Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adventures in Breastfeeding: Night Weaning

After a very challenging month of cosleeping that resulted in NO sleep for Brees, Shawn,
or myself, we decided to make the very big move of putting our precious baby in her own
bed.  As Brees became more active and mobile, it started to affect her sleep habits.  For
most of her ninth month, she woke up every 1-2 hours throughout the night,
crying inconsolably, playing and trying to crawl out of bed, and breastfeeding her little
heart out.  We were all, as a result, exhausted.
We tried everything: rocking, patting, one routine after another.  Reluctantly, we made
the decision to put Brees in her pretty little nursery that hasn't gotten much use until now.
I stressed myself into a full blown anxiety attack on night one of the big move: we have
spent every night of her life within an arm's reach, most of those nights sleeping side by
side, her arms wrapped around mine.  Was I really ready to let this precious phase go?  Did
I really want to move on just yet, knowing how quickly they grow, how fast the time flies
by?  But it was time, we all knew it.  And so we went through our normal night
routine: dinner, bath time, lullabies and prayers.  I kissed her a hundred times, gave her
an extra tight hug, and put her down in her bed.  She cried, oh did she cry!  But I patted
her and shushed her and let her know that I was right by her side.  And after about
five minutes, she drifted off to sleep.
The first night, she woke up twice and I went into her room to nurse her.  The second
night, she woke up only once.  By the third night, she slept from 8pm until 7:30 am, no
night feedings, no crying when I put her down.  She just slept.  In just 3 days, Brees
went from waking up every hour to sleeping almost 12 hours a night.  She night
weaned HERSELF, reassuring me that making the move from family bed to baby in her
own crib was definitely the right decision, it was time for that transition to take place.
We followed her cues, knowing that she was ready for her own space.  And I soon
realized that all of those night feedings were happening not because she was hungry
but because I was THERE.  She was using the comfort of nursing to soothe herself back
to sleep.  Now, she is soothing herself.
The first several nights were really hard emotionally: I missed her smell, the warmth of
her little body, the intimacy of the family bed.  My boobs missed her even more and
waking up the first couple of mornings was literally painful.  I actually considered pumping
on the second night when I woke up at 2am to throbbing, leaking boobs that were
left wondering what in the hell was going on here!  But after several days of our new
routine, more sleep than we had experienced in almost a year, and no baby wanting to
nurse herself back to sleep, my boobs have adjusted just fine.  We are still nursing 5 times
a day and my supply has not suffered at all.  It is the most amazing thing to witness:
the human body functioning as it was intended to.  With the demand of breast milk at
night decreased, the supply has decreased.  My body has responded to the new routine,
no longer filling up and causing pain when no need to nurse is there.  And my heart
has adjusted as well: enjoying the chance to read in bed again, to sleep with my head on
my husband's chest, to watch David Letterman with no worries of waking up a
sleeping babe.
So a new phase is here, a new leg of the journey began.  Brees is sleeping comfortably in
her own room, the same crib her sister dreamed in.  And we have reclaimed our room
for ourselves, enjoying the luxury of a full night's rest.  With a consistent bedtime routine
and a night cap dose of breast milk right before bed, Brees has successfully been
night weaned. And, as with most things baby related, it turned out to be much less
dramatic than my mama mind originally anticipated.


Jess said...

We're going to TRY to transition Remy this weekend. My heart hurts just thinking about it, but GO BREES!

MarieHarmony said...

I imagine how hard it can be but it seems the timing was perfect and Brees is happy in her little bed and lovely bedroom!
So now you are back again in times of romantic nights!

Randalin Ellery said...

How amazing! Like Marie says above, the timing was clearly right for Brees.

When we night-weaned and transitioned Kale to his own bed, I found it really, really difficult to sleep without him. As in - I was still waking up every 1-2 hours while he snoozed away peacefully! I've since adjusted and definitely sleep better, but am glad I still get my morning cuddles when I sneak into his floor bed at 5am when Kris leaves for work!

Jodi said...

Good job! i dont have kids yet but i cant imagine how hard it is, not only for her but for you as well. so giving ya hugs as you transition into this new phase with the cutie pie brees :)

Sweet Green Tangerine said...

She is precious! I went through this same exact thing with my first son. It was incredibly hard at first, but so rewarding once he made the transition. Great job!

Caitlin said...

What a lovely post! I don't have kids so I can't sympathize, but it seems like listening to her cues is the best bet. I'm glad it worked out so well. <3

KimBerly said...

What a HUGE milestone for Brees. This is amazing. I am so happy for you and for your family.