Sunday, October 25, 2009

the henster meister

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...


  1. I am nursing one of my 3 y/o twins 1x a day, at bedtime, and have been for a year. Her sister lost interest at age 2, but she still loves it and climbs into my lap at bedtime. I hold her sister's hand and we all 3 sit and rock together. She can skip it, sometimes it's just 2 or 3x a week. A few months ago, we got rid of her pacis and nursing her at bedtime really helped with that. It's working great and hasn't become a "bad habit" or created any behavior problems. I love watching her and I love thinking about how she is just doing her own little thing, what feels right to her. She doesn't realize that she is 3, and that most 3 y/olds no longer nurse in the US. She just loves the time in my arms.

  2. Thanks for this post. I have been wondering how Henry is doing. I have a 24 month old little boy who is also still (in love with) nursing and I am partially ready for him to be done, but, like you, also like how happy it makes him. I like the idea of weaning, but am not totally committed to what it will take to get there... It's nice to hear about someone else in a similar situation!

  3. Jen,

    Kind of scary that the girls are willing to jump in and "nurse" Henry for you "when they're big". Never having children, I guess I never totally understood the whole nursing thing. I know it's supposed to be better for the baby and everything but I guess I didn't realize that some people still nurse even though the child may also be capable of chewing steak. Jen, at the rate you're going just think.. you'll never have to give him milk money! Maybe you can "milk" it (pardon the pun) until he goes to college. Think of the savings...not to mention your popularity with Henry's friends. Not only was my mother too proud for her own good sometimes, but she was also Irish Catholic and for that reason everyone knows that milk only comes from cows. Period. *Sigh*.

    Good Luck with the nursing thing. LOL Regardless, Henry is too cute for words. This You Tube video may help you out. LOL You may have to cut and paste it into your browser.


    P.S. Hello? Have you received any "goodies" in the mail lately?? You know what goes great with fudge?? MILK!

  4. it is hard no matter when weaning happens. (((hugs))) my eldest was weaned at 23 months when I was in the hospital for a week delivering our twin girls (both stillborn due to TTTS)...after that I did not want to nurse anymore. mom's needs must be taken into account, which is why it is called a "nursing relationship"- because a relationship involves two people...not one. you have done an amazing job of nursing this long- do what works best for your family and don't feel guilty!

  5. I lvoe the way your kids deal with Henry, everyone has their own way. Salvation Army box might be too far but i would understand I'm sure if I were her. Too Funny.
    Ah its your life do whatever you want, but don't let his sister nurse hime that might be a bit to far ha ha ha!

  6. I also still nurse my daughter of 15 months and can confirm the trend between eating and sleeping habits and the frequency of nursing. Didn't have that with my older one, though, and I nursed her up to 22 months, too. Depends on character, too, I suppose. Nothing wrong with nursing as long as you two like it - even though the high school thing - I don't know... But you would no doubt be very popular, for whatever reason :-)
    BTW: I do hope that to your husband your chest region is the most glorious thing ever, too.

  7. Schultz Family - I sincerely HOPE my husband thinks my chest region is the most glorious thing ever. I believe he does, because he is an awesome man. But I will admit, having children does things to your body I never expected. Or at least, I didn't expect for another 50 years!

    One day soon, I'll broach the subject of body image and gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

  8. Yes, I'm afraid you've reached one of the great truths in nursing = sleep...blissful, glorious sleep!
    My first born I cut off at 6 months and he slept wonderfully after that. My youngest nursed until 14 months...I don't think he slept through the night until I cut him off. I suppose I could follow all of the books that say "just let him cry" but who wants to do that in the middle of the night when I had a bed in the nursery and could just fall asleep in bed with him while nursing. I loved nursing. LOVED the bonding. Was always really sad at the end when I cut the babies off. : (

  9. One day soon, I'll broach the subject of body image and gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

    Please do. Because I could seriously use some help in my self-esteem regarding this area. I'm petite and almost to my pre-pregnancy weigh, but my shape has completely changed. Not in the good ways either. :-(

  10. Monkey Momma: Stay tuned. I promise to write something in the next few days...

  11. Get that baby off the boob! Just kidding, of course!

    Nurse him however long you want. If anyone gives you crud, I'll punch em with my bad hand! haahahaha...good luck.