motherhood reflections: sleep training

I am writing a 5-post series about my current motherhood reflections. Last post I wrote about breastfeeding.

2. Sleep training. For anyone who knows me, you more than likely are well aware of the fact that Zane is a poor sleeper. Currently, he is 22-months-old and awakes from two times a night to every hour (at its worst). I co-sleep with him and night nurse. Even when I’ve stopped night nursing (for at least a month at a time), he still awakes. But let’s rewind to the early months to better learn our sleeping saga.

By four months, Zane awoke once at 3/4am for a feed and was always an early riser at 6am. He transitioned into his own room and crib at 5 weeks. His bed time was 7/730pm. All was going well; I had hopes of regaining my previous sleep life. Wrong! We went away and from that moment on, his sleep went downhill. Not sure if it was the high altitude, his pack n’ play being in our room, his cold, or maybe it was just time for me to never sleep again…

From that point to now has been very blurry with at least four ear infections, rashes, croup, colds, fevers, teething, wetting the bed at night, having a bloody nose at night, having to poop, and more. As his numerous night wakings increased and I became more zombie-like, I thought it be best I conduct the cry-it-out method for some results. I did this method several times and each time was determined, had the resolve, and was not emotional during the process. The most I had to endure crying (as I did the 5, 10, 15 minutes intervals) was up to an hour. The last time I did this method was when he was 16-months-old and it did yield results. He would awake less and even on some occasions awoke around 530/6am. Rarely, but still better than numerous wake ups. But the interesting happening in our family’s case is that when he did begin to sleep better, he would get ill (which in the last case, he got croup) and his sleep would go downhill again!! Croup is a breathing difficulty and a “barking” cough due to swelling around the vocal cords. Lucky me, this happened a day before I was flying to the east coast on my own!! Zane’s pediatrician recommended I co-sleep with him to monitor his breathing, so obediently I did. Long story short, I still co-sleep with him. Since doing so, I have reflected on my thoughts about sleep training.

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Our sleepy babe

I (and everyone else) need to remember each child is different and not one person sleeps the same. Yes, I’d love to sleep train Zane using the Ferber method again or even doing a gentler method, but it seems time and time again, our current method works for our family. (I’ll share more about co-sleeping for our family in the next post). Do I love it? Most days. Looking back, I am surprised that I would have Zane cry endlessly to encourage him to sleep. It doesn’t make sense for him being how sensitive he is and always in need of touch. And again, somehow he would always get sick right after he would sleep better! Do I doubt and think of myself as a failure sometimes with his poor sleeping pattern? Of course!! But then I am reminded of the fact that since embracing co-sleeping and not trying to rush him into his own room, he has had no ear infections or major illnesses. It has been over five months and we have lived in four homes! This is a miracle considering we were at the doctor’s nearly once to twice a month, on antibiotics, and he was having bloody noses and other issues when sleeping on his own or being “trained.”

In sum, of course I’d love for Zane to sleep through the night and to have more sleep. But to think that possibly to only get there would mean making him very anxious and insecure accompanied by crying/screaming, I’d rather guide him towards his own room in due time. Since moving to Australia he is now in a toddler bed next to me! He doesn’t always stay in there, but it is a start…

I hope my experience (and sleepless nights) will encourage someone! :mrgreen:

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motherhood reflections: breastfeeding

I am amazed at how much knowledge I have learned since becoming a mother. The minute I feel stuck, lost, lonely, helpless, judged, you name it, I hop onto the internet or buy a book relevant to my dilemma and I am at ease. Using this approach to seek solutions, understanding, empathy, and normalization has rescued me from feeling like a weirdo. Even better, it has forced me to reflect on my stance on certain topics, such as breastfeeding, sleep training, co-sleeping, educating, and disciplining. The aforementioned topics are common big ones that are addressed at length by people, but for my own sake of venting/sharing, and possibly to help someone else, I’d like to document my experience and reflections. For the next five blog posts, I will cover each topic.

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Happily nursing at 22-months-old!

1. Breastfeeding. When I started breastfeeding, I was proud of myself and thankful I didn’t come across issues with using it as the exclusive means to feed and soothe Zane. I did have sore nipples and had mastitis early on, and by 6 months had swore I was ending the nursing relationship by a year. Now Zane is 22-months-old and still happily sucking away! If he had his way, he would live on my boob much longer. However, it takes two to enjoy the relationship and I am starting to explore how to gently wean him around his second birthday (and once he has adjusted to our across the world move). Taking aside my current thoughts on nursing and its documented benefits, what I’ve learned about breastfeeding is how convenient and inconvenient it is, and how the US is not a culture and society that encourages it, nor normalizes it.

First, the convenience of it is that I can basically have it available for Zane any time, any place, and to remedy any situation. Like just a minute ago, Zane just fell off his toddler bed and I went rushing in with my handy boob to soothe him back to sleep. I think if I didn’t have it, it would’ve taken longer and he may not have returned back to napping. Along this vain, I also continued nursing in preparation for our 13-hour flight to Australia. It turns out my ‘tool’ offered us more sleep and less screaming on the plane. :mrgreen:

While very handy, it also is an inconvenience in that all my tops and bra need to be nursing-friendly. In a second I need to have access straight away! This means I can’t wear many tops I’d much prefer to have on. Another inconvenience is that my time away from Zane is not as long (especially in the younger months) because I needed to provide his food supply (compared to formula) and/or my boob was irreplaceable for certain tender moments. Of course sometimes I dreamt of cutting him off my supply sooner so it could convenience me, but my intuition told me that he still needs it, whether for security or nutrition.

As I’ve learned more about breastfeeding, like WHO recommending mothers breastfeed their child until age two and beyond, I see how much it is normal to nurse, yet all around me I don’t see this being the case. Many of my mom friends either formula-fed their littles for whatever reason, weaned their child before 18-months, or their child self-weaned (typically if the mother worked). Since I’m in neither of these cases, lately I’ve felt alone regarding Zane still nursing and wanting to nurse often (even at night)! Thankfully I do have some girl friends who ‘get’ my situation and are my encouragers and normalize my feelings. I am reminded that what I am offering to and doing for Zane is amazing. As well, I am reminded to surround myself with like-minded nursing mothers and to not weigh too heavily the suggestions and judgments of others who have never walked in my shoes. Lastly, when sitting with my worst feelings, I can remember that in the Mongolian culture, breastfeeding is the norm and that some kids are breastfed until nine! :mrgreen:

So although I still need to come to terms with what I’m comfortable with as I make a weaning plan for Zane, I need to remember that I am doing something marvelous for our kid at the sacrifice of my own personal space and owning my own boob again!!

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let the next chapter begin

We have made it safely to our new home- Gold Coast , Australia. Time’s flying by and it has been almost one week since we have been here! We are adjusting quite well given the time difference, but I am still very much jet-legged and tired from trying to adjust Zane’s internal time clock to reflect how it was back in San Diego. This means odd nap times and him needing snacks in the early hours of the morning, like 4am! Nonetheless, I am at peace with our significant decision and although we are in the process of finding a church, buying cars, and sorting out a lot of administrative tasks, things are coming together. And oh, in the process, discovering more than ever that Zane may be a strong-willed child! So I have been reading about children who are characterized as such to best equip myself to parent him the best possible way. As you can see, this blog post is sounding more like our family update versus a wisdom post. :mrgreen: But you should know that wisdom can be learned through anything, especially during a big move like this one! So here are some wisdom I have discovered so far.

1. Rest. I am so proud of myself that during the calm moments, and even the stormy ones, I found ways to rest. It could be allowing myself extra time to nap, taking a day off from completing tasks nonstop, or even taking a two day vacation right before we departed the USA. All my decisions to rest best prepared me mind- and heart-vise for this new chapter in our lives.

2. God will lead the way. No need to work too hard to make things happen. Of course I see myself getting lonely since I don’t have my regular mom play dates and daily tasks that keep my week going, but I have faith that God will bring me new friends in due time. And a new church family too!

3. Play more- with Zane. It is amazing to discover how much I depend on Zane’s playmates and others to play with him and how I actually don’t do it myself. Being alone with him more than ever without play date distractions has provided me the opportunity to interact with him more meaningfully, which will build our relationship further.

4. Trust my mommy intuition. I am amazed at how secure I have become with standing firm and knowledgeable about what’s best for Zane. As others offer their opinions and suggestions, I am learning to be open, but not waver knowing I know him best.

5. Keep practicing to be the best wife to Daniel. During these times, we both will get stressed as we try to adapt to our new life. I have to be mindful about being his cheerleader and good listener to his disclosures. Also, I need to continually put him first before Zane… so hard!

For now those are some of my reflections. I am so thankful to have written this post after having been away for awhile! Hopefully life will afford me more opportunities to write. :mrgreen:

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