Hello, I'm hoping someone can help us. We've had a pretty stressful year life-wise, and I think that combined with dd being high need (at least for breastmilk) and me being a very attached mom, has led me to burnout. My dd is nearly 4, and we've mostly breastfed on demand till recently.
Right now dd breastfeeds 1-2 times during the day (falling asleep latched on if she takes a nap) and before bedtime (but not latched on to fall asleep). The problem is at night. For probably 6 months I've been getting more and more annoyed at night when dd wakes up and wants to nurse... this wasn't a big deal since it was only 1-2 times a night. My shoulders and back hurt when side-lying nursing in bed, and I can't sleep while she nurses any more. I tried the "wait until the sun comes up approach" boundary and that worked for a while. But for the past month, nearly every night, dd will wake up 2-5 times a night screaming/crying for breastmilk... it can be a huge tantrum, leaving me really frazzled and wide awake and my dh really annoyed, but eventually she will go back to sleep snuggled up. At first I thought it was a phase and tried nursing on demand through the night to help her through it, but it's still going on with no signs of letting up and I'm too annoyed. I still usually give her breastmilk the first time she wakes up (there isn't screaming usually the first time) but I'm so upset/angry when she wakes up screaming... and I refuse to give in and give her milk when she has a tantrum like that.
She's been really clingy in the day too... wanting to touch me all the time (with her finger in my belly button!) and not even wanting to stay at her grandmother's. She is having some discipline issues too (mostly minor, but getting worse) and sometimes my blood just boils and I don't want to do anything with her. She sings/talks/makes noise all the time, and that can drive me up the wall. The more annoyed I get or the more I pull away, the more persistent and clingy dd is, which then pushes me further.
This is really bringing me down. Being an attached mom and nursing on demand used to feel so natural. Now I'm just annoyed and resentful. I see my dd differently too, i.e. as a brat... so different from our earlier relationship which was mostly wonderful. I just feel so burned out. I feel like a terrible mom, doing all the wrong things, and that I'm ruining our beautiful, attached relationship that we had created. I don't know how to deal with the burnout or the night-waking. I think I'm too short on sleep, too depressed, and too far sunk into this situation now to see out or to be the grown-up here that I need to be. Any help in gaining perspective would be appreciated.
btw - I began posting about this under this thread: http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1314761/ive-lost-and-found-my-passion
Phew... thanks for reading.
She is still sleeping with you it sounds like? I know some people are only able to NW by spending a couple of nights sleeping in another room or something. For DS, I knew that wouldn't work, but it's something you could try... What I ended up doing was not nursing to sleep, and gradually lengthening the amount of hours between bedtime & when I'd be willing to nurse again. "We'll nurse when the sun's up" did work well for us, but if that's not working for you, you could try getting a light on a timer or something. I've also heard of some moms having success with waking their kid up to nurse (before kiddo wakes up on their own) -- and then once they're in charge of waking them up, they can slowly wake them up later & later.
DS cried and kicked & screamed a ton at first. It went on for 2+ weeks, which I think is unusual, most kids seem to adapt after less than a week. But it was worth it, now when he wakes up he just cuddles up to me and goes back to sleep. I never left his side and I was always available to hug & soothe him. Often he opted for me to sing a song to him or rock him back to sleep. Other times, like when I couldn't take the screaming anymore, I'd just say, "DS, if you want me to cuddle you, I need you to lie quietly," and he did want cuddles so he would usually settle down (but when he didn't, I'd have DH take him out of the room). So we had very little sleep for 2ish weeks, which I know isn't what you want to hear... but now we all sleep much much better. I could not have waited for him to just decide to stop night-nursing... I'm sure it would happen on its own eventually, but I just desperately needed the sleep to be a good mom, to WAH, etc. I wish we could have done it without the kicking & screaming, but to be honest he was screaming so much as it was (because he'd ask to nurse for the 200th time that night & I'd finally say no, he was getting mixed signals...) that it wasn't much worse, and again, I never left him alone to CIO or anything. IDK, I have mixed feelings about it & wish it could have been more child-led, but I do feel it was best for us at the time.
Well, I've resisted the idea of completely night-weaning so far because I've been so adamant about CLW and really believe it's best for dd... though I admit, the way I'm handling things lately aren't exactly CLW-approved. Dh and I have talked a lot about night-weaning... he has been so supportive of CLW and night-nursing, but he's said that now it might be for the best. I still feel like there must be a reason why dd is acting this way at night, and that I can still figure it out, and that if I night-wean it will be like further detaching from her and that would just compound the problem. Sigh. But we are cosleeping and I'm always right there for comforting her (though sometimes I'm so angry that she doesn't get much comfort from me and sometimes I just have to get up and walk out, leaving her with dh). I'll give it some more serious thought.
One other thing just occurred to me... about 6 weeks ago, dd had her first nightmare. She hasn't said anything about having any since, but maybe that's contributing to her new night neediness.
I get what you mean & and in an ideal world I would have totally let DS lead the way... but I don't believe that being angry and resentful and seriously sleep-deprived helps our kids at all. Sometimes you have to suffer through it (I felt I absolutely had to for DS's first 2 years because he didn't eat solids and physically NEEDED to night-nurse) but sometimes you need to step back and look at the whole picture and see if there's another way to meet everyone's needs.
I also don't think we are detaching from them by choosing to nightwean. When I was nursing at night, I'd just roll over & he'd pop on. There was little to no communication, there wasn't much in the way of snuggles because I had to position myself just so, to avoid being in pain & ensure I could fall back to sleep... and half the time I was silently seething. Since we nightweaned, when he wakes up he curls into my arms and I snuggle him back to sleep. Most of the time all he needs is my touch, but every once in a while he needs me to sing or tell him a story or rock him. The nightwakings are so much fewer that I rarely feel annoyed at them. Overall I feel we are much more attached and connected now, even though we only nurse during the day. Just something to think about, only you will know if it's right for you & your DD.
Just coming back to post a quick update on this... the day after my last post, the troubles vanished and dd started sleeping completely through the night... and the discipline issues and clinginess vanished too. So I'm thinking this was just a phase, perhaps beginning with the nightmare or something else entirely. I do remember that we tried on her winter clothes right before the problems started, but then when cold weather hit in December, some of those clothes were already too small... so maybe the fussiness was related to a growth spurt? I don't know. It was all really bizarre! I'm so glad that I hung in there with nursing (as much as I reasonably could) and that I didn't decide to wean early. It was really tough, but I think the breastmilk helped dd to get through whatever she was going through. Looking back, I suppose I should have been more patient and empathetic though.
Anyway, thank you so much crunchy_mommy for your replies and support when this was going on!!