Saturday night was the first time ever in which I did not breastfed Elizabeth during the night. And it was a little bit rough. It needed to happen, though; this (pregnant) mama can’t keep up with the demands of a nursing toddler in the middle of the night. And that sweet toddler doesn’t need to be feeding once the sun goes down anyway, now that she is eating plenty of solid foods during the day.
A little back story…she was a great sleeper as a newborn and infant. She would wake every three to four hours to nurse and it’d be right back to sleep; this went on for the first nine weeks. From ten weeks to five months, she basically slept through the night, nursing for the last time at 10/11pm and not waking until morning. But then she got sick with a mild cold and it was then that she began waking repeatedly to nurse. And she never went back to sleeping through! Many nights, she’s up every hour or two; sometimes I can lay her back down without nursing but most of the time she protests big time and I feed her on one side. She wakes again shortly after (like I said, an hour or two or three) and she wants to feed again.
While I have felt like she has been old enough to sleep through the night for awhile, I haven’t been confident that she wasn’t waking due to hunger. I’d think,”is she having enough protein during the day?” and “is she getting enough calories?” and because I wouldn’t know the answers, I kept on nursing pretty much on demand during the night. And it was killing me! TMI alert: My poor nipples. They don’t ever want to breastfeed again!! Yet I am currently 15½ weeks along with another little one and I certainly want to nurse him or her the way I’ve done with the others so I need to think positively of breastfeeding over the next several months otherwise I’m going to be pretty unhappy going into a new nursing relationship.
In the last few weeks, since recovering from illness, Elizabeth has been eating lots of solids. Her diet is pretty balanced and the only thing she needs to increase is her milk and water consumption. So, for the time being I have decided to nurse her in the morning, sometime after she has breakfast, and in the evening, far enough away from bedtime that she doesn’t associate it with sleep.
Saturday night she nursed on both sides at 8:30 after not having nursed since 7am. She then stayed up until 10:20 (she’d had a late nap) and when I put her to bed, she went down without much ado. She woke up at 12:45am and was livid and totally confused as to why I wasn’t picking her up and sitting in our chair to nurse. She was “talking” while crying, trying to convey to me that I wasn’t doing the normal routine and maybe I just needed to be reminded. :( It was super sad. And I was reeeaaalllyyy tempted to cave in. But I didn’t, I just talked quietly to her and told her it was time to sleep. I picked her up after a few minutes, when she was still not calming down, hugged her and walked around the room a little. Once she was settled down, I put her back in bed and she was very upset but only for a very brief time. I sang a lullaby to her and she became very still, and started drifting off. She complained a few more times and then she was asleep. She had those little crying hiccups in her sleep, which made me feel so bad! But then…she slept! The next time she woke was 3-something, and she just did some complaining, not crying. Same thing happened at 6-something. She got up for the day early, at about 6:35. Overall, I was pretty content with how night one went, especially considering I wasn’t expecting to get any sleep at all.
The second night started with her getting in bed around 9pm. She had nursed a bit earlier than the evening before, at 7:30. She was fine going to sleep with me standing there and having my hand on her tummy. She woke at 11-something and really didn’t complain much at all; she went back to sleep quickly. But then she woke and did the same at 2ish, 3ish and 4ish. She then slept until almost 9am to make up for it, little stinker. I was not pleased with this night because our sleep was still broken terribly even though she wasn’t nursing. I had virtually no hope going into the next night.
And so she completely surprised me when she slept from the time she went to bed last night at 9:15pm all the way until 4am this morning!! That is THE LONGEST stretch of sleep she has had since she was about three months old!! I couldn’t believe it. She wasn’t upset, either. Not at all. She went right back to sleep. Yay! It means that night weaning has improved her sleep, and mine, and that was the goal. Well, that and giving my breasts a well-deserved break before I decided I never wanted to breastfeed again! lol
Here’s my sweet girl who is finally able to settle and drift to sleep without nursing. Even in the middle of the night. ^_^
Don’t mind the terrible photo quality – the room was nearly dark so I auto corrected it. :)