We night-weaned, that is.
Don’t get me wrong- I love, love, love co-sleeping. I love breastfeeding on demand, the convenience of nursing Lucy without really ever waking up, and marathon cuddling sessions.
When my supply really started dropping a few weeks ago, Lucy didn’t understand. She’d wake up, try to nurse, not get much, and get mad. That’s when she’d pull, bite, cry, and generally pitch a fit. Brett would end up having to get up and make her a bottle in the middle of the night to appease her, and that got really old, really fast.
So, I did some research and came across a night-weaning strategy by Dr. Jay Gordon. Dr. Gordon supports the family bed, but understands that in some situations night-weaning is necessary. The entire article can be found here.
Basically, Brett and I decided that our “most important” 7 hours of sleep are from 11 pm-6 am. So for a few nights I gave Lucy her bedtime bottle, and then nursed her to sleep. If she woke up anytime between bedtime and 11 pm, I would go nurse her back to sleep. Once 11 pm hit, though, the mommy restaurant was closed.
If Lucy woke up after that, she was given her pacifier and her “lovey,” and could be cuddled, have her back rubbed, etc.; basically everything but nurse. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. She didn’t really cry at all- she’d just sit up in bed and yell at me. A few times she crawled over to Daddy and went to sleep with him, with a partly defiant, partly hurt look on her face. Overall, though, what seemed like an eternity to me was actually the equivalent of 20-minutes of cranky baby.
But guess what? It only took 3 or 4 nights for it to sink in. Lucy figured out that if she woke up she could still cuddle next to her “nummers,” and it was okay. Since then, we have made tremendous strides in the sleep department. Lucy’s been going to sleep around 7-7:30 pm, and staying asleep until well after we go to bed- she used to wake up several times before we made it there. She still wakes up once or twice (and part of that is due to teething), but goes back to sleep easily, and doesn’t attack me with an open mouth in the meantime. Once she wakes up around 5:30-6, I nurse her while Brett makes a bottle. And, BONUS- she’ll generally drink her bottle and go back to sleep for another hour or two.
The sad thing is that even though I really appreciate the huge amount of sleep I’m getting now, I don’t like that she’s being appeased by a “false nipple,” whether pacifier or bottle. If I wasn’t pregnant, we’d definitely be doing things differently. Still, I think that one of the key ingredients of mommyhood is flexibility- you gotta roll with the punches.
Ironically (or, I guess not), my supply has improved a bit since we’ve night-weaned (probably due to more sleep!) We’re going through a bit of a nursing strike right now, mainly due to a combination of teething and distractions (Lucy really won’t nurse attentively unless we’re at home, by ourselves, laying down), but I’m still chugging away with pumping once-a-day at work and nursing at night. I just want to hang in there as long as possible, and this little boost is giving me just what I’ve needed. I can’t help but think that if I can just make it a few more months, Lucy will maybe, MAYBE be more interested in nursing again.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!