I’ve had this post sitting here as a draft for a while now and there seems no better time to hit publish than after a night where I was coughed on, puked on, woken up countless times, and finally unable to fall back asleep at 4:30 am. Any grammatical errors, misspellings, ramblingness, or general nonsensicalness, (<-and made up words) can be blamed on fatigue.
How little and poorly I sleep is my favorite thing to talk about. It’s not because I want sympathy (except for some times when I do) it’s just that it’s on my mind pretty much constantly and I have no filter so it all comes out. I haven’t discussed sleep in what feels like far too long for me, plus Jade asked if I was planning on night-weaning so I want to address that. Here is the full sleep update and my ramblings on considering night-weaning down the road. Warning: this is going to be long.
This post will also be littered with random sleeping pics.
All the sleep books love to talk about sleep-regressions. There are the 4 month, 8 month, 11 month, 12 month, 18 month, and 2 year sleep regressions most often cited, and then you can find a source describing one for every other month as well. I think the point here is that babies are really sh*tty sleepers. Case in point, B hit a sleep regression at 3 months and it lasted until 15 months. In my opinion, it’s all made up to sell books so I really hate using the term sleep regression, but I’m going to. I think we maybe had a real 18 month sleep regression and that is why he was boycotting his naps. It lasted for probably a month, and he still has his days where he won’t nap, but we seem to be through the worst of that particular phase. At least for now we are back to 2 hour afternoon naps in his big boy bed and mostly decent nights that are still spent hogging half of mine and G’s bed. (A decent night around here is waking up only 2 or 3 times, very briefly.)
Even if we aren’t snuggling, we must be in physical contact at all times.
On the rare occasion I stay up later than B, he slowly migrates across the bed looking for me.
I know to a lot of people waking up 2 or 3 times sounds horrible but it isn’t what you might picture. He doesn’t even open his eyes, then he says (not screams! not cries!) “Mama milk Mama milk,” until I wake up, he nurses, and he drifts off peacefully all in under 2 or 3 minutes. Neither of us really awakens fully and we are both typically well-rested. (Finally I am able to spout off that line about everyone being rested from the Dr. Sears books that I used to think was complete and utter horsesh*t.) That is not to say we don’t have horrible phases still. We definitely do have those, but today’s horrible is yesterday’s pretty good and today’s good is yesterday’s dream. I never thought I would be able to say that we are making any forward progress, and it still doesn’t feel like it in the short term, but when I look back to a year ago I realize just how far we’ve come.
He can even fall asleep in all sorts of contortionist positions now!
So yes, I am happy with where things are but of course they could be better. B is not sleeping through the night regularly, and in fact has not slept through the night even a single time in his almost 20 months of existence. Because he’s made progress completely on his own though, I can even more confidently say I know he will get there one day. However, because he has made progress at the pace of a sleeping snail, I cannot even begin to venture a guess at when that will be. So am I ever going to do anything about it? I don’t know.
Night-weaning or not, we will never take away those monkeys.
The only thing I would consider doing at some point would be night-weaning. (Given that he is out of his crib and can climb out of bed and open doors, I think we are a little past leaving him in his crib to cry himself to sleep, not that it was ever on the table anyways.) My reasons for not night-weaning haven’t really changed since I wrote this, and he is overall sleeping better than he was at that time which makes me even less interested in doing something that would involve short-term crying and no sleep. However, I do still like to keep the night-weaning option in my back pocket in case one day I can’t take it any more, or he takes way too long to make any further progress, or I find myself with two babies in my bed and there aren’t enough boobs to go around.
I still like to read about other people’s night weaning stories (obsessively) so I’ve amassed a rather good statistical sample in my head. Many people seem to have success with Jay Gordon’s method, and others tend to do well just slowly pushing back nursing sessions. On the whole, it seems like the people who have the most success are those whose children started out waking up the least. Duh. This is yet another reason why I’m hesitant to do it, since I do not consider myself to have one of those children.
Just because he appears peaceful here, it doesn’t mean he won’t wake up 4 seconds later.
As for how I would go about night-weaning, I like plans and schedules so Dr. G’s plan appeals to me there, but I actually think for us it would not be the best. I think trying to shorten nursing sessions rather than drop them would actually be more confusing and frustrating for B. It might be the sort of thing that would work well for a younger baby? I don’t know. If I were to do it now, I would probably talk to B about it a lot ahead of time and tell him the milk went night night and it will be back later. I might try to cut down to one night time feeding at first and then go from there, or I might just go cold turkey. I think it would depend on how much he was nursing at the time and whether I thought he was really hungry or just needed comfort. At this stage he is for sure hungry. (Babies can go all night without eating at a much younger age, he doesn’t need food then, blah blah blah. I agree with all of that but when you are used to eating a meal at 1 am you get hungry at 1 am and that doesn’t change in one night!)
There are times now when B wants more milk than I have, which is hard to believe given I am essentially a dairy cow. Anyways, when that happens he gets upset that the “milk all gone” and he has to “wait later more”. He is, however, getting a lot better at just accepting that and falling asleep, or going back to playing, or doing whatever he was doing without a full on meltdown about his milk. Based on this trend I think it would only get easier to actually night wean him as he gets older because he could understand it. This could of course backfire as we get further and further into the tantrum years, and maybe that will be my reason for not night-weaning further down the road. Who knows!
Yet another sleeping pic to break up all of this text.
This was a very long winded way of saying we aren’t there yet with sleep, but it’s not so bad anymore. Or maybe we aren’t there yet and we never will be and I am now so far removed from sleeping well throughout the night that I have lost all perspective and this seems good to me now. What is the oldest a kid could possibly be and still not sleep through the night? I’ve heard of kids waking up until 4 or 5 but never past that. Any bets on when he will stop nursing at night on his own? His doctor said it will be “later than I will be willing to wait.” I don’t know what that means and she won’t give specifics but she also doesn’t know how crazy I am and what I’ve already put up with. Has anyone heard of a kid waking up to nurse in Kindergarten? I have not but I also know not to underestimate the torture my son can inflict in this department.