You know when there's been a dearth of substantive posts, and instead a glut of photo-heavy posts with tiny captions, that something really interesting is going on and I should really post about that but it's emotional and laden and potentially controversial and thus I procrastinate.
This time it's weaning.
First of all, I am weaning. In that I am saying "No. Thou shalt not nurse right now." And that right there is enough to make La Leche Militants gasp "No! Betrayal! You will destroy your relationship with your child!"
On the other hand, I am not weaning. In that I am not saying "The end, no more nursing, you're done." And a generation of mothers scratches its collective head and says "huh? Well, what are you doing then?"
It's complicated. I didn't think I could just stop--this child likes her some breastmilk, and while yes, she would eventually get over it, the two of us are together all the time, and getting into a battle over this would involve her clawing at my shirt and screaming for days on end. No thank you. I don't need to wean that badly. But I would like to, you know, go out to dinner someday, or go out with friends, or do anything that all that doesn't revolve around Willow's sleep schedule, and I can't do that until she stops nursing to sleep.
I know. Totally should have nipped that in the bud ages ago. I'm hanging my head in shame.
I had no idea how I was going to do this. In an effort to have some sort of system in place, we bought Ferber, though in the end our approach bears little if any resemblance to his method. After a few very stressy days, Dave and I decided that I would still nurse her before bed- and naptime, but it would be for a shorter period, and I would put her down when she was much more awake than she had been used to.
We would also ditch the morning nap entirely. I know I talked about doing this previously, but I abandoned the attempt when it seemed to go so poorly. But then she started waking in the night while still taking two big-ass naps during the day, and that really wasn't working for me. This time we've been successful. She had about five days when she was like, "What? I want to sleep now. This sucks. Hold me, Mommy, while I whimper. For the next four hours." But for the past couple of days, she's been much more alert in the mornings, and while she is definitely very tired by the time she goes down for her nap, she has been a much cheerier baby overall--cheerier, even, than when she was getting two naps.
The nursing has been a little more of a challenge. She did NOT like being put down before she was good and ready, but per Ferber, we let her cry and Dave went in and petted her, and it was miserable for everyone. She did eventually get to sleep, but not before I was a total wreck (partly because I insisted on sitting and listening to her cry on the monitor, which Dave thought was insane but I felt was my just punishment). And it only seemed to get worse--she didn't cry for less time each night, but more time, and started waking again in the night. Her one nap kept getting shorter and shorter, and it just didn't seem to be working out.
And so, one night, I just couldn't take it, and after I put her down I rubbed her back for a few minutes until she fell asleep. And, uh, that's what I've done since. Ferber would scold, but frankly, I think this is a fair trade-off. And it sets a system in place for when it's time to put her down without the few minutes of nursing beforehand.
Or so I'm telling myself. I know that we've only just begun, and that there is far worse to come, and I have NO IDEA how we're going to get through that.