feeling a bit burned out & uncertain-considering nightweaning - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 11-06-2007, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Not exactly sure if this is right forum, as it touches on many issues…
Dd is 2.5, very sensitive & high needs. She adores the milkus and has a very active & attached relationship with them (and by extension, me!). I work out of the home M-F, so most days she is limited to nursing in the morning before I leave, when I get home, before bed and 2-3-10+ (not always sure!) times at night. But when I am around more on weekends & holidays she probably nurses 4-5 times per day. I want to CLW but I’m getting a bit stressed out by a couple of things, things that are making me think nightweaning might be a big help.
1)she is so ME focused, so intensely. Dw is never good enough for her if I`m around. This has been going on for 2 years now and is getting really tired for both of us. I know nursing is only one part of that picture, but it’s definitely a pretty big part (dd to dw: “I don`t want you, I want the milkus!”)
2)I am in a job where travel is strongly expected. I have managed to put off traveling for almost 4.5 years now between being pregnant, being on mat leave, and having a young child. But it’s getting tougher and tougher. I mean, this one`s kind of a no-brainer, I know where my priorities lie, but at the same time I wish this was a possibility, yk? At this point I feel as though any travel on my part would leave her a complete wreck, but it would be helpful for it to be an option.
3)Dw is pregnant and we are planning a 2nd homebirth for dc2 in March. I am feeling very conflicted about whether or not dd should be present for this birth. If there is any stress, any change, any mild illness or any uncertainty she NEEDS so much from me. I want & need to be there 100% for my dw during labour, and I feel like having dd present would really compromise my ability to support her. But at the same time, I am really struggling with the idea of sending dd away…she has never been away overnight and is not nightweaned. We have dear friends who have offered to take her, they have taken her for us before for 5-6 hours with no difficulty, she really feels comfortable. I also think if we nightweaned her, she might be able to sleep through much of labour and not have to leave, yk?
4)Of course complicating all this is the fact that I work out of the home, and therefore night nursing is all that more important for us.

This is all so hard! Any help greatly appreciated!
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#2 of 17 Old 11-07-2007, 12:18 AM
 
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Others may disagree, but at 2.5 I think she can handle some changes. She might not like it at first--but you also might be surprised how quickly she gets over it. But you have to decide to do it and then stick with it, not do one thing on day and something totally different the next. (Within reason, of course--I'm not advocating for rigidity, just reasonable consistency.)

I do not see a problem with night-weaning. I night-weaned my son at 18 months (OK, with the help of a pacifer, which he still uses at age 4, just to go to sleep) because I was losing it for lack of sleep. My sanity was more important at that point. He cried for about 15 seconds for the first 3-4 nights (in bed with me), then went to sleep. No problems after that.

Also--one night after I had stayed up late one night working on some writing, I realized he had just slept 7 hours straight for the first time--because I was not in bed with him making him want to wake up and nurse. I put him in his own room, and within days he was sleeping 8-10 hours a night, asking to take naps in his own room, etc.

It was like, "WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS BEFORE???" especially since my gut feeling for like a YEAR had been that I was the one keeping him awake and that he would be better in his own space. But I felt social pressure to co-sleep and did not listen to my gut.

After a few months he began sleeping with me again, but this time he did not wake up all the time. A miracle.

You can also leave for a few days and it will be OK. My son went on several 2-3 day trips with his dad while still nursing, including at age 2, and he nursed just fine when they got back. My SIL just left her 18-month-old nursling for a WEEK, with my mom and her friends. The kid was COMPLETELY FINE the whole time she was gone--didn't even ask for her mother, even though mom is a SAHM, and had a great time. When she got back, child started right up again nursing--no problems.

My son weaned himself very gently when he was 3.5 years old, BTW.

I guess I'm saying that I think it's really easy to lose perspective, especially when you have been denying yourself some pretty basic needs and wants for a long time. Breastfeeding is a relationship--it's not about mother completely sacrificing everything to demand-feed well past infancy. I think nursing a toddler or a 3-year-old is different from nursing a baby--just as BEING a toddler is different from being a baby. At this point, it is just fine, in my book, to start being more active in your BF relationship.

You just don't have to nurse every time she asks at this age. I actually think this is crucial to CLW in many ways--I bet a lot of moms would nurse longer if they didn't feel like they had to be "on call" 24 hours a day. You can night-wean and still CLW.

Again--your child may not LIKE what you do at first--no one enjoys having a routine disrupted, or a parent to push a change in habits--but that doesn't mean you shouldn't make some changes that will benefit your mental health. Your daughter will be fine.

And you definitely sound very stressed out! I can't imagine you are thinking too straight either, nursing all night long and then working all day--you are also probably sleep-deprived and that will definitely mess up your ability to think.

If you want your dd to go to someone else's house for the birth, just do a couple of trial runs first so she knows what to expect. You might be shocked to discover that she sleeps all night at the other place, and is not a "complete wreck" at all. This kind of thing is often embarassingly non-traumatic...

Sure, she might be upset the first time, but--you know it won't kill her, you trust your friends, you KNOW she's fine. Your child will not learn how to take care of herself, or to trust someone else to take care of her, unless you allow it to happen.

Yes, this involves a certain kind of withdrawal or separation--but certainly not a fundamental one! and only for a few hours, fer god's sake... I truly do not think it's bad for a child to have more than one trusted adult to whom they can turn for emotional help or nurturance. It is not bad to have someone help you, either! When you are starting to burn out, to me that's a big red flag: something needs to change.
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#3 of 17 Old 11-07-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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By the way, since you WOH (as do I), I understand how important it is to have that closeness when you get home. But--you can nurse a ton right when you return and then right before bed...and then that's all, and that's OK. She will get used to a new routine just as she has gotten used to the one you have now. You can still nurse all weekend, etc.

A bit more armchair psychology: She might even be picking up on your ambivalence/annoyance/anger at night nursing, BTW--which could have the odd effect of making her want to nurse more since she's afraid of losing it. But if you find a way to nurse that doesn't make you angry or exhausted, then it oddly enough might lessen her need to nurse. Does that make sense? (just making things up here...)
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#4 of 17 Old 11-07-2007, 12:25 AM
 
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Hugs mama. I say do what's best for you and your family. What's important is that she already got your milk for 2 whole years, and that's exactly what she needed. At this point, go with what works for your family. I will say that at 2.5, nursing should have resitrictions and boundries and you can still CLW, in my opinion.

Anyway, I'm not there yet so I don't have a lot of advise but I wish you and your dd the best in this relationship!

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HAVE YOU HEARD OF SQUAT ANARCHIST BIRTH JOURNAL YET?? IF NOT, GOOGLE IT!
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#5 of 17 Old 11-07-2007, 05:02 PM
 
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I was just coming here for some support myself. My 27 mo DD is also very highly sensitive. She's never been away from me overnight and has always nursed to sleep. I've tried somewhat to nightwean her (several different times). It's not happening. It has caused the daytime nursing sessions to be even more intense. She's now asking to nurse twice every hour. She stays latched on for 30 min - 1 hour at each session (if I let her). Talk about overwhelming! It's very confusing to me that my toddler is nursing more than my newborn. I've also noticed that I'm becoming very short with my toddler. I feel like our entire relationship is centered around my "milks", and when she doesn't get milks when she wants, she throws a tantrum. I'm beginning to forget why it is that I want to CLW. You know your child best. If you think she can handle it without regressing in some other aspect, I'd say go for it. But if you're hesitant at all, maybe it's just not time.
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#6 of 17 Old 11-07-2007, 08:31 PM
 
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I gently nudged my ds beginning around 20 months (after I found out I was pregnant). It was uncomfortable and I really wasn't enjoying it anymore. It worked for us to ultimately have one nursing a day (before naptime) which allowed me to say "We can nurse at naptime, but not right now. Let's nurse before your nap!" And, cutting out the nighttime nursing (though, emotionally hard to give up that cuddly little body next to you all night) really helped us all sleep better. Between 16 and 24 months, I was away from him three times overnight. It is humbling, but just a bit comforting, to know that they do much better than we do with it!

As far as a homebirth, my son (at 28 1/2 months) was present for the whole thing. We did LOTS of reading and talking about it, and he was great. We had a friend that we called as soon as ds woke up, so she could focus on primary caregiving and dh and I could focus on birthing. Nearly five months later, he still talks about his sister's birth regularly and goes over the details of the day. It's pretty amazing. Anyway, if you are interested in chatting with someone who had their child there the whole time, I'd be happy to share our experience!

Mama of three incredible bf, cd, naturally birthed little people!
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#7 of 17 Old 11-10-2007, 01:02 AM
 
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I completely feel your pain, my lil guy is a high needs child that people just don't understand unless they are parening one as well. since he was born i have not had more than 3 hrs sleep in a row. most of the time it is 1 hr. I am a server, so my child really doesnt eat until I come back to him-usually 8 hrs w/o food and drink. he is 16 mo but I know that this is something he needs. he would adapt and survive w/o my breasts, but they are so very good for him that i refuse to give in to my insane, sleep deprived fantasies of hours in REM. i feel i have flirted with the idea if night weaning so much that it is just silly. it ahs take me a long time to get here- who knows where i will be at your point. good luck and listen to your gut:
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#8 of 17 Old 11-16-2007, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for everyone's input. Just to clarify on the work travel thing, it would have to be for a minimum of 1 week, no shorter, as it involves overseas travel--it's 24 hours away by plane-I'm still pretty firm on the no front.

But for other reasons, me needing space, wanting her to last through the homebirth etc. I think we are going to nightwean. I finally feel more tired & more needing of space than I do wanting the closeness, and that is a HUGE shift for me. After a bit of a rocky effort, I did manage to get her to go to sleep without nursing for me last night for the first time ever, so that's a pretty good start. Of course she came into bed with me at 12:30 and nursed at least 3-4 times after that...
We are going to try substituing my dw for me starting on Saturday night. Wish us luck! So far in conversations she has been remarkably receptive to the whole thing, even saying she wants to move into her own room (ironic, since we don't really have a 2nd bedroom!) We'll see how reasonable she is in the middle of the night...
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#9 of 17 Old 11-19-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by proudmamanow View Post
But for other reasons, me needing space, wanting her to last through the homebirth etc. I think we are going to nightwean. I finally feel more tired & more needing of space than I do wanting the closeness, and that is a HUGE shift for me.
<snip>
So far in conversations she has been remarkably receptive to the whole thing, even saying she wants to move into her own room (ironic, since we don't really have a 2nd bedroom!) We'll see how reasonable she is in the middle of the night...
Just some feedback that this sounds very child-led. She's receptive. That's her leading.

The middle of the night is the toughest. Maya is now beginning (just beginning) to remember her awake-time goals. She mostly forgets, though, and wants Neen, no matter what.

--Heather
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#10 of 17 Old 11-19-2007, 01:25 PM
 
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I sounds like you're on the right path for you, but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps at all. My dd isn't night weaned, but we are nudging her that way. Last week she had her tonsils out and couldn't have anything to eat/dring the night before (ie: no nursing at night). I was freaking out about this thinking it would be horrible for her, etc because she nurses at night a lot. So, we had my parents come up and stay for a few days. They slept in our bed so that when she woke up to come to bed with us, they would be there instead (she is very close to them). My mom said she whined a few times, but never asked to nurse and was just fine. I was pleasantly surprised! She also understood that she was having surgery and couldn't nurse until after the operation and was fine with this! I was floored; I thought this would be so difficult, but it was almost a non issue. So, my point is that maybe if you prepare her well in advance for the homebirth, she will do fine.
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#11 of 17 Old 11-21-2007, 11:51 PM
 
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Hey Jesse,

I haven't read everyone else's posts so I might be repeating something you've already heard...well actually I just wanted to share our experience. DD is 24 months old, and we also recently decided to night wean. I also work out of home- she stays home full time with DH. I was concerned about loosing our nursing times, and I did enjoy the night nursing to an extent, but I was also feeling worn out and wanting a good night sleep after two years of being up 5plus times a night to nurse, and also anticipating more children in the near future....anyway, we followed Dr Gordon's suggestions of gently night weaning by first explaining the process to DD and then when she awoke, reminding her that we dont nurse when its dark, thats time for sleeping, and we'd nurse when the sun came up/when she could see the light. The first 2 nights she fussed, the second two she slept through the night, and the last two she has woken once each night, for a snuggle, and gone back to sleep without much fuss. She co-sleeps and also sometimes sleeps on her own mat on the floor right next to the bed, and she comes into our bed as she feels she needs to....

I'm surprised by how well this has gone for us, and feel like it was just the right time for her and all she needed was some gentle guidance!! And wow is it ever nice to sleep through the night!!

Good luck!

Sarahfina
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#12 of 17 Old 11-28-2007, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to update and thank everyone here for their support. We re-read our Pantley & our Jay Gordon, discussed the idea with dd and began nightweaning her on Friday November 16th. She and dw went shopping for some nightweaning gifts ( this from the parents who NEVER use rewards/punishment, and had rejected prizes while potty learning). Dd was thrilled, and told me many times about the special panties, stickers & playdough she would get if she went all night without milkus. The first night she cried twice, in dw’s arms, for about 10 min. each time. The 2nd night she cried once about 15 min., the same the third night. After that, she just asked for milk and we explained that it was not available, and she went back to sleep, no crying. Fast forward to Saturday night, the 24th, and she slept through the night! For the first time in her life! And she did it again last night too! In her own little bed…after being put to sleep by me with no nursing.
I honestly think I found it hardest of all…I had some ambivalence about losing that special night time nursing experience, especially as I don’t plan to be the primary nursing parent again. I shed some serious tears on Sunday & Monday nights (away from dd, of course!), but I can honestly say that she was very ready. She has been really excited about the prizes, happy to be in her own bed, and this whole process has been much less painful than I could have dreamed. Both dw & I are having a hard time sleeping through the night as we keep waking up wondering if she’s okay, lol but overall it is much easier than I expected. We still snuggle & nurse from 5am onwards each morning, which seems to meet both our needs for cuddling & closeness.

I’m still struggling a bit with feeling burned out from working, but I feel much less so in terms of my relationship with dd and am very much enjoying more sleep & better time together when I’m awake. Oh, and needless to say, she is still nursing like crazy when awake. A recent quote: “the milku guys are my best friends!”
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#13 of 17 Old 12-01-2007, 07:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by proudmamanow View Post
Fast forward to Saturday night, the 24th, and she slept through the night! For the first time in her life! And she did it again last night too! In her own little bed…after being put to sleep by me with no nursing.
That's great! I'm glad the transition was so smooth for you! How did you get her to sleep without nursing her?
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#14 of 17 Old 12-01-2007, 07:28 AM
 
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I was just coming here for some support myself. My 27 mo DD is also very highly sensitive. She's never been away from me overnight and has always nursed to sleep. I've tried somewhat to nightwean her (several different times). It's not happening. It has caused the daytime nursing sessions to be even more intense. She's now asking to nurse twice every hour. She stays latched on for 30 min - 1 hour at each session (if I let her). Talk about overwhelming! It's very confusing to me that my toddler is nursing more than my newborn. I've also noticed that I'm becoming very short with my toddler. I feel like our entire relationship is centered around my "milks", and when she doesn't get milks when she wants, she throws a tantrum. I'm beginning to forget why it is that I want to CLW.
I need support too! I have a 39 month old, and I still pretty much nurse on demand, and all night long (it seems). Especially as morning approaches, she'll latch on to one side then the other, 4-5 times, while twiddling the other nipple. Finally, I will have had enough, and my nipples are hurting, so I tell her that mommy's nipples need a rest and would she let go. Often she latches on harder, and if she does let go, cries, and throws somewhat of a tantrum. I try to hold her and comfort her and empathize with her, but it doesn't seem to "work;" we keep going through the same struggles. I'm a single parent; daddy keeps saying I haven't set enough limits and boundaries around nursing and that is why dd can't spend the night with him. Reading what you all have said, it sounds like it might be helpful to just make a plan that on a certain night she is going to spend the night with daddy, and maybe I should even go out of town or otherwise not be available, should he get frustrated and want to bring her back to me. I don't know if that would be the best strategy or if I should try to night wean her myself first. I did try 2-3 times when she was 2 1/2 ish, twice I backed down when she got sick and then finally, when daddy left, I didn't want to traumatize her by trying again. But it has been about 8 months now, so I think it would be okay to try again. She just doesn't want to give it up! Any suggestions?? (we do co-sleep, she has a bed, but says she isn't "old enough" for it).
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#15 of 17 Old 12-07-2007, 04:17 PM
 
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Your DD sounds exactly like mine at that age. I tried going on an overnight retreat when she was 2 mo. shy of her 3rd birthday, and it was an unmitigated disaster, neither she nor DH got much sleep. It wasn't until last summer at about 3 1/2 that she was comfortable not nursing to sleep every evening (because I wasn't there). Around her 3rd birthday she stopped being quite so focused on me, and was clearly bonding well with her father and others around her. Now, she may nurse before bed on nights I'm home (I'm currently working 7pm-2am 5 nights/week--when she was your DD's age I was in school so she was away from me @ 4 days/week during the daytime, and while the DCP could get her to nap, I always had to nurse her to sleep.), but usually she lets go and rolls over before being completely asleep--which I know because she gets mad if I dare leave until she's deep asleep even if she's stopped nursing.

Give it time. Every child is on their own developmental track.

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#16 of 17 Old 12-09-2007, 02:38 AM
 
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I just wanted to say that we finally night weaned 20 mo dd last week, and it was HARD. She is very strong willed and just threw a FIT two nights in a row. We explained it to her a lot though, talked about it a lot and now I'm SO glad I did it. She's sleeping until 4:30 every night now!! (as opposed to waking every 1-3 hours).
she's been a bit more clingy and needing to nurse more during the day, but I can hang with that! Sleep!! marvelous Sleep!!!

mama to dd (4-15-06) and
ds (2-23-09)
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#17 of 17 Old 12-10-2007, 11:25 PM
 
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I need support too! I have a 39 month old, and I still pretty much nurse on demand, and all night long (it seems). Especially as morning approaches, she'll latch on to one side then the other, 4-5 times, while twiddling the other nipple. Finally, I will have had enough, and my nipples are hurting, so I tell her that mommy's nipples need a rest and would she let go. Often she latches on harder, and if she does let go, cries, and throws somewhat of a tantrum. I try to hold her and comfort her and empathize with her, but it doesn't seem to "work;" we keep going through the same struggles. I'm a single parent; daddy keeps saying I haven't set enough limits and boundaries around nursing and that is why dd can't spend the night with him. Reading what you all have said, it sounds like it might be helpful to just make a plan that on a certain night she is going to spend the night with daddy, and maybe I should even go out of town or otherwise not be available, should he get frustrated and want to bring her back to me. I don't know if that would be the best strategy or if I should try to night wean her myself first. I did try 2-3 times when she was 2 1/2 ish, twice I backed down when she got sick and then finally, when daddy left, I didn't want to traumatize her by trying again. But it has been about 8 months now, so I think it would be okay to try again. She just doesn't want to give it up! Any suggestions?? (we do co-sleep, she has a bed, but says she isn't "old enough" for it).
I just started a thread about cutting back on night nursing for 4 y.o. I hope you'll chime in there even though your little one isn't 4 yet. :-)

What you've written could have come from my fingers, *exactly* and it's really refreshing and reassuring. :-)

--Heather
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