I finally decided to night-wean Jason. He is now 21 months. The last, oooh, 6 months or so my brain has been jumping at the bit to night-wean. But my heart wasn’t into it. So I knew that I would not have the determination to stick with it when the going got (inevitably) tough. That would not have been fair on anyone.
But two nights ago something changed. Even my heart was done with the night-wakings. Jason had woken up twice. Once after 3 hours of sleep. Then after a 2 hour interval. Finally he started fussing after only 1.5 hours. I sent my husband in. And I heard Jason cry for milk … For a minute. After which he settled down and slept until 7am. Yes, it was time.
Another factor that helped make up my mind was that Jason seems not to miss his mama-milk when I am not home. The last three weekends my husband has had to stay home with him, while I was gone for the afternoon, or one day even the whole day. Jason did not care. He would not even look up when I came back home. Nursing seems to have lost quite a lot of emotional importance for my sweet bear. I guess I am the one holding on to the closeness and sweetness of the experience.
To top it off, yesterday evening I got into my first car accident ever. Don’t worry, as far as car accidents, it doesn’t get “better” than this. It was 6pm, a time by which my brain becomes very tired and slow, due to this on-going sleep deprivation. I was backing out of a parking spot by Chipotle. I remember looking thru the rear window and then slowly backing out, while making sure I wouldn’t hit the car parked next to me. Apparently the black car behind me was backing up too. I never saw it. They even honked, which I did not hear. (And the radio was only playing softly.) My husband yelled “Stop! Stop!”, but my brain was sooooo slow to respond, that I banged them ever so softly.
We exchanged the necessary paperwork and obviously everybody was fine, after such a gentle collision. But I was still very much shaken. And yet still half asleep. (Now I can only hope this doesn’t turn out to be a crazy person who claims she got whiplash or something from our car kiss.)
So I decided to definitely stick to the plan of starting the night-weaning process that night. Even though Jason had thrown up his entire quesadilla at Chipotle. (Which had also added to my addled car crash causing brain.) All day long I had reminded him that from now on, he would not get milk anymore at night. He was allowed to nurse as often as he wished during the day. But at night I would not let him nurse. If he would want, we could cuddle. But no more milk.
This last week Jason had been falling asleep off the boob. He would nurse, nurse, nurse for up to an hour. But then he would latch off and doze off. After about 15 minutes of kicking me, rubbing my hair and talking to himself. Just to say that I was quite confident that he actually would be ble to go back to sleep without nursing.
So yesterday evening he went down at 8pm. I had yet again reminded him about our new arrangement. He woke up for the first time at 12pm. Yes, a 4 hour stretch! I walked into his room and lied next to him. (Remember, he sleeps on a queen-sized mattress on the floor.) “Nog melk”, he said, like always. (This means ‘more milk’ in Dutch.) I repeated what I had been telling him all day. He got upset. Which I expected. As Janet Lansbury so skillfully explains in her blogs, with any change there will be a feeling of loss and a grieving process.
He cried for a little while, repeating “Nog melk, nog melk” over en over. He got a little bit hoarse. I gave him some water and kept saying he wouldn’t get milk at night anymore. I cuddled and kissed him. And let him cry and express his feelings without shushing him or telling him he was OK.
After a bit of that I just left him to it. I quietly lied next to him and stopped repeating myself. I was just present for my little man’s big feelings. And he settled down. Then started up again. But more quietly and with less intensity. Eventually he quieted down all the way and fell asleep. I gave him a soft kiss on the noggin’ and crept back to my room. I was back in my bed after less than 30 minutes! It seemed so much longer when he was crying.
Around 4am he woke again. I offered Jason water, but this time he refused it. He seemed a little bit more upset. Now he would say “Nee, melk?” (No, milk) over and over in his pitiful hoarse little crying voice. I think I responded too often, because it took him a lot longer to settle back down. But eventually he did. After about one hour fifteen minutes I was back in my own bed. And Jason then slept until 6:40am. Which is a pretty normal wake-up time for him.
My husband went and got him. He tried to interest him in a bagel or an apple. But my sweet child kept crying for milk. And since it was day by then, he got his wish. He nom nommed several times that morning. Even though he was down to nursing 3-4 times a day. But I will take the trade-off.
We’ll see what this night holds in store for us. I’ll keep you posted.