Saturday, January 6, 2018

Here's What You Need To Do

Every mom will TELL you that being a mom is all about figuring out what works best for you and they seem to be encouraging...but when it comes down to it and you are struggling with something, most moms tell you what THEY did and why that's what works. If you choose to not follow their advice...well...that's mom shaming central.

But I'm here to tell you, I have it figured out.

I know the key to having the perfect child.

Are you ready for this?

Here is my advice: Try all the things, fail at most of them.

I have a degree in Child Psychology so I know all about each milestone a child should reach and by what age, behaviors they should and should not have, best ways to deal with tantrums. You name it and I can probably pull out one of my Childhood Development books that I've held onto since college and show you exactly what you need to know.

You know...I should rephrase that. I have a degree in Child Psychology. So theoretically, I should know all the above listed stuff and I do KNOW it...but then I had a kid and putting it into practice is a completely different story.

When I got pregnant with Olivia I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding, but I wasn't like 100% this is the greatest thing ever, but I wanted to try.

I knew about the fight between "breast is best" and "fed is best"...it's intense y'all.

I was told, the key to breastfeeding is to feed on demand. Whenever the kid cries, whimpers, or even looks at you funny, you stick a boob in their face.

The first 2 months of breastfeeding were rough for me, but I was determined to stick with it. Literally the week Olivia turned 2 months old, everything instantly got better. No more soreness, supply had levelled out, we ditched the shields I was using because she had gotten Thrush. It was perfect.

We were smooth sailing until she hit the 4 month sleep regression. Olivia was waking every 1.5-2 hours to eat and she was 4 months old! I thought babies were supposed to be able to go longer, but I continued feeding on demand. Every squeak she made, I was up and feeding her.

Because of this, I was ready for her to start solid foods thinking maybe that would help. I started gathering information on how to introduce baby foods and picked out a schedule I wanted to try.

We're not even going to talk about the mom shaming I got from looking into baby foods while my breastfed baby was only 5 months old.

I slowly let Olivia lick things such as watermelon, pickles, lemons, tasting sweet potatoes from my finger, etc....

I should note, we tried egg yolk first per a crunchy mom's blog about skipping rice cereal...Olivia is allergic to eggs.

When Olivia turned 6 months old I went to Walmart and excitedly bought baby food!

We got home and I decided to let her try green beans. She loved them! I have a video of her sucking the green beans off the spoon. I was so excited.

4 days later we moved to bananas. She hated them. She wouldn't even open her lips.

I tried peas. Nothing. She hated those too.

I tried applesauce. Looks of pure disgust.

I went back to green beans thinking maybe she just liked green beans. We were ruined. She refused to eat them.

I tried for a month, every 4 days introducing something new and repeating things she had already tried. Nothing.

By 7 months, Olivia had 5 teeth.

She hated baby food, wouldn't eat it, and did I mention she still wasn't sleeping?

Yup, my now 7 month old WOULD. NOT. SLEEP.

I was talking to a friend who basically saved my life when it came to eating. She said the glorious words, "Have you tried Baby Led Weaning?"

I replied with a confused...no.

She said, "I'll add you to the facebook group. Basically you feed your baby whatever you are eating for dinner in appropriately cut sizes so they don't choke."

Wait...what?

Like, if I'm having a cheeseburger for dinner, I feed my kid a cheeseburger?

YUP!

I started researching BLW and I was super impressed.

Their rules:

1: No honey...obviously.
2: No nuts...choking hazard.
3. Baby should eat what you are eating because they learn from watching you.
4. You should not feed your baby. Place their appropriately cut whole pieces of food on a plate or their high chair tray and let them choose what they want to eat out of the assortment you gave to them.

But what about allergies you ask?

They believe that allergies can appear at any time so feed baby what you wish and if you have any problems, backtrack and evaluate.

I showed it to Josh and he was up for trying it!

The first thing I gave her, because I was super nervous, was a banana. I cut a banana in half and sat down with Olivia at the table for snack. I ate one half of the banana and gave Olivia the other half with a little bit of the peel still on it so she could hold it.

She gnawed on that thing like a champ!

Next, I gave her a whole apple. I bit into it to get her going then handed her the rest. She went to town.

After this we upgraded. Josh and I subscribe to Hello Fresh, so every week we get three meals mailed to us in a refrigerated box. It helps us save money at the grocery store and it gives us a way to try some really awesome food!

Every time we cooked our Hello Fresh meals I would make Olivia a plate of her own. We have found things she doesn't really like and things she loves.

She doesn't love beef, but chicken and rice are her jam!

French Fries are by far her favorite. She is my child.

She has tried SO MANY different foods and is a champion at chewing now. Which is good considering she has all eight of her front teeth...at 9 months old.

Eating: CHECK!

So back to sleeping.

Even though we introduced solid foods, and she was eating legit solids...not baby food, I was expecting to get more sleep!

Nope...

The kid still woke up every 2 hours and cried to eat.

I was losing my mind.

I found a blog on Pinterest about sleep training your child. Basically, you watch them for a pattern of eating for a few days and decide on an feeding schedule throughout the night. When you begin you put them in the crib and let them cry for a designated amount of time, you go in reassure them but don't pick them up unless it's time to eat. After 2-3 minutes of reassurance you leave them again to start the process over.

It was supposed to work in 5-6 days. Your baby was supposed to stop waking up and crying in between feedings because ultimately they knew it was useless because you weren't going to pick them up.

 We did this for three and a half weeks. It wasn't working.

My little stubborn kid would laugh when we came in to reassure, almost as if she was happy because she screamed long enough for us to come in there...the little booger was proud of herself.

Side note: I feel like more mom's need to speak out about their breakdowns. I feel like a HORRIBLE mother about 30% of the time because I am sleep deprived and I just want my kid to go to sleep.

In fact, Monday night, I screamed from my bedroom, "JUST GO TO SLEEP!!" then I hit my pillow and started crying.

I felt ashaming for yelling at my beautiful baby girl, but it was midnight and I had yet to fall asleep because she kept waking up. I have found from talking to other mom's since then, that this is completely normal and most mom's have been there.

 I posted on Facebook about Olivia's lack of sleep and I had a friend private message me asking a few questions. She told me about a method of sleep training called Babywise. She told me over and over, that it was a very controversial topic and not for everyone, but she wanted to tell me about it in case it was something I wanted to try. I was desperate, of course I would try it!

Once again, I read up on what it was and what was involved.

Basically you teach your child from a very young age how to self soothe and fall asleep on their own without any sleep props.

You come up with a schedule that fits your family and stick to it.

If the kid cries, there are levels at which you comfort them.

The Chair Method involves setting a chair next to the crib and reassuring your child until they fall asleep. Every 2-3 nights you move the chair away from the crib just a little to the point where you are no longer in the room for them to fall asleep.

Then there is a method where you go in and pick the kid up to calm them down then lay them back down and leave them. If they cry you repeat the process.

Then there's the method we were using. Put the kid in the crib, let them cry 5 minutes, go in an reassure, then leave them to either go to sleep or cry for another 5 minutes.

Now, we are on a different method. This is the most extreme method and everyone who has tried it says in works in 1-3 nights. Extinction, also known as cry it out.

I just heard 50% of your hearts skip a beat and 25% of you instantly just decided I am a horrible mother with no soul.

Extinction is when you put the baby in the bed with a set time you as the parent plan to return. So for me, her first designated feeding time is 12AM and her second feeding is at 4AM. Our desired wake time for the day is 7AM. I would not return to her room unless she hurt herself, had been crying for an unhealthy amount of time, or it was time to eat. We plan to wean her off of her eating schedule as soon as she stops waking in between feedings.

Night 1: O went to her crib at 8, cried for 15 minutes, fell asleep and slept until 12 which is her first designated feeding time. She fell asleep after eating, woke up at 2 and whimpered then slept until 4 which is her second designated feeding time. After she ate, she slept until 7:30. Since it was her first night with a schedule, I figured she needed the extra sleep so I let her sleep until 7:30. Now I know it's better for morning nap for her to wake at 7 no matter what.

Night 2: O went to her crib at 8, cried for 15 minutes and fell asleep. Woke up at 9, cried for 5 minutes, fell asleep. Woke up at 9:30, cried for 15 minutes, and fell asleep. Woke up at 12AM. I fed her, she went back to sleep...AND SLEPT UNTIL 7 THIS MORNING, at which point I woke her up. She and I completely slept through her 4AM feeding.

I haven't gotten that kind of sleep in 9 months!

Is it harsh, yes.

Did my heart break hearing her cry, yes.

Did I secretly go check on her after each crying spell when she went back to sleep, you bet I did!

She was safe and well and she slept!

So I've been from one end of the spectrum to the other with her to figure out what works best for our family. I should have known my child would thrive on a schedule...based on the fact that she belongs to Josh and me.

I really wanted to be the casual, cool, free range parent who said, "here kid, go explore the world, come back to me when you need me", but I'm not. I need sleep.

Babywise Sleep Training may not work, it could fail miserably in a week. But I am super impressed with Baby Led Weaning, just this morning my 8 1/2 month old ate toast with blackberry jam on it. Last night for dinner she had meatloaf and green beans.

All this to say, mom shaming is for the birds.

Every kid is different and there is no "one right way" to be a mom.

Offer advice, but don't mom shame when someone doesn't take it.

Try all the things, fail at most of them. Love your child no matter what.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sleep

I have so many pictures on my phone of this kid sleeping, but she is just so darn cute when she sleeps.

If you know me and Josh, you know we are basically 90. We usually get in bed around 8 every night and watch tv or read. I usually go to bed first and Josh will follow soon after. 

Before we had kids I was always worried that I would end up with a kid who hated sleep. I know those kids are out there and to parents of those children...I pray for you and I praise you because you're doing it and still functioning in society. Bless you. 

But back to my kid...I was worried we would have a kid that screamed all night. Like, I pictured me in the nursery, bouncing a screaming child for 8 hours straight, while crying desperately myself saying "please just go to sleep". Now I get it that generally babies don't cry for 8 hours straight...but that's what I pictured. 

When Olivia was born and hooked up to all her IV's she was pretty sluggish and was basically impossible to wake up. Not lying. Even the nurses were blown away by how legit asleep she was. I didn't consider myself lucky quite yet though. I thought, "as soon as I get this kid home she's never going to sleep again...."

For the first week we were home from the hospital I set an alarm for every 2 hours so I would wake up to feed her per hospital instructions. I quickly realized that was stupid and I should just let her wake up naturally...which she did. She was on a 3 hour schedule...not a 2 hour one like the hospital tried to enforce. Slowly but surely she got on her own little routine of two feedings per night. Once she got a little older she went down to one feeding at night and an early feeding in the morning. 

Let me tell y'all, I LOVE my early morning feeding with her. I didn't think I would. I seriously pictured myself being a zombie mom just dreading waking up for feedings. But it is surprisingly calming. I mean yes, there are times where I wake up to her fussing and look at my watch and groan because I felt like I had just gone back to sleep between when she went back to sleep last time. But overall she gives good stretches between feedings. But those early morning feedings. I love them.

I have a 5AM rule. We don't co-sleep. Nothing against it, we just don't do it. But if she wakes up after 5AM and doesn't immediately go back to sleep after eating then I put her in bed with us. I did this one morning out of desperation for just a little more sleep, but I found that lying next to her made her super snuggly (she's not really a snuggle/cuddle baby...she likes to stretch and see the world). I get so excited for that time of snuggles together. 

So anytime after 5AM, if she doesn't go right back to sleep after eating, she gets to come to the big bed. She loves it and I love it. I wake up smiling every morning that I get to wake up next to this little blessing.