Some of you may be aware (because I’ve vented or complained to you over the last 2 years) that Alex has never been a good sleeper. The other two kids were relatively easy to sleep train. We were able to get them sleeping through the night quickly using the die hard tricks that have worked for generations. Alex was a different story. When his first birthday came and went and I was still unable to figure out how to get him to sleep soundly I thought I would go crazy. In fact the first year of his life had been very trying and I found myself feeling guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my baby. I was tired. I was frustrated. I was worried that something was really wrong with him. I asked the pediatrician about it a couple of times, but her response was often to place blame on me for encouraging his bad habits and she always told me to let him cry it out. Eventually, I started telling her that he was sleeping beautifully whenever she asked just so I wasn’t subjected to her criticism. I also felt in my gut that his sleep problems ran deeper than just bad habits. I was a bit bewildered for awhile since I was unable to get any good advice from my doctor. I didn’t know who else to turn to for sound advice. We pressed on and hoped that he would just outgrow it and sleep through the night one day soon.
Constipation was another constant problem we had with him! I mean he had not pooped regularly pretty much since birth . (Sorry if that’s TMI. One day he is going to kill me for blogging about this!) We asked the pediatrician about this as well and they told us to give him Miralax. My first reaction to this advice was NO WAY! I tried feeding him things that would encourage him to poop, but things only seemed to get worse so we tried the Miralax hoping it would clean him out quickly and get him on track. That never happened. It would help him poop, but as soon as we stopped giving it to him he would be constipated again. We felt very strongly that he should not be on this for any length of time so we stopped giving it to him as soon as we realized that it didn’t do any good. We also began to do research on Miralax and learned that a person who is on Miralax regularly will eventually lose function of the muscles that tell them they need to use the bathroom. The Miralax does it for them and then the muscles get lazy and stop working. WHAT????? I don’t even want to talk about the guilt I feel for giving it to him at all even though it was only for a very short period of time and don’t get me started on what I want to tell the pediatrician for prescribing this poison to INFANTS! UGH!
Shortly after this, Alex began to get hives often. I started to do some research into why this could be or what I could do to help prevent it and I came across an article on milk allergies and sensitivities. I don’t know why this caught my attention or why it stuck with me, but I began to wonder about it. Alex LOVES milk! I have to limit his intake because he would drink it all the time if I didn’t. As I read more about it I learned that cow’s milk can cause constipation, sleeplessness, and irritability (another thing we had been dealing with). I read one blog post by a mother about her son and I was sure she was talking about Alex. Her son sounded identical in sleep habits and behavior! I asked my pediatrician (just to see, but pretty sure I was going to toss her advice out the window) what she thought about the possibility that Alex had a milk sensitivity. She told us that we should continue giving him the Miralax and see if that worked before we cut out a whole food group. Ok …. see me roll my eyes and toss her stupid advice out our second story window. I posted on facebook asking other mothers if they had any experience with this and any advice they could offer. I received lots of great suggestions and we began to cut out cow’s milk. My strategy was to try all the alternative milks until I found one he liked.. We started with almond milk. At first he didn’t like it at all! I always give him a bottle of milk before nap time and on the first day he grabbed his bottle, took a sip, and handed it back to me saying, “No. No.” Ok, so he wasn’t going to quit cow’s milk cold turkey. I started mixing it together and slowly increased the almond milk until it was all almond milk. The funny thing is, if he saw me pour the almond milk he wouldn’t drink it, but if I let him see me pour the whole milk, he drank it all! Smart little cookie!!! It’s been smooth sailing ever since! Even before he was completely off of cow’s milk, he began to sleep better. He was pooping regularly! And his mood improved by leaps and bounds! We’ve realized that as long as we limit Alex’s dairy intake he is a normal, sleeping, pooping, happy kid. He can have the occasional piece of cheese or cup of yogurt, but as long as he isn’t eating it all the time, he’s perfect! So thank you Facebook moms, you’ve helped me solve a mystery the doctor’s were unwilling to consider!!
One lesson I’ve learned is this:
There is no such thing as right or wrong sleep habits or routines. I read somewhere that as long as you and your baby are happy with the current routine in your house, then there is no reason to change anything. I just loved this statement. I needed to hear that! I had heard every criticism in the book regarding how we got and kept Alex asleep. I stopped talking to everybody, friends and strangers alike, about Alex’s sleep problems. I had one too many people brag about how all of their children were perfect sleepers and then look down their nose at me for not doing things “the right way”. Yes, I was sleep deprived and desperate and I did things that the parenting books don’t encourage, but I wasn’t hurting anyone in the process and doing those things helped us just to survive. We were in strict survival mode! Even though Alex is sleeping through the night and napping well now I still give him a bottle and rock him to sleep before laying him down. There it is! In black and white and in the great blogosphere…. I ROCK MY BABY TO SLEEP!!! GASP!!! Yes, the authors of those sleep books would have a hay day with that, but I no longer care! I’m not planning to change a thing! In just a few short weeks he will be in a big boy bed, and I treasure those sweet moments I have with my last baby before he goes to sleep. One day very soon I won’t be able to do that anymore. With Isabel especially I succumbed too much to the pressures of what the books and doctors say is right and good, and it was at the expense of my baby. I look back and wish I hadn’t taken the world’s view so seriously and had just gone with the flow and listened to her cues instead of forcing her to conform to what the world around me told me was normal. I wish I could give this advice to all the first-time moms I know. I wish somebody had given it to me.
Phew! That has been on my heart for weeks. It feels good to get it off my chest! Thanks for listening!