Glory day. After eleven months and change, Oscar is finally through with night-time feedings. I feel fairly confident in this declaration because he’s gone two weeks now—ten nights where he slept all the way through, five nights where he woke up around 2 AM for a diaper change and went right back to sleep.
Am I glad? Boy howdy! Sleeping through the night? What a revelation! I don’t think I’ve done it since before we got pregnant. Whereas I had been going to bed at 7 PM some nights (truth), I’m now staying up as late as *gasp* 9 PM! Like a grown-up! I even wake up in the morning before my alarm goes off. I’m writing regularly again. I’m thrilled.
And also, there’s this heartache. My sweet little boy is growing up at an exponential rate. Already he pushes his way out of hugs and kisses. He’s got places to go, things to put in his mouth. He’s going to be walking any day now, and it’s freaking me out because then he’ll technically be toddler. Not a baby. I’m so not ready for him not to be a baby.
My own mama drama aside, I think his sleeping through the night arose from a few supporting causes. The first is purely developmental—he’s much more physically active during the day and is eating a lot more solid foods. Second, for the past month or so when he woke up at night, I consistently would first try to soothe him back to sleep without breastfeeding. It didn’t always work, sometimes I still ended up feeding him, but he started to get used to the idea of not snacking every time he woke up.
The third factor, and the one that seemed to tip the scale, was a little more surprising. I’d been having some frustration with Oscar at dinnertime. More and more he would throw food rather than eat it, try to give it to the dogs, and fuss a good deal, the latter being pretty unusual for him and the most vexing part for me. Evenings are pretty tight during the week because as soon as Oscar and I walk in the door, the dogs need to be taken out and fed, Oscar needs to be fed, I have to get food on the table for me and Damon, and everything has to happen now. This mêlée was somewhat relieved when I started doing my next-day food prep after Oscar’s bed time, so dinner is now mostly done when we get home (more on that soon). It also helps that Oscar is happiest eating what Damon and I are eating.
After one manic evening wherein the dogs were driving me nuts and Oscar was acting like a pink, dimpled baby-Hulk, I put Oscar to bed, poured myself a (big) glass of wine, and reminded myself to breathe. I reminded myself that during the time I’ve known Oscar, he has never fussed or acted out without reason. If I quiet myself and try to listen to what he can’t yet say with words, I can hear what’s going on.
I sipped. I breathed. I waited. And there it was. I heard him loud and clear.
The next day I changed my strategy. When I got home, I let Oscar play as long as he would while I took care of the dogs and prepped his and our dinner. When he was ready for my attention (i.e. when he had reacquainted himself with/put into his mouth all his toys and/or the measuring spoons and/or the impossible lint under the edge of the cabinets that I can never seem to prevent), I scooped him up and bibbed him; and rather than distractedly foisting food in front of him while I continued to scurry about, I stopped. I sat with him. If my dinner was ready, I would eat with him. If it wasn’t ready, it would wait. I talked with him, played our special little just-us games, sang with him. To sum up, I gave him my undivided attention. And, to be fair, he gave me his, too.
The result? Nary a fuss, he ate twice as much as usual, we both laughed a lot. And even though I hadn’t gotten as much done, I was happier, too. Afterward, he was content to play on his own a little while I tidied up. Then he pulled himself to his feet, reached up for me, and we cuddled and nursed on the couch. We played a little more, read a book or two, and I tucked him in for the night. That night, he slept twelve hours straight. The next morning, he woke himself up chattering away and laughing. That’s how the past two weeks have been.
So, note to self: Remember to breathe. Listen. The kiddo knows what he needs. And it might just be what I need, too.
I’d love to hear about some of your AHA!-moments? Any tips, tricks, breakthroughs, or 20/20 hindsights from the parenting front lines?