Sunday, February 24, 2013

Marshmallows...for Breakfast

That’s what Elena had this morning.

Don’t judge.

I said no to her request for cookies, pudding & ice cream.

& I convinced her to have cherry yogurt first.

What happened to my good little eater? It’s not like she would eat just anything but she had a nice variety of foods she was happy to gobble up without complaint…now for almost 2 weeks she barely eats anything at all & is refusing even her most favourite staples!

Is this another byproduct of the terrible twos?

We did have a triad of issues pop up this week…1) her last set of molars are in. Thankfully I think that means all of them…I haven’t been able to get a good look & sticking my fingers in is dangerous stuff these days! 2) As always while Elena is teething, she’s ended up with cankers from chewing on her cheeks. 3rd) She had pinkeye this week though I don’t see how this would affect her appetite except that she of course ended up with a minor cold along with it.

I’m more of a mind to suspect that her refusal to eat is more likely another way for Elena to express her independence. Or maybe it’s a little of both…either way I refuse to make meal time a battle ground…but I won’t let her just eat junk either. If she’s willing to eat junk & refuses proper food then it’s definitely a defiance issue & not an appetite issue, right?

My strategy for this (what I hope is a) phase? I’m remembering advice our Dr gave when I was introducing solids: It is up to me to offer healthy choices & it is up to me to offer these choices frequently…it is up to her how much she eats & when. She won’t starve.

This worked then & by not forcing the issue or getting stressed out, she became a very good eater & learned this wasn’t a button she can push with me. What I hate is that sometimes the only way to get her to eat the good stuff is a promise of junk…hence the marshmallows. It was the only way I could get her to eat the yogurt...& usually she LOVES yogurt!

Of course we’re still having other issues but I do feel better equipped to deal with them. Thanks to Shannon’s review , I have ordered Happiest Toddler on the Block & upon Mel’s suggestion I also ordered No-Cry Discipline Solution. (Plus a book for Elena’s Birthday, thanks for the suggestion, Gille!)

The one thing that is working really well is Toddler speak (?) where I verbalize to Elena what she’s upset for, “Elena doesn’t want to clean up the toys” which has headed off many a tantrum lately…however there are times when she goes off & I have absolutely no idea WHY she’s so upset or WHAT set her off!! That is when my patience is shortest & frustration is highest.

I know the biggest source of Elena’s frustration stems from her lack of vocabulary…she has her own language (Elenaglish, I call it) but I only understand her a third of the time.

Like tonight at dinner, I was asking what she wanted, another strategy for eating, she’s more likely to eat something if it’s of her choosing…anyway, she’s saying “Ba”…& I have no clue what she wants! But she keeps saying it over & over so I do what I often do, I ask her to SHOW me…well she walks me down the stairs to the garage door. I’m perplexed! Until I realize she’s guided me to the freezer (we keep it in the garage)…light bulb!! I ask, “Pizza?” She squeals with delight & responds, “Uh huh, Ba!!!” REALLY??!! How the hell was I supposed to know that Ba was Pizza??

Ah, toddlers…my books can't get here fast enough!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sleep Shenanigans

Seems there have been quite a few posts in the blogosphere lately on the topic of sleep…it’s comforting that moms seem to have sleep issues across the board & it’s not just an Elena & Me problem. We have our ups & downs…good nights & bad…but I feel like I have a better perspective now for dealing & definitely not being so hard on myself about it helps enormously.

A bit of sleep history...Elena was born & my hazy sleep deprived memory is that she didn’t sleep for 4 weeks & neither did I…oh I know we must have but all I remember is feeling like we’d never sleep again.
About 2 weeks old...see, she did sleep, I guess.
In hindsight I believe that Elena had reflux issues. When reading about babies with this, I see the symptoms Elena had & the best sleep during that time was when she was upright in her bouncy chair or while being held.

Also, when we saw the pediatrician at 4 weeks old, the Dr confirmed Elena had had a broken clavicle from birth. It had healed fine but would definitely have made her very uncomfortable those first weeks. I also took Elena to a chiropractor & she had a slight misalignment he was able to adjust & it did seem to make a difference. And we got a swing where she would sleep quite well.
Then there were her gas issues but getting her a soother, giving her gripe water & me drinking copious amounts of Fennel Tea helped in that department…but she still would NOT sleep in her bassinet but slept well if I was holding her…so that is what I did out of sheer survival & her stretches of sleep became longer & longer. I remember at one point she was sleeping for 10-12 hours or more…oh how blissful that was!!

At about 8-10 weeks I started shifting her from sleeping on me to on the bed…it was challenging. I heated her space with a heating pad, had the fan going for white noise, etc…I was never able to get her to sleep in her crib but had success putting her in my bed & so my decision to co-sleep.

I would nurse her to sleep & she would sleep on me while I watched TV until I was ready to go to bed. She would sleep better if I was close by so I got in the habit of often going to bed with her then reading by flashlight in the bedroom. During this time she would also nap on me in our easy boy as she would sleep longer than if I tried to put her down.

I forget when exactly but between 6 to 9 months, once she was mobile, we hit the challenge of her being safe in my bed without her crawling/falling out. I’m pretty sure it was a post by Gille that inspired me to sidecar the crib to my bed. The crib was convertible anyway from crib to toddler bed to double bed so I removed the one side & pushed it up against my bed, her mattress butted up against mine but slightly lower. This has worked out so well for us!

When Elena was 11 months & the end of my Mat Leave was fast approaching, I knew we had to get a handle on her sleeping on her own & not on me…at naps at the very least since I couldn’t expect my Mom to do this while I was at work.

I would still nurse/rock her to sleep but then I would always transfer her either to the bed, couch or even the floor but at least not on me…she transitioned fairly well. I still remember the day in February 2012 that she slept a first proper nap in bed & feeling so proud of her & me.
Asleep in the easy boy...not on me

Asleep on the floor...not on me

Napping in bed for the 1st time!!

Once we started weaning, she wouldn’t fall asleep while we were in front of the TV like we use to, too stimulating I’m sure. I moved my easy boy into our bedroom & started rocking her to sleep & my Mom would also do this for naps. We had a good long stretch of success with this. Oh sure, we had some bad nights but for the most part we did really well. I’d rock her & in 5-10 minutes she’d be out, I’d put her in bed & have the rest of the evening to myself, life was good.

Phew, that was more than a bit of a history, lol…anyway, then 20 months hit & Elena started to invent new & often creative delay tactics…she would fight it, she would thwart me in every technique I tried…I became more & more frustrated.

Since my confessional post, I started to look at things in a new light. I realized I’d set a standard of Elena falling asleep in 5-10 minutes & when it’d take 40 minutes or an hour I was feeling like a failure. It was Shannon who made me realize that if it takes 40 minutes than it takes 40 minutes, nothing wrong with that.

All of a sudden about 3 weeks ago, rocking wouldn’t work anymore, I’m talking 2 hours or more & Elena would still be wide awake. I tried CIO for 3 nights by putting up a gate in the bedroom door...with zero success & it reinforced in myself why CIO isn't a technique for us. Aside from how gut wrenching it was to hear Elena cry for so long, it was more than just her usual cry…she was seriously upset & hysterical. This is not how I wanted Elena to go to sleep. Ever. Not in such a state of distress. This was not how I wanted to end our day & very limited time together. She has her teenage years to cry herself to sleep, lol! For now, I want her to go to sleep in a state of calm.

For a few nights, I just went to bed but I knew I couldn’t start that again & besides, she would still be awake for hours! My SIL had made a comment that my brother would just tell their boys to stay in bed or there would be trouble & they did…I thought, “Yeah right, not my kid.” But after 3 or 4 nights of going to bed at 7:30pm, me drifting off then waking an hour later & Elena still being awake, me drifting off again & waking around 10pm & Elena still being awake…I was ready to try anything. I was missing my quiet evening me-time…time for myself to unwind & get things done.

So one night, we did our usual routine:

·         Bath (not every night though)

·         Watch “Bear in the Big Blue House” & have yogurt

·         Put on jammies

·         Brush teeth

·         Get into bed

·         Read no less than 3 books

·         Cuddle in the rocking chair

When she hit the point she usually starts fighting & resisting sleep, I put her in her bed, kissed her, told her I loved her, told her it was time to sleep & told her she must stay in bed…& I walked out of the room.

I went into the kitchen & made my lunch for the next day & waited…after a few minutes I went back in, she wasn’t asleep yet but she was in bed. I told her it was time to sleep & to stay in bed. I then went into the living room & waited…she was asleep within an hour.

Now she goes to sleep most every night on her own…some nights she falls asleep sooner than others…some nights I never know what I’ll find when I go to bed, like the night I found her like this:
Or this:
that's her feet sticking out of the crib bars
And my new favourite...things were really quiet the other night & I wishfully thought Elena had fallen asleep quickly...when I checked in on her:
Notice the Crayon Art on the wall behind wasn't there when I put her to bed.
Some nights are better than others…a few she’s actually let me rock her to sleep like old times...she’s sleeping well most nights & it does make me pretty proud that she transitioned to putting herself to sleep without any force or coercion from me. I have had to threaten to put up the gate & have had to follow thru a couple of times as hard as that is on both of us…& I’ve learned that sleep will probably be an ever fluctuating piece of the parenting's not about success or failure though. It's more ebb & flow...good nights & bad...ever changing & tweeking of routines...