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court-mandated overnight for 23mo DD ... your thoughts?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
My DD is 23 months and has been BF since birth, also raised by me exclusively, except for minimal "parenting time" with her father. Before her birth we agreed to practice AP, including but not limited to BFing, co-sleeping, cloth diapers. Her father abandoned us when she was weeks old (as well as his commitment to AP); he'd come back on occasion but never as a full-time parent. He's had visitation rights revoked by court order twice; but now he has several hours a week with her. She knows him as a playmate.

She's to have her first overnight with him next month (about a 36-hour time span). Then she'll have two non-consecutive overnights each month with him, as well as vacation time.

She still nurses, sometimes all day/all night. One constant is she still nurses at night, everynight. She nurses to sleep, wakes to nurse, and sometimes nurses in her sleep. She has a nursing fest in the morning upon waking.

I've been criticized in court by her father for "controlling" her by BFing her; I've been threatened by him to wean her. (FYI, her father is a batterer; the courts here are reluctant to recognize a batterer when one doesn't have a physical bruise or scar to reveal.)

He must be preparing her for the upcoming overnight; at bedtime one night recently she told me she doesn't want to have night-nights at his place. She then ended the conversation (I was telling her it will be fun; she'll be fine, etc.) and nursed to sleep.

I know my DD; she'll be strong and give it her best shot, but I'm left to ask, at what cost? She'll be stressed, tired and feeling let-down. Will she think I let her down when she calls for me and I don't respond? (Her father has never tended to her at night, has refused responsibility of bathtime, and has not followed doctor's orders when she's in his care.)

Any insight would be appreciated. BTW, I've tried to help prepare her for change in little ways, here and there, over the last two months. Just to help her adjustment. Some of these she's met with resistence, others result in more nursing!
post #2 of 36
I dont know but you might want to cross post this in Single Parenting... those mamas know a lot!

I'm so sorry the court mandated that your dd has to go to his place overnight. I hope it goes okay for her, and that he decides it's too much work so doesn't wan to do it again.
post #3 of 36
I don't have any advice, but I'd be waiting for the midnight call from your ex to come get the little one who can't stop crying. He won't make it. He'll fold before the first night is half way over.

He may not even do the overnight thing, that is alot of responsibility and hard work. Specially if he can't even give her a bath.
post #4 of 36
no advice, just support and a for you and DD. I'm sorry you two are going thru this.
post #5 of 36
my heart goes out to you. my dd is 21 months old and i can't imagine being separated for an overnight for any reason. i assume you have tried to fight this in court? would he accept more frequent mini visits in lieu of overnights? i hope the above post is right and he gives up and doesn't want the overnights anymore.
post #6 of 36
I am so sorry. My stepson who was raised by his daddy, didn't make it in overnights with his mom until he was about 4 close to 5. I hope your ex will at least be responsible/caring and let dc come home if she is really upset. However, dss has surprised me at times by freaking out when mom comes to get him, but then being ok once he is at her house. Maybe it will be ok once they try it out.
post #7 of 36
I really hope the pp's are correct and she either does fine or your ex calls you in the middle of the night to come and get her. But if your ex is how you describe I could see a person like that just closing the bed room door and sleeping through it. I really really really hope everything goes ok and she gets through it like a champ.
post #8 of 36
i'm sorry; it sounds difficult & painful (more so since he is violent; that has got to make you twitch thinking about it. hopefully he will be one of the ones who limits his violence to big grownup ladies, eh?)

fwiw, it's not a night situation, but this is my experience: i thought my kids would freak at naptime at their mother's day out thingy, since they alwaysalwaysalways nurse to sleep, & it is the MAJOR nursing time around here. however, for those two days a week, they act like it is no big deal & seem to accept that going to sleep without nursing is just what you *do* when you're out. *shrug* who knew they'd adapt so easily. (they were a little older than your girl, but i hope her experience will be ok.) little reassurance, but you are probably reaching for whatever you can get, so...

post #9 of 36
so sorry your ex is putting you in this spot.
post #10 of 36
s I cannot imagine the pain of being forced to hand your baby off like that... But to give you hope; when ds2 was born ds1 spent a day or two (it's kinda fuzzy now) with a close friend with whom he'd spent a lot of time with already. She drove him to sleep one night (along with her kids) and a second night I think he just sort of passed out from fatigue (no nap) while watching a video. He had napped at her house before as well, so he was familiar with the area, and I don't think he even woke up at night while there! Of course when he got back home with dh (but without me -- I was still at the hospital), dh had a heck of a time getting him back to sleep as he wouldn't accept that mama wasn't there/available in the environment he was used to.

Good luck, mama!
post #11 of 36
if he doesn't follow dr orders, doesn't spend any time with her and there is even a possibility as far as the court is concerned that he is a batterer...then how on earth can teh courts even contemplate putting her in his care overnight?

I woudl fight this with everything you have...there is NO WAY I don't care who told me I had to.....I woudl NEVER let my 21 mth old son spend the night alone with his father, and he is a pretty nice guy!

can you have them delay it?
is he fighting for overnights? and if he doesn't even care to parent her then how does he think he is goona get thru an overnight?

and somebody tell the bloody courts you can't control a child with breastfeeding anymore than you can force a child to breastfeed!

to you mama, I am SO SORRY you and yoru dd have to go thru this!
post #12 of 36
My goodness. I can't even imagine what you are going through right now. My heart breaks for you.
I don't have any advice, but I'd be waiting for the midnight call from your ex to come get the little one who can't stop crying. He won't make it. He'll fold before the first night is half way over.
I agree.
I also agree that she'll probably adapt to not nursing to sleep very easily. DD, until last month, only nursed to sleep accept when she goes to Grandma's. She didn't have a problem there, at all. It's being away from you overnight and through the next day that will be the hardest on her. Even if it's tough for her, she'll be just fine.
post #13 of 36
s mama! I can imagine how hard that must be...my DD is 25m...
DH & I had our first 'away' night last weekend (to celebrate our anniversary) and left all 5 at home with my inlaws...
my 'baby' slept in our bed with my MIL...she woke a few times and asked for 'milkies' but my MIL said "mummy and daddy will be back tomorrow" and DD was okay with that...she did still wake ('cause that's her routine)...but adapted to the situation...
so I think there is hope that at around the 2y mark a child does have the ability to comprehend separation...and : Hope your DD (and you) do okay with it...
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 

thank you for all these positive vibes!

Mamas, you've been so wonderful to take the time to respond and send your support. Thank you.

I did follow on the suggestion of thismama and cross post this thread in Single Parenting ... hope I did it right!

To give you a little more info, especially in response to huntersmommy's post, the courts have been involved in our life since my DD was 8mo; it's unfortunate the way the family court laws are written & interpreted. If I don't allow my DD her time with her father, I would be violation of a court order and risk losing my status as having primary physical custody (even being a good mama causes risk; for example, my DD recently had the stomach flu with fever and was too ill for her outing with her father. Her father focused on his loss of rights in terms of visiting her -- rather than on her well-being -- and has threatened filing violation paperwork on me).

When it comes to domestic violence issues, at least as the family court here is concerned, everything I report is considered an allegation until proven. So in turn, my ex will report all sorts of lies and nasties about me. His tactic: The best defense is offense. It's a very ugly situation.

As for DD's visits with her father, generally she is happy to go with him. Though today she did not want to go and was very clingy, nursing non-stop before the pickup.

As much as I worry about how the overnights will go, I have to have faith in my little one's guardian angel(s) and in her strengths. She is very fluent for her age and will be able to express with words her wants and some of her feelings.

And while I think her father initially might make an effort (assisted by his mother or girlfriend because he can only parent when someone is telling him what a great dad he is) at somewhat responsible parenting, I don't think he'll have the patience for the long-term. But his ego will probably get in the way. That's when I fear for my daughter's well-being the most. The courts here have a wait-and-see attitude, which I find shameful.

suseyblue wrote:
hopefully he will be one of the ones who limits his violence to big grownup ladies, eh?
suseyblue, I would like to say that he has limited his violence to me, but he has acted out in her presence since she was in the womb and engaged her in his violence in some subtle and not-so subtle ways.

The idea that toddlers adapt better to not nursing during overnights when they're not expecting to nurse is encouraging. My fingers are crossed!

I hope I'm not blabbing on too much. I'll end for now. Thank you very much for the support. I appreciate it very much.
post #15 of 36
Hi Mama:

I'm coming over from the single mom's board . My younger DS, Adam, is also 23 months and has been going overnight with his dad (ironically enough also a batterer with a history of violence towards me and our older DS) one night per week for two months now. He is still nursing two or three times at night as well as frequently during the day. I gave some EBM to his dad to give Adam at bedtime, which was a big help, and I continue to pump for Adam while he is gone (and give the milk, which is being used, thankfully enough!). The ex tells me that he sleeps through the night over there, so I'm thinking he doesn't expect to nurse so he doesn't wake. Expect some extra clinginess for the first 2 days or so after the overnights, and lots of nursing during that time. Little nurslings are amazingly resilient - keep in mind that your DD knows that she will have the comfort of nursing when she returns, so she will likely adapt better than a child who is not nursing.

Best of luck to you - keep us posted on the outcome!
post #16 of 36
I'm so sorry and I can only imagine the amount of anxiety and stress you're feeling right now.

May I suggest talking with Jan Hunt at the Natural Child Project?? www.naturalchild.org.

She's a wonderful resource for AP families who are presented with challenges big and small. DH and I had a session with her (over the phone) to help us resolve some communication/difference a few months back. She's a wonderful listener, and a great resources for data/research and documentation. She may be able to refer you to some resources that may help you in the long run.

Good Luck and Bless you on your first time away from your baby.

Hugs and love-Joey
post #17 of 36


I wanted to add my higs and support to you and your dd.
I suppose you have already suggested that you spend that night with her at his house? I dont know if it works like that or not?
I will be thinking of you guys! Hugs!!
post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hi again. I'll check out the Jan Hunt site ... I've heard of her.

Overall it's a difficult situation because of the abuse and the controlling personality of DD's father. It's always best for me and her when I keep my distance from him.

Thanks again!
post #19 of 36
I've gone through 2 divorces while breastfeeding and have helped other nursing mothers and even the father of a nursing baby with visitation and breastfeeding issues. People that haven't been through it don't understand how difficult it is to work through the court system, and how expensive it can be.

My first husband was great. I let him see the boys pretty much whenever he wanted as long as it was only for a few hours. He didn't take them overnight until they were 4 and 7 and didn't start weekends until they were 7 and 10. He took them on vacation twice and I think the first time the youngest was 10 or 11. He married a woman who couldn't have children and she was great to them. The boys are now 22 and 25 and their stepmother unexpectedly died 2 years ago. Their father doesn't see them much now. He tends to think that parenting stops when children become adults.

My second husband was abusive only once. In a rage he ripped a bifold door off and hit me in my pregnant belly while I was protecting my two children. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital and filed for a restraining order. He choose a mental hospital rather than go to jail. He filed for divorce the day after our son was born. He came to the hospital once. At the divorce hearing he tried to get the baby taken from me because of my radical ideas - breastfeeding and homeschooling. He didn't want custody. I knew the judge's wife breastfed and they homeschool. When I got the order in the mail in about a month I was awarded sole custody and he could have visitation 2 hours on Sunday when it didn't interfer with breastfeeding.

My son is now 16 and has never met his father. I couldn't bring up being injured in court but my husband was so unreasonable and thought court was a time to tattle tale. I breastfed my oldest for 6 years. It was like one of those TV court shows. He didn't know the judge was pro-breastfeeding.

I hope things work out for you and your child. Try to do things during the time your child is gone that will take your mind off him being gone. When I had just my two older sons, I would make a list of things I wanted to do while they were with their father.
post #20 of 36
One thing to try is to write up for him whatever your normal bedtime routine with her is so that you've made it possible for him to do the same things with her (minus the nursing of course).
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