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Saturday, September 8, 2007

So Tired

First, a warm welcome to those readers who are here for the Carnival of Breastfeeding hosted by the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. Thanks for stopping by! While you're here, I hope you'll look around and read some of my posts about family life, breastfeeding, and making jewelry for my Etsy shop, where I sell Baby Friendly Beads nursing necklaces and reminder bracelets.

This month's carnival topic is Breastfeeding & Sleep. There are many other great posts in the carnival, and you'll find links to them below.

I am the mom of 2 year old BJ and 7 month old BB (she is still nursing), so Sleep and Breastfeeding are huge issues around here. Or, I should say, Lack of Sleep and Breastfeeding....

I knew the sleep deprivation with BJ had reached a crisis point when I was moved to tears by the profundity of Eric Clapton's "So Tired." (It's never a good sign when pop songs on the radio start making me weep.) Soon after, we decided to transition him from our bed into his crib. It hasn't gotten that bad with BB -- yet -- but I believe that our co-sleeping days are coming to a close.

I have really mixed emotions about the prospect. I know how hard it will be to move her to the crib. For me, if not for her. There's nothing in the world quite like having her little warm body curled up next to me, totally vulnerable, utterly relaxed. I'll miss that terribly.

And even though she'll just be down the hall, I know I'll worry. I'll worry about whether she's too cold or too hot. If she wakes, I'll worry she isn't getting enough sleep. If she sleeps well, I'll worry she's sleeping too deeply. When insomnia hits (as it periodically does) I'll have those horrible, haunting, midnight convictions that she's stopped breathing, so I'll rush to the nursery and watch her gentle breathing until I've shaken the image of SIDS perched on the crib's edge like an awful gargoyle, waiting to pounce.

Sure, I worry now -- but I can calm my anxieties merely by reaching over to touch her. She's hardly a heartbeat away. For all its frustrations, the family bed is wonderful for a mom's peace of mind.

In spite of my worries, though, once she's in her crib it will probably mean more sleep for all of us. She rarely sleeps for more than 2 hours in a row right now; she loves to night-nurse, and with me right next to her she makes the most of it. If I let her, she'd be latched on all night long, sleeping and sucking away, completely content. I can usually get her to pop off and grumble her way back to dreamland, and often I doze through the feedings, but lately more often than not I'm left awake and restless. (It doesn't help things that the cat with bone cancer has now decided the best place to sleep is right between my legs.) It sometimes feels like by the time I get back into a sound sleep, she's waking me up 15 minutes later.

I keep hoping that the night-nursing is "just a stage," but she's 7 months old now and showing no signs of growing out of it. She eats solids 3 times a day, and nurses at least once in between each solid meal, but she still wants to suck all night long. And now that she's teething, she'll occasionally nip at the nipple.... and 2 a.m. is hardly the time that I want to practice my mother-smother move.

So while I'm not yet sobbing at pop-songs, I am indeed so tired. I recognize that the sleep deprivation is reaching a critical stage. Earlier this week, in the wee hours of the morning, after BB had woken me up for the fourth or fifth time that night, S asked if there was anything he could do -- "Grow breasts!" I snarled at him. Over breakfast, after I apologized, I conceded that it was time to start talking about transitions.

To date, talking is all we've done. But it won't be long before she's able to crawl out of the co-sleeper, and I'd rather worry about her sleeping in the crib than worry about her rolling out of our bed. I'm fantasizing about once again being able to journal last thing at night and jot down my dreams first thing in the morning. (Not to mention actually being able to cuddle with my own husband. Hmm. What was that like again?) I get giddy imagining being able to sleep for 3, 4, even 5 hours in a row....

And yet, I hesitate to push for moving her out of our bed. I know BB is going to be our last child. With BJ, such transitions were difficult, but they didn't have the same kind of finality. Whether it was weaning him from the bed or weaning him from the breast, I consoled myself with the thought that -- if everything went well -- I'd be going through all of this again with another baby. (Ok, I admit it, sometimes it was less like consolation and more like trepidation.)

And here we are now, going through it all again. Yawns and all.

I wouldn't trade it. Of course not. And I certainly don't want to rush BB's growing up. (Or BJ's, for that matter.) But I do look forward to being something other than exhausted. I'll be a better person -- and a better parent -- for having had a good night's sleep.

For more thoughts on Breastfeeding and Sleep, check out the other carnival posts:

Sinead muses on sleep deprivation and night nursing memories at Breastfeeding Mums
Isil discusses co-sleeping and the joys of nursing at Veggie Way
Amy writes about "co-sleeping for sanity" at Crunchy Domestic Goddess
Angela tells us why CIO makes her want to cry at Breastfeeding 123
Nicole writes about Breastfeeding and Sleep at Leche, Baby!
Jodi writes about sleep issues, sleep training, and nursing twins at Life With Twins
Hathor the Cow Goddess contributes a comic about the family bed
Jennifer writes "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" at The Lactivist
Andi tells us about "the land of stroller-pushing-sleep-walkers" at Mama Knows Breast
Tanya elaborates on the benefits of side-lying nursing at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog


April said...

((HUGS))! I really hope that the transition goes smoothly, if that's what you decide to do. I'm sure it's very rough and I remember when Abbie was that age, she nursed all night long. Now that she's older, it's not so bad and I'm back to loving our family bed. Could you set a crib in your room so she's still near you (and you near her), but maybe without the boob right there, she'll sleep longer.

Amanda said...

I hope you find a way to get some more sleep soon! I know how hard that is. My 2nd son was an all-night nurser, too, especially when teething. Hang in there!

Angela said...

Don't feel bad about wanting sleep and wanting the bed to yourself (and hubby)
Once kids were out of my room they didn't need to nurse as much. I think I was as much a distraction to them as they were to me!

Jen said...

aww, thanks for the kind words of support and sympathy. i really appreciate it! i think the teething is easing up, a bit. she's still in the co-sleeper right by the bed, or (more often) in bed with me, but i think we'll be moving her to a pack & play in our room very soon.

The Daily Rhythm said...

I just found your blog :) We have just started the transition from co-sleeper to crib with our little is tough, and I feel many of the same emotions you are. It's hard, even knowing that you are all ready to move forward.... good luck to you!

Cara said...

Hannah was never going to sleep with us... until she was born. She'll be a year tomorrow (!) and is still in here with us, but I conditioned her to sleep on her side of the bed. For a few nights I'd pull her off the boob once she was asleep, and scootch her over to the side of the bed (we have a packnplay holding clean laundry that makes for a bedrail lol) and that's where she sleeps now. She'll alternate between just nursing to sleep and sleeping through and nursing all.night.long depending on teething and growing. I didn't realize how much I'd like her to be right there with us. I get the SIDS terror thing too, and often will just feel her to feel she's still breathing. Us mommas... :P

Peace is every step said...

Hi! I just found your blog via my sister (daily rhythm-I need to look up how to spell that every time!). Being a Public Health Nurse, we get it drilled in our head "danger! don't sleep with your baby!!" What a bunch of crap.

I tried for a while to get my first to sleep in a bassinet, but after a few days of no sleep, he staked out his spot in our bed for 3 years. Amazingly, he went into a bunk bed very easily.

We are in the process of transitioning our 2 year old into her own room in a toddler bed. We started out (about a month ago) with her in a sidecar crib, then put the rail up, then moved it into another room, then turned it into a toddler bed. It's been an up and down process. But I hear you, I just couldn't do it anymore and was starting to feel resentful. When it's not enjoyable and everyone isn't getting the optimal sleep-then it's time to change the scenario. Both of mine would literally plug themselves in and turn into the devil if I'd try to unlatch them.

Isil Simsek said...

nice to meet you.
good luck during the transition period!

Jodi Lyn said...

I coslept with my oldest son, Cole. I worked full time (as a nurse in ICU) and he nursed 4-5 times a night. When he was 8 months old, I couldn't take it anymore. I felt that I was truly losing my mind from the lack of sleep and had trouble focusing at work. We decided to let him cry it out. I know many think this is a horrible method, and it was extremely difficult (I cried it out with him on the other side of the door). It took 3 nights, and each time he cried less.
We didn't mind that he continued to crawl into our bed around 2am(once he outgrew his crib) until about 4 years of age. He is 12 now, happy and secure, with great self esteem. Good luck with the transition. said...

I can really empathise with you on this one. After two long years of co-sleeping with my youngest baby he is still showing no signs of sleeping in his own bed. I stopped breastfeeding him about two weeks ago but until I did he was still feeding two or three times a night!! I can't believe how good I feel now that I'm getting my sleep again... :) Good Luck!

Angela White said...

We tried a couple of other options besides moving our daughter into a crib. First we put our mattress on the floor (in case the baby rolled off the bed, which she rarely did) for a long time. Then we put another mattress on the floor next to our bed (so everyone had even more room). I think the sleep arrangements go through several combinations in the co-sleeping family!

natalie w said...

Oh my goodness, I was starting to think I was the only person with an all-night nurser. I've become embarrassed to tell my friends how often he wakes up. Mine is 10 months old now and still waking up every 2 hours or so, and I am completely confused about what I want. I love co-sleeping, but am having more and more frequent meltdowns from frustration and lack of sleep. I'll be coming back to find out how things go and look for some suggestions!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

so glad to meet you. :)

ya know, this whole thing can be really tough. before getting our king-sized bed (and before baby #2 was born), we put 2 queen-sized mattresses on the floor. it gave us all enough room and we didn't have to worry about my daughter falling off. our co-sleeping journey has evolved a lot over the years.
now we have my husband, myself and our nearly 10 month old son in our king bed and our 3 yr old daughter in her twin bed right next to ours. whatever works!

good luck with your transition or finding a solution that allows you all to catch some sweet Zzzzzzzzs. :)


Parents of M and T said...

Good Luck moving your baby. I co-sleep with my 21 month old twins, and it is very hard with all of the night nursing sometimes. I admit to wishing they liked nursing at night less, and liked their cribs more (my DD doesn't even know a crib is for sleeping) DS naps there and sleeps there for a few hours at the beginning of the night.

I love the sidecar idea.. I might do that too, if I can convince DH it would be helpful. It does get better sometimes, not as much nursing, etc.. than other times it's one baby in each arm nursing all night.

:) Stacy
Mom to Maya/Thomas 21 Months

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