Posts Tagged "breastfeeding"

Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Last week, as I picked up Silas after his nap, I folded my arms around him, nestled my face into his neck to kiss him, and he exhaled the sweet smell of breastmilk. It was a few days before his first birthday and as I breathed in deeply, trying to save the memory of it forever, I knew it would be one of the last times I would smell that sweet odor on his breath. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make me almost unbearably sad. I nursed my older two children both until they were just a few months shy of three years old. I assume it will be the same with Silas. However, the weaning has already begun. He eats table food and I can go out for four hours without him needing me. The frequency of his nursing will be gradually diminishing over the course of this next year, until I notice that he only nurses when he’s sad or hurt or going down for a nap. And then, another day, I will realize that he hasn’t nursed in a few days and I can’t even remember when the last time was. Newborns seem to always have that milk breath smell about them. But toddlers—and Silas certainly seems to be crossing into toddler territory these days—toddlers have their own smells. Soon enough, the milk breath will be just a memory. It seemed fitting that this moment should have come during the week of his first birthday, as I reflect on his birth, as I try to make peace with the idea of not having a baby anymore, or ever again. With all of this comes the realization that my menses should resume soon. I am still waiting, but I feel my body changing, gearing up as it were. I never was one of those moon-goddess women who celebrated having my period or who saw it as some divine female rite. To be honest, it is painful, uncomfortable, messy and pretty much a pain in the ass… However, as a woman of childbearing age, I can appreciate the idea of being connected to the rhythms of my body, and as a mother, I am grateful that fertility-wise I had little trouble conceiving, that I had knowledge and more or less the control over whether and when we had children. I never did look forward to getting my period back after each of my children were born—though I likely would have felt differently if we had been anxious to conceive again and it was nowhere in sight. Now, at this point in my childbearing path, when I consider that my fertility will be returning soon, I can’t help but feel more than a little put out. It seems pretty pointless for me to continue to endure the downsides of female fertility despite the fact that we have made the (mostly) permanent decision not to have any more children. Aaron went in for a vasectomy last summer, when Silas was  six months old. On the face of it, I’m ok with that. We have three beautiful children and that often feels like a lot. My life, and my hands, are very full. I’m tired. I look forward to a time when I’ll be able to sleep again and have time to focus on some of my personal dreams in a more focused and meaningful way than I have been able to as the constant mother of a nursling. I blogged when I was pregnant with Silas about being done having kids and mostly, I am. Nevertheless, I cried when I picked Aaron up from his appointment. As much as I am certain that three kids is enough for us given our resources (time, money, energy, support systems), it is so hard to let go of this phase in my life. I love babies and I mostly enjoyed pregnancy. I had really fulfilling complication-free homebirths and I am at ease as a nursing mother. I will miss each of these things. A lot. As much as...

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Navigating Sleep with a Third Child

Posted on Jun 3, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Navigating Sleep with a Third Child

{This is a follow-up to my January post Reconsidering Co-sleeping where at 35 weeks pregnant I revealed that after 2 kids and 5.5 years of co-sleeping I was considering a crib for my third child.} I had this idea back in January that I wanted to write a post that would realistically present the nuances of co-sleeping, that would argue that Attachment Parenting is not a set of cult rules but rather a complex personal philosophy that shifts from family to family, from child to child, and over time. By highlighting my own sleep struggles and divided mind on the issue of co-sleeping, I wanted to show that you can still be an attachment parent even while you decide not to embrace all elements of the philosophy…because you are making the best decisions for your family in the spirit of striving for balance in personal and family life. I believed that my post was balanced in that I could be honest about my struggles while remaining incredibly supportive of co-sleeping (from personal experience not just a theoretical standpoint). Some commenters correctly pointed out that there is a difference between co-sleeping and bed-sharing. Dr. William Sears, a well-known pediatrician and author of many parenting books, defines co-sleeping as sleeping within arm’s reach of the baby. Bed-sharing on the other hand is actually sleeping on the same surface, in the same bed, as the child. Having slept with both of my kids since 2005, I know that distinction, and yet, for some reason, I seem to continually use the two terms interchangeably. To be honest, I find that many people do this on a regular basis and while I find the distinction can be important, I also feel comfortable with my use of co-sleeping to encompass all the ways that parents share sleep with their children. I really enjoyed all the commenters who shared their personal stories, experience and tips. I appreciated the tips and atmosphere of support though as a long-time co-sleeper and supporter of the practice, most of the ideas were ones that I had entertained and discarded as not working for us in our 800 square foot, 2 bedroom house. No chance of a mattress beside our King size bed that took up our whole room. No chance of a double bed in the kids room that already housed a loft bed, toddler bed and all of their clothes and toys. Nevertheless, I really appreciated the helpfulness and understanding. However, there were also comments (notably in response to a re-posting on the Natural Parents Network facebook page) along the lines of “every child deserves to be co-slept with” and “I co-slept with all 4 of my children and wouldn’t have it any other way.” I regretted that I had somehow given the impression that: I was planning to stick the baby from Day 1 in a crib in a room down the hall, I had no intention of being sensitive and responsive to the individual needs of this particular baby, I was absolutely, certainly never going to sleep with this baby at all, I no longer supported co-sleeping, My mind was made up. My intention from the day of that post was to start with a bassinet beside the bed and move after a couple of months to a crib in our room, a few feet away from our bed. This way I could still hear the baby easily and respond before baby cried but I would have a little more physical space so that I would not jump to attention every time baby stirred and so that baby wouldn’t get in the habit of nursing every hour. As a mother of two other children, I was also well aware that even our best intentions are at the mercy of our individual babies. I was prepared for the fact that this baby might not want to sleep anywhere other than on my body. As an ardent supporter of co-sleeping for its benefits, I was also prepared to share my bed with the baby whenever necessary, if we were...

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Reconsidering Co-sleeping

Posted on Jan 14, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 14 comments

Reconsidering Co-sleeping

As we wait for this baby to arrive, I find myself seriously considering a crib. This may not seem very inflammatory. After all, for the vast majority a crib isn’t even a consideration; it’s a necessary purchase that requires no thought beyond what sheets to choose. However, we co-slept (or bed-shared) with our two older children. A crib feels like venturing into strange territory. In fact, it even feels like a bit of a betrayal. Not that I have a problem with OTHER people using cribs at all. It’s just for me, it feels like denying this baby some of the wonderful things we were able to give our older kids. Furthermore, it goes against my personal instincts and parenting philosophies about keeping our kids close. In a lot of ways I love co-sleeping. I love the extra snuggles in the night.  I love the extra hours of closeness with my children. I love being able to hear, see and feel that they are safe. I love waking up together. I love the early morning cuddles and giggles. I love that co-sleeping makes it easier for Aaron to be involved in night-time parenting. I love looking over and seeing one of my children cradled in Aaron’s arms. There are more practical benefits to co-sleeping beyond all that lovey-dovey stuff though. Many people, including Dr. James McKenna from University of Notre Dame, claim benefits to co-sleeping like the ease of maintaining the breastfeeding relationship and the increased sleep for mom. Long-term effects also suggested include higher self-esteem in adults who co-slept as children and a new book by Margot Sunderland, director of education at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, “says the practice makes children more likely to grow up as calm, healthy adults.” There are even studies that say that practiced safely, co-sleeping decreases the incidence of SIDS. In my own experience, I saw first hand the ways that co-sleeping made breastfeeding easier. I could just roll over and nurse a baby while half asleep, without having to get up, walk down the hall, nurse in a chair and then carefully try to get baby back in the crib (without rousing her and having to start over). We learned quite quickly to disturb our babies as little as possible in the night if we wanted to maximize our sleep.  A baby that falls asleep nursing in a side-lying position is much easier to keep asleep than one who needs to be moved and placed back into a crib. Plus, because I wasn’t getting up, walking around and turning on lights, it was easier for me to go back to sleep after a feed too. The problem is I’m beginning to feel that some of those gains in the early days set me up for some challenges later on. Some examples: 1. Eventually I began to dread climbing into bed at night. I would be tired (from a long day with a toddler who usually went to bed at the same time as us) and ready to sleep but as soon as I jostled the bed or baby smelled me beside her, it would be mean another feed before I could go to sleep. Whether it was 8:30, or 9:00, or 10:00, or midnight. I could not get into bed and just go to sleep. Even if baby had only nursed an hour ago, I was in for another feed before I could punch out. 2. Increased Night Wakings. Both of my kids spent their early days in a little bassinet type bed beside our bed and only moved into our bed when they outgrew their first bed, around 4 or 5 months old. Around this time, we noticed that they were developing skills for soothing themselves back to sleep. We would hear them rustle, re-settle, perhaps suck a finger or thumb and then go back to sleep. Around this time, hours of consecutive sleep were increasing from 2 (with a newborn) to 4 or 5. By the time both children were a year old, they were waking...

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Wordless Wednesday

Posted on Dec 22, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Featured | 1 comment

Wordless Wednesday

This is my 2 year old daughter nursing after a late afternoon swim in Klein Lake on the Sunshine Coast this summer. I am now pregnant with our third child and Noa weaned a few months after this photo was taken. This is the last photo we have of her nursing.

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Going Solo

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 in Featured, Parenting | 2 comments

Going Solo

In a few hours, Aaron is going to drop me off at the shuttle that will take me to 30 hours away from my children. I’m going to the City to visit my sister, a couple of girl friends and to get some much needed maternity clothes. I will be gone two nights. This is BIG. Rain is five years old. He co-slept with us until he was three when we started the slow process of transitioning him to to his own room: first in his own bed beside ours, then by having him nap in his new room, and then by switching him to sleeping nights in his room too. By this time, we were co-sleeping with his little sister Noa. This summer we transitioned Noa into her own bed in a room she shares with Rain. The process was surprisingly easy. Nevertheless, we wake up every morning with both of them in our bed. I breastfed Rain until he was a little over two. He weaned when I got pregnant with Noa. Noa has also just recently weaned after two years of nursing. For the last six years, I’ve been non-stop pregnant or nursing and co-sleeping. When Rain was two, Aaron and I went away overnight to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Rain stayed with my sister and I think we were actually gone less than 24 hours. Rain was a little sad but it went well and we probably would have done it again except that we got pregnant the next month so we started the whole process over again. Other than a few hours here and there when I’ve gone out with a friend, or Aaron and I have gone out and gotten a babysitter, or Rain went to preschool, or I worked part-time, that night away is the longest I’ve been away from my kids and they’ve been away from me. And now I’m 24 weeks pregnant. In February, I will begin what will likely be another two years of nursing and co-sleeping. It’s high time Mama had a bit of an extended break. I’m beyond excited about this trip. I will be able to: Read a book or knit on the ferry (rather than chase active toddlers round and round the boat, or sequester ourselves in the car with a DVD on the laptop) Go for dinner with a friend and stay for dessert (rather than rush to gobble the last of my meal and pay the bill before the toddler has a total melt down) Leave a restaurant without having to pick up food off the seats and floor first. Take transit and zone out listening to my own music on the ipod (rather than listen to non-stop child chatter or fighting) Do whatever I want all day Have uninterrupted conversations SLEEP BY MYSELF. ALL NIGHT. TWICE. I’m also incredibly nervous about this trip. I know in my heart that they will be fine. They will be with their dad who they adore and they have lots of fun things planned to do while I am gone. I will have a cell phone so they can call me whenever they need to. It will be ok. But it’s also a first and firsts are always a bit scary. I know there will be at least a few tears (on both sides) when I leave and over the weekend. I worry that two nights is too ambitious for a first separation. I worry that it’s unfair to leave Aaron with the full-time parenting over the weekend (hello irrational mother-guilt!). But I know that this will be good for all of us. I know it’s important to get space for yourself every now and then. I know it’ll be good for the kids to have both the uninterrupted time with Aaron and the opportunity to see that they are capable of surviving  time away from me occasionally. I feel immeasurably grateful (and loved!)  that Aaron encouraged me to do this trip. Plus, when I get home, I will have more than 1 pair of pants...

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