Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Sweetness of Baby Bedtime

When Xander was about eleven months old I stopped nursing him to sleep. Our pediatrician kept telling us how important it was to brush his teeth after nursing, so I finally decided to make the switch. I was devastated as in my mind it signified the end of Xander's babyhood. I was convinced bedtime would never be the same sweet, tender loving time we shared every night. To my great delight, I was wrong!

Xander adjusted in two nights from our old routine of bath, brush teeth, books, nurse/sing goodnight songs to our new routine of bath, nurse, brush teeth, books, sing goodnight songs. What an adaptable little guy! Sure, he still tries to pull down my shirt sometimes after we've read books when we're singing our goodnight songs to get to the"bibis" (as he calls boobies) but I gently shake my head and smile at him and he smiles back and puts his head on my shoulder. It's actually the only time I tell him no to nursing. The rest of the day he nurses at will and routinely pulls down my shirt when he wants to get to the "bibis."

As I brush his teeth he tries to brush my teeth too and we laugh as he sticks the end of his toothbrush in my mouth. This little boy is so sweet I want to eat him up like an ice cream cone! He also feeds me when he's eating. It's too sweet for words. We laugh, we nurse, we cuddle, we talk, we read. Then when I manage to pull myself away from our sweet cuddling and it's officially bedtime I put my sweet boy in his crib, say a prayer, bless him in Greek, tell him how much I love him for the ninetieth time, and say goodnight. He smiles at me, lies down with his blankies and lion stuffed animal and by the time I walk to the other room to the monitor he's normally asleep. 

It's so hard to leave him at night, knowing I won't see him again until morning. I miss him when he sleeps!!  Up until six months he'd wake up every 1-2 hours to nurse so we co-slept. Co-sleeping for six months allowed us both to get a little sleep but at six months he started to not go back to sleep after nursing. However, once it "stopped working" we knew he had to do something as we were all totally exhausted. We hired a sleep consultant and did a form of sleep training, though I knew I didn't want to fully night wean until he was a year old. I'd go in once when he woke up around 3 or 4am and we'd cuddle and nurse for 30-60 minutes. It was the sweetest time that I'll always cherish. 

But now he's a big boy and goes to sleep on his own after the sweetest hour of bedtime routine that we spend together. I love and cherish this time, just as I love and cherish my sweet angel baby. He is the true love of my life. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No one said it was going to be easy...

We had one of those nights again last night. It seems every time my poor baby recovers from something he gets hit again. He's starting to run now, which means more falls and more bumps on his precious head and more soothing and singing and nursing to ease his tears when he falls. I can now proudly call myself a master soother, and I love my job.

I was so upset when he contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth virus at mommy and me last month. He finally got over it and got back on track with his sleeping and now his molars are coming in. I've heard the rumors and have been dreading molars!! My angel is a glorious night time sleeper who goes to sleep between 6:30-7:00pm and sleeps until 6:00am. However, throw teething or an illness into the mix and sleep is literally out the window for both of us. Even Advil barely phases him anymore, and I only give it when he really needs it. Normally when he's really bad I just bring him into bed because he literally wants to nurse ALL night long and I just can't sit in a glider chair for that many hours. But it's a fine line because he'll sleep attached to my boob for a few hours then wake up and want to play at which point I look at him and say, are you really teething, who wants to play at 4AM?!?! Then we go back to the glider, I nurse him back to sleep, back in his glider and then back in the crib in the morning. It's a big shuffle and I get about three hours sleep and I end up moody, tired and drained and with a back and neck that hurts like hell. To top it off it's that time of the month so my back hurts even more and my cramps are insane. Yay.

Someone told me that when their baby got molars they just left him in the crib all night to "work it out" with a plethora of pacifiers in the crib, but not being there for my baby when I know he's in pain just doesn't seem right to me. When he is sick or teething no matter how exhausted I am I go to him to nurse him and soothe him. It's my job. Sure, it's amazing when he sleeps through the night but when he's sick or teething I cancel ALL plans and I stay home to be with my baby. I allow him to nap on me, I nurse him to sleep and I go to him when he wakes up. I give him lots of homeopathic teething remedies and when it's really bad I give him Advil. Mostly though, he just wants Boob. And quite frankly, that's what they're there for.

It is my goal to allow Xander to self-wean. Since he's 14 months old many people I know with babies his age have already weaned and some give me funny looks when he takes my boob out of my shirt and latches all on his own. I say he's a baby who knows what he wants and I'm willing to give it to him to make his life that much better. Self-weaning seems so natural to me. Knowing how much he relies on and loves nursing I could never imagine taking it away from him. When I'm asked how long I plan to nurse and explain that I'm going to allow him to self-wean people have asked, "but what if he's four". My answer is then so be it. I am not putting an age-limit on his self-weaning as that would defeat the purpose of self-weaning. I can assure you however, that he will not be nursing when he goes to college. :)

I'm praying for a healthy fall and winter, I never realized how easy it is for babies to get sick. If I can make him feel a little better by nursing him on demand then my day is better. I'm getting used to a permanent lack of sleep since I'm a night owl by nature. I need to sleep train myself to go to bed earlier, but by the time Kyri comes home from work, we eat dinner and get into bed to watch TV or hang out it's inevitably midnight. Ce la vie. Perhaps I'll sleep when my kids are in college?!?!? I've heard the rumors though, and the jury is out on that one!