Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Na-na is Sleeping

I'm weaning Eagle. He'll be 2 next month and I'm ready for it. We've dealt with chronic thrush on and off for nearly a year (I nearly weaned him a couple of times) and I think we may just be giving it back and forth to each other. I need to start sleeping through the night and he's old enough to do so too.

I was going to wean him in conjunction with our move--I did that with Bear and it worked quite well. But it was not working well for Eagle. Perhaps it was because he was 6 months younger than Bear had been, and perhaps it was because this was a much higher stress transition, but he seemed to really need the comfort and attachment (and I did not have the energy to stick to non-nursing comfort measures) so that fell through.
I still wanted to wean him around his birthday, but wasn't sure how best to go about it.

Then I came across the book Nursies When the Sun Shines, which was written by a mama who was nightweaning her toddler. Basically she explained to her daughter that the nursies (or, as Eagle calls it, "na-na") goes to sleep when the sun goes to sleep. She used this method for nightweaning, but as soon as I saw it I realized that it would help us for full weaning.
Because we live in the arctic! So by late november or early december we won't have any real daylight at all. The sun will sleep 24/7. (Technically at solstice we have two hours between sunrise and sunset, but it doesn't amount to much light.) Following the light and dark seems better than picking an arbitrary day (like his birthday) and going cold turkey then.

So we've been going on a couple of weeks now, We started just after equinox, with nearly equal parts light and dark. We change by 7-8 minutes per day. On Sep 30 (the first day), sunrise was just before 9am and sunset was just after 8pm. Today sunrise is 9:45 and sunset at 7:30 (you can see a full calendar of the times here if you're curious). The first week we mostly focused on not nursing at night. Some nights went better than others, but he's adjusted pretty well, especially because he knows that he can still have na-na in the daytime. It's simple to just point to the window and show him that it's dark, and he'll cuddle up and accept it. He has been nursing more during the day, but I expected that. This last week we've been cutting out the bedtime nursing, as it's getting dark right about bedtime and if we're running late or he's not feeling sleepy then he may get pre-bedtime na-na, but it's gone to sleep before he does, so he can't nurse to sleep. We have had a couple of late nights and more than a few tears, but I know they are only tears of frustration (he's held and cuddled and has a water bottle and so on) and he is learning to go back to sleep without nursing.

I definitely feel better about doing this gradually and with a toddler than I would with a younger child. I still hold to all my reasons for extended breastfeeding, and I'm glad we stuck it out in spite of teeth and thrush and all the rest. Sometimes I feel guilty for pushing my kids to wean when they still love nursing, but I know that by age 2 their need for it changes to a want. And after two years my want for sleeping through the night I think validly becomes a need (especially with grad school and all those kids I babysit!). He's not a baby anymore, he'll be alright.


Janeen said...

As much as I wanted my older daughter to self-wean, I still ended up having to wean her suddenly and it was when I had to leave South Korea to return to the US. She was down to once a day by then (due to the pregnancy) but as long as I wasn't around, she was okay with it (though she was a bit older than two). Having gone through that and having nursed as long as I did with her, I'll be honest, I don't want to go that long with my younger daughter. I found that I was getting more uncomfortable the older my daughter became and I feel that a sooner weaning time would be better. It was a different situation then, we were leaving the country and what not and I didn't want to push her to wean but the situation here is going to be considerably different. At this point, I do not want to go beyond three and past two is going to be pushing it for me. The baby hasn't been nursing at night because her dad is usually around to put her back to sleep but he's away for a week so it's just the two of us so I did have to nurse her last night. It was interesting to see that she only woke up one time. She hasn't been that way with my husband so I think she might still be needing a feeding at night. She's on the small side though and seems to have a higher metabolism so I wouldn't doubt if she did need it. I imagine though that things are going to be rather chaotic for awhile because the family situation is going to be changing so who knows what will happen.

Katie said...

M turned 4 in August and still has no desire to stop. I don't think child-led weaning will ever be in the cards for me unless I want to go to age 6+.

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