The seasonal transition is starting, the inching towards fall and all of the wonderful parts that come with it; pumpkin everything, the wonderful autumn light, cooler weather, a new gardening season. I was thinking back to myself two years ago, with a fresh baby. There I was sitting at home spending most of the time nursing or changing a diaper and watching autumn come and slowly fade into winter. I missed my favorite season. Sure, I attempted to get out and enjoy it when I could but there was no savoring of that season in the usual sense. Does part of me wish there was a little baby to hold now? A little but I’m also relishing another transition, this one of toddlerhood. It’s all I can do to not scoop the kid up and hold him tightly and never let him go because he’s so darn adorable, even in his hysterical tantrum moments. Ok, maybe not every tantrum and trying moment. Sometimes I just want him to understand reason! And patience.
Nearly two years ago I wrote a post in which I wondered who I was and where I had gone. I recall that after the post had published to Facebook (back when I was on the platform) that many of my friends chimed in that they had felt the same and it took some time, several years usually, for that old self to return—albeit maybe in a transformed way. I was glad for the verification of the feelings but frustrated that no one had bothered to share it with me beforehand. Of course, would I have listened? Would any first-time mom have listened? That said, here I am two years out from that and I can firmly say that I am feeling more like my old self once again. Not completely there of course, but the glimpses are more long lasting.
There are two other transitions that have occurred in the last week. The first would be that I stopped pumping milk at work. I know, I know, some of y’all are raising your eyebrows at me and wondering how I pumped for two years when most of y’all (who have breastfed) stopped that pumping bit at the first six months or a year. Well, for several reasons I kept going. One was that after I hit that year mark of breastfeeding I set my sights on two years and pumping would keep that up. Sure, I could have stopped and my body would have adjusted to nursing only during the times I was with Forest but I figured that if I slowly dropped sessions and went from there it would be a lot easier on me and I might reach the two year goal. I had dropped down to one session at work sometime in mid-winter so I was only the pumping 3-4 ounces and less than 10 minute pumping session right before lunch every weekday. I looked at my pump a few weeks ago and decided that after Forest’s two year checkup and talking to the pediatrician I was probably going to stop pumping. I had continued because I had wanted to delay giving him other milks if there was a way that I could still give him my own milk for any reason. Thanksfully my situation at work afforded me the ability to continue pumping so I figured, why not? I know some people hate pumping but I never hated it. Sure, it was an inconvenience but it was never something I loathed. So, all of that combined led to the extended pumping and I am glad to be done with it and glad for what I accomplished. There is now no more frozen milk in my house! All of it has been donated!
The second transition happened the same day as the stopping the pumping. We started sleep-training. I know it could have happened sooner but as the person with the milk and the body parts that have become the soothing mechanism in the house, I was the one who handled nighttime. And I fell into a pattern that was easiest for me because I felt like I couldn’t do anything else. A year ago I had transitioned Forest to his crib and it took a few weeks but he stopped nursing to sleep at bedtime. I’d pat his back or hang out quietly in the room with him while he went to sleep. I still do this because it is easiest at this point but I may change that here in a few weeks—we’ll see. But without fail the kid woke up 3-4 hours later and then every two-ish hours after that to nurse. For a long time I could nurse him and put him back down to sleep but eventually that stopped working and as a sleepy mom I just wanted the quickest result that lead to me sleeping once again, so I would take him to the guest room with me to sleep after that first or second wakeup. Sure, there were times this last year where he would sleep for long stretches, even once or twice that he ‘slept through the night’, from 8pm until 4am, but they were never replicated. Needless to say it was a frustrating situation for everyone in the house. I have never been a proponent for cry it out or some of the other sleep training methods. I read up on tons of them but I would consistently see negative things about cry it out, especially for babies. I had seen many pro-breastfeeding people show that night waking was very common with breastfed kids and there were a lot of biological norms for this. I knew I wasn’t alone. But something had to give and our pediatrician suggested the cry it out for him and well, we bit the bullet and tried it. It was effing hard that first night with the first wakeup. When your kid is crying for you, you want to go to him. We watched on our monitor for thirty minutes and it was miserable for me. But, he gave up and laid back down. The rest of the wakeups that night were on that 2 hour time schedule but did not last more than 5 minutes, with most 30 seconds to 2 minutes before he laid back down. I got him at 4:30 that first night because I really needed him to empty the milk—I wasn’t used to no nursing at night yet—but the rest of the nights he’s stayed in his crib until anywhere from 5:45 (strike that, we’ve had one or two 5am wakeups…I drafted this before those happened!) until 7:30. There are much longer stretches of sleep, short fusses, but he always lays back down. I know if he wakes up after 5:30 without going back down quickly that he’s up for the day. On the days he has slept beyond when we’ve gotten up it has been incredibly odd feeling, to have to wake him up instead of him all of us being up together. It’s a work in progress but at least, for the most part, we’re getting more consistent sleep around here.
Everything is moving fast around here, words are getting easier to understand, though there’s plenty of whining, too. He may be a toddler but little kid land is right around the corner! I’m learning what to abandon and figuring out what to focus on instead and am constantly trying to make sure I’m trying to balance it all out as much as possible.