So here’s a topic not new to any mother, weaning. Everyone experiences it whether you breastfeed or use a bottle. Well, I breastfeed my 16-soon to be 17- month old. Obviously I’ve done it since the day she was born so that’s about 517 days. It sounds like a lot but honestly doesn’t feel like that much; what with all the changes that happen everyday.
Where I am going with this? I went to the doctor last week with complaints of shortness of breath, being lightheaded, tightness in my chest, stomach pain, low energy. It’s all new to me, what is going on? She says, bluntly, “you are exhausted.” Right, sure, what mother isn’t?! But then she asks if I still nurse. I say yes, of course I do (I firmly believe in it and won’t take a ‘cut her off if she isn’t ready for it’ argument from anyone.) and she knows it because she sees my cupkeiki too. The trick to her question though, was night nursing, which I do and often find myself doing anywhere from 2 to 8 times a night. “Time to stop.” She says.
So I started my weaning attempt on Friday, given that I’ve got a full house of avid sleepers, the weekend seems like a good time to make some noise, compared to a working weeknight. Did I mention I primarily co-sleep? Well, when you nurse all night it’s easier to have your little one right there, as opposed to in a crib or another room. Anyway, we laid down for the evening. Only this evening was a little different. I told my cupkeiki repeatedly before she fell asleep that, “tonight no nursing, just sleeping.” At 1:00 she woke up, after a solid four hours of sleep. I tried soothing her, reiterating the “no nursing.” idea. That’s where everything went wild. She started screaming, writhing around, tears were flowing. I had her father hold her, away from me. She reached and screamed and he held tight and talked calmly to her. He didn’t let go, it was my saving grace. The screams lasted for an hour and a half. It was emotional, and exhausting for us all. I wasn’t sure I would make it, but I stood my ground and waited. After the screaming stopped, I held her close and we rocked. She glared across the room for a half hour. Resisted with all her might at closing her eyes. She was mad, we were tired; it was a long two hours. But finally she fell asleep in my arms. I decided to try and lay her down. She immediately started to whine. I told her no milk, and she threw her arm around my neck and cuddled in. She accepted it, and we both fell asleep. Yesterday she woke up happy, big smiles, ready to play. It was nice. I researched all day long about night weaning. Panicked a little by the upcoming night, wanting advice, wanting to read other people’s tales. It was, to say the least, a little bit frustrating to read other people’s takes on weaning, and doctors feelings towards it. Then there were some great articles. Like this one, from Dr. Sears: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/sleep-problems/night-weaning-12-alternatives-all-night-nurser, and this helpful moms blog: http://attachedtoparenting.com/2012/10/30/how-i-night-weaned-in-7-days/. I talked endlessly about it with my sister-in-law who had done this. I needed reassurance, from myself mostly, that I was able to do it.
So, as bedtime drew near last night, we began the “talk” with my cupkeiki. “Tonight no nursing, just sleeping. Mama is sleeping, Baby is sleeping, and boobies are sleeping. Everyone is sleeping.” We had one last nurse before the lights went out. We cuddled in, she fell asleep and I…I panicked. I didn’t want to repeat the previous nights scream-a-thon. I was afraid I would give in. I wondered if it was the right time, despite what my doc said. I checked the time like clockwork. When 1:00 rolled around I was gearing up for it, then nothing. 2:00, still nothing. Just a keiki doing some dreaming, and actually a little self-soothing. Was it really happening this quickly?! No, 3:00 came with the rooting, and then the frustration of not getting what she wanted. I told her no milk, no nursing just sleeping. I rubbed her back and let her cry it out for 10 minutes. And just like that she quieted down and went back to sleep. I told myself at 5:00, if she was wanting I would give. 5:30 came with the rooting and we nursed until she rolled off. I was doing a serious happy dance in my head. I couldn’t believe that the night went so well. I expected it to be the same, if not worse, than the night before. I’m hopeful today that tonight will go ok. I don’t want set-backs but I am also going to be realistic about this. I waited this long to do it, and in cupkeiki land 16 months is a long time and she’s got some set in ways about how nights should go. If I’m lucky tonight will be like last night and we will both be on our way to all night sleep. My fingers are crossed.