A Step in the Right Direction, a Weaning Update 

Photo: Ricardo Pilati/Unsplash

Initially, I took a slow and step-by-step approach to weaning Abby from breastfeeding.  When that sort of came to a standstill I decided to take a leap and quit cold turkey; while not offering to nurse, I would not refuse if she asked. 

Today is day twelve of my full time weaning efforts.  I am happy to report that Abby is doing fantastic!  I am really proud of how well she has done.  She has accepted drinking milk out of a cup at night if she asks for milk.  

Abby has not once asked to nurse, which really has surprised me, but just goes to prove my suspicion that she was wanting to breastfeed at night out of habit and for comfort rather out of necessity. 

It is so nice and so much more convenient to not have to pump each day.  Since I was taking certain medications I would have to pump before coming home to Abby or if I had a migraine I would have to pump if I took my migraine medicine.  

It feels very liberating to no longer be breastfeeding.  After so long it really began to feel like a chore.  I loved to do it, and I am happy I was able to do it for so long, but it wore on me after a certain point.  

I thought that perhaps my breasts would become engorged and I would feel uncomfortable,  but that has never happened.  I noticed when I became pregnant again that my nipples were constantly sore, no matter if I used ice, lanolin, or time without nursing pads or a bra, nothing I did made them feel better.  Now all the soreness has completely disappeared.  I think my body was as ready to quit as I was mentally.

I’m really happy with how we are progressing, but we’ll continue to take it one day, one step at a time.

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Working on Weaning

Photo: Averie Woodar/Unsplash

I have slowly been working on weaning with Abby and I think we are almost done.  I wanted to breastfeed for at least a year and this week Abby will be turning 20 months old, so we’ve really surpassed my hopes and expectations.  Weaning hasn’t been something that I have really been looking forward to, in fact, the prospect of weaning has seemed overwhelming and made me hesitant to start.  A couple months ago I stopped her first nursing session when she wakes in the morning.  She didn’t like it too much but accepted drinking her morning milk from a cup without much difficulty.  Then I stopped her first evening nursing at 5:30 p.m., the time when we arrive home, so she jad been drinking whole milk from a cup from the time she awoke until going to bed at night.  

I thought that she would have a hard time when stopping breastfeeding before bed around 7:30-7:45 p.m., but she handled it like a champ after a couple days.  After this she got a cold and was teething, so I was hesitant to continue dropping another nursing session until she felt better. 

Finally this week I let the other shoe drop and decided to try and not breastfeed at night, if possible.  I hid the Boppy pillow in my room, thinking that if she saw it that it might trigger her to insist on getting Mommy’s milk.  I then made sure she had a sippy cup of water in the corner of her crib and also on my nightstand and the side table in the living room at night.  My goal was not to tell her no; if she asked I would let her nurse but I wasn’t going to offer it.  

The first night she wanted to be held and fell asleep quickly the first couple times she woke.  The third time she saw her sippy cup full of water next to me and asked for it instead for milk.  The time she woke up after that she again asked for the water, so I think that perhaps the last few weeks (or more) that she has continued to want to breastfeed at night she may have just been thirsty instead of actually hungry.  Last night she only got up three times.  She never asked for milk.  Once while I was holding her while sitting on the couch she patted my breast a couple times then lay her head in that spot and snuggled in before falling asleep.  Once she took a few swallows from a cup of milk but otherwise she just cuddled with me.

I am really surprised that it has been so easy this far, but we are only two days in.  Hopefully she will continue to do this good and doesn’t regress. I’m going to miss our special time spent together, but I know it had to happen sometime.  

Working on my Patience 

Photo: Elizabeth Lies/ Unsplash

Forgive me for ranting a little.  The last couple weeks have been rough.  First trimester exhaustion has hit big time.  I am always either voraciously hungry or feel like I am going to throw up- isn’t “morning” sickness great?  I have been battling a head cold and although it has mostly resolved, I still have a bilateral ear infection.  I have begun to wean Abby from her nighttime nursing and she’s not happy about it, plus she’s still waking up multiple times a night (maybe it’s teething again?  I don’t know.) and only wanting to snuggle with Mom, not Dad.  Needless to say, no rest for the weary.
I have tried to stay upbeat and positive but Mommy’s patience is starting to wear a little thin.  

Each morning as I get ready for work I put Abby in the Pack and Play in my bedroom.  This is apparently now viewed by her as a new form form of torture, judging by the constant screaming, crying, and whining that begins the moment I put her in there until the moment I take her out.  Whereas she previously didn’t mind and used to play or look at books during that time, I think she doesn’t like being in there any longer because at daycare she is now one of the “big kids” and there is a new baby who uses the Pack and Play that she used to use.  I can’t tell you how it has grated on my nerves hearing non-stop screaming the whole time I brush my teeth, put in my contacts, and take a shower.

Multiple nights in the last week Abby has ended up sleeping in bed with us after about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. It is something I swore would never happen before I had a kid and while I was pregnant, but after getting up seven or eight times a night I have given up and placed her in between us so I get a little more sleep.  It works great… until you get poked in the eye or kicked in the nose out of nowhere while sleeping.  

Her daily temper tantrums have continued.  This morning it happened three times: once because she knew it was time to get in the Pack and Play, the second time was because I put on brown boots, the third was because I wouldn’t let her eat a banana as we were getting in the car.  What was wrong with my brown boots?  I don’t know.  As soon as she saw them, Abby began trying to unzip them and pull them off and then cried when she couldn’t do it.  “Don’t you like my boots?” I asked her.  “Uh-uh, no-ey!”

Normally patience is not an issue for me, but when you don’t feel good it is so much harder to take things in stride.  I am trying hard to be more patient.  

Acrobatic Sleeping and a Long Night

Photo by Quin Stevenson. From http://www.unsplash.com

Yesterday we drove an hour from home to see friends we hadn’t seen in over a year.  Abby enjoyed herself and enjoyed running around all wild and crazy, having a new audience to show off for.  The kids enjoyed showing her their cat and rabbit and horses.  

We spent the night at my in-laws’ house, just a couple of miles away.  As much as I was looking forward to seeing my in-laws, I was not looking forward to bedtime.  Abby NEVER sleeps well at their house.  Usually she and I are awake most of the night.  I am ashamed to say that when we slept there at Thanksgiving it was such a rough night that I broke down and cried, begging my child to please, PLEASE go to sleep.  I think my husband thought that I’d lost it.

When I lay her little snoring form in the Pack and Play and covered her with a blanket to stay warm in the chilly basement she instantly sprung awake and shouted, “Momma!”  No matter what I tried, she would not lay back down, instead she clung to me, arms locked around my neck with tears streaming down her face as if she were going to fall down a steep cliff and I was her only hope to be pulled out alive.  I finally gave in and let her lay next to me, although it took another five minutes to get her to calm down and quit crying.  She drifted off to sleep and I lay cuddling her close, marveling at how wonderful she felt in my arms and how delicious the sweet smell of her mixed with the honey scent of her Burts Bees body wash and the apple scent of her hair detangler was.  We slept peacefully until my husband came to bed.  

At that time she awoke and wanted milk.  After she started to snore I placed her between my husband and I and fell asleep again.  My slumber was not uninterrupted for long.  

Abby began to roll around in her sleep. She flung her arms around, several times hitting my husband in his face.  She slept with her feet in the air.  She slept with her butt in the air. She inched forward and somehow pushed both my pillows on the floor between the bed and the wall.  I put my arm up and around her so that she wouldn’t keep inching forward and also fall off of the bed.  This made my already sensitive shoulder have a muscle spasm and freeze in place.  Ouch.  Later she wiggled around and, still asleep, ended up with her feet in my face.  I picked her up and placed her back on her pillow, when she rolled over to where I had been laying.  I tried to push her over and lay back in my spot, but I was stuck closer to the edge of the double bed.  

Now this double bed has seen better days and is slightly dome-shaped.  I never realized how dome-shaped until I was laying and trying to figure out a position where I wasn’t laying on my left shoulder, wasn’t squishing the kid, and wasn’t going to roll off the bed.  I eventually settled for placing my right arm under my butt.  It wasn’t comfortable but I finally felt like I wasn’t going to end up on the carpet.

This whole time Abby had continued her acrobatic sleep.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her doing a handstand. 

My poor husband woke each time she moved, each time she would snore or whimper, each time she would fling a body part against him.  I know he had to have slept horribly.  I managed to sleep some, but I had incredibly strange dreams about trying to save little children around town from a demonic entity appearing in the form of a child after some horrible apocalyptic event.  Yeah, I have weird dreams.

After Abby wanted milk about 5:45 a.m. I tried to lay her back in the Pack and Play but she wouldn’t have that.  Dad picked her up and took her upstairs at 6:00 a.m.  Grandma and Grandpa were awake and stirring by this time, I’m sure, with help from the screams from my kid who didn’t want to sleep alone.  I slept for another hour and then joined the rest of the family.  It was nice to get a little sleep in the middle of the bed.  

What a night.  I am so looking forward to getting back home and telling my bed how much I missed it tonight. 

What a Day

Photo by Oliver Dale. From http://www.unsplash.com

Today is one of those days where it seems that anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.  Pass me a cup of coffee and some Xanax.  Oh wait, I don’t have either.  Sorry… I am in full sarcasm, no bullshit mode at the moment.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to complain less, but I’m going to complain.

The day did not start out great.  I remember being awake at 4:30 a.m. with Abby but do not remember my alarm going off at 5:00 a.m.  I was jolted awake by my husband’s alarm clock at 6:10 a.m. and then sprang out of bed thinking, Shit, I’m late!  I woke up with a stomachache and a headache.Abby was still asleep so I was able to get the coffee started and breakfast in bowls before she was calling for me to take her out of bed.  It always seems that she is able to sense whenever we are running late because she started doing everything as slow as the sloth at the DMV in Zootopia.  She also seems to conveniently develop selective hearing and decided to not listen to anything I was asking her to do this morning.  Abby asked to nurse and I let her, even though we were already running late.  Evidently she didn’t really want to nurse, as she decided it was funny to stick her feet in my face and kept laughing, which makes it impossible to drink milk at the same time.  As I was undressing to get into the shower I smelled poop coming from her direction.  I pulled her out of the Pack and Play and attempted to change her diaper… and I do mean attempted.  It was like wresting a greased pig.  She wanted nothing to do with a diaper change, so what should have taken just a minute or so took more than five minutes.  

When I finally was able to shower I noticed that my right breast felt engorged, which was weird because that was the side that Abby was kind of nursing from and it hadn’t felt that way before my shower.  I knew I would not get a chance to pump at work until after lunch so I had to breastfeed Abby after I got out of the shower. 

Yesterday my husband took Abby shopping and she had soaked through her diaper and I had to remove the car seat cover to wash it.  The tag said “Drip dry only” so luckily it was dry this morning, but of course I struggled with getting it put back on the car seat.  As I was trying to put it back on I looked at the clock and realized that we should have left the house ten minutes earlier, at minimum, but now we were definitely late.  I told my phone to text the babysitter and my coworkers that we were running late and, of course, Google could find every Stephanie I have ever called in my life, but could not find Stefani so route my text message to.  I told Google some choice words and then had to immediately tell a wide-eyed Abby to never ever repeat them.

By this time my anxiety was really flaring up.  Since we left the house after 8:00 I figured getting to the babysitter’s house would be a piece of cake with no early morning school traffic.  That being said, I think I hit every red light between my house and hers.  When I put the car in park Abby immediately burst into tears and was inconsolable.  She was screaming and waving her arms and kicking her feet at me as I closed the front door and I felt so bad the whole way to work.  She made me want to cry.

The parking lot was full when I rolled into work a full half an hour late.  I was getting out of the car when I accidentally hit the panic button on my key fob.  I sat in my car dumbfounded for a moment, trying to figure out what was going on.  I have only had the key fob for a week so the fact that I had hit the panic button wasn’t registering; I’ve never had that happen before.  Not only was I half an hour late to work, I announced it to the whole hospital with my car’s horn. Yay.  I jogged to the entrance and up four flights of stairs only to walk into my office panting and have my coworker hand me the phone while saying, “Hold on, she’s right here,”  and it was my boss on the line.  

Please, please let the day get better!

The Beginning of the End

Photo by Sunset Girl. From http://www.unsplash.com 

The first request out of Abby’s mouth when she wakes in the morning is for milk.  She refuses a cup of cow’s milk and wants to be breastfed.  We have a routine when arriving home after I leave work and pick her up from daycare: before we even get the garage door shut she clamors, insists, nay- demands milk.  Not just any milk, mind you, but breast milk.  If her coat takes too long to unbutton, if I feel like taking off my shoes, or if there are any sort of distractions that postpone her getting milk she will hunt me down and find me, dragging the Boppy pillow along the way.

Today was different.  This morning she pointed toward the kitchen and at the refrigerator until I figured out that she wanted her sippy cup.  She sucked it dry in no time flat.  She didn’t ask for breast milk at all before we left the house.  Tonight when we arrived home she didn’t race towards the couch and pull down the Boppy pillow, instead she walked to the refrigerator and jumped for the door handle.  When I asked if she wanted milk she said yes and drank all that I gave her.  She only asked to breastfeed when she was upset after her bath right before bed.

I’ve always taken the approach of letting Abby self-wean when she was ready.  My goal was to breastfeed and to try to stick to it for at least a year.  We’ve made it almost nineteen months thus far.  Now it seems as though end is in sight.  

I’m not going to say that on a certain level it will be a relief to be able to stop breastfeeding and pumping…  It is a pain in the ass to pump at work and it sucks to get bit now that she has teeth.  Not all of my dresses or shirts easily accommodate nursing so I often have to try to change out of my dress or take off my shirt to do so.  I hate cleaning pump parts each day.  It would be nice if my huge boobs get a little smaller again.  But nursing is our special snuggle time where I get to cuddle with and admire my beautiful baby and I will miss it.  

 

Pumping Again

Photo by Angelina Litvin. From http://www.unsplash.com

Lately I have been having a lot of anxiety.  Most of it comes from my job and stress with some of my role as a supervisor, as well as beginning my part of an enormously big scary year long project.  I am still getting up around four times a night with Abby and don’t get as much sleep as I want and need.  Family issues and taking care of things around the house probably all play into it too. 

I have been trying to exercise at least five days a week over lunch but don’t always get to.  I wish I could work out in the morning or evening but I will take what I can get. Otherwise there is not much else I have found in the way of stress relief (other than stuffing my face and that has caused me to gain about fifteen pounds, unfortunately.)

  I went to my doctor yesterday and she recommended that I try Lexapro.  The thing that sucks is that I now have to add in a daily pump session after taking the medication so that I can still breastfeed.  I haven’t pumped since sometime in June, so as I sit here writing this attached to the good old Medela I feel like I have reattached the ball and chain.  Bessie the milk cow is back in action.

Every cloud is supposed to have a silver lining,  right?  Maybe the extra daily pumping session will help me lose weight… one can only hope.

Sleep Training

Four nights ago I made my mind up that it was time to start sleep training.  I have to admit that I came to this decision in the middle of a pity party for one.  I was somewhat reclining on the couch with a squirming, half asleep baby rolling around on top of me trying to get comfortable.  My lower back was aching and my right arm was numb.  I just started going back to the gym during lunch and my whole body was exausted.  I had had enough of sleeping on the couch, enough of nights not spent in bed next to my husband, enough of being uncomfortable.  I broke down and cried like a baby because all I wanted was a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep. 
I decided then and there that the next night would be different.  Abby sleeps alone at daycare, without protest, so I know she can do it at home too.
So, Wednesday evening as I was feeding Abby I decided it was time for a heart to heart. 
“Tonight you are going to sleep in your own bed.  Mommy loves snuggling with you, but it’s time you slept alone like you do at daycare.  We are going to try tonight, and tomorrow, and every night until you can do it.”

Night 1
When it was time for bed I took her to her bedroom and put her in her crib.  She cried right away.  Then screamed.  She held on to the crib slats and jumped up and down.  I turned on her white noise machine and monitor, the closed the bedroom door.
Five minutes later she was still crying so I went to her room.  I bent over the rails and gave her a hug and told her everything was OK.  “You’re not being punished and not being ignored; you just need to learn to sleep in your own bed sweetie.” 
After ten minutes she was still going strong so I went back and repeated what I had just done.  Again she jumped uo and down and pulled at me as I gave her a hug.  At this point the sweet little face looking so upset made me doubt myself.  “I will be back in ten minutes if you are still awake,” I said and kissed the top of her head.
As I waited in the living room listening to her over the monitor I could hear her stop crying and lay down.  She whispered to herself and then started crying again, quieter this time.  When my timer went off I returned to her room and she got louder when she saw me.  I kissed and hugged her, got down on her level and told her that she needed to go to sleep.  I left the room and set my timer for fifteen minutes this time.  In less than five minutes she had fallen asleep and I could hear her snoring.
She woke up three hours later and wanted to nurse.  I placed her back in the crib afterwards.  She cried for about a minute but lay down and went back to sleep for another three hours.  She woke again and nursed. We snuggled for thirty minutes and then it was time to get up and begin our morning routine.
I was surprised at how well she had done the night before and praised her for it.

Night 2
After supper Abby had a bubble bath and nursed before bedtime.  I placed her in her crib and she cried but did not scream or jump up and down.  Almost immediately she lay down and went to sleep.  She slept for almost two hours and then wanted to nurse.  Again she went to sleep right away when put in her bed.  She woke three hours later to nurse again but then slept until 5:00.  I made sure to praise her for sleeping so well by herself.

Night 3
I could tell Abby was very tired.  Her daycare had a get together for parents after 5:00 so we stayed about an hour and she got some extra play time in.  She is a very friendly and outgoing baby and had fun smiling and laughing for the other moms.  She happily jumped up and down for almost a whole hour while the other kids played Ring Around the Rosie and Simon Says and wore herself out.  After supper she wanted to cuddle instead of playing with her toys so it was obvious that she was sleepy. She nursed and then I took her to bed.  she cried for about a minute and then fell asleep.
An hour later she was awake and upset.  I nursed her and she fell asleep but woke as I placed her in the crib.  She cried and didn’t want me to let her go.  I told her I would be back in a few minutes to check on her if she was still awake.  She fell asleep in a few minutes.  Thirty minutes later she woke again.  I tried to comfort her and rub her back and she fell asleep.  Thirty minutes passed again and she woke up.  This time she would not lay back down so I nursed her again and then she slept.  Twenty minutes later she woke up.  I comforted her and went to bed myself.  Half an hour later she was awake again. I let her cry for a little while but she didn’t go back to sleep so I got out of bed and comforted her until she fell asleep while I rubbed her back.  Twenty minutes later she woke up.  My husband went in to check on her and she got very worked up.  It seemed that each time I finally fell asleep she would start to cry again.  By this time it was very late and I knew she would be awake and ready to play around 5:00 a.m.  I lost my resolve and did what I said I wasn’t going to do- I snuggled with her for the next three hours.   She slept a little longer than I expected and we got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Naps on the weekends have been a struggle lately.  Last weekend I tried to get her to nap alone and it was horrible.  Encouraged by our success thus far, I was hoping that she would nap as easily today.  After cleaning all the pancake off of her face and hands a little bit ago I noticed that she was rubbing her eyes and yawning.  I just took her back to her room.  She objected but after three minutes she quieted down and is now sleeping as I type this. 

I’m sure we have a ways to go yet, but I think we are off to a good start!

Morning Cuddles

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My little stinker did not want to sleep alone all day yesterday or last night. Twice I tried to get her to nap alone and had so much screaming and tears.  When it came time for bed she woke up and was very upset each of the six times I tried to get her to sleep in her crib.  She woke up every time I put her down.  Eventually my own tiredness won out and we snuggled the rest of the night.  I am not giving up but, man, this teething period is hard. 
This morning she woke with a big smile but I know she was tired.  As I was getting ready for work she fell asleep with her toys, something she hasn’t done in several months.  She was so cuddly I hated to wake her up to put her in her carseat. I wish I could have spent today snuggling with her.