “Na-Na” isn’t gone for ever; it’s just gone at night?

Thanks in advance for your valued advice. We are so desperate.

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Filed under advice, Baby Genius, sleep