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How Can Daddy Help?

530 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MelW
(This is a long one--you might want to make yourself a cup of tea before reading so you don't get dehydrated or something.) We had the night from h-e-l-l last night. DD woke up at 2:30 and while she was being really sweet, just would not settle back down to sleep. She wanted to crawl around on the bed, pat Daddy's face to wake him up, give us kisses, kick her feet, etc. I almost always nurse her back down during the night--she pops off when she falls into deep sleep. But nursing her didn't work last night. She'd nurse, I'd start to get sore because her latch wasn't very tight, and then I'd try to pop her off and she'd wake up out of her drowse.

I started to get cranky after an hour. DH woke up and took her out of the room and tried to walk her to sleep. After about a half-hour, they came back because she was *almost* to sleep. I put her back on to nurse the rest of the way down, but again, she woke up as soon as she was off the breast. Another half hour, and I was losing it. I put her in her pack and play because I was SO OVER being kicked in the stomach, laying her back down when she was trying to crawl/stand/pull my hair, and she ended up crying for about 10 minutes. I thought at that point that she might be exhausted enough to sleep, so it was back to our bed and the boob. AGAIN, no luck. I got up at 5:00, took her upstairs and rocked her to sleep in the nursery. She fell asleep, but then woke up as soon as I laid her in her crib and started shrieking. That happened twice. I finally dosed her with Tylenol at 5:30, thinking maybe she was having teething trouble. She conked out and I had to wake her at 7:15 to nurse her, dress her and take her to our caregiver.

I got pretty cranky with DH in the night. I know it was mainly just because I was upset at the situation, but I am really feeling like I am the only one able to parent DD in the night. He is frustrated because he wants to help, but I often don't even wake him to help parent her back to sleep because I think part of me thinks he can't/won't do the right things, and so when he is trying to get her to sleep, I can't sleep. I just lie there and think about how I should be the one who is up and getting her to sleep because I'll "do it right." But I also know that if he doesn't get a chance to try, he'll never figure it out and the whole thing will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So I need some help from you guys: how do your husbands/partners parent your little ones in the night? How can I learn to let go of this role?
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You better get your own cup of tea--this is long, too! We are still trying to figure this out ourselves and DS is 21 mo's old! It doesn't help that I'm the SAHP. I can't help but feel I *should* do the nighttime parenting since dh has to be at work, interact w/ people w/out going postal and be capable of coherent thought and speech. I don't need those luxuries
and theoretically I could nap during the day. Anyway, so I"ve never really asked that much of DH at night. But we have to nightwean at this point for a variety of reasons and he's been doing a lot more. What we do now is when ds awakes dh will pull him on top of him. DS likes this and will go to sleep, and now is at the point that he will sit up and reach for dh. is very hard to sleep w/ a 30# toddler on top of you. DH has kind of perfected rolling him off him w/out waking him but I haven't. I slept w/ him half on my face from 3-5am today.

OTOH, on a Yahoo group that I belong to, a mom detailed her extensive nightweaning process, which included her husband walking their 3 yr old for at least an hour in the sling, and then sleeping upright all night in a recliner. Every night. For 30 days. I don't think my DH could do that. Heck, I don't think I could do that!!! Anyway, when I read that I read it to DH and that made him feel a lot better about the 30# toddler on his chest. could have your husband rock, walk, pat, shush, or cuddle your dc. It took us at least a week of trying different things before we found a way to get DS settled down to accept dh. I've read how moms leave the room and force the issue but that won't work for us since ds will get hysterical and try to come and find me. Although maybe now it would, but it def. wouldn't have in the beginning. It's a big change in their routine, or at least it was for our son.

Good luck! Personally, even w/ dh doing 50% or more of the nighttime parenting I'm still exhaused. Oh well, at least it isn't 30 days in the Lazyboy...

ETA on letting go of the NP role--I think desperation was the key for me. At first I would get soooooo irritated. "Don't hold him like that! That's not what he wants! Why are you letting him get up!!" etc. Try to avoid that if at all possible--it led to many unpleasant 2am quarrels. After a couple of horrible nights DH and DS found their groove and it just got better. Maybe tell yourself, I'll let him try for 3 nights and then I'll step in and do it again. Again, though, it took us at least a week.
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When your husband walks her to sleep could he not walk her until she's right asleep and put her down so she doesn't need to be nursed after the walk? That's what we've been doing. Dh takes charge until 11:30 when he goes to bed, if ds wakes up during that time (which he usually does) dh puts him in the carrier and walks him to sleep and then puts him back in bed.
Your dh is trying to help and if you let him (with out taking over) he'll figure out a method that works for your dc and him.
You guys are right--it sounds like maybe I need to put DH in charge of at least one night-waking every night. Or would that be inconsistent? The thing is, DD wakes about 5 times a night now. So if I nurse her down for 4 of them, then DH does one, would that be confusing/aggravating for her?

I'm not ready to nightwean yet. I mean, sleep-wise I am, but I don't think she is ready for it by a long way. She still gets about 90% of her calories from BM, and I just don't think she's physically ready yet.
I think the amount that your dh can do will really depend on your baby's reaction. My DD will *sometimes* accept dad at night, but other times if he tries to get up with her she screams for mama- and I take over.

As a point of interest, he puts her to sleep half of the nights, since I work evening shift. On the nights that he puts her down she seems much more accepting of him re-settling her during the night. It makes me believe the "sleep association" theory- if I put her to sleep with nursing, she wants to nurse back to sleep every time she wakes up in the night.

Is it possible for you to get a bit of a "sleep-in" if DH gets up with her in the morning? Or a nap while he takes her out for a little bit. When DD wants mama all night long my DH will try to get a break for me during the day.

HTH- hang in there!
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