For a long time now, I've been wanting to write about Henry - his sleep habits, what's happening with weaning and how the little guy is adjusting to life here at the homestead.
Seeing as Henry is wide awake at this late hour and I don't want to clean up from the day and cause a ruckus (that's as good of an excuse as any why to skip scrubbing toilets), I figure now is a good time to jot down some thoughts on our little firecracker.
Since I've been traveling so much over the past sixteen weeks and Henry has not been with me for a large portion of that time - and I'm extremely unwilling to haul along and use a pump - my supply is just about gone. One might think that means weaning is complete, but that's not quite the case.
Gravity is a cruel thing. Especially after birthing four babies and nursing all of them, including one of them until he is 27 months old. So sorry in advance for the TMI, but my chest looks like two sadly deflated balloons. But that does not stop Henry, in the least, from thinking that my chest region is the most glorious thing ever. "Nurse, Mama? NURSE?" he'll ask me at random times throughout the day. Whenever I scoop him up and hold him in the crook of my arm, he'll gently put his hands on my face and ask again, "Nurse?"
If I oblige him, or if he happens to spot me climbing out of the shower, he'll throw his arms over his head and with a huge smile yell, "YAY HENRY!!" But if I deny him, he'll bury his head and sob. With big, rolling tears.
Sadly for my son, more and more he's been hearing the words, "Sorry little guy." I'm not telling him this because my supply is all but gone and he is 27-months old (!!), but rather because he needs to eat and sleep and I can see a direct trend between how well he eats and sleeps and how frequently he nurses. And when I'm around? There's nothing more he'd rather do.
Whenever I'm out of town, I get a daily report from Charlie. He'll tell me things like, "Henry ate a 12-inch pizza for dinner and then promptly fell asleep for the next 14 hours."
So weaning is definitely underway. Most days I'll nurse once. But no more than twice. And sometimes, not at all. I could probably stop altogether, and some would probably suggest that I do stop altogether, but quite honestly, there are times when I love being able to scoop him up and pacify him for a while. I fully realize that there is nothing nutritive about this process. But since I'm not ready to be done yet - we're not.
Henry does still have a pacifier, which I've intentionally lost on more than one occasion, and then promptly found again - because the importance of peace and quiet can not be overstated. Henry has dubbed his pacifier "Bucky" which he'll ask for by name. Charlie, in turn, has dubbed me, "Mommy Bucky" because up until recently, it appeared that I was evolving in to a living pacifier.
Every night, he's been going to sleep between 7 and 8 and since I've stopped nursing him first thing in the morning, he is now sleeping until 6:30 or 7 AM. He had been waking up between 5 and 5:30 and I would nurse him in our bed. But some mornings he'd wake up earlier. And gosh, you know, after several months of this, I was ready to SNAP. So I cut out that early morning session - he screamed for a few days, I contemplated locking him in the garage - and now, he sleeps for around 11-12 hours at night like a champ. (Except tonight.)
Another advantage of cutting back on the nursing is that he naps better, too.
What had been a 45-minute catnap during the mid-day is now at least a 2-hour nap in the afternoon. The key is getting him to nap around 1:00 PM, so that he is awake by 3:00 PM. Today, we didn't get him down until almost 2:30 and we should have woken him up by no later than 4:00. But I got distracted coloring with the kids and making spaghetti sauce for dinner and only realized that Henry was still asleep when we were loading up to go to church at 5:45 PM.
Hence the reason he is still awake at 11:00 PM.
Of course I could probably get him right to sleep if I just brought him out and nursed him now, which I just may do because I can already see tomorrow is shaping up to be a rough day. But instead, I'm sipping my wine - updating my blog - and hoping that he'll doze off soon.
Is it terribly cruel that I'm only nursing when it is convenient for me?
(Probably so. Don't answer that.)
Worthy to note is that our five-year-olds are fully aware of the nursing ritual. Carolyn for the most part, has an endless supply of patience with her little brother, and has sweetly told me that when she grows up, she will have milk in her chest so that they can nurse Henry for me. While I really do appreciate her gesture, I'm optimistic he'll be fully weaned by then and I doubt my daughter will feel the same willingness to help in 25 years.
William on the other hand, tends to get quite annoyed with our youngest. Especially when Henry ambushes his toy and clothing supply that he has segregated in various boxes in his closet. Sometimes, I'll hear William's frustrated voice telling his little brother to STOP TOUCHING HIS STUFF! When Henry does not immediately cooperate, William will ask, "Hey Henry? You wanna nurse?" because he knows that there is no faster way to dispose of his little brother than to pass him off on me and my deflated balloons.
Inevitably, whenever William makes this suggestion, Henry will cheer, "YAY HENRY!" and come running - which effectively, leaves William alone. And while I'd like to get upset that my son is offering up something he has no right to offer up, I'm actually very impressed (and extremely appreciative) that he doesn't resort to physical violence.
Unlike his sister, Elizabeth, who when Henry got in to her princess dolls last week, tried stuffing him in to a box for the poor children (aka: Salvation Army).
On the upside, she did throw his Bucky in with him...