Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yo-yo dieting

First, I must come clean and admit that I cheated on my diet. I was so good for a few days, and then sleep deprivation got the best of me and I Google searched "five month old" and "sleep through the night." It was 3am, and I was desperate. Earlier that day I had a surprise message from a charming blog follower (not sure how she ended up at my blog) who gave me some encouraging perspective on having a premature baby. They are notoriously awful sleepers, and this last week of 3+ night wakings is not unusual I guess. Of course, it is certainly not preferable! It was a welcome correspondence, and I started thinking about this "midnight" society of women that are all up with me across the globe (well, eastern standard time) every night. And it is in the shadows of a 3:45am moon that I felt like I could cheat on my diet and not get caught (until Eric found the Berkeley Parents Network website up the next morning).

So, yes, I found myself at the Berkeley Parents network and read a good smattering of of posts regarding 5-8 month breastfed babies and sleep (or lack thereof). My exhaustion hasn't been tamed, but I do recognize that a) we are not incapable parents for not being able to schedule our baby to sleep through the night, and b) there are, in fact, advantages to night feedings. It's that part "b" that I find myself harking back to frequently in an attempt to stave off a breakdown.
  • Night feedings will continue to encourage my milk supply, which needs all the help it can get;
  • Night feedings help confer anovulation (i.e. birth control--controversial topic, here is a good overview--Miles does not need a sibling quite yet);
  • Night feedings give me the luxury of "Goldilocksing" through beds all night. I start in the Papa Bear bed with Eric, and then after the first failed attempt at a full night of uninterrupted sleep, usually end up on the couch for the next segment of sleep. It is probably 6.5 fewer steps from the couch to the nursery than from the bedroom to the nursery, and in the middle of the night, 6.5 steps is a lot of ground to cover! The next, and hopefully final stretch of "sleep" (let's use that term lightly, shall we?) usually has me curled up in an adapted fetal position in the nursery chair. En route to my different beds, I do pass by the fridge and knock back a nursing ball or two.
What are these nursing balls I keep speaking of? A 32+ year old recipe for a "healthy" kids' snack (adapted from a book called Feed Me I'm Yours). I find myself hungry in the middle of the night, but have been struggling to find a quick snack. I remembered these "balls" my mom used to make that highlighted peanut butter and honey. Good thing MomA was visiting last weekend. We made a batch of what I call nursing balls, and since, I have made 2 additional batches. Basically, my modernized version has you mix up the following into what look like cookie dough balls (contact me if you want more specific measurements. I am in Papa Bear bed right now, and don't want to get up until Miles calls for me):
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • Non-fat powdered milk
  • Flax meal (you could use wheat germ, too)
  • Chocolate bits
  • Kashi Go Lean Crunch remnants (you know, the part of the bag with the crumbs that you always throw away)
Yummy! Eric even likes them, and they are great post long run fuel. Just roll up a batch, and store them in the fridge.

***One final addition to part "b" of Nightfeeding: bonding. Every night, after my eyes have adjusted to the dark in Miles's room, I look down and see the most perfect boy. (It helps that the dark masks his cradle "crap" and scratched face). Miles does this funny "movement mantra" as I call it--it's not words he repeats over and over, but this repetitive nursing movement--like booby tai kwan do. Whichever arm is not smashed up against my belly, he holds it above his head and gently paints imaginary crescent moons across the top of my chest, brushing my collar bone. Over and over and over...his paper thin nails (the same ones that gash his face) tickle my skin with his movement mantra. It is when I close my eyes and just sit "present" with Miles while he composes his invisible Monet, that I want to bottle up the moment to save for the day when I am wondering how I am to survive the coming night.

(You thought you were getting away with no pictures? Fools!)

For all of those who still think we actually comb our sons hair into a toupee, here is what the poor child looks like when you try to "normalize" his hair: And then this is what he looks like upon waking up. (Thanks to Great Aunt Dilys for the sea turtle kimono outfit, and to Aunty Shirley and Grunkle Seth for Egypt, Miles's organic monkey pal).

Green-atude: October 14
Unplug unused chargers and electronics.

October 15
Ban the can. Buy foods that are fresh, frozen or dried.

October 16
Make smoothies using organic yogurt, berries, juice and a bit of flax seed (Ali's addition: make nursing balls!!!)

October 17
Keep keys from kids. They sometimes contain lead.

October 18
Get rid of household hazardous waste:

October 19
Set up a yogurt buffet for your kids. (Miles is just fine with his milk buffet for now.)


  1. Oooh, those nursing balls sound yummy. If you can post the recipe at some point, that would be great. Little did I expect that I would still be so hungry after the baby joined us in the world!

    I think you should trust your own judgment with the little guy. No one else knows him like you do, including the many people dispensing advice (um, like this?). I hope you have luck getting him to sleep through the night, and if it takes a while longer, at least you know that other people with preemies (and many with full-term kiddos) have been through the same thing.

  2. Another wonderfully amusing post, Alison. Perhaps extreme fatigue sharpens the funny bone!
    Seriously, it's wonderful to make peace with Mile's schedule and work at trying to make it work for you in your life. It will not last forever - promise.
    I forgot the crushed graham crackers in my "Menopause Balls', but with the powdered milk, flax/multigrain cereal, and Kashi as binders, it still worked. That's the beauty of the recipe, it's so flexible and adaptable to each person's taste.
    I love the photos, of course. Go with the combover!

  3. Hi Alison! This is Leia. I was on Renata's blog and then saw a link to yours. Miles is absolutely adorable and a spitting image of E. Congratulations on your beautiful little family!

    We're adjusting to our own fluctuating schedules with Samir. The past two nights have been horrible...I think he's going through a growth spurt because he's eating more with more vigor and greater frequency. But who's to complain when we have healthy little boys!

    Hope you're enjoying motherhood. You sound like you're doing great, and you look beautiful!

  4. miles' expression in that first picture just melts me! or maybe it is his tousled 'do!

    and totally brought tears to my eyes your description of his painting his little monet. very sweet!!!

  5. beautiful post ali!
    as i myself struggle with nighttime feedings i'll continue to look forward to the day when my little one creates her own boobie tai kwan do, we're still perfenting our plug-in (that's my term for latch,