Children Hijackers

Sorry I haven’t blogged in quite a while (don’t worry…no baby #2 yet, but he’ll be here soon). Shortly after my last post our life was hijacked by a toddler/preschooler that decided she no longer wanted to sleep at night. So, in the past month and a half my life has been devoted to trying to figure out how to get her to sleep again. Sleep depravation combined with trying to keep up with a busy life left me with little desire to blog. It is by no means better, but we’ve made a little progress.

What I’ve Learned Recently

  1. Never assume that a good sleeper will always be a good sleeper. My little girl was an excellent sleeper for the first 2.5 years of her life. I’m pretty sure she was sleeping through the night after only a few months, and we did nothing to make it happen. She had always enjoyed her sleep, aside from the occasional cold or sickness. So, when her sleep problems started popping up we just assumed she’d settle back into her old pattern. WRONG! It became progressively worse, and as she became more sleep deprived it only compounded the issue.
  2. Cry It Out (CIO) doesn’t work. Not knowing much at first, we assumed letting her cry a bit at her bedroom door wouldn’t hurt much…except it eventually turned into long periods on nonstop crying. In the meantime, Mommy and Daddy were nearly crazy from it (I can’t stand the sound of crying and not allowing myself to console her). A lot of parents try this out of desperation, but it only did more damage in the end. We’ve been picking up the pieces ever since.
  3. Establishing good patterns and daily routines. Nothing has helped more than establishing good patterns and routines throughout the day. She needs a good nap everyday, at the same time everyday. Even if you’re busy and need to run errands, the nap makes a big difference when it comes to bedtime. She needs to eat at about the same time everyday. Evenings need to be TV-free and focus on quiet activities (like reading and quiet play).
  4. Live a healthy life. We’ve been focusing a lot more on eating healthy and removing junk from our life. We’ve been seeing a chiropractor to be adjusted. He actually found that my daughter has a dairy allergy, so we’ve removed all dairy from her life. This is a recent development…still curious to see the results.
  5. Mom & Dad need good habits. If I expect that my child have good sleep habits, I need it too. I’m still working on this one…mom & dad enjoy their night time together watching TV.

A book that has been really helpful in helping me find these realizations is this one:

The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child’s Sleep

If anything, it helped me to realize lots of kids have sleep issues and that I don’t have to despair. It promotes creating a sleep plan and gives practical tips on how to help your kid sleep no matter the cause. As a future librarian…check you local library before buying the book. I only provide the Amazon link for convenience.

Where I Am Now

So, after reading all of this you probably think I’ve got a child that sleeps through the night and has no issues…nope. It’s a battle every night to get her to bed. It is usually a 2 hour process and has the occasional tantrum (mommy and daddy included), but we’ve been doing much better at not crying to sleep. She just has a lot of trouble getting her brain to turn-off. She also doesn’t sleep through the night in her own room, but we’ve no longer got middle of the night tantrums, crying and screaming. At some point every night she will come into our room to sleep. I’ve made a little bed on the floor with blankets and she usually makes no noise and just lays down. It’s by no means ideal, but I accept the compromise…for now. A part of me actually enjoys having my beautiful little girl nearby. 🙂

Do any of you have sleep problems with your kids? Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. I feel your misery.

If you’ve had sleeping success, what has worked for you? Leave a comment.

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In Support of Breastfeeding

mother and child breastfeeding with father present

Image courtesy of CDC

I was reading this post on immunization and breastfeeding on Birth Without Fear recently and it got me thinking about all the things I’ve been learning about natural parenting lately. I could probably say a lot about a whole number of things, but I want to focus on breastfeeding in particular. I support it and I support my wife in her efforts to breastfeed. For thousands of years it has been the sole way in which infants are nourished, and is supported by health and medical organizations for most women and infants. In particular, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has said:

Human milk is species-specific, and all substitute feeding preparations differ markedly from it, making human milk uniquely superior for infant feeding. Exclusive breastfeeding is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health, development, and all other short- and long-term outcomes.

As men, we need to support our birthing partners in achieving their breastfeeding goals. I know from experience the difficulty some women face when trying to breastfeed. It was very difficult to watch my wife struggle with adjusting to a new baby, the changes in her body, and on top of that, difficulty breastfeeding. I did my best to support her and provide help, but I was uneducated and lacked the knowledge to help from the beginning. We learned as it went on, but extra support is needed during those first days after the baby arrives. Had I been better prepared, I think I might have been able to do more.

The La Leche League is an excellent place to find support. For those that are unaware of this organization, they are one of the leading groups providing support, information and education on all things breastfeeding. They are a big promoter and have local organizations in many cities. If you think your partner needs support you cannot provide, it’s best to get with La Leche League for any support. There are also many other organizations and groups to support breastfeeding. Our local birth center has a monthly support group and many hospitals also provide support. If your partner is having difficulty, consider seeing a lactation consultant. The price you pay for their help is well worth the cost.

The La Leche League offers these helpful tips for partners:

Your first job is to support breastfeeding, not compete with it. A “relief bottle” may seem helpful, but it’s more likely to cause breastfeeding problems and health risks for your baby. Instead:

  • Protect your partner from criticism.
  • Keep her fed.
  • Help her get good help if she needs it (llli.org and ilca.org are good places to start).
  • Care for her so that she can care for your child. (see: http://www.llli.org/toolkit)

Also, try changing your way of thinking about breasts. In American culture we see them portrayed on television, the Internet, supermarket magazine displays and on billboards as primarily sex objects, but their main function is to provide food for children. I enjoy a healthy pair myself, but I’ve also been striving to change my perception of their function and to realize their important purpose in the reproductive cycle. As each person strives to change their perception, the culture will change. Breastfeeding can then be viewed by society for what it truly is: A natural, womanly art.

My experience thus far

I noticed that there is a lack of birth stories from a father’s perspective and more specifically, from one whose partner has chosen to birth naturally. Our first child was born vaginally at a hospital in a less that ideal situation. She was born healthy and without any complications, of which I am grateful. However, the various medical interventions contributed to difficult bonding the first few weeks postpartum and left us both with bittersweet memories.

This time is different…We are approaching birth from a completely new perspective and in a completely new environment. For our second child, we are Hypnobirthing® in a stand-alone birth center. We both feel so much more comfortable in this new setting.

My intention is to document my experience in hopes that it might be helpful for someone else. Please visit again to read more.

-NaturalBirthingDad

Things I’m thinking about:

  • 26 weeks passed, more than half way done
  • Favorite blog: Birth Without Fear
  • Tonight: Our third Hypnobirthing class