Friday, March 16, 2012

Night Weaning - Week 1 of 3

I am absolutely stubborn-headed against weaning my toddler. I am all for children leading the way on weaning, weaning themselves. However, sleep has become a major issue! Since moving (we think that is the starting point), Sasha has been waking every hour or two (or three, if I'm lucky!). She wants to nurse back to sleep every time. I don't have a problem nursing her back to sleep, its the waking so often that is killing me. She wakes up more often than Spencer!

So, we took her to the new pediatrician. I talked to my Natural Parenting mom friends. I talked to my older mom friends. I talked to Sasha's first pediatrician (our OB/Family doc). They all had pretty much the same advice: stop letting her have milk in the middle of the night. When the first doctor suggested it, my knee-jerk reaction was an emphatic no. However, as more and more people supported this idea... I had to consider it. One dear friend suggested I commit to trying for two weeks and then reevaluate.


Finally, I jumped into it one night, which is how I tend to do things. It was a Monday night (leading into what is my husband's Monday). That may not have been my best choice. She soon rolled over and called out "No" in her sleep.

Night 1

Sasha nursed at 10, 11, and 12 o'clock to try to get to sleep. She hadn't even had a nap that day! She has been skipping it on most days, despite 1-2 attempts to nurse to sleep. She was asleep by 12:30. She woke me up around 1:30, asking for milk.

She cried, yelled, kicked, and then some... for an hour. It was really hard, but I remained calm with her. She woke Daddy who was pretty grumpy about it. I even had to nurse Spencer once during the hour, right in front of her. I felt like a monster. In fact, once she was asleep, I couldn't bring myself to close my eyes. I just kept calling myself a monster. I finally got to sleep around 3. Daddy left for work at 4. Sasha woke up shortly after. This time it was 1½ hours of crying, yelling, kicking, etc. Again, it was a rough time, but she did eventually get back to sleep. Once she was settled, Spencer woke. I think I maybe got 3 hours of sleep. I was most amazed at how much of her yelling Spencer doesn't notice.

Then, in the morning, I was amazed and almost cried. Sasha was her usual loving self. I think that almost made me feel worse! I felt like she should be angry with me. I somehow expected her to love me less (or not at all?). Following my friend's advice, I did let Sasha nurse a couple of times through the day. It was supposed to be my offer, but she asked before I got the chance. I didn't limit her time to any particular schedule, though I did have to stop her to change Spencer's diaper.

Night 2

Sasha did fall asleep in the truck and then nap in Daddy's lap for an hour the following day. It was a fairly early nap, so she still managed to nurse to sleep by 9 o'clock! I was dreading the night...

Before bed, I did rearrange furniture a little. At our old place, there was furniture on either side of her bed, leaving only the end of it open. Perhaps just having the open space was causing a problem. At this point, I guess I'll try anything.

She stirred at 10 o'clock, but she didn't wake. In fact, she didn't wake up until 1:30! That was four hours, straight! It still took me an hour to get her settled back down to sleep, but it was much easier than the night before. She woke again when Elmo left for work (shortly after 4), but it only took me ten minutes to get her back to sleep!

When she woke up the following morning and asked for milk, I said yes. She said "Night, night." I replied "Good morning!" so she switched to that. Later in the day she patted one side of my chest and said "Baby Spencer Milk." She patted the other side and said "Baby Sasha Milk." A new, sweet way to ask for milk. Who could refuse? We sat down and had milk. I have noticed, though, that if she's just nursing (not to sleep), she uses her teeth more - ouch! That may be the positioning, though. When I tandem nurse I usually use the football hold for both kids.

Night 3

For the second day in a row, Sasha had a nap! This time, she actually nursed to sleep at 3:30 in the afternoon and slept for nearly 3 hours. When she claimed to be sleepy at 10 o'clock, I doubted it. She nursed, but didn't fall asleep at all. In fact, she stopped on her own and asked for Micky Mouse. "I don't want milk." Again at 11 o'clock, she failed to fall asleep. Close to midnight, she started acting very much like she does in the middle of the night when she wakes. I treated it the same. I sh-sh-sh'd her and stroked her hair and back. She went to sleep pretty quick (without nursing). Again, that was around midnight.

She and Spencer both roused at 1:30. Sasha fussed as she has been, including yelling a bit and claiming to be scared. Still, I had her settled and back to sleep within about 15 minutes.

Spencer woke again at 4:30 and Sasha was stirring. It took her about 15 minutes to wake up. Even then, she kicked the side table and that woke her. She is still claiming to be scared and this means she wants a tight hug. She doesn't want to come to me, though, she wants to wrap her arms around my neck in her bed. The only trouble is, there is just no sneaking out of this hug! I did slowly back away from her as she was drifting. This time it took a little over half an hour to settle her back to sleep.

She was stirring before 8 in the morning. She might have been able to get back to sleep with help, but I got her dressed, nursed, and sent her with her daddy to see her step-sister.

Night 4

Sasha had a nap again! She did have a big day, though, getting up early to go play. Then she went to sleep around 11 o'clock. She woke up by 12:45, but she only took about 10 minutes to settle back to sleep. She woke again at 4:00 and took another 10 minutes to settle (in our bed this time). Around 7am she woke just enough to say she was scared. I laid my arm over her and she went right back to sleep. She was happy to have "good morning milk" when it was time to wake for the day.


Night 5

Despite 2 attempts, Sasha did not nap today. I was also having a rough day milk-wise. Through the day I ran out of milk in the freezer, which I was using because my breasts have been virtually empty all day.

She went to sleep by 9:45 and it only took 5 minutes to get her there. She'd been asking for milk for a while, but between Spencer and trying to pump milk... I just hadn't had a chance yet. Sasha cried out in her sleep at about 11:15 and I thought she might wake, but she settled back down.

Shortly after I snuck into bed (just before midnight), Sasha started stirring. She was whining / whimpering in her sleep. I tried settling her in her sleep, but she continued to whimper and stir every 2 minutes. She was going to have to wake up to truly settle. I finally just picked her up and set her on the potty. Once I actually got her up, it took 15 minutes to get her settled back to sleep.

Imagine my surprise when Spencer woke me... at 5 o'clock! Sasha even slept through the diaper velcro - twice! I think even Spencer had been asleep 8 hours. Sasha stirred a few times, but settled back into sleep on her own. She slept through until 7! Even then, I got her back to sleep.

Night 6

Sasha skipped her nap today. She was asking for night night milk early. Then as soon as she got started nursing, she was trying to force her way out of my lap. She got down, but then cried for milk again. As soon as she started back on the breast, she was crying for the TV and her sister. I finally told her she could nurse for 5 minutes, then she could go back to Kipper or Tyler or whatever. She promptly nursed to sleep... by 9 o'clock!

She woke just before midnight. She only took about 10 minutes to get settled back down to sleep, maybe less! She woke again at 2 and 4. I was pumping at 4, so I was really stuck. She finally went and laid down on her bed alone. She fell right back to sleep. She wasn't even holding her bear.

Night 7

Sasha skipped her nap again today and went to sleep by 9. She woke by 11. She cried and made her nose run which made her cry more. Still, had her settled in about 15-20 minutes.

Then she slept through to 6:30! I was in the middle of pumping, so there wasn't much soothing I could. Between having to wait for me to finish pumping and Daddy being up playing PS3 on the TV, she could not be soothed back to sleep. It sucked to know that if I let her nurse, she'd likely go right back to sleep. Then I noticed the light outside... I make her wait til morning, but it was morning. It wouldn't be "good morning milk," though.

Once she actually asked for "bite," I knew the battle was over. Its an early day. Spencer is still asleep (he went back down right before she woke up). I'm sure she'll go down for a nap right before or right after he wakes up.

She did go back to sleep around 9-11 that morning. I somehow managed to sleep a bit with Spencer, too.

Have you night weaned? Do you have any tips you might want to share?

Click here to read Week 2 of 3.

6 comments:

  1. No tips, but I appreciate you sharing this as it's giving me an idea of how it might go for us someday. I've been having some "extended breastfeeding" woes lately and have been limiting "milkies" during certain parts of the day. I'm not ready for the nighttime battle yet, so I've been nursing on demand at night. One day though, we might have to night-wean, we'll see.

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    1. I was really against it, but in the long run it has really helped.

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  2. I had to make it very clear to my toddler that he would be able to nurse in the morning, but that nursing at night made me feel sick (I was pregnant with my second). The first night he thought he would NEVER get to nurse again because I had so rarely turned him down when it came to nursing. He was so devastated until I explained (as simply as possible) that nursing would come again.

    Now we're having to deal with the fact that the baby can nurse at night but he can't--a delicate issue, indeed. She's not quite a week old, but he seems to feel that a goodnight nurse is enough to keep him happy till morning.

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    1. I feel so guilty when I nurse Spencer in front of her. It is finally starting to get a little better (he is 3 months old), but I still find myself trying to not get caught nursing him. :-\

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  3. Our nights are terrible too and my son (20 months) wants to nurse all night too. We're playing with different sleep arrangements right now to see if it's that what is contributing to the many night wakings which he then wants to nurse back to sleep from. So far he now sleeps better in his own bed in a separate room rather than co-sleep with us anymore(which I speculate is because my husband is a noisy sleeper)but still asks to nurse when he stirs in the night. I've also tried changing him more often at night, since having a dry diaper keeps him cozier for longer stretches too. However he still wakes fairly often asking for boobies and I am slowly losing my mind. Next thing I will be trying is settling him (or Daddy settling him) by rocking him or patting his back instead of nursing. We shall see how that goes!

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    1. Best of luck! There are, as you can see, 2 more parts to this series. This was a really important step for us, though.

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