Friday, July 27, 2007


I've always taken my inspiration from one of my favorite literary heroines, “I'll think about that tomorrow.

Yes, I've always been a procrastinator. I counted on that late burst of adrenaline to power me through the hard part of papers in college. When I worked in publishing, many nights saw me hunched over the kitchen table, flipping through a manuscript I needed to read by the next day, praying that the words would take over and make me forget the sleep I was missing. Besides, there was always the weekend. I could sleep in!

Moment of silence for the weekend sleep-in.

So, yes, I've always procrastinated, but I vowed that after Madam, I would get things done efficiently. Like a good mother.

For the most part, I have kept to this pledge. Oh, sure, the writing goes slowly more often than not, and let's not talk about the state of my nails, or my waistline. But mothering tasks, those get done promptly—bills paid, appointments made, dinner made, laundry done (and done...and done...).

I'll try not to hurt myself with the back patting.

But this post is about a mothering task I AM procrastinating about...I can't seem to find my way into it, and oh, it so needs to be done, like, yesterday.

I am talking about weaning. I need to night wean, desperately.

And I have no one to blame but myself. Everyone said it. Don't let the baby associate sleep with nursing. Don't don't DON'T!

I was so careful on this point, so aware. I would nurse her until DROWSY, just like the books said, and then rocked or walked or sang her the rest of the way. And TEG took at least one of the night wakings. Anyone, with enough patience and a soft touch, could put her to sleep. TEG, my mother, sister, MIL, SIL, friends, heck, even my Father-in-law could do it.

And it was good. I was smug, I admit it. Madam was a good but fairly indifferent nurser, and I had apparently dodged the “nurse/sleep association” bullet.

I was kicked out of Eden at about six months. Madam and I got sick, and in order to get us through it, I did the awful, terrible, very bad, no good thing. I started nursing to sleep.

And now I can't seem to stop. I've tried sleeping away from her. I've tried singing, rocking, patting, stroking. Madam's had a taste of the good life, and she'll be damned if she'll let go now. I am. Exhausted—she wakes about seven times a night. Aching (not to get too graphic, but Madam has all her teeth and enjoys a bit of thrashing while she nurses. You make the connections). I've always loved nursing her—her little sighs of contentment, her plump hand like a sleeping starfish on her breast, her little head nodding yes, yes while she drank.'s time to stop procrastinating now. Beyond time. At least at night. Have I mentioned that I am tired? And achy? And that I live in an apartment building and thus can't just let her cry, even if I wanted to (and believe me, lately I am more than open to that)?

So, I appeal to you, lovely internet readers—please, break it down for me—night weaning? Without screaming? How?

And here is my public service announcement—don't do the awful, terrible, very bad, no good thing. Don't nurse to sleep. No, no...not “just this once.” Because there will BE no “once.” Once the baby's figured it out, there is no turning back. For either of you. It's just too easy. the Ancient Mariner (who I resemble more and more these days), heed my tale of woe!

Thus ends my PSA.



Anonymous Frida said...

I'm sorry. Your first commenter has no clue about weaning. But I am generally a big fan of procrastinating...

I hope someone else has more useful comments to make.

Except - really, can't people deal with a baby crying at night for a while? If they want to live in a sterile bubble in which they pretend there are no neighbours, no community, then perhaps they should move into a bubble. Did that sound a bit cranky? Opps. But I don't think a mother trying to wean her child should have to worry about the neighbours. Even if they have never had babies surely at some point they must have been one.

2:19 AM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

Oh, I’m sorry – that sounds so hard. Perhaps a little retreat away from home is in order? When the in-laws are in town or something? Maybe a Writer’s Retreat or Hermitage? Very hard to arrange, I know, but I’ve had a few friends who’ve had to leave the house (or pretend to) to night-wean. Does your building have a guest apartment? One of my friends hid out in the basement at night for a week. A very loud fan will drown out crying to some extent (and I have an extra if you need it), and some kids will actually cry less if they hear the fan. I’d offer you our house, but even the couch is taken at the moment. Hey! In August, we’re gone for a week. If you wanted to spend a couple nights at our place, maybe we could figure something out. I nursed N at night 1x per night until he was about 8 months (O slept through earlier). I think he needed to nurse at night because of reflux – he just couldn’t get a really full tummy w/o being uncomfortable until he matured a bit. He nursed to sleep too, until once he just didn’t – I know that’s perhaps not a helpful thing to mention, but I think maybe the co-sleeping is the bigger factor? We co-slept until about 4 months, then we made the transition overnight, and they haven’t been back in our bed since. It was an easy transition at that age, and I’m glad we co-slept for those first few months. I mention it just because it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing, though that doesn’t help you much now. Seriously – if you’d like to sleep at our house for a couple of nights in a few weeks, let me know.

8:34 AM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

ok...i know i'm the naive girl without a kid, but...

i think i already told you about this, but a friend of mine ended up putting bandaids on her boobs and telling her little one (who was about the same age as madame) that "mama got hurt." no little girl likes to see that her mama has an ouchie. her daughter was more concerned than upset and the whole weaning process ended up being a very smooth one.

just a thought...but try the bandaid trick. it might hurt taking them off, but... haha!

good luck! :)-

8:55 AM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger caro said...

Ooh, you know I've been there and feel for you. I wish I had some useful suggestions, especially on the no-screaming front, but for us I don't believe it could have been accomplished without the screaming. A was with her the whole time, but she was pissed and loud about it.

I don't know if I've mentioned I posted almost daily blog updates through our night weaning process last fall. Take a look if you're curious how it went for us ... I'm not sure if they'd help or just make the whole thing seem more scary!

Good luck. You will feel SO much better when you can finally sleep. It will be worth whatever you have to go through to get there!

9:36 AM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger Becca said...

I'm afraid I foisted the whole thing on my (angelic!) mother, and did what Emmie suggested - left town! Seriously, we left Brian with my parents for a weekend while we attended a wedding. Although he cried quite a bit during the first night, he was pretty much okay the second, and he never asked for "snack" (his nickname for nursing) again. Of course, he was about 17 months old at the time (see how long I procrastinated??) so it helped that we could actually explain the situation, at least sort of.

I wish you luck - but I assure you, Madam will not be nursing on her honeymoon.

6:09 PM, July 27, 2007  
Anonymous fern said... yeah, I don't even think I was a toddler once myself, and I have NOOOO experience with them.
But to heck with your neighbors. NEWSFLASH: BABIES CRY!

I really don't think you should worry about that part of things...

Good luck with the weaning, and as always, I'll be praying for you!

9:55 PM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

Hmmm, I'm sorry. This is hard. I like the getting-out-of-town ideas, but the only thing that worked for us for sleep issues (and keep in mind that Stella only started consistently sleeping through the night at about 3 3/4, so you might want to disregard everything I say) was reading the Baby Whisperer. I don't generally promote (or read) parenting books, but this one had some good, gentle tips. It might be helpful.

11:51 AM, August 01, 2007  

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