Saturday, January 8, 2011


For some reason I always thought that my child won't have sleeping problems. That with enough patience and calmness he will sleep through in no time. Well, reality has proven me wrong. But it also turns out that I have underestimated my sons capabilities.

I never cared much about Leanders sleeping habits before he had to go into surgery because i knew that would change his world upside down anyway and afterwards we would have to start all over again.
He hadn't been that bad anyway- with exceptions of some really bad growth spurts where he woke up every two hours. Apart from that he slept 4, 5 or 6 hours straight and wouldn't complain before 7 or 8ish in the morning which I found okay.
At some point I was hoping for him to sleep through but most importantly for him to be able to be taken to bed by his dad. I have no idea how it happened but at some point I realised that I was nursing him to sleep every night. One day I asked myself - how can I get that to stop? Ever? And again I said to my husband - after the operation we will work on all this.
Well, after the operation Leander needed time and then I found myself struggling and asking "isn't he too small for this transition?". I was insecure and couldn't stand him cry so how could I take those nightly nursing sessions and the nursing-to-sleep sessions from him ?

But there was another problem - all the nursing made him urinate a lot during the night and with cloth diapers we had to change him once, sometimes twice. In bad nights we had to change him completely because the diaper didn't hold it. I was annoyed because nursing was okay - he would just go back to sleep but the changing usually woke him up. I couldn't change him and then nurse either because he would scream his head off if he was changed hungry.
So we decided to "go in" and change those habits.

Leander has stubbornly refused the bottle since he was 3 months old so we did not really have the chance of my husband offering him tea instead of me breastfeeding him - just to make things harder. Anyway, we wanted to try, we made tea and filled it in the bottle and my husband was ready for a tough night with a screaming baby. Leander woke up as usual at midnight and my husband went in, changed him (which he just let happen) and put him back into his bed. A little bit of complaining but that was it. He didn't even want any tea, he played a little with the bottle so my husband took it away and told him to go back to sleep. And Leander slept.
We had decided on one feeding session per night just to make the transition smooth. So at 3 or 4 am I when he woke up again I fed him and he went back to sleep in no time. A few days later Leander slept reliably from 6.30pm until 4am, I fed him, changed him and put him back to sleep with no problem. He would then sleep until 7.30am. It turned out that we had underestimated our son completely. It was US that held us all from good nights sleep.

Unfortunately the next growth spurt combined with the new abilities of crawling and sitting up, the holidays with the grandparents visiting and us visiting the other grandparents destroyed all those sleeping habits and Leander was very unsettled at nights. We are now back to "normality", to our routine and Leander is getting used to being moving around the flat. Yesterday I had an appointment in the evening and I agreed with my husband that he should TRY and put Leander down for the night without me nursing him (after his portion of evening food anyway!). We were gonna "work on that" as soon as he would sleep better but this was a good occasion for a test run. At 7pm I got a message from y husband saying that Leander was asleep since 6.30pm.
Well I wasn't at home last night but today I was so we tried again with me being in the living room. I had also read in Janet Lansbury's latest blog post about sleeping that those transitions can be done within 2 or 3 days so I was gonna give him this time, plus I didn't really trust the success of this one night. But again - Leander never "asked" for me. It wasn't hunger that made him drink his additional portion of milk every evening, it was ME.
I am amazed, I have to admit I was a little sad that he would not "need me" and at the same time I felt bad for "forcing" him every night. Of course he would take it. When you are in a bar and at the end of the night the waiter offers you a glass of wine "on the house" you wouldn't refuse either would you ?

Phew I had thought about those transitions a lot and I was worried. And here is my advice: before thinking to much: try it!
I know it does not work that smoothly for everyone. But it's worth a try. Seems like our children are capable of much more than we think they are. Which is another great lesson I learned from my son. And which makes me respect him even more.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

FiNALLY CRAWLiNG - a lecture in patience

Just a couple of days before Christmas Leander has suddenly moved forwards. I had to watch him a while until he did it again. And again. And again. It was such a relief. For all of us.

I am not the most patient person in the world and my husband is neither. So you do the math on how much of patience our son has gained from both of us. And this is why the last few months have been quite tough for the Hilmar family. And a great lecture in patience.
When Leander was 6 months old I said to my husband "Won't be long until he's crawling. Look at his moves." Had I known by then how long it would still take I would have gone mad that moment.
Don't get me wrong. I was never one of those mothers desperate to have an early starter or worried he would be a bit behind in his development. And even if he would have been - with the surgery he had the best excuse for it. It was his frustration and his impatience that drove us all a bit mad. I was annoyed with Pikler and Gerber saying "watch your child. observe. Enjoy what he can do today and don't push him into doing something he is not ready for...." etc. I knew it was true and I tried. But on days when Leander wouldn't do anything but roll onto his belly and start crying out of frustration because he didn't know how to go on - it was hard. He started this game in the morning before I had finished my first cup of coffee and I had no idea how we both would survive the day.
Then, one day he discovered how to stand on hands and knees and this seemed to give him some self confidence. Something had happened and he realised this. Slowly. Again I said "He is close."
He was swinging back and forth while standing on hands and knees. Often. Sometimes he would give himself a push from his knees without moving his arms so he would fall head first on the floor. Tears. For weeks... I gave up on saying something.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I seriously thought he would never crawl. According to my mother in law my husband never did so I thought it's just in his genes. I was ready for it. I had realised that he was more into his fine motor skills anyway. When he found a toy with a label, a string or something he would try and grab that with his index finger and thumb. It was so cute to watch. Those little fingers. Trying to get pieces of fluff from the floor (telling me to clean up again?). So I figured he would do puzzles before he would set his feet on the ground.

And this was when he started to move. Slowly. First he was creeping. Using his arms to pull him along the floor. The next day you could see how he was looking for support from his legs. A couple of days later he was using arms and legs. And now he is just after me very very quickly. It is so great to watch. But the best thing is - he is so happy. So relieved. We have made his room and the living room safe for him to explore and this is what he does all day. We have removed the playpen and used pieces of that to secure places where he shouldn't be (near the stereo and plants etc.).

Interestingly the same day he started to move forward he sat up for the first time without falling right over again. It must have been absolutely exciting days for him. What I found most amazing was to watch his astonishment. He would sit up straight, lift his arms and watch them, turn them and twist his hands.

As if he could not believe that these were the same hands and arms that have just supported him on the floor. Over and over again he would hold his arms in front of him and watch. I was stunned. Pikler was right. Gerber was right. Sit and watch. Observe. Seriously, who needs TV ???