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Friday, March 18, 2011

Weaning, slowly

I haven't written a blog entry in over a week, almost a week and a half. That is probably some sort of record for me. It's not that I haven't had anything to write about. My darling daughter, humorous husband and noisy neighbours have provided me with oodles of ammunition "bloggable" moments to keep you entertained for hours on end. I just haven't had the time, energy, or the time to myself. No, no, there's no need to get the chorus of violins out for me, I have had a wonderful week and a bit, but time for blogging has been limited.

So what's changed? Several things really, but for the purposes of this entry, there are two notable changes. One, I am seriously cutting back on breastfeeding, and two Alexis has changed her sleep patterns. Both of these are good things and I think they compliment each other nicely. They do, however, limit the amount of "blogging time", "free time", "me time" or any other time other than cleaning up time!

I have no problem with people choosing to continue breastfeeding their child well into their toddler years. There are so many reasons why I would love to do the same, such as bonding, health advantages to the baby, it's free, babies love it, it puts them to sleep and it's so incredibly convenient. However, for numerous other reasons Corey and I have decided it's best we start the weaning process. We haven't been hardcore about it, she still gets a feed when she really wants it, and I'm still feeding her to sleep (the only other thing that works for me is the car. She'll let Corey cuddle her to sleep but not me, not yet), but we're definitely cutting back.

She's handled it incredibly well so far. We've been working on it for a month or so, keeping her busy and not stopping to give her a feed while we're out and about. When at home, I offer her food or water when she approaches me for a feed. She's old enough to be eating mostly solids, with milk feeds just for comfort. She eats very well so I've put her straight on to cow's milk at this stage, and will only go to toddler formula if she starts looking washed out or losing weight once we finish feeding all together. She loves yoghurt and cheese. She has about 100 ml or so milk to drink with breakfast. She is doing really well not needing "boob" (yes, it's embarrassing, she can and does say "boob" quite forcefully now. I always said I'd stop when she learned how to do that!). She still has a quick feed to get herself off to sleep however she seems to know this won't last forever, as she breaks herself off and puts the dummy in before she actually goes to sleep. I am so proud of my little princess.

I think this process has been harder for me than her. Breastfeeding is so convenient. Weaning is not convenient. I have to be a few steps ahead of her to avoid tears (hers and mine). I am learning to preempt meal times and have snacks on hand, especially when we go out. Milk Arrowroot biscuits have become a bit of a godsend. This is mostly due to the fact that she is teething. I didn't realise she was about to start teething when I started trying to wean her off me. There have been days when she has been miserable and wanted to feed all day but unfortunately I just haven't had the milk for her anymore. This is ok though because both of us have realised that she doesn't need a feed when she starts clutching at my chest. Either she is hungry, in which case offering a banana or some apple or a biscuit or some yoghurt or some other convenient snack calms her down; or she needs comforting. We have discovered other ways of quiet bonding time that both of us enjoy. We love reading stories. She walks over to her bookshelf and picks out a story (or two, or three) and brings them over to me to read. She also enjoys cuddling up while we watch Playschool or sing songs or watch (and dance to) the wiggles. This stuff is fun but it requires more immediate energy than simply sticking the boob out for baby to do her thing. I've concluded that I used to use breastfeeding as my "emergency mute button" to calm Alexis down no matter what the problem. In the process of weaning I've learned more about her cries/complaints and how to interpret them.

The biggest advantage to this is that Alexis has been sleeping well at night. (Can I hear a hallelujah?) It's been so nice. Corey and I can stay up and watch a movie or something and know with reasonable certainty that we will get some sleep. The extra "us time" has been great. I haven't blogged though because I'm fairly tired at night because Alexis is quite full on during the day.

It's either the increase in food she's eating or the simple fact that she's growing up, or most likely a combination of the two, that has convinced Alexis' body clock to change from a morning and afternoon sleep to one sleep somewhere in the middle of the day. Normally this suits me well because she, for the first time in her little life, is having a decent day sleep. She was the queen of half hour cat naps. Now I can have a nap myself, or do the dishes, or have lunch! I can't train my body to wait until she wakes up to have lunch with her, if it's lunch time and I'm not busy I want to eat. It's a very nice privilege to eat a meal without a small person trying to scab it off you. The problem is, sometimes she wakes up after half hour or fourty five minutes and thinks she has had a nice 1.5-2 hr sleep, and because I don't have much milk and have just fed her she is fussy and mucks around and she is extremely difficult to get back to sleep any other way. If she admits she's tired it's fine to pat her to sleep, but if she won't admit it and wants to play, then there's not much I can do. If she only has a short sleep, or falls asleep early in the day and then is awake by 11 and normally stays up until around 8pm, she is a ride off quite difficult for the rest of the day.

It's all fun and games though. If she's unhappy letting her play in the yard almost always cheers her up. She loves outdoors, and it doesn't require much cleaning up. I check the mail while she explores the front yard but I always have to be on my guard for cars. The backyard isn't safe either, with a steep slope and retaining wall and ants, bees, weeds, mushrooms.. Still it's a nice change of scenery, and fresh air and sunshine is good for both of us. I don't like to let Alexis watch too much TV. I do let her watch some, usually the shows I really like and we sit and watch together, or if I really have to clean up a mess or get dinner ready etc.

These days I seem to spend the vast majority of my day preparing food, supervising her trying to feed herself (hilarious), cleaning up food scraps and mess, wiping faces, arms, legs and doing dishes. Solid food makes so much more mess than breastfeeding. The highchair and floor cop it bad, then there's the cups, plates, spoons, bottles, cooking utensils, it really never ends. Whenever I get in the kitchen she wants to play in the kitchen too, pulling all the goodies out of the plastics cupboard. I can lock the cupboard and I can lock her out of the kitchen but she makes so much noise gets so distressed it's easier just to clean up her mess later. Then there's the indirect effects of increased solids in the diet, what goes in must come out. I seem to spend a LOT of time attending to madam's rear end spoilage as well.

That said though, I am getting more quality time with my daughter in the long run because I'm not spending as much time trying to get her to sleep, I just put her off to sleep when she tells me she's tired. I need to break the link between feed and sleep, but this has me stumped for now. Any tips that don't involve crying? I wish I could convince her she's tired when I'm tired, but it doesn't work that way. That's why the good Lord invented the Wiggles and smart people invented DVD players. I sometimes feel guilty sitting down while she watches the idiot box, but I used to get a lot of time sitting down when I was feeding her all the time. That's when I used to get my blogging done too, while she was having a feed. I don't anymore because the feeds are few and far between and I'm slowly but surely phasing them out, so until then I'm trying to make the most of each and every one. I will make time for blogging every now and then, and I'll find energy, that's why the good Lord invented the cocoa bean and some smart people decided how to turn it into a tasty block of chocolate. I'm not feeding Alexis that much anymore, so the chocolate I eat isn't going to hype her up much anymore, right?

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At March 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM , Blogger The Mother Experiment said...

as I posted this she woke up, no kidding. Corey is giving her a bottle now after she drained me and still unsatisfied. I forgot she didn't eat her dinner because she was too tired. ah them's the breaks.. :(

At March 22, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Julie said...

Have you tried giving her a dummy to suck on or a teddy/cuddly toy to take to bed and cuddle with? It might be something that comforts her, and allows you to cut-out the night feeds. Good luck with it.

At March 23, 2011 at 9:49 AM , Blogger The Mother Experiment said...

Thanks Julie. Yeah she sleeps with a dummy and she can put it back in herself. She doesn't wake us up most nights. I guess she wakes maybe 2 nights a week or so and she is usually wet or gassy. So its not so bad. I have tried the cuddly toy thing a few times in the past with no luck. Her favourite doll rattles so she is no good. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try again.

At July 16, 2011 at 11:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Karlee,
Loving this blog, I am just reading up on older blogs. My bub is going to start on solids in the up coming months & I am interested in making my own food. Do you have any tips or recipes that you used that you could post up?

At July 18, 2011 at 2:15 PM , Blogger The Mother Experiment said...

Hi anon thanks for your comment and your interest in my blog. My daughter has been eating solids for a year now so its hard to think back. I'll try to post something for you soon.:)


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