Just another post about weaning from breastfeeding and #sleep.

Sorry to those followers who like to hear new stories about my goings-on. This is old news. We’re trudging through the challenging and sad territory of weaning from breastfeeding with a toddler who has only ever been able to sleep through breastfeeding.

It’s been about a month since we night weaned again (I say again because we night weaned a few months ago but that attempt only lasted two weeks). There have been two – maybe three – nights where I’ve broken down after hours of middle-of-the-night wakefulness and nursed my toddler back to sleep. Other than that, she only nurses twice a day – to sleep for nap, and to sleep at bedtime. She has handled the night weaning well for the most part, and doesn’t ask for milk through the night anymore. Thankfully, there really weren’t very many tears over the change. Occasionally when she’s having a rough time with a cough or congestion, an itchy rash, or being overtired she’ll ask politely for milk, but when I calmly say “no milk until bedtime” she doesn’t ask again. She has unlimited access to hugs, kisses and cuddles, as well as warm mint tea for that belly-warming feeling.

The first time we tried night weaning, she ended up sleeping through the night for the first time ever. I thought night weaning was our golden ticket to better sleep. I thought she was only waking so much at night because she had become conditioned to get milk at those times, and by de-conditioning her, she’d no longer wake. But last night, not unlike every other night this month, she woke up 5 times and stayed awake from 1am until 3am. And then she was up for the day at 4:30. She’s at daycare right now, but I’m just waiting for the call that she needs to come home early to sleep (she does half days and has her nap at home with me after lunch).

We’re just as exhausted as we were when she was an infant. It has me aching to spend a night in bed with her, letting her nurse freely through the night, so we all get a good sleep. But we keep hoping that eventually she’ll figure out how to fall back asleep without milk, and we don’t want to drag this process out by taking a step backwards.

This experience has reinforced my decision to not sleep train her using conventional methods – it’s right for some kids, not right for others. She’s the kind of kid who will stay awake ALL NIGHT LONG to get what she wants. In the crib, she would have cried for hours. In her toddler bed, she can get up and get a stuffed animal she wants, she can come and get me from my room without crying for me, she can easily remove or get another blanket… I’m happy we waited to try independent sleeping (without nursing or co-sleeping) until she was actually independent. I think she would have been awake just as much had we done it earlier, but she would have been a lot more distressed about it.

So life now is a waiting game, and we’re just trying to survive while we wait. We’re doing what we can to help her sleep – cuddles, reassuring cheek kisses, lots of rest through the day – but nursing through the night is no longer a tool in our toolbox. We want to see this through.

Wish us luck…

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Daylight saving time had nothing on us

Sleep has been so messed up lately that we didn’t even notice the daylight saving time change.

My mom did bedtime on Friday night because my wife and I were out on a date until 11:30 (cue applause). It didn’t go great… It’s the second time my mom did bedtime, but the first time she did it there was frozen milk to offer in a bottle. This was the first night Avery had to go to sleep with absolutely no milk. Apparently there were lots of tears, and she finally fell asleep at 9pm. She woke a lot through the night and wanted long cuddles – she clearly missed us. I felt really guilty.

She continued her 4:30-5:30am wake ups over the weekend.

On Saturday night she was awake from 11:30pm until 3am, trying valiantly to get back to sleep without nursing. She tossed and turned both next to us and on her own, she sang to herself, she played quietly with stuffed animals, but finally she started to lose her patience at 3 (as did we), and I nursed her to sleep (it took just a few minutes, after hours of trying on her own). And then of course she was up for the day at 5am.

On Sunday she begged to go for a nap at 9am. We had a friend’s first birthday party that day over Avery’s usual nap time, so we thought an early nap would be ok. She slept for 30 minutes. She was so exhausted that by the time we got home from the part she slept for 3 hours. She woke up at 6pm. Never a good sign for bedtime.

She went to bed at 9pm, and although she only woke twice through the night, I was so tired that I fell asleep sitting on the floor next to her bed both times and now I’m super stiff.

This is nothing too out of the ordinary for us, but the tough sleep stints are always hard. I know it will be over soon enough, and I just have to cling to that thought.

Anyway, we barely noticed that daylight saving time was occurring. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse that having to deal with transitioning a schedule-rigid kid to a different bedtime and wake up time… Either way, we’ve always had bigger sleep-fish to fry than to worry about a time change.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 9

It’s cold again. It’s supposed to go down to  -20°C again tonight, and it’s icy and snowy outside. It’s the kind of weather for family cuddles. The kind of weather where I miss bed sharing with my baby. 

And when your baby has another nasty cough and cold and has to choose whether to breathe through her mouth and trigger more coughing, or breathe through her nose and not get enough air to her lungs, it’s really, really hard to withhold nighttime nursing. Nursing is the throat soothing cure-all that helps her sleep through anything. 

So about that night weaning we started… the night weaning has gone out the window during my shift. While my wife is on call for nighttime wakings (from bedtime till 1am), Avery goes back to sleep with nothing more than my wife poking her head through the doorway and saying “go back to sleep.” During my shift, I’ve started nursing her again. It’s how she sleeps well through being sick. It’s the only way to get her back to sleep during her bouts of middle-of-the-night insomnia (even during my wife’s shift). 

So weaning is a discussion topic for another day (or month, or year….).

On a related note, Avery LOVES peppermint tea. It’s just a dried mint leaf from our garden steeped in hot water. And when she’s sick, a little dollop of honey is a great throat soother.