I love it when I’m wrong
DISCLAIMER: I am writing this post because my friend, Liz, told me I had to write this. This probably isn’t a topic I would have chosen because I have all kinds of issues with writing a lot about the ins-and-outs of parenting (snooze). Still, I agree that this illustrates one of the basic parenting truths: you might think you know what you’re doing but guess what? You don’t. Plus, there need to be more parenting posts that include swear words.
I’m one of those sleep-with-your-babies people and I night-nursed Zoe until she was 2 and stopped nursing her altogether a few months before she turned 2 and 1/2. And all of those nights until she night-weaned were pretty sleepless nights. Unless you can sleep with a tiny person sucking on your boob (I can’t – some people can!), the sleep is just shitty. The thing with babies and sleep is such a personal thing and in general people won’t shut the fuck up about it, so I’m not going to go recommending anything to anyone – I’ll only say this worked OK for us because I accepted that I wasn’t going to get jack shit in the sleep department for a good while. I’m not a great sleeper anyway, so I figured what the hell. Plus, I really liked snuggling my babies all night long. Maybe it was all of those hippie festivals I went to with my parents as a kid.
It also worked for us because she was my only child. I could nap with her. I didn’t have anyone else clawing at me all the time. Yes, I have two step-children but they are about the most low-maintenance kids you could find and that’s not even taking into account that they’re not even HERE half the time.
At 17 months, Junie nursing all night long was getting really, really hard. She wasn’t sleeping well and I felt like everyone was suffering. The worst part was that it was taking an enormous amount of time to get her to sleep every night. I was going batshit crazy.
My solution was to get Travis putting her to bed every night and at an early time. Usually, Travis goes with whatever flow I pull out of my ass but this time he said, “No – let me just handle this. I’m just going to take over her night-time thing. The whole thing. And you go sleep in Zoe’s room.” He argued that he’s very good at repetition and routine (he is) and he said he knew he could get her sleeping better if she was night-weaned.
I totally wasn’t in the headspace to night-wean her. I just thought we’d change her bedtime routine! I had been sleeping next to this kid every night for 17 months and I thought I’d miss her and she’d miss me. She would miss me! I thought my boobs might explode at 2am and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. It just felt wrong so I said NO THANKS.
Fast forward a few days and I changed my mind. With a little help from a few of my closest advisors, I told Trav I would agree do this. And he said – and this is so awesome – he said, “What made you change your mind? Wait – no – which one of your friends convinced you?” Man, he knows me well.
Of course you know how this story ends, right? He did it and she sleeps. On the second night I went in to nurse her at 6 am and when she was done she crawled right over to her dad and climbed on his chest and went back to sleep.
Did I miss her? Yes, those first few nights. Now I’m asleep all night. Did she miss me? Apparently not – because she had her Dad. Did my boobs explode? Nope. It took two nights and they fell in line and got used to not nursing for 12 hours. Et voilà.
Now Junie is sleeping well and bonding with her Dad. I’m getting a great night’s sleep. AND I got a nice reminder of another basic parenting truth: the stuff we think is going to be a very big deal is almost never a very big deal.