Monday, May 16, 2011

Update on Ike, Sleeping, Weaning, and Food

Anyone who has been following my blog for some time will know that my kids like to keep me on my toes, especially my little one, Ike.

Ike is a year and 8 months old and he is like the Energizer Bunny.
I don't think he has an off switch.

He has an inquisitive mind and likes to figure things out, like how to get the things he wants off really high shelves (climbing on the shelves like rungs of a ladder), how to turn on light switches (using a broom stick to be able to press the switch), how to help himself to a drink (opening the fridge, taking out a pitcher of drink, and pouring it into his mouth), how to flush the toilet by himself (which doesn't exactly help lower our water bill when he decides to make a game out of this)....

Ike is a really fun kid to have around, but he also definitely keeps my hands full. Never a dull moment in this house, that's for sure.

The hardest part about raising Ike is that he appears to have very little need for sleep. I've written about his sleeping issues, but in short, at a year and a half, he was going to sleep at 10 or 11 pm, and waking up every hour or two to nurse, and then got up for the day at 7 or 8 am. Definitely no fun.
I got Ike to go to sleep earlier by making sure he wouldn't nap too late in the day, and then he'd go to sleep at the early time 9 or 10. And then wake up every hour or two to nurse.
It was crazy.
But the craziest thing of all was that when I was out of the house and Mike watched the kids and put them to bed, Ike would easily sleep for four hours straight or more.
It was something about my being there that was encouraging him to wake up. Nursing.

I knew weaning was going to help my terrible nights. I knew weaning would help my back stop hurting from sleeping with Ike in the crook of my elbow. I knew weaning would make Ike not need to pee nearly so many times at night.
But I knew weaning would also be a battle of wills between myself and Ike and would mean a bunch of sleepless nights until Ike realized that no matter how much he cries, he won't get to nurse anymore when he wakes up.
And I didn't have the push to do it.
I was starting to really resent Ike's nursing. He would do acrobatics while nursing, stretching the elasticity of my mammary glands and seeing just how many times he could pinch or kick me in the face before I lost my cool. I enjoy nursing babies. I do not enjoy nursing kids well on their way to being "big boys". In addition to all that, it had been hurting me already for months when he nursed, and even after speaking to a lactation consultant, nothing helped. (It felt like thrush but wasn't, and lasted for a good 5-6 months.)
But still, I didn't have the energy or the willpower to say no to Ike when he asked to nurse at night. During the day my mind was working properly and I was able to stand my ground and say no when Ike asked to "Neenee", but in the depths of my sleep I complied without even realizing what I was doing.

Not long ago I managed to wean Ike. Day weaning, that is. He was still nursing at least 6 or 7 times a night, and my quality of sleep was greatly affected.
And then we went on this special diet. For Ike mainly, to see if it would help his eczema. And it did. But I was getting annoyed at restricting the foods I was eating just so that he wouldn't get exposed to the foods through my breastmilk.
And one day I ate something forbidden.
Ha- this is it! This is the push to wean! I didn't want to undo what I did via the diet, so if I ate something forbidden, it meant that Ike wouldn't be nursing anymore.
Next time Ike asked to nurse (during the day), I told him that he was a big boy and that he didn't need to "neenee" anymore. I told him also that I had a "boo boo" on my breasts and asked him to say "Bye bye" to "neenee". Ike looked sad, waved good bye, and gave my breasts a kiss.
That night, when he asked to nurse at night, I said "No more neenee" and hugged him and rocked him back to sleep. Even though it took 20 minutes or more each time and happened about every 45 minutes the whole night through.
The next day I was engorged from not nursing, and when Ike asked to nurse, or even touched my chest, I yelped in pain and was able to honestly say that I had a "boo boo" there. He said "Bye bye" and gave me a kiss a few more times that day. That night, he woke up probably 3 times asking to nurse, and went back to sleep after about 10 minutes of crying and being rocked.
The night after that, he woke up one time at 11 pm, and slept through the night for the first time in his life. Score!

And now Ike sleeps through the night. He is still asking occasionally to "neenee", but I remind him that he is a big boy and he doesn't need to nurse, and then I give him some cuddling to make up for not nursing.

I'm so glad I weaned him. Nursing is terrific and important with babies and should be continued if possible at least until your child is a year old, and then after that for as long as the nursing relationship is satisfying for both mother and child. Nursing a child who is older that makes you resent the nursing relationship isn't mutually beneficial and can possibly cause more harm than benefit- I know I'm a lot less annoyed at Ike now that I am getting a decent night's sleep...
Finally, for the first time in a year and 8 months, I can go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning without any interruptions.

And just an update on the food situation:
I took Ike to the doctor and mentioned that I and Ike have a suspected intolerance to some food, and he said from what I told him, it sounds very likely that we're intolerant to both lactose and gluten (and that those usually go together), and he wanted us to do a blood test to confirm if we had celiac or lactose intolerance and various allergies, and told us that despite the results we've been getting, he wants us to add everything back into our diet for a month and a half and then go get tested, both blood tests (for myself, Ike, and Lee as well!) and allergy tests.
So now we're back to eating everything. I'll be enjoying my wheat and dairy for now, even if I might need to give them up again in the future, and even if that means I have to deal with stomach aches now...

So, there's my little update on the Ike situation. :-D

Did you nurse your kids? At what age did you stop nursing them during the night? At what age did you wean them completely? What gave you the push to finally wean them, or was it something gradual? What was your goal length to be able to nurse your kids? (I wanted to nurse my kids at least until a year and a half, and I did that with both kids.) How old were your kids when they started sleeping through the night?

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