For those that know me, you know I’ve recently passed the 2 year mark of breastfeeding. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m afraid the hardest part is ahead of me: weaning. I decided that the first thing to tackle was night weaning. Gerrit has never truly slept completely through the night, and I blame a lot of that on his dependency on nursing to sleep.
I purposely started our night weaning journey on a Friday night: I wanted two mornings where I could sleep in if needed. Andrew hasn’t started pilot training yet, so usually his schedule is fairly free. But he is occasionally called in to do something in the mornings, and I wanted a weekend where I could count on sleep if I needed it!
I didn’t give Gerrit a lot of warning about weaning. I honestly didn’t see the point. Telling him about it a week or days in advance would be meaningless since it wasn’t affecting him immediately. So the day of night #1, I talked to him a little about how we were going to let “booboos” rest at night. I told him that he could have booboos at bedtime, but then no more until the sun came up. He said “okay” to it, but I knew it would be a different story around midnight!
I nursed Gerrit to sleep and put him in his crib around 10pm. He first woke up just before midnight (almost 2 hours of sleep). I nervously went to him wearing a cotton t-shirt (instead of a stretchy top or a nursing top). As expected, he got upset when I didn’t immediately give him the breast. He started out crying and saying, “Booboos! Pease, Mama! One booboo!” Ah, it broke my heart to have to keep telling him no. I just kept repeating, “No, booboos in the morning” or “Booboos when the sun comes up.” From wake time to being back to sleep, it took an hour. Not terrible, right?
After that he slept from 12:50 until 5:15! I brought him to bed with me then and let him nurse, and he got up for the day at 8:25. Not a bad first night.
This night started earlier (thank goodness) at 9:55. Again, he only slept for an hour and 45 minutes and was up at 11:45. When he woke up, it was basically a repeat of Night #1. He cried, asking for “booboos,” and I repeatedly told him he could have them in the morning. Gerrit let me rock him to sleep without nursing which is a first! He fell asleep just under an hour after he woke up.
Gerrit slept from 12:40 until 5:05! I ended up just bringing him to bed with me then and letting him nurse. He woke up for the day at 7:40. A little low on total sleep, but not too bad!
So Gerrit’s nap this day was off. He slept for an hour and 15 minutes, and woke up crying. Usually when he wakes up upset, it means he’s still tired. So I brought him to my bed to snuggle for a bit. He nursed and ended up falling back to sleep for a whole hour! Honestly, I was shocked! Gerrit rarely goes back to sleep when he wakes early from a nap.
That night, he went to bed even earlier than normal: 9:35PM! That is a great bedtime in this house. I swear, Gerrit is as much a night owl as I am! Anyway, after I got him to bed, he was up at 11:50 (just over 2 hours later). And this night he was not so upset about me not nursing… he was MAD! He ended up pointing at his crib, saying, “Bed!” So I put him back in his crib. Gerrit let me rub his back for a few minutes, then said, “Bye, Momma.” So I walked toward his door. He started crying a bit, so I walked back over to rub his back. He fell asleep that way, only 30 minutes after I first went in to him. Progress!
…and then he was up 15 minutes later. I managed to calm him down just by rubbing his back again, and then he slept until 5:10! At that point, again, I brought him to bed to nurse and sleep, and he slpet until 8:15.
I had high hopes this night! I nursed Gerrit to sleep and put him in his crib at 10:10. He slept longer than usual, making it to 1:55 (just under 4 hours). I was able to calm him fairly quickly, and he was back to sleep at 2:10. He only slept for 2 hours though, and I brought him to bed with me at 4:10 where he nursed and slept until 7:30.
I nursed Gerrit to sleep and got him into his crib at 9:55. He woke up at 12:25, and I was able to calm him fairly quickly. He was back to sleep in 5 minutes without nursing! He slept another 2.5 hours, and I brought him to bed around 3AM. I feel like I should have pushed him further, but I was tired and didn’t want to deal with it.
So around Night #4 or #5, Andrew noticed that Gerrit’s bottom 2-year-old molars were coming through. Ughhhh…. Could I have picked a worse time to night wean?! For those who don’t know our history, pain medicine has little affect on Gerrit. During the day when he’s teething, you would have no idea except he wants to gnaw on things more often. At night he’s up all the time. Give him Tylenol… same thing. The pain relievers don’t seem to give him enough relief to sleep longer, so we just skip them now. Back to night weaning…
Gerrit went to bed earlier again (9:35), but he only slept an hour! He let me calm him down really quickly and was back to sleep by 10:45. He woke up a little over 3 hours later at 2:05. Again, I was able to calm him down just by rocking him and rubbing his back. He slept from 2:15-4:35. At that point, I just brought him to bed with me and let him nurse and sleep until he woke at 7:40.
The end of the first week! And it started out great: he slept from 9:45 until 2:15! It took him awhile to get back to sleep though. I was in his room for half an hour, rocking him, rubbing his back in his crib… he eventually was back to sleep around 2:45. He slept for just over 2 hours then, and I brought him to bed around 5AM to sleep for another 3 hours.
Overall, I think Week 1 of night weaning went well! The first 2 nights were the worst, but Gerrit caught on pretty quickly to the new routine. It’s hard to say if it’s helping though: it feels like he is okay with not nursing, but he still wants me there to comfort him back to sleep. I was hoping not nursing would mean a start at self-soothing, but I’m afraid I will need to wean him from ME completely. 😦