DH asked me to post on here b/c we've been having the same conflict over DD's nursing for about a year now, and it doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon. We're at a loss about what to do!
DH first started suggesting that we actively wean DD when I was pregnant with DS, who is now 9 months old. DD was not quite 2 yet, and I had always assumed I'd at least nurse to age 2, so I said, "just a little longer." Then, as the birth of the baby drew closer, I realized that weaning her in the middle of all the rest of the major life transition was going to produce nothing but trauma. After the baby was born, she went through a phrase where she wanted to nurse night and day, every time the baby nursed. It was dreadful. DH and I had a lot of "I told you so" moments during those months.
So now, she's drawing close to her 3rd birthday, and we're still nursing. A lot. And she doesn't show any interest at all in stopping. For the most part, that's fine with me, but there are days when it's exhausting. And she melts down when I try to say no or establish some boundaries (like "no, we don't nurse in church"). Frequently she'll wail, "but my brother gets mama milk!"
We night-weaned her for a while when I was pregnant, but when DS was born she regressed to night-waking at least once/night to nurse. With a newborn also waking all the time in the night, I didn't have the energy to battle over the night-nursing, so we fell back into the habit. But now the baby's 9 months old, and they're both still waking at night to nurse, and it's getting Very.Old. I'm exhausted all the time from the interrupted sleep.
And then there's DH. Because nursing is so much a part of DD's routine, she won't have anything to do with him at night, screaming, "NOT you, only Mama!" and yelling "get outta my room!" If he persists in trying to get her ready for bed, she melts down into full temper tantrum mode, kicking and biting herself and throwing herself around the room. DH is understandably frustrated with this situation.
So here's the conundrum: DH thinks that the only way to get her to accept him as a nighttime parent is to wean her, while I can't figure out any way to wean her without assigning him all nighttime parenting. I don't particularly want to wean her altogether, because it seems clear that she still needs that connection with me. However, I'd like to be able to set some boundaries on the nursing relationship without the inevitable meltdowns that I've been getting as a result of any "no." And I definitely need DH to be able to do some nighttime parenting, because with both kids refusing to be comforted by their daddy, the night waking can be a real nightmare -- no pun intended.
What do we do?? Is weaning the answer, or are there ways of reducing the conflict around the nursing relationship without cutting her off altogether?
i have been through similar, although my DD was slightly older than yours when her brother was born. i put some limits on my daughter... not right away, but eventually.
can you find a way to talk quietly with your daughter sometime when you two can be ALONE. no brother, no dad. just mom and daughter. give her some nursing first, it will smooth things over. while she is nursing, communicate with her about your conundrum, how you are very tired at night, and that she is big enough now to not nurse overnight. that her brother is still a baby, and that you always nursed her overnight when she was still a baby, and that by the time he is three, he will also be expected to go overnight without nursing.
offer her a special treat in exchange for giving up the night time nursing. ask her what that might be, what would appeal to her the most? SHE CAN DO THIS!! certainly she is old enough. tell her she can still nurse before bed (and eventually you should put limits on the duration of this, too... like, she can nurse just for the ABCs or something) but you do need to stop the overnights because it is making you too tired.
if it were me, i'd leave the DH out of the conversation with your daughter as much as possible.
personally, i'm in charge of all night time parenting here in my house, so my DH's opinions on the topic never even come up. i also pay the price with all of my own fatigue.
it is nice that he is helping with nighttime parenting.
i predict that if you can get your daughter's BUY-IN, she can begin sleeping through the night entirely, and your husband won't have to wake up to "help" her in any way, at all.
IMO, the important part here for you is to make sure it is your daughter's BUY-IN. between you and her. she's doing you a "favor" and you are paying her back with a big girl reward.
of course others may have other suggestions; a variation of this is what worked for me.
if you want to try something else, more power to you. i say, whatever works!
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
I don't have specific advice about going about it. But if I were in your shoes I would focus on trying to night wean her. Personally I've always needed dh's help with nightweaning. If I were in the room with either ds they would not be consoled when mama was denying them nursies. Ds 2 (2yrs now), although as an infant was a better sleeper than his older brother has been worse to night wean. We started at 18 months and we still have residual night wakings. He screams at dh, but eventually calms down. He would scream at me too if I went and didn't nurse him , so at least with dh it is of shorter duration. She is old enough to talk about it though and so I would try to have some coversations with her about it.
SAHM to 3 boys and 1 man; 22 , 9, 5 and now 1 year old!
My 2 y/o nephew was formula fed and doesn't want anything to do with his dad at bedtime. I don't think weaning your dd will make any difference.
Your dh can take over bedtime, but he needs to develop his own skills to deal with his dd.
FWIW - I weaned my first child very young and wish, in many ways, that he was still nursing (he's 3.5). He's had to handle so much - getting a new sibling, watching DD nurse whenever she wants, knowing DD can come into my bed to nurse, we moved, we have loud-trauma-inducing neighbors, and DH got a new career that involves shift changing and often not being there for parts of the day or not that DS is accustomed to. If he were still nursing, he'd have a much better way to cope with it all. Instead, he hangs on my leg, cries, punches walls, chews, bites, and sucks on anything within reach. After so much stress, I ended up allowing him to have a pacifier again and it certainly has helped in some ways, but I think the most damage done involves the sibling jealousy. All in all, he's gotten through DD's first year and the worst of the tantrums and night waking is finally over, I just know it would have been so comforting for him to be able to nurse (he'd been weaned so long he didn't even remember how) like his sister does.
As for your DD - perhaps just nightweaning is a better option? You don't have to cut her off completely from something so helpful to her, but she is old enough for limits now, whether she is wild about them or not. You are very important too - and this situation needs to improve for your sake, and for theirs.. because I know once I start reaching the end of my rope, my nice-mama skills start to slip too. DH took over nighttime parenting for DS. He also changes and brings DD to me when she wakes (she sleeps in her crib first half of the night, and then comes to bed with us). Of course his schedule change recently has meant I'm often doing this on my own now, but getting DS a cup of water and giving him a kiss is a lot less exhausting and time consuming than nursing the both of them would be. I remember that DS wasn't thrilled when DH initially took over as night parent, but DH just told him over and over "Mom is sleeping. She's resting, she'd like to take you to the park tomorrow (lol!), but she needs to sleep. Now, can Daddy help?" And for the first night it was a big fit, but then he got over it. It was definitely worth it, for us.
I completely understand your DH's exasperation - who sounds a lot like my DH - and wants to be helpful... that is, wants to be helpful to YOU so you'll feel better, and also helpful to his kids so he'll feel more... involved. But honestly, weaning may not change things the way he thinks that they will. She may quite possibly carry on with "NO! Only mama.." My DD is very much a mama's girl and DS is in a lot of ways daddy's little guy, that's just their current preference. HTH!
Sleepy, running, wife to DH 08/09 - Mama to DS 8/08 & DD 1/11
"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. " - Japanese Proverb
Based on your post, her behavior, the age of your infant, and your DH's feelings, I think it is clearly time to night wean her and assign DH the role of nightime parenting. It might, okay it will be, difficult for a bit. but honestly, you need carve out some space for your sleep, some peace for your infant, some responsibility for your DH, and some change from your 3 year old. It doesn't really sound like DH is the only one with the issue here.
She can, she really can, learn to accept and appreciate DH's parenting at night but she won't while there is any chance of you being available.
I don't know if nursing during the day will work but it clearly, really clearly, is no longer working at night.
We made this transition before my younger one was born and it was imperative for me to be able to cope with an infant. DH has totally different ways to soothe and respond to our older child and now they have a really nice routine.
Night weaning for me involved a car and lots of driving and a lullabye cd... I was pregnant at the time and just COULD NOT nurse at night- my xh was no help till after baby was born then he would put ds to sleep and would nurse dd to sleep while on computer.. ( yikes)
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