Cover Up Those Boobs!


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I’m basically a wreck.

Last night I half-joked in a crazy sleep deprived stupor “maybe if I bash his head into the wall he’ll stop crying.” Boof immediately snapped “that’s not even funny to joke about.”

I know. I know it’s not funny. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was trying to prove a point that I am exhausted and a sick kid who can’t sleep any way but being held is not helping the matter. I try really hard to be the mom I want to be, but sometimes I just have to admit that I am fucking exhausted. Fucking exhausted.

I don’t know how other nursing mother’s do it, or if their children are just amazing at the whole sleep thing, but Potamus sucks at sleeping. Seriously. He sucks without me, and he’s only marginally better with me present. I read those things about human development and bonding and attachment and psychology and I know that, in the grand scheme of things, I am doing a really good thing for Potamus. But I am also concerned that I am losing myself slowly into a pit of black or white thinking about nursing. It’s been 17 months, over 3500 nursing sessions to date, and frankly, I am exhausted.

I also love nursing. Really love it. Love the bonding time with Potamus and the way in which it easily calms him down. But I need more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a time. Because, there’s only been a handful of times, in 17 months that I have gotten more than 4 hours of sleep in a row. Actually, it’s been twice, and it was one 6 hour stretch (that he slept, I only slept for 5) and one five hour stretch. The only time I’ve napped for as long as I need has been twice, in the past two months. On paper it looks like I’m getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night, but it is so chopped up and full of movement (from room to room) that I don’t think I’ve had a full sleep cycle in a few months. I’m hypervigilant about NOT sleeping, for example this afternoon I barely let myself get sleepy during naptime, because once I started to doze, after 30 minutes, he was awake, crying, and I couldn’t get him back to sleep…nor could I go back to sleep. It’s causing me to be crazy. I literally feel crazy.

So I think about weaning.

I wonder, is it even worth it anymore?

When I don’t have thoughts of dashing my kid against the fireplace, it’s thoughts of running away, not telling anybody, and sleeping in a hotel bed for a week. I’m literally that exhausted. And we’re crazily thinking of having another kid. I just might freak out.

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem..I’m so tired that the thought of beginning to wean in anything other than cold-turkey is exhausting. Putting up with tantrums and slow progression and figuring out alternatives (especially when we can’t figure out alternatives to even food). I read an article entitled 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning and thought there were some really good suggestions. I think I’ve been wishy washing on the whole weaning issue, wanting it to be solely child-led, but I’m wondering if I’m becoming a doormat in this relationship. It’s been easier to just give in then stand up for myself and what I need in a moment.

While I’ve noticed that we’ve cut back some, it hasn’t really been consistent…I give mixed messages, like when it says don’t offer, don’t refuse. Whoa, that’s pretty mind-blowing. I offer all the time, especially at night. I flop down and whip it out. There have even been times when he hasn’t even moved toward the boob and I think “um, what? he doesn’t want to nurse?” Wowzers, I have some things to work on.

And, I had to laugh, at the “cover up your boobs,” (okay, it just says cover up), but holy crumb cakes, a nursling can be triggered to nurse for up.to.a.year post weaning. Wow. I feel that I know so little about this whole process. I guess I just assumed that one day it would just stop…and that I wouldn’t miss it, and he wouldn’t miss it, and bam bam bam we’d be on our way. I guess if it was hard to start, with weeks of struggle and crying and feeling totally overwhelmed, then the end of a good thing is going to be hard for both of us. But I hadn’t even though that what I am wearing could possibly be contributing to him prolonging the nursing. I’ve just been wearing skimpy tanktops because I had gotten so accustomed to needing to whip it out quickly.

But then I also wonder…if he was just a better sleeper…if we did different routines at night when he wakes up sad, would that help? I don’t want to make any rash decisions based on being exhausted…but I don’t think I’ll be less exhausted until I, at least, explore the option of him sleeping better. I just don’t know. I’m all sorts of muddled in the head. I know he’s sick-ish, and teething, and don’t want to just freak out irrationally, but I am so tired. I just want a kid who sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time, you know? I keep hoping and waiting and hoping it’ll happen, but it’s not, and so I think I need to do something different.

Suggestions?

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19 Comments

  1. First of all HUGS. Hugs. HUGS. No one really can understand sleep deprivation like a nursing mother can. I’ve been there, for 21 months and 9 days.

    For what it’s worth, we did the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ method in terms of weaning and combined that with a little bit of distraction (dad would go in and rock/sing/give the pacifier instead of me) but in the end she basically just up and stopped one day.

    NOW, that being said, I realize it is totally not helpful to someone in your position of exhaustion. I once talked to a close, extended nursing friend during month 19 of nursing and feeling tired and her advice was SAGE. She said ‘nurse as long as it is working for BOTH of you, because once it’s not working for one of you it isn’t working for anyone.’ So true. SO FRIGGIN’ true. Take those words, mull them over, then move on knowing whatever you decide is the best for ALL of you and let the guilt go. Let it go mama.

    HUGS again.

    • Awe, thanks for your advice! Boof does go in and try to rock him back to sleep, but I get tired of the crying on the monitor and go in to nurse. I’m stopping that NOW. New rule is 1st time dad gets him back to sleep. After that we can take it case by case!

      The super hard part is figuring out whether it’s working for me anymore. I think with more sleep I’d be fine nursing until he’s much older. Of course I would say that because last night I actually got a few decent stretches! It’s hard when it’s like 70% working and 30% not working, but that 30% is so hard, ya know!

      • I absolutely know, and I know the back and forth of the emotions of it all…I remember nights when I was the only one (well, not me so much as my boob) who could get her to sleep feeling SO resentful, but then a few hours later in the light of day I’d be nursing her and thinking how I never wanted it to end! Made me feel like a crazy woman! All that is just to say none of the ‘advice’ I wrote is meant as a silver bullet, just an anecdote that tries to convey ‘You are not alone, I’ve been there and survived!’

  2. Oh gosh. Hugs. I have so been there. Will he take a pacifier? My 18 month old has finally started accepting a binky to self soothe at night when she wakes. Each baby is so different. I know with my first child literally nothing worked and he had to start sleeping on his own in his own time. And it did happen but it felt like it never would. Have you tried any other sleep books? The No Cry Sleep Solution comes to mind. I would also look up some night weaning tips on kellymom.com. I feel your pain. This is probably another unpopular suggestion but if your hubs did get up with him and do his best to soothe for at least one of the wakings then baby might stop being so interested in waking if there is no boob around? Then you get a longer chunk of sleep and possibly wire some new sleep habits for Potamus? Big hugs. You are doing such a great job. Follow your heart.

    • I haven’t tried a pacifier with him since he rejected it early on (we tried until I was off maternity leave). Maybe I’ll see if he does that. Last night he sucked on my finger for a few seconds before crying for my boobs.

      Boof does go in there, he’s really good about getting up in the middle of the night, but I usually get fed up with the crying and go in and ‘take over.’ Gonna stop that habit now! Last night I got closer to 9 hours of sleep, broken up in the middle, and I feel much different today 🙂

  3. that is rough! i will say, though, that i know many kids to be better sleepers than that. and don’t feel bad…i would probably make similar jokes all the time. 🙂

    a friend of mine did the don’t offer, don’t refuse method, and it worked well. she gradually cut back until she was only nursing her daughter at night before bed, then one night she put her to bed without nursing and there were never any tears about it.

    i hear all sorts of problems with nursing while pregnant, and i know my mom had to wean me while she was pregnant because it hurt too bad and there wasn’t enough milk. and my vote is for a sibling for potamus. 🙂 so there you go.

    • I vote for a sibling, too! I’ve actually thought of pregnancy as a weaning tool, but we’re still holding off a few months to try, and I’m thinking I want to take more charge of weaning on my end before that. I’m thinking I don’t want to nurse past 2 years, even though that’s 7 months from now. Lol. I think the crazy amounts of night nursing needs to stop, otherwise I’m fine with the nursing!

  4. Oh my…I feel for you!! Gosh, I remember those days sooo well. I would be rocking my baby and would fall asleep for only like 10 seconds, but would already be dreaming because I was so sleep-deprived:( Very hard time, I remember. I wish there were easy 1-2-3 answers to these dilemmas. My son nursed for 18 months and then one day he just stopped. Cold Turkey. Would your husband be able to get up with him in the night for maybe one or two nights in a row simply so you could get more sleep those nights? Might help you a little. Could he give him a bottle of breast-milk or a pacifier just for a couple of nights for you to catch up a bit?? I don’t know……I don’t know how we moms function!! Good Luck:)

    • Boof already does get up, but I think Potamus is very entrenched in our routine…dad gets up..tries to rock…screaming…mom gets up…nurses me…sleep OR dad rocks back to sleep while mom lays next to me. We’re going to make some changes in that routine now so that we can establish a few new habits 🙂

      I’m also going to try the pacifier. He’s never taken one before, but we’ll see!

  5. So SORRY! In fact, I don’t miss those days at all. Both of my boys are very crappy sleepers, so that exhaustion is something I am very familiar with. I nursed my first two for 14 months each. Then the third came along, and because of MULTIPLE problems with his food allergies, it just wasn’t working. I was literally going insane. I was so tired that I couldn’t function. I was yelling, and snappy, and wanting to get away. I wrote a post about it weaning at 5 months (because it absolutely KILLED me to stop that early). However, after a couple of weeks after stopping, I was amazed that when my hormones were no longer crazy from nursing, it gave me some perspective that I couldn’t get in the moment. In the moment, I thought I was ruining my child by stopping, but after, I realized that I was hurting both myself and my other two kids by forcing myself to continue through such difficult circumstances. I could only see clearly AFTER I quit. I had to pray, and have faith that I was doing the right thing at the time, and then when I looked back, I had NO regrets. I am not going to tell you to stop or continue, because that is a decision only you can make, but I will say those nursing hormones are VERY powerful, and once they were gone, I was a whole new woman. I hope you can find a way to make the best decision for both of you. Don’t forget that you are a very important part of the equation, and perhaps being the best mom you can be means that you stop? No matter what your decision is, I hope that you can find peace with it. LOTS of mamas out there know how hard it is! I do.

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