Rules and Regulations: As They Pertain to Nursing Toddlers

So after working a short closing shift at the store tonight, I came home to a sleepy Alex who wanted mama snuggles. I welcomed him with open arms but attempted to put off the insistent "nursies" requests. You see, while I strongly believe in child-led weaning, we are at a point where I must set limits. The nursing relationship should continue so long as both parties are happy with it. I wasn't happy where we were at but I figured there was a happy medium between nursing CONSTANTLY at 2 years old, and weaning completely.

So, I've implemented a few "rules" for our nursing time. This is for both of our sanity. Mine, so that I don't resent the nursing relationship and can enjoy it until it naturally ends and him so that I don't loose my mind! HAHA

That being said, I never saw myself setting limits on nursing behavior. I figured that in the first year I would nurse 100% on demand with the exception of certain rare circumstances; and I did. After the first year, I continued to allow him free access at all times, but as he grew a little older I noticed that instead of nursing less at night and gradually dropping night feedings, he was nursing ALL night. After observing and taking some time to think about what was going on, I realized that he was such a busy toddler during the day (playing, rough housing, etc) that he was literally too busy for nursies. Here he was burning all this energy and then making up for it at night. Now of course, I always offered him a full course of meals throughout the day, but he was not too big on eating, still isn't that big of an eater.

This was where I started to question natural full-term nursing, maybe it wasn't for us. But, I kept reminding myself that there had to be a way to make it work, I was going to give it that minimum 2 years. Perhaps part of my drive to continue nursing was subconciously due to not nursing my other 2 children. Nonetheless, I wasn't going to call it quits without putting forth some effort.

So, at around 16 months I tried to offer him to nurse more during the day, hoping this would decrease those night time feedings. That proved unsuccessful. I ended up nursing more during the day, and just as much at night. Can we say "ouch"?

The next course of action was to try other methods of getting him back to sleep when he stirred. It makes sense, it's a logical choice. So I'd pat him and rock him, and he'd cry for nursies. I'd have my husband try to soothe him, and he'd cry for nursies. Now, you'd think that after just a few minutes of being loved and cuddled and crying he'd go back to sleep. No. This kid could literally scream for hours for nursies. Oye. After a few nights, my husband and I could not take it and we gave in to the nursies.

It seemed to let up a little, he wasn't attached literally all night long. I could live with a few night time feedings. However, out of nowhere it seemed to start up again, this time he was almost 20 months old. I couldn't stand it. Like I said, I was beginning to resent nursing, as a whole, because the night time nursing seemed so out of hand. But I couldn't let him scream all night either, I have 2 other children to take care of in the day and need to sleep!

My local La Leche League had some good tips: Talk about how nursies go to sleep at night and he can have them when the sun comes up, refuse a few times and put it off before giving in, keep doing what we were doing and within a week or two he should get it, etc. Ok, great. New game plan, let's do it!

I talked to him about how the nursies have to go to sleep as well and then when the sun comes up, they are awake again and he can have them. He liked to talk about this and we showed him the sun through the blinds and kept watching as it set, then we'd exclaim "Bed time, nursies!" and let him nurse one last time. This ended up not working too well. I could put him off a little in the middle of the night, for the first few wakings, but by 4am he wanted them, no questions asked.

This has been an ongoing battle and we've at least gotten it to the point that he's not nursing all night long, only a few times to fall back asleep. We lay him to sleep in his little bed after he's fallen asleep and he comes joining us that first time he wakes up, I just wish I knew how to keep him asleep all night...perhaps it's an unreasonable expectation. Maybe he inherited my poor sleeping habits. It might be due, now, to the fact that I am working part time away from the home. Whatever it is, it's one of the ongoing battles we face as parents. I *know* that nursing him longer will provide better health now and over all for the rest of his life. It's not that I mind, regardless of the difference in opinion of many peers and even family members. The science can't be argued because of personal opinions and comfort. For Alex and myself, it's just something we have to work on, much like a biting face or pants wetting.

After all, I'm sure I'll get a good night's sleep in about 18 years...right?

(Ironically enough, I stumbled upon this shortly after writing this blog. Hmm.)


You Are My Sunshine

"You are my sunshine
my only sunshine
you make me happy
when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear
how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away."

My mom always sang that to my little brother and me; it's always been such a sweet soothing song. I started singing it to my Maggie when she was first born and it's a lullaby I continue to sing to this day to all of them. Other favorites include: Baby Mine, Mr. Sun and Hush Little Baby.

Those who know me know that I sing...almost constantly, in fact. So it's no wonder my babies enjoy my singing since they've heard it nine months before meeting me. There were some nights when Maggie was so fussy and inconsolable, and I'd just sing to her; partly to cover up the sound of her crying, yes, but also to help soothe her back in to sleep. When Iris would wake up in the middle of the night, during the time my husband was working graveyard shift, I'd sing to her as she fell back to sleep in my arms. And as Alex would lay there, wide awake nursing and fighting sleep, I'd lull him with a song, too.

Each time I sung to my babes, it brought me back to my own infantile days when my mother would cuddle me, stroke my hair, and tell me I was her sunshine.

What childhood snuggle memories do you have?
Did your mother use to sing you to sleep with a lullaby?
Do you sing it to your babes?


Why did no one tell me?

When I was pregnant with my son I was told by many people, friends and strangers alike, that I was in for a lot of fun, a lot of love and a full heart of love when talking about my future son. The one thing no one honestly told me, was just HOW different raising a boy would be to raising a girl.

First of all, the clothes are harder to find and nothing's as cute for little boys as it is for little girls! I felt lost in the boy's department after shopping for pink for the last 4.5 years!

Secondly, no one told me that the nausea he gave me while I was pregnant wouldn't stop when he was born! Since birth the boy has kept me on my toes and I am constantly worrying about him in one aspect or another...the heartburn and indigestion stayed, too.

And how about finding a name!! You have to be so careful it's not too pretty, can't be mistaken for being feminine...I wanted something strong but not burly. The arguments over names ranked with WW2. And to this day, I'm still not 100% sure about what we picked!

And when you're pregnant with a girl, how many times do you and your husband fight over the cosmetic surgeries she may or may not have after birth? There were no major discussions before with the two girls but throw a boy in the mix and now not only is name picking harder but you have to pick a penis, too!

I could probably go on, but I'll spare you all. If you're a mom of girls and then had a boy, you totally know what I'm talking about! But then all moms of boys know this: that a boy fills your heart with a kind of love that you can only have for your son. Something about how they are constantly creating near death experiences for themselves (and you) brings you closer together. Something about this rough and tumble little kiddo giving you hugs and cuddles pulls at your heart strings so differently.

I always worried, after having my first that I could never give as much love to another child as I had given to her, and yet, two kids later, I've learned that your heart grows and grows, and gives and gives, even after you think it's at capacity.

Was there ever a time in your pregnancy/pregnancies that you wondered what you had gotten in to? How did that change after having your baby?