Monday, October 3, 2011

Plans change

Two weeks ago, I had a lot of plans for how I would do things during this pregnancy. Since I wasn't sick, I wasn't too concerned about just getting by. My goals were to wean Marko, at a pace he would accept, and to teach him a better way to go to sleep. No rush, though, because stroller walks were working fine! I soon was only nursing about once a day, at no particular time, and stroller-walking to sleep at naptime and bedtime.

That was right when the morning sickness struck, and hard. We were out and about a lot -- three parties that week, and two days with my in-laws. And it was fun, but I just felt awful. So tired and so sick. I could barely eat anything, but the less I ate, the worse I felt. I slacked off on taking my vitamins, too, so that didn't help. And I was exhausted, because I had been napping each day up till then, but couldn't nap much that week.

The following week was more restful, but the sickness remained. It was just so awful. Meanwhile sleep was getting harder. Two stroller walks a day is a lot, especially when it's taking Marko longer and longer to go to sleep. And the weather was beginning to get worse. Then, two nights in a row, Marko absolutely refused to get in the stroller at all. We could roll him through the neighborhood howling, or give up -- which is what we did. John was eventually able to get him to sleep by walking around with him in his room.

But that wasn't going to work long-term, either. Marko has no interest whatsoever in going to sleep that way with me. I guess my shoulders aren't big enough or I haven't got the trick of bouncing right. He just screams "Daddy, Daddy" the whole time. Only John is not always available at bedtime ... so what now? I have sometimes had luck getting him to sleep by lying down with him and singing ... like, twice. At naptime only. Bedtime is harder, and we were already struggling against a confused sleep schedule. The only way to get him to sleep when his schedule is confused is to use a sure-fire method he is accustomed to -- only our old method is broken.

I found myself wistfully sighing of the old days, when he was about nine months old, when I used to nurse him to sleep. It took ten minutes or so. I'd nurse him in the rocking chair and then lie down with him for awhile. It was perfect and I enjoyed it -- only once in awhile, it didn't work and we'd have to try again in an hour (because he wouldn't nurse again right away). Stroller walks seemed like a magic solution, because they always worked. Only ... now they don't. And they sure take a heck of a lot longer than ten minutes.

So I went back to nursing Marko to sleep. It occurred to me that it will be way easier to transition to a new sleep method from nursing than it will to do so from stroller-walking. I can build a good sleep routine that has nursing as part of it, and then slowly reduce the amount of nursing and increase the book reading, rocking chair rocking, singing, and lying in bed. I honestly think this method is more likely to get him falling asleep on his own sometime before ten years old than the stroller method is. So nursing it is.

I wasn't really paying attention to anything at the time, except that it took an hour to get him to sleep the first night (yikes! but luckily that's improving as he gets used to it) and the fact that nursing him does hurt, a lot. It's like nursing a piranha.

But, in apparently unrelated news, the next day I didn't feel so sick. In fact, I felt like making a big dinner and eating every bite. After eating it, I felt great. The next day, I felt like eating a big breakfast. So I did, and felt fine. I haven't felt really sick since. I just have this kind of gaggy feeling at the back of my throat a lot of the time, and of course I can't eat anything too spicy or heavy without regretting it, but I'm eating normally and feeling fine. I also don't feel the need for naps lately.

It was only just the other day that I thought, "I remember hearing that nursing helped reduce morning sickness for some women. I wonder ..." And, you know, I bet that's it. I bet nursing once a day, and not at all some days, brought me below a certain threshold and gave me awful morning sickness. And then increasing the amount of nursing to twice a day, reliably, was enough to cure the morning sickness. I can't prove that, and I'm not going to experiment with it because I feel fine and want to continue feeling fine. But it's something to think about.

Another side effect has been that Marko has stopped asking to nurse almost completely. When we weren't nursing much, he would think of it all the time. I usually was able to distract him, so we wouldn't nurse every time, but sometimes I would go ahead and nurse him because he wanted it so much. Now that he's reliably getting some nursing twice a day, I think he's happy because that's the amount he needs. He knows he doesn't have to ask all the time; he'll get it anyway. So I think it's probably what is best for him to keep at this level of nursing for awhile, painful as it is. Maybe he'll need it less soon, but for now, this is keeping him happy. He even seems less grouchy! And I peeked in his mouth last night ... he has two new canines. I never noticed him teething at all. He's woken up a little at night, but not enough to make me think he was teething. Apparently he was.

I'm a planner, and I like to know when naptime will be or how I will help Marko through this or that transition. But I try to be flexible, too, so I can be responsive to what he actually needs. I think this is one of those times when I need to throw my old plan out the window and do what actually works for our family right now.

...But I still really hope I can manage to wean him before May.

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