On Friday I began nightweaning.
It was a very difficult decision, and when Friday came around, I was all emotional about the end of an era. Night feeds had become such a huge part of our relationship, it was all we knew. I wasn't sure I was ready for that to end!
Jocelyn started nightwaking at 6 months old, she is now 21 months. The first few months were VERY had on me, then I just got used to it. I stopped getting upset over it, and I didn't feel very tired. We were both happy with the situation, so we stuck with it. I am VERY against the CIO method (having tried it before), and vowed NEVER to do it.
Then my back went again, last week. Rolling over for night feeds was agony. Then I got sick too. I started entertaining the idea of nightweaning with my physio, but was worried what other AP Mums would think of me. I didn't realise I was caught in the trap of wanting to fit into the perfect AP role until I read a blog linked on Sausage Mama the other day. After realising everyone is different and I had to do what was best for US, I relaxed enough to reach out and ask others on the net how to gently night wean.
Joss taking advantage of my immobility!
To my utter surprise, even my most hardcore AP friends piped up with what THEY did. YES! THEY did it too! They got to a point that they felt they had to take action in order to get more sleep.
Now, by action, I DO NOT mean the CIO method. Although inevitibly there is some crying involved.
To me, CIO is putting your child to bed, walking out and letting them cry until they fall asleep. None of the "AP" mums I know let their children cry ALONE. They tend to them, help them through it.
So my action plan was this. For days before the scheduled "nightwean date", if Jossie's feeds got too long (ie one side, ask for other, other side, ask for other, other side, ask AGAIN) I would say, "No sweetheart. Mummy's booboos are sleeping. You can have some more later". There was protesting in the form of crying for about, 20 seconds I'd say. Then she'd go to sleep.
Night 1 of nightweaning, I fed her to sleep, but told her to say "nighnies to Mummy's booboos, they will wake up when the sun comes up". She shook her head "no". She understood, and didn't want it to happen! Thats why I chose this age, not 6 months old. She is old enough to understand!
First 2 times she woke, I told her "booboos sleeping", she cried for 20 seconds while I held her. Then she went to sleep! I thought, "Gee, this is a peice of CAKE!". Next 2 times she woke, I held and kissed her and offered her water for 10 minutes while she cried on and off. It was heartbreaking, but I was there to comfort her through it. I began feeding her again when the sun came up, regardless of whether she was truly waking up or not. I never know WHEN she will wake up for good, so that was my time to begin feeding again.
The second night saw less waking, but a few long stretches of crying. Third and fourth night, she would only get upset for 20 seconds, have a cuddle and go back to sleep! On the third night, she even went to sleep cuddling me instead of on the boob (her OWN choice!)
Last night, she fed to sleep at 6pm (due to no day nap) and only woke and asked for me at 10.30pm! That is MAJOR for a girl who usually wakes hourly! Alas, she woke at 1am feverish and vomiting, so I abandoned all nightweaning thoughts and fed her all she liked, of course. I'll do the same tonight if she's not better. My daughter will ALWAYS have access to night boobs if she is sick or sore.
The whole process has been hard (especially when I was sick myself), but not as hard as I expected. I was stupidly worried that after night 1 she would be mad at me and not love me as much. I worried for no reason, she woke up cheerfully, kissing my cheeks and ready for a great day! I was so grateful to her for that.
This is in no way an instructional blog on how to nightwean. And I don't even suggest anyone do it! Especially under the age of 1, and I was even disappointed in myself that I didn't last till she was 2. But I wanted to do it now as we are moving towns soon, and I thought it unfair to uproot her from all she knew, then suddenly exclaim "Oh PS! NO nightboobs anymore!".
I decided to nightwean due to sickness and injury at the age of 21 months old. And yes, because I would LOVE a whole nights sleep! And yes, truth be told, I am hoping a happy side effect will be the return of my fertility. I can't deny that!
I do not regret feeding to sleep (which I am still doing, btw), or nightfeeding up until now. It was hard but rewarding. (And a great excuse for hubby to do the morning shift on weekends and let you sleep in!)
It was just time.