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Friday, August 21, 2009

Weaning the human pacifier, night two

Tonight went much easier than last night, so far.

At 7 p.m. I took Annika into the bedroom. We read three books and then she was ready to nurse. By 7:30 p.m. she was sound asleep. She even unlatched on her own. Her mouth had fallen open in a rare deep sleep where she is no longer nursing.

I waited a few minutes, then tried to get up. She started awake and immediately began to root around for my breast. I decided to let her have it. I figured I should have waited longer to try and get up. I let her nurse for five minutes. She was sleeping, but still nursing. I unlatched her.

Knowing that she was not fully asleep, I felt more emotionally prepared for what was about to happen, than I did last night.

As soon as I stood up, I could tell that she remembered last night. Even so, I attempted to sing and sway. She was having none of it. This time she fought me harder. She arched her back and wailed. She pushed away from me in a mean tantrum.

As I swung her around, trying to sing, I felt a nervous laugh well up, I tend to laugh when I am nervous.

Standing there, grimacing, with my 15-month old thrashing around upside down, kicking and screaming, I had a moment of clarity. One of those moments where you can see yourself and you are in full and total control of your actions and emotions.

I took a moment to wonder why I was nervous.

Was I nervous because I wonder if I am doing the right thing? All along this sleep process I have been listening to the advice of other attached parents. The basic idea is that most kids who need to sleep with a breast in the mouth or right up next to you with full body contact, is that they will eventually outgrow it and begin to sleep longer and easier.

Other parents have told me this and they tell you all kinds of ways to deal with it. Watch TV with close captioning on, use an iPod Touch (which I have), bring your laptop to bed with you, take turns with your partner, keep the light on and read, keep your kid up until you are ready to go to bed, get an Amby bed (it's a cradle-type contraption that sways).

All of these are good ideas, and I have used some of them over the past 15 months.

But as I stood there swaying and holding my thrashing child, I knew that continuing this way of life was not an option for me. I feel resentful and impatient when I am lying in bed with her when I am not tired, when I have other things to do. I know I will be a better mom to her during the day if I can get some things accomplished while she sleeping. I will be more attentive and happier. Therefore, she will be happier.

And I knew that Annika would be okay if I did this now, even though it would not have been okay before. She might be angry, but she will not feel scared or lonely. She knows that I will come to her when she cries out. I have told her what the plan is. She understands me. I am not always sure on what level, but she understands. So, she might be unhappy about it, but she is not confused, or losing trust, or feeling unheard. She's just pissed. I can deal with that.

Even though I listened to all these other parents and their advice for the past 15 months there was always this little voice inside my head that said, "They are wrong. You know what's best for you and Annika."

So maybe, I wondered, am I nervous because I am finally listening to myself? It's something I've always struggled with.

Despite myself, I have often ignored my inner voice. That has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years.

So, nervously, I did what I knew was right for our family.

After a few minutes of struggling, I took her out into the kitchen, wiped her face and offered her a drink of water, which she angrily turned down.

We went back into the bedroom. As I approached the bed, she laid her head on my chest asking for comfort. I put my hand on the back of head and kissed her. Then we laid down, and I nursed her to sleep.

She has now been sleeping for almost an hour. Alone. Without a breast in her mouth.


  1. Awesome. Sometimes, I get resentful too. I think it's my fault for the way things have progressed. But I know he's healthy, loved and this time is short. I look at it all as one day at a time. I nurse and pat his head, run my fingers through his soft curls and take it all in as one day we won't be doing this. Good job to you and Annika.

  2. I totally hear you Mary Ann. I also try really hard not to take this brief span of time in Annika's life for granted. It's nice to hear from another mom who understands just how precious this time is with her child.


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