Changing Our Sleep Patterns- The 4th Night and Big Change

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 reality

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.

Timeline-ish

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.

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Comments

  1. Awwww! I’m so not ready for that. However, when I am… if I am before she is… I hope it goes that well.

  2. “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.”

    I have just sat and wept reading that comment. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. We are not at the same stage as DS is only 7mo, and not co-sleeping, but I’m just coming out of a time of finding breastfeeding hideously hard work, and feeling that as far as DS was concerned there was nothing more to me than a pair of udders. If nothing else I will aim to cuddle him just for the sake of a cuddle, without dreading his milk-demanding cry, and smell him whilst he still smells of baby not toddler.

    Praise the Lord I found your blog when I most needed the support. You are awesome.

  3. “She didn’t just love me for the bobbies, she loved me for me.”

    Yes, this line has a tear rolling down my cheek. I’m so glad it’s working out for your family & especially for Smunchie 🙂

  4. Isn’t it amazing how we assume for so long that they wake up for “bobbies” and all they need is the comfort of mommy or daddy. I love the way you describe that desperately sweet hug. Congratulations on some sleep.

  5. Angelina says:

    I’m so happy for you that it went so well, that you all got some sleep, and every little bit! I have my fingers crossed for you that it continues to go smoothly. Thank you SO much for sharing this journey!!

  6. Melissa says:

    I have really appreciated reading your night weaning saga. I am the first in my family to breastfeed past 6 months and I struggle with feeling like I am surrendered to my 9 month old. I dont want to complain about breastfeeding because I dont want to discourage anyone from doing it, but sometimes its hard. Your story has allowed me to realize that its OK to not give into every demand or request for “bobbies”. I still BF on demand, as he is still young and small for his age but I find comfort in the fact that sometimes, its OK to not give them exactly what they want and that it is still possible to meet your child’s needs.

  7. so.so.so.so. happy for you. and piano man. and smunchie.

  8. Melissa O says:

    another reader who teared up at your description of such a sweet mid- night moment. We are also in the midst of night-weaning, after months of disrupted co-sleeping. My 13 month old just doesn’t sleep well, never has. We used Dr. Jay’s method with our son, and it went very well, and we are doing a slow version now. I love his advice, and feel comfortable with his method. Last night we did not nurse from 8pm to 6am, and we are all much better rested, too. Good luck with the next few nights!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this journey! We are about to embark on this too, I just hope it goes as well for us!

  10. Beth M. says:

    We went through this recently too, with my son who is now 23 months. I actually hadn’t read about Dr. Gordon’s approach until about halfway through, but was surprised and pleased to find that what we naturally fell into matched his suggested approach so closely. My son night-weaned very easily once I had the nerve to just say no and find other ways to soothe him. He fussed at me the first few times, and since then it hasn’t really been an issue. Sometimes night-weaning really is the best thing for everyone in the family – including the baby!

  11. Awww! This is so encouraging! And so sweet!

    My husband and I are still working out a plan for trying this night weaning method, and we have also been considering drawing out the phases a little longer. I don’t know what the arguments are for or against longer phases. Maybe Dr. Gordon can comment on that if he sees this.

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Just knowing that someone is really doing it helps a lot!

  12. xena horvath says:

    just beautiful!!! i am so happy for you all!!!

  13. I am crossing my fingers for you . If this works for you, we will try it too. Bear is about as stubborn as they come and I’ll be going it alone I’m afraid. When she is upset/ mad/tired she won’t have anything to do with Daddy. In fact, if he tries to comfort her, she just gets angrier. Breaks his heart. Makes me tired.

  14. deirdre says:

    Soooo glad things went well last night, one step forward…..there may be one or two tough nights ahead but just as establishing feeding is tough in the beginning so too is the weaning or changing of the pattern. Take each night as it comes and keep strong, the 3 of you are doing great!!xx

  15. We had to night wean at 18 months when I got pregnant with number 2, because I just needed my sleep if I was going to parent in the daytime too. Like you, the first few nights were rough and then I was surprised at how she just seemed to get the idea that enough was enough. She’s fine now, 22 months and transitioned into her own bed (by herself half the time, even).

  16. Kirstin says:

    Thank you so much again for sharing your journey. You have brought tears to my eyes at the amazing love you have for your family and made me laugh at the humorous way with which you handle the challenges. You girls are very lucky to have such amazing parents. Good luck for the next few weeks xx

  17. I cried too. Beautiful post and good luck! No dictators allowed for a family to function (and be rested). Congratulations!

  18. Queen of the zombies, reporting for duty! My (gulp – ahem) 30-month old daughter and I are entering night 4 tonight. Your posts, especially the 1 month follow-up, are inspiring me to press on. Thank you so very much for sharing.