Pregnancy, Sleep, and New Baby Sleep Expectations

 

Many thanks to Bamboobies for sponsoring this important discussion on sleep expectations related to the arrival of a new baby. 


And heartfelt thanks also to Rebecca Michi, Children’s Sleep Consultant, for providing her expertise in this conversation. Connect with her through her Facebook page, her website, and her excellent book: “Sleep and Your Child’s Temperament.”

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Important points shared by Jessica and Rebecca during this Live Stream:

Today we are talking all about sleep in pregnancy and sleep expectations with a new baby. Some sleep myths, such as baby sleeping through the night, are just not true.

Sleep During Pregnancy (focus on 3rd trimester)

Peeing

Rebecca: I think in that last trimester sleep becomes more and more challenging when you’re pregnant. And it’s for a couple of reasons, one of them is that you’re probably gonna need to pee five times a night and that you’re being kicked in the bladder. 

Jessica: You have a little human being on your bladder, you’re gonna need to empty way more often. Plus, your blood volume more than doubles during pregnancy and at the end there that means you’re filtering all of that out, you’re gonna have to pee more often. This is just the deal. Plus the baby’s contributing to that so yeah, lots of peeing. You’re gonna have to get up and pee.

Discomfort

Rebecca: And then you’re just uncomfortable as well and you get more uncomfortable quicker  in a position than you would pre-pregnancy and feel like you’re having to move around lots. Pillows can really help but when you gotta move you’re gonna need to move pillows. Also, your whole center of gravity is different than it once was. You’re not just easily rolling over. So even if you were just gonna come into a light sleep, roll over and go back into a deep sleep, chances are you’re actually gonna be really fully waking up because the whole, “I’ve got to move pillows,” or “I just gotta move this bump from one side to the other,” is just uncomfortable and you’re just waking up way more. 

People say you need to be getting lots of sleep, and that stresses you out, which also impacts your sleep. Good news is you can’t stock up on sleep. It’s not something you can put in the bank and so when baby arrives we’re not as tired. You are going to be tired. 

Sleep is very different with a newborn than it is in the last trimester. 

Sleep training babies before birth

Rebecca: The idea that you can train a baby to follow a sleep schedule in utero is completely ludicrous. It’s absolutely bonkers. There is no actual way that this can happen. What you’ll notice is when you are up and about and moving the baby can be very quiet and very still. And then the second you lay down and try to go to sleep or to sit down and rest that’s when baby starts getting really active. 

Normal newborn sleep, first 24-48 hrs

Rebecca: Remember that all babies are good babies, regardless of how they sleep. They’re gonna sleep like a baby which is what we want. In the very early stages you may be lulled into a false sense of security because there’s a lot of sleep going on. Being born is absolutely exhausting. So you may find that your newborn sleeps really long stretches and you just think, “We’ve got an awesome sleeper! This is great.” But that quickly changes: they will soon be spending more time awake and much shorter stretches of sleep.

They’re always hungry, because your milk hasn’t come in yet, and that quickly gets in the way of sleep too.

Rebecca: The great news is we cannot create any bad habits, whatsoever. It’s just impossible to create bad habits. And that’s when you’re feeding, you’re rocking, you’re bouncing, you’re jiggling, you’re singing, you’re talking, everything is completely fine. The nurturing that was happening in utero continues when you’re with a newborn. You’re now in the fourth trimester  and it’s just survival mode for at least the first twelve weeks. 

Jessica: Just be responsive and watch your baby and interact with your baby. Let your baby sleep and feed them appropriately. 

Rebecca: You don’t need to worry if your 2 day old is not on a sleep schedule. Not in the slightest. I wouldn’t even think about getting on a sleep schedule until over twelve weeks old. 

Jessica: Our bodies do the most milk making processing at night. As wonderful as it is when babies start sleeping longer stretches at night it does, to some degree, threaten your breastmilk supply.

Can't create bad habits with newborns

Week one

Rebecca: Getting into that week one we’re still in that survival mode. They have no idea what is day or what is night and so they’re going to just be continuing to sleep, wake, sleep, wake, sleep, wake. Sleep is just sleep. They’re not thinking of it as nighttime sleep or as daytime sleep. So if you think that your child has days and nights mixed up, they can’t because they don’t really have days or nights.

Rebecca: When they’re born their stomach is so tiny it’s the size of a marble. And that’s tiny. As they grow older and they get bigger the stomach gets bigger and your supply begins to alter as well. That’s gonna really dictate why your child is waking up and when they get hungry. 

That can continue throughout that first twelve weeks. And you may notice that you’re able to get a little bit longer between the feeds and we’re not ever dropping feeds during the night, we’re stretching the time out between the feeds.

Rebecca: The majority of children, about seventy percent, at twelve weeks old are not even getting a five or six hour stretch of sleep. 

Jessica: One of the things we know is that that interrupted sleep for the baby reduces their risk of SIDs. 

I know for me, when I was really struggling, one of the things I would tell myself is, “I’m so glad you’re awake, just keep on being alive.” Because it was hard, and I would feel a little angry or resentful like “Please just sleep!” but it was so important for me to remind myself that her frequent waking was maybe even saving her life. So, just something to keep in mind, it’s important that our babies do what they need to do. 

Rebecca: Sleep deprivation is incredibly tough when you’ve had a newborn you can see why it’s used as a form of torture because it is so effective. 

Jessica: We need to recognize that it is a part of normal human development that, starting as infants, we wake often. Most of us do.

I’ve had one of those kids that slept long stretches right off the bat, that was super easy, immediately threatened my milk supply, immediately made some growth issues for us actually, and so my doctor was telling me to wake her because this became a problem (and to this day she is still a very good sleeper). But my very next kiddo still at 15 feels like she only believes in sleep when she wants to sleep on her terms. That has not changed. She was that way from coming out and stayed that way. We kind of have this range of normal for humans and what our sleep patterns look like as an adult it’s not fair to impose those on to babies. While at the same time there are different sleep personalities, or personalities in general, and my 15 year old’s sleep patterns are, in many ways, much better than they were when she was an infant – it’s true (in large part because she’s responsible for them and not me) but she doesn’t wake me up either way so she lets me sleep. There’s a pretty big spectrum here but I think one of the biggest mistakes we make going into parenting a baby is we expect our newborn human beings to function, in terms of sleep, as adult human beings. And that’s simply not how we’re wired, that’s not how we’re gonna work. 

Week one to week six

Rebecca: More of the same. Just waking and feeding and this is gonna be happening 24 hours a day. You may have wake ups where it’s not just straight back to sleep after the feed but these are gonna be quite short. And then as your child is getting older these awake periods just get longer and longer – but not hugely.

As we get to twelve weeks the longest awake period we should have is an hour and a half and that’s where we’ve got to get everything in. That’s the feed, the diaper change, the playtime, the bath, whatever it is, we’ve got 90 minutes to do that. So don’t feel you have to be home for every nap because you’re not going to be able to do feed, diaper change, getting dressed to go out to the car to get to the store to get back for that next nap. That’s going to be totally impossible to do. So whenever you can, napping on the go is completely fine. 

Jessica: I have definitely had those kids that have slept so much better when we are on the move and the reality is I have things to do. 

Rebecca: Temperament really does play a really big part at really young ages as to how your child is gonna sleep and that’s actually normal.

Jessica: So learn what’s normal from your baby. And be educated with your healthcare provider to make sure they’re growing appropriately and they’re developing on track and all of those things. You’re going to want to recognize that there is no one size fits all sleep standard. So normal is a range. And you have to learn your baby. 

Rebecca: Only help when you need to help. Your baby knows exactly how to get you to help, their cry is very effective, it’s not something we can easily ignore. Which is one of the reasons why the human race is still here, that cry getting us to do whatever we need to do to get it to stop because that’s how we survive. Don’t over help. If they’re happy to just hang out, perfect. It may be they’re happy to hang out for 10-20 minutes and then they may fall asleep or maybe then they need help. But you don’t need to over help especially in the middle of the night if you don’t actually need to be there helping. Generally when they’re crying they need something, even when they need sleep they’ll cry because they’re overtired. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should just leave them, if they’re fussing that’s fine, but you’ve got to figure out what works for your child. Because it may be that they actually need to be held and rocked whilst you’re patting their back. It may be that you need to rock side-to-side rather than back and forward. Every single child is completely unique with what it is that they need but when they’re crying and they need something they’re not manipulating you. 

Jessica: When they wake at night, close to twelve weeks, and they want to be awake for a little while do we engage them during that time or do we keep the lights low and things quiet?

Rebecca: I would keep the lights low with low interaction. And it may be that you need to do a diaper change or whatever it is you need to be doing and we don’t want to be creating this our awake time we actually want to be encouraging sleep at this time. Just keeping it dark, dim and using a very low voice and really low interaction because we want to be encouraging sleep. 

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13 Truths of a Bed-sharing Family

by Joni Edelman

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

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We share a bed with our babies. Actually two beds. We share two beds with our babies — because one bed just wasn’t enough bed.

I was a bed-sharer even in the early 90s when the Back to Sleep campaign was a newborn and the idea of an infant lying anywhere but a crib was gasp-worthy. How dare you risk your infant’s very life by being so foolish as to allow them to sleep in any position that deviates from flat on their back, on a FIRM mattress, without even so much as a blanket.

I ignored them.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

This was before Dr. James McKenna told us, YES. Sleeping with your baby isn’t only OK it’s even good, even better. Since then Dr. McKenna has devoted his very existence (well, maybe not existence, but certainly his life’s work) to researching, writing, and talking about co-sleeping. Babies actually shouldn’t sleep alone.

I’ve put every one of my five babies in my bed, despite the finger-wagging, the “campaigns” set out to terrify me (likely in the name of crib sales), the pediatrician’s shame scowl. I did it because it matters to me, even if I get kicked in the face. A lot.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

Bed-sharing is a darn good-time, and here’s how you know you’re definitely having all the fun that you can fit into one (or two) beds full of people:

  1. You wake up because someone kicked (or hit) you in the face. They probably didn’t do it on purpose — if it helps to know that. But it probably doesn’t help to know that because you are busy trying to sop up the blood pouring from your nose. It’s like a Game of Thrones episode — in your bed.
  2. You have sound, scientific evidence that your child(ren) have telepathy. They know when you’re asleep. Either that, or the sound of your deep sleep inhalation activates their Pavlovian response. “Mom is sleeping. QUICK. CRY.” (Note: This also holds in non-bed-sharing settings.)
  3. There is a towel in your bed, somewhere. Possibly more than one. The towel is covering pee. Because someone peed at 3 AM and no, you are not changing sheets at 3 AM. In fact, you may just leave that towel there for tomorrow when someone else pees in your bed.
  4. You know how to sleep with nothing but a corner of a sheet. Everyone is burrito wrapped in your blankets. You’re too tired to get up to forage for one. Sure, this 12X12 section of flimsy cotton — that probably has pee on it — will suffice. Who needs blankets anyway?
  5. You have mastered the art of sleeping, fetal, on the southeast 5% of the mattress. Forget that you are four times larger than your toddler. Starfish child cannot be bothered with your sleep needs. 
  6. You can sleep without moving. AT ALL. There is a nursing baby in the crook of your arm. Because A. you know they are safe there and B. they are face-to-face with your boob. The bar is open all night.
  7. You’ve given up shirts. The only thing shirts are good for is absorbing milk. And, oh hey, there’s already a towel in your bed. FORWARD THINKING. Achievement unlocked.
  8. No fewer than 17 people have told you “if you let them sleep with you, you’ll never get them out of your bed. And for a split-second you thought, OHMYGODNO, and then you remembered that the number of 16-year-olds sleeping with their parents is practically zero.
  9. Your bed is on the floor and you may have more than one bed sandwiched together. This isn’t a look you’ll find in decorating magazines. You no longer care about magazines, only that everyone will just Go The F*&K To Sleep. Please. God. Sleep.
  10. You have slept on the floor. Because bed-sharing is beautiful, but sometimes you are so terrified to wake up your sleeping toddler by moving them, that you’ll just sleep anywhere. See: Floor.
  11. Your partner has slept on the sofa. No, not because you’re fighting or they don’t want to be near you. But because the baby owns you now — and also the space where daddy used to sleep. Ownership: transferred.
  12. Your children have never slept on the sofa. They own the bed. This is your life now. Embrace it — at least until they’re 16.
  13. You wake up to snuggles. And you’re reminded why the bloody nose is (probably) totally worth it.

Joni Edelman, cosleeping

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IMG_0670 I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
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Rest Well- Sleep Support From Sleep Consultant Rebecca Michi

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to rate how they were sleeping on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best and to tell us about it. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

Rebecca Michi sleep consultant

Brittany: I would say a 4. my 13 mo wakes up every 1-2 hours and wants to nurse like a newborn. We co-sleep and started to transition to his crib. but I’m still not getting sleep he sits up and cries cause he can’t find the boob. He has never slept more then 3 hours. We have been on a bedtime routine for months now started bedtime at 7:30p and nothing seems to work. Read books about sleep did everything and still a short sleeper.

Rebecca: How long do you think he could go between feeds during the night right now? 3 hours? He could probably do without a feed at all during the night, but as he is used to feeding lots his tummy will be hungry if you drop to no feeds or have a long time between those feeds during the night. Get a little nightlight that you need to turn on before you feed at those 3 hour intervals during the night. This is the cue for a feed not just because he woke up. In between those feeds times do whatever you can do to help him back to sleep, rocking, walking, patting, singing, dancing, shushing, anything! If your partner can help in between those feeds it would be very helpful. Maybe you could both take short shifts. If you are trying to get him to sleep as it wasn’t a feed time when he woke and he doesn’t fall asleep, but you get to a feed time, turn that light on and feed him. Don’t worry if he falls asleep feeding. As he gets used to not being fed at every wake up and so often he should begin to increase those periods of sleep. You can continue to work on this until you are comfortable with the amount he’s feeding (or not!).

 

Lauren: I get less then 5 hours of sleep at night. In short 2 hour chunks. My son is 14 months, and barely goes 2h between comfort nursing. I would cosleep, but then he crawls all over me, and pinches and nurses all night long. I can’t take it any more. He hardly eats solids, and barely eats during waking hours. I love the snuggles, but have seriously contemplated bottle feeding my next child just so he/she isn’t so attached at the hip to me. I have never been away from my son for more than 4 hours in his life. It is very tiring, and does affect my relationship with my husband and older daughter (4).

Rebecca: If he’s getting the majority of his calories during the night he will wake often to nurse. Try as best you can get a few more nursing sessions into him during the day. Often people have success feeding before or after their child has napped, the room is dark, their child is relaxed and there are very few distractions around. You can also try offering solid foods little and often throughout the day. You can always add breastmilk to his solid foods.

During the night set your feed times, how long can he go between feeds? 3 hours? Only feed at those times. Have a little nightlight as your cue for feeding (turn it on before you feed) and help him back to sleep any way possible when it’s not a feed time. Don’t worry if he wakes after 2 hours, help as much as you need to, if he hasn’t fallen asleep at 3 hours since the last feed, turn the nightlight on and feed him. Continue through the night. He will have fed less during the night so make sure you are offering more nursing and solid foods the following day. Stick with the 3 hour feedings for 3 nights and then stretch out a little further (3 ½ or 4 hours?). Having your partner help with this would be a huge benefit as it will become more of a challenge before it gets better.

Sleep training 12 weeks 4 month sleep regression

Tearra: My 5 month old was such a good sleeper only waking every 4 hours at night. Untill he reached about 3 months old. For the last 2 months he has been waking every 1 to 2 hours at night wants to be nursed back to bed every time. Will not take a bottle. He sleeps in his own room. He’s my 3rd baby, and I can’t Cosleep. It’s not comfortable to me. I’m so tired. I don’t know what to do. My other little now 2 and 5 never did this and our still great sleepers.

Rebecca: There is a very big shift that happens with sleep at around 12 weeks of age (52 weeks from conception, so it does depend if they were born early of late), children shift from having infant sleep cycles to having adult sleep cycles (they are shorter than ours). From then on they have REM dream sleep and a deep sleep (they didn’t before). They also begin to produce melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone) when they get into a dark dim environment. Going through this shift can make very big changes to the way a child sleeps and as parents we get to help them through that. It’s not unusual that this began around 12 weeks of age.

First off I would take a look at the day routine, whenever I work with a family we always work on the routines first, it can have a huge impact on night sleep. Have a maximum of 2 hours awake and then a nap, have a 10 minute nap routine (really consistent and within your awake time), all throughout the day. Being awake for longer can result in short naps and then overtiredness when going to bed at night, when we are overtired we struggle to fall asleep and remain asleep.

As you are not bed sharing it doesn’t look like you will be over helping (where you are helping too soon), I presume he is wide awake before you are going and helping (this is a good thing to do, we want to make sure he is awake and actually needing help when you go in). Have you tried not feeding? Sending your partner in to help? If feeding is the only way you can get your child to sleep (at the beginning of the night and as back to sleep during the night) you may want to consider some gentle sleep training. My technique, The Michi Method is a very hands on gentle technique. This will gradually and gently teach your child to fall asleep more independently and back asleep more independently, when it isn’t a feed time. He may still need a feed during the night until he is around 12 months old, just not every 2 hours and not as they only way to get back to sleep.

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We’re so excited to be giving away 4 of Rebecca’s books Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament to 4 lucky Leakies! Use the widget below to enter.

Comment here if you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

small Rebecca Michi121 Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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MiLK Conference Call for Speakers

breastfeeding and formula feeding conference

Call for speakers

MILK: An Infant Feeding Conference,

2015

 

Calling for submissions from clinicians, scholars, students, artists, mothers, fathers, researchers, and others familiar with infant feeding from clinical and social perspectives. Submissions of a wide variety are welcome, including research presentations, theoretical papers, academic papers, creative submissions including personal essays, social commentary, literature, and performance art.

We are looking for presentations on topics related to infant feeding and maternal health including but not limited to: continuity of care and infant nutrition, the diagnoses and care of physiological barriers to breastfeeding, sociological barriers involved in infant feeding, anthropological perspectives of infant nutrition, analysis of marketing in the maternal baby industry, conscientious marketing, exploration of infant feeding and child nutrition controversies, policies in the workplace for family support and breastfeeding, politics of infant feeding and policy making, postpartum depression and mental health research related to infant feeding, infant feeding practices in subsequent children, sociological family support and infant and child nutrition, infant feeding education, infant nutrition in public health, feeding multiples, managing maternal health issues through breastfeeding, nonviolent communication strategies for supporting infant feeding, developing infant feeding support products, immediate postpartum infant feeding support, the impact of birth interventions on maternal breastfeeding goals, maternal and pediatric allergies and infant nutrition, premature infants and nutrition, feminism and infant feeding, natural duration breastfeeding, weaning, infant nutrition and sleep, partner support and education, breastfeeding after breast reduction, socioeconomic and racial disparities in infant feeding support, breastmilk pumping, inducing lactation and relactation, the role of infant nutrition in relation to dental care, and the future of infant nutrition support.

Submissions accepted through February 28, 1015 and close March 1, 2015.

Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference, is a MommyCon conference envisioned by The Leaky Boob with the support of Ergobaby. Designed to bridge professional conferences for clinicians, health care providers, academics, and researchers, with consumer conferences for parents, Milk aims to educate, inspire, and support parents in feeding their children, as well as the people that support them including nutrition, lactation, maternal, and pediatric health care providers.

To submit to speak at Milk 2015, please use this form.

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Saving sanity- Transitioning from breastfeeding naps to quiet time

by Jessica Martin-Weber

needing a break bad mom

Sponsored post.  This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Cosleeper.

 

I recently wrote about quiet time over on our more general site, BeyondMoi.com, and was asked about quiet time and breastfeeding.  Hundreds of questions pour into TLB every day about breastfeeding and nap time, sibling transition, postpartum depression, overwhelmed moms, touched out syndrome, and general burnout are regular topics.  So here’s one of my sanity saving tips for families: quiet time and how to transition the breastfeeding child into independent quiet time.

The old adage to sleep when baby sleeps is all well and good when you have a newborn and only a newborn and that newborn sleeps.  But what about when they’ve grown into active toddlers?  Or when you have an extroverted preschooler and a newborn?  When do you find some time to recharge and rest during the day if you’re a stay at home or work at home parent and especially if you’re a breastfeeding mom?  Maybe you can find some rest helping them rest but when a part of your body is required to help someone else sleep, there can come a point when one’s very sanity is threatened.  So how do you find space and help the small children grow into adults that can appreciate time alone as well and develop respect for others’ sensitivities?

Parenting is hard.  Maybe not the hardest job in the world, but certainly a challenging demand with responsibilities 24/7.  No other relationship or career requires participating individuals to be so continuously available or interacting.  If I had to spend as much time with my friends as I do my children, chances are strong we wouldn’t be friends.  Getting space from each other, yes, even from my children, helps me interact as the mother I want to be when I’m with them.  In other words, I’m super grump mom when quiet time doesn’t happen and my children are too.  True, I’m an introvert (a shock to some, but an introvert is described as someone that gets energy from being alone and an extrovert gets energy from being with people) but even the extroverts I know appreciate a bit of space to themselves from time to time.  Being “on” all the time is exhausting.  In our family, with 9 of us at 2, 4, 6, 11, 13, 13 (foster daughter), 15, and two thirty-somethings, it is imperative to all our sanity that we find space in time to call our own.  Even just 45-90 minutes a day.

But what about the toddler or preschooler that is accustomed to breastfeeding for their midday siesta?  What about when they’re ready to drop a nap all together but quiet time is still needed for everyone?  How can everyone get the space and quiet time they need as stages and ages change?

Personally, I’ve transitioned 5 out of our 6 children from breastfeeding to sleep at nap time, to taking quiet alone time as toddlers and preschoolers and transitioned one of them from nap to quiet time without breastfeeding involved. Transitioning the breastfeeding toddler or preschooler from naps to quiet time isn’t a process that should be rushed.  Like night weaning, there’s no magic age but rather a collection of readiness signals for both mom and the child.  For us it usually doesn’t happen until sometime after 18 months, usually closer to 2 or 2.5 years old.  Signs of readiness include: down to one nap a day, able to play independently for 20 minutes or more, demonstrates a natural inclination for balancing being active and quieter play, and displays a secure attachment.  Whether transitioning to going down without breastfeeding or shifting to a quiet time rather than a nap time, something that can go back and forth for years actually, following the child’s cues helps make the transition easier.  When I’ve been tempted to force something they weren’t ready for it just stressed us all and set us back.  Still, there’s a balance to be struck, mommy martyrdom leads to burnout and stress for the entire family.  Quiet time may be the oxygen mask a parent needs, figuring out how that works for your family may be all that is standing between you and saving your sanity.

My own needs for space and quiet time as an introvert led to me noting the need to nurture the nurturer and to find ways to do so.  With my fingernails desperately clinging to the cracked foundation of my spirit during postpartum depression with my second and my first period as a stay at home parent, I croaked out to my husband how I was failing but couldn’t find my footing without having space to do so.  Fortunately, the sensitive, introverted man I am in love with didn’t hesitate to make some room for me to find that footing even as he helped secure my life line: quiet time.  Admitting I needed a break felt like some sort of failure.  Moms don’t need breaks!  They need aprons and bowls of cookie dough and a baby carrier for the littlest and everyone is happy then!  Right?  That I needed a break not just once in a while but every day felt like I wasn’t cut out for this mothering gig.  Which was incredibly problematic since I already had 2 children by this point.  What was I going to do, give them back?  The horrible reality that maybe I was a bad mom started to sink in and I wasn’t about to give in, I was going to do whatever I could to change that.  Maybe I was a bad mom but my kids were stuck with me and I wasn’t ready to give up, just had to figure out how to keep it together.

Quiet time did more than help me keep it together, it gave me time to drink a cup off coffee, fill the journal The Piano Man gave me with poetry and thoughts, and gave me the space to find my footing to be the kind of mom I want to be.  Needing a break didn’t mean I was a bad mom, just a human one.

So when my nurslings no longer need to breastfeed for naps or quiet time but we still practice the daily ritual of quiet time for everyone in our homeschooling home, we gently guide the transition.  If they are still napping, instead of nursing to sleep, we nurse for 10 minutes or just before sleep and then stop and read something together before putting space between us. Gradually decreasing the amount of time at the breast while still engaging in physical connection through a back rub, light foot massage (with some lavender oil, so relaxing), reading cuddles, etc., meets that need for physical attachment while helping them prepare for some alone space.  We start them out having quiet time in the same room, I’ll just be sitting in a chair across the room while they play in the bed. Sometimes even in bed together but I’ll sit and read my own book and not interact. Building forts or creating a nap nest or book nook helps too, working together to create the space, then have them go in and have alone time in the space. When they start to give up naps, a snack during quiet time can be helpful and a distraction. When we’re in the same space, I just tell them I won’t be talking to them and even avoid eye contact during the designated time.  Making use of a timer such as 30 minute sand timer (oh how the eyes get heavy watching the sad) or the alarm on a smart phone (pick a sound that won’t be too startling should they fall asleep) can give them a goal with a definite end point.  Now with big kids in the mix, sometimes a younger one will take quiet time with an older one, quietly side by side reading or coloring.  For extroverts, making sure the coming out of quiet time transition is one that engages them fully is so important. With our extroverts we like to ask them about their quiet time experience, what they did, what they thought about, what they created, etc. We just let them talk. Having the conversation while doing some other activity is good too, such as cooking or playing outside.

As with all transitions, it’s best if it isn’t abrupt.  One day she’ll settle just fine on her own and even tell me to go away, the next I may end up nursing her to sleep.  Being flexible and attentive to her needs as well as mine helps us all find the balance we need.

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Arm’s Reach and MommyCon Announcement and Giveaway

I’m headed to Vegas baby!  I’ve never been, true story.  But now Arm’s Reach Concepts has made it possible for me to meet up with a few hundred other moms at MommyCon– the boutique style conference focusing on natural parenting methods for everyone; single moms, career moms, stay at home moms, and even dads.  I get Vegas and hanging out with like-minded internet friends to talk about breastfeeding, parenting, birth, babywearing, sleeping, sex, growing up, and all other manner of topics related to life as a parent.  There’s even yoga.  Sugarbaby and I can’t wait!  While there I get to lead two sessions, one to talk about “Sex, Lies, Breastfeeding, and the Rest- finding fun and sleep amidst the realities of parenting” and another session called “Growing Together With Our Children“.  Even better, a designated private party to hang with other Leakies!

 

I’m thrilled that MommyCon has put in considerable effort to make this conference affordable.  Staying in a swank Las Vegas hotel AND workshops /seminars with fun and informational presenters such as Jamie Grayson, TheBabyGuyNY and all for a great rate.  At $110 for a single attendance registration and hotel stay or $150 family registration and hotel.  That great rate just got even better, read on for a discount code just for Leakies.  The price can’t be beat for a getaway in Vegas with friends.  It’s great to know that having my 8 month old Sugarbaby in tow at the time won’t be a problem either at this mommy centered event.  To register, go here.  To reserve your space at The Leaky Boob Meet-And-Leak private party on the 3rd, email [email protected]

One of my favorite companies, Arm’s Reach Concepts, a company that helps families have safe sleeping arrangements, is not only partnering with me to make it possible for me to speak at MommyCon, they are sharing information for parents to make the right sleep choices for their family.  Joining me in Vegas, ARC places great value in supporting parents and producing great products that assist them.  It’s no surprise then that this company is staffed with incredible people that genuinely want to help families get off to a great start.  Innovative and dedicated this company isn’t afraid to think outside the crib which has earned them the endorsement of Dr. Jack McKenna regarding their co-sleeper design.

To get ready for the fun in January, we’re doing 2 exciting giveaways: a single attendance registration (winner is responsible for their own travel) and an Arm’s Reach Concepts Cocoon.  Both of these giveaway items are a great value and all about encouraging and supporting families.  It’s an honor and a pleasure to share these with you.

baby hammock, Arm's Reach, Cocoon

The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon, a $140 value, is a new product in the ARC family of co-sleeping accessories.  Designed to mimic the feeling of the womb so newborns feel more secure, the hammock bed style Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon cradles baby closely and gently sways in response to baby’s movement.  Perfect for babies birth to 15 pounds The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon is easy to move around the house, keeping baby close for naps while mom or dad accomplish tasks that need to be done in their day.  The Cocoon is for infants birth to 15 pounds or when child can rollover, whichever comes first.

Sugarbaby and I got to scope out The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon this past October and while she was just on the edge of being to big for it, we were both big fans.  After spending 3 days on my back at a trade show, a fussy Sugarbaby was done being worn and settled right down when we tried The Cocoon.  In no time at all she was happily kicking and smiling at the soft toys bouncing above her.

Arm's Reach Concepts Cocoon, baby hammock

I talked with Xza Higgins from MommyCon and asked her to share the details of the registration giveaway and some background on why she started MommyCon and what Leakies could expect.

Xza:  MommyCon was founded to bring forward thinking parents together in an environment that promotes; learning, growing and nurturing our offspring.  A big part of why I started MommyCon, was because I was sick of attending mom events that talked about breastfeeding, babywearing, birth, etc. but then receiving a package of formula to take home with me and pamphlets on “when to ask for the epidural.” The seminars didn’t speak to me, and so I began planning babywearing classes, cloth diapering workshops, and car seat checks utilizing my like-minded friends knowledge and experts that I met along the way. I always felt like I was just at one big sales pitch, and that is why I’m dedicated to making MommyCon an event that moms from across the globe want to attend so they can mingle with other mommy’s and learn about things they are passionate about.

Our first event under the MommyCon title is MommyCon Mini and will take place  on January 4, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event will run from 10am-5pm, but we will have morning yoga for early risers and there will be private meet and greet the evening before with Jessica from The Leaky Boob. MommyCon registration is required to attend the meet and greet on the 3rd, and space is limited. You can email [email protected] to reserve your space.

MommyCon, Las Vegas

Sample Schedule for MommyCon Mini, 2013

Red Rock 3

9:15AM :              Yoga – Mom and Baby

10:30AM:             Pre and Post-Natal Dance Class with Menina Fortunato

11:30AM:             Babywearing 101 & Wrapping

Lunch Break

1:30PM:               Pre-natal Considerations for Expectant Mom’s

2:30PM:               Car Seat Safety & The Best Seats for Your Family

3:30PM:               Tips for a Greener Home: Saving Money & Protecting Our Planet

 

Red Rock 4

10:00AM              Welcome! Mothering Through Breastfeeding

11:00AM                  The Leaky Boob Growing with Your Children

12:00PM               Cloth Diapering for Modern Families

Lunch Break

2:00PM                 The Leaky Boob presents Sex, Lies and Parenting

3:00PM                        Infant Massage Workshop with Amber Puzzi, LMT

4:00PM                 Jamie Grayson “The Baby Guy NYC” Best of Gear Seminar with thousands of dollars worth of giveaways!

Registration Opens at 8am

Shopping area is Red Rock 2 from 9:30am-5:00pm

Las Vegas hotel

You can register to attend MommyCon by visiting our website and clicking “attend.” We have single tickets, family packs and even hotel and ticket bundles. A ticket to MommyCon is just $50 for a day full of fun, learning and growing together. Children are all welcome to attend, but we do encourage babywearing instead of lugging strollers as there is limited parking for them.

The Leaky Boob readers can receive 10% off tickets and bundles by using code Leaky10 – prize can also be applied to existing MommyCon ticket purchase.

Website

Twitter

Facebook

To be entered for either of these great prizes, check out the widgets below.  Good luck everyone!  Hope to see you at MommyCon, 2013!

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My Mommy Bliss

I peeked around the corner into where I heard the sounds of baby babble.  She had been on the look out for me, immediately rolling over onto her tummy and smiling tentatively.  Stepping into the room I greeted her softly and she laid her head down and smiled, a shy lopsided smile.  She was happy to see me and I her.  We had been apart for several hours.  Now, after a long nap, we were finally reconnecting.  I told her I missed her, she lifted her head and kicked excitedly, a grin filling her face showing off the 2 tiny white teeth that protruded from her bottom gums.  Both legs kicked the bed, arms flapping rapidly, broken only by the super baby pose and intense grins at me.  Overwhelmed with excitement she buried her face in the mattress, her body tense with an excited delight.  I leaned in, nuzzling her cheek and kissing her neck and she squealed glee, a squawking sound that dissolved into a giggle and ended with a sigh.  My whole being sighed too.  This was right.  This was mommy bliss.  She rolled toward me and I kissed the top of her head, breathing in her intoxicating smell, treasuring the velvety softness of her peach fuzz.  Her diaper still dry, I climbed onto our bed to snuggle and feed her.  Expectation and excitement mingled as she realized she was hungry and her kicking intensified, she began to fuss lightly.  Her hungry sound.  Little hands opened and closed, grabbing at the bed.  Her eyes watched my every move, anticipation building, I was not moving fast enough now.  As I got comfortable, I encouraged her to make her way to me but desperation set in quickly, we had been parted too long and she needed to eat now, not a second later.  Drawing her to me and lifting my shirt, I watched her calm with knowing.  More skilled at this than anything else, she was like a artist at work, anxious and itching to get started, smooth and calm in the moment of delivery.  Her mouth enveloped my nipple, her hand rested on my breast.  Laying side by side our breathing synched and I watched as she got in the zone, filling her tummy with my milk.  My milk let down quickly to her masterful technique and soon she hummed contentedly between swallows.  Finally she lifted her eyes to my face and I smiled my own lopsided smile at being noticed again.  Still in the zone, she held my gaze, never interrupting her pace as she satiated her hunger.  Her soft hums felt like a lullaby and a content relaxed sleepiness came over us both and I closed my eyes.  A contented gurgle beckoned me to open my eyes and I looked down to see her gazing up at me, no longer latched to my breast.  When our eyes met her face relaxed into the lopsided smile and she raised a hand to my face.  Staring and smiling, we stroked each other’s face, savoring the contact.  She told me about her day and I murmured about how I missed her.  Contentment in this moment of perfection clouded the reality of dirty dishes, unanswered emails, and a thousand other tasks requiring my attention. There was just her and me.

 

This is right.  This is my mommy bliss.

 

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Our night weaning journey, even more questions answered.

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here and a second round here.

 

Originally I tried to answer all your questions in one post but it was too darn long, you can find more questions here.  Much too long for sleep deprived people to read any way.  So I broke it into two parts.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.

 

What do you do if baby just screams bloody murder when DF/DH/partner goes in to settle them? Do u finally give in and give em the [email protected]@b?

First I would try to sooth them without the breast but with cuddling with me.  Sometimes I think it works great to have the non-breastfeeding partner to do the soothing when night weaning.  Other times I think the child becomes confused, not only do they not get to breastfeed, they don’t get their mommy.  There is a significant bond between mother and child and that bond still needs to be honored.  Smunchie still wants me at night, even if it’s me without the bobbies.  Honestly, I think being denied access to the mother could be traumatizing if her presence is truly what the child needs.

If that still didn’t work and if the crying crossed the line of what I can comfortably accept as just expressing anger into feeling abandoned or betrayed then I would nurse.  I would do so because I would have to consider that my child is responding this way simply because they are not ready to night wean.  In Dr. Gordon’s plan he warns that there may be a few nights that are really rough but by this point most parents would be doing this they would know the difference between angry cry and totally confused, scared cry.

 

Could you have coped with this method on your own, or do you think it worked so well because you had the help of your husband on the *worst* nights? (Single mother here, trying to work out how best to go about on my own)

Yes, I do think it would have worked on my own.  There were a few nights that I did it completely on my own because Squiggle Bug needed The Piano Man.  The hardest part for me on my own was staying awake enough to follow through with the plan and not just nurse so I could try to sleep.

 

Do you regret not night weaning sooner? Also, sometimes my 12mo will wake up and be up for 1.5-2 hours at time. Does night weaning help with this problem also?

Part of me wishes we had tried it sooner but only because I was feeling so incredibly burned out as a parent and getting sick of breastfeeding.  Those feeling have completely lifted with the night weaning, not that I always love breastfeeding but I am enjoying it more and can relax to be more in the moment.  However, I’m not convinced that earlier would have been right for Smunchie and would not have ended well.  So I don’t regret the decision to wait until I felt she was ready.  Yes, the night weaning has helped with the extended night waking/play time thing too.

 

Not sure if you could answer this one, but I was wondering what age would a baby/toddler wean himself the night nursing, if the parents are not actively trying to encourage him/her to stop nursing in the night.  I have a 11 months old that wakes up 6-7 times a night, to nurse, If i do not nurse her she is crying in a very panicky/distress way.  We co-sleep and we do get our rest for the time being, but would be nice to have a bit of a perspective.

Usually between 2-4 years old if it’s on their own.

 

I’m curious how you arrange the sleeping surfaces in your bedroom?

I don’t have any pictures of my bedroom or I’d show you.  It’s a tiny room with not a lot of room once the bed is in there.  Our queen-sized bed is against one wall with Smunchie’s pack-n-play directly across from it against the opposite wall about 2 feet from the end of our bed.  That’s usually where she starts out and stays until her morning waking any more but when she was waking she’d end up in bed with me.  Often, even still, The Piano Man ends up in Squiggle Bug’s room sleeping with her as she still wakes during the night.

 

What foods do you offer that you think help with more sleep/less waking?  Sometimes I wonder if dinner wasn’t substantial enough when my 11 mo old wakes in the middle of the night.  Why almond milk? i’m feeling the pressure to start cow’s milk but I, myself, don’t drink cow’s milk so I’m hesitant to offer it.

We go for high calorie, high fat and high protein foods in the evening. Rice and beans are a favorite with some avocado, Greek yogurt, meat (providing Smunchie will eat it, often she won’t), nut butters, cheese, quinoa (she LOVES this), eggs, veggies in a “cream” sauce (we use Greek yogurt for that usually), hummus (I make several varieties including traditional, black bean, white kidney bean, etc.) avocado with anything, and almond milk. As to why almond milk, we’re an omnivore family but Smunchie doesn’t like cow or any other mammal milk but mine but she loves almond milk. I like that it is a good source of protein and is yummy. Since we have no nut allergies in my family I don’t have to worry about giving my kids nuts after 12 months.

We offer a cup of water usually with her meals and she drinks almond milk because she doesn’t like any other milk. Smunchie still nurses often, several times a day. She’ll continue for a long time still, a couple of times a day I’ll offer her a cup of water and in the evening she gets a cup of almond milk as we read stories. But it doesn’t replace me, not by a long shot, she wants to nurse often!

 

What’s your bed time routine for Smunchie?  How do you get her to go down without breastfeeding her to sleep?

Because I have older kids or used to be on-call to attend births I always felt like I had to be sure my babies could go down without the breast.  Here’s what works for us.   Around 7.15-7.30 or even 7.15-8.30 (flexibility is crucial in our family, the reality of having older children with activities) we start getting ready.  A story or two (usually French selections daddy reads) with Smunchie and Squiggle Bug on the couch while Squiggle Bug drinks a cup of milk and Smunchie a cup of almond milk.  Then brushing teeth and getting into pajamas.  After giving good night kisses to the entire family we split up, The Piano Man taking Squiggle Bug and Smunchie is with me.  On night’s that he’s working I work it out on my own.  I nurse Smunchie for a bit while reading to her but I haven’t let her fall asleep consistently on the breast for a long time now so when she’s done she sits up and we read a few more books.  Then I say a little prayer with her, we snuggle, I start singing something and stand up, she hands me everything she wants in bed with her (usually a couple cooks, her lovey and her doll and sometimes random things like shoes), I lay those down and then she reaches for me.  We stand just outside her bed hugging while I continue to sing and then I lay her down.  I stay in the room singing for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I tell her good night and slip out.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.  Thank you for letting me share our journey with you.

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Our night weaning journey, more questions answered

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.

Ah… she sleeps.
Between the Facebook page, comments on the night weaning journey blog posts and emails I received quite a few questions about our night weaning experience.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.  There were several questions so I’ve broken them up into two parts (you can find the second part here) in addition to the first round of questions I answered a month ago.  I hope you find these helpful.

 

When is a good time to start thinking about night weaning and moving baby into their own sleep space? How do you go about it? How do you know if they’re ready?

I really think the answer to this is very unique to each family and each baby.  If by own sleep space you mean their own room I’m really not sure.  We’ve done it different every time but what I have noticed is that when the child is ready they will a) do it on their own and b) it won’t be a struggle.  We’ve had difficult transitions and easy transitions.  Now though it’s kind of easy, nobody in our family is in their own room, everybody shares.  When the transition happens they get to be with a big sister, which they usually think is pretty cool.  At 3 years old Squiggle Bug still comes and finds us though, she’s in our bed more than Smunchie is actually.  She just has a higher need to be close to someone at night.  Sometimes she seeks out a sister but usually she prefers her daddy.  We’ve felt that they are ready when they are sleeping well, enjoy the bedtime routine, like the idea of their own space, and seem to be exerting their independence a little more.

 

How do you night wean when your baby doesn’t take a bottle at all! Only uses norma cups or a straw!

Smunchie doesn’t use a bottle and she doesn’t really care for sippy cups either.  She does, however, love regular cups.  What I do is let her take a drink from the glass of water I have by my bed every night if she seems thirsty when she wakes.  We just sit on the bed together and I help her hold the cup steady while she guides it to her mouth to drink.  It works great for us.  If thirst is what woke her up she will settle quickly after that.

 

What are some cues that your baby maybe ready for night time weaning (currently 9 mos and night nursing 3-4 times)?

Studies have shown that babies under 12 months still need to wake often to eat both for nutrition and for safety in their sleep cycle.  So I don’t look for any signs of readiness before 12 months.  After the one year mark though any combination of these may be signs of readiness to night wean:

  • Seems tired and grumpy during the day.
  • Eats well (solids and breast milk) during the day.
  • Has moved through some of the major milestones such as walking.
  • Does NOT have intense separation anxiety.
  • Is not actively teething or sick.
  • Seems frustrated and restless at night at the breast
  • Wakes to nurse but falls quickly back to sleep without really eating.
  • Shows basic understanding to phrases like “all done.”
  • Shows interest and awareness in bed time routines and day time vs. night time.
  • May play putting toys to bed.
  • Responds to soothing other than breastfeeding (i.e. rocking, singing, back rubs, etc.)

I think night weaning is most successful if the child is truly ready for it, please don’t expect that just because your child is over a year they will be ready to night wean.  If it is a giant struggle or at any time the parents feel this is all wrong and not what they want to be doing then they should stop.  It is possible that a child won’t be ready one month but will be the next.  Remaining flexible is perhaps the most important key to night weaning.  Maybe all of parenting actually.

 

Help! I’m tandem feeding and can’t cope ending 2 children at night. My 21/2 year old is up for 1-4 hours 4 out of 5 nights! How do I night wean her gently?

I recommend Dr. Jay Gordon’s technique or The No Cry Sleep Solution.  I’ve used both and found them to both be helpful.  To help prepare for the transition, work on establishing a home rhythm or routine, particularly for going to bed.  It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, just a regular pattern to your days.  I also highly recommend reading the book Nursie’s When The Sun Shines to read with her.  For gentle night weaning keep it mind that what makes it gentle is you continuing to be available, just not offering the breast.

 

How have you and The Piano Man adjusted to the night weaning? Was it harder or easier (emotionally speaking) than you thought? Would you use that method again?

The first few nights she slept completely through the night I would wake often, like my body was just programmed to wake up several times.  I adjusted pretty quickly though and one reason I think we were ready was that I didn’t get engorged through the process, was able to pump but not overflowing.  The Piano Man did fine though he’s still getting up at least once a night with Squiggle Bug (he’s her night time parent of choice, I suspect because I was often nursing Smunchie when she’d need someone) so we’d still like to get that worked out for his sake.  Emotionally I was very ready though so it wasn’t very hard at all.  I thought it would be and there was a twinge of sadness that this phase is over which makes her seem so much bigger to me now.  But that twinge is nothing compared to the frustration I felt at being so tired that I wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted to be during the day to all of my children.

Yes, I would use this method again.  Simple and easy to follow while still maintaining that night time parenting availability we are committed to.

 

I need to night wean my 18 month old! He is only nursing at night and it’s just to fall back asleep. Less than 5 minutes but can be up to 4x a night! I am due in Nov with #2 and don’t want to nurse the two together. Is that bad…?

Nope, it’s not bad.  If you are comfortable with it, if it’s working for you and your family then no need to change.  There is no rule that says you have to night wean or ruin your child.  If it’s not working for you then work to change it.  Maybe try night weaning sooner rather than later though, just so your son doesn’t blame the baby for the change.  Be prepared too, there could be a regression in other areas after his sibling arrives.  That’s not a bad thing, just part of processing the added element in his environment.  Another idea would be to wait until you’ve actually tried it with both, you may not mind it as much as you think.  It’s important to remember that you won’t be pregnant any more so the frustration and feelings you may be experiencing now could change.  Whatever you decide to do though try to remain flexible and enjoy the journey.  Do what is right for your family.

 

How did you transition Smunchie from your bed to her own? Did you feel like you were missing something? Or was it more of a relief that you got your bed back and sleep? I’m a SAHM with only one 16 month old. I’ve tried putting DD in her own bed which is right next to mine but I find I actually sleep less.

Five for five now, I sleep better when they aren’t in bed with me.  Every body is different and some love sleeping with their babies, others don’t mind and some of us can’t stand it.  I’m the last sort.  I do it because I believe it’s what she needs and there are moments when I love it.  They’re brief moments.  But that’s ok, I don’t mind.  There are plenty of other parenting responsibilities I don’t like either but I’m going to keep doing them for the safety and well being of my child.  I started the transition when she was still an infant by laying her down during naps.  It was no problem to just extend that to night sleeping as well.

 

My DD is 10 weeks old and has slept through the night since 1-2 weeks old. No matter what I did to wake her up at night to eat she would cry and “yell” at me and go right back to sleep refused to nurse for more than a min or two. She still sleeps through the night for a good solid 6 hrs but she sleeps in a cradle next to my bed. What is the best way to transition her to her crib?

Personally, I’d keep her in your room.  In your room in her crib or cradle doesn’t matter.  There are some major changes coming up that will completely change how she sleeps at night and not only will it be easier to meet her needs during those times if she’s still in her room, you’ll be able to do so sooner which will go a long way in helping her feel safe and secure.  Plus, hopefully actually get more sleep.  As to how, we always tried transitioning at nap time first.  Lay her down in her crib after following all the same routine you already do getting ready for naps.  Stay close by so you can comfort her easily if need be.  She may not even notice.

 

Have you noticed an increase in day nursing? We’re 3 weeks into night weaning and it seems like DD can’t get enough during the day.

Yep.  Specially in the morning.  Smunchie now wakes up around 7.30am (except for the last week, she’s started favoring the 6am hour) and cuddles in bed to nurse.  It’s usually a long session.  Then we get up, do our morning thing and within 20 minutes she wants me to sit and nurse her again.  Another long one.  Then breakfast with the family and almost without fail another boob session following the family meal.  After that she doesn’t nurse again for a while, usually around nap time.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.

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Sleep is the bomb. One month night weaning update.

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6, and night 7.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.

 


It’s been a month since our night weaning journey.  So where are we now?  Zombie parents?  Or happy shiny, awake parents?

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie turned out to be a very good idea for our family.

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie right before a 2 week road thrip?  Risky.

When we decided to give night weaning a try using Dr. Jay Gordon’s method of night weaning it came out of a desperate necessity to increase the amount of sleep we were getting.  The timing was little more than reaching the end of our rope just as we felt that Smunchie was showing signs of being ready to give up her bobbies at night.  As we began planning to follow Dr. Gordon’s strategy I hoped it would mean that before we left for a 2 week driving vacation across the midwestern United States The Piano Man and I would be able to get enough sleep to not make driving any riskier than it need to be.

It worked, we actually hit the road feeling well rested and Smunchie sleeping anywhere between 8-11 hours each night.

This part of the plan was great, being rested before going on a 2 week cross-country driving trip?  Yes please.

But I was concerned.  I know big changes to a toddler’s routine can throw everything into a tailspin and everything from eating to sleeping could become unpredictable.  Sleeping in a different place most nights, meeting lots of new people, hiking, long days on the road, and all kinds of variables outside our control definitely count as big changes to Smunchie’s routine.  I was concerned that our recent night weaning would become completely undone and we’d be saying “well, she WAS night weaned but now…”

This part of the plan was about as brilliant as those polar bear swims they do in places that freeze in January.  Could be fun and life changing but most likely is just going to kill something you’d actually like to keep on your body.

I had no need to worry though.  Smunchie rolled with the punches and though she developed an amazing ability to transform into one angry flailing octopus any time we headed toward her car seat, sleep was something she approached as a familiar friend.  Hotel room, friends house, sharing a bed with her sisters, on a fold out with The Piano Man and I, in a friend’s Pack-N-Play or even on a palette on the floor she slept.  Which meant we all slept.  Which meant we all actually enjoyed the trip and had more to talk about than “all I really remember is nights of crying and being really tired…”

(Which is why this post is punctuated by random hipstamatic pics from our trip.  That way I can just tell my mom to check the blog to see pics of our trip.  Enjoy!)

Being well rested probably suited the diabolical plans she was concocting to destroy her car seat.  Thankfully, she couldn’t execute them just yet.  I’m hoping the seat has a few more years before she exacts her revenge.  I’m pretty sure I heard her talking in her sleep in the hotel one night, something about “seat… no, no, nooooo!.. go away… poop… chocolate… big sister…”  This could end badly.

We’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and Smunchie is still sleeping through the night without nursing.  She’s recently started having occasional wakings that seem like she’s had a nightmare but a cuddle and gently whispered encouragement and she’s back out in no time.  If she does require something more we’re at a place where we aren’t so drained that we can’t be completely present with her.  The couple of nights she’s had a rough time for some reason I have been able to handle well, more aware.

Some observations since night weaning Smunchie:

  • Random hugs.  Instead of wanting to nurse every time she sees me sometimes she’s satisfied just to get a big squeeze and run off to the really fun stuff in life.
  • When she does want some boob time though it’s a longer, more focused and more real feeling feeding.  And I enjoy it more.
  • It could be coincidence or it could be related but she’s developed a lot more personality and suddenly reached some social milestones almost over night.  I suspect better sleep for her has something to do with this.
  • When she wakes up in the morning she is really, really up.  She’s well rested and ready to get rocking and rolling.  Which is kind of irritating me since she’s decided she’s wide awake at 6am lately.  She’ll play in her bed sometimes but thankfully Lolie is also an early riser so the 2 of them go off to play together in the living room and I snooze for another 45 minutes or so.
  • More often she wants to nurse to sleep at night but then doesn’t ask for it again if she does happen to wake during the night.  I’ve been stopping her with “bobbies all done” when I can tell she’s going to fall asleep and sometimes she complains about that but usually it goes well and she’s clearly ready to go to her bed.
  • I still can’t get over how I feel.  My back pain has diminished to almost none, my fatigue is also mostly gone (except when I stay up too late doing my own thing- such as writing this post, can only blame myself for that!), and my energy level is way up.  It’s great.  With all of this I’m so much more the parent and partner I’ve wanted to be for so long but struggled with just because of sheer exhaustion.
  • I shower more regularly.  Seriously, I really do.  I also actually get dressed, more than the yoga pants t-shirt look.  I’m even wearing jewelry again AND cute shoes.
  • My productivity and my fun-mom-energy has been great.  Not perfect but I never will be, I can live with improved.
  • Patience is a virtue.  And one directly linked to sleep for me.  There’s more to it than that but all my girls have noticed.  I’m more patient with them, with myself and with the thousands of drivers in Houston that oddly enough don’t have working turn signals or at least don’t know how to use them.

Right before we decided to night wean I was struggling often with feeling like I hated breastfeeding.  Me, The Leaky Boob hating breastfeeding?  Yep.  This admission, even just to myself, was a bit horrifying.  However, it was there and I had to examine why.  Within a week of Smunchie being night weaned that feeling was completely gone and though I’ll never completely love breastfeeding (I’ve shared that before) I am enjoying it much more now and am ok with going on for a good while longer.

So all in all this night weaning experience worked very well for us.  I’m glad we waited until we felt the time was right and I’m beyond thrilled Smunchie agreed.  We’re no longer zombie parents, at least not most of the time.  I’m pretty much a happy, shiny awake parent now and it’s been loads of fun.  In the time since we night weaned not only did we travel for 2 week but we raised a whole batch of frog eggs all the way through, made numerous batches of play dough, had loads of living room dance parties, done special outings, seen a couple of movies at the theater, gone on bike rides, played in the sprinkler, spent hours coloring with sidewalk chalk, taught Lolie how to knit, gotten most of us back into knitting (turning fall-ward I think), had more dates with The Piano Man and… probably way TMI… I’ve had a whole lot more sex and it’s the really good kind too.

This sleeping thing?  Yeah, it’s the bomb.

 

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