The hardest part was always getting Kale down for the night or for naps. Nursing to sleep was always the first option, but it didn't always work. Kale was a super efficient nurser (four minutes, one side - MAX!) and so if he wasn't super sleepy, he would nurse quickly and then look around, ready to party. For the first 5 months, Kris would put Kale in the sling and walk him to sleep if nursing didn't work. It was a special time of the day for Kris and Kale to spend together and it gave me a few moments alone for some mama time.
|Kris & Kale preparing for their nightly walk.|
Then came the snow and so walking was out. That's when the bouncing started. We bounced with Kale on the exercise ball for every nap and every night. As Kale grew, it became tough for me to bounce him and I started to resent it. So we started a new routine of rocking. It took awhile for Kale to adjust, but eventually he did and rocking to sleep became the new bouncing.
|Rocking Kale to sleep on his first birthday.|
Did I ever get frustrated at having to walk/bounce/rock Kale to sleep? Sometimes. For the most part, I enjoyed those moments of watching his eyelids get heavy as he slipped into slumber. But there were also times I was tired and annoyed that he wouldn't just go to sleep. Was I ever willing to let him cry-it-out? No. It just wasn't an option for us and so it didn't cross my mind. That being said, there were times (especially when I was on maternity leave and Kris was out of town working) that I had to put Kale down while he was crying and refusing sleep and walk away for a few minutes to regroup.
Napping was also a challenge. The only way Kale would nap for longer than 45 minutes is if he was held. And then at some point, he wouldn't nap at all unless he was held. So we held him. That's right - for the first year or so of Kale's life, we held him for his naps.
There were days and nights that were really, really hard. I don't want to come off like waking every two hours and bouncing my baby to sleep every night was easy because I know how hard it is to hear someone else say that when you're at your breaking point. So if you're at your breaking point and you're reading this, please know that some nights were very, very, VERY hard. I'm so grateful that I have a supportive partner that has always been willing to share every aspect of parenting 50/50 (well, except nursing). Also, I had 8 months maternity leave and I took advantage of Kale's nap time to catch up on sleep. Then Kris took four months off and was able to do more of the night time parenting so I could get a good nights sleep in before work. I know that not everyone is so lucky to have this kind of situation and I fully acknowledge that we may have chosen to parent differently at night if our situation was different.
Anyway, back to the history....as the weather became nice, we went back to the walking routine, but I started to sense that Kris was beginning to resent it. Kale no longer wanted to be worn and wasn't a big fan of the stroller either and well, we couldn't exactly let him walk himself to sleep. At the same time, bedsharing was becoming difficult. Around a year old, Kale became a nursing fanatic and wanted to do it all night long. At first I thought it was teething, but after a few nights of no sleep, I was starting to fall apart. I really do not deal well without sleep. While in the past, Kris was able to parent Kale back to sleep, Kale was now screaming as soon Kris picked him up.
Something had to change.
I had been reading about Dr. Jay Gordon's night weaning method for months. Pretty much any time I felt like I was at the brink of exhaustion, I would read it and wonder if the time was right. But then Kale would go back to sleeping better and I'd start feeling human again and I'd put night weaning at the back of my mind.
But at 15 months, with the new all-night-nursing sessions, I knew it was time to try something.
Stay tuned for more of our night weaning journey....