Parenting is hard. The three words no newbie wants to hear when they find out that they are about to be one. But it’s the truth. It is a lifelong occupation of hard wrapped up into fulfilling, thrilling, humbling, challenging, chaotic, beautiful, and every other word imaginable.
“An exhausting sacrifice which brings innumerable blessings” ~ Kris B.
It is absolutely true. From the day they are born they become your priority, your everything. For most, nothing else matters after that. Your life revolves around this little being that you’ve created and from there on they are your greatest achievement.
The trials and stepping stones you go through as a parent are both rewarding and trying times. Two steps forward, one step back. Restless nights, teething, illness, bedtime routines that don’t work anymore etc… But at the end of the night, as your little love is sleeping so angelically, nothing else matters.
My little girl just turned two on September 14th. Two years of crazy, messy, indescribable love! It hasn’t always been easy of course. The “trials” haven’t been effortless, but they always become worthwhile.
From nearly day one I have been a co-sleeper with Evalee. It didn’t start out that way. We tried really really hard to get her to sleep in her bassinet next to our bed. But from 2:30 until 4:00 in the morning she was up every night like clockwork for nearly two months. I found myself in tears from exhaustion each night and praying that she would fall asleep long enough for me to rest my eyes. Our world was suddenly upside down and more difficult than I could have imagined.
I remember the night like it was yesterday. It was nearly 3:00 in the morning with a screaming newborn, a teary-eyed mama and soft background music that wasn’t quite working for her. I was so frustrated as I looked over at my husband who was sleeping peacefully in bed. He could sleep through a tornado without waking up I swear! I remember going through the steps. Feeding, burping, changing her diaper, letting her wiggle around a bit, then swaddling her back up. I played her favorite sleep song 13 times that night before she finally gave in. But once I laid her into the bassinet she went right back to crying.
As a new parent with no clue of what to do, all I was sure about was that I didn’t want her to feel helpless or alone. The “let them cry it out” method wasn’t for me at the time. So I wiped my tears away, picked her up, and placed her on my chest as I laid leaning up against my headboard and fell asleep with her. That was my start to co-sleeping. It was the most sleep I had gotten in what felt like a lifetime.
My husband wasn’t as on board with it as I was. I don’t blame him. It is a very scary thing to do. You always hear heartbreaking stories of sleeping with your babies in bed, and still to this day I’ve worried about doing it. I never expected to co-sleep with my child. So for a while there, Kole moved to the couch as I adjusted to and figured out the right method that worked for me to sleep with her. She laid on the inside of our bed next to the wall with pillows stuffed down the slight crack. I slept with one arm above my head and on my side with her cradled in my arm. It was not easy to get used to, but at least I was able to get more than 5 hours of sleep a night.
That went on until well, 2 days ago.
We left back to Alaska when Ev was 8 months old. Yes, by then we could have established a better night routine involving her sleeping in her crib for longer than her nap time. But we didn’t. “Bad habits” die hard I guess. But it wasn’t just for her comfort. I felt peace sleeping next to her. I loved the connection between us while nursing. I loved watching her as she slept. I loved knowing she was close to me. This went on up until the day she turned two, along with nursing.
Who knows if we would have tried for the crib or weened off nursing easier if we had what we needed to do so while in Alaska. I doubt it. But as she’s reached the toddler stage and knows what she wants, it’s getting to be time to let my mom strings detach from her a tad bit more. I do not like it. To be honest, I think this is affecting me more than her!
So here I am and here comes a TMI moment. It is now the night of Tuesday the 18th. I have worn bandaids over my nipples for nearly 38 hours with no nursing. I have listened to a handful of tantrums and heartbreaking cry’s over the fact, and I have read 10 articles on “the right way to ween from nursing”… Parents, there is no right way. It really depends on how your child reacts the best to doing so.
Thursday night, on Evalee’s second birthday was the first time in two years that I didn’t sleep next to her. That was her choice! She fell asleep on the couch with her daddy around 8:30 that night, probably crashed due to her sugar high that day. She stayed asleep! I went into our bedroom and fell asleep, waking up every few hours to check on them. I heard her around 3:00 start stirring around and waited for her to walk into the room and crawl into bed with me. She instead went and snuggled up closer to her dad. She made it until 7:30 that morning before climbing in by me!
Kole and I decided that Sunday night would be the night we would start cold turkey without co-sleeping and nursing. Trust me. We have tried weening and we have tried getting her to sleep in her crib. It lasts a few hours and by the time she wakes up we are both so tired that we give in and let her sleep in our bed. I know, I know, we need to be more stern and we need to be willing to cooperate with the same task our little one is being put through. This is not easy. Sunday night I gave in and let her sleep with me.
Monday morning I woke up and put bandaids on my chest. A way I felt would keep her from wanting to nurse. So far so good. Tantrum #1 started that morning while we were relaxing watching her favorite show. No sippy cup full of milk or bowl of oatmeal would do the trick. She wasn’t having it. I kept calm reassuring her that she is now a big girl, not a baby anymore! We got through it together. There were at least three more fits before dad came home from work, one of them was heartbreaking. The nap cry almost got me! She was so tired but she’s a bit hardheaded like her dad and wouldn’t give in.
A few of the articles talk about weening off nursing in different ways. Some being by weening only at night or only in the day. Some say to still nurse them at nap time or when they are hurt etc… Like I mentioned before, you know your child, you know what they can handle. So instead of giving in, I went to the store and picked her up a brand new ladybug sippy cup and filled it with warm milk, a little honey and nutmeg. I made sure she had a full belly from dinner and she relaxed with dad on the couch before we went into her room to read a book and go night night in her big girl bed.
Did I mention our child is a night owl? I think it runs in the family. With no nap and all the energy in the world, she still stayed up a tad past 10:30. I know, awful parenting right?
We went into her room with her new sippy in hand and sat reading a few books before her eyes started to drift off. She soon snapped out of it and wanted to nurse. So I used my calm mom voice and told her it’s all gone and she needs to use her big girl cup! (Trying to sound excited but I am actually emotional inside!) she threw a short fit before climbing back up into my lap and rocking her to sleep, no sippy cup needed. For the first time in a long while I played her sleepy time playlist and she fell asleep by 11:15.
I placed her into her bed where she slept until 3:15. Of course I had made myself a bed next to her crib. I can’t let go of the strings too far! Once she woke up, I went out and grabbed her some warm milk and let her cry as much as she needed. I laid her next to me on the floor where she proceeded to cry due to wanting to nurse. I was so tired and I know my sweet girl was too. I just kept whispering to her and softly rubbed her back. That’s when I started To pray. I prayed out loud for her to feel peace and comfort. I prayed for her to feel safe where we laid and to feel love and warmth. Within seconds she stopped crying and fell fast asleep. God was listening. She slept next to me until 6:30 when I woke her daddy up for work. I was then able to lay her in her bed and let her sleep a few more hours before waking up from our first night nursing free and in her own room. This is the beginning of a new adventure. A difficult trial that is just apart of life. This thing called parenting. Like I said. Parenting is hard….
But so worth it.