I’ve given up on night weaning.
This may come as a shock to any of you who have been following my night nursing travails. From what I’ve written I’m sure that it seems as if night weaning was a relative success and we were now sleeping through the night.
This was true on some level, but I’ve come to realize that many children simply do not sleep through the night for the first few years of life, no matter WHAT the parents do. My daughter is one of those children.
We had gotten to a point where she stopped crying and asking to nurse. This happened in a relatively short time. I thought that was all it would take. All it should take. Every mom I talked to told me that their kids started sleeping through the night once they night weaned. And if they woke up, they went back to sleep easily with cuddles and/or a drink of water.
Apparently I was talking to all the wrong moms. Or, maybe I was just hearing what I wanted to hear.
But I’m here to tell you, if you think that night weaning solves all your sleep woes, it ain’t so.
Say it isn’t so!
Let me say it again.
Some of us simply have to accept the hard truth that it takes longer for our wee ones to sleep through the night without any major intervention from us.
A brief synopsis of our night weaning:
In December I broke down and decided to night wean. It went well. The first night was pretty bad. The second night wasn’t quite as bad. And the third night she slept for most of the night. This continued, with brief night wakings for about a week until Annika got a cold.
Then she awoke begging to nurse and because of her dry mouth and stuffy nose, along with a spotty fever, I didn’t have the heart to tell her no when she asked to nurse in the middle of the night.
We continued night nursing until some time in February when I decided that the worst of sick season was over so we needed to get back on track.
This time didn’t go so well.
I don’t remember how long it took, but it was several weeks of off and on crying and asking to nurse.
Then she stopped asking to nurse. But in March I realized after a few weeks of continuous waking that Annika was not going to just magically sleep through the night.
She’d wake up and then lie there, tossing and turning and whispering, “nuse,” for about an hour. Then eventually drift off.
But I stayed awake.
I realized that if I wasn’t getting any better sleep, there was really no reason to force her to lie there for an hour trying to fall back asleep when I could just nurse her and she’d fall right back to sleep.
The good part in all of this is: A couple of weeks ago is when I started night nursing again. Since then her language has had what I consider to be a second explosion.
The first one happened around 16 months when she started saying her words really clearly.
Now, at 23 months she’s saying tons of phrases. She was saying random phrases before, but these new phrases are in the proper context.
She tells me, in reference to an object, to “Set it down, Mommy.” “Call Daddy.” “Go for a walk.”
She’s also started screaming “Stop!” when I comb her hair.
So, yeah. Night weaning has not solved my sleep problems. Annika clearly needs nursing to help her as she struggles through her developmental phases. Maybe she’s needs it more than other kids. That’s okay with me. I like knowing that she leans on me. I hope that she always does. I want her to know that I’ll always be there for her.
And the cool thing is, I am learning how to deal. These first two years of being a parent have made me tougher than I ever imagined I could be or ever would be.
I thought I had done a lot of hard things in my life. I got married and moved across the world to another country.
I got divorced.
I lived in Detroit. Alone. For several years.
I’ve done numerous other things here that were hard and scary that I’m not going to mention.
But let me tell you, none of that stuff has anything on being a parent. It’s toughest, scariest, rockiest road I’ve ever traveled. And night nursing was just the beginning.