Sunday, April 15, 2012

March: In like a Lion, Out like a Lion

March was a whirlwind with lots of milestones and many challenges, evidenced by the fact that I am posting about it in the middle of April...

The challenges:
  • In the second week, my milk started decreasing more and more each day, and Gavin (14 months at the time) eventually decided it wasn't worth it, and on his lead we dropped that final nursing session (which had been first thing in the morning). However, even though it was led by him, I can't help but think that in some ways, he may not have been emotionally ready. The day after he weaned himself is when the nap problems (below) really escalated and also started affecting bed time. Poor guy. It's tough to be a baby/toddler!
  • The sleep problems actually started when he was 13 months (February) with the throwing of the pacifier (and the subsequent crying due to no longer having the pacifier) and escalated to fussing through entire nap times and then finally morphed into crying as soon as mommy left the room for nap time or bed time (that was a special trick reserved for mommy -- not daddy, aunts or grandmas). It was enough to make me batty!! Especially since we thought we had taught him to fall asleep on his own pretty well. There haven't been many things on this parenting journey so far -- with the exception of him refusing to nurse at 5-6 months due to acid reflux -- that have made me feel so helpless, so distraught and so angry. Not at him necessarily, just angry about the helpless feeling and whole situation in general.
  • At the end of March, we made a trip to the ER and were admitted to the PICU for two nights when Gavin got a cold that settled in his lungs causing wheezing, retracting and even a tiny part of his lung to collapse. We had seen the pediatrician earlier that day, but despite the treatments she gave us to do at home, it kept getting worse and worse. I am so thankful for the quality care we received from her and at the hospital. As often happens when we are in situations like this, my heart goes out and my prayers go up for those moms and dads caring for children with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
The resolutions:
  • Weaning: Once Gavin was still going strong with nursing at a year, I thought he might want to continue until he was 18 months, which I read is when most babies start to "self-wean." I was surprised that he wanted to stop at 14.5 months, but I was fine with it. I was relieved that it was directed by him and that I did not get any plugged ducts due to the weaning.
  • Sleeping: I couldn't be more serious when I say praise the Lord that the sleep problems seems to turning into sleep successes! Laying him down for naps is almost always a non-issue, though the naps remain shorter than they are for most kids his age. He is waking less at night (zero times last night, once the night before) and sleeping later without coaxing. This was a hard, hard challenge that I am not ready to write about in full detail. According to what I found in my research, a lot of kids have sleep problems that crop up at 13 months and then resolve themselves at 14 months. However, his sleep problems didn't resolve themselves. I practically got a degree in "baby sleep" by reading, researching and talking to other moms. Josh and I both worked very hard to implement what we felt were the right solutions. A trusted friend who is busy with four kids of her own took the time to coach me through it, and I am so thankful. And though there was the hard work and the friends and the theories -- all so important -- in the end, it was so plain to me that it was God's mercy that finally made things click. It wasn't so much that we had the magic formula. It was that God showered his grace on our desperate and clumsy requests for help. He is so good. And when we had our first breakthrough (much sooner than predicted), I couldn't stop thinking of the word "mercy." I found Psalm 28:6-9 and kept reading it and thanking Him. It says, "Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever."
  • Breathing (and sleeping): Again, I am praising the Lord that in the two weeks since we took Gavin off of his at-home breathing treatments (at doctor's direction), we've only needed to use them one time. One thing we are in the middle of testing right now is whether he is sensitive to milk. If he is, that might be contributing to his breathing problems. A different trusted friend mentioned Gavin's breathing problems to her doctor (D.C., A.C.N.), who suggested that dairy might be the culprit. He said that kids sometimes can have chronic breathing problems and ear infections if they are sensitive to milk. My husband wanted to talk with Gavin's pediatrician (M.D.) before we went completely off of milk (though we did start mixing half dairy milk and half almond milk to get him used to the taste, just in case). During Gavin's 15-month check-up a few days later, the doctor actually brought up the possibility of a milk sensitivity before we had a chance to. We told him that we were wondering the same thing, and he encouraged us to take him off of it and see what happened. I told him that we had been mixing half and half, and that it seemed to be helping and that Gavin even seemed to be sleeping better at night. The doctor agreed that better sleeping could be because we reduced the amount of dairy milk we were giving him. He said it could have been waking him by messing with his digestion, his sinuses/allergies or even his neuro-receptors (he said that recent research had revealed that milk could mess with neurological function, but I didn't get any sources or anything). As I mentioned above, the nighttime sleep is dramatically better. Before I might have had to get up two or three times in the middle of the night to give him his pacifier. Then around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., he would stir and need me every 20-40 minutes, until 7. Lately, there have been zero to one night wakings and very few early mornings. Thank you, Lord!!! Of course, with our sample size of one, I can't say if it's due to switching the milk, that he grew out of it, or something else. But for now, we are keeping him off of dairy milk and turning thankful hearts toward the Lord. Oh, and I am also getting yet another degree (Master's level) in "how to make sure baby gets enough calcium, fat, vitamin D and protein when he is not drinking milk." Actually our pediatrician didn't seem concerned. He said a healthy diet, a good multi-vitamin and soy or almond milk should be sufficient, but of course, I had already begun studying like mad before we met with him about it -- a fact that anyone interested in the topic will benefit from in a blog post that will be coming soon.
 The milestones:
  • First steps (March 5)
  • First tooth (mid-March)
  • Okay, so he is not ahead of his class when it comes to walking or toothing, but he is talking up a storm, which is SO much fun. He has too many words to list them all, but the cutest ones are:
    • Nose (very drawn out and nasal-sounding while he points to your nose with this cute look on his face). Also, toes and teeth, though we sometimes have to remind him what teeth are called. He will point to them and then look at us like, "Ummm..." We will say it, and then he'll smile and say, "Deeth."
    • Mango (sounds like nngo) 
    • Home (sounds like Hum). Since he was tiny, I would say, "Here we are at home, honey," whenever we pulled into the driveway. About a week or so ago, he started saying "home" when we would pull into the driveway, but now he says it as we approach the house while still in the street. He has the most serene smile as he says it and makes eye contact with me through the mirror above his rear-facing car seat. Melts my heart.
  • We also joined a play group and a mommy-and-me class at The Little Gym. Not milestones, so much, but he is loving the interaction and fun, new activities.
We are humbled and thankful that God was with us as March was roared like a lion right to the very end and that he has been bringing resolution to so many things this month. We are blessed and humbled at the support, suggestions, empathy and prayers of countless family members and friends.

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