[full of it]

Moved…

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on February 14, 2012

Dear anyone who might still read this blog,

I started over!  If you want to keep up with my musings or see sweet pictures of our sweet baby, head here:

www.momfooleryblog.com

Love, love, and more love,

Suze

Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on January 7, 2012

I remember being very, very pregnant and having a swelling, panicky realization that after I had the baby, I would have to parent it.  Up until then, all of my research and preparatory efforts had been about how to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.  But after that?  After that there’s a baby.  A baby that grows up to be a kid.  A kid who needs parenting.

For tiny babies, want = need.  Easy.  It’s exhausting work filling their needs, but there was never a question (or at least there wasn’t to me) of whether I was doing it right.  He’s hungry, feed him.  He’s yawning and fussy, nurse him to sleep.  He’s dirty, change him.  It seemed pretty straightforward.

Now that he’s a toddler, it’s a whole new world.  He wants things he can’t have.  He can’t understand yet why he can’t have them.  Frustrations and conflicts are inevitable.  How should I deal with them?

This is a whole new ballgame.  We’re in the second year.  Parenting is now.

The first thing I’m sure of is that I want to parent deliberately.  I want to have sound reasons for why I do the things I do. I don’t want to do things just because they were done to me, or because I see them done by other parents I know.  I don’t want to blindly accept conventional practices as best practices.  I don’t want to stab in the dark until something seems to work (although I’m sure there will be plenty of that).

I want to parent empathetically.  I want to see things from his point of view, I want to at least try to understand what it’s like to be a non- or limitedly-verbal toddler.  I want to be educated on his current stage of development, so I know what I can reasonably expect from him.  I don’t want to fall into the traps of trying to reason with him before he’s able, or of getting frustrated that he doesn’t remember what I told him thirty seconds ago before he has that kind of memory.

I don’t want to discount his feelings.  This is a big one to keep in mind during tantrums.  I may think the issue is trivial, but he obviously doesn’t, and I should be respectful of that.  It is a big deal if he breaks a toy or he drops a his food or we have to leave the park – it doesn’t matter if he’s “just tired” or “just hungry,” it’s a big deal to him and I should treat it that way.  I think it’s disrespectful to think and especially to say to the toddler that “it isn’t a big deal.”  I wouldn’t say that to another adult who is upset, and I won’t say it to my child.

I don’t want to hold him to a higher standard than I hold myself and other adults.  I have lapses in judgement, I say things I don’t mean, I act irrationally.  I mess up.  We allow for those things with adults, but somehow kids get punished every time they throw a toy (when they aren’t capable of impulse control), or they do something we told them not to (when they don’t have that kind of memory recall), or when they call someone stupid (when I call people stupid).  They should be given the chance to understand why something was wrong without fear of punishment.

I want to let him be a kid.  I don’t want to get mad at him for jumping in a mud puddle (even if I just put clean clothes on him) or climbing the stairs or not being able to sit still through dinner.  I want to allow him to act his age.

Using those ideals as guidelines, I’ve been perusing the boards on mothering.com and reading some books to get some more practical ideas.  Right now I’m reading The Emotional Life of a Toddler and Parenting with Purpose, and Unconditional Parenting is in the mail.

Maybe it seems like going overboard to be doing all this research.  I know most parents don’t.  I think it’s sad that parenting isn’t taken more seriously.  Parents skate by on what seems to work, they don’t question that there might be a better way, they want quick fixes to “problem” behavior, they want a 3-step program for raising obedient kids.  They want to know how to get their child to stop doing this or that, but fail to consider that the behavior is normal (like waking up at night and needing help going back to sleep), or an attempt at attention (or realize that it’s an attempt at gaining attention, but think that giving the requested attention is indulging their whims and somehow bad), or it may be a result of their own negative behavior (like expecting them to clean their rooms without whining when you yourself complain about cleaning).

Parenting is my job.  It’s important, and it isn’t a means to an end.

2011 Survey

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on December 27, 2011

2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Bought a house!  Started doing the paleo thing.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yeah, I’m not really into the whole resolution thing.  Although I am doing a Whole30 starting Jan 1.  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes!  Anne had sweet baby Ellen this summer!

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, no one close to me.

5. What countries did you visit? Texas.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?  An uninterrupted night of sleep. 

7. What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  I’ll be honest – this year was a bit of a blur.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?  Keeping a very high-needs baby alive.  Keeping myself alive and mostly sane.  

9. What was your biggest failure? I don’t think I’ve done much failing this year, and it’s hard to anyway when you’ve got someone keeping your eyes open and your heart warm.  [now I’ve got two]

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?  Just one illness all year, a nasty 24-hour stomach thing that we all caught.  John was out of town.  I puked in a blanket while nursing the baby.  Not my finest hour.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  A house!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?  Mine!  Yours!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  You know, I really didn’t have much energy to be concerned with goings-on outside of my immediate household, and no one in my household gave me reason to be appalled or depressed.  Oh wait, Jerry Sandusky.  Fucking ass hat.

14. Where did most of your money go?  House.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  House!  Felix turning one!  Everything!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?  Probably “Your Smiling Face” James Taylor.  I listened to it a lot, by choice and also because it comes on XM about every five seconds.  Or probably anything by Adele.    

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? I just keep getting happier, don’t I.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner, much thinner.  Lost pregnancy weight and then some.  Paleo FTW!
iii.  richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?  Sleeping.  Obvi.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?  Oh, wasting energy stressing about things I can’t change.  Feeling jealous of parents with easy babies.  I poured out a lot of negativity there for a few months.  

20. How did you spend Christmas?  Xmas eve with my mom and sibs, Xmas morning with my dad and sibs, Xmas afternoon with John’s fam.  Xmas extravaganza!!!  Opened lots of presents, ate lots of sugar.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?  Oh my, yes.

23. How many one-night stands?  All of them.

24. What was your favorite TV program?  You know what?  I’ll just say it.  New Girl.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?  Nah.  Who has the time.  Oh wait, Jerry Sandusky.  Fucktard.

26. What was the best book you read?  I got very lost in the entire Sherlock Holmes series.  And for the record – I read The Hunger Games series and it sucked.  What is wrong with everyone?  Or is it me?  No, definitely everyone else.  It’s horrible.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?  Gosh.  My music library really hasn’t expanded much.  Or at all.  Er…  

28. What did you want and get?  A sweet-faced baby.  Lotsa love, coming at me from everywhere.  A house!  

29. What did you want and not get?  Sleep.  [are you sensing a theme?]

30. What was your favorite film of this year?  We snuck away to see the final Harry Potter at Alamo Drafthouse on our anniversary…not sure if it was the best movie of the year, but it was the best movie-watching experience.  

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?  I turned 26.  Why can I never remember what happened on my birthday?!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  Uninterrupted sleep.  (Okay, at this point I feel like I should point out that I’m not a walking zombie and I get plenty of sleep and rest; my need for more sleep is not so much about sleep itself as it is me-time, knowing that I have several hours of being off-duty, being able to put Felix to sleep and not needing to immediately follow and perhaps being able to do something (gasp!) selfish without rushing because I might be interrupted at any moment.  Like paint my toenails.  Or take a bath.)

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?  I get dressed in the morning with the understanding that what I’m wearing will absolutely at some point get smeared with food or body fluid.  And I also need to be able to nurse.  So – jeans, TOMS, and cheap drape-y V-neck t-shirts.

34. What kept you sane?  Well, for the sake of answering the question we’ll assume that I did, in fact, stay sane (I sometimes wonder).  My husband and my mother.  The Fussy Baby Book by Dr Sears.  My sweet-faced babe.  The mothering.com message boards.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  Matt Damon, always.  Smart and suave.  Do I lose points to say Zooey Deschanel?  Is it not cool anymore to like her?  Come on though, if you say you don’t like her you’re only doing it to be contrary, and that is just the same as liking her because everyone else does.  She’s adorable.  

36. What political issue stirred you the most?  I didn’t get stirred so much.  No energy, no time.  Oh wait, Jerry Sandusky.  Shit eater.

37. Who did you miss?  My husband.  Gone all damn day!  Why do we even need jobs and money, anyway?  

38. Who was the best new person you met?  Mel!  

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:  It’s not all on me.  

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

If you can’t sleep
I’ll be there in your dreams
I’ll be there in your dreams
If you can’t sleep at all

And in your dreams
I’ll touch your cheek
And lay my head on your shoulder

Goodbye shadows
Goodbye shadows

You’re far away
If you can’t see my face
If the world is cold
But the sun shines the same

Shut your eyes
There are bluer skies
for your embrace to my heart

Goodbye shadows
Goodbye shadows

If you can’t sleep
I’ll be there in your dreams
I’ll be there in your dreams
If you can’t sleep at all

And in your dreams
I’ll touch your cheek
And lay my head on your shoulder

 

 


Felix meets the snow

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on December 22, 2011

We’re on vacation in Steamboat Springs, CO.  I decided to video Felix’s first time in the snow…

Try not to cry – I dare you.

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on November 18, 2011

Wean Me Gently

by Cathy Cardall

I know I look so big to you,
Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.
But no matter how big we get,
We still have needs that are important to us.
I know that our relationship is growing and changing,
But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,
Especially at the end of the day
When we snuggle up in bed.
Please don’t get too busy for us to nurse.
I know you think I can be patient,
Or find something to take the place of a nursing;
A book, a glass of something,
But nothing can take your place when I need you.
Sometimes just cuddling with you,
Having you near me is enough.
I guess I am growing and becoming independent,
But please be there.
This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,
Please don’t break it abruptly.
Wean me gently,
Because I am your mother,
And my heart is tender.

High-Needs Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on October 27, 2011

Felix loves to smile at people.  He has a big grin for anyone who will smile back, especially old ladies.  Virtually every time we go out, someone says, “What a happy boy!  Is he always so happy?”

Short answer: no.  Felix is a high-needs baby.  Probably like most parents of high-needs babies, and also because he’s my first, it took me a while to figure it out.  I knew he wasn’t “like” other babies, but I didn’t know that he fit into any particular category.  I watched other babies fall asleep without nursing, without a fuss; watched them sit in high chairs throughout a whole meal, perfectly content with a toy or two; heard about how they sleep through car rides; go two hours without nursing; watched them play on the floor while their mom made dinner – all things my baby is not capable of doing.

Eventually I stumbled upon the Sears Fussy Baby Book.  I read the first two chapters just crying – here it is, all of it.  This is my baby.  There are other babies like him, I didn’t break him, and it’s even a good thing.  It was especially well-timed, because we were having a really rough go.  I was resentful of his needs, missing my old life, missing freedom, feeling overwhelmed, touched-out, angry, completely, totally 100% tapped the fuck out.  “Mother burn out” – yes, been there.

12 Features of a High Needs Baby (I’ve bolded the ones that particularly apply)

1. Intense
Everything is extreme.  He’s extremely happy, extremely unhappy.  There is no want for personality in him.

2. Hyperactive
He doesn’t ever stop moving, if that’s what you mean.

3. Draining
I can’t overstate it – it’s so exhausting taking care of him.  Not physically, so much, but emotionally.  It’s constant giving, touching, loving, talking, playing.  Constant.  Constant.

4. Feeds frequently
All the time.  It really peaked around 7-8 months, and now he’s on a much more manageable every two hours-ish sort of routine.  For a long time though, he’d just check in – latch on for a minute or less, just to make sure it’s still there.  He’d do that all the time…I don’t know, say every half hour?  His actual feeds would happen as I nursed him to sleep for naps.  Oh, and all night long.

5. Demanding
YEP.
  He knows how to get what he wants.  I fumed inside when well-meaning women at the LLL meeting, when I talked about his “drive-by” nursing habits suggested that I try to redirect him, distract him with a toy or something.  First – as if I haven’t tried that.  Second – yeah fucking right.  You obviously haven’t met my baby.  But, as I’ll mention later, this is a good thing.  It makes for a very tired and touched-out mom, but it’s good.  A baby who doesn’t give up on getting his needs met is a baby who thrives.

6. Awakens frequently
Honestly, I wake up in the mornings unable to tell how often he was up.  It’s a lot.  But I’m not tired, so who gives a shit.  The explanation of this tendency among high-needs babies is that they can’t tune things out.  Babies, in general, have short sleep cycles and spent a larger proportion of their time in light, vulnerable sleep.  High-needs babies are particularly prone to waking up during those times, and need help going back to sleep.  On a good night, Felix probably wakes up three times and goes straight back to sleep when I nurse him.  On a bad night, it’s every hour and a half with chunks of time spent half-awake and restless.  Even after bad nights I don’t tend to be too tired.

7. Unsatisfied
I don’t know that I would call him “unsatisfied,” just that his needs are constant.  I guess you could view that as him never being satisfied, but I tend to see it as just a very high baseline level of needs.

8. Unpredictable
Yeah, I guess, but not in a bad way.

9. Super sensitive
He isn’t sensitive to things like loud noises, but he does seem to be sensitive in an emotional sense.  Tuned-in, maybe?  He seems to pick up on my moods very easily.  If I wake up in a bad mood, he’s guaranteed to be clingy and fussy.  But if I manage to flip it around, so does he.

10. Can’t be put down
Indeed.  When he was tiny, I couldn’t put him down for a second.  Now, he does play alone sometimes, but only if I’m on the floor very close by.  He doesn’t play at my feet while I do dishes or cook – he demands to be held.  Which obviously makes those tasks more challenging.  If I (or anyone, really) walk away from him suddenly, without talking to him while I walk away, he cries scared, hurt tears.  If I look at him and talk to him as Iwalk away, he won’t cry, but he will follow.  This is what makes the simplest tasks nearly impossible.  I can’t scramble eggs in the morning without him clawing at my legs, crying to be picked up.

11. Not a self-soother
Nope.

12. Separation sensitive
This is mostly manifested in the car, since he’s pretty well attached at all other times, and doesn’t ever get the chance to have separation anxiety.  The car is rough.  He can’t see me, he’s stuck, and once he realizes that there’s no distracting him from it.  Not even the coolest, most forbidden toy will calm him.  It’s enough to limit my outings to only the most necessary errands, because I think it’s unfair and mean to allow him to be so stressed.
There you go, high-needs in a nutshell.  The book I read does an amazing job of laying it out in a positive way.  His needs aren’t any different than the needs of all babies – he’s just particularly insistent on having them met.  All babies need lots of touch, lots of attention, but most are alright with less.  He’s not.

For me, it helps to think of it in evolutionary terms (does that surprise anyone?) and from Felix’s point of view.  He doesn’t know that we live in a safe house with a locked door.  He doesn’t know that I’m still nearby if he can’t see or touch me.  I am safety to him.  If I’m close, he’s safe.  If I’m not, he’s not.  If we were a cave family, would I put him down to sleep by himself and then go to the next door cave to sleep?  I know the difference, but he doesn’t.  He’s hard-wired to survive, and that means always having a parent near.

He’s high-needs, not high-wants.  He needs to feel safe, he needs to feel secure.  He needs to be held all the time, he needs to nurse all the time, he needs to wake up a lot to make sure he’s not alone.  I need to do a lot more than most moms to make sure I have a happy baby.

It’s hard.  I have needs too, you know (wait…I didn’t mean those needs).  House work and laundry get bumped to the bottom of my priority list (or, in reality, over to John’s priority list), because the two hours of alone time I get while he’s napping need to be spend relaxing so I don’t lose my shit.  It took me a while to realize that it was okay to ask for more help, to erase things from my responsibilities list.  I need a few minutes to re-focus, fill a need or two of my own, and not spent nap time running around like crazy trying to catch up on cleaning.

It definitely isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, but if I keep centered and make sure I’m not getting lost in the shuffle, we’re good.  It’s when I try to pile too much on, start thinking I should be doing more, and think I shouldn’t need to ask for help that the whole “mother burnout” sets in.  I sometimes resent that I’ve had to give up so much.  No reading, knitting, sewing.  I end up spending lots of time on my phone, reading articles and blogs – short things I don’t get too invested in.  He’s lost interest in my phone as a toy, which is nice.  I can’t read real books because he will demand it from me and then rip the pages.  I can’t be on the laptop because he demands to bang on the keys.

I have accepted all of this.  I’m okay with it.  I have to be, right?  I wouldn’t change a thing, honestly.  I’m over the pangs of jealousy, I’m over wanting to trade kids with someone else for a day (or night).  One thing that does continue to get under my skin, as I’m sure it does every parent, is the unsolicited parenting advice.  For one – it’s really never a good idea under any circumstances.  Two – if you’ve never had a high-needs kid, you truly and honestly do not get it.  Your tricks won’t work.  Any attempt at “fixing” him would, in practice, be ignoring his needs, and I refuse to do that.  It’s mean, and it backfires.  If I decide I’m going to have a “productive” day (as if parenting isn’t productive), and spend huge amounts of energy at distracting and redirecting him so I can clean out my closet, I’m guaranteed an even more fussy and clingy baby for days after.  So, suggesting we make him cry it out at night is absurd (my feelings on that particular practice are really deserving of another post) and might earn you a punch in the face.

What high-needs babies need is serious, hardcore, committed attachment parenting.  I actually sort of object to the “high-needs” label…it’s accurate, but every time I’ve said it it’s been interpreted as “special-needs.”  I prefer “attached.”  In some circles that has its own negative connotation, but I don’t hang in those circles.  “Independent baby” is an oxymoron, everyone.  They’re not small adults.  Anyway.

Already I think I’m starting to see some payoff.  We might have turned a corner with the car thing – I haven’t pushed it because I don’t want to test his patience, but for the last week or so he’s hardly cried at all and he’s even fallen asleep several times.  When we’re in public, he has no problem taking off running and making friends with strangers.  He’s not afraid of new people – quite the opposite.  In the mall, he will walk down the aisle, peeking his head in stores, making friends, and not look back for me.  Because I’m there.  I’m always there.  He doesn’t have to wonder because he knows.  That is what attachment parenting is all about.

*It seems appropriate that it’s taken me two weeks to write this.

Primal Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on September 20, 2011

I’m late to the party on this one, but Mark Sisson is doing his annual 30-day Primal Challenge.  So, if you’re interested in doing the primal thing, now is a great time to set a goal and go for it.  Doesn’t have to be full-on paleo or primal, or anything.  Ditch the artificial sweeteners, or kick the candy habit, or curb the grains – whatever.  All month he’s having little contests for really amazing prizes.  Read it everyday anyway, Mark is full of great information.

 

Update and Food Diary

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on August 29, 2011

Ok, so, the first 30 days of Whole60 are over.  I haven’t done a true Whole30.  I came pretty dang close, but not totally.

I did it completely without grains or legumes, but I had a drink or two and dairy a handful of times.  But it did its job – I went from dipping my toes in the paleo waters to diving in.  Grains and legumes are out for good.  I know that dairy does make me bloated – any amount of milk causes problems, but butter for cooking and a small amount of cheese seems okay.  I know that I can’t eat cashews or macadamia nuts without some unspeakable consequences, but almonds are fine even in ridiculous amounts (like half a jar of almond butter).  Nightshades, which are a common autoimmune trigger, have a couple of times made me feel stiff.  Actually, the only time that has happened was the morning after eating fajitas, so whether it was the bell peppers or the chili powder, I’m not sure.  Salsa seems okay, I don’t eat tomatoes otherwise and I eat eggplant so rarely that there’s nothing to cut there.

I’ve definitely gotten into more of a groove with cooking and meal prep.  We cook incredibly simply.  Like, two ingredients kind of simple.  But somehow, even though we repeat the same handful of super simple meals, it has yet to get boring.  Actually, I feel like I enjoy food and eating more.  I’m having more fun cooking, doing things like making my own beef jerky (which, by the way, is amazing and could win some kind of jerky award), my own mayo, branching out and trying new things like lamb sausage, sardines.

And now for a little voyeuristic treat, here is a little food diary excerpt:

2 egg omelet with 3 pc bacon and 1/2 avocado
coffee
pluot
decaf
smoothie – coconut milk (~1/3 can), handful frozen raspberries, 1/4 banana
2 pc beef jerky
bunless burger w 1/2 avocado
almond butter with a few bittersweet chocolate chips

2 eggs w leftover broccoli and 1/4 avocado, 3 pc bacon
coffee
almond butter w chocolate chips
taco salad – grass fed ground beef with my own taco seasoning (most packets have a filler/thickener like rice or potato flour), salsa, 1/4 avocado
smoothie (no banana this time)
more almond butter
shrimp (6 large), green beans and mushrooms cooked in ghee

breakfast sausage and egg scramble
coffee w cream
smoothie (no banana)
3 small cookies (John wanted them, I obliged since he had to spend Sunday afternoon at the office)
salad w salmon, garlic and herb dressing (not my own)
watermelon
2 sausage links (a Whole Foods brand, sugar is listed in the ingredients but whatever)
zucchini

A few notes – I’m trying to get away from eating eggs everyday.  They can be an autoimmune trigger and it’s a pretty common food sensitivity.  I don’t seem to be affected, but it might be something that I do a 30 day elimination with down the line.  For now, I’d just like to get into more of a 2-3x per week habit rather than a daily one.  This morning I made a sort of hash with diced mushrooms and zucchini and Pederson’s breakfast sausage.  Also – those cookies are seriously like crack.  I read recently in The Paleo Solution that carbohydrates bind to your opiate receptors in your brain, and at the time I rolled my eyes because I really do try to keep grounded in all of this and keep some degree of skepticism.  Plus I really just hate outlandish claims and immediately dismiss them.  I hate this book’s cover because it has all of those “Change your life in 30 days!” things printed all over it.  Barf.  Anyway, yeah, now after having those cookies around – I totally buy it.  I eat one thinking it’s my last, and immediately reach for another.  So I package them up and put them in the cabinet.  And five minutes later I pull them down, thinking as I’m eating it that I shouldn’t be eating it.  Then I eat another one, and then five are gone and it’s like, shit!  How did that even happen?  Oh, and they are grain-free paleo-esque cheat cookies.  Still sweetened (with honey and maple syrup), and thus heavily addictive.

So anyway.  Whole30 (as whole as I could make it) complete, in that I’m committed in a lifestyle rather than experimental basis.  John is on board as well, full-time instead of just at home.  I’ll see if I can bribe him into writing about it here soon.

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Redefining sleep success

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on August 22, 2011

I’m a bad parent.  Felix wakes up 4, 5, 6 times a night.  Thus – bad parent.

Right?

I’m not sure when or why sleeping through the night became a benchmark of parental success.  The ability to sleep for hours and hours without waking is a sign of a healthy baby, healthy habits, good parenting.  If your baby doesn’t sleep “well,” never fear!  You can take your pick of literally hundreds of sleep training methods (ok, there may not be hundreds, but that sounded better than “literally tens”), peruse thousands of articles on baby sleep, read testimonials on every trademarked program out there (but to find the true secret to its success, first you have to buy the book or DVD).

I get why there is such a demand for these programs, I really do.  But the truth is that we’ve created our own sleep problems with babies through our cultural standards for infant care.  The problem isn’t that babies wake up a lot – they just do, they’re supposed to.  They have tiny tummies, they need to eat frequently.  Even when they get older, frequent waking is assurance that you are still near and they are still protected.  Even the best sleepers will go through phases of frequent waking with every bout of teething and every growth spurt.

Babies are vulnerable, utterly helpless without you – it only makes good sense that they should want you near all the time, and especially at night, when they are especially vulnerable.  Are you still there, mom?  Am I still safe?  Yes, sweetheart, I’m still here.  Back to sleep, now.

For us, that exchange of reassurance takes one or two minutes.  I roll on my side, scoot him in close, latch him on, and then we’re both back in dreamland.

But if you’re like most American families, the baby probably sleeps in his own space, probably in another room.  You probably hear his cries over a monitor, and get out of bed, walk to the other room, pick him up, and nurse or rock him back to sleep before setting him back in the crib and walking back to your room.  I can’t say exactly how long that takes because I’ve never done it…but let’s say 20 minutes.  Let’s say you do that every two hours.  No wonder you’re tired!  Let’s also say that you have a 9-5 job and can’t afford to be a sleep deprived zombie – if that were me I’d be shelling out big bucks and trying every sleep training method available (or maybe hiring a professional sleep consultant – yeah, they exist).

In that situation, something has to give.  It isn’t a sustainable cycle.  The problem, though, is the idea that something is wrong with the baby.  There isn’t.  The baby isn’t broken; the baby is doing exactly what nature intended it to do.

Babies have much faster sleep cycles than adults.  They spend more of their time asleep in vulnerable periods of light sleep where they are easily woken.  Again, as entirely helpless little things, this allows them to be on their guard in a sense, making sure that all is still well.

When mom and baby share a sleep space, mom’s sleep cycles align with the baby’s.  Mom’s sleep cycles shorten and her vulnerable periods coincide with the baby’s.  This means that when the baby wakes up, she isn’t waking up from a dead sleep.  In fact, a lot of cosleeping moms (myself included) report waking up before the baby starts to stir.  And when the baby does wake up, it’s a very fast interaction where I barely need to open my eyes.  I’d say a good portion of night wakings have us back to sleep in under a minute.  The result is that, excepting the worst of teething nights, I wake up refreshed and rested.

Now, shouldn’t that be the mark of sleep success?  A rested family?

I probably don’t need to tell you that sleep methods involving cry-it-out and “self-soothing” techniques (which, for the record, are the same) are potentially harmful to the baby.  That is really fodder for another whole entry.  For now, let’s suffice it to say that thinking about CIO gives me a visceral, stomach-sinking feeling.  Babies shouldn’t be made to cry in distress, for any amount of time, at any age, for any reason – not even if the end result after three days of use is that the baby sleeps for 12 hours.

I’m not trying to say that our way is the best way.  Some babies sleep better in their own space.  I’ve heard of several mothers saying that when they transitioned the baby out of the bed is when they started getting longer stretches.  I’ve considered that, but the cost of a crib and the fact that I can’t lay Felix down without waking him stops me.  I do wish that there weren’t a stigma and so much misinformation about cosleeping; I think more families might choose it as an option and maybe they wouldn’t feel compelled to employ harsh sleep training methods.

Sometimes we have bad nights.  Sometimes in the middle of the night I swear to myself that in the morning, I’m going out and buying a crib and researching sleep programs.  But then I smell his sweet breath and curl him up against me…nope.  I couldn’t give this up, not even for 12 straight hours of sleep.

Tips on Thrush…from unfortunate personal experience.

Posted in Uncategorized by susieyarbs on August 20, 2011

I may be premature in writing this, because it isn’t gone yet.  But I finally actually believe it’s on its way out.

About two months ago I developed a bleb from a night nursing session where both baby and I fell asleep with a bad latch.  A bleb is a little blister that forms over one of the pores where your milk comes out.  The pore gets blocked and milk builds up behind it, hence its other name – milk blister.  In my case, I noticed the clogged duct before the bleb.  A large cone-shaped section of my right breast got more and more sore and hard throughout the day.  I tried the methods I knew for clearing a clogged duct – warmth, massage, cabbage, pumping, nursing…it all seemed to be making it worse.  I was mentally freaking out, knowing that for every hour it wasn’t clear I was that much closer to mastitis.

Finally, in the afternoon, I looked down and noticed a tiny little white spot at the very tip of my nipple.  A quick browsing of kellymom.com diagnosed it as a bleb.  It told me not to, but I lanced it.  Relief was immediate – I stood over the sink while milk poured from the duct.

Then two days later, the bleb re-sealed and I went through the whole thing all over again.  I went to a LLL meeting, where the leader so wisely told me, “Watch out for thrush.  It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and yeast loves a wound.”

Well.  I didn’t watch out.  First I noticed a little red patch on that same nipple – it popped up overnight just a few days after resolving the second bleb.  Then it faded.  Then it came back.  I thought he just had a funky latch.  Then the patch spread…then it got painful…then I got another patch on the other side.  It took me a shamefully long time to figure out it was thrush.  Once I did figure it out, after probably three weeks of the patches coming and going, I thought I could knock it out with some simple home remedies.

Oh, friends.  How wrong I was.  With every new remedy I tried, I would think, “This is it!  This will work, for sure.”  First, vinegar.  Not a thing happened.  Then I tried topical grapefruit seed extract…that seemed to make some difference, but only in concentrations so high that it was too drying and irritating.  Then I sent John to buy Monistat on his way home from work one day (he appreciated that – “There are too many!  3 day?  7 day?  Applicators?  Suppositories?  I have never wanted you with me more, ever.”).  Medicated cream, specifically for yeast!  Surely this would take care of it.  It did calm it down just enough to make it not painful, but I used it for three weeks religiously and it just would not go completely away.

I was also doing all the lifestyle stuff you’re supposed to do – no bra whenever possible, sun therapy (thank goodness we don’t have neighbors behind us), changing sheets, towels, sterilizing laundry.  Felix didn’t have patches in his mouth, but I was treating him with vinegar.  Probiotics for both of us, oral grapefruit seed extract (250mg 4x/day), topical probiotics, and as few carbohydrates as I could stand.

I knew about gentian violet, but honestly didn’t want to deal with having a purple-mouthed baby.  Rather, having to explain to people why he was purple-mouthed.  I went to the pediatrician for advice.  Sigh, he was woefully ignorant about thrush.  He’s woefully ignorant of breastfeeding in general.  He prescribed nystatin for Felix’s mouth (nystatin hasn’t been effective against thrush in like 15 years), and told me to keep using the miconazole, even though I’d already been doing it for three weeks.

I asked him about gentian violet.  He said he doesn’t recommend it.  Why?  Because it’s messy.  Does it work?  “Oh my, yes.  It’s extremely effective.  I remember working with AIDS patients who had thrush so bad they couldn’t swallow, and when meds didn’t work, gentian violet always did.”  Hm.  His course of action was to use the nystatin, and if that didn’t work to call back and he’d give me a prescription for diflucan (which also used to be great against yeast, but now has to be prescribed in such high doses as to be potentially hepatotoxic, not to mention that a course will run you $200+).  I’d also read great things about the Jack Newman APNO prescription – it’s an ointment with a steroid, an antibiotic, and two antifungals.  He recommends using it in conjunction with GV.  My pediatrician had never heard of it and wanted to try nystatin and diflucan first.

So I bought gentian violet.  Finally.  I started on Monday, and the thrush is almost gone.  I must have a particularly persistent case, because I’ll probably need to do a full 7 days of it, and usually it’s just 3-4 days.  Yeah, it’s messy, but it isn’t terrible.  I paint it on at night, put some towels on the bed, wear an old bra.  Felix’s lips stay really stained, but the stuff that gets around his mouth usually fades away by the next afternoon.

So, my advice –

>>If nursing becomes painful after weeks or months of pain-free feeding, immediately suspect thrush, even if you don’t see the tell-tale red shiny patches on you or the white patches in the baby’s mouth.  Thrush pain is a burning pain that lasts throughout and after a feed, rather than latch pain which tends to only last for the first minute or two of a feed and is more pinching/stinging.

>>Reach for the big guns first.  Yeast is becoming very resistant to virtually all of the standard treatments.  APNO + GV seems to be the swiftest cure.  Most people who commented seemed to know what the purple mouth meant and wished us well.

>>GV won’t immediately stain everything you cherish the moment you open the bottle.  It’s messy, but if you don’t knock over the bottle, the messiness isn’t a reason to put it off.  If you put it on at night, by the morning it will be dry enough to not stain everything.  Some does come off if it gets re-wet, like after nursing or when you use other topical ointments.

>>Keep using anti fungal ointment (like miconazole (Monistat, which has 2% miconazole nitrate) or clotrimazole (Lotrimin)) after daytime feeds.  Or the APNO if you get it prescribed.  I literally keep either miconazole or clotrimazole on at all times.  Yeast regrows after 90 minutes, so anything that tells you to use it only 4 times a day won’t do the trick.  Wipe of excess before nursing (they say this isn’t necessary as long as its been 10-15 minutes since the application, but I still do it).  Another mom told me that GV actually kills the yeast, whereas the other anti fungals only retard new growth.

>>Don’t get lazy.  If it starts to look better, awesome, but you can’t slow down your treatment even a little bit.  I did this several times – “Oh, it looks so much better today!” then I wouldn’t use the miconazole as often, and by the next morning it would be back in full force.  You should keep treating for two weeks after being symptom free.  GV can only be used for a max of 7 days in a row (if you need to keep going, take a 3 day break before starting up again), but keep using the anti fungal cream for another two weeks.

>>Starve the yeast.  Ketosis is your friend.  I noticed another significant difference after I bumped my carb intake down another notch.  I probably get in the range of 80-120g a day usually, which is already less than half of typical consumption, and when I went for 50g or fewer I noticed a positive change.  Not enough to wipe it out, obviously, but some.

>>Go to an LLL meeting.  Our leader had had thrush several times and was amazing support.  She empathized with the panicky, claustrophobic feeling of thinking it will never go away (I’m going on 8 weeks of dealing with this crap), depression with flare-ups, exhaustion at the constant effort to keep it at bay.  There should honestly be support groups specifically for thrush.

Thrush sucks.