or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › Sleep & BF Issues - almost 4 year old. I am losing my mind.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Sleep & BF Issues - almost 4 year old. I am losing my mind.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I don't even know where to start... I am so tired, and frustrated.  My DD1 will be 4 in May.  She has always been a higher needs kid.  I always think of her as a "more" child.  She is just more of everything.  So while she is needier she also is filled with so much joy, humour and creativity.


We have always co-slept and I never really worried about getting her to sleep through the night.  I figured it would be something she would do when she was ready (or at least get to just waking up once).  She has ALWAYS had sleep issues.  When she was an infant sometimes she would wake up for hours in the middle of the night and there was nothing I could do to get her back to sleep.  Or she would wake up really early.  Then when she was 2 she would wake up screaming - like a night terror but it didn't seem to be.  When I was pregnant I was able to get her to stop nursing between bedtime and 5am.  She was also in her toddler bed, with me in a twin beside her.  


When DD2 was born shortly there after we started having to live with various family members while my DH got the our new home ready.  During that time I would just let her nurse as much as possible so she wouldn't wake up other people.


When we moved into our house DD2 was 3 months.  I thought it would be a good time to get DD1 to sleep in her bed again and to stop nursing at night.  I tried to cut her off for a week and it was the worst week.  She would SCREAM all night.  Basically it was like she lost her mind.  I won't go into details but I can't think of any child having a bigger, longer meltdown.  I tried to stay calm and sympathetic but it was useless.


I have tried various techniques since then to get her to stop nursing at night. Including making sure she isn't getting gluten, dairy or eggs which she is sensitive to.


If she was waking up once or even twice to nurse for a couple minutes and then going back to sleep it wouldn't be a big issue.  Instead she is wanting to stay latched on.  When I try to get her to stop she starts throwing a fit most of the time.  Sometimes my DD2 who is now 8 months will get restless and then DD1 might be kicking me and grabbing at me.  It takes every bone in my body not to throttle her. :(  Often I get stuck sleeping with both girls on top of my arms nursing.


DD1 also seems to have a bit of tactile defensiveness.  She insists on sleeping naked, and often she will start kicking the covers off of her and me even though our room is cold!  Sometimes she will try to get me to not touch her at all (except for my breast).  I find this really hard to deal with. (she also often freaks out about how her clothes feel and hates sticky things - however other then that she has no other sensory issues).


I am working from home about 10+ hours a week while DD1 is at preschool in the mornings.  I do this while watching DD2.  It is hard, and even harder when I am tired.  I am also teaching ballet for another 7 hours, and I am doing an accounting course from home.  I can't afford to be tired!!!


I just want to get DD1 sleeping at night!!!  I don't know how to do it.  I can't afford to take time off work and my DH is more of a hinderance.  In fact ideally he would go away while I started the night weaning process, which even if I try a gentle approach will be met by protest.


DD2 who is a good sleeper is now having her sleep disturbed by DD1, and I am worried it is setting her up for bad sleep habits. 


I have PPD and when we have bad nights it just gets so bad.  I have a history of self-harm and eating disorders, and when the PPD gets bad all those thoughts come forward.


I don't really know what I am asking because I just feel like there is no solution, at least nothing to help with the immediate future.


Thank you for listening.


post #2 of 16

grouphug.gif Big hugs mama! I feel so badly that you are going through all of that!


I have not BTDT yet but my DD is very SPIRITED so I may be of some help on that point. I highly recommend the book

"Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

I also love the workbook. I find the info to be very accurate and helpful in dealing with DDs "sensitivities".


I am sorry but as far as NWing goes I have no experience. I tried to NW DD once and she did what yours did. She is much younger though.

Have you had a convo with her explaining why she can't have milk at night? I'm sure you have, but thought I would throw that out there. Maybe make it a responsibility. Like "It would be so helpful to mommy if you topped having milk at night. Mommy needs to sleep more so that I can be the best mommy for you. If you can wait until the morning for milk I would really appreciate it and I would be able to make special time for just the two of us."


I hope someone will have more advice for you.

post #3 of 16

Oh Mama...I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I can't imagine how hard this must be on you. ((((((((hugs))))))))))



I have no advice to give you, because I'm not there yet...but my DS sounds so much like you're DD that it's not even funny. I know how it feels to be so tired that you feel like you might actually be considered legally insane. I will be taking notes and sending you peaceful vibes.

post #4 of 16

Sleep issues are so hard.  hug.gif  Good luck with finding something that works out.



From our house:


When nursing became painful for me (when dd1 here was 2.5 or so) I tried to work with her on cutting back.  I decided I'd always say yes to let her nurse when she wanted, but I needed her to stop if I asked.  I like to think that it was helpful knowing I'd always say yes - and I made sure she knew that it was painful for mama and that's why we couldn't do it as long anymore (she was always very sensitive to people being hurt - so it was within what she understood).  She was sad about it alot, which I think was the hardest.  I tried to incorporate new 'bedtime' stuff like music hoping that something new would help replace what she missed about nursing.  Over 6 months or so she stopped nursing.  There were still bedtime issues for awhile, sure, but I tried to be pretty gentle with her while making sure that I wasn't getting angry about the nursing situation we had.    


As for some of the disruptive sleeper struggles (dd1 is and was a restless kicking sleeper but needed to be right next to someone, and took hours to relax for bed even as an infant - also a higher needs kid) - I know there were times I'd try out different homeopathic and similar remedies.   They did seem to help for us (namely rescue remedy & rescue sleep remedy, and kids calms forte) whether they helped dd1 calm down at bedtime better or just helped me in feeling like I was doing *something* to try to help out the situation (and therefore wasn't so tense/angry about the bad bedtimes so they went better for that reason).  

Depending on how you feel about those remedies (or other out there) it might help everyone out.


Don't forget about asking her what she thinks might help the situation.  We've found that giving dd1 more control (as in helping decide how to handle a bad situation) helps her deal with things that she'd normally struggle against.  Framing it as trying to find a way to help your other dd sleep better/more soundly might give her something to focus on rather than her own upset/anger about minimizing nighttime nursing.  

post #5 of 16

I'm sorry--this is really hard. What worked for me when I nightweaned my DS at 2.5 was to limit nursing to one place in the house--in our case, the couch. He still co-slept, but we did not nurse in bed at all. It was a tough couple of weeks, and we definitely had some early mornings getting up to nurse on the couch, but it seemed like a more clear limit for him. Otherwise he kept waking up all night see if it was morning and nursing time yet.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.


I do own Raising Your Spirited Child, although I haven't done more then skim it.  This reminded me maybe it is time to actually read it. :P


I really like the idea of asking DD for solutions.  I know it probably won't lead to her night weaning but at least I can get in her head!  She is like a different person at night and there is no talking to her or rationalizing with her.  So something she says in the day will not hold up at night.  


Yuba - That is a good idea too! Perhaps I could try just putting a chair in our room.  My 8 month old is in bed with me so I wouldn't want to go downstairs and leave her but perhaps just getting up and going to a chair might help.  I am actually excited to give this a try!  


My chiro gave me a name of a sleep doula.  Apparently she is really good and my chiro and most of her clients are very AP, so it sounds like this sleep doula could be helpful.  Although I would really rather do it myself.


Last night was a bit better, but DD woke up and didn't want me to touch her, or have the covers touch her and still wanted to nurse.  When this happens I get SO frustrated.  I just picked her up and she went and slept with DH for a bit. :)

post #7 of 16
I was going to suggest some kind of outside help. A sleep study, taking you out of the equation for a weekend (take your DD away) and seeing how she does with your DH, an eval for SPD.... just some suggestions.
post #8 of 16

There might be some helpful information in this article: http://www.kellymom.com/parenting/velcrochild.html

post #9 of 16


I don't claim to be an expert, but having you say that she is a "different person" during the day and night made me think that perhaps she has some sleep disorder? Perhaps getting her evaluated is not a bad idea, maybe night terrors? Like I said, I'm no expert, but I'd probably be asking my ped for a sleep clinic referal.

Good luck, I hope you get some help!

post #10 of 16
Hi, I have a still nursing 3 1/2 yo DS. I frequently feel tired of nursing, but had figured he would stop when he was ready and would sleep through the night by now, but no. I was finding myself especially annoyed with nighttime because we cosleep and he wants to be latched on all night, always has, and I'm sort of tired of it. It was really starting to affect my mood during the day, not to mention having zero time with my husband. I had tried talking to him and had read The No Cry Sleep Solution, tried the "Pantey pull off" to no avail. Finally I decided to try something I never thought I'd do and so far it's really working.

I told him one night in desperation that if he would fall asleep, then let mommy's nipple out of his mouth and sleep, sleep, sleep until morning without nursing that I'd buy him a train. The first night I got about 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep, the second night about 6 and pretty much since then, he's earned a train every night(about a week and a half). If he wakes up in the night and wants to nurse, I let him, but I remind him that if he nurses he won't earn a train. Sometimes he just says he really needs to nurse, so again, I let him. We had a few tearful mornings when he didn't earn a train and didn't quite understand why, but now he's doing great. I never thought I'd bribe my child, but it was the only thing I could think of that first night. And then the next night he asked me if he could try to earn a train. So it motivates him. My husband said it's not a bribe, it's a performance based incentive- that sounds better. I have no idea how long this will go on. But it really is nice to be able to nurse him to sleep, then have my body to myself all night.

In general, I am against this sort of approach to most areas, but I will say that it is working right now and I think both of us are sleeping better. So, my suggestion is to see if you can think of something that might motivate your dd to really try to go through the night without nursing. I probably could have gotten away with a smaller offering, but the train offer just came out- it seemed like the only thing he might like more than nursing! And now I know he can sleep without nursing. So next I'll work on being able to actually sleep in my comfortable bed with DH! (DS and I currently sleep on a mattress on the floor right next to the big bed)

You may be totally opposed to this approach(as I am), but I thought I'd share what's been working for us. Good luck, I know how frustrating it can be nursing all night, but your situation sounds even more challenging with her sensory issues about touching you, etc.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

I am totally not opposed to bribery for this situation. ;P Unfortunately NOTHING will get her to stop.  We tried letting her pick out a new doll... we even put a pic of it in our room so she could see it when she woke up.  No effect... although during the day she is totally in to the idea.


I did talk to my ped about it but he just said night wean and stop co-sleeping and everything will be better.  I really trust him overall, but for anything like sleep, food sensitivities etc. he is not the guy to talk to.


I actually posted in special needs about her freaking out about the blankets touching her at night (among other things).  It seems to be the newest "issue".  She wakes up and FREAKS out about the blankets, and then often resolves to have them on.  Unfortunately I got no responses over there. 


Right now both my girls are really sick with a cough but they both get asthma like symptoms when they are sick. I have been up since 1am (it is almost 7am) here now.  It just seems like there is always something keeping us up at night.


The sleep deprivation is really getting to me.  DD2 fell down our stairs (13 of them) because I wasn't on the ball, and then I lost my car keys and had to have my car towed and new keys made. Ugh.

post #12 of 16

Well DD is 4 y/o have you tried her in her own bed? Maybe a special bed still in your room? with no covers!

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Honestly I feel like I have tried it all.  The only thing I haven't stuck to is to force the issue - because it means we are up ALL night.  I stuck to it for a week and then I just couldn't take it anymore... she is very persistant!  She has a toddler bed right next to me which she will sometimes start the night out in but she always ends up with me.

post #14 of 16
I would see about getting help with her sensory issues.

Also, how much is she nursing during the day? Getting strict on daytime nursing habits really helped our nightweaning efforts!
post #15 of 16

Just read your post mama; wow!  I dont have much in terms of advice for you but wanted to send some hugs your way.  We are dealing with sleep issues too so I know how difficult this is .  My DS who is now almost 3.5 nursed until he was almost 3.  He and I slowly worked until he no longer needed to be breastfed.  I used to nurse him whenever he wanted up until bedtime.  When he turned at night I started telling him that tutus (the breast as he calls it) needed to sleep.  I showed him how dark it was and that night meant it was time to sleep.  I didn't push it, but as time went by he understood that tutus was sleeping.  The last to go was the at bedtime nursing which eventually stopped when I got pregnant.  I told my DS that tutus was feeling sick and he was quite understanding.  I gave him when he insisted by gently reminded him that tutus does not feel well.



We were going through a transition before he was weaned and spent time moving around quite a bit between friend's houses until we eventually moved to a new area and bought a home.  I found that the transition affected my DS he seemed to cling more; I dont know if this could also be a factor with your little one.  The weaning process started once we were settled in our new place.  I try to spend a lot of time during the day with my DS and I found that doing so helps to make him feel more secure and curbs some of his anxiety.  In return he was willing to nurse less particularly during the night.


Recently (2 days ago) we moved him to a little mattress in our room.  With the new pregnancy it was becoming difficult.  I lay down with him and read to him and then hug him until he falls asleep.  So far this is going well but it has only been 2 nights.


There are times in the process when Ive felt like Im going mad.  But I take a deep breathe, and try and remain calm.  When things seem unbearable I get DH to take my little one while I try to energize to deal with the situation.


I really hope something works out for you and your family.

post #16 of 16

I went through this with my now 6 yr old. Even though I was exhausted I really had to be firm and mean it when I told him no nursing at night. Before going to bed we talked about how I wasn't going to let him nurse no matter what, and that I really needed to sleep, and that I knew he could go through the night without nursing an be a big boy. Then at night I would sleep on my stomach so he couldn't latch on while I was asleep.

     As a last resort I would suggest you go away for a weekend and leave your husband at home with your dd. Sleep deprivation is not healthy for anyone! You need your sleep!


     I only scanned the other responses, but I think someone mentioned getting your dd's health checked out. I would also recommend that. Particualarly ears and teeth. Both can cause increased pain while lying down or at night, relieved by the sucking motion.

    best of luck!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Co-sleeping and the Family Bed
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Co-sleeping and the Family Bed › Sleep & BF Issues - almost 4 year old. I am losing my mind.