Nighttime Parenting and Nursing: I really just want to sleep!

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I have not had 8 hours of sleep in a row for FOUR years.  I am not lying.  I probably wouldn't know what to do with myself with that much sleep! For us, and on some nights, nighttime parenting has been just as busy as daytime parenting-at least from a nursing perspective.

We are kind of a part-time co-sleeping family.  We co-slept with our son until he was about 4 months old, had a month of bliss when he was actually sleeping for 6 hour stretches in his own bed and then it all went to pot again and he has refused to sleep by himself ever since. (A reminder to you all--he is 3.5 years old)  I nursed him to sleep from the beginning and according to all the 'books'  that was my first mistake.  I also kept nursing him throughout the night well into his second year, much to the dismay of people who kept telling me he really didn't 'need' to nurse at night anymore.  My husband and I switched roles at times so that he could take over all night-time parenting, and we would try to night-wean our son. This would work for a few days or weeks, but then something would always bring us back to nursing and sleeping with him.  I read book after book on how to get my child to sleep (well, everything short of Ferber that is--I refused to do any form of Cry It Out strategies).  I probably gave up on all the different strategies too soon, but damn it I really just wanted to SLEEP!  And so to make everyone happy, I would nurse him and we would all go back to sleep.

He is still not a great sleeper.  He gets scared in his room all by himself and wants one of us to come and sleep with him.  And we do it, and I will tell you why.

He is THREE years old!  He is our child and he needs us-to comfort him, to feel safe and to snuggle.  I am not so naive to think that these feelings and needs are going to last forever (I can just picture the DO NOT ENTER sign on his teenage bedroom door in the future) and neither my husband nor I want to look back on these years and say, 'Man, I wish I had just been with him more when he needed me."

My daughter is now 22 months old and is a better sleeper. We did not technically co-sleep with her IN our bed, but rather beside it in her bassinet.  I did learn to let her self soothe a bit more than I did with my son and it shows.  She can be put down in her bed awake and will fall into a nice slumber all on her own.  But...she is still up at least once or twice a night.  She calls for me in the dark and I can't deny her that extra hug, that few seconds on the breast that lets her know that I am only a few steps away.  I know that nursing her at night has no real nutritional value for her, but I nurse my kids for a whole lot more than just nutrition. I nurse them to comfort them, to nurture them, to soothe them and to help them sleep.  And you know what, I'm OK with that.

I am not having any more kids.  These two little humans are my only babies and I will keep them close to me for as long as possible, nurse them as long as they need to and do it NIGHT and day if need be.  That is all folks.

Sleep well ;) Natasha~

P.S.  I did NOT sleep well last night and neither did DS-up grand total of 5 times--it is not always what I want, but life is what it is.  Time for COFFEE!!


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