Friday, April 22, 2011

The night weaning plan

I have spent the past few days assiduously tracking Willow’s sleep and nursing. I’ve sought advice everywhere I can find it. I’ve gathered everything I can to try to make the decisions that will make this process easiest on everyone.

I’ve learned she eats an average of five times a night. These occur roughly at:

11 p.m.

1 a.m.

3:30 a.m.

between 5 and 6 a.m.

and between 6 and 7 a.m.

See why I’m sleep deprived?

The plan on night 1 is to cut this down to three. I’m thinking I’ll focus on the 11 p.m., 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. feeding, waking her up an hour in advance of those times to give her milk. Any other wake-ups will not result in feedings, but comforting by Mark.

This is an emotionally difficult process. There have been a few occasions on which I’ve let her cry, but never at night. It’s been when I’m just worn out and can’t take anymore. So she cries 5, 10, 20 minutes and I don’t feel too bad because I’m at a point where there is nothing else I feel I can do. To plan in advance to let her cry feels different.

There is part of me that wants to follow her lead and let her figure out the rhythms at her own pace. That worked fine with River. But I know too many people whose kids are still getting up multiple times per night at 9 months, 14 months, 17 months, two years. I can’t be the parent or the partner or the employee I want to be if I’m sleep deprived that long.

I don’t like the thought of her crying. But I think the potential harm that comes from crying a bit over a few days is less than what she’ll lose by having a sleep-deprived parent over the long-term.

The plan is to start weaning the third feeding (perhaps the shortest of the three) right away, reducing the nursing time by two minutes each night.

Once we are down to two feedings per night, we can work on the transition from the swing to a bassinet. And once that is OK, I’ll begin to wean the second feeding.

Of course, this is optimistic, and it’s likely to all get messed up by our upcoming trip. But it’s helpful to have a plan, something in writing we can refer to and hopefully stick to in the middle of the night, when exhaustion and emotion can lead us to throw in the towel.

I can only hope it works well, and works quickly, for her sake and mine.

1 comment:

LazyBones said...

Oh, good luck! That's a lot of night feeding! I'm feeding 1-2X a night, which is manageable, but I had a nice stretch where she slept through and I am so hopeful it will return. I hope this plan works for you!