Whatever happened with our nap training? (Success!)

I realized today that I forgot to update on our nap training process after day 1. Just 3 days later, we had a nap-trained toddler. All the process involved was consistency and sticking to my guns and not giving in for anything.

On day 2, she cried at the door of her bedroom for 10 minutes and then willingly came to bed where I read her one book. She fell asleep within another 10 minutes.

On day 3 she started out agreeable. Without tears, she laid down with me and tried to get comfy. I read her a book. She wanted another one, but I’ve set a one-book limit for nap times (consistency and sticking to your guns!). She tried singing to herself instead. Eventually she got frustrated at the fact that she hadn’t fallen asleep yet. She started to get irate. She got up and ran to her door, crying. I dragged her back to her bed and she tantrumed. She fell asleep on her floor as she was slithering out of bed, trying to escape. There she stayed.

Day 4 was my birthday, and nap time was her birthday gift to me. She came to bed with me, whimpered to herself momentarily, but then laid down and fell asleep while I recited the alphabet at her request (her version of counting sheep, I guess…). She was asleep – and I was back downstairs drinking birthday wine – within 15 minutes.

On day 5 she agreeably came to bed, flipped and flopped around for 10 minutes and sang every song she could think of, and then before I knew it she was snoring.

Every day since then has been equally successful.

This short and sweet success story comes from a kid who only ever nursed to sleep, or fell asleep in a moving stroller or car. She was impossible to transfer, so falling asleep in the car meant keeping her in the car, and falling asleep nursing meant keeping her on the boob! Impractical. After weaning, we went through a rough patch for a couple of weeks where trying to get her to nap in bed without nursing resulted in two hour tantrums and NO SLEEP. I resorted to driving her around, but she then started a power struggle with me and wouldn’t get in the stroller or car when she knew it was naptime. I needed to put my foot down, lay down the law, and get us into a lasting routine.

She did try a few tricky tactics to get out of nap time while we developed our new routine. If she asks for tv, toys, or even more books, I’m firm in my “no.” But she then tried telling me she’s hungry, which tugs at my heart strings because obviously you don’t want to send your child to sleep hungry. But she naps right after lunch, so I just have to remind myself that she just had a big meal and she’s just trying to trick me. The other request that got me this week was when she started pulling down her pants and asking to go to the potty. We’ve just had our first couple of successes with the potty and I didn’t want to confuse her by saying “no potty, go in your diaper instead,” but luckily I was able to think fast and instruct her that she can use her diaper when she’s sleeping, either at nap time or through the night. She’s trying to outsmart me already…

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My niece was born! So many thoughts on gender…

My sister-in-law wanted to be surprised by the sex of both of her kids. This morning (a day after my birthday!), she gave birth to a baby girl. She is a gem. Avery and I will probably meet her on Sunday, but my wife is heading to the hospital now. She was born in a flash, as second babies sometimes are.

My sister-in-law and her husband were both really hoping for a girl. I had hoped Avery would be a girl, too, but I had some mixed feelings over having a gender preference, given my understanding of the made-up and sometimes harmful construct that is gender. And now that our new family member is a niece and not a nephew, I find myself worrying about the gender glove she’s going to be expected to perfectly fit. I certainly worry about our nephew’s socialization into toxic masculinity (the world is so hard on men, despite their overall privilege over women).

The gender of this baby has been at the crux of many decisions leading up to her birth. Often it’s around clothing – too bad they can’t reuse any of the baby clothes they already have 🙄 (rolling my eyes at society). The kids have also been already deemed appropriate playmates or not based on the then-unknown gender of the new baby. A boy would have the same interests, would play with the same toys, and would be able to physically match his older brother in boisterous play. A girl would need more of her mother’s companionship when playing, would be of less interest to her brother, would need all new toys, and although this wasn’t discussed, I’m pretty sure she’ll be sheltered from any boisterous play.

These maybe aren’t things that will cause my new niece to have any less of a great life. She may fit that gender stereotype like a glove and be perfectly content in the roles given to her. But she might not. I guess the consolation is that she has two gay aunts with a huge range of stereotypically masculine and feminine traits and interests, and a cousin raised to outsmart gender stereotypes, whom she can turn to if she needs a break from the binary.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have a new baby in the family, regardless of their gender. It’s just hard to be immersed in the world of gender stereotype research in academia, and watch kids being raised in a world so oppressive around gender.

First night away

It’s been a month shy of 2 years, and I’m finally taking a night away from my baby. I’m visiting a friend 3 hours from home, and my wife took Avery to the cottage 2 hours in the other direction, so we’re 5 hours away from each other right now. I definitely miss her, and I’m wearing her little costume jewelry bracelet that she put on me before I left because it makes me feel closer to her, but I haven’t cried and I’m really excited to sleep tonight. I’m going to sleep all night long, and hopefully not wake up till 9am.

And that concludes my super short post, because seriously, I’m now going to sleep for a long, long time.

“Avery no baby!”

We’ve started talking to Avery about maybe making her a baby sister or brother to see how she reacts (although realistically it’ll be a year before she actually GETS a sibling). I asked her if she wanted a baby.

Poor choice of words.

She adamantly shouted, “no baby! No baby, mommy!”

I asked her why not, and she said “Avery no baby. Avery big kid.”

Ooooh. Yeah, she’s sensitive about being called a baby right now 😂

So I rephrased the question. “What do you think about our family growing so that it’s mommy, mo, Avery, and a NEW baby?”

“New baby! Yeah, new baby.” And then she gave me a huge hug and a kiss. Heartmelting.

We’ve brought it up a couple of times now and she, SO FAR, has always seemed on board. My sister-in-law is due with her second in a couple of weeks and I’m interested to see what Avery will think of them, and I also want Avery to watch our nephew and his new baby sibling interact (as much as a newborn can interact…) so she can start to comprehend what “sibling” is.

In other news, I’m kicking myself for purging all of our TTC stuff… I had a massive bag of syringes that I had ordered from China and an equally massive bag of cheapie OPKs, and back when I was 99.9% sure we were one-and-done, I threw them away. I was tired of them cluttering up my closet. Now I’ll have to source all of that again. I also ALMOST gave away all of my maternity clothes, but luckily I had been too lazy to dig them out of our crawl space.

At the start of my next cycle my wife wants me to start taking my morning temperatures again to track ovulation. That was the most reliable method we found for getting AI timing just right. I recall that you’re supposed to set an alarm at a consistent early morning hour every day so that you get your temp reading immediately upon waking (before getting out of bed or otherwise moving a muscle). Currently, my toddler wakes me around 5am with a blood curdling scream (she then calms down and goes back to sleep when I go to her room and cuddle with her). So, I guess I’m supposed to take my temp at 4:55am? Yeah, right. Not gonna happen. I’ll do the best I can do, and maybe during the month we’re actually TTC I’ll take it more seriously.

I’m happy with how on board my wife is this time. Last time I felt slightly embarrassed by my planning and cycle tracking and more planning… I had to explain why I needed to buy a giant pack of these OPKs from China and she didn’t really get it or appreciate that they really were necessary. Same goes for taking my temp – she thought I was nuts. But now she has seen what it takes to get pregnant with as little wasted efforts as possible and this time SHE’S pushing ME. It’s nice.

New plan for making baby #2

We had been talking about doing reciprocal IVF for baby #2, and starting the process at least a year from now so I could have some employment under my belt.

Well, we did the math and realized that our kids would be at least 4 years apart doing it that way, and we both wanted our kids to be 3 years apart. I guess we just glazed over that fact before…

Also, my wife decided that having her genes in our next child wasn’t important enough to be worth the expense and the intrusiveness of the IVF procedures.

So, our new plan is to make baby #2 the same way we made baby #1: at home AI using our known donor. And the timeline has moved up to start ttc sometime around this December.

So I’m enjoying my alcoholic beverages a little extra right now and we’re working on a to-do list of things we want to get done before we add a new baby to our family (things like purge and clean our shed, paint a few rooms in our house, spend a night away together without our baby #1…).

Of course these plans are always subject to change as we continue to discuss what life would look like with a second baby and still only one employed parent… But this is our new plan, and I’m getting excited about it.

We’re old pro’s at sleep

Sleep has been as good as I could have hoped for from an almost-2-year-old toddler, despite the fact that we’re going through another sleep regression. Its been a long time since our last regression, and I think this, the 2 year regression, is the last one to expect! It’s funny to contemplate how chilled out I am about a sleep regression now, considering how anxious and upset I would get over the early ones in her first year.

When we were in the throes of terrible infant and baby sleep, I used to tell myself that I could survive until she was 2 1/2, if that’s how long it took for her to sleep through the night. Although she doesn’t consistently sleep through the night – and this week has been waking every 2 hours again – we get a LOT more sleep than we used to. And bedtime is a relaxing thing now, where we lay with her and read books, and stay with her while she falls asleep. It takes 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the length of the books she picks (she gets 5 books), and how wired she is from the day.

Speaking of laying with your toddler while they fall asleep, I’ve noticed a difference in acceptable sleep-aiding behaviour for toddlers than what was considered acceptable for babies. Why was I told by society-at-large (and family and friends) that I was creating bad habits by sleeping next to by baby, by nursing her to sleep, by rocking her to sleep and then laying her down in her crib… But now, by lying with her as she falls asleep in her bed, I’m just working with her toddler needs? It seems that everyone in my social circle lays with their young children while they fall asleep, and it’s considered to be just the way it is at bedtime for toddlers.

Is it because the parents who had challenging baby-sleepers took a couple of years to stop fighting and give in to what their kids were asking for? Or is it because even babies who slept well on their own grew into toddlers who wanted extra comfort and connection at bedtime?

Regardless, sleep, in all its stages from good to challenging, is something I feel like we finally have down pat. We’re old pro’s.

A week after weaning: tantrum city

Ugh. This week has been a ride. Weaning has hit me kind of hard emotionally, and even though I know that I was ready and I know Avery’s going to be just fine, it’s hard not to be filled with regrets when naptimes become a 2 hour long tantrum with absolutely zero sleep resulting in an extra tired and clingy toddler.

She can open her bedroom door, now, so even though I try to follow regular routine and lay down with her in her dark room, read a book, and spoon her to sleep, she jumps up and runs to the door screaming as soon as I say there’s no more milk. She busts out of the room (so it’s no longer dark) and rattles the baby gate at the top of the stairs aggressively, screaming to go downstairs. She even slams her door shut behind her, closing me in there. She won’t let me near her. I let it go for 2 hours, two days in a row, while I patiently waited in her bed for her to change her mind. When she finally stopped screaming and exhaustedly just sat in the hallway holding the baby-gate bars, I caved and said we had finished nap time, even though she didn’t use it to sleep, and we could go downstairs. After those two days from hell, I started taking her for drives in the car for naps. Not environmentally sustainable. Not sure where to go from here, so we’re taking it one day at a time with no long-term plan.

In my frustrated haze, I miss how peaceful and easy it was to lay down, have her lovingly snuggle into me, and nourish herself for a few minutes before falling into a deep sleep that lasted anywhere from 2-3 hours. But I have to consciously remind myself that sometimes she’d need to be attached to me for all 3 hours, and she’d bite me, and there was no milk left after the first few minutes anyway…

To add insult to injury for poor Avery, she had a stomach virus this week. What we thought was a one-time barf at the cottage last weekend turned into ocassional vomiting in the evenings, no appetite, and 4 missed daycare days this week (other kids at daycare had it, too, of course). It was a relatively mild virus, but the vomiting and no appetite made me feel guilty about weaning, too.

Avery’s temperament is obviously affected by the change – increased tantrums, followed by intense clingy sessions. This morning, when I told her it was time to leave the park, she had a tantrum that lasted most of the horribly awkward walk home. I couldn’t get her strapped into the stroller, and had to hold her with one arm (a writhing, 30 pound, almost-2-year-old is HARD TO CARRY) and push/drag our stroller with the other. A walk that should have taken 5 minutes took 30 minutes. But right before we got home she stopped, pushed her cheek against mine, clung to my neck, and said “sorry.” She’s such a good kid dealing with overpowering emotions.

I don’t know how much of the mood change is caused by being cut-off from nursing, and how much is from the resultant loss of sleep, or from being sick, or from her general age and stage in life. Bad combination of events.

Regardless, there’s no turning back, now. Her and I will both have to deal with the emotions as they come at us, and hopefully we’ll level out and be content with our new relationship soon…