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Monday, 27 August 2012

My Fall Wishlist

White camisole with black bow - Smart Set
Bow earrings and necklace - Smart Set
Coloured belts - Joe Fresh
Black heels - Aldo
Black lace shirt - Smart Set
Gray sleeveless tank - Jacob
White sleveless tank - Jacob
Brown leather bag - Aldo
Silver leaf bracelet - Smart Set
Purple Ergo Carrier - Ergo

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Night Weaning

At almost exactly 4 months of age, McKenna hit the dreaded 4 - month sleep regression. She refused to nap, wouldn't go down at night without a fuss and woke frequently throughout the night. Trying as it was, I took comfort in the knowledge that "this too shall pass"... except that it didn't. McKenna is now 8 months old and still fights sleep. It can take up to 2 hours to get her down at night, and then she will wake every hour (or more!) throughout the night. This makes for one very tired mommy the next day.

Being very much against cry-it-out methods, I did some research and came across Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. I read it cover-to-cover as soon as it arrived in the mail, and went to work charting her naps, sleeping patterns, and how many times she was waking during the night. It was time-consuming and frankly, pretty depressing. McKenna's sleep was actually worse than I had thought it was. However, I was determined to put an end to the bedtime battles, and now felt that I had the tools I needed to do so with confidence. There would be no crying, no hurt feelings, and no guilt on my part. The first couple of nights I focused on helping McKenna learn to fall asleep without nursing. Instead of nursing her to sleep, she was given a bottle and her father was given the task of helping her to sleep. When she woke throughout the night, I nursed her each and every time, but instead of allowing her to fall asleep at the breast, I carefully broke the latch before she fell asleep, so that she fell asleep on her own. We did this for a few weeks, while at the same time, implementing some of Pantley's suggestions regarding naps and making sure to differentiate between night and day. We also made a concerted effort to adopt a predictable bedtime routine. 

And...it didn't work. While McKenna can now successfully go to sleep with a bottle, her night awakenings were not impacted in the least. While Pantley's method was indeed gentle and without tears, it was not the right method for our family. 

I have now decided to try Dr. Gordon's method for night weaning, in the hopes that, by removing her food supply (which she really doesn't need at 8 months of age), she will begin to sleep for longer stretches. While I have no issue with nursing a hungry baby, she is definitely not waking every hour due to hunger. Gordon suggests choosing a 7-hour stretch (e.g., 11pm - 6am) and helping the child learn that between these hours, nursing is off-limits. They can wake and nurse at 10:59 and 6:01, but between the hours of 11pm and 7am, they will not be fed. Obviously though, exceptions have to be made when baby is teething, sick, or under a lot of stress. I am going to give this method a try; however, I think 5 or 6 hours is more reasonable for us. While I know that she doesn't NEED to eat in the middle of the night, she is a growing baby, and she tends to be too busy throughout the day to drink much. Plus, with the way she has been sleeping the past four months, a five-hour unbroken stretch of sleep will feel like I have won the lottery! 

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Separation

In my previous post, I mentioned that we are on vacation. On Saturday McKenna and I arrived in Ontario, after spending three weeks with my family in New Brunswick. Our flight was delayed getting in, McKenna was exhausted, and we hadn't seen daddy in nearly three weeks. While he was excited to hold his little girl in his arms again, I was concerned that she would have some issues warming up to him after being away for so long. After all, three weeks is a long time when you're only 7 months old, and she had been exhibiting some separation anxiety even before we went on vacation.

Sure enough, when we walked through the gates to meet him, she was less than happy to see him. Hopeful, he reached out his arms for her, and was met with tears. Undaunted, he tried again, this time succeeding in taking her from my arms. However, it was not without a great deal of fussing on her part. Eventually she did calm down and was willing to be held by her father, although she was still wary of him for the next several days. She also took some time to warm up to his family, just as she did with mine when we first arrived in NB. It's a developmental stage in her life that, although tiring, is completely normal and healthy. I would be worried if she wasn't more strongly attached to me than she was to anyone else, particularly those that she hasn't spent a lot of time with.

However, while being my daughter's sole source of comfort is great for my ego, it is not good for her or her relationship with her father. He adores her, and relates to her in a way that only a father can. I can tell that it hurts his heart when she turns away from him, or cries out when he gets too close. I would feel the same way if she ever reacted that way to me. So our task for the next few days is to strengthen that bond once again. While I will have to be the one providing comfort when she is really distressed, he can be there for her when she is in a good mood, and on her terms. Hopefully she will come around sooner rather than later.

Summer holidays - Part I

As a grad student I have the flexibility of taking time off pretty much whenever I want, provided I am not teaching at the time. This has come in handy in the past, when I could book a last-minute seat sale without having to ask for time off, and it`s incredibly convenient now that I have a baby and am travelling to visit both of our families more often.

The past three weeks, McKenna and I were visiting with my family in New Brunswick. We left Daddy behind in NL, with plans to meet him at his family`s place in Ontario in early August. During those three weeks we met up with friends, spent time with family and entertained a few house guests along the way. And I got a taste of what it was like to be a single parent for three weeks. I`ve never given much thought to how difficult it must be for the single mothers out there. My parents are still married, and I am in a stable and committed relationship myself. I`ve taken McKenna to visit family by myself before, and haven`t found it to be too stressful, but there was something about this trip that was different. Maybe it was because she is sleeping less during the day, and therefore I get less time to myself. It could have been that she`s more active now, and needs much closer supervision and attention. Or it could be the fact that she has been a poor sleeper the past few months, and continued to thwart my efforts to get some shut-eye while we were at home. Whatever the reason, it was an exhausting trip. I had envisioned spending afternoons on a patio, sipping daquiris and catching up with old friends. I had hoped to spend time at the beach, working on my tan. I had even planned on getting some work done towards my dissertation. But I found that I was too tired to do much of anything while I was home. The days were unusually hot and humid, which we`re not used to in Newfoundland, and even at night it stayed pretty warm. This meant that we spent a lot of time indoors, giving McKenna ample time to increase her mobility. While we were away she learned how to pull herself up, and had her first pony ride. She petted her first alpaca, and swam in her first salt water pool.

It was also the first time that she would not go to sleep by nursing.

McKenna and I have enjoyed a largely problem-free breastfeeding relationship. With the exception of recurring blocked ducts, we have never had any major problems to contend with. She loved to nurse right from the start, latched well, and only once did we experience a nursing strike. But for whatever reason, she can no longer be settled to sleep by nursing. She still wants me to be beside her while she falls asleep, but now she is falling asleep to a bottle, instead of to the warmth and comfort of my body. When she wakes through the night she will not settle for anything less than a boob, but the girls are no longer a part of her bedtime or naptime routine. And that makes me a little sad. I know as she grows things are bound to change in our relationship, but I wasn't ready for those changes to be happening so quickly. I don't want her to crawl, because that means she is just one step closer to walking. I don't want her to talk, as she will be even closer to becoming independent. In short, I want my little girl to stay a baby forever. Unfortunately, she (and nature) have other plans.