DS is complete opposites of my 2 girls, so this has thrown us for quite a loop! Our marriage is taking a hit, and my sanity is proving to not be as iron clad as I had hoped it would be. So input is greatly appreciated.
First I'll share our history. 2 girls, both coslept till little brother came along (so 6.5 and 4.5 years), once he came along our girls' made the decision that they wanted their own room (much to my heartbreak), and they had no issues and slept soundly from the first night in their own room. DS made his home between me and DH, but I realized how much I woke with him between us and put the night time sleeper summer bassinet on the bed next to us, with a toddler bed pushed up against our bed for more room. DS slept perfectly and woke up every 2 hours for the first month. Then I got sick with mastitis and DH started bringing him back into our bed and I was too sick to fight it. DS got in the habit of sleeping between us and woke up every 45 minutes to nurse, 11 months later (he's 1 now) he's still doing it off and on.
Add to this that DS has some major allergy issues and we are on a strict elimination diet and have no gluten, dairy, soy or citrus in our diets. DS was born at 9 lbs and maintained in the 95th percentile till about 4 months old when he started slipping down to the lower percentiles. Now at almot 13 months old he is in the 3rd percentile. He will not eat anything except gluten free pasta, grapes, occassional bits of apples, gluten free french fries (made at home) and baby food (homemade) fruits mixed with our Elecare formula in hopes of putting some weight on him. He will only take a sippy cup with water. And the boy only wants to nurse and refuses all formula that our crunchy friendly GI has advised. Now i mention this, because it plays a huge role in his cosleeping and my debate on what to do next. We have another appointment with the GI since the formula supplementation is not helping him to increase weight and our next stop is to get some testing done for thyroid (i had thyroid issues with my 2nd pregnancy) and diabetes (we have it on both sides of the family) since he has some sweating issues and a few other FFT signs. I am at my wits end trying to figure out a way to make this all work as DS screams bloody murder for hours if he is not nursed when he wakes, and we are not a CIO family and even DH cannot handle the screaming (he sounds like he's literally hurt if he doesnt nurse) in the middle of the night when we try to gently reassure him that he is not getting nursed if he sleeps next to mommy.
So now at almost 13 months old we are semi-cosleeping. He starts off in his packnplay crib with DH, who sleeps next to him on a mattress on the floor. No complaints and goes right down after DH walks him to sleep. He sleeps for about 4-5 hours. Then he wakes up and DH brings him into me and nurses him, he falls asleep and sometimes DH puts him back in the crib, but usually DH walks back to their room and sleeps with him on the mattress and he wakes every 2 hours and comes back in to nurse until 5:15 when dh gets up to get ready for work and then he sleeps next to me and constantly nurses. About half the time he stays with me and wakes up every 45 minutes to nurse.
Now, DS has NEVER nursed to sleep when awake. Not even as a newborn. He would nurse and stay wide awake the entire time. But my question is, if we are to bring him back into our bed (currently 7 year old is back in it and 5 year old is on the mattress on the floor since she always falls out of beds) is there a way to get him to stay asleep without the breast. Or is he smelling me and that's going to continue to be an issue? We fear night weaning as we do NOT want him to fall any further down in weight, but I need sleep. I'm not the mom i use to be. We want to be able to find a plan that works for DS and us, that is healthy and makes all of us happy. Anyone btdt and have any wise tips that we are overlooking in our sleep deprived state? I know many will suggest DH walking with him and letting him cry through gentle affirmations, but this doesnt work, he does not stop screaming and it wakes the entire house. I'm looking for alternatives, or the off chance that someone has this experience and there is something i'm missing (i almost feel as if there is a medical underlying issue to be causing such vehement crying in the midst of the night like a blood sugar issue).
My first observation is that you have an incredibly devoted DH. I offer some suggestions, but they are unfortunately just thoughts, based loosely upon some of our own experiences.
We have had experience with allergies, low weight gain etc., though not for the same reasons you described. And yes, every change in nursing, or reduced "toddler formula" amounts, then a switch to regular soymilk brought on weight changes for my oldest daughter. We also had the issue of her failure to recognize what hunger was, exactly. (Hard to believe but true, and more common with kids who have pain issues associated with eating from the earliest ages.)
First, try keeping your son in the same bed, not bringing him into bed then taking him away. If he needs DH's help to drop back off to sleep then perhaps you could slip off then and sleep on another mattress. We would put DD1 to sleep in her own bed first, then bring her into bed with us, and sleep issues decreased when she stayed put. I realized waking up in different places can be disorienting. It helped for us.
This suggestion might feel impossible: wake him up to nurse before he wakes by himself, that first stretch especially. See if that doesn't help sleep in a second big chunk. Anticipating waking times at the every-2hr-stage might be impossible, but maybe by waking him earlier, he'll change his sleep schedule slightly. What I see is that he wakes up hungry and away from mommy. As best you can, try to have him wake up with an invitation to nurse, in his bed. My thought is that if after a time doing this, he is secure in knowing that you are there to nurse him, he MIGHT relax some and sleep just long enough to give you a full sleep cycle, 3-4hrs each time until you climb into bed when DH leaves it to get ready for work.
This night-waking feeding might also add to his weight gain. Your description does sound suspiciously like diabetes, or what I understand of it.
I know this sounds like taking a step backwards, but often when troubles arise of an attachment nature, the solution is to take a step back. Or it is for me, and it works, at least according to my own needs and goals. This step could also give you an slight edge with weight gain. I know I never should have gone off her toddler formula supplementation (from 11-20 months) but it was expensive! I switched to plain soy, and she never accepted the texture of the formula again. Too late....
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."