Thursday, April 22, 2010

Various Parenting Issues

It's been a while since my last post, and that's because 3 kids keep me jumpin'!
First of all, we are having sleep issues. M has entered the terrible twos and is now throwing fits at bedtime, just because. She is also up frequently in the night now, and I'm suspecting nightmares because she will scream violently, but when I go in there she is often not actually awake. I have been told that nightmares are a sign that she has reached a certain level of awareness now, and that it is a sign of maturity. That's great, but couldn't we have a different sign, please? These things are awful. R had them, too.

M doesn't speak well and we are encountering massive frustration (on her part even more than on mine) because she now wants to communicate and doesn't have the vocabulary. She adds new words every day and makes cute little verb-less sentences, but she doesn't use any ending consonants and is difficult to understand. I've pulled out my baby signs book and am hoping to give her some relief by teaching her a few basic signs. I think she's a good candidate for signs because she was never a chatty baby. She never cooed, and never giggled (she could, there was just nothing she felt like giggling about), and never did that baby "babble".  R, on the other hand, started cooing at 5 1/2 weeks old, and has not quit using her voice since. At almost four years old, she speaks like an adult.

E and I are having our own troubles with sleep and feedings. I suspect that the sleep troubles stem from the feeding troubles. E has slept six hours exactly once in his five months of life, occasionally four hours, but he's still waking up about every two hours. I think this is because he has a poor latch when he's nursing. E has been a terrible challenge to breastfeed. For one thing, he is so long and heavy. When I'm trying to feed him in the cradle hold, over half of his torso and all of his legs hang off my lap, and it is difficult for me to keep his head in the right place. For another thing, he is short tempered. If he gets very hungry, he gets so mad that he cannot latch on well. When the milk doesn't come out easily, he gets even angrier. I have a good milk supply and a strong let-down reflex, so he generally gets the fore-milk easily, despite his poor latch. Then when he isn't sucking correctly, he doesn't get a lot out, so he lets go and cries. Then he tries to re-latch and does it incorrectly, doesn't get much, lets go and cries. Then he starts to panic that he's going to starve to death. When he gets this way, I generally have to let him get the foremilk, stop and burp him (he always throws up after this kind of feeding), wait until his is calm (about 30 minutes), then try again. This has worked for us pretty well. I can usually get him to latch well if he is calm, and then he can go about three-four hours between feedings. But at night he hasn't been going that long.

His poor latch may be due to the fact that, in my ignorance, I gave him a pacifier as a newborn. Honestly, until this baby, I never believed that nipple confusion was real, because both of my girls never had any problems with it. They rarely took a pacifier, and both could go from bottle to breast easily. In fact, I gave R formula for the first week of her life because I was taking antibiotics that upset her stomach, so I pumped and dumped (I would have done things differently if faced with the same situation now). And yet when I started nursing, she took right to it without the slightest trouble. Not so with E. Because I don't want any formula going in E's body, I express milk for visitation with their dad, and I've discovered that E is terrible with the bottle. He chokes and spits up and a lot of the milk dribbles out the side of his mouth. He wants the pacifier all the time and is quite dependent on it to sleep. He just needs to suck all the time, more than either of the girls did. I think we would have done better if I had never given him the pacifier, though. Although, I must say that part of the reason he got the pacifier in the first place is the assumption by ever modern US adult that all babies need a paci, and someone was always giving him one without asking me. Then when E took it, I started giving it to him all the time, too. I wonder why people in the US think nothing of giving formula or pacifiers, which are both breast imitations, but get squeamish about the real thing. * Since when is an man-made imitation EVER as good as what God made? But I digress....I guess nipple confusion is not a blanket problem for all: some babies adjust easily, and some do not. Oh, well. I can't go back and change it now. He'll be starting solids soon and then he should start sleeping longer. Of course, solids will start a whole other set of issues!

*This reminds me, I saw a commercial for an infant formula, filled with fanfare that this latest formula contained probiotics, the good bacteria, "like those found in breastmilk". All that I can think of is the millions of babies before the creation of this formula who missed out on these beneficial bacteria, but whose mothers were still told at the time that formula was "just as good" as breastmilk, or that they "contained all the nutrients" of breastmilk. The very addition of these probiotics is itself an admition that every formula previously was inferior to breastmilk and did NOT contain all the nutrients of breastmilk. Hhhhmmm, I have a lot to say on this subject. Look for a post on this soon!