Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: To night wean or not to night wean?

Last time I posted for the Breastfeeding Diaries I was really struggling. The whole experience of breastfeeding a toddler was becoming really irritating, and part of me really felt like stopping.

Then, all of a sudden, it got easier.

I can't even tell you what about it changed. She's still messing about quite a bit, although perhaps less than before. She still has days where she seems to want mummy milk every time I sit down. She still wants feeding in the night.

I think it must just be that my attitude has changed. Writing my last post, and reading the responses, seemed to prove to me that I do want to carry on until Eleanor is ready to stop. And, in hindsight, things were generally quite stressful at the time of the last post - my husband is a teacher and so had just gone back to work after the summer holidays, so we were both getting used to our previous routine and not having Daddy around as much. Once we'd got back into the swing of things, everything, breastfeeding included, felt easier.

Something interesting has happened this week, though. We've been talking for a long time about attempting night weaning, but it has never felt like the right time - nights would probably get worse for a while before getting better and there's always something we need to conserve our energy for! However, in the past couple of weeks Eleanor has started to be dry at night. (She's not dry in the day, far from it - trust my daughter to do things the wrong way round!) This has thrown up problems as she has woken in the night asking for the potty a few times, then it's really hard to get her back to sleep, so we have revisited the idea of night weaning as a way of reducing these night-time potty visits. This is something my husband and I had only discussed, and not in front of Eleanor, but suddenly she started talking about sleeping all through the night without mummy milk! Hurrah! Could this mean that she might night wean of her own accord?

We're not getting our hopes up yet, because it still hasn't happened! Although at most bedtimes recently she has said that she'll just have a cuddle in the night and go back to sleep without mummy milk, when she has actually woken up and I've offered a cuddle she has been distraught. It's interesting. Last night, for instance, I went through, sat by her bed and offered to cuddle her and she started to cry. At first in amidst her sobs were phrases like, "want to go to sleep without mummy milk," and, "want to have a cuddle," but if I put my arm round her she'd push me away. She got more and more worked up, then started saying, "want mummy thing! want mummy thing!" then she pointed at my chest and cried, "want THOSE!" (Nice, kid.) So I picked her up and took her to the chair for a feed.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it Eleanor wanting to night wean but struggling with it? Or has she picked up that we want her to night wean and is trying to do it but doesn't really want to? The fact that she felt she couldn't ask directly suggests maybe it's the latter, but then we've talked to her about night weaning before and she hasn't even tried. Maybe she's caught between still wanting the comfort of breastfeeding in the night but also feeling uncomfortable from a full bladder and starting to understand the link between drinking and needing a wee. I really don't know.

So, at 33 months, breastfeeding is feeling a lot easier generally but is throwing up some tricky questions! Still, it does seem that we may be a step closer to night weaning, even if there are many steps to go, so that's a bonus!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: 32 months ... and struggling

In most of my posts for the Breastfeeding Diaries I've tried to focus on the positives of nursing beyond infancy, or at least end on a high note. Unfortunately, I don't think this post is going to fit that trend.

Eleanor is now 32 and a half months. I had hoped to allow her to feed as long as she wanted to. But now I feel like I'm hitting a wall.

It's hard to put my finger on what's different suddenly. We've had tough spells before where I've felt like giving up, but that was generally when she was teething and nursing could get quite painful. I kept going through those times by telling myself that she needed the comfort of breastmilk at that time, and of course by the time the tooth emerged, things were easier again and I was happy to continue.

But this time the issue isn't pain. It's, for want of a better phrase, pratting about. Those cute little quirks I mentioned in my last post on this subject, like the weird positions and the attempts to read and talk whilst feeding, are getting exasperating. I don't know whether they're becoming more regular, or I'm becoming less patient! It's compounded by a lot of 'on-off' behaviour and little habits like trying to put her fingers in her mouth while feeding. She's also getting more grabby and will try and pull my top down when she wants milk, of course oblivious to whether not it is a good time and place to be exposing her mother.

On more than one occasion recently I've said that if she can't be sensible with mummy milk maybe we need to stop. I'm not just saying it to get her to stop messing about in that moment - I'm genuinely feeling like maybe it is time. But then I've no idea how I would go about stopping anyway. I still feed her to sleep for her nap and when she wakes at night, and I don't know if I can really face the hassle of changing that. Also, she still asks (nay, demands) to be fed quite regularly so I know she's still keen and deep down I don't want to put her through the upset of stopping.

I think I do want to carry on. I think. But I don't want to carry on if it's always going to be this annoying. I've tried talking to her about it but she is not quite ready to understand yet I don't think.

If anyone reading this has been through something similar and has some pearls of wisdom to share, please do comment!


Friday, 5 September 2014

How (not) to potty train your toddler

We're in the throes of potty training at the moment. It's not going well. In fact, it's not been going well for around three months now. Three months or, as it feels, a PIGGING ETERNITY.

I'd love to be able to write you a really informative blog post about how to potty train in a gentle, respectful way. But I can't. I can, however, tell you what NOT to do – because I've done it all myself.

So, if you want a child who can use the potty AND to preserve your own sanity, DO NOT:

  1. Pounce on the very first tiny sign of possible readiness at a ridiculously young age (19 months, in case you're wondering) with such zeal that your child then becomes afraid of the potty and refuses to tell you what's going on in that nappy of hers.
  2. After giving up the first attempt, abandon the very notion of looking for signs of readiness and decide that the only sign you need is that her cloth nappies aren't fitting her very well any more. Yeah, that's really not an indication of readiness.
  3. Other things that aren't actually signs of readiness include: it's summer, daddy is on holiday so around to help, all her peers are doing it already. No, honestly, NONE of these things are connected to your child's ability to control her bladder. Who knew?
  4. Aim for complete inconsistency. Try nappy free time but then decide you are squeamish about breastfeeding a bare bottomed toddler so insist on training pants. And a nappy for outings and naps. So basically she has NO IDEA what covering (if any) her posterior will have in the next ten minutes.
  5. Try to avoid clean ups by persuading your child to spend her nappy free time sitting on the potty watching TV or YouTube videos, thus making her think she's entitled to screen time EVERY TIME she sits on it.
  6. As soon as you're starting to make progress, go away for a few days. Somewhere that makes continuing with potty training hopelessly impractical.
  7. Get to the point where it's been dragging on so long and you're so frustrated you start yelling about how all her friends have figure it out already. (Seriously, even if you end up doing all the other things, please please PLEASE try not to do this. Although if you have done all the other things, you'll probably feel as stressed as me, so ... yeah, try not to do the other stuff either.)

And finally, under any circumstances, DO NOT:

  1. Forget to check whether there's anything in the potty and then trip over it. Really. No.