Monday, August 17, 2015

Weaning, Night Sleep, and One Nap

Monday morning hit hard this morning with Terry going back to work for the first time in three weeks! He was on jury duty all that time, so now we are all going back to the usual routine. Terry and I even woke up before Marshall! He may still be recovering from Saturday night's wedding, though, so I don't expect quiet mornings to become a regular thing.

After oatmeal for breakfast all around, Marshall and I said goodbye to daddy and headed to the park. I'm trying to take him early in the morning so we beat the heat, but the sun won today. I was a sweaty mess before we even walked two blocks. We played a while, hung out with another mom and her seven-month-old, and headed home before 9:30. Our next mission: new shoes for Marshall. He's got some nice regular shoes, but in this heat I thought some sandals would be a nice option, so we hit the mall.

And today's workout was all about the legs and heavy weights! I have been slowly working my way up to heavier weights and felt ready to try something a little more challenging today, so here was our workout (I used 15 lb dumbbells, but I would have bumped to 20 if we had them, so that felt good):

Walking lunges (30, 24, 20, 32)
Romanian deadlifts (15, 12, 10, 20)
Plie squats (15, 12, 10, 20)
Calf raises (30, 24, 20, 60)
Squats (15 12, 10, 15)

(Reps indicated in parentheses; the final set was to fatigue)

Weaning, Night Sleep, and One Nap

Marshall's made some huge strides lately in his development, and all of them have affected the entire family. He is now taking only one nap, sleeps through the night (knock on wood!), and is officially done breastfeeding. I wanted to document a little about how we made these transitions, mostly for my own benefit, but also in case it might help other parents. Here we go!

Night sleep: I mentioned a little about it before, but we have struggled with night sleep since day one. Marshall started sleeping in 5-6 hour stretches around five or six months, but he very rarely pushed past that. We would be up with him multiple times each night, sometimes just for a quick feed but other times for up to two hours trying to soothe him back to sleep! Of course, tons of parents have gone through night sleep struggles, so we heard all sorts of advice, and we felt that none of it worked or fit with our specific trouble. Truthfully, it affected every aspect of our lives, because we couldn't talk about anything else (every morning was a recap of the previous night--"How many times did he wake up? How long did it take him to go back to sleep? Were you able to sleep at all while I was up with him?"--and most other conversations centered around strategies for how we were going to help him sleep better), we felt like zombies, and in the middle of the night we almost always ended up frustrated at each other, at Marshall, at the whole thing. By the time we reached 13 months, we finally decided we needed to try a more substantial approach, so we did let him cry for five, then ten, then up to 15 minutes at a time, soothing him between each interval, for three or four nights. I don't know if the method itself actually worked (he never actually cried himself to sleep because he would end up dozing off during one of the soothing sessions), or if it was moving his bedtime up to 6:45, but something worked, because he's been sleeping straight through the night (11+ hours) ever since.

Of course, I have to give the disclaimer that it took a LOT for me to get to a point where I was "ready" (and I use that word cautiously, because I can't say I was ever eager to hear my baby cry) to try Ferber, but it was right for our family at the time. I completely understand families who choose not to ever let their babies cry, and I completely understand families who decide to sleep train much earlier than we did. We did what was right for us, and I think that's the best we can all do, especially when it comes to parenting. I will say, though, that Marshall is a much happier, more well-rested baby (I can see it in his eyes and I can definitely tell that there's a huge difference in his demeanor and overall energy throughout the day). And, bonus, Terry and I are SO much less stressed because we know bedtime and night sleep are so consistent now! We get more rest, too, which is a huge gift after that rough year of inconsistent sleep.

Transitioning to one nap: I expected Marshall to shift to one nap in the 14-16 month window, but he declared he was ready when he was only 12 months. He started taking longer morning naps and refusing his second nap, though I still put him in his crib for 10-15 minutes of "quiet time" and just rolled with it if he didn't sleep. The problem was that he still took his first nap really early (10ish), so we just shifted his nap back 15 minutes every few days (so 10:15 for a few days, then 10:30 for a few, then 10:45, etc.). Then we moved lunch to before the nap, and now his naps are 11:45 or 12, with lunch at 11. His naps are 90 minutes to 2.5 hours (though usually closer to 90 minutes lately), and bedtime is at 6:45, so the schedule seems to be working for now. It was a pretty painless transition, as far as I could tell, although some days felt long because I was used to the two nap routine. Now we're taking advantage of the long stretches of awake time and enjoying our long mornings and afternoons!

Weaning: On Friday night, Marshall nursed for the last time. He was down to just one feeding right before bed, but I knew he didn't really need it anymore. His eating is fantastic most of the time, he drinks lots of milk and eats plenty of dairy products, and at our last doctor appointment (the 12-month appt), our pediatrician said we can wean anytime we want. I had continued more out of routine and because I just wasn't sure what signs to look for. It's not as though he was going to look at me one day and say, "Oh, no thanks, Mom, I'm good. It's been nice though!" Right? So I just decided it was up to me, and apparently this weekend felt like as good a time as any, so we enjoyed one last time nursing, and I only cried a little. :-)

For the switch, we used pumped milk (stashed in the freezer) in a Lollacup and offered that to him during his bedtime story. He didn't bat an eye and is now officially weaned. The whole thing felt very anticlimactic. I will say, though, that breastfeeding was more fulfilling than I expected, a truly rewarding experience that I hadn't thought much about before becoming a mother. I felt lucky to have been able to nurse Marshall at all, and I'm so grateful that my C-section didn't affect our nursing relationship. Special thanks to my husband for his support, encouragement, and willingness to bring me millions of glasses of water during the whole process!

Okay, that's all for that. And now I need to eat a chocolate cookie and do some Sudoku and go to sleep. Have a wonderful Tuesday!


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