If there’s one thing more daunting than night weaning your child, it’s night weaning your child again. Yep. After succeeding in removing night feedings from my two-year-old’s routine last year, my family got sick – really sick – and I didn’t have the heart to withhold something that could provide comfort and healing to my wheezing youngster.
I knew my child would weather the predictable emotional upset of losing something dear to him, but I was unsure how his Mom and Dad would handle it. In our case, it was knowing that we were falling asleep to be interrupted multiple times throughout the night to lose sleep. We’d been drifting further and further from the experience of parenting a newborn – where losing sleep is expected and somehow easier to understand. Even though I was leading this weaning, it somehow felt like my son was maliciously waking us up. So are the thoughts of a groggy parent.
Nights One and Two were pretty rough. My son was sad, and his forlorn cry was heartbreaking. Even though my husband and I discussed our strategy (I nurse our son to sleep, one of us wake with him and comfort him at the first waking, and then switch out) it still was a clumsy operation. We were gruff with one another and likely swearing through our frustrations.
By Day Three, we resigned ourselves to the loss of sleep but our son woke less. By Day Four, he slept through the night. Was that it? No. It has been as if his body and his heart are in a struggle from night-to-night. Some nights he sleeps soundly with no wakings, and others he wakes up.
When we were night weaning our daughter, we put Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis on repeat all night. It kept us relaxed and eventually lulled her to sleep. This time around has been a different experience altogether – I have an iPad and my son requests mid-night showings of PBS Kids. Occasionally, we are able to soothe him using a serenity app that shows falling rain or floating jellyfish. I am afraid I am going to reset my body clock to wake at 4 am and watch cartoons!
The third part of our weaning strategy is to convince our son that he will not nurse until the sun comes up. It feels slightly cruel since we are in the depths of winter and the sun is rising after our bodies already have. This has led to waking up earlier than usual on most mornings, but I feel like this will pass eventually.
The night weaning has affected his eating patterns. He wants to nurse when he wakes, but then that throws off his yearning to eat breakfast. He will set a new routine soon enough, but it feels like he never eats.
What I didn’t expect is that my son would jump into some other changes amidst all this. He kept asking me to take his diaper off when he woke up last night at 4 am. He insisted on sitting on the toilet and peed several times. This morning, he started insisting that I pull his diaper off or put it on. I was getting annoyed, but then he said, “I GOTTA POO POTTY, MAMA!” I took him to the bathroom and we had our first #2 on the regular toilet. Yes! I got a little over-confident in this new development and had to clean up a couple of accidents, but that is par for the course.
Doesn’t it feel like we are parenting in a set of routines that all of a sudden change one day and our schedule starts to look entirely different? I love this dynamic nature of parenting.