It is something that every person needs to function properly.
We simply cannot live without sleep.
But I'm pretty sure that most of us mothers can say that we don't get enough.
Most of my readers know that my toddler (17 months) had never slept through the night. Most people know that I was (or think that I am) still breastfeeding. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, and one of those being that A) she weaned a little over a week ago B) my toddler started sleeping through the night and C) you guys, she slept through the night.
So it is possible; my toddler can sleep through the night.
Prior to my daughter weaning a week and a half ago, we were still having some rough nights. There were nights leading up to the weaning where she woke 3-5 times (weaning post to come later). I was an exhausted mommy and on some level frustrated that she still wasn't sleeping through the night, but I still answered her cries and did what I knew best...I nursed her.
Of course if you are like me, you're likely used to hearing comments about how your toddler should be sleeping through the night already. Yet if you know me and know my posts, my beliefs and know the articles I share, I'm against the whole, "your baby should be sleeping through the night by ____ age."
Granted my child was a toddler and I knew that on some level her nursing through the night was more of a comfort thing than an "I'm starving thing." I'm not saying that I don't believe she wasn't ever really hungry, but I do believe it was more about wanting that comfort of me.
Now. Not in prior to toddlerhood do I believe this.
Prior to her reaching toddlerhood, I still believe and stand by the research and the articles that prove that a baby is not always capable of sleeping through the night. Sleeping through the night for a baby refers to a five hour time span rather than an 8-12 hour time span. To think that someone believes an infant should be sleeping that long is rather ridiculous to me. Are some babies capable of it? Yes. Is my baby or your baby, all babies? No.
In some insane, crazy universe, I suppose it is possible that my child just coincidentally started sleeping through the night right around the time of weaning. Soon after weaning she started experiencing what I assume to be an early 18 month growth spurt, so I suppose on some level the extra food she is taking in is helping her sleep through the night.
But you're probably reading this and saying that I'm making an excuse up to cover up the fact that my toddler was simply waking up for a boob. Truth be told, I do think weaning had a direct effect on her sleep. We were lucky and after weaning, mama started getting sleep and baby became a big girl.
So the question is, would I have done anything differently?
Absolutely not. Now that I know what I know, it has no impact on my past decisions. I would not have weaned any earlier, I wouldn't have gone through the tears and screams of night weaning, and I would still have nursed my baby each and every time I wanted to during the night.
Does it change anything for future babies?
Again this is a big fat no. While I was tired and occasionally frustrated in the middle of the night, I also enjoyed those moments. I am proud of how long we breastfed for; I am happy that I tended to my daughter's needs; and I am pleased that we weaned with an approach that went much more gentle than I could have ever imagined.
In the future, I have no intentions of weaning my babies just to see if they start sleeping through the night like their big sister did. Unless I am literally a zombie during the day, I don't foresee that happening. In fact, I hope to breastfeed my next one until they are closer to two. If that means I'll wake during the night, then so be it.
Now that I've gotten several nights of great sleep (watch her wake 10 times tonight because of this post), I really don't feel much different. I'm not bouncing off of walls and running marathons. I love that I'm getting a full night of sleep, but there are many, many moments where I just want to cuddle my daughter close and nurse her in the dim light while I kiss her cheeks softly. But that's a post for a different day. Weaning is a super emotional process that I'll fill your ears with later.
Mamas whether nursing or not, there is light at the end of the no sleep tunnel.
Every baby is different and I don't want anyone to think that by weaning your child they may sleep through the night OR that by not breastfeeding them they may sleep through the night. My child's situation is my child only; this may not be the outcome for every mother. In fact, I know of several weaned children who still wake during the night. If you are sleep deprived and wanting to stop nursing through the night, work on a gentle nighttime weaning method and still continue to nurse that baby during the day!
Nurse your baby, respond to their needs and enjoy your moments. If you can get by with the sporadic night time feedings, then soak them up. Your child will get their one day; and one day you will get that sleep. Ignore the naysayers and do what you believe to be best!
I'm enjoying my sleep, I really am. But I'll never forget those nighttime snuggles. Those will forever stay in my heart.
Now, let's just hope I didn't jinx us. ;)
When did your baby/toddler start sleeping through the night?