I’m nearing the end of my breastfeeding journey. It’s not the act of breastfeeding that I’m done with — I still enjoy that part. The closeness, the ability to put him virtually right back to sleep when he wakes in the night. Those are some big pluses. But I’m just starting to feel done. Nursed out. I’d like some time where my body is just mine before we have another baby, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for anyone else to get him down to sleep without the all-mighty boob. I’m ok with having these feelings. I don’t feel guilty about them. I’m just ready to wean.
Owen nurses about five times a day. First thing in the morning, before each nap, before bed and once in the middle of the night. Most sessions aren’t that long, but they are so clockwork that it’s clear they’ve just become part of his routine. He expects to sit down in the glider at certain times during the day, and if he doesn’t…sigh.
Two nights ago he surprised us by not nursing before bed. He was reclining on me in the living room, giving us kisses and getting super sleepy. When it was clear he was ready to sleep, I brought him up, put him to bed and that was it. No fussing, no nursing. Just sleeping.
He didn’t do it again the next night, but it only reinforced what I’ve known for a while. He doesn’t need to nurse, he just enjoys it.
I’m not going to pull the plug on him cold turkey, but I’m gently starting to guide him in the direction of weaning. Lately, I’ve found that if I sit down on the couch — at any time — he thinks the bar is open for business and comes on over for a drink. Needless to say, I don’t sit down a lot during the day. So, if he asks to nurse during the day (he comes up to me, points to my chest and says “that.” Period. Matter of fact.), I tell him “Not right now,” and distract him with something else. Usually this works, as he doesn’t really feel the need to nurse, he just sees it there in front of him and thinks, why not?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying him the comfort, I’m just trying to show him other ways he can be comforted.
Since I wanted to do this slowly, I’ve decided to eliminate one nursing session at a time, starting with the middle of the night, mostly because I am just SO DONE with getting up. I want to sleep!! I’m the one with the boobs, so I’m the one who gets up. Every single night. For almost 14 months.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered Night Weaning Territory.
After coming to the decision (I feel he is ready. He has shown he is capable of sleeping all the way through the night, and he is certainly old enough not to need the calories until morning.), I was ready to put things into motion. I’ve read up on it, I’ve talked to my mom about it, I’ve questioned my mom friends about it. All my research has brought me to the understanding that a) the process will suck, b) I will be tired, c) it will take a few days, and d) he will not hate me when it’s over. Promise.
While I do think that some crying is necessary and allows children to learn to self-soothe, I’m not on board with just letting the kid scream for hours. One phrase I keep coming across is “Parenting doesn’t stop at night”. It’s true, you know? If I’m not going to soothe him with my breast at 3 a.m., I need to soothe him in other ways. I’m his mama, he counts on me for that.
Last night was Night One of the grand ol’ night weaning. He went to bed just after seven, but when two o’clock in the morning rolled around, he started to cry. I waited to see if he’s fuss for a bit and go back down. He didn’t. When he started to escalate and call my name, I went in. He was standing in the crib, clutching his sock and pointing at the glider. “Nuh! Nuh! Nuh!” He shouted at me.
Instead of nursing, I scooped him up and shushed him while I paced the room. Annoyed…no, wait. More like, totally and completely pissed off, he angrily continued to point at the chair and cry. I hummed, I kissed his cheek, and continued to walk back and forth. After what felt like hours (even though I was right there with him, I still felt sad that I wasn’t giving him exactly what he wanted), but turned out to only be five minutes, he changed his mind and started pointing at the crib. Like, FINE, Mama. This was a waste of time getting up. Put me back in my bed. (That’s exactly the idea I want him to have. That it’s not worth it to wake up and make a big stink.)
So I did. I put him back down and rubbed his back. He calmed down quickly and I stayed right there, rubbing his back, until he fell asleep.
Or so I thought. Just as I tiptoed back into bed, he started crying again. And when he didn’t settle, I got right back up, lay him back on his belly, and began the process of rubbing his back all over again. It took at least 25 minutes, as he was all amped up.
Finally, back in bed, I had just started to drift off when he let out one final howl. But then all was quiet. I glanced at the clock — 3:02 a.m., just over an hour from when he first woke.
At around 6:45 a.m., I woke up to the sound of his mobile playing in his crib and him babbling to himself. At seven, I went in, making a big happy fuss about seeing him and scooped him up for kisses. He immediately pointed to the chair and asked to nurse, and of course this time I would not say no. Instead of the chair, I brought him into bed for some morning snuggles with Dada, and he happily had his morning nurse, and went about his morning as usual. Totally happy, totally fine.
One night down.
Yeah, I’m tired today. But I’m hoping that tonight will be a little better, and the night after that even better than the one before. I’ll do a follow-up post when it’s all said and done.
Wish me luck!