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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Lazy Mom's Guide to Night Weaning

Oh, you thought this would give you the easy answers? Oops--Don't get all excited by the title. This isn't really a guide. I'm too lazy to figure it out.You all know that sleep is probably my biggest challenge as a mom. It’s not even the lack of sleep; I can function great somewhat normally on only a few hours of sleep, at least for a few days. It's the waking up right after I've fallen asleep. Being groggy and stumbling around in the middle of the night is not my forte. I'm cranky and I'm mean and I'm not all there.

That's if I have to get up.

If I can just roll around in bed, I'm great. It's snuggly and cuddly and I can just rest. It's when I have to stand upright that all hell breaks loose.

You also know that Baby T was a horrible sleeper. He woke up every 30 minutes or every hour sometimes. I read the "No Cry Sleep Solution," which sounded like an amazing plan, but you know what? I'm just too lazy to try other ways to get my kids to sleep. When it's the middle of the night and I know nursing will get them to sleep, that's what I resort to.

I've had my moments where I said, "I'm not nursing him at night anymore. That's it. He needs to sleep."

And the next night, I went in when he woke, snuggled him, tried to bounce and rock him, and he flailed and cried and rooted for my nipple, and I gave in. It was just easier.

But Baby T started sleeping better when he was about 10 months old. He went down better, and he only woke up once or twice a night. I still nursed him when he woke up, and every time I did, I worried that it would never stop.

But of course it did. One day, Baby T started sleeping through the night. It helped that we decided to have Big T go in and give him a sippy cup when he would have his 5 A.M. wakeup. After that worked, Baby T started sleeping through his 1 A.M. wakeup. And now, at 28 months, he sleeps from 7:30 P.M. to 6 A.M. And he's completely weaned from nighttime and daytime nursing.

And I'm on to the next kid. Just like Little M is the complete opposite of Baby T in so many ways, so is he when it comes to sleep. Little M cosleeps with us most of the time. And he nurses all night. He's 8 months old, and I'm fine with him waking several times a night. But I lose it when it becomes every hour. That's my limit. That's when I become a cold, hard bitch mama.

I don't want to night wean necessarily, but I do wish Little M would sleep better. Our sleeping arrangements are a constant struggle for me, and I can't decide how I like it better.

These are the pros of cosleeping and night nursing (for me):
  • It's super snuggly and I've gotten used to sleeping with a baby in my bed, so I wake up feeling happy and positive.
  • When Little M grazes during the day, I know he'll get the nursing he needs at night.
  • I don't have to get up in the middle of the night. That's a huge benefit for me.
  • Little M wakes up happy and rarely cries at night.
These are the cons of cosleeping and night nursing (for me):
  • I'm a deep sleeper, and I'm afraid Little M will crawl off the bed while I sleep.
  • Although Little M wakes up happy, he wakes up more often when he's next to me. I think he sleeps more lightly.
  • Every once in a while, when Little M has been attached for an hour, I get an uncontrollable irritable feeling, where I feel like I just have to get him off me. NOW. 
  • I'm afraid Little M will never sleep well by himself, and I need my evenings to get things done. That sounds selfish, but I have to make a living, and since I am with one or both of my kids all day, I don't always have a chance to get things accomplished then.
crawling off the bed

But as the days go by, I do what I need to to get through that day (or that night). I just do what works. Some days, Little M goes into a deep sleep while nursing in the evening, and I can put him down in the crib and get things done. Other days, he is wired and won't go to sleep unless I lie with him. Some nights, Little M sleeps from 7:30 P.M. to 5:00 A.M. Other nights, he is up at 9 P.M., 10 P.M., 11 P.M., and so on.

I told you that I had a momentary lapse of reason and let Little M cry once. And I felt like it ruined his happy demeanor and made him seem detached. Well, I'll be honest, and this is not easy to do--I'm not necessarily the picture of gentle mamahood here. There have been a couple of other times since then when I've gotten that horrible, irritable feeling after waking up every 30 minutes and had to put Little M in the crib and walk away and let him cry. I always feel awfully guilty the next day, and although I get a little bit of sleep on those nights, it is not a long-term solution. Little M still doesn't sleep through the night, and I don't expect him to. I don't let him cry as a solution; I let him cry because it's the only thing I can do on those nights. Cry-it-out is a different discussion for a different time, but it definitely doesn't work for us.

But I'm telling you this because I'm human. And because I want people to know that it doesn't make things any better in the long run. At least not for us. It's not like he cries and sleeps through the night forever after that. He might have one good night and then one bad night. But he always has had his good nights and his bad nights. He's not consistent.

But I try to be consistent. I nurse him to sleep, and I do it in a quiet, dark room with white noise on. Where he sleeps and what happens after that is pretty much up to him right now. And that's ok. When he sleeps well, I sleep well, and it makes for a more productive and fun next day. I still try to get him off the boob and out of my bed when he seems receptive, and that's the way we wean. That's the way Baby T night weaned. That's the way we deal with weaning off of any bad habit in the house, because I'm too lazy to come up with a more organized plan. But it works for us.

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop. Visit the links below and link up your own night weaning story!


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I don't know how you do it. We were lucky (and I do think its luck) that our kids are excellent sleepers. I read and did the "no cry sleep solution" with my first and I think it worked great. I was too busy (lazy) to do it with my second but luckily she was eating enough during the day that she night weaned really easily. I can't imagine if I still was waking up as often as when she was a newborn. I'd be a complete zombie.

P.S. I've totally added you to my reader now =)

The Gnome's Mom said... Best Blogger Tips

Every once in a while, when Little M has been attached for an hour, I get an uncontrollable irritable feeling, where I feel like I just have to get him off me. NOW. <--- YES! Me too.

I let The Gnome cry once (I think he was around 4 months because we still had a crib) when I was at the end of my rope. I put him in the crib and took a shower. At that point it was crib or be shaken. I was in that bad of a place. He cried so hard he threw up but I was calmed down and I could do with it and we've never had to do it again. CIO doesn't work for him. But there are sometimes when you just don't have any other choice. I'm human too!

Stacey said... Best Blogger Tips

Nice blog post! I haven't heard of the breastfeeding blog hop. I just thought I heard "lazy" being used, so I stopped by.... :)

The Lazy Mom wuz here. said... Best Blogger Tips

@lostandforgotten - I hope it's luck and not just a really bad sleep gene! It helps to cosleep. That's the only way I can wake up and feel rested.

@The Gnome's Mom - I'm glad someone else has had that feeling. I turn into an evil monster in the middle of the night. It's not every night, but it builds up. I really think it's a unique form of postpartum depression.

@Stacey - Yay for Lazy!

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