Night Weaning Redux
In the middle of September, we hit a HUGE rough patch with the Doodle’s sleep. She was difficult to get to sleep and started waking frequently in the middle of the night again.
Initially, we thought it had to do with her cast. She kept on trying to stick her fingers up the end of it like she was itchy. This was somewhat confirmed when it finally got removed as there was indeed quite a bit of sand that had been stored in it. But what became more clear is that the cast was difficult to get off. It was snug and tight. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room and the nurse was quite challenged by this pint size cast.
Then it dawned on us. The Doodle had been eating a lot. Eating non-stop. Eating almost as much as her teenage brother. We were pretty sure she’d had a growth spurt.
And at her 18 month well-baby visit, our suspicions were confirmed. The Doodle grew 2 inches in 3 months and had jumped up to the 95th percentile (from the 75th percentile) for height!
The week after the Doodle’s cast was removed, sleep didn’t get better. It got worse. Much worse. Nights were the worst they’d ever been. In addition to frequent night waking, we couldn’t get her back to sleep. She’d be up for 2-3 hours each night in the middle of the night and completely inconsolable.
We blamed teething (a little early for her second year molars), a cold (but her nose is always runny from daycare), her vaccinations (yeah, the week after those is always rough), but nothing we tired to attribute the sudden disruption in sleep seemed to make sense.
We were sleepless and suffering. We were crabby and cranky and short. Our careers were suffering and our parenting wasn’t exactly stellar. We were lucky if we got 3 hours of sleep each night.
So we caved and started to let the Doodle nurse at night again. It was with much desperation that we relented. There was still lots of night waking, but we eliminated the two+ hour screaming spells at 1, 3 or 4 am. It felt better for a few days, but suddenly it was an all night buffet again.
We were about to lose our minds with exhaustion. What kind of cruelty is it to have a toddler who has slept through the night only a handful of times since her birth?
Then I had a lightbulb moment. I was reading about a few other toddlers the same age as the Doodle who suddenly were having the most atrocious spells of night waking. Our kids’ patterns sounded exactly the same. And the root cause? I had forgotten about the 18 month sleep regression. With that tidbit of insight, my world made sense again.
This past week, we got to the feeling that we were through the worst of it and reembarked on the adventure that is nightweaning…again.
It took five nights this time. So, it was shorter. But since the Doodle was more aware of what the end result of this transition would be, she was definitely more oppositional and loud in her protestations. And this time, of course, the Doodle was older with more expressive language capabilities. “NOOO!!!! Nunnas!!!! NOOOO!!! Nunnas!!!”
Night weaning is slightly better the second time around as you’re more resilient. You know there will be tears. You know there will be screaming. You know that there will be temper tantrums. But you also know that you baby will again, and has the capacity, to sleep at night without nursing.
We’re a nightweaned household again. But we don’t sleep through the night. We’re still up once or twice, but it’s usually for a very brief, mostly not hugely disruptive, time. What’s entirely different this time is that a certain someone now has an internal alarm clock that thinks 5:30am is a great time to start the day.
If you found your way here because you’re interested in night weaning, you can check out other posts on the topic here: Night Weaning Begins, Adventures in Night Weaning Continue, and Night Weaning – What Life Looks Like One Month Later.