The good life’s over for Jersey
People around the world have been following Jersey’s life since he was born and I wanted to give you all a bit of an update. From all his various milestones to his first steps, he has quite a cheering section! Justin and I count ourselves lucky to both be able to work from home which has afforded Jersey quite the posh life in many ways. People are surprised to hear that Jersey refuses to eat more than a couple bites of “real food” because his body type looks as if he’s been eating round the clock carbs. At one month old, he weighed twelve pounds which was the combined weight of both girls at that very same age. But nope, he’s just been on the boob and for the past six months, it’s been of his choosing, not ours.
With Ava and Alexis, they began eating varying levels of “big people food” at six months old and took to it immediately. At that time, they were using breastfeeding as a pacifier rather than a food source. This allowed me to be able to wean them cold turkey at one year old. Sleeping independently was a bit more tricky, especially because it was two versus one. As soon as I got one down, the other would wake up crying, and so forth. And when they cry, they CRY. At that time, they of course could not talk and their feisty zest for life manifested itself as pure stubbornness and impassioned emotions. That said, although their crying was more intense than Jersey’s they did not take long to realize that Mama is always right and we are now each going to sleep in our own beds.
I love all my children equally but as every parent knows, you parent each of your children differently. Jersey has always been a very easygoing baby. Not much does he complain about, he is happy just to be in the mix. He is quick on his feet and slow to react. But when it comes to his diet, it has not mattered as to what food strategies we have tried. We eat with him, his “idols” (big sisters) have fed him, we allow for his preferences and he’s been given every food option at every temperature under the sun. Still, nothing has worked so far. He will eat only three or four bites even when I know he is hungry.
One benefit to having a large online following is being able to get advice from thousands of other moms. While some have recommended we quit breastfeeding cold turkey and that he won’t ultimately starve, it is literally the only way he eats and seems to be a traumatizing way of accomplishing that goal. Another issue that we are currently going through is transitioning Jersey from co-sleeping to sleeping independently in his own room. I believe that his mellow personality will make things easier although I know this will still be a big change for him.
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With those two goals on the horizon, I decided to tackle one thing at a time. (If you want to see our other content on this subject, we’ve touched on it here, here and here) Sleeping seemed to be a more straight forward goal.
To preface this, whether or not this was our “biggest baby mistake”, for the first twelve months, Jersey was never left to “cry it out”. He cried for only a few, primal needs that needed to be promptly responded to. There was no point other than selfish reasons to induce undue stress onto his developing body. Now, after Jersey hit the one year mark, we have begun to observe that he is crying for other reasons.
The video below is case in point:
If you watched the video you can see that we approached Jersey’s fears through gradual exposure. When he was ready, we intentionally riled Lulu up to get her to bark. It only took Jersey minutes to grasp this cause and effect and participate alongside us! We didn’t anticipate this to happen but did capture it all on camera! From the pitch we used to the way we knocked on the wall to make her bark, Jersey mimicked everything. Lulu mission accomplished — and Jersey’s perception and level of understanding showed that we were getting played on the sleeping front. Nothing had gotten past him — he was definitely developmentally ready to transition to more independent sleeping and less breastfeeding.
My instincts were confirmed that very first night! After making sure all of his basic needs were met, I laid him in his crib. He had nursed for 25 minutes and I knew he was full. He cried angrily, paused in anticipation of someone coming, then cried again when he realized that he was not getting the reaction he had hoped for. He is far more advanced than I am giving him credit for but this sleep training thing is clearly a process!
Each time he cried I would walk in and lay him back down, over and over, to teach him that this was the new normal. I was coming in his room to lay him back down not to pick him up. Leaning over his crib, patting his back and saying: “sleep.” Consistency is everything if I want him to adapt to the desired result but I am definitely deliriously tired.
Eating wise, we are at a standstill. I am now nursing him until he is full but not letting him fall asleep while doing so — so that he begins to distinguish the food source from being pacified.
Throughout all of this, I have realized that I have to create a distinct approach. For us to achieve success, I have decided that I need to focus on each goal separately and allow Jersey accomplish one goal before moving onto the other. Trying to do everything at once isn’t good for anybody and is too abrupt for the little guy. I am going to achieve success with Jersey’s sleep patterns before I conquer his eating, or lack of eating solids.
During my uncomfortable nights on the floor and being “on call” outside Jersey’s room, I realized that this process has adult implications I can learn from as well. As I continue to acknowledge and move past my past mistakes and regrets, it has been a slow and steady pace to get to where I am now. Nothing occurred overnight and I had to set one goal at a time if I were going to have a realistic chance of overcoming past hindrances. This is the same for becoming more fit, eating healthier, or whatever else I would like to achieve. These goals take time to accomplish and I have to be patient with myself in doing so. I am reminded that others are in the same boat too, learning through trial and error, just like I am.