Wow. Kids grow so fast, don't they? Quinn is now 3 months and he is such a different baby! He's gained almost 10 lbs and has grown almost 5 inches. He's wearing 6-9 month clothes and he has the chubbiest cheeks and legs. It's so cute. He's a great baby, sleeping sometimes 6 hours straight at night. And during the day he will sometimes have a few hour or more naps. He's nursing much better and will take a bottle of pumped milk if I need to leave him for more than an hour. He's alert and loves to chatter at me, make all sorts of cute noises and giggles. He loves to watch Milo and if Milo runs around in circles around him, he will turn his head anticipating Milo coming around the other side. He is usually pretty easy to comfort and seems to be a very content baby.
Quinn is one month old today and I took some photos of him dressed the same as Milo when he was one month. They look a lot a like, but I also see all the little differences! Milo is on the left and Quinn is on the right.
The last month has been a whirlwind! I can't even believe it is Fall and a month has gone by and Quinn has gained 4 lbs! He's getting little fat rolls already on his legs and his cheeks are so chubby! He's looking us in the eyes more, and just starting to grin a little bit. He's a good baby, mostly very calm and relaxed. He seems to like to sleep and so far doesn't have the reflux that made Milo's first few months difficult. We look in the back seat of the car and are surprised to find 2 car seats and everything takes twice as long, not to mention the double diaper duty! We totally look forward to seeing the boys grow up together and become pals. When we drive by the horse stables Milo will say, "Wook, Baby! A barn and Bob!" (Bob is a horse that lives there.) It's so cute. Milo calls Quinn "Kin" and he calls himself "Mo-Mo", he can't do the L's yet. Life is fun.
First, let me say WELCOME to our son Quinn! He is 5 days old in the photo above. He was 7lbs, 11 oz when he was born, on September 3, 2008. It was a beautiful planned home birth with Martha Roth attending. We are happy to share the story below and hope that women everywhere will choose to see a midwife, study Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing techniques for natural childbirth and arrange for a birth tub at their birthing location. Birthing at home may not be right for everyone, but it's not the messy, risky, archaic thing that most people think. A planned home birth can be safer than a hospital birth for a healthy women having a normal pregnancy. By staying at home, we ensured that everything that happened was in our control, that the environment was relaxing and comfortable and that we were able to include Milo in the entire process. I wish more people were open to this option and understood how wonderful and empowering it can be. If I can do it, so can you!!
Quinn Leo's Birth Story
On Wednesday September 3rd I went over to my friend Marie’s house around noon for a play date with Milo. We had a great time and left at about 3 pm. On the 30 minute drive home I had two cramps that made me very uncomfortable in the driver’s seat, but I dismissed them since I had been getting Braxton Hick’s contractions in the car for the last two weeks.
When I got home I laid Milo down for a nap and sat down at the kitchen table to check email. I had another cramp that was uncomfortable to stay sitting through and I wondered if I was having contractions. Of course they kept coming and they seemed very regular so I began to stand up and walk around when I would have one and I started timing them. After about an hour it was clear that they were coming every 10-15 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. They were not terribly painful, but I would have to breath through them a little bit. I called Chris at work at 4:45 and told him that he should head home a bit early and try to get here as soon as he could, that I might be in labor!
Chris got home at 6 pm and we stuck to our regular routine of playing with Milo and getting dinner ready. At 7 pm I called our midwife to let her know that I was having contractions, but that she didn’t need to come over yet. I told her I wanted to eat a little bit, have a shower and lay down to see if this was the real thing. She said that if she didn’t hear from us by 10 pm, she would call back to check in. I ate some noodles and took a shower while Chris gave Milo a bath. I had stopped timing the contractions, but I had at least 3 in the shower and I was getting the feeling that things were progressing and that we would be having the baby that night.
At 8:30 pm I laid down on our bed and started listening to the meditation and labor music that I had from our Bradley and Hypno-birthing classes on my iPod. Milo and Chris came in and I realized that I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore and they were feeling a bit stronger, but still very manageable. Chris and I talked about when we should call Martha back and ask her to come over. She was an hour away and while we didn’t want to wait too long, but we also didn’t want to call her too soon. I felt that I wanted her to be at the house at about 10 pm, but I was kind of waiting for things to get a bit more intense, so Chris went to Milo’s room to read him some books and I rested until they were ready for me to come in and snuggle with Milo until he fell asleep. We never made it that far though, because just before 9 pm I had a really crazy contraction that made me get up off the bed. It lasted a full minute and left me feeling dizzy and shaky. I told Chris it was time to call Martha, I couldn’t snuggle Milo to sleep and I needed to get into the tub.
That one contraction took me from early labor to active labor. There was nothing gradual about it, it was just BANG, let’s get busy. I was probably 5 or 6 cm by this point and had been in labor for five and a half hours. Chris called Martha and told her we needed her to come over. She didn’t even ask what was going on, she just said she would be right over. She could tell that we were ready for her. Chris took Milo into the living room to watch The Jungle Book. I got in the tub and the water felt instantly great. A few contractions didn’t even register as the typical crampy feeling, I just started shaking and vibrating and needed to moan into the tub. I loved the way my voice bounced off the water. I was on my knees, hugging the edge of the tub, and when a contraction would start I would rock up and down, or stretch out my legs and make an “ohhhhh” sound as it peaked. It was definitely like a wave that started out slowly and built up more and more until it peaked and then subsided. The contractions were now 4 minutes apart and lasting a full minute.
Chris recorded one of these contractions and I said I felt dizzy and out of breath, that I was close to going nuts and yet I am the picture of calm with my eyes closed and arms and head resting on the edge of the tub. I remember feeling like my head was spinning, I felt overwhelmed and yet also euphoric. What a natural high! It seems to me that there were lots of natural endorphins swirling around inside my body. Chris was feeding me ice chips and water, he was right there beside me, telling me how long the waves were lasting and that I was doing great, holding my hand and putting a cold wash cloth on my neck. I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom at 10 pm. Maybe it was the temperature change, or the gravity change, but all of a sudden the contractions were right on top each other and they were making me double over. I sat down on the toilet and pulled Chris down in front of me to lean on him for support. During this crazy contraction I saw Martha pull up in the driveway. The contraction ended with me feeling like I needed to push, so I did. I saw Martha standing at the bathroom door and she asked why I wasn’t in the tub. I told her that I had been in the tub for the last hour but that I had to go to the bathroom. She said I could pee in the tub and that I aught to hurry back in there before another contraction came.
So back into the tub I went and again, everything was different. Since I had the urge to push I was probably fully dilated by this point. I asked Martha if she wanted to check me and she said that I could check myself. So, I did. I could feel his head, it was soft and kind of squishy because my water hadn’t broken yet. It was strange to check myself, but also very empowering. The waves were coming fast now, almost right on top of each other, and they would wash over me completely, leaving me spinning and saying “Wow, wow…” “That was intense!” or “Oh my god!” I was vocalizing a lot by this point, much louder than before, but not frantically. It was calm, controlled and with purpose. I needed to make different sounds at different times, depending on what my body needed to do. Some sounds were high, some were low and deep and some were the typical “hee hee hee” breathing that they teach in Lamaze. It was amazing how I just followed my instincts and knew how to cope with each different sensation. There was so much energy in the room.
The freedom of movement I had in the tub was also amazing. I was mostly on my knees during active labor, but now during the pushing phase I was moving all over the place. I would stretch out my legs, flip from one side to the other or crunch up into a squat when I needed to bear down. It was so wonderful to just be able to move so easily into the positions that I needed to be in.
So, while all this is going on, Milo was in the other room watching the Jungle Book. Chris would check on him periodically, but it wasn’t until after Martha arrived, and the sounds I was making got more intense, that he began to pay attention. I glimpsed him peering at us from across the house and he began to call for us. Martha went in to see him and then Milo came over to the tub. I was able to mentally return to the room for a minute to reassure him that I was ok. I asked him if he was helping me breathe and he did a few breaths with me. I asked him if he wanted a hug or a kiss, but he said no. Luckily that was all he needed from me, because I got swept away in the waves again, and was right back in the middle of delivering the baby. Milo hung around us now, maybe sensing that we were near the end. He was dipping his arms in the tub, running back and forth and checking in with Chris and Martha. None of this bothered me, I was so consumed with my own experience.
And so, in that way, the baby came down. Martha gently checked me close to the end. She told me that when my water broke, I would feel a lot of pressure and then the baby would be right there. Not more than a few minutes later, when I was bearing down, I felt a pop and a little gush of water. Instantly I felt the baby’s head crown and I reached down to hold it in saying “Slow! Slow!” I didn’t want to tear and I knew it would be better if I let the tissues stretch a bit first before I let go. This part was the most painful for me with Milo, but this time it was not painful at all. It was amazing to feel so in control and that I was doing this myself! I breathed through another minute or so and then his head was out. I had rotated myself so I was floating on my back and with the next push the baby shot out into the water towards the bottom of the tub. It was 10:32 pm. I said, “He’s out! He’s out. Pick him up!” But Martha waited and then I realized that I was supposed to pick him up! I reached down, turned him over and pulled him out of the water. There was no blood, no mess, just a little wet baby covered in vernix! I put him on my chest and heard Chris exclaim, “Incredible! You’re incredible!!” It was an amazing moment.
We called Milo over and he met his brother seconds after he was born. Quinn had his eyes open and was looking right at me. He whimpered and cried a little bit, but calmed down right away and was so alert and aware. Milo kissed him, we all did, and just kind of marveled at him for a while. Martha placed the birth stool under me to sit on and started draining the tub. I delivered the placenta and Martha discovered that there was a perfect knot in Quinn’s long umbilical cord. It’s a very rare thing to have, it means that at some time early in the pregnancy when Quinn was small enough, he swam through a loop in the cord and tied the knot. It is potentially life threatening but if the cord is long enough and there is enough Wharton’s Jelly then there are rarely problems.
I got out of the tub and got into bed with Quinn and Milo. Twenty minutes after he was born, Quinn was nursing and we were making phone calls to our family. It was so wonderful to be in our own bed, to not feel rushed to go anywhere or do anything. Quinn’s temperature warmed up because of skin to skin contact with me and during his exam, about an hour and a half after he was born, he weighed 7 lbs, 11 oz, measured 20 inches and all his reflexes and vitals checked out. The midwives left shortly after that, around 1am, on their way to another women who was in labor, and we all fell asleep cuddled together in one bed. It was such a wonderful way to start our life with Quinn.
I was very impressed with the Medalta Potteries tour in Medicine Hat during our recent trip. Maybe it was the warm weather, or maybe I am in a different place, but I really enjoyed the city and perhaps saw it through rose colored glasses for the first time since I was a teenager. Visiting Medalta was a big part of that and I'm so happy to see a historic district that celebrates some very interesting history. The renovation plans for the factories are well designed and thought out and I was proud of the fact that I bought some dishes a few years back for a fraction of the cost that they were being sold for in the gift shop. If I lived in Medicine Hat, I'd be trawling the garage sales and collecting any ceramic pieces I could find. There might not be a huge demand for the utilitarian pieces yet, but there soon might be.
I own a set of dishes in the style that is displayed in the right bottom corner of the photo above. The design is based on the toy Pick-up-Sticks.
The beehive kilns in the photo below were very cool. They used plentiful Alberta natural gas to fire the ceramics.
I realized the other day that I had not written very much about my second pregnancy on this site! I've been forcing myself to write about it in the journal that I bought, but it's been difficult to find unique experiences and new revelations to write about. I keep reading back in the journal I kept when I was pregnant with Milo and thinking, yeah - that's the same... nothing new here.
But while the pregnancy itself is much the same, the circumstances are certainly different. Instead of working, I am a stay-at-home Mom who is surprisingly busier than I was before. It's hard to focus on a pregnancy when there is a two year old running around! We are also living in a different house, which is more relaxing and peaceful and this is where we have decided to deliver the baby. Choosing a home birth was a natural next step for us after Milo's birth, but many people are still completely shocked by our decision.
I think the biggest thing that is different this time around is how fast it's going! The first time around I was counting the days and reading about every tiny development, this time it's going by in weeks and I'm lucky if I read about how baby is growing once a month! Here I am, 7 months in, and I can't believe we will have a new little baby with us in just 10 weeks.
I suppose a lot of it is that because I educated myself so much the first time around, this time I am able to be more intuitive about it. I would like to brush up on stuff for the birth though. I'd like to practice the hypnobirthing techniques and positions for labor that will help me get through everything.
Imagining how I am going to manage 2 kids has been in my thoughts a lot! Milo in a stroller, baby in a sling... baby in a stroller, Milo walking... Baby in the crib, Milo in a big bed... Milo in a booster seat, baby in the high chair... Oooo, it's going to be interesting! We switched bedrooms to make room for the baby too, and now baby has his own closet and there is room for both Milo's big bed and the crib in the same room.
So, we are fast coming upon mid-September, when the baby is due. I can't wait to see what he looks like, and to see how similar or different he is compared to Milo. I can't wait to see Milo bond with him. And I am looking forward to that newborn stage again! It really is fleeting.
After much cajoling, pleading and trickery, Milo finally let me pick him up for a Mother's Day photo. He even smiled! I didn't think Chris was going to get the shot, but staying calm and having patience seems to be the key with my little man. He generally doesn't want to do what I want him to, getting dressed, changing his diaper, getting in his car seat, but if I give him enough time and continue asking, eventually he relents willingly and without a fight.
He's too big and strong for me to be forcing him to do things and even though it takes more time and effort to convince him to do something, it's worth it to avoid a fight.
So, on my second Mother's Day, all I can say is how quickly Milo has grown and changed already. It's such a cliche, but it's just so true. In a year he's grown up so much. Here is a photo from my first Mother's Day!
It's hard to believe that NEXT Mother's Day I will have 2 little guys! What fun. I am so excited to have another baby. I'm looking forward to every little milestone that we went through with Milo, but this time doing it with Milo being involved and helping out.
One thing that I haven't been able to quite figure out though is how we are all going to share our space. The boys will be sharing a room, so we will have to figure out how to create spaces for each of them, where they can have toys that are just for them, and spots for their clothes and shoes. Sleeping arrangements are also a bit tricky, I can't figure out whether I want the crib in our room, or in the boy's room. At night we will all end up in our bed, but Milo might need a place where he can go and sleep with Dad if the baby is fussy. I'm thinking that having Milo in a full size bed in his room might be a better idea than his toddler bed. I'm also thinking about switching rooms, so the boys have the bigger bedroom with the attached bathroom with tub, and Chris and I take the smaller room and use the bathroom with the shower in the hall. These are big moves and I think I just have to do it to see how it will work. I've been running it over and over in my head and I think I've gotten as far as I can with that.
Besides thinking about how life will be after the baby arrives, I've been thinking a lot about how I need to prepare for labor and delivery this time around. I did a lot of work the first time around to get ready, taking a class every week for 3 months, reading every book I could get my hands on, meditating every day, resting all the time and really concentrating on eating well and excerise. This time around it seems I don't have as much time to dedicate to mentally and physically preparing, but I need to make a bigger effort. Because I am having a home birth, I must be even more prepared than last time. More on this soon, right now I need to go get some things for Milo's 2nd birthday this weekend!! It's exciting, but again, life with a 2 year old trumps planning for the new baby.
Life can always get better, right? Aren't the most successful people always slightly dissatisfied with the way things currently are? As a kid I was constantly rearranging the furniture in my room, craving change and looking for that new perspective. As an adult, it seems I've made a habit out of some pretty drastic moves, each time one step up the ladder. From small town Canada, to Vancouver, then Calgary, then to a new country, eventually to New York, and now that I have reached the goal of living in the coolest city in the world, I am now on a domestic quest to live in the coolest house. And by cool, I mean "put it in a magazine and take lots of glossy photos" cool.
The place we live in now is the new beginning. It's the first house that my name is on, and the first house that I had a hand in choosing. The way we live in this house is so different from a typical home. The open floor plan, the cathedral ceilings, all the natural light, the huge screened porch that blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor, having 2 acres and being surrounded by trees. It's really wet my appetite for modern design. And yet, it's not perfect.
We've learned that the house was not built for the winter, it's expensive to heat with the current system and it's poorly insulated so that the heat doesn't stay in. We had to upgrade the electrical to 200 amps because the heat pump is such a pig and the wood burning stove that we had installed just doesn't seem to be big enough. So for all it's perks and how fabulous it is in the summer, I feel a bit like we are forcing this house to be something that it's not. Once we replace the pig with a new propane system and add insulation where ever it can go, it will be much, much better, but I still dream about the day when we can build a brand new house with everything we want and need. It will be energy efficient and inexpensive to maintain, it will be beautiful and balanced, it will have sweeping views and be perfectly situated on a nice 10 acre lot, it will have everything that makes life easy to live and let's put it in California while we are dreaming, so we can really live the indoor/outdoor lifestyle all year around.
So that's why when I saw this article in the NY Times, about Ron Radziner's new house, I totally got house envy. Radziner is a partner at Marmol Radziner and Associates and I have also lusted after the company's super fab, pre-fab. Pre-fab is totally the way to go when building a new modern house. It will cut costs drastically and save time, though it is still building new, with all the headaches and delays that go along with that. The other house that Chris and I fell in love with when we were thinking about building, was the Rapson Greenbelt pre-fabs by Weiler, specifically the Greenbelt 2. We got so far as to speaking to them and looking at land, but alas, it was not the right time for us to be building a house.
Someday in the future though, I will have my dream house. And for now, the one we have is leaps and bounds ahead of anything I have ever seen or even dreamed about, but it truly is just the beginning.
Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum - I'm looking forward to seeing this show sometime this spring. I've been a fan of Murakami's trippy graphics since I bought a t-shirt of his at a Japanese store years ago in the city and after wearing it for a month or so, found out that the cool anime character featured was making his lasso with sperm. Ewww, but so funny... Check out this NY Times review for a complete picture of the exhibit, and be sure to watch the video down the page.
His touring show includes the handbags made in collaboration with Louis Vuitton, but rather than showing them, they have set up a store where you can buy them. People were shocked when the show opened in LA, a store...in an art gallery... but really, is it so strange? What do you find at the end of any art exhibit but the $80 book? Not to mention the postcard, poster, greeting card, etc.
LV has also used this as an opportunity to stage a mock rip-off vendor, and raise questions about intellectual property rights. On the one hand, as a designer and artist, there is something offensive to me about the outright stealing/copying of a good idea (like the company Minitoes which is clearly making shoes identical (see the monkey design) to the more popular and expensive Robeez shoes), and then on the other hand, there is the argument that strict copyright laws hamper creativity and stifle good old fashion competition. Why shouldn't I pay less for something that looks exactly the same? Why should I pay more for the real thing?
I think Milo is weaned. He is 21 months old. It's been three days since he's nursed. A few weeks ago we were able to get through weaning his night nursing. It took a bit of effort and some sleepless moments when he would throw a temper tantrum at 3am, but we finally got to the point that if he would wake up he would just roll over and go back to sleep, or cuddle up to one of us. This article by Dr. Jay Gordon, about night weaning and changing sleep patterns in the family bed, was so incredibly helpful.
With the night nursing done, that just left weaning him from nursing to sleep for a nap and before going to bed. Naps were easy if we were out of the house, he would just fall asleep in the car, but if we were at home it has been more difficult since it is still light out and he has access to me. The last three days we've been out, so I have to see how it goes when we stay at home during his nap.
At night, we still have a long way to go before I can just shut off the light and leave the room, but at least he's not nursing and he's using his stuffed animals more and figuring out how to get himself comfortable. I'll lay with him until he falls asleep, the first night he cried hard and for about 45 minutes, the second night he cried for 20 minutes and tonight he fussed a bit but didn't really cry. It's taking him 40 - 60 minutes to fall asleep and I hope that will get shorter over the next couple of weeks. Weaning him is more than just breaking the nursing to sleep habit, it's also about breaking his dependence on me to fall asleep. In the middle of night he's doing much better and getting himself to sleep without me needing to touch him or talk to him, so I hope we will get to that point for bedtime as well.
It's slowly but surely and even though we've had to deal with some crying I think it has helped that we have always been right there for him and have maintained the co-sleeping. Once we are well past the nursing stage we will start to tackle the co-sleeping, or maybe just wait for him to want to sleep on his own. We enjoying having him in bed with us and there is nothing better than waking up to a cheerful Milo prying your eyelid open, saying "Hi!", and giving you a big kiss and hug.
We've been working on weaning Milo lately and during an unsuccessful attempt to keep him in his crib when what he really wanted to do was nurse himself to sleep, we learned that he could climb out of the crib! It was really pretty amazing that all of a sudden he was standing on the floor, having launched himself up in the corner of the crib and then turned around to drop down to the floor, landing on his feet. Obviously his crib wasn't safe anymore and I had been thinking about changing it so that I could lay down with him more easily anyway. The rocking chair was getting more and more uncomfortable for me with his acrobatic nursing. When we lay down together he doesn't move around as much.
We pulled back on the weaning, we were trying to do too much all at once, and we are focusing on just night weaning for now. If we can get him to sleep through the night after I nurse him to sleep, that will go a long way to making me feel better about nursing a 20 month old! When he stops night nursing, that will only leave 3 times a day that he wants to nurse, which I can handle for now because I will be so much more rested during the day.
I always intended to nurse him for a year and that kind of grew to 16 months when I didn't want to wean him during the move to a new house. Once everything was settled at the new house I began weaning him during the day. It was pretty easy with distraction, offering food, and giving him more attention. Over 2 months I had gotten him down to nursing only before his nap and before bed. Some days if we were out driving and he fell asleep in the car, he wouldn't nurse all day. So that accomplished, we decided to wean him at night, but I mistakenly decided that to do that, we had to break all the nursing to sleep associations.
It's difficult to find good advice for families who co-sleep for part of the night and who have nursed to sleep and nursed on demand during the night. On the one end is the cry-it-out method, with variations to help mitigate the trauma by staying in the room and talking to the child. On the other end is to just grit your teeth and tough it out until the child decides to stop. Neither worked for us. The crying was unbearable and Milo was really angry and began rejecting all the night-time things we had established, like bath time and reading books. He became more clingy and seemed sad during the day. No doubt because we were not only weaning him at night, but also before his nap and before bedtime. We decided the approach wasn't working, but I couldn't grit my teeth and struggle through his sometimes demanding feeding at night anymore. I realized that the night nursing was the real problem and I finally came across a Mothering.com discussion page which mentioned Dr. Jay Gordon's methods for night weaning a toddler who sleeps in a family bed. Finally I had found someone who gave me some practical advice on how to wean Milo without too much crying and difficulty. We were able to keep up the regular routine of nursing to sleep for his nap and before bed, we added a nursing session first thing in the morning and we are working towards no night nursing at all.
Last night was our third night and it went well. I nursed him to sleep at 8:00 pm. He woke up in his own bed at midnight and we brought him into bed with us. I nursed him, but instead of just letting him fall back to sleep, I kept talking to him and telling him that when he was ready he needed to stop nursing and roll over and fall back to sleep on his own. He's done this naturally on his own before, so I knew he was able to. He stopped after a bit, but wanted to nurse again. I didn't let him and he protested for a few minutes, yelling and climbing around but he settled down finally and then fell asleep. For the rest of the night when he woke up I would rub his tummy or pat his chest and he would fall back to sleep without much effort. Before I knew it, it was 6:30 am and I nursed him until we all got up at 7:00 am. Overall it was a pretty successful night and I really did feel more rested this morning. We are going to keep at it and hopefully in a week or so he won't be waking up very much at all.
I feel very lucky that I have been able to nurse him this long. I never had any difficulties with breastfeeding, Milo was nursing in the delivery room a half an hour after he was born, and over the last 20 months I've only had a couple of minor plugged ducts, which cleared up with some rest and a hot water bottle. I didn't have to return to work and so I was able to nurse on demand without ever having to pump or give him a bottle. And Chris never minded having Milo in bed with us, which allowed me to nurse on demand at night without losing too much sleep. Nursing has gotten us through many a difficult time, when it was the only thing that made him feel better and the only thing that was the same during long trips and in unfamiliar places. I've always felt that it was an amazing tool for getting him to sleep and for keeping him asleep, even though he might not be technically sleeping through the night, he hasn't been fully awake at night since he was just a few months old. I feel tremendously close to him, maybe no more than any other Mom, but I believe that our nursing relationship has given us thousands of special moments that I will never forget. There is nothing better than the way he looks at me when he is nursing, the way he plays with my hair, or touches my face or holds my hand. And I feel good seeing him so satisfied and content afterward, with his flushed cheeks and ready smile. But all of that said, I'm ready for him to find comfort in other ways and I think he is ready too. We need to make room to try for baby number 2!
If you are pregnant or planning to have children, you should see this movie. It's an eye-opening look at how women have babies in the US and it challenges us to take a closer look at the choices that we are given.
Birth: it’s a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to examine and question the way American women have babies.
The film interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current maternity care system. When director Epstein discovers she is pregnant during the making of the film, the journey becomes even more personal.
Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potentially catastrophic medical emergency?
Since Milo was born, I have always nursed him to sleep, for naps, at bedtime and when he woke up during the night. He would go to bed in his crib and then on his first wake up, sometime after midnight, we would bring him into bed with us and he would sleep the rest of the night next to me. Co-sleeping let me get lots of sleep and this whole arrangement was fine until just recently. As he's gotten bigger, it's gotten more difficult to hold him on my lap to nurse, not to mention the acrobatics and constant switching back and forth. There are some nights when he still wakes up every 2 hours wanting to nurse, and while those nights are not that often, I wake up really resenting the situation.
My goal had always been to nurse him for a year. Shortly after that we moved and I decided to wait to wean him until we had settled down at the new house. When he was 16 months I started reading about how to wean him and since the fall have been making an effort during the day to reduce the number of times he wants to nurse. To me this was the easiest time to cut out nursing, because it was possible to distract him with playing, offer him food instead and let him fall asleep in the car for naps. There were some days when we were busy that he wouldn't nurse at all.
So, I'm finally at the point where I am ready to wean him at night, but how? Most sleep training books say that your child will never sleep through the night unless they learn to put themselves to sleep without any "props" like nursing, rocking, singing, etc. And the way to teach them to do this is to put them in their crib and let them figure it out, which usually means crying. Ferber, the Baby Whisperer, Weissbluth and other "experts" all have variations on this method. I read a book that a friend sent me that presented the same ideas in a slight more gentle way and we decided to give it a try. We knew that Milo would probably cry in his crib, but we would be in the room with him, talking to him touching him and comforting him.
The first nap he cried on and off for an hour and then he want to sleep. He fell asleep standing up and I had to lay him down, but he stayed down and napped for a little more than an hour. There were a few moments that were difficult, he did get very angry and would try to climb out of the crib, he would fall down and hit his head on the crib and he even banged his head on the wall once. He threw everything out of the crib, at me, and would jump up and down. This behavior wasn't constant, but what actually made me almost cry was when he withdrew to the other side of the crib and cried in the corner, refusing to look at me. It was tough, but he eventually did fall asleep and I hoped it would get better.
At bedtime that night, it went much better with Chris in the room, Milo cried minimally for about 10 minutes and then went to sleep sitting up. Chris laid him down and he slept all the way through until 2:30 am. Chris went in to his room then and Milo stopped crying after about 3 minutes, but it took him almost an hour to fall back asleep. He needed Chris in the chair next to the crib, but at least he wasn't crying.
For his nap on the second day, I put him in his crib and he fussed just a tiny bit, asked where Daddy was, and then when I told him to lay down and go to sleep, and he did! I was stunned. He was asleep in 10 minutes after laying down. I was so proud of him, he totally had it figured out! I was sold on the method, but that night after going to sleep fairly easily with Chris, he woke up every 2 hours and each time he woke up in his crib he seemed to get angrier and angrier. It was a difficult night. And then at 4am, Milo launched himself out of the crib and stood crying in front of a shocked Chris. I came in and he ran to me and this time I couldn't put him down. He finally fell asleep on my shoulder.
The nap on the third day couldn't have gone worse. He cried for an hour and a half and I finally picked him up and let him fall asleep on my shoulder again. And that afternoon he seemed sad, his eyes were a bit red, and I got so worried that he wouldn't understand why we were doing this and wonder why we were all of a sudden letting him get so upset. That night he started crying before we even put him in the crib, he didn't want to read books, he wanted me to hold him. After I put him in the crib, he climbed out and chased after me. He finally fell asleep after 20 minutes of crying, but Chris and I were starting to wonder now at what cost.
He used to enjoy bedtime and now bedtime was filled with anger and anxiety. I was afraid he would start to lose trust in me. I felt terrible and we didn't want another night like the one before. So I started reading Dr. Sears again. We decided that if he should wake up at night, Chris would bring him into bed with us like before, but I wouldn't nurse him. Hopefully being with both of us and in our bed would be more comforting and we would be able to talk him through no nursing until the morning.
The night went better, we were able to talk him back to sleep a few times, once I had to rock him and at 5:30 I needed to go into his rocking chair and hold him there until he went back to sleep. I didn't nurse him though, and we got through the night without too much crying. I know that I am replacing the nursing with other comforts and we aren't truly teaching him to sleep on his own, but we are weaning him at night, which was my main goal in the first place. Honestly, I think it's a lot to expect certain children to be able to fall asleep alone and stay asleep alone. Some kids just need their parents at night and that's ok.
For his nap today I rocked him to sleep in my arms and he was ok with not nursing as long as he was being held. We all feel better about this. Letting him cry feels wrong to us, it does affect him and his relationship to us, and while it may work with other babies, it's not going to work with Milo. I think it's best to eliminate one thing at a time, for now we are dealing with weaning him when he goes to sleep, and later we can work on teaching him to fall asleep by himself. It might mean that it will take longer to teach him in a gentle way, but I think I prefer that over letting him cry.