I really need some advice. I know this may be more appropriate to the Nighttime Parenting forum, but there are a bunch of single mommy issues and emotions tied in, that I prefer to post here, if it's ok.
DS is almost 26 months. He does not sleep more than 2-3 hours at a stretch AT MOST for me. I have been doing this for 26 months. I am exhausted, depleted, beyond tired. I have slept for more than 4 hours straight probably 3 times in the last 2 years. I can't concentrate on anything. I can't even read. I forget important things. I pay bills late. I am tired. Lately it is affecting my patience level and motivation to get out and do fun things with DS. As well as my ability to set consistent and appopriate boundaries and limits. It is affecting my business and ability to make ends meet. This is the most depleted and exhausted I've ever felt.
DS has mainly co-slept. He has a "big boy bed" now (mattress on the floor), which he loves and is excited about. He asks to go in it. Occasionally will ask for mommy's bed instead or ask to move in the middle of the night (both of which I allow if he asks), but I have the strong sense that he is working toward the independence of sleeping in his own bed... that he wants that. Alternately, he may be asking for it because of things his father and his father's wife have told him about co-sleeping. They don't do it. Their baby is 7 months and sleeps all night in a crib and is bottle fed. The 1st time he asked for his own bed, he told me he wanted to "tell A__" (ex's wife).
My problem is the nightwaking. He is insistent upon nursing with every nightwaking. He nurses A LOT all night long, especially in the early morning hours. That, quite honestly, is how I started co-sleeping in the 1st place. It allowed me more sleep by not having to get up all night long. Now he wants to sleep in his bed but still wants/needs (?) me to come in and lie with him and nurse every couple of hours. I am up and down all night long. I'm not that comfy in his bed. I'm even tireder than I was before. I often find myself feeling resentful of the night nursing and very frustrated. And guilty for feeling those things.
Twice in the last couple of months he has essentially spent the night at my parents house. I have dropped him off there so I can go out. They will babysit and put him to bed in their bed and co-sleep with him until I get there, then whenever he wakes, he comes in the guest bed with me. But the last 2x, he hasn't woken and just slept all night through in their bed, not knowing I was there. And was totally fine the next day. Eager to nurse, but happy. So he CAN do it. Interestingly, he has also spent the night with his father 2x recently (in his own bed). He has not slept through there. He is easily comforted when he wakes (so I'm told), but wakes several times and gets up very very early and comes home exhausted. He is supposed to be doing this 1 night every 2 weeks now (but that's a whole other thread!).
SO... I have thought repeatedly about trying to night wean him. Explain to him that "nursies" need to rest too and that he can nurse before bed, but not again until morning. Comfort him in any other way possible other than nursing and see if this eventually will stop the frequent waking. I have asked him if he'd like to try this and he says NO. I don't really believe in pushing kids to do things before they are ready. But I am really struggling. I have realized lately that my exhaustion is on a very deep level. I know he CAN do it. I also know it would be brutal and I'm not sure I'd end up following through. I wouldn't mind so much if it were only 1x/night or so. But all night long is putting me over the edge. And there is SO much stuff wrapped into this:
-every mother's fear of emotionally scarring their child!
-nursing being his special thing with me... probably some undesirable feelings of jealousy and fear of my ex and his wife becoming more important to DS than I am or something totally crazy like that.
-I am dating someone wonderful and special. DS sleeping through or at least better would make that SO much easier... but I am afraid of pushing DS for selfish reasons.
-fear that he will NEVER sleep. Everyone has told me he will gradually sleep more and more. This has not worked for us. He wakes more now than he did as an infant.
-Again... fear of traumatizing him... or forcing him into something before he's ready...
-fear that I'll do it and he won't sleep more anyway but also the thought that maybe this would only be a couple of rough nights and then he will SLEEP. He needs the sleep too.
I feel so mixed up and tired and desperate.
I'm not even certain how coherent I am being so tired. I may come back later to edit. But I have to leave work and want to post this so I don't lose it.
Greatly appreciate any thoughts, advice, btdts... whatever.
Thank you for reading all of this!