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June 16, 2006 / allyo

New topic, please?

Ok, I’ve been putting off the final, last, I-really-mean-it-this-time, post about nightweaning. Because I’m really tired of talking about sleep. But, in case our struggles might help someone else, I guess I’d better end the story. Jamie – nightweaned? Check. Jamie – sleeps through the night? Eh, usually.

For us in the end it all hinged on Jamie understanding that no nursing at night does not equal no nursing, ever. Once that happened, he started sleeping through the night at least half the time, and the other nights, he goes back to sleep without nursing, sometimes without protest, sometimes with, but usually within 5 minutes.

I’ve spent a few nights in his room, both before "the light bulb," and once since. I realized a few nights into this process that the last couple of times we’ve done this I’ve started while cosleeping. It eases his anxiety about not nursing to have me right there, and for a wonderfully charmed stretch of a couple of months (10-12 months) he slept almost all night in bed with me without waking. Until this last time, I had not cut the 5 am(ish) nursing session, for a couple of reasons that boil down to simple exhaustion – his and mine. Getting him to sleep 95% of the night took so much effort on my part that one waking close to morning was just fine for a long time. And he was so overwhelmed by the process at that point, it just wasn’t worth it to me to keep at it. This time was different. This time was for keeps, and I knew that we had to cut that last feeding – no nursing until morning. That’s what was causing the anxiety.

Here’s my public service announcement. When they say that babies are developmentally ready to sleep through the night at such-and-such an age, they’re talking about physical readiness, not emotional. For us, until Jamie was able to understand the concept of "morning," and "we nurse when we wake up," nightweaning was never going to stick. Looking back now, it makes perfect sense.

Regrets? Just one. Not side-carring the crib and cosleeping from the first. For Jamie, that would have been the ideal situation and the one that would have consistently afforded me the most sleep. And he may have been able to understand "no nurse until morning" easier and earlier if he had the security of sleeping next to me all those months. Then again, maybe nightweaning would have been harder in the end. I’ll never know and I did the only thing any parent could do. I did the best I could with the knowledge I had.  What I don’t regret is doing all this at his pace. That I don’t regret at all.

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If anyone wants more details about our nightweaning saga, click on the "Nighty-night (sleep tight)" category or email me.

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