We have two boys, now ages 5 and 3. We're expecting #3 in April.
I've had sufficient time to reflect on the babyhoods of my boys, and have had one year now of them both sleeping through the night (neither did until they were two). This is what I've learned from that reflecting: I believe that my ultra-responsive nighttime parenting negatively impacted my much less responsive daytime parenting. In short, I was too tired to be a really good mom most of the time;or, which I think happens to be worse, to truly enjoy their babyhoods. Looking back, from this perspective of lots of rest and lots of energy, I was really not the person I wanted to be during that time.
Please note that this is not a vote against "ultra-responsive nighttime parenting." This is a highly personalized reflection based on who I am and the amount of sleep I need to be the person I want to be. And what I've decided is that I don't want to be cranky and exhausted for this third baby's first two years.
So what do I do? There's no way I could handle any crying. It's true that my husband will be of more help-- he was in medical residency for the babyhoods of the first two kids, and often wasn't even home at night. But will that be enough?
An acquaintance of mine, whom I am trying to get to know better, has two boys and she says she has successfully gotten them to fall asleep without nursing from an early age. She credits this with their ability to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. We practiced EC with both kids, including at night when they wanted to, and I always found that nursing to sleep simply made them wake up more frequently because they needed to pee... and then they needed to nurse to sleep again. What a vicious circle! So the not nursing to sleep sounds, well, practically good.
But I can't believe that I would be able to do it. How on earth does one teach a baby not to fall asleep at the breast, practically? At what age, and what about naps? And how on earth does one teach a baby not to fall asleep at the breast from an emotional standpoint? Is easier sleep really worth sacrificing that delicious moment of the fluttering last couple of sucks, the contented roll off the breast, the sleepy milky smile in your arms?
You can clearly see I'm torn here. But this I do know: I want to continue being a happy person, and I want to be able to say that I enjoy having a baby. I couldn't say that for most of my children's first years because I was truly just too exhausted most of the time.
Edited by Aletheia - 10/28/11 at 8:29pm