Baby

Displaying IMG_0785.JPG

In the wee hours of the morning when I hear her  cries I bolt out of bed in a half awake, half still very much asleep stupor and stumble down the hall into her room. I am so, so tired and wish I was still sleeping soundly in my warm,comfortable bed instead of dealing with a crying toddler who refuses to sleep through the night. I pick her up and she presses her head firmly into that perfect spot on my shoulder made just for a baby’s heads and sighs as if there is no where else she would rather be. She asks to nurse but since we are working on weaning from night time feedings and it is before the arbitrary time of 3am that I came up with I quietly whisper no and shush her as she cries a little. I rock her gently and she quickly gives in to the fact that she isn’t going to get to nurse, and settles into my shoulder. Her hand wraps around my arm and her breath becomes steady as she returns to the land of sleep.

In these quiet moments I can’t help but think about the fact that she is my last baby. That one day she’ll figure out this whole sleeping through the night thing and moments like these will just be a memory. One night I’ll stumble into her room in the middle of the night to answer her cries and requests for the boob and it will be the last night it happens. I won’t know at the time but it will be the end of an era. Sure there will be times she calls out for me in the middle night but not like this, not to be rocked or nursed. I know I’ll miss these moments when they are gone. I won’t miss feeling completely exhausted but I will miss the feeling of a baby’s body getting heavy against my chest as she gives into sleep. I will miss the sweet smell of shampoo and sweat as I lay my cheek against the top of her head and breathe in her scent. I will miss the hypnotic sound of rhythmic breathing and soft snores. I will miss the feeling of being completely needed and trusted.

In the middle of the night when others are sleeping, when I should be sleeping but instead am on mom duty, rocking my sweet toddler back to sleep, I think of these things and feel lucky to still be needed at 3am. I feel nostalgic for all the moments just like this one that I have briefly spent with all of my girls. These moments can feel endless when you are living them, but when you look back they are so fleeting. Truth be told, I hope there are at least a few more of these quiet moments with my last baby girl in the wee hours of the morning because I’m not quite ready to be done with this phase yet.

Extended breastfeeding seems like such a strange term to me. It is the term used to describe breastfeeding beyond 12 months. The fact that there is a term to describe nursing your child beyond 12 months of age is strange to me. Who decided that 12 months should be the cut off and that there needed to be a special term for those that breastfed beyond that magic time marker. In so many cultures “extended breastfeeding” is the norm. It is natural, common and very likely not given a second thought, let alone a special term. In our culture that is not the case. Extended breastfeeding is not the norm and there is definitely a lack of support for those who choose to nurse their children beyond 1 year of age. In fact, not only is there a lack of support but there is also a sense that choosing to nurse your child beyond a certain age is a weird. I will say that I feel like we have made great strides in normalizing both breastfeeding itself and extended breastfeeding. But, we have a long way to go.

I am breastfeeding for the third time beyond that magic 12 month marker and have received my fair share of sideways glances and awkward, silent moments when people find out. The most common question I get is “Are you going to wean her soon?” like it is somehow the business of anyone but myself.

My goal when I began breastfeeding, with Maya anyway, was to breastfeed for “at least a year”. I didn’t give much thought to how long I would do it or how I would go about weaning. With Anna and Nora I had a similar goal. I wanted to get to at least a year and beyond that I would just play it by ear. I didn’t have a set end date in mind, although I figured I would go at least as long as I did with Maya. It seemed like the right approach. If breastfeeding beyond a year worked for my girls and for me then that is what we would do.

Maya and Anna were both breastfed until 20 months of age. It was a weaning schedule that worked well for both myself and my girls. They were both pretty much ready to be done and I was ready to be done. I had to push a little as we dropped certain nursing sessions but for the most part they dropped sessions on their own. With Nora things are going to be a little different, I can tell. She is extremely attached to breastfeeding. There are times when I am ready to be done but most of the time I’m perfectly okay with the status quo. She is definitely not ready to be done. She still asks frequently to nurse. Sometimes too frequently. She is still very dependent on it for comfort if she is sad or hurt, and I’m okay with that. I don’t foresee a time in the near future when she will take kindly to being nudged into the weaning process. I fully anticipate she will be older than her sisters when our nursing relationship comes to an end. So, we will keep going until she is ready to stop, or until I definitely don’t feel like I can do it anymore. Hopefully she gets to her end point first so I don’t feel like I am forcing it on her.

In the blink of an eye 18 months has flown by. Some how my baby girl, my smallest daredevil princess, the lovely Miss Nora is 18 months old. It feels like just yesterday that I was holding a tiny little bundle of newborn Nora in my arms for the first time, in awe of her perfectness. Then I blinked and she was suddenly an 18 month old toddler not afraid of anything and taking on the world one daredevil stunt at a time.

Weight: 20lbs 10oz (23rd percentile)

Height: 31 ins (24th percentile)

Head Circumference: 18.5 ins (70th percentile)

Nora had her 18 month well child check up this morning and was declared to be petite and perfect! Just like her big sister Anna she is still rocking her petite status with pride. After a thorough check up by the doctor that included lots of talking, since Nora is a chatter box, I was told she was perfectly healthy and way ahead of the curve with her verbal skills both with her ability to communicate and her ability to understand. It is always nice to walk away from a well child check up with a glowing report.

There is so much I could say about our sweet baby girl and yet it is hard to find the right words to describe her. She is full of life and energy. She is a total daredevil and not afraid to try anything. She loves playing both on her own and with her big sisters. Her favorite toy is her baby dolls. She pushes her doll around the house in the stroller and hugs her and pats her back and gives her kisses. It is so sweet and cute. She also loves to play dress up, especially with hats and shoes (one of her current favorite words!). She also loves to color and read. But, her favorite activity is climbing anything and everything! I had to move our bar stools away from the counter because she figured out how to use them to climb on to the counter and I couldn’t not keep her off of it. She is a fun one ;)

Nora is a busy little girl. Busy growing, busy learning, busy talking and busy keeping us on our toes. She has a great vocabulary and can communicate very well with both words and gestures. I’ve lost count of how many words she knows. It seems like she is adding new words daily now. She can say, hi and bye, mom and dad (but mostly mom, she uses mom for a lot of things), dog, cat, bird, duck, meow, quack, tree, truck, bus, shoe, fish, this, that, nose, belly, bum, bike, hat, boot, blanket, bath, bubble, balloon, outside, help, cheese, juice, snack, lunch, park and plane. I’m sure there are more but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. There is rarely a time that I don’t understand what she means. She is very good at combining words she knows with gestures to make her point clear. She also understands an incredible amount. She will answer questions and follow directions.

This is one of my favorite ages. There is so much exploring, learning, growing and changing taking place it is almost like there is something new or different about her every day. I love seeing the world through the eyes of a curious toddler.

For months now, literally 4 months, Maya’s top front tooth has been wiggly. Shortly after she lost her first tooth her one top tooth started to get wiggly. Since the first one came out fairly quickly she was expecting this one to follow suit. She waited and waited and waited, growing ever impatient. A trip to the dentist a little over a month ago showed (in xrays) that the adult teeth were right there and the baby tooth was hanging by a thread. The dentist predicted it would be days, maybe a week or two tops. But the tooth had other plans and just kept hanging on for dear life. She wiggled it and pulled on it and even got to the point where she could twist it a bit, all in an effort to get that sucker to fall out!

Last night, as the girls were getting ready for bed Maya just had to show me that she could twist her tooth far enough to fit her thumb in between her teeth. It got stuck and she said it really hurt. There was blood, and blood and Maya do not mix, at all. After much convincing she let me try to pull it out. I promised to just tug very gently and if it didn’t work I’d leave it alone. I tugged, ever so gently and out popped the tooth!! She screamed and told me to stop, and then realized it was already out and her tears turned to a giant, semi toothless smile :)

She was so incredibly happy to finally have that tooth out!! She wrote a little note to the tooth fairy telling her how brave she was and tucked the tooth into an envelope. With hopes high of what she would find in the morning she drifted off to sleep.

The Tooth Fairy was caught a little off guard by this sudden development and was a little ill prepared. But she didn’t let that get her down. A fairy sized note was quickly created, complete with glitter and some glitterfied money, of course, was left in the envelope to be found this morning.

Maya was super happy with the results of last night’s visit from the Tooth Fairy, and was so excited to go to school this morning to show off her new semi toothless smile and tell her friends all about the details of how she finally lost her tooth.

Nora is not a good sleeper. There I said it. It is the first time in my 7 year career of motherhood that I have utter the phrase “My child is a bad sleeper.” Not because I had bad sleepers and didn’t want to admit it. I have been able to avoid it because my girls are good sleepers. Well, at least until the last 6 months or so with Nora. The last 6 months or so have been rough to  say the least. Nora isn’t sleeping well, which in turn means I am not sleeping well. A sleepy Lisa makes for a grumpy, impatient Lisa, which, as you can imagine, makes things a little crazier around this already crazy house.

When Nora was a wee baby, really for the first 9 months or so, she was an excellent sleeper. She was sleeping through the night, like 10-12 hour stretches kind of sleeping through the night, at 6 weeks old. She always went down easily and sleep like a charm all night, rarely waking and if she did usually only once and then right back to sleep. She even slept in a bit in the morning a lot of the time. It was fantastic. It made me so incredibly grateful and I didn’t talk about it much for fear I would jinx the perfectness of it.

When she started teething things began to take a turn. She began to wake at night more often but at first she always returned to her good sleeping habits. Then something happened. I don’t know what. It began one week when she was working on her first molars and had a cold all at the same time. She was so obviously not feeling well and was grumpy pretty much all day long. I did what I could by giving her tylenol for her teeth and setting up the humidifier for her stuffy nose. It didn’t help much. She began waking up 2, 3 and even sometimes 4 times a night. It went on for weeks. Long after the cold went away. I figured maybe it was the teeth more than the cold. The frequent night wakings continued. Month after month, tooth after tooth.

And here we are a good 6 months or so later and Nora is still waking up 2, 3 and sometimes 4 times a night. It is beyond exhausting. Now that she is fairly vocal she no longer cries, she stands up in her crib and screams, I mean screaming at the top of her lungs kind of screams, for me. I am rudely awakened by the sound of a blood curdling “Mooooommmmm!” at all hours of the night. She won’t let me just rock her, I have to nurse her every time. It is maddening and exhausting.  She is hard to resist though in all her cuteness!

I’m ready for something to give. Something has to give, I need more sleep. I know at some point I’m going to have to play the bad guy and refuse to nurse her or let her cry it out or something. I obviously haven’t hit rock bottom yet because I’m not quite ready to do that.  Plus, given the volume of her screaming if I let her cry (or rather yell) it out she is bound to wake up the rest of the house and the only thing worse than being up with one child multiply times a night is being up with more than one child multiply times a night! So, I guess for now we will carry on being sleepless in Seattle until she final returns to sleeping well (I secretly hold out hope that she will) or I hit by breaking point and force nudge her in that direction.