Sleeping Through The Night, Night Weaning, And Self-Weaning

So, I'm pretty excited about this. Since Kaylee turned 2, she's been sleeping through the night sometimes. It's happening more and more, slowly but surely.

When she was born, I nursed her on demand, and when she was done, I'd put her back in her bassinet. As she grew older and graduated to the crib, I wasn't as vigilant about staying awake while nursing to put her back in her own bed, and we started bed sharing sometimes.

We got her a big girl bed when she was 2, and I tried to keep her sleeping on her own at least half the time, and it started off well... But then we realized she was sleeping with us all night, every night. I felt like we had regressed. In a way, I liked the co-sleeping. I didn't have to hop out of bed in the night. I liked the closeness of it. I liked having her near, being able to reach out and pat her, catching her sleep smiling or laughing. So I was reluctant to start training her to sleep in her own bed. I don't have that much motivation. The only reason I knew we had to is because Steven was uncomfortable every night. He woke up sore unless one of migrated to the couch in the night.

So I started halfheartedly trying to get Kay to sleep in her bed. I'd start her off there and try to be awake enough to put her back but my amazing energy that I had when she was a newborn is gone. I almost always zombie walk to her, carry her back to bed, latch her, and pass out.

But then something started happening. She slept through the WHOLE NIGHT in her own bed! I didn't have to do any work at all. She just naturally started outgrowing the night nursing. No need for the "night weaning" and "sleep training" that I thought was inevitable since we "spoiled her" and let her sleep with us.

My plans of doing it all differently with our next kid disappeared. I mean, I'm not completely decided on it yet. But I'm seriously thinking... What would be more work? Putting all my energy when I have a newborn into sleep training, or just doing it the easy way and bed sharing for 2 years? I don't want to give up the ease of using nursing as a sleep aide just to have a baby that's trained and I can be proud to tell everyone that she or he sleeps through the night, you know? I don't think it would really be easier, in the long run (or in the short run).

So after spending a lot of time planning on making many improvements in how we will raise our next child, I'm coming full circle and starting to think more that we did everything just fine. We gave her the attention she needed and she became independent on her own because she was secure. And now that she's showing readiness, she is open to me encouraging her along. I can actually just pat her back and get her back to sleep now if she does wake up, and skip nursing. I'm like, WHAT?! That actually worked? Awesome! ...And then my boobs leak and I regret it, but that's beyond the point. They'll adjust eventually.

We do still have crazy sleep nights where I'm up every hour, and someone ends up on the couch. Sometimes one of us ends up on Kaylee's bed and the other one ends up on the couch because the girl takes up our entire queen bed by herself! But truly, we're making progress, led by Kaylee, and encouraged by me. A main thing I have done to help the process is make her bed a safe place, with my scent in it, by cuddling with her, telling her stories, and singing her songs every night before bed. As opposed to my technique where I put her to bed wherever, then carried her asleep to her bed. She was confused and disoriented when she woke up and cried, whereas now she calls for me when she wakes up. Just a cute, sleepy little, "Mama?"

Anyway, while I'm on the topic, she is also self-weaning. Some days, it does not feel like it. Sometimes she wants to nurse every 5 minutes. But if I look at it objectively, she nurses mostly for comfort at this point. If we are out all day, she will not even think of it. She's fine just eating and drinking like a big kid all day. All the pressure to wean her and all my defiant insistence that I would let her self wean wasn't even necessary. She's already doing it. I was preparing myself for the long haul, since I nursed until I was 7 years old. So I really thought we had more time. Now I'm thinking, she'll be weaned by the time she's 3, and sooner if I get pregnant and my milk dries up.

Of course, Kaylee psychically knew I was blogging about her weaning herself, and just came over to correct my misbelief, hahah! (NAKing FTW!)

But seriously, I don't really know how I feel about it. Mostly, I want to encourage the weaning, and get it done so I don't have to deal with the discomfort of nursing while pregnant (we are TTC right now!!). But another part of me is sad, and knows that tandem nursing is a beautiful experience, and extended nursing is normal and beneficial. I mean, I would know, my brother and I breastfed until we self-weaned at the same time, at ages 7 and 4. I have very fond memories of it and I'd like to give that to my kids, but we'll see. What happens will happen, and as always, I'll go with the flow. =)

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