Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This too shall pass.

This post is for the Carnival of Natural Parents 'Ages and Stages' theme for the month of May.

Welcome to the May 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Ages and Stages
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by
Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

As a first time mom, I never had perspective that 2nd timers have.  I heard, so many times, that enjoy every moment, and 'this too shall pass'.  But when you are in the throws of newborn/infant/toddler mayhem, you feel that this is it.  This is what life is going to be like.  You seek validation in what you are doing and look for advice on how to do things differently.  You loose sleep.  You can't function at times as the stress of it all gets so overwhelming.

But the truth is, 'they' are right. This too shall pass.

My daughter is now 18 months and so many things have changed.  Sleep has been the biggest change.  From 4-14 months, my daughter woke every 2 hours and would often sleep latched on most of the night.  Now, she sleeps in her own room and will go to bed for my husband without any fussing and will sleep 9 or 10 hours.  This has been a huge change, and she did it all on her own without us having to do any formal sleep training.  (You can find more about our sleep journey here).

Eating is another area where if you are patient enough, things find their way of working out.  H was a super eater when we first started solids.  Then, around a year she became super picky and often wouldn't eat more than a few bites.  Now, she eats pretty well and will often have 1 meal where she eats a huge amount of food.  It all balances out.

I am currently 'waiting out' the constant nursing a toddler stage.  I know that teething is wrecking havoc on her and comfort nursing in the mornings and evenings, although tiring,  gives her the comfort and reassurance she needs to know everything is alright.  

Our culture is so consumed with pushing children to grow faster than they are ready.  If we just take a breath and have patience through the difficult stages (even if they seem to go on forever), babies do grow.  They know what they need and will inevitably become more independent.

Our culture doesn't support new mother's the way it should.  We don't have the large network of female relatives that have raised babies and teach us how to raise ours instinctively.  We need to actively seek out connection through on-line groups, or real-life mothering groups.  It takes work and when you feel like your drowning, it hard to reach for the safety vest.

I wish I had done things differently and listen to my gut and not worry so much.  However, I can't change the past.  As my daughter grows and changes through the different stages, I too am growing as a mother along with her.  I am learning to listen to her and respect her needs.  Most importantly, I am learning to trust her.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon May 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • When Three-Year-Olds Stand Up For Themselves — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at her blog, Parental Intelligence, enjoys the stage when three-year-olds dramatically wow their parents with their strong sense of self.
  • This too shall pass — In the beginning, everything seems so overwhelming. Amanda at My Life in a Nutshell looks at the stages of the first 1.5 years of her daughter's life and explains how nothing is ever static and everything changes - the good and the bad.
  • Age 5 – Is It Really A Golden Period? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the developmental norms for the five-year-old set and muses over if this age really is the 'golden period.'
  • How much do you explain to your preschooler when crime touches close to home? — When tragedy strikes someone your preschooler knows, Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings wonders how parents can best help young children cope.
  • Thoughts on ToddlerwearingThat Mama Gretchen's babywearing days are over, we're living it up in the toddlerwearing days now!
  • Parenting Challenges—Almost a man — Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about leaving childhood behind as her son turns 12.
  • How Child Development Works - Competence Builds Competences — Debbie at Equipped Family shares how each stage of childhood builds on the next. Focus on doing the current stage reasonably well and success will breed success!
  • Making Space — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is adjusting her thinking and making room for her babies to stay near her.
  • The Best Parenting Resources for Parents of Toddlers — Toddlers can be so challenging. Not only are they learning how to exert their independence, but they simply do not have the developmental ability to be calm and logical when they are frustrated. It's the nature of the beast. I mean … the toddler. Here are Dionna at Code Name: Mama's favorite books and articles about parenting a toddler.
  • The Fab Five Stages so Far — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen couldn't choose just one stage for this carnival and is sharing her top five favorite stages in the young lives of her son and daughter at Natural Parents Network.
  • The best parts of ages 0-6 — Lauren at Hobo Mama gives a breakdown of what to expect and what to cherish in each year.
  • Lessons from Parenting a Three-Year-Old — Ana and Niko at Panda & Ananaso are quickly approaching the end of an era — toddlerhood. She shares some of her thoughts on the last two years and some tips on parenting through a time rife with change.
  • Feeling Needed — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders which developmental stage is her favorite and why. She bares it for us, seemingly without fear of judgment. You might be surprised by her answer!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

well it starts

Today is cd 29.  I haven't had any signs of af starting...but also had no signs of ovulation .  Since getting my period back, my cycles have been 26-28 days. My boobs usually hurt like hell before af comes when I nurse...but they feel normal.  I know I can't be pregnant cause hubby and I have hardly dtd this month with sickness etc.  Also I know my cycle delay is likely cause I took domperidone a few times when h was sick and nursing non-stop
  However I can't help but think maybe I am.  Maybe I could be.  Maybe I wont have to deal with months and months of heartache.  I don't want to take a test.  I would rather just get afthen have my heart broken seeing 1 red line. Guess I will just have to wait this out.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The journey from bed-sharing to independent sleep

Sleep.  The topic that will bring out the claws in with many moms.  The topic everyone...and I mean EVERYONE has an opinion that will try and sway you into believe is the right way to do things.  An area of my life I have been deprived of since H was born.  One of reasons I developed post-partum anxiety.

First off...I think every new parent is completely ignorant to how much sleep you will loose when you have a baby.  No one tells you about things like 4, 8, 12, 18 month sleep regressions.  I thought that once my child started giving me longer stretches at night, that would last forever.  Boy was I wrong.

We started off by having H sleep in her bassinet.  She and I would begin our night by falling asleep together, her nursing.  Once she was good and asleep, hubby would move her into her bassinet.  By 4 weeks, H was giving me 6-8 hour stretches.  At 4 months, she was waking every 2 hours or less.  That lasted until she was 14 months old.  To survive the 4 month sleep regression, I brought H into my bed.  Some nights she would sleep a few hours in her own sleeping space, and others she would sleep the entire night latched on.  This regression caused me so much turmoil.  I felt I HAD to do something.  I felt I was failing her, setting her up for a lifetime of bad sleep if I didn't sleep train.  I read TOO MUCH.  It was very overwhelming.  I didn't know what to do.  We already knew she was a horrible napper, needing to be bounced and worn for her to nap....I couldn't handle having a bad night sleeper too.  I cried. ALL THE TIME. I couldn't eat.  We gave her a bottle of formula at night to ensure she wasn't hungry.  We did white noise and lavander and everything else you could imagine.  I stopped eating dairy and wheat.  NOTHING WORKED.  I thought the only thing we had to do was let her cry it out.  I blogged about it.  I emailed others who did it.  But the thought of letting her cry made me sick.  Hubby refused to do it.  We argued about it.  Our world was focused and centered around sleep.  We even hired  sleep consultant who gave us an in depth plan.  We followed the plan and even though we had minimal success early on, by 2 weeks, I was waking up every 30 minutes with her and it was falling apart.  Nothing worked. 

It wasn't until I became involved with Le Leche league and started to attend mother's meetings, that I started to learn what normal infant sleep was all about.  I learned that my daughter wasn't going to always need me. That before 18 months, there is NOTHING you can do that can screw up a baby's sleep.  Crutches are things people use who need help with walking.  Babies don't develop crutches for sleep...or if they do it wont be forever. I learned the dangers of letting your child cry it out.  I read about attachment theory and how it is critical to develop a strong bond between parent and child.  I read about other cultures and what is normative and how we, in the west are 'abnormal' in how we treat infants.  I found my tribe for support and I slowly, became confident in my parenting choices.  This wasn't easy.  H was over a year old, before I can say I was truly confident in how we were dealing with sleep situation.  I went back to work, and H was still nursing all night long.  I would go to bed with her and stay in bed until she woke up.  I never had time for myself.  It was a long, hard haul.

Once H started daycare, she learned how to put herself to sleep other than nursing.  In less than 2 weeks, she went from needing to be bounced and worn to sleep, to sleeping for 2 hours on her own.  She has an amazing care provider and although there was some tears, she wasn't left alone to cry.  She realized since mommy and daddy weren't around, she would need to find comfort in another way.  We didn't have that same success at home.  At 14 months, hubby and I were supposed to go to a concert so he needed to learn how to put her to sleep so he could tell his mom what to do.  In 3 nights, she went from needing to nurse all night to sleep, to putting herself to sleep and staying asleep for long stretches.  If she did wake, hubby just needed to give her some water and she would go back to sleep for him.  We had reached an amazing milestone and we did it without letting her cry a single tear alone.  She did it because she was comfortable and confident we would be with her.  She was still sleeping in our room, but she was sleeping.  I would sleep in the spare room as my presence (milk) would wake her often.  The two of them had a good thing going.

Since she was sleeping so soundly in our room - but waking every morning with his alarm, we felt that it was time for her to move to her own room.  Last night, H slept 9 hours without waking in her own room.  It took her a LONG time to fall asleep - as she has never slept in her room before.  She wasn't secure or comfortable to just lie down and be tucked in and hubby say goodnight.  Hubby needed to rock her for a few minutes and lie her down to sleep.  But she stayed asleep.  She did wake up early and then came into bed with me.  But it was a start.  We are making progress. There maybe set backs, but she has made a huge leap in her independent sleep journey.  She knows we are there for her and she felt comfortable to sleep alone.  She slept for 9 hours last night...all by herself.  She woke and stirred a few times, but quickly put herself back to sleep. 

I am not writing this to say I'm better than those who sleep train. Some sleep train as its the best for their family.  Some do it as sleep deprivation has caused such sever PPD that it is necessary for survival.  Some tried and it only took 1 night of a few minutes of crying and your baby slept.  Some of you will be reading this and will relate to how I felt as you too felt pressured.  I am not writing to guilt anyone.  Everyone has a right to parent the way that they feel is best.  2 people can love their children equally but parent differently.  I am an advocate for Attachment based parenting because I have read the research.  It is what works for me.  I am not going to do what others did to me and condemn different parenting styles.

 I'm writing this for those who feel they can't sleep train. For those who feel they must do something or else they will be nursing their child to sleep forever.  For those with  babies who wont let them sleep train without hours, and hours and hours of crying like H would have given us.  For those who have tried everything and think their child will never sleep.  Yes, we actively sought out change and had hubby take over.  This was crucial to our success.  But we never left her to cry it out.  Every fiber of our beings couldn't let H cry.  Not being able to let her cry made me feel weak, and a horrible parent.  It wasn't until I found support otherwise that I realized I wasn't weak.  I needed to read these types of success stories early on.  But all I found were stories of cry-it-out success.

One of the best things about being a breast feeding momma, is the ability to comfort my child on my breast.  However, for some babies, that can also be horrible for the momma as nursing was the ONLY way to comfort H.  I felt I had to break this connection to get more than 2 hours of sleep.  Through patience and gentle guidance, we were able to extend the need for H to nurse without causing her any stress.  We didn't break the connection, just like we didn't break the connection when I returned to work.  It is possible.  Your baby is smart and KNOWS what it needs.  Once I realized that I just need to listen to my baby and forget about what others would say or think of me, the easier it got.  We knew when she was ready for a change and she showed us we were right.

I also realized that being unconventional is necessary to survival.  H used to sleep latched-on all night, we currently have wall-to-wall bed.  Hubby and I slept in separate rooms for over a year.  Yes this is all unconventional - but all temporary.  Babies change - yes there will be set-backs, but once a skill is learned it wont be forgotten.

For those momma's in sleep deprivation land, take a deep breath.  Relax.  It will get better.  Change your attitude around sleep and things will get easier.  Babies wake.  Babies need momma.  Don't listen to what your mom, neighbour, co-worker is telling you.  Babies don't know how to manipulate.  They only know what they need.  There are no wants this young.  Change your expectations and it will get easier. LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS. You have them for a reason and they will never lead you astray.    It is hard.  Sleep deprivation - especially when working - is hard.  Your child will let you know when he/she is capable of change.  Find support.  Enjoy the snuggles while you can :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding a work/life balance ... for now

I took almost 3 weeks off work to get over the nasty gastro-bug H and I had, and a chest/sinus cold that knocked me out.  I also took that time to try and get a handle on my depression and anxiety.  I am now back to work 2/3.  That means I only teach in the afternoons but need to be at work by 11.  Depending on how the morning goes, I drop H off at the sitters between 7:30 and 8 or if she is sleeping in, after 9:30, and then I go home and veg.  I still am suffering from mild insomnia, so I wish I could sleep...but I use that time in the morning to get some chores done (laundry usually), plan for dinner or put dinner in the crock-pot and watch tv, exercise or just veg in bed.  This is me time...and although I feel like I should be more productive, I'm perfectly happy just relaxing.  I'm not going to lie, I love this new schedule.  I always said I wanted to go back to work 2/3 but talked myself out of it saying the money is more important.  Now, since I have an anxiety disorder, I'm off that 1/3 on medical so I'm still getting paid.  This will continue until the end of the school year and then I guess I have to evaluate if I want to go on a 1/3 leave for Sept. or try and go back full-time.   Having this extra time in the mornings has allowed me to slow down and breathe.  I'm no longer rushing around all the time trying to figure out how to cram everything i need to get done in.  I am able to shower before work - which seems miniscule, but is HUGE for me.

I love my mornings with H and if she isn't up at the crack of dawn and wants to sleep a little longer, I love having our morning cuddles.  When I was off sick, I would often fall asleep myself.  But now I'm up with her around 5 am and can't sleep.  However, I now longer have to worry about getting out of bed and having to rush around to get ready for work.  I usually lie there and breathe, try and relax and just let my mind wander. 

Maybe this part-time thing is what I need.  Who knows where the fall will bring but I will enjoy every moment I have now!