This is going to be super-long, so thanks in advance to anyone who reads through it all. This definitely isn't the first time I've posted about nightweaning my older son, and probably isn't the second either LOL.
For some background, DS1 is 4, DS2 will be 2 next month, and I tandem nurse all day and all night. It's NOT easy but for the most part I've gotten used to it. Of course I'm sleep-deprived, but my primary motivation for wanting to nightwean is because we'd really like to have another baby sooner rather than later, and my cycle is nowhere in sight. I believe I only got it back after DS1 because I got an awful stomach bug when he was 14 months old and I became severely dehydrated, and my milk pretty much dried up for a couple days (during which he continued to comfort-nurse, and my supply returned when I got better). So anyway, we figured we'd nightwean DS1 first and then DS2 if necessary. While DS2 does nurse a few times at night, it's not as frequently as DS1 and he's okay with not being latched on ALL NIGHT, whereas that's what DS1 would prefer.
We first tried to nightwean DS1 when I was pregnant with DS2 (he was 22 months) and we tried the Dr. Sears approach of just letting Dad take over nighttime (I hate to say "letting him cry" with Dad, but that's pretty much what it was). The first two nights were pretty awful, then it got better and better and after about a week he was pretty much STTN, waking just once but going back to sleep without crying by cuddling with DH. Then one night, something happened and it turned into an hour-plus battle where he was tantrumming, running around the room, banging his head on the wall, and DH was beginning to lose it so I came in and we called it quits; we decided he just wasn't ready. (at that point, we felt it was pretty much an all-or-nothing thing... reading this back now I'm thinking we still could have moved forward in a more gentle way)
The next time he was semi-nightweaned was right after DS2 was born. DS2 and I slept in the guest room for a few months while DH and DS1 slept in our room. When DS1 would wake, DH would try (not too hard) to get him back to sleep, then would bring him to me to nurse. Usually we'd all fall asleep in the guest room (poor DH on the floor!) but then DH would bring him back to the bedroom whenever he could. After several weeks of this, DS1 was pretty much STTN (or waking and going back to sleep with DH) until the very early morning, around 4:00-5:00 AM he'd need to nurse back to sleep or else he'd be up for the day (which none of us wanted!).
When DS2 was a few months old and we all started sleeping together in our family bed, DS1 completely un-nightweaned. (In retrospect, we should have swapped rooms because the guest room would eventually be his room anyway, and slowly weaned him from DH needing to sleep with him... of course hindsight is 20/20! But at that point we also wanted to continue to cosleep). DH has always contended that if we want him not to nurse, he needs to sleep separately from me. Which made me sad because I enjoy cosleeping and I hate the idea of him feeling like I'm abandoning him (even if he is with DH, to whom he's very attached) but from a practical standpoint, sometimes we "need" to cosleep (IMO). Like when we travel (to my in-laws or wherever) we all sleep together, though I suppose we don't have to, and whenever DH is gone at night I like to sleep together. I guess I don't have to cosleep in those situations, but I hate feeling like it's not even an option and that if we do, it will completely reverse our nightweaning efforts.
Which brings me to now.... we decided it needed to be done, both for my sanity and to try to get my cycle back. DH said we needed to do Sears again and have them sleep together in DS's room (where he's been starting the night, then joining us when he wakes). I was reluctant, for the reasons stated above, but trusted DH that it made the most sense, especially because I would still be sleeping with DS2 and we didn't want DS1 to wake him up at night if he fussed/cried. We were prepared for a battle because DS1 is VERY spirited, persistent, strong-willed. What happened instead was, the first night, when he woke, he didn't fuss or cry but just calmly sat/laid there and kept asking DH to bring him to me, saying he wanted to see Mama and Brother, etc. Flat-out wouldn't go back to sleep. After an hour and a half, DH finally gave up and brought him to me. I did nurse him at that point, but the next time [I remember] I said no let's cuddle instead, just to see what would happen. Same thing. No crying or tantrum, just WOULD.NOT.SLEEP. Kept calmly asking to nurse. I kept at this for a while, eventually nursed him, repeat.... until finally around 6:30 AM I realized he had to sleep at some point so I just nursed him and let him sleep latched on so we could both get a few hours (DH got up with DS2).
Sooooooooooo..... that seemed like a great plan. Still cosleep, mama says no, DS doesn't fuss and eventually learns to sleep some other way. Except I'm so tired and conditioned from nightnursing for 4+ years that I keep nursing him without even realizing it. Sometimes I say no when I'm alert enough but it's horribly inconsistent. Oh, and on top of it all DH has an incredibly demanding and high-stress job, so I feel like I can't ask too much of him (like I can't ask him to just tough it out in DS's room, no matter how long he keeps him awake).
So, if you've made it through all this, does anyone have any advice or experience or commiseration? Thanks in advance for any replies.