This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.
After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it. You can read about night 1, night 2, night 3, night 4, night 5, night 6, and night 7. I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.
It’s been a month since our night weaning journey. So where are we now? Zombie parents? Or happy shiny, awake parents?
Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie turned out to be a very good idea for our family.
Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie right before a 2 week road thrip? Risky.
When we decided to give night weaning a try using Dr. Jay Gordon’s method of night weaning it came out of a desperate necessity to increase the amount of sleep we were getting. The timing was little more than reaching the end of our rope just as we felt that Smunchie was showing signs of being ready to give up her bobbies at night. As we began planning to follow Dr. Gordon’s strategy I hoped it would mean that before we left for a 2 week driving vacation across the midwestern United States The Piano Man and I would be able to get enough sleep to not make driving any riskier than it need to be.
It worked, we actually hit the road feeling well rested and Smunchie sleeping anywhere between 8-11 hours each night.
This part of the plan was great, being rested before going on a 2 week cross-country driving trip? Yes please.
But I was concerned. I know big changes to a toddler’s routine can throw everything into a tailspin and everything from eating to sleeping could become unpredictable. Sleeping in a different place most nights, meeting lots of new people, hiking, long days on the road, and all kinds of variables outside our control definitely count as big changes to Smunchie’s routine. I was concerned that our recent night weaning would become completely undone and we’d be saying “well, she WAS night weaned but now…”
This part of the plan was about as brilliant as those polar bear swims they do in places that freeze in January. Could be fun and life changing but most likely is just going to kill something you’d actually like to keep on your body.
I had no need to worry though. Smunchie rolled with the punches and though she developed an amazing ability to transform into one angry flailing octopus any time we headed toward her car seat, sleep was something she approached as a familiar friend. Hotel room, friends house, sharing a bed with her sisters, on a fold out with The Piano Man and I, in a friend’s Pack-N-Play or even on a palette on the floor she slept. Which meant we all slept. Which meant we all actually enjoyed the trip and had more to talk about than “all I really remember is nights of crying and being really tired…”
(Which is why this post is punctuated by random hipstamatic pics from our trip. That way I can just tell my mom to check the blog to see pics of our trip. Enjoy!)
Being well rested probably suited the diabolical plans she was concocting to destroy her car seat. Thankfully, she couldn’t execute them just yet. I’m hoping the seat has a few more years before she exacts her revenge. I’m pretty sure I heard her talking in her sleep in the hotel one night, something about “seat… no, no, nooooo!.. go away… poop… chocolate… big sister…” This could end badly.
We’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and Smunchie is still sleeping through the night without nursing. She’s recently started having occasional wakings that seem like she’s had a nightmare but a cuddle and gently whispered encouragement and she’s back out in no time. If she does require something more we’re at a place where we aren’t so drained that we can’t be completely present with her. The couple of nights she’s had a rough time for some reason I have been able to handle well, more aware.
Some observations since night weaning Smunchie:
- Random hugs. Instead of wanting to nurse every time she sees me sometimes she’s satisfied just to get a big squeeze and run off to the really fun stuff in life.
- When she does want some boob time though it’s a longer, more focused and more real feeling feeding. And I enjoy it more.
- It could be coincidence or it could be related but she’s developed a lot more personality and suddenly reached some social milestones almost over night. I suspect better sleep for her has something to do with this.
- When she wakes up in the morning she is really, really up. She’s well rested and ready to get rocking and rolling. Which is kind of irritating me since she’s decided she’s wide awake at 6am lately. She’ll play in her bed sometimes but thankfully Lolie is also an early riser so the 2 of them go off to play together in the living room and I snooze for another 45 minutes or so.
- More often she wants to nurse to sleep at night but then doesn’t ask for it again if she does happen to wake during the night. I’ve been stopping her with “bobbies all done” when I can tell she’s going to fall asleep and sometimes she complains about that but usually it goes well and she’s clearly ready to go to her bed.
- I still can’t get over how I feel. My back pain has diminished to almost none, my fatigue is also mostly gone (except when I stay up too late doing my own thing- such as writing this post, can only blame myself for that!), and my energy level is way up. It’s great. With all of this I’m so much more the parent and partner I’ve wanted to be for so long but struggled with just because of sheer exhaustion.
- I shower more regularly. Seriously, I really do. I also actually get dressed, more than the yoga pants t-shirt look. I’m even wearing jewelry again AND cute shoes.
- My productivity and my fun-mom-energy has been great. Not perfect but I never will be, I can live with improved.
- Patience is a virtue. And one directly linked to sleep for me. There’s more to it than that but all my girls have noticed. I’m more patient with them, with myself and with the thousands of drivers in Houston that oddly enough don’t have working turn signals or at least don’t know how to use them.
Right before we decided to night wean I was struggling often with feeling like I hated breastfeeding. Me, The Leaky Boob hating breastfeeding? Yep. This admission, even just to myself, was a bit horrifying. However, it was there and I had to examine why. Within a week of Smunchie being night weaned that feeling was completely gone and though I’ll never completely love breastfeeding (I’ve shared that before) I am enjoying it much more now and am ok with going on for a good while longer.
So all in all this night weaning experience worked very well for us. I’m glad we waited until we felt the time was right and I’m beyond thrilled Smunchie agreed. We’re no longer zombie parents, at least not most of the time. I’m pretty much a happy, shiny awake parent now and it’s been loads of fun. In the time since we night weaned not only did we travel for 2 week but we raised a whole batch of frog eggs all the way through, made numerous batches of play dough, had loads of living room dance parties, done special outings, seen a couple of movies at the theater, gone on bike rides, played in the sprinkler, spent hours coloring with sidewalk chalk, taught Lolie how to knit, gotten most of us back into knitting (turning fall-ward I think), had more dates with The Piano Man and… probably way TMI… I’ve had a whole lot more sex and it’s the really good kind too.
This sleeping thing? Yeah, it’s the bomb.