Friday, March 21, 2008

A glimpse of the forest

I still can't actually see the forest in a wide angle view, but I do feel better and I've got a couple ideas. That was the worst part about this - I didn't even know where to start. Luckily I've got some fabulous friends and family whose comments, e-mails, and phone calls were just what I needed to hear.

I originally started this post on Thursday and I was going to say that although there had been no improvement on the food or sleep front, I was at least feeling a little bit better since David had taken the 11:45pm wake up call and gotten her back to sleep for 2 nights without a bottle.

However, today, I am happy to report that there has been improvement. It was just a coincidence, but Ruthie was scheduled to see the nurse at the pediatrician's office yesterday for her 9 month shots. I guess there was a mix-up and we wound up doing the whole physical which gave me the chance to share my frustration and worry over the eating and sleep. The pediatrician gave me "permission" to use the processed baby food jars/cereal and short of McDonald's or those fabulous Stage 3 Gerber baby desserts (don't get me started) she suggested I just throw the kitchen sink at Ruthie (a friend suggested this too) and see what she would eat. I really wanted to try a more natural approach with Ruthie to eating - doing a minimum of baby food and more emphasis on table food that she could eat herself. But what I kind of forgot about is that she needs to work up to mushed table food, and that can start with the more traditional baby cereals. I just can't imagine where I would find the time to grind the rice and then make my own cereal like I did with Esther every 3 days!

So, yesterday I bought baby Oatmeal, baby Barley, and the variety pack (18 jars total) of baby food - peaches, applesauce, pears and bananas, along with some Zwieback toast. Yesterday afternoon Ruthie ate several bites of the peaches mixed with oatmeal and last night while Esther was eating dinner she "ate" almost 3/4 of a zwieback.

I still want to start making my own cereal and vegetables at some point, because I really believe it is part of the reason Esther currently has such healthy eating habits (although still not a great variety for her). But right now it would just be too discouraging to make it and then have Ruthie not eat it.

I'm also doing a couple other things. The doctor thought it was interesting that Ruthie was so resistant to having the tongue depressor in her mouth during the exam - so I'm trying to encourage Ruthie to teeth on baby spoons when she's in the high chair or in the exersaucer. I also removed the tray from her high chair - I just had this kind of 6th sense that it was bothering her.

But I've saved the best news for last. Last night I dream-nursed Ruthie at 10:30, she woke at 1:15am and David (he rocks!) got her back to sleep without a bottle, she woke around 2:10am and I nursed her for 6 minutes and I MADE myself stay awake so that I could put her back in her crib after she nursed. And then she slept until 6am. This is a vast improvement over previous nights. Originally I was so conflicted about stopping co-sleeping with Ruthie - I BELIEVE that it is the best thing to make babies feel secure and attended to. But then a friend helped me have an ah-ha moment. The real and true essence of co-sleeping is being attentive to your baby and being able to reach them quickly when they cry out. So whether Ruthie is in bed with me or not, we will always be attentive to her needs. While I will always maintain that both of my children slept better when they were near me, maybe that was only true for the first few months. It certainly seems that Ruthie wakes less when she is in the crib next to me, rather than in the bed with me. I mean, if I was sleeping next to a Snicker's bar and a diet coke all night long, I'd probably want a little nibble every time I stirred or rolled over! Another friend pointed out that in 3.5 months I will have reached my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for a year and at that point could switch to formula for the last night-time feeding. And this caused another ah-ha moment: Ruthie not eating and not sleeping well will not last forever. At a maximum, it will last another 3.5 months and based on last night's data, it will probably resolve much sooner.

I sent out an e-mail to the Milk Moms a couple months ago when I was having a bad day and several of them responded swiftly and with great compassion and empathy. And the same thing happened again. It is so, so comforting to have friends who are so completely non-judgemental, who aren't annoyed at yet another "crisis" in my life when they've all got their own things going on, and who really, really "get" me. Combined with the kind words from other friends and family, it feels so, so good.

I am one lucky woman and with just a little more luck, I'll bet that I'll be able to see the forest again next week.

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