Weaning Twig

My last picture of Twig nursing.

I’ve contemplated writing this post for about two weeks now, but for the longest time I just didn’t believe it was happening. But now I’m going to say it (and possibly eat my words later)–Twig has weaned. 

This is always how I had imagined it would be with Peanut. Just one day I realize that we haven’t nursed in a while and it turns out that she weaned without my really noticing. From speaking to other moms who do child-led weaning, this seems to be the general consensus on how it happens. One day you have a nursling and then one day you don’t. No big shift in thinking or functioning, just a natural progression.

Well that’s how it happened for us.

I guess it all started when I became pregnant with the baby we will now refer to as Banana (monkey will be his/her animal and their nicknames are foods that animal eats). Pretty soon after getting that positive test, I was dead tired All. The. Time. Turned out I was iron deficient (yay Floradix!), but regardless, I needed a lot more sleep at night. It was at this time that I decided to night wean Twig, probably when she was just a month or two shy of 2. We used a modified version of Dr. Jay Gordon’s method (just like I did with Peanut) and it went really smoothly. We were all happy and I was a bit more rested.

Still Twig continued to nurse beyond this point, which was fine by me. I had decided early on in the pregnancy that I wouldn’t attempt to wean her, but I also wouldn’t be to heartbroken if she weaned during this pregnancy. I think it has a lot to do with personality, so it’s unlikely it would all happen the same way as when Twig was born, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have another toddler wanting to nurse more often than the newborn. But like I said, personality. I don’t think Twig would have reacted to the new sibling in quite the way Peanut did. Peanut was always a huge comfort nurser (probably from all those months with horrible reflux where it was literally her only comfort) and Twig, while definitely enjoying nursing, was never that same kind of nurser. So my point is that I don’t think it would have gone down the same way.

Anyway, by the time she was night weaning, she wasn’t really nursing for naps anymore. Since I was gone during naptime fall semester, she was being put to sleep by my in-laws or mother (who take turns watching her). In the rare case I was able to get there before she fell asleep, she’d fall asleep on her way home in the car. Then Saturdays she would fall asleep on the way home from music class and on Sundays she wasn’t interested in nursing to sleep (we would, and still do, just lay in the bed together until she’s out). So nap nursing, which was a big one for Peanut throughout Twig’s pregnancy, was out. This meant it was just occasional nursing during the day and sometimes for bed at night (but even for that we had naturally gotten to the point where she would unlatch and fall asleep on her own so it’s not like she was falling asleep nursing or even that it was necessary).

For a while, I resisted nursing because I was sore. Pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, does that to you. It was like I could feel every tooth and it gave me major heebeegeebees. So I would delay nursing if I could, which I could most of the time. We still nursed at least a few times a week though. Then just after Twig’s second birthday, we all got sick and Twig was completely uninterested in nursing (even though I encouraged it in an effort to get her feeling better). My milk supply was dwindling at this point (also normal during pregnancy) and I don’t think she found much comfort in trying to nurse through a stuffy nose without getting much payoff.

After getting better, she was pretty much back to normal with nursing, but asking less often than before. I distinctly remember being about 13-14 weeks pregnant (I’m now 17) and sitting down to nurse and actually enjoying it for the first time in a while. We played and she nursed for a few minutes, then were done. I was really happy that we finally got back to the point where I wasn’t feeling like I had to distract myself to get through it. It had become the beautiful thing it was supposed to be again.

That’s the last time we really nursed. She’s asked for it a couple of times, but she doesn’t seem to understand how to nurse anymore. Her mouth just isn’t making the right movements. I remember Peanut doing the same thing when she tried to nurse once a month or two after she had stopped. I even asked her if she wanted to nurse once because I was getting this feeling almost like I had milk in a breast (which I now think was just growth because of pregnancy) and the same thing happened. Now she asks to nurse every week or two, but she will sit there for a second and then let go.

I’m not sure if we’re 100% done because who knows what will happen once the baby is born and my milk comes back, but I think we’re done. I’m not sure how we’d get back to her remembering how to do it. Honestly, while I’m feeling pretty sad about being done (I was hoping to go longer than 2 years, even though that is always my minimum goal), I don’t think I’ll encourage her learning again either. It was a lovely part of our life, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s part of the dynamic anymore. And that’s okay, it’s the natural progression of a child growing. Just another sign that my toddler is becoming a big girl.

I’m Forever Theirs

I write this as I watch Peanut at her preschool through the one-way glass. Yes, I should probably be doing homework instead of staring at my child, but I just don’t want to. You see, she’s pretty frickin’ awesome.

Really, parenting is just great.
I spend a lot of time on this blog logging my complains, contemplations, and struggles. And yes, there are certainly a lot of those. Life as a parent of two little people (and soon to be three!) is so difficult at times that I want to lock myself in the closet. Being frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed is a regular part of the life of a parent, but it’s only part.
Occasionally I feel the need to reiterate this. Maybe just to keep the record of our lives via the internet evened out or maybe just because of hormonal bursts of love I feel for my children. Whatever it is, this amazing part of parenthood is not only the reason we all continue to survive as a species (if it were all bad, no one would reproduce!), but the reason I live.
These two little girls make my heart sing. They are my biggest accomplishment in life and the best thing about it. Watching them accomplish new things makes me swell with pride, watching them struggle makes me want to hurt things, watching them love each other makes me realize this is what I was put on this earth to do. They are my babies and I love them more than I could ever have imagined I could.
They are mine and I am overcome with happiness for I am forever theirs.

Changing my Stance on Vaccines

First off, I’d like to say that I still believe that it’s every parent’s right to choose how they parent. This post isn’t meant to tell anyone that they’re wrong or a bad parent because they don’t believe with me 100%. Of course this is the case with all my posts, but I feel the need to state it right in the beginning of this one because I know this is such a touchy subject. People have very strong opinions on either side of the argument and that leads to some very heated discussions. I’m not saying these things to turn into an argument, but rather to show other parents that we can change our minds. We can admit when we’re wrong and go another direction and in this case, I am admitting that I was wrong. Here’s another article that my husband recently shared with me that has a similar theme.

My vaccine journey, of course, started when Peanut was very young. I knew a little about vaccines, but not much, when she was born. I knew I wanted to wait on the Hepatitis B vaccine, though she ended up getting it at 2 weeks because of a miscommunication between myself and my husband. After researching and reading The Vaccine Book (still a great read that I would recommend), I decided that she would still get all of her infant vaccines, but she would go in every month to get them and do 3 at a time instead of every other month and 6 at a time. It just made sense to me to still get this protection, but have less of an overload on her system at once.

Then as she got older, I started to question some of the live inactive vaccines they are supposed to get at one year. I was initially planning on getting the MMR in three separate vaccines, but it was take off the market as separate vaccines before she was old enough to get it. I also questioned chicken pox, as many parents who are my age or older do, because I had the illness as a child and it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I also decided not to do Hepatitis A because of the minute risk of seizure for children under 2. So she didn’t get any vaccines at one year. She did get her boosters for the other vaccines we had already started for 15 months.

This is about the time when I really started to get “crunchy.” Of course, I don’t consider being crunchy a bad thing whatsoever. I still completely believe in questioning the system, avoiding chemicals, and so many other parts of living a more natural life. Anyway, I started talking to these moms I now surrounded myself with and found that many of them did not vaccinate at all. This made me question vaccines myself. I became even more questioning when I read some obscure article stating there could be a link between peanut allergies and vaccines. By the time that Twig was born, I was completely anti-vaccine.

Now we fast forward to a few months ago. As many of you may know, I’m a biology teaching major. Last semester I took microbiology. This course was something I was not excited to take and therefore I put it off until almost the very end of my degree. Turns out I love it. Microbiology is fascinating to me and has actually solidified many of my crunchy ideals (e.g. fermentation and the health of gut microflora), but the one thing it directly clashed with is vaccines. We had a whole lecture series on vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases. Initially I felt like I was the person sitting bright cheeked in the second row (embarrassment), but that quickly turned into bright cheeked in the second row from anger. How dare my professor (and a guest professor) tell me I was wrong about vaccines? Then what they were saying started to make sense.

I’ll be the first to admit that they were both very passionately pro-vaccine. That’s not what got me though, it was the facts. So many of the things that they said made so much sense to me scientifically. For the longest time I had been simply ignoring the arguments from the crunchy folks that didn’t mesh with what I know about science, but all of this brought it to light in one foul swoop.

Many say that vaccines weren’t what brought down illness, but sanitation. My professors presented multiple charts to me showing that simply wasn’t the case. Many argued that vaccines just don’t work. Well here’ the mechanism that shows that they do work and it makes absolute sense from everything I know about biology and human physiology (which I’d venture to say it quite a bit at this point). Many say that they simply are too unsafe for the small risk that these relatively harmless diseases present or incredibly rare diseases present. Yes, there have been 5 cases of diphtheria in the US in the last 10 years, but do you know what that disease does? It basically chokes you to death. And it’s all one radical terrorist with the wrong connections away from running rampant in our country again.

So this all got me thinking. I understand the science behind vaccines, I understand the logic of getting them. From here, we decided to have a talk with our doctor. I had always planned on vaccinating Twig at some point, but I had no idea when. All I knew is that I didn’t want to bring so many foreign things into her body (especially anything that could risk her having a peanut allergy like big sis) at such a young age. Well all this thinking made me realize that now was the time and I wanted to discuss with our trusted pediatrician (Seriously, we have the best pediatrician in the whole world and I wish she could be my doctor. When we brought Peanut in with eczema, do you know what she told us to put on it? Coconut oil!) to decide which ones were important for her to get. During our discussion, she told me point blank that the whole peanut oil in vaccines thing was completely off base. I knew it probably was just some crackpot theory, but this solidified it. So we discussed which vaccines were the most important for her to get and I went home to plan out a schedule.

I decided she would for sure get polio (my husband has a co-worker who is from India and this series made me realize how close polio really is), HiB, and PC. I was unsure on DTaP because I’m fairly sure she’s already been exposed (my husband and Peanut both had it June before last) and received enough protection from my breast milk to avoid getting sick while producing her own antibodies. We would wait on all of the others and probably not get the flu vaccine at all.

Then the unthinkable happened to a friend–her baby died of the flu. I was so convinced that this just didn’t happen based on what I had read in The Vaccine Book and elsewhere. The flu isn’t that bad! We all make a big fuss about nothing! It’s mostly the elderly that die and even then, it’s reported the same way as pneumonia so we can’t really say a specific number! But it does happen and I saw it with my own eyes. I’m ashamed that it took seeing an innocent life taken for me to understand the true importance of herd immunity. Herd immunity may not be perfect, but it’s real. And if someone wouldn’t have exposed that poor baby to the flu because that (likely) healthy adult had good immunity, she would be alive today. I’m not saying this just for fear mongering, but because we need to know that these illnesses that can be prevented with vaccines really do kill. And if we all vaccinate we can help protect those who can not.

So here I am. I’m not completely sure where we’re going from here, but I know we’re going to vaccinate. I’m not sure when and if all, but I’m leaning towards all of them. And this goes for myself too. I can’t believe I’ve been saying no to the flu vaccine every year when I’m asthmatic and highly susceptible to pneumonia. I’m a scientist at heart and it just makes sense to me from that perspective. I feel like so much of the anti-vaccine arguments aren’t based in science. Anyway, this has been kind of a mash of all of the things going on in my head, so I’m sorry if it doesn’t make sense. For anyone out there who is crunchy and contemplating doing vaccines, know you’re not alone. There’s a whole horde of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, babywearing, gentle disciplining moms who also choose to vaccinate their children.

Peanut’s New Car Seat (or Lack Thereof)

I was not paid in any way, shape, or form for this post. I was not given product for this post. This is all of my own accord and for your information. :-)

In this semester, I’m in a lab twice a week. The problem with this (besides long days) is that I have to pick up Peanut before 1:30 (or pay another $200 to up her hours for hours I technically don’t need). Since my in-laws are awesome they offered to pick her up on those days. They were going to buy a booster seat to take her home in so it would be easy to take in and out of the car.

Problem is that I didn’t really want her in a booster seat yet. She was currently in a harness and I didn’t want to rush moving to a seatbelt before we needed to. Here are some reasons for extended harnessing. My biggest concern was that I didn’t think she was mature enough to understand that she can’t wiggle all over (something that I feel is confirmed now that she has a bit more freedom).

So I started looking for other options for seats that could be easier to get in and out of the car. Sadly, there aren’t many. I was about to admit defeat (or offer to install the seat every time myself) and when I stumbled upon the RideSafer Vehicle Safety Vest. I was initially cautious. Could this possibly be safe? Yes. Is it legal? In my state at least. Will this really work for us?

Well that last one I couldn’t answer without buying it. It just sounded too good to pass up, even at it’s relatively high price point (we paid $115 on Amazon for ours). This could be her safety device for all cars for quite some time (there is a bigger size that she’ll need later on, but we figure that Twig can use it by that point). And it’s so light and easy. So we bought it.

Well, it’s been a month now. And how are we liking it? We love it! It’s super easy to put on (just make sure to tug it down after so the bottom belt is positioned right). Peanut loves it (she feels like such a big girl!) and she says it’s comfortable. I always feel like she’s in right and I know she’s just as protected (if not more so because of the lower center of gravity) as a harness seat.

There are a couple of “downsides” though I think that’s too harsh of a term. More like things we have to get used to. Biggest one is that she doesn’t have sides! So when she falls asleep in the car (which isn’t super frequent, but does happen) we need to put a blanket next to her head to keep her upright. Otherwise she ends up falling kind of sideways. Second, she does have a bit more freedom than in a harness seat. Since the seatbelt is still moveable, she can lean forward a bit. I’ve had to tell her about how she can’t do that because it’s not safe. Just makes me even more sure that, while she did meet the requirements for going into a booster physically, she wasn’t there mentally.

Some upsides? First off, it’s so light! I could literally stick this in her backpack next year if someone else is picking her up at school. It wouldn’t even take all the room! And it’s easy enough to get right that I never feel concerned that other people won’t understand (once I’ve made them read the manual). Second, it really came in handy when she was sick and wanted me to sit next to her in the back. I was able to put my arm around her and comfort her. Which brings me to benefit three, we can fit three in the back! It was kind of possible with her other seat, but it was difficult. If you’re looking to fit three across in a smaller car, I’d definitely consider this seat.

So, this is Peanut’s new car seat. It’s working great and I’m really happy we got it. I’m happy this option is available now. This company is brilliant for coming up with it! If you’re looking for an option for car pool or even just your older kid who needs a seat, definitely check them out.

A New Version of Co-sleeping

For those of you with an eagle eye, you may have noticed that the last photo in Twig’s birthday post was the girls in their very own bed. I’ll go ahead and post it here too because it’s just ridiculously cute.

 

A few weeks ago, we bought a full sized mattress and put both girls in it to sleep at night and it’s been wonderful! We had a hunch that Peanut would sleep much better if Twig was in the bed with her. My husband has been sleeping in Peanut’s room most nights because she would wake up and come downstairs to him (he’s a night owl, so he’s up quite late) and he’d come to lay down with her and fall asleep. We were slowly working on her sleeping on her own (mostly because his back hurt from being squished on a twin mattress with her), but it wasn’t making much progress. So we decided to take a different route. Twig had recently night weaned (following Dr. Jay Gordon’s method again and it was quick and successful) so we decided to try it out.

First off, if you have a second child you know how much they love doing things just like their big brother/sister. So when we asked Twig if she wanted to sleep in Peanut’s bed, she was ecstatic. They were actually both so excited that we let them sleep in the twin mattress for a night or two because we hadn’t bought the full mattress yet. The first couple of nights Twig woke up after a few hours and came back into the bed with me, but I expected that. Peanut did that for a long time the first time she moved into her own bed.

Over the course of a couple of weeks though, she slowly stopped coming into our bed! For the last week she’s been sleeping completely through the night in the bed with big sister. We often put them to bed separately and then I move Twig into their bed because she gets distracted and takes a long time falling to sleep with Peanut, but I don’t mind. They also have been waking up at 6am (sometimes earlier!) which we need to work on, but have just been putting them down earlier to account for it. All in all, it’s been a smooth transition! And my husband is in the bed with me again! Yay co-sleeping!