Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crying it Out

How is it that after all this time, I'm STILL here? Let me clarify. 'Here' means up at night, listening to that ear splitting mind numbing late night cry that comes back night after night no matter what I have tried. I feel as though I have fallen into a trap of mommy mistakes that I am destined to repeat again and again in order to keep my sanity. Or am I? Have I found a way out, or is it something that I am being tested on and will have no other choice but to give in?

My son STILL wakes in the night. STILL. It's been on and off since he was 4 months old. The bliss that allowed me to have bragging rights after he slept through the night at just 9 weeks lasted just under two months and then things went steadily downhill. At first these wakeful episodes were sporadic, and easily justified with teething, belly cramps, growth spurts, illness, etc.  It's amazing what you will tell yourself as a parent to justify interfering with a baby's night time wails. The truth is, you will do ANYTHING sometimes to silence that piercing scream because you just need sleep. Surely that's not too much to ask.

The problem with that is, once you start interfering it becomes a routine. In the past, sometimes his wails would receive immediate gratification - a crib side visit from both mom and dad, a brief belly rub, a fresh nummy and some benedryl for what we believed to be aching teeth and gums.  Other times after twenty plus minutes of cries he would get some time in the rocker with mommy and a fresh diaper. Nights when it was longer, and I mean HOURS longer, or none of this worked, one of us would rise and drag our sleepy selves to his fierce screams and rescue him from the throes of his crib. It was here we would commit the ultimate crime - I would nurse him and we would allow him to fall back to sleep in our bed between us. These desperate measures soon became habit, because more often than not, they were the guaranteed fix. So we would reason with ourselves. Why would we let him cry for such a long period when we were just going to give in and do this eventually, why prolong the inevitable? Why not just do it the moment he begins to spare ourselves the discomfort?  Problem - we found ourselves locked in a vicious cycle. Then a new problem. This foul proof method began to fail. A lot.  And sleeping with a baby is hard! He kicks. He sprawls out. I can't move for fear of waking him. Now what?

Here's what I know- I am tired of that and finally at my breaking point. It MUST stop.

So following a couple of major schedule disruptions from our vacations where all nighttime 'rules' were abandoned for the greater good of sleep, I have had it with the nighttime waking. I can't take it anymore and (as of right now anyway) am willing to put in the legwork to let him cry it out simply because I am out of ideas.

I have figured out that I can't simply lie in bed and listen to the wails. When I have done that I can't decide which is worse - the steady screech or the false- hope inducing silence that lasts sometimes as long as a minute only to be shattered by yet another ear splitting scream. Both types leave me wanting to stand with my head planted firmly against a wall, pulling away only to slam it  back and forth repeatedly in frustration. Clearly this is not a healthy coping strategy.  So I have conjured up a new tactic. When the cries start, I get up. I retreat groggily to the living room to watch tv, blog, read - do something to distract myself in order to be awake enough to monitor the persistent cries but not in the semi awake state that was my cozy bed. I have found that while this is frustrating also, it is not nearly as bad as thinking I can go to sleep only to be roused steadily every thirty seconds as the shrill cries continue.

There are still troubles here though, however. I have a breaking point. After two hours, I need to do SOMETHING different. When this point nears, I conjure a plan of 'ok, so I'll change him and cuddle him, but no way am I feeding him' etc.  Progress is welcomed, no matter how small. If he cried for two hours one night and only an hour and 40 minutes the next, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then there are the set back nights when he digs in an goes even harder the next night for a whopping three hours. Once pain is ruled out and stubbornness is determined as the contributing factor (usually because he is wide awake, babbling at this point, ready for play) you reach a point where all your hard work is threatened and you are hitting that place where you will resort to your old damaging habits out of desperation. It's just soooo much easier.  'Come on. Go get him. Feed him. Put him in your bed. You'll both win. You can SLEEP.'

Trouble is, he seems relatively un-phased the next day, whereas I am a zombie. He's up at his regular time, busy as a bee and I am in a daze, desperate for nap time for some rest. There are days when I feel I simply have no drive for anything extra, that I just can't keep up with him, and how is that he was up as long as I was, but he's FINE??????

As I write this blog I am hopeful for a solution as we enter hour two of his latest wakeful episode at what is now 2:30 am. Wish me luck that I can outlast him in this battle, and that the nighttime wars will soon be over.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Extended Breast Feeding

Today's post is long overdue..Momma has been taking a writing break. Call it writer's block or mommy busy time, or whatever you want - but finally I'm making my way back into the blog world.

As most of my readers know I have survived my little ones first year on planet earth. Among other goals, one of the "buzz word" goals I have heard all year is breastfeeding your child to the one year mark.   From the start I always took the mantra of breastfeeding as long as it worked for both myself and my son and now that he is past the one year mark - it is still working.  This decision is mine alone and I am very comfortable with it but there are (as always!) issues with it in my world and in the social world around me.

I can deal with the issues in my world. Basically I can strip them down to some sharp teeth and attention shifting. He sometimes nips me, rests his chompers while suckling and pops off without warning to follow a sudden sound or sight.  Those things I have adjusted to. It's the outside things that I struggle with.

Is it just me or is there a negative connotation associated with breastfeeding a baby to a certain age by most of the general public? And is it just me or does the media perpetuate this? Time magazine had a 'controversial' cover a few months back of a little boy standing on a stool so he could feed while his mother was standing and posing for the cover of the popular magazine. I've seen it on news reports, magazine articles - how long is too long? When is the "right" time to wean? Many movies make fun of it by having children who can walk and talk sidle up to their mothers and help themselves to some milk amidst judgemental and harrowing glances from the other characters present - poking fun at this in an extreme way.  The sad part is, before baby I was inclined to side with this "disgusting" view of it. Funny how being in the situation has shifted my views, as is usually the case with everything.

At this point in mine and my son's life I am still comfortable feeding him from my breast. The number of feedings, the times of these feeds and when he eats other foods are up to us and we are happy with where things are. I FEEL that stigma that I should have started weaning by now though and I know I have to rise above it, but it can be tough. 

My motto - what works for me right now may not work for anyone else now or ever. I am not causing any harm to anyone (other than the occasional bite for myself....haha) and the message I would like to send - you never know how you would react to a situation until you are actually in it.  Before you can walk in someone else's shoes, you must first remove your own.

I plan on getting back in the blogging game more regularly now. Stay tuned for some new post 1 year old baby topics :)