Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
I have loved breastfeeding my daughter. Breastfeeding her as an infant was a breeze, and it’s come in handy in her current toddler stage. Breastfeeding has also resulted in a co-sleeping relationship that I never anticipated, so I have a few things going on that I didn’t realize would still be happening at this point. I never thought long and hard about a solid date for weaning, or for encouraging Hallie to sleep in her own bed. I won’t even bother calling it sleep training because it goes sort of like this:
*sleeping Hallie, being laid down gently in her bed.
* Hallie wakes up. Cries. I rock Hallie gently or breastfeed if she asks, and place her gently down again.
* Hallie wakes up. Cries.
* “Oh, so you don’t want to sleep in your bed? Ok, I tried.”
So, I had never really moved beyond what we have been doing, because it has worked for 20 some months. This was letting Hallie nurse whenever she wanted (because weaning has failed us once already) and letting Hallie sleep wherever she wanted. Until a couple days ago, where something in me snapped. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation from a particularly rough night. Maybe it was the milk blister that reappeared with a vengeance, clogged ducts and all. Doesn’t matter, because I immediately knew that something needed to change.
I’m still relaxed about the whole thing, but now when I used to want to “see how things go”, Hallie has a deadline of her 2nd birthday to be weaned, at least during the day. I would also love to see Hallie sleeping in her bed until at least 3am (let’s not get greedy here), and that I would like to start yesterday. Steps forward must be made, or else I’m going to lose my damn mind.
I was and am feeling a bit touched out. Hallie is by my side almost 24/7, and as much as I’ve loved breastfeeding and co-sleeping, I’m losing the relationship that I have with myself. It’s time to make some changes, and even the smallest ones have large significance.
For example, Hallie has already dropped down to breastfeeding 2-3 times per day, when just last week she was breastfeeding on demand. This could mean every hour if she was particularly bored. Hallie was also waking up 6-8 times in the night to breastfeed, and now that I’m coaxing her into her own bed, she only wakes up every 2 hours. I know that still sounds insane to some parents, but to me, it’s beautiful. It’s just enough to reassure me that there is light at the end of this tunnel.
I don’t need Hallie to be weaned tomorrow, or to be sleeping in her own bed. Hallie will likely be nursing to sleep past her 2nd birthday, and I don’t think she will ever be a child that sleeps through the night. That is all completely ok. At the same time, I’m allowed to change my mind about how I parent. I’m allowed to change my mind about whatever decisions I’ve made. I’m allowed to be selfish, even for just a moment. Hallie doesn’t nurse because she physiologically needs it. She breastfeeds because she’s either hurt, tired, or bored. I can still comfort her when she’s hurt, rock her when she’s tired, and play with her when she’s bored. All without my boobs! Until the other day, I didn’t know that either.
I cried when Louis put her down for nap and she didn’t ask to breastfeed, and it took a lot of mental strength to not barge in and offer my trusty boobs. I had to really remember the nights when she’s doing some fantastic nurse-nastics, stretching my nipples and pinching me because she thinks it’s funny. I had to remember nursing every hour through the night and getting bit in the process, because she was just restless and not actually hungry. I had to remember that I am a person beyond the milky boobs, and that I deserved something more, even from my child.
For Hallie and me, it’s time for some changes. I will cry some more tears, but I’m excited for the independence that we are both learning to appreciate. We’re in this together, and it’s the beginning of something new in our relationship. I can’t wait, and I’m breathing a sigh of relief for my nipples sore from breastfeeding and my back stiff from co-sleeping. I hit my breaking point, and that’s ok. I’m still a good mom, and change isn’t always a bad thing.