Weaning Is All About Timing

We are now one month completely and totally breast milk weaned. I thought it was going to be harder than it was, that there would be tears, tantrums and late nights. But there wasn’t. I felt jipped. Now how am I supposed to regale people in the future of a weird or funny story from when we tried to wean our son?

Realistically weaning started when our little monkey started day care full-time, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I still breast feed mornings and night-time (and during the night), also on weekends. Eventually, ever so slowly this reduced to once a night. With out me noticing my son was weaning himself but still needed booby when upset, or tired. I started to think exit strategy. I always knew I wanted him weaned by two but had not really considered how we would achieve this.

While on holiday in September my little monkey started demanding booby milk. He would walk up and pull down my shirt (which lead to some awkward moments) and laugh or cry (depending on his mood). To me this signalled he was ready to wean. If he can demand booby he can demand a cup of milk or water, or even a plate of food.

Again though we weren’t sure how to properly wean. But October rolled around and I decided “this is it, I am drawing a line in the sand, from this day no more booby”. Of course that night our little man woke with a fever and cried the whole night. Hubby kept saying “just give him some booby milk” and I resolutely refused saying “if we can’t make it through this then we are never going to properly wean him”. I must admit I wavered, I doubted myself, I felt sad over this change…..I nearly gave in. I started thinking that Indigenous tribes woman look with the boobs down near her ankles could totally work, they just never had a decent bra right?

That weekend was the hardest and hubby had to step in a few times to give milk in a sippy cup or take our little man away. I couldn’t settle him to sleep because it upset him. But slowly this lessened and I was able to go near him without fear of a crying fit or having my shirt ripped off. I also had to wean myself of the internet again which is how I spent my new found time.

By the end of the following week he was weaned and we haven’t looked back.

To be honest I think it was all due to timing. Our little monkey was ready. If I had tried earlier we probably would have failed epically and we both would have been a sobbing mess in the corner. If you can afford too (I know it is not always your choice to wean sometimes there are extenuating circumstances) then let your baby/toddlers cues guide you when they are ready to wean.

I am so grateful my weaning process went so well. I would love to hear any other weaning stories as everyone’s experiences seem to be so different.

Postpartum Depression

On March 9th of this year, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl. I fell in love with her instantly. I know it’s said that it doesn’t always happen that way, but it did for me. And so it came as a surprise when mere days later I was in tears, overly anxious and feeling quite helpless. Shouldn’t I be happy? Exhausted and tired, yes, but shouldn’t I be celebrating life rather than being an emotional wreck? I had just brought new life into this world.

I watched my husband with out daughter and I felt a pang of jealousy. How could he take to parenthood so easily while I seemed to struggle? In my usual way, I put on a brave face and tried to be strong. I couldn’t stop the tears though. Everyone told me it was normal but to keep an eye on it. Give it two weeks. If I was still feeling low after four weeks, I was advised to talk to my doctor.

When the anxiety failed to lift and the tearfulness continued beyond those four weeks, I began to worry. I couldn’t possibly have Postpartum Depression, could I? I harbored no thoughts of harming myself or my baby. I did not feel distant from her. I told myself that my anxiety, sense of helplessness and guilt were merely normal reactions to being a first time parent. It didn’t matter that I was having trouble sleeping and had lost my pregnancy weight in no time flat because I wasn’t eating. Wasn’t my lack of energy and motivation and my irritability a result of lack of sleep and nourishment? I didn’t have time to take care of myself because I was so busy caring for my little girl. I warred with myself, hesitating to call my doctor because I could easily rationalize how I was feeling. Add to that a feeling of shame that I was having such a hard time dealing with being a mother, for feeling so much anxiety and helplessness.

I actually wasn’t going to say anything to my doctor at all but when I went in for my 6 week postpartum appointment, my doctor asked me a simple question about sleep and I burst into tears. Then it all came out.  I told her about everything I’d been feeling, right down to how afraid I was to leave the house.  She prescribed more sleep and told me to make a point of eating. She told me to rest, not to exercise other than walking and advised me not to do any housework but rather hand it over to family. She said no stress (with a move coming at that time, I knew that was impossible). If in a week I wasn’t feeling better to contact her and we would take it from there. She also suggested I talk to a hospital social worker specializing in Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression often goes undiagnosed for several weeks, even months, after the birth of a child. Medical personnel are more aware of the condition these days and so try and identify it early on, sometimes even before a child is born. There is no known cause for Postpartum Depression although there are several risk factors that may lead to it. A history of depression, a traumatic event or excessive stress during or after pregnancy, hormonal changes, and a lack of support are among the risk factors.

Many symptoms of Postpartum Depression are quite normal during the first two to three weeks after the birth of a child and are referred to as the Baby Blues. If symptoms last beyond that, however, there is cause to worry. Postpartum Depression is not uncommon but it does need attention as it can have a lasting impact on the mother, the child and the family unit. It is a very real illness, one worth seeking help for. There are medications as well as counseling services available to women who may need it.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression may include
Lack of interest in your baby
Negative feelings towards your baby
Worrying about hurting your baby
Lack of concern for yourself
Loss of pleasure
Lack of energy and motivation
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Changes in appetite or weight
Sleeping more or less than usual
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Not all women will experience all of the symptoms of Postpartum Depression. I had mistakenly thought that Postpartum Depression meant wanting to harm oneself or her baby–when in reality, that is often not the case. In fact, women feeling suicidal or wanting to harm their babies more than likely suffer from Postpartum Psychosis and should seek help immediately.

In the end, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, and it is something my husband and I will have to keep a close eye on in coming weeks and months. At this time, I am not on medication and seem to be managing okay. My husband and I are doing what we can to try to combat it.  I am getting better at asking for help when I need it, something that doesn’t come easy for me. I am lucky in that my case of Postpartum Depression seems to be mild. And I hope it stays that way. If it gets worse, however, I know that I will need to seek further help. Ultimately, it is nothing to be ashamed of as it affects many women. And it is treatable. In retrospect, I am glad I broke down in front of my doctor rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. I wasn’t so quick to accept the diagnosis, but now that I have, I am able to move forward.  I am working through it and most of the time recognize that I am not such a bad mother after all.

Amber Teething Necklaces

At risk of sounding like a hippie, I am totally in love with my Son’s amber teething necklace!

If you havent heard of them, Amber teething necklaces are made for wearing (not chewing) when a baby is teething. The warmth from the skin releases the active ingredient in the Amber, called succinic acid. Recent research suggests that this can improve immunity, help reduce drooling and soothe red cheeks. Amber’s anti-inflammatory properties are said to help relieve teething pain and calm a baby without the use of drugs

I had friends who have used these teething necklaces on their babies since they were really young, and i was always a little bit sceptical.  I thought they looked really cute on baby girls, but i was not about to whack a necklace on my cloth wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parented baby boy, for fear of really becoming a hippie.

And then we had – what is now referred to in our house as – the week of horror.  We had just successfully completed baby boot camp and got our little man out of our bed and into his cot, where he was sleeping through the night, without kicking Mummy in the face. All was going well, i even felt human!! Then the dreaded teeth started. My son woke every 40 minutes, had neurofen, panadol, and a homoeopathic remedy that smelt and tasted like cola and to this day i have no real belief that it works. We paced and we fed and we bathed him in the middle of the night, i sung twinkle twinkle until my voice was hoarse, and two days later we had a front tooth poke through the gum, we held a breath and went to bed that night hoping we would get at least three hours sleep, and we did! He slept through and so did Mummy and Daddy. We thought we had done it, but the following night it happened all over again. So in desperation i bought an amber teething necklace. By the time it arrived we had a second tooth through the gum and we were back to sleeping through, but i put it on anyway and we ghave all happily co-existed ever since.

Until this week. My son’s childcare has developed a no jewelry policy and so i took his little necklace off as i dropped him off, and when Daddy picked him up, he called to say that my son had a teething / dribble rash all down his chin. From four hours with out it!! We have cut three teeth in the teething necklace without so much as a grizzle, no panadol, no demeted midnight singing, or twilight bathing. It really is a little miracle!!

Due to the no jewellery policy and my mature outlook on life, i hide it on him on childcare days, i tuck it right into his singlet, and so far no dribble rashes, and Mummy and Daddy and my gorgeous teething toddler, live happily ever after.

Co-Sleeping Is It For You?

I never thought I would co-sleep. We spent months roaming baby shops weighing up the pros and cons of various cots in preparation for our new baby. In the end we spent a couple of hundred on a lovely wooden cot that did everything we needed it too. This is where he was going to sleep. That was what was safe. Never did it enter my mind that I would share my bed with my baby. But somewhere along the way this plan got screwed up. It all started when we decided to put our sons cot in the bedroom with us.

Then the next step to co-sleeping happened. It was 3 am, I had maybe a grand total of 2 hours sleep, and I was so tired. My son was not settling. I had changed his nappy, fed him, rocked him, swore silently under my breath, and pleaded with him to sleep. Nothing was working. I was exhausted so thought if we both had to be awake we may as well be in bed relaxing. Then I realise it was quiet. No more complaining, or crying, just silence. All I could hear was the soft breathing noises a sleeping baby makes. Suddenly one side of my brain was saying “I can just have a quick sleep, just 15 minutes, it will be fine. 15 minutes is ok”, the other side was saying “yup listen to that side it’s smart”. Next thing I knew it was 4 hours later and I was nice and rested (well as rested as you can be with a newborn).

Luckily I am a light sleeper. So any movement would wake me up. I mean any movement. I have nailed the cat to the bed a couple of times, and my partner too, as I woke in a blind panic thinking my son was crawling off the bed (which was ironic because at the time he couldn’t even crawl).

Now we usually do a combo of co-sleeping. My son usually spends 90% of the night in his cot then around 5am (usually because I am tired and lazy) he comes into the bed with us. To be honest I really enjoy it. I like having my son nice and close. For me it really comes in handy when he is sick so I can monitor him better (though I might revise this after my first vomit in the bed, so far this has been avoided).

Co-sleeping seems to be a really controversial issue with avid supporters on both sides. I personally find it strange that  experts say co-sleeping is dangerous when it should be the most natural thing in the world. Cot’s were not around when humans first emerged into the world (no matter what your belief) so I would suspect co-sleeping is what our ancestors would have done.

But figures don’t lie (unless your Christopher Skase then they lie a lot). Plenty of studies and statistics support the experts who say co-sleeping is dangerous. Suffocation is also a real, and undeniable risk for a baby sleeping in its parents bed. But just as many studies support co-sleeping as an effective way of bonding with your child and getting them to sleep more effectively. A few studies have shown that co-sleeping is rising in popularity, or is only now being talked about openly.

So which option is the right one? I don’t personally think either way is “wrong”. You need to do what best suits your lifestyle and personality; and like wise your baby’s personality. Plus it needs to be a joint decision between you and your partner. Be realistic, your bedroom/bed just may not be big enough to safely co-sleep.

If you want to co-sleep then have a good look at the options. You can have the cot in your room with you, have the cot “side-car” style with your bed, go the whole hog and have your baby in the bed with you, or have a spare bed in the baby’s room (preferably a mattress on the floor). Either way I personally would recommend if you are serious to discuss options with a health professional. There are “sleep” centres in some cities that could give you valuable information.

After choosing the “style” of co-sleeping you want, make sure you do everything possible to make the sleep environment safe.

Do not:

  • Use a mattress that is too soft, has a pillow top, or is a water-bed. While water beds are fun, it is not fun to watch your baby ride a wave ninja turtle style off the bed. Seriously though, these types of mattress’ pose a suffocation risk.
  • Leave any gaps between headboard, footboard, wall (if your bed is against a wall), bedside table, etc.
  • Use sheets that will become loose during the night
  • Use doona’s quilts, eider-down, or any heavy blankets.
  • Leave a baby unattended in the bed alone.
  • If you have long hair tie it up.
  • Use pillows if possible, if you need a pillow keep it to one.
  • Let pets sleep in the bed as well.
  • Let your baby sleep on a pillow.
  • Let your baby get hold of any cords or dangling items around the bed, such as light cords, jewllery, or ribbon from your nightie.

Do Not Under ANY circumstances sleep with your baby if:

  • You or your partner are intoxicated, inebriated, or incapacitated in any way.
  • You or your partner are taking strong medication
  • You or your partner smoke. No one knows why but when smokers sleep with their babies it increases the baby’s chance of cot death.
  • You or your partner are a deep sleeper.
  • Your baby is premature.
  • You or your partner is over weight or obese.

Do:

  • Keep bedding light and minimal
  • Dress your baby lightly for bed. Your body heat will raise your babies temperature.
  • Put your mattress on the floor. This will save you having a heart attack as your baby repels over the edge to escape.
  • Place your baby on it’s back to sleep.
  • Use appropriate bedding (satin out, cotton in. Satin is way too slippery).
  • Make sure you have a mattress protector on the bed.

As always consult a professional if you seriously wish to co-sleep.

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