It all started right after I got pregnant. My daughter was snacking on solids every day and was quite behind where most children her age are because we were committed to baby-led weaning. Knowing that my supply could diminish soon I started pushing solids on her in an effort to get her to eat versus taste. We still nursed on demand during the day.
At night she started nursing all night long. Sometimes she would be attached for hours. Not a big deal since I was worried about my supply. I figured she ought to nurse as much as possible during the night to keep my supply up. Then I started to get sore.
I was sore all day long but side-lying was worst, which is how I nurse her at night. It's easy- nobody goes anywhere, I'd just "pop a boob" and fall back to sleep. I wasn't able to sleep while she was nursing so every time she woke up I would have to put myself back to sleep after I could break her latch. I was getting enough sleep since my husband takes her for an hour each morning but I was incredibly irritable every time she woke up, which was quite often, close to six times a night.
I had my husband read Dr. Sears's section on night weaning and discussed our plan for him to take her a few times a night to cut back on her need for nursings, not every time she cried as outlined by Dr. Sears because I didn't want to completely night wean her I just wanted her back down to two to three nursings a night. My husband was so used to ignoring the baby when she cried it never happened that weekend. I brought it up again the next weekend. It was easier for me to put up with the pain and irritation than to wake him up! Two weekends ago we had a crazy weekend. Crazy like usual but it made us realize why she was really waking up so often.
At first I thought it was the increase of solid food during the day but she was still nursing on demand during the day so that was out. Then I thought it was teething because she often has her finger in her mouth but no teeth are to be seen. Two months is a long time to teethe with no teeth to be seen.
I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband works late hours. He takes our daughter for an hour in the morning but by the time he comes home from work she has been asleep anywhere from two to four hours. That is why we felt strongly that co-sleeping was a great choice for us- to give our daughter the opportunity to be close to her father. In fact, in the past few months she has really started reaching out for him at night- every time she finishes nursing she rolls over to make physical contact with her daddy. If he's not home yet she rolls over and cuddles a pillow.
Furthermore, since our daughter was an infant she has been foregoing naps and staying up late on the weekends when her father is home. I mentioned the observation to my mom but she chalked it up to coincidence- no way a baby could be that perceptive. Quite the opposite.
When I originally mentioned the night weaning plan to my husband I sold it as making nights easier on mommy and preparing him (and the baby) for what the night-time strategy might sometimes look like after the new baby comes. I intend to tandem nurse but I don't want to be nursing a dozen times a night!
After last weekend I saw that our daughter really wanted to be close to her daddy. They have a special relationship and now that she is older she doesn't need Mama all the time anymore. The opposite is true- she can have Mama whenever she wants but Daddy is a special treat! I explained this to my husband, how much she seemed to desire to be close to him when he is home and he noticed how attached she is to him on the weekends. He has been taking the baby occasionally if she still fussed after nursing for what I feel is enough time to be soothed back to sleep, but he was holding her instead of using the sling like I suggested. He was slow to wake up. He was aware of his duty but he didn't seem too thrilled with his new role of nighttime parent. After he noticed the love she has for him- the extra squeezes when he hugs her, the way she motions to him be picked up, the way she smiles and waves to him WHILE she's nursing- he was ready to take on the job more regularly.
Three nights ago he went to soothe the baby back to sleep while we were staying up late and he put her (almost) in the sling. All was quiet for a while and I found them passed out in the rocking chair. Last night she was fussy and he said he wanted to put her in the sling if I could help. I watched as he did it himself, then took the baby outside and walked her around the carport since it was raining. With my help to remove the sling, he then gently put her in the bed without waking her up. All of this by himself! I was very encouraging- I told him that in one or two weeks he would have "the touch" and be able to put her to sleep any time just like mommy does.
He had been walking around with the baby at night and falling asleep holding her on the couch but last night since I couldn't go back to sleep I left them alone. I nursed her only three times last night and although I heard two little whimpers- I'm sure she rolled over and touched her daddy and went back to sleep. It's easier without the temptation of a boob! I will either keep sleeping in a separate room or we will move the bed so that she can sleep between him and the wall.
I'm sure to some people this problem is foreign but I'm sure it's not so uncommon with breastfeeding, co-sleeping parents. If a baby is bottle-fed, he/she can probably be soothed by practically anyone with food but such is not our case. I am very proud of my husband for stepping up and I am excited that he will have mastered this skill of soothing our older child once our new baby comes and I will be interested to see how it translates into infant care skills, too!