Weaning a Toddler

Today Ezie is officially one week breast milk sober. Weaning a toddler hasn’t been easy, but on the other hand it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a lot of reasons that I chose to nurse Ezie until he was two. Well, technically he hasn’t turned two yet, but I wanted to schedule the weaning for a time that I knew we didn’t have a lot of other obligations because I figured we were in for some sleeplessness nights, and I was right. 

Out of my three children I nursed Ezie the longest.
Z was weaned at about 16 months. I knew we were down to very few feedings and when we spent the night at his cousin’s house one day he was so busy and tired that he just went all day and night without wanting to nurse. When he woke the next day I realized it had been over 24 hours and I wasn’t about to turn back. He probably would have continued to nurse if I had planned to, but I never offered it again. It was kind of child-led.
Then I breast fed SJ until she was a little over a year. She never cared about nursing though. Unlike her brothers she was very practical about the whole thing. If she was hurt or upset I would often try to feed her to calm her down, except she would just push away and give me this confused baby look like, I am not hungry, I am hurt. Totally opposite of her bros. However, she did have a pacifier and when we took that away just before her 2nd birthday she had 3 days of hardcore rehab. There was thrashing and screaming throughout the night, but by the end of day 3 it was like she was completely detoxed.
I figured it would be the same if not worse for Ezie, because I have been his “pacifier” for 2 years and I can’t exactly removed myself from the situation like I could with a binky.
The first night he was pretty upset about not getting his “night night milk” as he calls it. The next day he was so exhausted from not getting any sleep that he fell asleep on the way to drop his siblings off at school. He stayed asleep when I took him out at the grocery store. I decided to put him in the Ergo and he continued to sleep the whole time I shopped no matter how much movement, squatting down and bending over him that I did. He was out!
It’s gotten a little easier each day and once again it only took about 3 days for him to forget about it. However he still wakes up in the middle of the night and he’s had some nights where I couldn’t get him back to sleep for the longest time. I no longer have a magic potion, but I know he’ll adjust.
The thing I have found to be most effective was trying not to trigger his urge to nurse. ThisP meant high collared shirts with layers if necessary and even crossing my arms if I was laying next to him. I also had to stand up with him a lot because sometimes laying down and cuddling was just too difficult, as you can imagine. Lastly, because “night night milk” was what we always called breastmilk I had to pull every synonym for night night out of my mental thesaurus and use a lot of words that could be calming and get him ready for bed, but distract him from what that used to mean. For example
“Let’s go to BED, and lay down with an animal, and pillow, and blanket”
“It’s time to go to SLEEP”
“Are you ready to shut your eyes? Do you hear the music? Are you tired?”
 So, that’s my experience and advice for anyone that is in a similar boat where maybe you lay down with your baby/toddler and nurse them to sleep. It’s been bitter sweet for sure. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the familiar and step into new seasons,  but I am definitely relieved to have it over with. Next up potty training.
By | September 15th, 2014|Babies & Toddlers, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Breastfeeding in a dress

Breast is best, but can it work in a dress? See what I did there? First of all, about the breast is best, it’s a slogan I’m quoting and it’s scientifically proven, at least for now. Some people can’t breast feed their baby. Some people don’t want to. I don’t care how you feed your baby. This particular post is about breastfeeding, but please don’t be offended if you’re path looks different than mine! I have been the first to admit that the thing I would miss the most if I couldn’t breast feed would be the freebies. Not the nutrition, not the bonding, but the flat out frugality of it. The second favorite is getting to eat all of those bonus calories! How noble of me. I am such a sacrificial lactavist.

I have breastfed for 4 and 1/2 years between my three children over the course of 7 years. I started out like most new moms, kind of awkward and self conscious, but now I am comfortable enough to breastfeed on an airplane with the toddlers head resting on the arm of the male college student sitting next to me. I prefer not to be in that position again, I am just saying I don’t give a rat’s patootie anymore.

I used to think there was no way of breast feeding in a dress because you would have to pull the whole garment up so I would choose my outfits accordingly.

Since then I have learned that I could gear my shopping toward dresses that I could nurse my baby in simply by pulling the neck line down. Whether sporting buttons, a crisscross wrap style, or even strapless most styles these days are very accommodating.

Here are just some of the dresses that I have to choose from.

 

 

 

This is an instagram I posted of the dresses I packed for my trip to New York and I have easily nursed in all three outfits.

Here is one that I cannot wear while breastfeeding! It’s super form fitting and really high up in the front.

Although, one time I witnessed a mom wear a shift dress like this for her babies dedication and then when it was time to nurse she went to the cry room and had someone help her unzip the top of her dress  so that she could feed the newborn. That’s quite a bit of effort, but I guess it shows that it can be done if you are really set on a particular outfit.

The point is, if you are breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to branch out. I recommend layering with nursing tanks and nursing bras. Those are my go to for wearing under everything. It just makes life simpler during this season. My advice to new moms that are just starting out, wear what you feel comfortable in and when in doubt practice at home first to see if you can nurse your baby with ease in a certain ensemble. I promise you I have done this on many occasions before I have determined what to wear. You are better off giving it a go in private before you are at a restaurant and realize the material isn’t as stretchy as you thought all the while trying to console the hungry screaming baby in your arms.

By the way, it is World Breastfeeding Week (or at least it was) so to all the women out there that are feeling exhausted, embarrassed, or the many that are just in love with the whole experience I hope you are encouraged that you are doing a great job. Hooray for the normal, beautiful, natural thing that it is!

By | August 10th, 2014|Babies & Toddlers, Motherhood, Natural Living, Uncategorized|4 Comments

Building a Language

My first response before I even knew the degree of SJ’s hearing loss was to learn American Sign Language and teach it to her. I never thought it would be be easy, but my original expectations might have been a little unrealistic.

I was already familiar with baby sign language. I figured that if babies can learn to sign before they can talk then this sign language thing should be a breeze, especially for SJ because she’s brilliant! Come to find out it’s not that simple and it has to do with what I wrote about last week in “the Science of Language”. You acquire your first language by being immersed in it and it all happens easily and naturally. It’s called first language acquisition.

Babies hear MILLIONS of words before they ever say their first! They are observing, listening and mentally taking it all in for the first year or so. It’s a critical time developmentally. A deaf baby born in a deaf family is going through the same process except with a manual language. These children are typically raised in deaf culture so they see sign language happening all around them through their parents, teachers, and communities. One of SJ’s therapist says a child needs to see a sign around 100 times before it sticks. I thought I would simply show SJ some signs and teach her how to talk, but I am up against her natural urge of language acquisition which is to imitate, and for the past 2 and a half years she hasn’t seen any proof that the world around her communicates through sign language. Even now, I try to sign quite a bit, but we are still no where near the amount of oral words she would be hearing if she could. I’m not sure if I am making sense, but this whole first language acquisition thing was a recent epiphany for me. I just never thought about it that way.

Realizing your child is at square one trapped in world without language is a tough pill to swallow. It’s different than realizing that they can’t hear, it’s like Okay. Wow, we have a lot of lost time to make up. I explain it to people using Z as an example. Z started watching signing time and learning ASL along with us just a few months ago. As a 4 year old he quickly picked up around 100 words with minimal effort. I can ask Z What is the sign for share? and he’ll show me. The difference between him and SJ (besides that Z is 2 1/2 years older) is that Z already has a language. He knows what share means and has been learning about this word for years, now he is just attaching a sign to it. Just because SJ is deaf it doesn’t mean she is naturally more inclined to pick up sign language, it’s going to be harder for her because of the lack of immersion that I mentioned earlier. Anyway, that was my light bulb moment last month, but taking all this into consideration she is doing awesome. Sometimes I take for granted how much she does communicate with us through ASL. I need to document more of those precious first words that we are seeing from her.

On another note, we got the test results back yesterday and praise the Lord SJ’s brain and ear anatomy looks great. This means the hearing loss is not caused by any shocking unforeseen damage or malformations. That is really good news and now we can move forward with getting a cochlear implant, which is another big ol’ topic that I need to write about sometime. Just another curve on this windy hilly journey that we are on. There are ups and downs, pit stops, and speed bumps, but I am trying to take in all the beautiful scenery along the way and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

By | September 6th, 2012|Babies & Toddlers, Parenting Tips, Special Needs, Uncategorized|2 Comments