I knew it was time for Waylon to stop night-nursing a few weeks ago when he began waking often and sleeping poorly. It was a hard truth to swallow. I’ve been enjoying c0-sleeping, but the twilight breastfeeding was becoming a burden, disrupting our sleep, and making both of us cranky during the day. The deal was sealed when I took the baby away this weekend on a trip he shouldn’t have been on just because I couldn’t leave him overnight. The point was further made on Sunday night when he woke at least a dozen times, tossing and turning and kicking me in the stomach. That night something clicked in my brain, something that said: IT’S TIME.
For months I’ve researched different sleep training methods and talked to a lot of moms about their successes and failures. What I learned was that every baby is different; what works for one child will not work for another. For a while I considered doing the “crying in arms” approach, but dismissed it after realizing Waylon is a strong boy and would never allow me to hold him while he cried out of frustration. I also considered sleeping in his room with him so he wouldn’t feel scared or alone, but decided against that too–worrying it would be like dangling a steak in front of a hungry dinosaur. I settled on the teachings taught in the book Sleeping Through The Night, which is basically an updated Ferber method.
I’ll be honest, all day long I had a pit in my stomach the size of Texas about our new arrangement. I dreaded the night and longed for tomorrow. I didn’t want to hear my baby cry. I even talked myself out of it a few times, but when I thought about another night of battling the nursing monster, I knew I couldn’t do that either.
When it was finally time to start, I sent out a dozen or so SOS texts for back up because I knew I would need help; reassurance that this is a good thing and to be held accountable to follow through. Everyone responded promptly, two even came over and brought beer. I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you.
Here is what last night looked like:
6:30pm: Bath (High needs babies are often stimulated by baths so we don’t ever do it right before bed because he’s very awake and excited after).
7:30pm: Oatmeal and yogurt (to make sure his belly is full)
8:00pm: Diapered, pajamaed, and in his room for stories, songs, nursing, and cuddles.
8:30pm: Lights out, put in pack n’ play awake.
8:31: Utter despair.
I’m not going to lie, he cried a lot. The first 30 minutes was the worst. He screamed so loud I was sure the neighbors could hear. A few times my eyes filled with tears, and yet I never felt like he was scared or traumatized. He just wanted to nurse, as he’d been conditioned to do.
Most of last night is a blur, but I think his total crying time was probably around 3 hours. 45 minutes to fall asleep the first time, and then up multiple times between 12:30 and 3:30 to cry for at least 20 minutes each time. As instructed, I checked on him after 5 minutes, after 10 minutes, and then after 20 minutes. I never picked him up, just simply reassured him by repeating “I love you” and “It’s time for sleep.” I also helped him to lie down again and patted his back.
After the final bout of exhausted crying ending around 3:30, he slept until 7:50am. 7:50! My boobs were the size of watermelons and my heart was full of pride for my big boy.
Surviving night one gives me hope about night two and night three. It gives me hope that someday we’ll all be sleeping through the night and he’ll be back in his floor bed sleeping soundly. It gives me hope for early morning family bed cuddles without the expectation to nurse. It gives me hope for change.
Continue to —–> Night Two