The Perfect Anti-Sleep Storm

Every morning Johnny hits the ground running. Literally. He sits straight up in bed, in all his bed-head glory, then crawls backwards to the edge of the bed muttering "up, up, up," (up means up as well as down), and then slides off the bed feet first. Our bed is pretty high off the ground, so I have to hold onto his hands during this last part until his little feet touch the ground, and then he's off, faster than a speeding bullet, leaving a path of destruction in his wake as he pulls things off the night stand and book shelf and tosses them to the floor. Backing up a little bit. Yes, you heard that correctly, our 17 month old is still in bed with us.

You may remember some other post about my love/hate relationship with co-sleeping and trying to get Johnny to sleep through the night. Well, the struggle is real, the battling is still being waged, sleep troubles are alive and kicking.

We started night weaning Johnny in August. My idea was to cut him off slowly and gradually, but it just wasn't working. Johnny was still spending most of the night in our bed and nursing about 4 times a night. Co-sleeping with an infant is sweet and beautiful because they are small, they don't take up any space, and they stay in one place. Co-sleeping with a toddler just ends up looking like this:

photo from:

Anyway. Sleep deprivation was at an all time high. I had a day where nothing was going right and everything was making me cry, and then something clicked and I knew we had to go cold turkey on the night nursing.  I would nurse Johnny to sleep, and I would not nurse him again until morning. Alex was on board and was ready for any number of unpleasant nights in the rocking chair with Johnny. We were going to make it happen, I knew it was the right thing to do, and I had peace about it.

It turned out to be only a couple of rough nights.  Alex was such a great sport about keeping Johnny out of our bed, even if it meant spending most of the night on the couch with him. After a couple nights like that Johnny did the thing I never thought he would do- he slept through the night! He went to bed at 9:00 and slept all the way until 5:00. Now, 5:00 am is not an acceptable wake-up time, but an 8 hour stretch like that technically is sleeping through the night. And if we brought Johnny into our bed after a long stretch like that, he would nurse and sleep for a couple more hours. So we fell into a great pattern of one long stretch of sleep in the crib, then one quick nursing session and a couple more hours of sleep in our bed. Everyone was sleeping so much better, and I was still getting a couple hours of the co-sleeping closeness that my heart loves so much. Things were going great.

Then it happened. The perfect anti-sleep storm:

Daylight savings, 

Alex out of town, 

and Johnny and I sick, all in the same miserable weekend.

And just like that, all our hard work was undone. We are back to each being up a couple times in the night with Johnny, he's nursing 2-3 times a night, and usually in our bed around 2:00. I thought we had solved our sleep problems. We went cold turkey, we muscled through those few miserable nights.  Do we really have to go through them all over again? Veteran parents, is this sleeping through the night thing always going to be a cycle of learning, getting sick, forgetting, and then relearning? We know now that he can sleep through the night, we know it's not impossible, so as soon as his congestion clears up, it'll be back on the couch with papa. I'm not looking forward to it, and I can guarantee that Alex isn't looking forward to it, but I've gotten a taste of what good sleep is like, and I want it back!


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//N I G H T W E A N I N G//


I know it's what you all want to hear about.

So here goes:

Anyone who knows us knows that Johnny is not a great sleeper. He is 15 months old and has yet to sleep through the night, and he's always been a terrible napper. He sleeps great when he's nursing but aside from bueno. This past winter we started putting Johnny in his crib for the first time ever.  And this summer we finally fell into a good napping routine, but our progress in the sleep department has been slow.

We practice a more attached style of parenting, which for us can be summed up in these 3 rules:

    1.We try to observe Johnny's needs and give him what he needs when he needs it.
    2.We believe that babies cannot be spoiled. 
    3.We follow our parental instincts.

I believe in attachment parenting. I believe it's multifaceted, and looks different from family to family. I also believe it's not for everyone, and I respect your decision to use more main stream methods of child-rearing. 

We, however, practice an attached style of parenting that has lead to do crazy things like co-sleeping, and extended breastfeeding. Johnny has never "cried it out" and I often sit in my bed with him while he naps to get him to sleep longer. I believe that we are giving him what he needs, and I'm so thankful for all of the bonding we've been able to do. But after 15 months (more if you count the end of my pregnancy) of sleep deprivation, after having my face poked and bladder kicked all night long, after not having time to myself, not even while sleeping for over a year, after feeling so over-touched that I snap at my husband when he tries to kiss me (sorry honey!) I'm beginning to feel that my co-sleeping days are numbered.

We decided that when we got back from vacation, and before Alex starts classes again would be the perfect time to try to night-wean Johnny. Alex doesn't have to stay up late studying, so he can get up to get Johnny back to sleep when he wakes up, and eventually he'll realize he doesn't need milkies during the night and sleep like to proverbial baby that must exist somewhere (ahem....Nell). Right?

Well, it's been one week of Alex doing night times and the latest we've made it before Johnny is in bed nursing away is 4:00 am. Are we doing sometime wrong? Are we just weak? Do we just need to muscle through one truly miserable night  of "cry it out" and then he'll be sleeping like a champ?

I so want to Johnny to be able to sleep on his own, but when I stop and consult my mothering heart I just know that I can't let him "cry it out." He's not ready for it, and I'm not ready for it! Someday I might need to cut him off, but now is not the time. I have to stick to my mama instincts.

But I would love to hear from other parents out there. I have read that attachment parenting can be very hard in the early years but pays back manifold when children get older. Has anyone had this happen yet? I believe we're doing what Johnny needs, but it's really hard right now. Someone please say that it gets easier? And if you have and good tips on how to get a major mama's boy to night-wean, I am all ears!

Now, I will spam you with pictures from the last leg of our vacation.  We made an overnight stop in Chicago to see some of my cousins and ran into down town just long enough to see the bean and get our feet wet in the fountains of Millennium Park. Next time we do Chi-Town, we'll do it right.