Ambivalent about nightweaning, but desperate for sleep. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 12-30-2002, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, so it's not the first time you've heard this one
But DS's sleeping pattern has really gone downhill this past 6 months, and I am delirious. I never thought I would want to nightwean. I generally LOVE nursing him, but I am starting to resent it in the middle of the night. He's 21 months old, and a few times lately I have been able to tell him that na-na's are tired and he will roll over and go to sleep on his own. He goes to bed around 9pm and wakes at 10:30, 1, 3, 5 and finally up for the day at around 7. He usually wakes to pee, and then needs to nurse back to sleep (we did EC so he is potty-trained and won't pee in a diaper at night anymore).
I don't want him to ever cry himself to sleep, but I don't know what to do. I know you all have heard this sob story before, but can you give me any advice? We've tried the suggestions in E. Pantleys book with limited success, and are thinking of trying J. Gordon's method, but I just don't know if I can do anything that will make him cry. Meanwhile, I'm crying through the night nursings.
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#2 of 11 Old 12-31-2002, 02:17 PM
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what recently worked for us was for me to sleep on the couch and dh to sleep with dd, soothing her to sleep with sippy cups and stories when she needed it.

DD and dh are very close during the day, she just would never accept anyone but me at night before this. We tried nightweaning when she was about 20 months and it was terrible, hours of screaming although we were right there with her to sooth her, etc. At 23 months, though, she was just more ready for it and it definitely helped for me to just not be available. I was in the next room so I could judge if I was really needed, but for the most part it went pretty smoothly.

It did involve some crying but someone was there to comfort her.

Now we're having huge issues with her demanding things *all* night long, just like she used to demand her "boofs" so I wouldn't necessarily look at it as a cure for all your kid's sleeping problems. If I weren't very pregnant and desperate for a few moments of mammary independence I probably wouldn't have weaned her now.
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#3 of 11 Old 01-01-2003, 04:31 AM
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When I got to the point of feeling delerious, I felt it was better to try to nightwean than to feel worse and worse each day (and resentful at night). Nightnursing just really began to grate on my nerves by about 14 months, so I tried Jay Gordon's method then. She was really resistant and I lost a lot of sleep. We had gotten though about 7-10 days of it but my health started to decline, which I could not allow (I was babysitting another child in my home during the days) so I gave in and started nursing again and got more sleep. The holidays soon came and I thought I would try to wean again in a month. Turns out it didn't bother me for a while so I let it be. When it started really grating on me again and making me irritable, cranky, and sleep-deprived, I decided it was time to start trying to night-wean again. This time I followed no method; I simply tried ignoring my dd when she was whimpering and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I nursed her if she started crying louder and more insistantly, but she actually was too tired sometimes and she would fall back asleep. This was at about 19 months. It didn't take more than 2 weeks of this grandual refusal of the breast that she was night-weaned, and I really don't miss it.

Once they get to be about 2, there are going to be times that they cry and you can't avoid it. Thankfully my dd is not a huge tantrum thrower, but she does her fair share of willful behavior which can include some big crocodile tears!

Good luck!

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#4 of 11 Old 01-02-2003, 06:51 PM
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Sahara, I can totally relate to where you are right now: the delirium and the ambivalence. My son will be 24 months on Saturday...

I wish I had advice for you, alas only support and co-misery. I have read Pantley's book and at the time (16 months or so), it helped me to feel so reassured that nightwaking is normal and common, that I put it off for the time being and continued responding sensitively and with a better attitude overall. But now that he's a toddler in full force, I feel he needs me to be more energetic and creative during the waking hours and I can't do it and be sleep deprived at the same time. I'm wearing out.

His last two molars are coming in now. When they're in, we're going forth with a plan--long term of course and there it is: I think trying the suggestions (either Pantley or Gordon or whomever) will not work with a toddler who is nightwaking. It takes a consistent (but flexible if it's not working after sometime) plan and long-range goals... we just weren't ready for this a few months back (too tired!! The irony!) But now, I think we are. I'm rereading Pantley and DH and I are making a plan... not sure of the particulars just yet but it will be sensitive and in accordance with our "NO CIO", AP philosophy. But of course.

Best of luck to you. We plan to start sometime later this month. I'll let you know what we come up with and how it's working if you like.


Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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#5 of 11 Old 01-06-2003, 10:22 PM
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I just registered here today in order to find out what other parents do about this very issue. While my dd is only 8 mos. old, I have struggled with her nightwaking. She is up anywhere from 5-8 times a night and only nursing puts her back to sleep. We read Pantley, rejected Ferber and the other 'regimentalists', but none of Pantley's suggestions have made a difference. One thing I have not read about in anyone's posts here is the sleep deprivation/full time work combination. I know dd's nightwaking is my 'problem' not hers, but a mom just needs to sleep occassionally.
So I guess no solutions here, just comisery which seems to be the theme. Don't mean to bring you down(er) - hang in there.
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#6 of 11 Old 01-07-2003, 02:24 AM
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All I can offer is my story.
My dd slept thru the night at 5 wks and I checked it off in her baby book, only that by a mth or so later she was waking more than ever.
At 9 mths I tried a form of CIO, with me staying right there with her. I was heartbroken and discontinued it.'
At 15-16 mths I read Jay Gordon and tried an altered form of that. Some success, but not worth the crying at that point. Same thing, pretty much, at 18-19 mths.
At 27 mths I had had all I was willing to take (she was nursing more than ever at night), so I told her there would be no more nursies at night. SHe now nurses to sleep and when and from 6 am on.
She is almost 28 mths (we just started night weaning 3 wks ago).
Some nights she sleeps thru in her bed in her room, other nights she wakes and cries for nursies (still), but it has gone better than I imagined and it has been totally worth it for me.
I think the key is weighing your needs against your toddler's. I am so glad to have the relief of not nursing at night, even though I am still not getting a full nights sleep (due to anxiety over her waking, her waking up, and other stuff).
So, I say just go for it. Give it a week or so and evaluate (consistency is really the key here!).
And also, it is never too late to start!
In some ways I think 18 mths would have been a better time to night-wean, but all is not lost in waiting until later!
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#7 of 11 Old 01-07-2003, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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fiacre, hang in there, she may just be going through a stage.
We are just leaving things alone for now. He got REALLY upset the few times I tried to soothe him back to sleep without nursing, and I'm just not going to have my little guy screaming and begging for na-na in the middle of the night. I can't do it to him. So, we're going to wait until he's old enough to talk about it a little more, and see if he can understand why mommy is so tired, and how much sleep na-na's really need.
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#8 of 11 Old 01-08-2003, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for posting on this. I'm going through another round of acute sleep deprivation and am here reading though the nightwaking posts again... My DD, now 14 months, has been a reverse cycler since she was about 4 months old. I made some peace with the situation---knowing that I had no intention of putting her on formula (not like she'd take a bottle anyway...) or in any way compromising her nutrition by trying to nightwean before she was at least a year old. I also love being able to sensitively meet her needs at night---I love co-sleeping and feel that this relatively brief period of nightnursing (even if it's 3+ years... a small fraction of both of our lives overall) will help give her a solid emotional foundation for the rest of her life.


I'm also a WOHM. My DH and I came up with a strategy that enabled me to survive the worst months of sleeplessness (or at least what I'm HOPING were the worst months. It has been so much better since she was about a year old!!!). I would nurse her at about 7 PM then DD would stay with DH while I went to bed/passed out from exhaustion. DH would then play with DD and sling/rock her to sleep. I found that I could usually get at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Heaven! We found that DD sleeps much more soundly if she falls asleep away from my breast. She would typically wake up at 1 or 2 AM to nurse and then nurse every hour or two for the rest of the night. We did this a few times a week so that I could function.

She's had a cold the past week and is getting some teeth so I'm back to being a bit of a zombie and am again reading up on nightweaning. I'm really hoping to wait till DD and I can discuss it.

Hope this rambling makes some sense. Good luck!

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#9 of 11 Old 01-09-2003, 04:26 AM
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This is what my then-10-or-11-month-old daughter's pediatrician told me when I told him that she was waking up several times a night to nurse and I was sleeping 3 hours a night: The more you do, the more she will wake up; the less you do, the less she will wake up. The most you can do is get up, change her diaper, nurse, play with her. Obviously, we weren't doing that. I was just nursing, and between that and insomnia, I wasn't sleeping and my health was poor because of it. It was just easier to nurse her than to hear her cry. We had to do less than that to get her to sleep. We did not want her to cry alone, so we let her cry in our bed. The first night, she cried off and on (mostly on) for almost an hour. The second night, an hour and fifteen minutes. The third, 45 minutes. The fourth, twenty. The fifth, about two. The sixth, she slept through the night until about 6:00. She only woke up once per night instead of her usual three or four times. Then, we had to make another change because she started waking up earlier and earlier until we were moving towards the old pattern: She had to get out of our bed. We took the unused crib from her room, removed the movable rail, and wedged it between our bed and the wall, using rolled towels to fill in gaps. She now usually sleeps until between 6:30 and 7:00 when I nurse her for maybe an hour and catch some more zzz's. We are having a problem now because she was teething (she's now 20 months, molars, ouch) and had a cold so we let her in bed with us. It took a few nights to convince her that she really did have to sleep in her crib. I wish we had done all this sooner, around 4-6 months. Of course, your mileage may vary.
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#10 of 11 Old 01-09-2003, 11:58 PM
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I am right there with ya'!!!!

I am just reading Gordons book today!!!

We've tried everything...the only thing that is helping is for dh to take the kids on the weekend mornings so I can sleep.

At 18 mos, I am ready to try,it is time that I try...I hate hearing my baby cry-ever! But I have to consider my health challenges, and i truly believe that frequent nightwaqking is effecting my immune system!

Also want to be more on the ball for dd-I homeschool her and she needs an awake mommy!!

This is hard,as I never nightweaned dd-she did it on her own-at almost 4yo.

Dh is very supprtive,will do what ds needs from him to help us all.

Is your dh supportive of nightweaning, and the work he will need to do???

Not much help, but we are in it together!

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#11 of 11 Old 01-10-2003, 02:16 PM
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Just want to send you a big old "I hear you sister!", Sahara... Jackson is only 13 months old, but I'm pretty sure we'll nightwean within the next couple months. I am totally ambivalent about it, and waiting for either my desperation to reach a peak or for some sign from him that he's ready (not quite sure what that would look like, but I'm still waiting for it!). I don't want to do it, but at this point I feel like my body and mind are some kind of involuntary experiment in longterm sleep deprivation.

I have a friend who had some success with nightweaning ala Gordon, but they had Daddy do all the work and now they are having a heck of a time getting Mama back in the bed (baby sleeps lousy when she's there). I don't want that to happen, so we're going to try to do it with me there... I suspect that will make it harder and longer, but I don't want to give up co-sleeping. I love co-sleeping!

Peace and love and sleep to all you tired mamas.
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