We are in a new zone with Olive these days, and I have mentioned that this zone involves Tantrums that can range from fascinating (from a sociological point of view) to tremendously exhausting (from a WHAT DO YOU WANT?! point of view).
What I didn’t mention, for fear of jinxing the whole thing, was that it also involves something called sleeping through the night. As in all night, without any wake ups ever.
Oh god. I can’t believe I just acknowledged that out loud, in public. I need to go burn sage or sacrifice something to appease the unruly Sleep Gods for this, the most mighty of transgressions.
Olive slept through the night regularly in delicious 8-10 hour stretches until she was about 5.5 months old, at which point The Universe had just about enough of our bragging and shut the whole thing down. Big time. For the next almost 12 months, sleep was a bit of an issue. Sometimes she’d wake up once, sometimes four or five times. It seemed to vary with developmental milestones like crawling, walking and signing, as well as teething, moon phases, and the whims of ancient Norse gods.
Every so often she’d sleep all night and I would analyze the previous days activities for any minute clue as to why: “We went for a walk by the beach, she had chicken for dinner and then we used the lavender soap instead of the goats milk soap at bathtime.”
And we would overdose on beach walks and purchase chicken in bulk and vow to always ALWAYS use the lavender soap and she’d still be up again that night. It was frustrating sometimes, but to be honest I just sort of tried to roll with it. It helped that she slept well in the beginning, because I just sort of figured that she would sleep well again someday.
In the meantime we did what we had to. Some nights she ended up in bed with me for the last part of the night, some night she never made it to her crib in the first place. I tried to be patient, respond to her needs, and understand that sleeping through the night was just another developmental milestone like walking or talking, and she’d hit it in her own time.
I know that many of you found this blog from my infant sleep post, so I will mention a few of the specifics that might be relevant to you fellow sleep-interested folk (read: parents) at the risk of boring others.
We still nurse to sleep for her nap and at bedtime, but I do think that night-weaning her had a huge impact on how she slept. I think we night weaned around 13-14 months. I felt comfortable making the decision to do it at this point because:
– she understood simple instructions and explanations, so I felt confident that I could explain it to her and have her comprehend what was happening
– when you breastfeed you can tell the difference between hunger nursing and comfort nursing, and hers over the preceding few months had turned more and more into comfort nursing
– I figured we’d give it a try and if it was really horrible, we would just call the whole thing off.
In the beginning when she woke up and signed for milk, I’d tell her that the milk was sleeping and she could nurse in the morning. (Repeating “Milk has gone night-night!” over and over again to a crying toddler is one of those situations I never would have thought I’d find myself in, by the way.)
Initially she would protest a bit, but I would cuddle her and offer water in case she was really thirsty. It took about a week for the wake-ups to start decreasing, and when she did wake up I was able to start putting her back to sleep with a back rub instead of nursing her.
BY around 15 months she was waking up once a night around 4-5 AM. She’d sign for water, have a drink and then go back to sleep. Then, THEN the holy grail. She started regularly sleeping through the night again about a month ago and it is fantastic. I love it, and I’m really proud that she got there on her own with my support, and encouragement, and, yes, occasional bouts of self doubt and frustration.
The next step, I think, is weaning altogether. I honestly never thought I’d be breastfeeding a toddler, I think I was one of those lovely people who flippantly said things like, “When they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old!”. Olive nurses 2-3 times a day (sometimes when she wakes up in the morning, and before her nap and bedtime). I’ve talked about weaning before, but we need to make the transition into going to bed without nursing first, and I think we need to be a little more settled before we begin that particular endeavor.
She’s had a lot of change lately, this girl. She’s moved, and I know she really missed her grandparents who she used to see virtually all day, every day. She has to share her mama while we’re at work with the other toddlers, and I have a sneaking suspicion that she is currently cutting her eye teeth, which, if the drooling, moods and finger-chewing are any indication, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
We are also working hard on manners with this one – she’s such a friendly little thing, saying hiiii and byeee to every single person and animal she sees, and is great with please and thank you, but not so great with learning to share instead of bulldozing over the younger kids to get what she wants. I think one of the best ways for kids to learn is to model the behavior you expect from them so Adam and I have begun to conduct elaborate scenarios around conversations like the following:
Can I have that please?
Oh yes! I have been using it for a while, it’s your turn now! Here you go.
Why THANK you!
Would you like it back?
Yes please, it’s my turn again and I am asking nicely!
Here you go!
It is truly ridiculous. But actually, probably kind of a good thing for Adam and I too – refreshing those manners that we sometimes lose amongst the rush and fuss of every day life.
I am adjusting too, I think, to this new life. We went to a farmer’s market in the heart of the city this past weekend and we accidentally ended up there at the peak of the rush. The place was packed and for all of my love for farmers markets and local veggies I hardly bought a single thing. I just couldn’t focus with all of the noise and all of the people, I stood there crammed elbow to elbow with what felt like thousands of other people in a huge human traffic jam and I think I started to have a bit of a panic attack. I keep getting lost in the city, and I forgot just how much time gets eaten up by driving here and there when things are so spread out.
BUT even through these adjustments, I find myself grinning. Adam loves his new job and is really excelling at it, too. We are so happy to be here, so happy to be closer to my brother and my sister, not to mention the fact that we are house hunting, and it is pretty much the most exciting thing ever. On Monday I got to see a house with a refrigerator closet (the pantry opened up into the backside of the refrigerator…?) and another one whose bathroom had a medieval theme, right down to the stone-surrounded “throne”.
One of these times though, I will walk through the doors of the house that will become our home, and I keep focusing on that goal to get me past all of the weirdo houses we will see in between.
In the meantime – I SERIOUSLY need to go to sleep earlier.
P.S. If you are a leggings-wearer (card-carrying member of the Leggings-4-Lyfe club right here) these are THE leggings.
There aren’t many items of clothing that I always buy new, but leggings are one of them. I bought these tonight and they are the best pair I have ever owned. Soft, the perfect amount of stretch, wide waistband, and super long too.
I don’t intend to wear them with snakeskin heels and a belted sweater like the classy lady in the advert, but I thought I would share for any other pantsless ladies out there who might be searching for the perfect pair.