Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oh, the nights of the endless latch.

Breastfeeding is a relationship between mother and child.  A relationship cultivated from the first moment of life earthside.  A relationship nurtured around the clock during the early months.  A relationship constantly evolving as your newborn becomes your baby and your baby becomes your toddler.

And like all relationships, balance is necessary.  If baby is hungry, nurse.  If mama is engorged, nurse.  If baby needs soothing after a fall, nurse.  If mama desperately needs to veg out on the internet, nurse.  Give and take.  Take and give.  

Mutual satisfaction is also necessary to maintain balance.  As baby grows, her needs change from the days of nursing for survival to the days of the casual sips, constant nursing because everything else is too boring and the nights of the endless latch.  

Oh, the nights of the endless latch.  

And, it's not impossible to imagine how a laid back mama with a love of breastfeeding to keep that baby quiet and happy finds herself at a crossroads when she can no longer tolerate nights of the endless latch.

Oh, the nights of the endless latch.  

Several months ago, I told myself I was ready to night wean Liza.  I was ready to sleep uninterrupted and I was ready for her to magically sleep in her crib all night.  Yet, something was holding me back.  I talked and thought a lot about night weaning but I didn't make much movement in that direction.  Then, we took out my bed and put the mattress on the ground and all of a sudden we had a safe co-sleeping bed.  After selling the crib I had a weirdly freeing emotion surrounding our sleep environment -- partially the realization that my babies had outgrown the crib and partially the realization that any future babies would be co-sleepers from day one -- I had a new sense of peace about our sleep arrangements:

There is no need for us to have strict boundaries of who sleeps where.  Mr. Messy with Henry.  Liza with me.  It's obviously not our permanent arrangement but that doesn't mean it isn't right today.  

Oh wait.  That isn't right for today.  As of 5 nights ago, Liza in my bed was no longer beneficial to our breastfeeding relationship.  My aching shoulder from laying on the same side all night, the clogged ducts from learning how to properly night nurse while laying on my other side, an increasing feeling of being touched out after days of mothering my children and full-contact baby all night.  The list goes on.

It had to change.  I knew it had to change.  I knew it had to change soon but I was still at a loss.

Then, I freaked out.  As in, total hysteria on the verge of shutting down because I simply could not handle another night of Liza waking up and nursing her back to sleep.  Mr. Messy took over and decided  it was officially time to move her to Henry's bed to break the habit of night nursing.  The first night was rough and while there was definitely crying involved, there was no crying it out as her daddy soothed her and she had the sleeping presence of her big brother next to her.  Each night was better and it seemed she was well on her way to sleeping through the night.

That is, of course, until she got in bed with me last night and nursed to her little heart's content.  She wasn't having a good night and she needed some mama love.  And, it didn't feel like a fail at all to give in to that pitiful sleepy baby girl and do what was needed to keep her asleep.  

It's a delicate balance for sure and one I find much easier to handle after several nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Of course, everything is easier without nights of the endless latch.  


1 comment:

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

We recently got to the very same point-I simply could not handle having her latched on all night or waking me up to latch her 5+ times. I was so nervous to let her try to put herself to sleep-but she figured it out so quickly with very little protest-such a champ! It was obvious to me (after the fact) that she was really ready for that and could handle falling asleep without nursing. She's still in our bed half the night-and I know that will have to end too at some point. But it works for now. For now :)