Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Night Weaning Adventures!
The time to wean a child from the breast is an intimate and personal decision between mother and baby. Especially after the baby is a year old, a mother will discover that her baby will continue nursing, not just for the nutritional need, but for the emotional comfort, security, and love that he feels, as well. For me, nursing my children is such a special part of being their mama, that I am not ready to give it up, either, and allow them to nurse as long as we both agree.
Our little Odin is 21 months old, and eating a variety of healthy solids and liquids. Yet, he comes to me to nurse everyday when he needs to snuggle, is sleepy, gets an owie, or just in need of a super milkie boost! It sure makes parenting easier sometimes! The look in his eyes while he is nursing is pure bliss; like the world is a peaceful haven, and he is the center of it all. I love it!
This past week, however, we decided it was time to wean Odin from nursing during sleeping hours. Usually I can sleep right through his night time nursings, but being pregnant, I am especially tender, and the night nursings were starting to disturb my sleep. And p.s., disturbing my sleep whilst pregnant equals non-functional daytime mother.
Since Odin sleeps with Micah and I, I feel like he often nurses through the night purely out of habit. Well, I concluded, he is a happy, well-adjusted toddler, and it's not going to hurt him to stop the night nursings!
Now everyone probably weans their babies differently, because each child is different in temperament, maturity, and ability to understand the world around him. Zadok, at 23 months, just lost interest a month before Odin was born. I hear stories of Mamas who introduce bottles, and slowly the baby makes the transition from breast to bottle. I also hear stories of Mothers who cut off the nursing, cold-turkey, leaving the baby alone and confused.. I hear stories of babies who wean because the milk tastes different during pregnancy. Etc...
Well, this is how we do it over here. For us weaning toddlers, we choose to wean by substituting nursing with other measures of comfort--a favorite story, a special game, a yummy snack, a cuddle and a song. I feel it is very important to make sure the weaning process is slow, gradual, and filled with lots of comfort and love. After all, you are subtracting something of much value; it should be replaced with distractions or substitutes that feel good, too.
So, this past week, has been a nighttime weaning adventure for Odin and I! The first night was the hardest. Before bed we talked about how "Milkies" needs to sleep, how when the sun goes down and we go to bed, that Milkies goes to bed, too.
The first time he woke up to nurse he was very upset. I went over it again. "The sun has gone down, Milkies are sleeping. Mama can cuddle you , but Milkies are asleep." He didn't like this at all. He cried and cried, and my little heart almost gave in--but my instincts told me not to give up--that this was going to be good for all of us. So, I started singing all his favorite songs, and making up stories about things he loved...balloons, ducks, frogs, glittery bouncy balls, the pet store...anything I could think of. It was starting to work.
He slowly went back to sleep. But, woke up 5 more times.....crying for Milkies. And again..I cuddled him, and I went over all the favorite songs, made up stories about balloons and ducks, etc...til he slowly drifted to sleep.
When we woke up in the morning, I made sure he knew that the sun was up and it was Milkie time! Boy did he love this! He smiled so big and went straight to it! I let him know throughout the day that he can nurse as much as he likes.
The next 4 nights were very similar, but waking up less and less times. One night he was really, really upset, crying for his beloved Milkies. So me, half asleep, I started naming all the things that were asleep, too, such as Milkies, the sun, the trees, the cows, the mailman, the dogs, the fish, Grandma and Grandpa, the animals in the zoo, and on and on. I think by the time I got to President Obama and the custodian at church, he was totally asleep. What a relief! Another night I had to get up and dance him to sleep, at 3am. Another night I found myself singing the entire tune of Sinead O'Conner's "Nothing Compares to You." When I finally got to the end there was silence.....then "MILKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIES." So I started all over with another song. It's been a long, exhausting week, but now he is only waking up once or twice. Pretty soon he will sleep peacefully through the night.
This morning we woke up, with the sun drifting through the windows. He turned to me and said, "Sun. Awake! Milkies!" With a big smile on both our faces, I knew we had reached an understanding.
I am so proud of my big boy for taking this big step in his life. He is growing up so fast, and it's often hard to let go of my baby. He is learning and growing every day. I am proud of him for learning to do something hard, so his Mama could enjoy more comfort and peace through the night.
Thank you sweet Odin for doing this for your Mama. :) I hope he knows how loved he truly is.