I'm so happy to hear the OP is getting some sleep! I admire your dedication, honesty, and persistence.
A couple ideas in case anyone rdg is still struggling --
One PP touched on a concept that has worked well for our family in a variety of challenging situations. I think it's called association. The basic idea is to introduce a new consistent stimulus to replace the one you want to avoid. So in the OP's case, she mentioned her main goal was to help her child fall asleep without nursing / suckling. To begin building an association
, she could play the same music each time she nursed, use a special blanket or fabric doll/ animal, maybe scented with a particular essential oil (lavender tends to induce relaxation)... and eventually the child begins to feel the same way when s/he encounters the new stimulus as she does when s/he's nursing, so at some point the mama can slowly transition from nursing to just leaving the child with another soothing presence.
Another important idea that's come up is patience
. So many times when I've thought "this can't go on forever!" (using diapers, spreading food all over, pinching our faces when she felt frustrated...) one day I wake up and its over. Yeah!
And, as the OP modeled, persistence. Reaching out, trying different things, studying your child's temperment
to understand what s/he really needs.
Also, one PP mentioned alternate care
, which has been so helpful for our family. We have an official group that formed out of a local mom's mtg, but I also know lots of parents that trade on an informal basis. Our group spends plenty of time getting to know new friends to be confident that they will treat our children the way we do, so we can rest assured that they are well cared for.
And for mamas having trouble sleeping at abnormal hours, progressive relaxation
is a great tool - even if it doesn't lead to sleep it reduces anxiety. Focus on one part of your body (I usually start with my head since that's where most of the stress is); first tense each muscle, then relax it. Move down through your whole body - I'm usually asleep before I get past my shoulders
. If you do make it to your feet, you can imagine soft light or ocean water pouring over your whole body from head to toe. It's very relaxing for me.
If you have time, and your older children are interested (or you don't have any), a few yoga
postures can help relax parts of you that are especially tense.
I also have had success with the meditative focus
(see PP) - I use the moon as my peaceful image to block out all others. It has a very cooling, creamy, nightime effect.