The dragonfly is almost 13 months old and I seem to have reached a crossroads. At the time of this writing, it’s 5am and I have been up for over an hour and a half. Nights like this remind me of the line in the classic animated adaptation of “Charlotte’s Web” where, right before Wilbur meets Charlotte, the narrator says “When your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it’s always hard to sleep.” Between nursing bed-sharing toddler and snoring husband… this mama is not getting the best sleep at night and it’s starting to spill over into my day-to-day dealings. Couple that with the fact that The Dragonfly is not the best day sleeper (she is the champion of the 40 minute power nap… probably because she sleeps so well at night,) and I easily pull a “shift” starting a 6a and not stopping until 830p… 7 days a week. Dude, just reading that little tidbit can make you tired.
I don’t really believe that night weaning is the answer to the problem, maybe getting DH some “Breathe Right” strips might help as well, but the thought of night weaning has come about because The Dragonfly sometimes lets her latch kind of slip as she “dream feeds” and if you are a breastfeeding mother/ advocate, you know that a bad latch can lead to… sore nipples. So add bad latch with the slight pressure of teeth on the breast tissue and throw in a dash of your midsection being clawed all while being serenaded with the sounds of your husband cutting down Redwoods and you have a mother who would rather be awake before dawn, blogging.
I have always been a light sleeper and to be honest, it’s great for parenting. I am one of those, who can go from sleep to awake/ coherent in no time flat. I remember in college, when I was a Housefellow (aka RA) and the fire alarm would go off at night, I was ready and rarin’ to go while my floor mates were kind of stumbling around half-in/ half-out (some may have been half-drunk as well…) But the downside is that I wake up to anything: The Bear coughing, the sounds of our neighborhood owl hooting, The Dragonfly turning over in her crib (right before she wakes up and ends up back in our bed,) I seem to live on the edge of anticipation and really can’t get a restful night’s sleep.
It’d be fantastic if this could somehow be rectified with a nap here or there during the day, but that’s a no-go… So we are back to the thought of night weaning. Yes, I would still have the other factors to deal with but at least I wouldn’t be in pain! The funny thing/ nice thing is that she does the bulk of her nursing after 2am or so and it’s then that she would be content to stay attached until the sun came up. When I was in Nashville a few weeks ago, I have to be honest, I kind of was hoping that she would have night weaned then, but as soon as I got home and Mom’s Restaurant was back in business, we were back to our routine.
I’ve spent the last hour or so researching night weaning, and I came across Dr. Jay Gordon’s site. Dr. Gordon is an advocate for attachment parenting and the family bed and has a night weaning method that is more gentle than others. I know, I know… people love to give the analogy of ripping a band-aid off: Is it better to rip a band-aid off quickly or peel it off? Ripping it off hurts more but it’s over quicker, but peeling takes longer but hurts less. But breastfeeding in general and night nursing specifically is not a band-aid situation. Breastfeeding the older baby/ toddler is not just about nutrition it’s about comfort and love. If you are not a parent, imagine for a moment that you are. Your little one has a treasured lovey (or maybe you have the treasured lovey?) It could be a blanket, or raccoon or flannel swatch, whatever. Now imagine someone you love, ripping that lovey away from you and you never get to see it again. How would you feel? As adults, we have the means and the abilities to assess the complex emotions that would stem from such a violation… a 13 month old… not so much. Heck, most 6 year olds really don’t get something like that.
So this is where I stand. Do I grin and bear it and hope it gets better? Do I upset the status quo and help my child transition with grace? I’ll be thinking it over but in the meantime, it’s great to know that we have evolved past the simple solutions and that listening to my child cry it out is not the only option out there. But that leads to another query… childhood is so short-lived, what’s a few years of bad sleep in the grand scheme of things?
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