Oh my goodness, what a night.
Sometimes my goals in parenting are very clear if a little complex and lofty. Other times they are a little vague and simple. It’s the simple set that I think is probably the most true, the most realistic and the one we’re mostly likely to see come to fruition. That set can be summed up in one short sentence: don’t screw them up too much. Along this parenting journey we occasionally are given glimmers of hope that it may be an attainable goal. I’ve been hoping that night weaning isn’t going to screw Smunchie up too much.
We have now made it through the fourth night, a night of major change.
Official analysis? Nothing could have prepared us for this night. It was a shock to the system.
I had been dreading this night in particular once we decided to go with this plan and we had considered drawing the process out a little more. After reviewing what was supposed to happen with the second set of 3 nights we decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to make such a huge transition on a Saturday night because The Piano Man has to get up early for work and sleep deprivation and playing the piano don’t mix so well. The transition had to start Friday night. We read the section pertaining to the second set of 3 nights from Dr. Gordon’s article and found much support in this:
“Yes, for the past many months we have enjoyed voting “1 to 2″ — non-democratically — in favor of . . . the baby. ‘Anyone want to get up all night, feed and walk the baby and be really tired all day and the next day too?’ Well, the vote is 1 to 2 in favor of the baby.”
Now, what we’re saying is, we will sometimes be voting two to one in favor of the baby’s family. This “baby’s family” concept may be abhorrent to he who considers himself the King of England, or Emperor of the Whole World, but our knowing he has that feeling of power allows us to confidently demote the dictator to a majority-respecting member of the family. His family.
It is time for Smunchie to be a majority-respecting member of the family. Her family.
We reviewed The Plan.
Bed Time. Our bed time routine works really well for us so it would remain the same. It’s flexible but within some parameters that help our little ones shift gears. Us too, actually.
Wakings. From now on between midnight and 7am there are no feedings. We decided we’d both participate in comforting her and if need be I’d leave and go to the couch. When she asked for bobbies I’d simply say “bobbies all done” then we’d rub her back, cuddle, hold her, etc. I was really concerned this wouldn’t go well and thought this plan sounded weak. Still, I wasn’t sure what else we could do that wouldn’t end up traumatizing all of us.
Bed. Again we decided the goal was sleep, not getting her to sleep in her own bed. We’d save that transition for another time. She starts out in her bed already and then joins us and the last few nights she’s been transitioning back to her bed just fine. We’d keep her in bed with us.
The evening was dedicated to a rambunctious game of Pictionary with the whole family. The 3 big girls are now old enough to really get and play the game and with a parent on each team and the 2 younger ones on laps we drew and laughed our way into the night. We had a blast eating brownies and guessing each other’s scribbles.
8.30ish- Smunchie was in bed around 8, was awakened around 8.45 thanks to the loud bigger people playing on the other side of the house. That early I nursed her back to sleep and she was out again in no time. Even with all our noise she didn’t wake again for a long while.
11.30ish- The Piano Man and I headed to bed. Anxious about the night ahead we thought maybe we’d try a dream feed when we went to bed. Scooping her up it felt good to hold my sleeping little girl. Not wanting to nurse laying down in bed, I sat on the end of the bed. Her eyes fluttered and she murmured “bobbies” which made both The Piano Man and me smile and I got her latched. She nursed so well. With a kiss on her head I put her back in her space and crawled into bed, hoping for at least 2 hours before the drama started.
3ish- This is just a guess. We know it was after 1.30am because The Piano Man looked at the clock when he went to the bathroom (and came right back, no napping on the toilet this time). Sometime after 1.30 but well before 6, Smunchie woke up. I laid there waiting for The Piano Man to get her thinking we had decided he would try to get her to calm down without me first. Apparently, I imagined that because he doesn’t remember us ever talking about it. Turned out well though, he didn’t get her, I did and we stood hugging for a little bit before I brought her into our bed. Those standing cuddles were something special, her arms tight around my neck, her body pressing against mine with all her might. Something told me that it wasn’t the bobbies she was needing right then, it was just to be close to me. For the first time in a while I breathed in her scent and buried my nose in her neck in the middle of the night. I have not been enjoying her at night for so long now because of the depth of my fatigue. This brief moment standing together in the dark was one of the connections Smunchie and I have. And we can have them during the day too. I laid down with her, making sure she had her lovey and Ciel. The familiar request was made but this time I responded with “bobbies all done” and cuddled and kissed her. This wasn’t the response she wanted at all, of course but instead of starting to cry she whimpered “bobbies” again. She didn’t pull at my shirt, she reached for my neck and held on tight. Rolling over on my back I cuddled her on my chest, her head pressed against my cheek. We stayed that way until she threw herself off me and asked again for the bobbies. I responded the same and offered the sippy cup of water we keep by the bed. This time she started to cry. I tried to rub her tummy and pat her but she pushed my hand away. Thirsty myself I reached for my glass of water and took a drink. Smunchie sat up and signed please, stopping her crying. With my hand steadying the glass, she directed it to her lips and took a drink. She drank and drank, gulping down water pausing twice to take a breath. Thirsty girl! When she was done she asked me for bobbies again and was met with the same response. Again she whimpered then turned and flopped down on her belly, drawing her lovey and doll close, and began to make little complaining talking sounds. Grumbles really. Laying down I began to rub her back. A few minutes later she heaved a sigh and fell quiet. Shortly after I could identify the long breaths of sleep. This whole thing took maybe 10 minutes. I waited for her to wake again and demand the bobbies. Would it be 5 minutes? Twenty? An hour? I expected it so much I had difficulty falling back asleep. Eventually, watching her rhythmic breathing next to me, I surrendered to sleep.
6ish- I tossed and turned, struggling to get comfortable for hours and finally decided to move the still sleeping Smunchie back to her bed. It went without a hitch.
7.30ish- “Bobbies?” I sat up and looked at the end of my bed where I could see a wisp of blond hair and two bright blue eyes peeking over the side of the pack-n-play. The eyes smiled then vanished. Going to her bed I saw Smunchie gathering her lovey and baby doll, stand up and hold her arms out to me: “mama!” In my arms she patted my chest and said “bobbies?” again. Snuggles and milk, we woke up slowly enjoying each other’s company.
Today I feel more rested. My back hurts from sleeping in a strange position but I feel a lot better than I have been feeling. For the first time I feel I can see that Smunchie too feels better. Though she’s been a cheerful, easy going baby, this morning she hasn’t seemed nearly as tired and has more energy. I think she has needed more sleep too.
We will be more than fine with night weaning. It meant a lot to me that just a cuddle without the bobbies could be such a comfort for her. She didn’t just love me for the bobbies, she loved me for me. Being close can happen without the bobbies and we can still rest in peace and security of the love we have for each other and the love of our family. I know tonight could be a total disaster but with this in my heart, my body more rested, my mind more clear and the knowledge that Smunchie is ready to be a majority-respecting member of the family I’m not dreading it. We’ll be fine.