Breastfeeding · Sleeping

Negotiating with a Sleep Thief 

I’ve been considering night weaning. It’s been a bad week. The kid’s been sick, so waking frequently at night. Nothing unusual in the circumstance but I thought I’d finally reached the end of my breastfeeding rope the other morning when from 5am to 6.30am she refused to be put down and kept swapping from side to side to side. This was after having woken four or five times earlier in the night. I was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep, just one more hour. Clearly it was time to night wean – wasn’t it?

She must have sensed something as the next night she woke only twice and went back to her cot relatively quickly and I even got a stretch of almost six hours sleep. Maybe the pain of night weaning would not be necessary, but was that a fluke?

Luckily the local ABM breastfeeding support group met yesterday so I went in for some advice. It was suggested to me that it’s really hard to night wean and continue to co-sleep – unless I want to go to bed wearing a polo neck catsuit. I think we can all agree that’s not a good look, regardless of whether you’re carrying baby (toddler) weight or not. And I know she’s not ready for her own room just yet.

I mentioned that I had started to negotiate with her in the middle of the night, in much the same way as I negotiate with her in the day about the number of episodes of Paw Patrol she gets to watch. That usually goes like this when we’re at home:

Me: Two episodes and then we go outside.

Her: Grunt of acknowledgement

Two episodes later I switch off the TV and she quite contentedly jumps down from the sofa in search of her shoes.

As an aside, negotiations never go that smoothly at Nana’s house. For some reason, the kid feels the need to turn into screeching howler monkey instead of keeping her end of the bargain. Thanks kid…

The breastfeeding support counsellor suggested that because the kid is so verbal, that perhaps continuing with night-time negotiations might be the most gentle way to get her to understand that night time is for sleeping.

Last night was awesome – in terms of comedy value. Well, I thought it was funny but it’s probably one of those things that the kid’s parents find funny, so please forgive me if you don’t actually laugh out loud. She did a 5 hour stretch of sleep before waking at 1am in search of mook, had a quick drink and then back to her bed within 15 minutes. So far so good.

[3am – in our darkened bedroom]

Her: Mama? Mook? Mook? Mook?”

Me: Ok baby [lifts kid out of cot, and feeds]

Her: *Side? [Translation: “Other boob please mama”]

Me: One more side, then bed

Her: grunt of acknowledgement

[Mama puts kid back in cot. Kid screeches and howls “no,no, no”]*

Repeat pattern between * three more times

Me: One more side, then bed

Her: Two more sides?

At this point I laughed out loud. Firstly, because of the sweet cheekiness at which the kid countered my offer and secondly because I think that was her first three-word sentence. Needless to say, I was impressed by the kid’s attempts at negotiation at 3.30am.

Me: No baby, nice try, one more side then bed.

Two more sides later I lay the grumbling toddler between me and the husband in the hope that allowing her to sleep in our bed would soothe her. It did not. She thrashed around, tried to get comfortable, and even though it was dark I could see the side eye she was giving me. I think that was my first “I hate you mama….”

After a couple minutes, she settled into a perfect child’s pose and was still. Ten seconds later the husband emits an almighty snore. She raised her head in the same way she used to when she was a baby practicing “tummy time” (I genuinely dislike that phrase) – but it gave me the nostalgic feels, then this happened to remind me she’s no longer a baby:

Her (to her Dad): Wake up Aba-aba

Her: (turning to me): It’s sleeping….

Me: Yes baby, “it’s” sleeping – maybe you’ll be more comfortable in your own bed [places kid in cot]

Kid thrashed around  some more, got comfortable and drifted off within five minutes. It was a whole 2.5 hours before I heard “Mama? Mook?” again.

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