Category Archives: weaning

Midnight Mabel

The time has come. I’m night-weaning the baby.

Yes. The three-and-a-half-year-old baby.

See, I feel sheepish and ridiculous admitting that. Admitting that I have been getting up multiple times a night and breastfeeding a perfectly large and able preschooler for so bloody long now, just because she wanted to more than I wanted to not.

And then I feel bad for feeling bad, because there’s a whole phalanx of crunchy moms out there who do this, and who perhaps (but probably not, because crunchy moms worth their salt are all about not judging) would even think that if she still wants it, I should still do it.

But it’s time. Tuesday night with the babysitter showed me that it’s just habit that leads her to demand me and the boobs around 3am every night. (We are at the point that she can often, if not usually, make do with just a story, sometimes even from Daddy, at the midnight waking, if she wakes then. Which she mostly still does.) She can put herself back to sleep, if she cares to try. But when she knows I’m around, her thought process goes like this:

Oh, I’m awake. 
Mummmmmmyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

Instead of

Oh, I’m awake.
Better roll over and go back to sleep.

It’s time to change that, and there’s only one way to do it. I’ve tried waiting it out, but that’s obviously not working. So first I send B in (who sleeps deeply and is getting up early every day to go for a run because he’s training seriously for this fall’s marathon; which is one reason why I was reluctant to do this), and then when she kicks him out I go in and reiterate that there will be no boobie.

And then there are demands for cold water from the fridge, and a hot waffle from the toaster with nothing on it, and more cold water because the first cold water isn’t cold enough any more, and a Mabel story*, and the Cinderella story, and another story, and to have the library books read to her, and to get her pillow pet from downstairs where she left it; and some of these demands are acceded to and some are roundly denied because it’s the middle of the damn night and that’s when people sleep.

And eventually, so far, she has turned on her light and turned over in a big grump, and finally gone back to sleep beside me, or even without me. But it takes a long, long time. Last night she woke at 2.15 and finally fell asleep some time before 5am. That’s a big chunk of night to be wide awake for. I think she’s part raccoon.

We have guests coming next week, so I really hope she’s got used to it a bit by then, because the walls in this house are paper thin, so that I can literally hear a child yawn in their bed while I repose in my own, and I don’t think I would feel like a very good hostess if my guests were treated to the upset-Mabel show for three hours in the middle of the night.

* Mabel doesn’t know her name is sometimes Mabel, of course, because Mabel is not really her name. But when telling her midnight stories about a little girl who has adventures, I often find that the little girl’s name is Mabel.

A post called Weaning

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

Before I had my first child, the word weaning was not one I was familiar with. Actually, my confusion about its meaning, if I had considered it enough to be confused, was natural – on my native side of the Atlantic, they use “weaning” to mean the process of starting solids. In the US, it means the process of stopping breastfeeding.

Of course, my pre-child self would say, because those two things are the same. The baby starts eating food, so it stops breastfeeding. A simple, gradual process that will come about of its own accord.

This totally fails to take into account all the other things that breastfeeding provides for a baby, a toddler, a pre-schooler, even, that they may be unwilling to give up even when they’re happily chowing down on three-course dinners. Comfort, familiarity, a sure route to sleep, relief from bumps and scrapes and imminent tantrums.

I had my baby, and I hoped to breastfeed him for at least, I said, the first three months; hopefully six. My midwife said something about a year, but I thought she was getting way ahead of herself. I couldn’t imagine lending my breasts to someone else for a whole year. I need them back, I thought. At some point in the foreseeable future.

Well, after a painful start we were off and running, and by the time we got to three months everything was just starting to go really well. Why would I stop and mess around with formula now? Clearly, the six month marker was ahead.

At six months, he was starting solids, sure, but that didn’t make any difference to our nursing. Solids were for playing with, for finding out about textures and gravity and motor skills. Anything that made it into his stomach was merely collateral damage. On we went.

Coming up to twelve months I began to wonder how the stopping would work. I couldn’t really imagine not nursing him, because he still wasn’t very much of an eater – I met a friend who told me her nine-month-old ate three meals a day now; I looked at him in wonder to hear of such a thing – and he still woke and needed to nurse back to sleep several times a night. After some thought, I gave up on the 12-month notion.

At 21 months I decided that something had to be done, as I wanted to get pregnant again. I cut back the on-demand feeding and got us down to three times a day, then just morning and evening. He started sleeping through the night so I no longer had to nurse him back to sleep at 3am. But this kid is a breast man – he didn’t take any of these changes lightly, and as my pregnancy progressed – yes, it worked! – I’d give in to his pestering for some “side,” just so I could have a little more lazing-on-the-sofa time.

When his sister was born, we were in tandem nursing territory – another thing I’d always said I’d never do – for a while. Every time the baby latched on, her brother wanted to get in on the action, and afraid of making him resent her, I’d give in, though the sensation of two at once gave me the heebie-jeebies, to be honest. After a few weeks, I suppose, I started cutting back again for the big kid – he was two-and-a-half by now, after all. On the other hand, I was nursing one, so what was the issue with nursing the other now and then to keep him quiet too? We went back to mornings and evenings.

And there we stayed, for quite a while. When he turned four we cut out the evenings. When he turned four-and-a-half, we cut out the mornings. That was it; he was weaned. Only four years from start to finish. A simple, gradual process. Just as I had imagined. Just a tiny bit longer.

It took about a year for him to stop trying to cop a feel every time I fed his sister. I think that’s about standard.

And now he’s six. Here he’s reaching for the camera, not my boob.

 

Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

Favouritism

I came home from a meeting at ten past nine last night and – surprise! – not! – Mabel was still awake. Wide awake, downstairs, with Daddy. She had drawn me a picture of a machine that would say I love you. Or churn out teddy bears. Or something. I picked her up and she snuggled happily into my arms, head on my shoulder, clearly more than ready for bed.

“Say night night to Daddy.”
“…”
“Say I love you to Daddy.”
“I love you.”

Daddy wasn’t too offended. Because we all know it’s not really me she loves.

“Do you know why I love you?”
“I can hazard a guess, yes.”
“Because of your booboos!”

If Daddy had the booboos, he’d be the one in favour, no mistake about it.

Last night she only (yes, insert eyeroll here) woke three times, and for two of those she went back to sleep without nursing. Instead, whoever goes to her – it’s me, unless she wakes when B is still up, in which case he gives it a go and sometimes it works for him – tells her a story. When it’s 2am my stories are not very interesting and tend to tail off after a few sentences. I have a sort of a formula at this point. It goes something like this:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called [Mabel/Violet/Bonnie/whatever name is in favour with her just now, or some totally random name that pops into my head, maybe Ermingarde or Apple]

and she had [no friends at all/a puppy/a pet alligator/a dragon called Billy/you get the picture]

and every afternoon, [girl] and [pet/friend/all by herself] used to walk [down by the river/into the deep dark forest/along the beach] [throwing stones into the water/talking about their day/discussing quadratic equations] until it was time to go home for dinner.

One day while they were [doing whatever], they came upon [an amazing thing] and they said [blah blah by now I’m mostly asleep and I start … speaking more slowly… and realising that I just had a very short dream there instead of continuing… and maybe I can get out of bed now…   …    ….     ]

And if I’m very lucky, then I get to go back to my own bed for another couple of hours till I’m called on for the next installment and I have to take up where I left off.

If I’m not lucky, she’s far more awake than I, and she announces, “That’s the end of the story” and claims the booboos for her own. I’m too sleepy to stop her.

Tiny increments of betterment

Is it time for an update on the sleep situation? I suppose it is.

Let’s start with the good news. Mabel is definitely toilet trained. Pull-ups are strictly for night time, not even for naps. (I put a waterproof crib mattress pad under her at naptime just in case, but mostly she doesn’t need it.) My diaper-totin’ days are over. I am in no way tempting fate by saying this.

Okay, okay, that’s not sleep.

Last time I took you down this fascinating road of good intentions, I was trying to night-wean the three-year-old; something many people do when their babies are six months old, or maybe twelve, or perhaps two years. But I’m a slow starter, and I dislike confrontation.

The first few days went startlingly well: Mabel would go back to sleep without nursing at her first wake (10pm or so) and skip her second wake (midnight-ish) entirely. By the time the formerly third wake happened (3am) I was so impressed, and she so frantic, that I would happily give her what she wanted, and we’d all go back to sleep.

But then she started not eating dinner. Which made her wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Which was not conducive to staying asleep or being content with an inane story about Dora and some butterflies instead of the much-desired boobie.

(She has started to say “boobie” instead of “mumeet”. I am not happy about this development. When I’m on the phone to my mother and Mabel starts to shout “Give me your boobies!”, there’s little I can do to dissemble about what’s going on.)

So we had some frustrating evenings while B was away, and we’re just getting back into the swing of things now, remembering to send him in when she wakes the first time, even though she’s not yet back to ever going back to sleep without me. But still, some times, more often than not – almost always, I’d say optimistically – she will go back to sleep without nursing at the first wake. The night before last she went back to sleep the first two wakes without nursing. Even. But she’s still waking – that is, enough to start calling for me and escalate if ignored – as much as ever.

Still. I’ll take what I can get, for now. It’s a start.

Dora’s Long Night

You’ve got fourteen minutes. Go!

Oh, wait. I‘ve got fourteen minutes. If it takes you fourteen minutes to read this, well, I suppose I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you had to take some time out in the middle to make dinner or advise a presidential candidate or paint your toenails or something.

I know you’re clamouring to find out how it went last night. Did I fall at the first fence? Did Mabel submit to the will of her father? Did terror reign?

Actually, I’ll tempt fate right now by saying it went pretty well. Better than I could have imagined, though not magically well or anything. There was a moment when she’d slept a microsecond longer than usual after going to bed, when I thought maybe she’d decided it wouldn’t be worth waking up at all, and she’d just sleep through to 8am instead – but then she realised that if she did that, I’d be up every hour checking her pulse and holding a mirror and a tiny flashlight in front of her nose to see if she was breathing, so she decided to spare me that. Thoughtful child.

So Mabel went to sleep, as is fairly usual for a day she has napped, at 8.30 last night. I nursed her to sleep, though there were also two batches of stories and one ritual-sending-away-of-Daddy before she was actually out. She slept until 10.30, maybe even 10.45, and woke, as usual. B went in to her. We’ve been doing this for a while now with the first waking, so it wasn’t a surprise, and sometimes she falls back asleep while waiting for me to come after he’s persuaded her to lie back down, because that’s all he’s good for as far as she’s concerned. (She doesn’t know about the paying-bills part yet.) But last night, probably because we’d talked about how the mumeet would be not forthcoming during the night, she wasn’t falling back asleep. B passed the metaphorical baton to me and I squared my shoulders against the coming onslaught as I entered her room, who knew when or in what condition to ever leave again.

But! Miracle! She asked for mumeet, was told there would be none, and after some fairly rudimentary protests, lay down and said I should tell her a story instead. I got two-thirds of the way through Goldilocks, adding some long pauses for dramatic effect, and lo! she was mostly asleep again. I had to wait quite a while before she was asleep enough for me to actually leave, but it was much, much easier than I had been expecting.

The same thing happened at 1am or whenever it was she woke next. I didn’t bother sending B in, because (a) he was fast asleep, and (b) what was the point? If she knows I’m in the house, she’s going to want me to be the one with her, even if I deny her what she wants most. She has to hear it from the source, I suppose. This time, again we had the formal protest, but half of The Three Billy Goats Gruff was enough to get her back to sleep. (I don’t actually know what the biggest billy goat said to the troll, or what the troll said to him, because I didn’t get to that page of the book when I read it to her at school yesterday, so it was good that she fell asleep before my ignorance was exposed.)

The third time – and to be honest I can’t even remember if I went back to my own bed before this one or just stayed where I was – she was more insistent, more upset, and louder. She was still awake after two long and involved Dora and Diego stories (and I have to say that even half asleep in the middle of the night, I can compose a more logical and interesting Dora story than the ones we’ve had from the library), so I made an executive decision to call it a night and give her what she wanted. “Five seconds,” I said, but that never works with her the way it used to with her brother, so it was a very long five seconds on one side, and an actual five seconds on the other, and she went back to sleep.

The next time she woke it was probably 7.30, I could see daylight at the side of the curtain, and I let her have her way with abandon.

Tonight, we’ll see what happens. I was proud of us both – but mostly of Mabel, to be fair – for getting as far as we got last night, and I don’t regret giving in when I did. If I don’t nurse her between bedtime and 3am, that’s still a huge step forward from where we were, and we’ll get to where we’re going in the end.

Batten down the hatches

Pull up a chair. Have some cheese. I’ve got the whine.

I can tell already this is going be one of those posts that gets the “Best intentions” tag. That one goes on plans I make and tell you about so that you can all point and laugh two weeks later when things go horribly, predictably awry. Or the next day, even. But if you never even try, you definitely won’t get anywhere, I suppose.

Two nights ago was a bad night for Mabel. I happened to look at the clock at the relevant times and discovered that I left my own bed to go to her at 12.00, 2.00 and 4.00. I came back to my own bed at 1.00 and 3.00. And I wouldn’t like you to think we were all sleeping soundly from 4am until reluctant waking up at 8.00. No, she was probably latched on again from 5.00 to 6.00 or so, before getting up and leaving me in blessed, blessed peace, around 7.00.

To be honest, that was pretty standard except that usually I don’t stay awake enough at 3am to do anything as active as bothering to get myself up and trot down the hall to my own bed. But sometimes she’s hogging the whole (twin) mattress and the call of the cool sheets on my side of the big (queen) bed is a siren song. I know I’m lucky to be able to be able to go back to sleep – usually – pretty quickly every time – this situation couldn’t possibly have persisted if that wasn’t the case.

Last night, then, there was something in the air, or the water. Maybe there was a full moon. Maybe it was because of the equinox. More likely it was the incipient thunder, but a lot of people on my Facebook feed this morning seemed to be complaining about how badly their kids had slept. Dash, my great sleeper, woke twice with a bad dream. The first time, I had just come back from Mabel and was able to lie down with him for a few minutes until he dropped off again. The second time, I had to call in reinforcements because I was already dealing with Mabel again, so I’m not sure how long that took. (There was a third time, but apparently I dreamed that one. I could have sworn I heard him call out, heard him get out of bed and come down the hall, and I was already flapping a hand at him to warn him not to wake his precariously asleep sister when I opened my eyes and found he wasn’t actually standing beside me at all.)

Mabel, having gone to bed early at 7pm after no nap, had woken as usual at 9.45 and gone back to sleep easily enough. Then she woke around midnight and – well, it all gets fuzzy, but at some point much later it felt like she’d been latched on all night and it crossed my mind that perhaps she was hungry. “Are you hungry, Mabel?” I asked. She nodded. “Mummy, I’m huuuungry!” You could have told me two hours ago and saved us all that not-sleeping, you know? I went downstairs and got her a waffle. At least it was only 3.15 and not 5am as I’d feared. She gobbled up a frozen waffle in the dark, whispering something about Goldilocks and the three bears to her doll as it went, and of course then she was wide awake, wanting water and stories and Daddy and to go downstairs and play there…

I got her to lie down and have some more mumeet and she was out in pretty short order. So we all went to sleep … until the thunder rolled in around 5am and the rain around 6 and though the kids were asleep, I heard it all so I don’t think I was, entirely.

Coming back from school this morning, I told Mabel that mumeet at night was going to have to stop. That I would gladly let her have some before bed, and again when she wakes up in the morning, and that someone will go in and lie down with her to help her get back to sleep, but the all-night buffet is closing down. I asked her if she’d rather Daddy went into her or I did, when she woke in the night but wasn’t getting mumeet, and she opted for Daddy. I think this is because she expects Daddy to read her stories at 4am, and she’ll get a bit of a shock when all he wants to do is turn over and go back to sleep.

I was surprised that she agreed, and I know she’ll be eating her words tonight when I try to enforce it, but it had to happen some time, and we’ll see how it goes. Maybe two bad nights in a row have worn me down enough to help me stay strong in the face of full-force Hurricane Mabel. Maybe our success with cutting out daytime nursing will convince both of us that I can say no and she can learn to live with it. But it’s going to be hard, and there will be tears, and I just hope we don’t wake the neighbours.

Progress, maybe

We’re travelling tomorrow, but before I go and ruin everyone’s (read, Mabel’s) new good habits by dragging her across the ocean to a continent five hours ahead, I thought I should document them. For posterity, and because by the time we get back I’ll no doubt have more things to say.

Two Fridays ago, there I was moaning to a friend about the terrible night Mabel – and therefore I – had had, when I realised that I was now undeniably one of those annoying people who complains about a situation but never makes a move to change it. Which is fine if it’s on my blog – right? Right. – but not fair to people standing in front of me who are too polite to just throttle me for not getting on with it.

Later that morning, Mabel and I had a little conversation.
“Oh, Mabel, when are you ever going to stop having mumeet?” I sighed, and she replied, “When I’m four.” She may have said this before, and I never took her up on it because it sounded so far in the future that I was hoping for something a little better, but now suddenly, it sounded like an acheivable goal.
“Okay then,” I told her, “we’ll stop when you’re four. But we’ll have to start having a bit less, so that we don’t just stop all at once. So from now on, we’ll only have mumeet in the morning and at naptime if you take a nap, and at bedtime.” And all night, which was implied and understood, if not actually said.

“So now you’re just nursing her three times a day and all night, and that’s good?” you ask, shaking your head to get the buzzing sound out.

Yes, because she’s finally learning that there are other ways to be happy without just grabbing a boob at the merest hint of personal grumpiness. Even though there have been days when she’s gone a long time without – from before school all the way to naptime, or even beyond if she didn’t nap and we were busy – those were probably the exceptions, and she was pretty used to having a little sumpin’ sumpin’ before lunch, or after nap, or around 5pm, or just to keep her going till bedtime.

But I made some wonderful discoveries:

  • I can say no, and if I keep saying it she will eventually go away and do something else.
  • She will accept a cuddle instead of nursing, if I stand firm.
  • She’s quite willing to take a chocolate chip and a mini marshmallow as a post-nap treat instead of nursing (this is a short-term thing that will be phased out, honest).

Of course, once she figured things out, she realised that it was to her advantage to nap, or at least try to nap, because then she gets a hit in the middle of the day. I’m happy to do this, so long as she naps reasonably early, and to take the resultant fallout of later, more long-drawn-out bedtimes for a while, as it’s all in a good cause, and really, who’s to look a gift-nap in the mouth? But if she tells me at 3pm that she wants a nap, it’s no way Jose and she has to make do with a cuddle on the sofa. And she does.

So. It doesn’t solve my night-time problem, and the wearing of the underwear has once again receded into the dim and distant, most of the time, but I think it’s a good step forward. When she’s used to it, and when we’re back from our trip, I’ll make some other change, like moving bedtime mumeet to the sofa and letting Daddy do bedtime, on days when she’s really tired because she hasn’t napped.

The other thing we’ve been doing lately is having B go into her the first time she wakes, the time that’s a paltry two hours or less since she went to bed in the first place. It’s usually around 10pm. The first night we did this, despite having been warned in advance, she cried hysterically, with the heaving and the gulping and the pushing him away and then taking an hour to calm down once I did go in. But we’ve done it most nights since and now she just grouses at him until he goes away, cries for me, and nurses to sleep pretty quickly. Once, just once*, she fell back to sleep without any further intervention, and I did a happy Snoopy dance. But even without that, since she’s accepting his presence more readily, I see progress, even if I’m not sure what exactly the progress is moving towards.

Eventually, it will all fall into place. Won’t it? 

*Update: Well, stop the presses, she just did it again! Or he did. I don’t care, so long as they can do it without me.

Shipwrecked

There’s an A.A. Milne poem about a sailor who’s shipwrecked, and can’t decide what’s the best thing to do first – make shelter, get water, find a companion – so in the end he just sits on the sand and does nothing until he’s finally rescued. I keep thinking about him, because for far too long, in regards to Mabel, I have been that sailor.

I mean,

  • I want to potty train her (again) but I’m sort of afraid to go there because I don’t want her to best me again.
  • I want to cut down on nursing during the day.
  • I want to night-wean her so I can get some decent sleep.

I know I can’t do all these things at once, because then they’ll be doomed to failure, so instead I do nothing but rationalise my inactivity. Like this:

  • I can’t cut down on nursing during the day and at night at the same time. So I have to pick one. And it’s easier to say no in the daytime, when we’re busy and I have a modicum of willpower and I don’t care if she yells. 
  • On the other hand, sleep is more important to me, so I should start with the night-weaning. And anyway, in a while she’ll stop napping and I won’t have to nurse her down for nap, or give her comfort-boob when she wakes up, so that will take care of itself. 
  • But if I can stop her nursing to sleep at night, then she might stop waking so much during the night because she’ll learn to put herself back to sleep when she rouses, instead of sitting up and wondering where I and my boobs are. 
  • And when she stops taking a nap during the day she’ll be much more tired at bedtime and it will be easier to get her to sleep, so maybe I should stop trying until then. 

And then there’s the sub-list of all the excuses for why it’s so hard to night-wean her:

  • The resources on this subject say things like “Use your finger to gently break the suction as the baby [hah] is dropping off to sleep” and “Gradually reduce the length of time you nurse before they go to sleep.” So when she seems to be almost asleep, I warily press down on the boob and try to slip a finger into her mouth beside my nipple. She sucks harder. I push a little more. She clamps down on my finger with her teeth. Now I’m playing tug-of-war with a three-year-old, and I’m in a very vulerable position. This is not the way it’s supposed to go. She removes my finger with a firm hand. I subside for a few minutes before I try again. Lather, rinse, repeat. 
  • If I manage to win the battle and pull out before she’s ready, she simply sits up and demands the other side. (She is convinced that there are three sides, at least when I’m lying down.) And she always has to latch on to the “big” side – that is, the one that’s uppermost when I’m lying on my side, so it looks bigger. Then I have to heft her, still attached, over my body so that now she’s on the breast nearest the mattress and we’re both lying down again. As you might imagine, this gets tiring in the middle of the night when she just goes from one to the other. (But when you think about it, if you’re switching sides with someone in bed, you either have to go under them or over them, and it’s easier for the smaller, more awake, person to be the one going over. These are not considerations that come into your mind when you first discover how great it is that you can nurse your newborn lying down, believe me.) 
  • So cutting down on the time of nursing hasn’t worked for me yet. My latest tactic is bringing B back into the bedtime routine after stories and nursing – when he’s had his “What did you do today?” chat with Dash and got him his ritual drink of water and said goodnight, he’s going to come into Mabel and give her the same chat, or a song, or whatever she demands of him. And then he’ll leave and say goodnight and she’ll cry for me and I’ll go in and say “Just five minutes of side, and then I’ll stay with you till you fall alseep,” and so far I haven’t actually managed to keep to the five minutes part due to all the excuses outlined above, but maybe some day she’ll get so used to having him as part of it that she’ll forget to cry for me and just fall asleep on his shoulder. Riiiight.

I’m still sitting on the sand. I’ll probably be here until she grows up and rescues me.

Boo!

Hot buttered cinnamon toast (from the good bread place, not just the normal stuff) and tea is a perfectly reasonable Halloween lunch, right?

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, I’m thinking of bribing Mabel with Halloween candy to wean her down to just a couple of times a day instead of all the “I want mumeet while I’m watching TV before dinner” times. That’s good parenting right there, I know it.

Dash is off school today, because for some reason even though Halloween is not an offically sanctioned holiday, it warrants a day off. We dropped Mabel at school and went to IKEA, because that’s where the fun is. He got a chocolate milk, I got bacon and coffee. We failed to buy a rug for the guest room.

No wonder my mother always says I was no trouble at all. A single child surrounded by grownups is light-years away from two siblings ratcheting each other up to high doh every single second. If it hadn’t been for the sinus headache boring a hole in my left eye-socket, I would have had a really nice morning hanging out with my big grown-up (kindergartener) son.

As it was, we had to go home quickly so I could take a Sinutab and make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow. Blech.

Negotiations, justifications, ramifications

So this is what happened for the rest of the night: Mabel woke up twice, I think, whereupon I nursed her back to sleep and went back to my bed, and I was actually there, in my own bed, from 2.30 till 5am. This may not sound like much – heck, it’s not much – but it’s fairly unheard of around here.

I could ascribe this to the fact that she was almost two hours late falling asleep, so all her subsequent wakes were just on a delayed schedule; but since I’m an optimist, I’m going to say it’s a good sign. A better sign is the fact that I’m sure I heard her starting to wake in the middle of that period (because of course, I wasn’t asleep) and then settle herself back without me. Maybe that happens every night too, but don’t take this chink of light away from me, okay?

So I’ll stick with it for a couple more nights. I want to clarify that we’re not night-weaning (as is obvious from what I just said) – I’m just trying to help her learn to get to sleep initially without the boob. Because I’m hoping this will give her the tools she needs to resettle herself in the night-time wakeups without my help. (She doesn’t know what falling asleep is. As far as she’s concerned, she just nurses, and feels better. So last night when she was exhaustedly wailing “I want mumeet,” what she really meant was “I want to fall asleep,” she just didn’t know it.)

I don’t want to deny her the breast in the middle of the night because I know I would never have the gumption for that. This way, maybe I won’t have to because she’ll work it out herself. I think this is what happened with Monkey, but I didn’t realise it at the time and was under the impression that his night wakes just stopped on their own. Mabel is not growing out of it, and her night waking is much more frequent than his ever was: she wakes first after two hours or less, and every couple of hours after that – more often if I’m not in bed with her. This is what I’m hoping to change. (B and I are a bit tired of nookie babyruptus, for one thing.)

We are still nursing to nap, because if I spent naptime trying to convince her to go to sleep any other way, she’d just stay awake for the two hours and I’d never get a break. I’ve read that it’s okay to use different methods to get kids to sleep at naptime and bedtime, so I’m not too worried about this – ideally, I’d prefer to break her association with sleep and the boob entirely, but that’s not an option right now. And giving up naps is not an option either.

And to address the question of why now, I’ll admit it’s more because I’m ready than because she is. But she’s recovered from her cold of the weekend, she’s not specifically teething, and yes, she’s two and a half, but that’s just something we all have to live with. I don’t think she’s in any particular sleep regression right now. On my part, I feel like I can do it now. We’re not travelling anywhere till July, by which time I would really like to have effected a change in how she sleeps.

I sent B up when she asked for him, but he got increasingly shorter shrift: I think having me there, she had to take me seriously when I denied her. (Of course, this was undermined when I finally did give in, but let’s not think about that just now.)

I’m trying to address the things that were brought up in the comments, but I don’t want to sound all defensive. I am defensive, of course, but I don’t want to bore you by explaining every tiny justification running through my mind. Any more than I have. Already.

This morning in the car, Mabel announced that now she’s two and a half she can go to sleep by herself. We talked about how it was a hard thing to learn, and how it was hard for Monkey to get used to too, when I did it with him. He graciously offered to let Mabel have a sleepover in his room so he could help her go to sleep. Maybe I should just shut them both up together and let them have at it.