Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nursing Ellie 101

Ellie has always been known for being a good sleeper.  Occasionally she doesn't sleep as well, but just like any other baby.  Some times it just lasts a few days in a row, but eventually she's always good at making up for it.

This past month has been one of those "times" of little sleep (but probably normal for most babies her age).  She took shorter naps (close to 1.5 hours instead of 3) and up in the night.  I blamed it on a poor stuffy nose (we could literally hear her breathing on the monitor all stuffed up!) and then she had a couple back teeth pop through!  Ouch!

playing with her new Easter chick
Whenever she wakes up in the night I try to let her fall back asleep on her own.  Many times it works but those times where I know she's stuffy, sick, or teething I know the cry that means, "you're crazy guys to think I'm falling back asleep!"

With hubby gone in Ames most of the time (working on our house remodeling), I'm on my own to try to figure out what's the best option to do.  If I don't get her, what if I go to find her after letting her cry for an hour, she has a fever?  Or what if she puked?  Or what if she is getting another tooth and just needs Advil to help with the pain?

I try to hold it off because she has never been a baby to want to be rocked to settle down to sleep or a baby who wanted your attention in the night instead of sleeping.  She has always woken up, nursed, diaper changed, and goes right back to sleep after that.  (Obviously not until she was around two months old.)  She never ever needed more cuddle time to help soothe her.  We were blessed in that way.  She never cried all night for "no apparent reason." (Besides those couple first weeks of life with night and day confusion.)  Like I've said many times before, we were blessed with a good baby.  God knew we needed a good baby to get through a hard year during her baby stage.

So the other night when she was crying out in pain I knew she was getting a tooth so my mom was willing to just give her Advil and try to settle her down.  She cried for awhile after my mom left (she wanted nursed) but once medicine kicked in she fell asleep RIGHT away! (My mom even said a doctor told her it takes 40 minutes for medicine to start doing it's job, and Ellie cried for exactly 40 minutes after she got the medicine.)

The next night she didn't need Advil but woke up but didn't cry long enough for anyone to get her.  She did a great job of just putting herself back down.  However she started to wake up earlier.  Which isn't a big deal (except for her night owl for a mom) but waking up before 8am for her is not normal.  She could hardly make it to her 12:30 nap time.  But like you other mothers know, putting her down too early could back fire when she wants to go to bed way too early!

This girl is not meant to wake up around 7:30am
This brought on lots of extra snuggles with Momma and snacking-kind of lunches before she went down for her nap.

The past few months have been pretty much this schedule:
Up around 8:30 to nurse & breakfast
Lunch around 11:30 or so
12:30/1:00 Nurse & Nap
~Sometimes her nap lasts 1.5 hours but usual length is 3 hours
Bedtime around 8/9pm (nurses to go down)

*For the most part no matter what time you put her down at night she still wakes up about the same time every morning.  It just effects her morning and how cranky or tired she is.  But for the most part she makes up for it and takes a good nap.  The days she doesn't make up for it there's extra snuggles and a lot more extra crankiness.

So with three times nursing during the day (more if she woke up in the night), I was starting to get ready to try to slowly get rid of nursing.  However I wanted her to seem ready then FORCE it.  The first one that was easy to try to change was first thing in the morning.  Whenever Jon was around I told him to just take her upstairs and feed her breakfast.  But times when he was away and she woke up at 7am, I knew she could fall back asleep if I just nursed her.  So sometimes that first time in the morning nursing was helpful. :)  Especially when I was going on only four hours of sleep at that time.  We both went back to sleep for 2-3 hours!!  She woke up happy and I had my Ellie I knew ready for the day! {Yep, it was worth it!}

Nursing before nap I know will be hard to adjust to because I'm the only one home when I put her down.  Plus pumping is so hard now, after 15-20 minutes of pumping I only make 2oz!  So obviously I need to help her adjust to not needing to nurse to fall asleep.

One time when we had my parents babysit I only had 2oz pumped for Ellie and my mom mixed in whole milk.  She said she drank it well and went down for a nap just fine!  It definitely helped I wasn't there--she didn't see what she was missing!!

Last night my mom babysat her and she only had whole milk to offer.  She went just down just fine!  She slept until 7am, which by then I HAD to nurse her since I didn't pump.  She went back down and didn't wake up again until 10am!!

However for a couple weeks I was hoping to get her use to whole milk but she just wasn't interested.  She continued to pick water over milk.  Which isn't bad but I was hoping the whole milk would help the transition.  But within the past couple weeks she has slowly been open to whole milk!  So I give it to her with breakfast and lunch.  So eventually morning nursing and before nap will be whole milk! :) {Plus I can tell due to pain for ME I'll still need to slowly stop nursing rather than stop all at once.}

I'm hoping we are starting a new "new" for Ellie.  I'm hoping I'm not needing to have my milk available every time I'm away from her.  I've had to either be with her or have something pumped (up to 6-8oz) every time I was going to be away from her!  It was getting to be too much.  It's been 19 months since I've been away from her for a day (or just longer than three hours) or over night!  Gasp!

And as a Mom you can allow yourself to feel guilty for thinking such thoughts.  I just need a night away.  I just need time away that is longer than three hours.  I just need time away where I don't have to worry if I pumped enough.  I just need time away.  Period.

But quickly stop yourself.  It's important to take care of YOURSELF before you can take care of others.  It's like being away from my husband for five days....when I finally get to see him it's like a little kid on Christmas morning!  You have the chance to remind yourself how much you care and love that person.  If you never get a chance to get away you can never refuel your energy.  

It's better for the both of you!

And that's why it's not me forcing Ellie to adjust.  It's me noticing she is now at a new stage where she is capable of changing her routine without it hurting her.  Once I saw that option, it gave me a huge blessing.  I have the ability to be away without guilt.  I'm allowing her to grow up with out it crushing her.  She is still my baby and I'm still nursing her, but if I'm away I have a comfortable feeling she is just fine.

However when it's just the two of us I do plan on adjusting her to whole milk and less nursing.  However wondering how that will go when it's just the two of us (no one to help out and have her not see me).  Hopefully when we move back home for good Jon can help with this transition.  Ellie is obsessed with her Daddy so I'm hoping his help will only grow their bond they already have, plus help the transition of ending nursing.  Which feels really weird.  What will it be like not to nurse her?

What have you experienced with nursing?  Did you just suddenly stop?  Did you ever feel guilty for needing to stop for personal reasons?  Did you ever continue nursing because of some reason I didn't mention?  Did you substitute your milk for something else?