A couple of months ago at RJ’s 6 month appointment, our pediatrician told us that at about this time (8-9 months),
we I should start weaning RJ of of his nightfeedings. I think I gave her a shocked look because she quickly retracted and said, by the next time I see you, you should be starting to wean. Either way, I can’t just hit him with weaning all willy-nilly, in fact I refuse to. From the start of my motherhood journey, I’ve made a point to listen to my son and pay close attention to his needs as he’s developing. Since I’ve been home with him, this is arguably a bit easier than for mom’s who go to work, and I’m fortunate for that. Every step of the way, I have let him lead me in what hi growing body needs and wants. From feeding him on demand throughout infancy, to letting him fall into a nap, and eventual nightly sleep schedule of his own. And it’s worked out pretty well. He’s no longer nursing constantly throughout the day, and shows signs when he wants solids over a nursing session. His naps are getting a little weird now that he’s crawling and more active and the morning one is almost completely off the schedule. And he goes to bed between 8:30-9:30 most nights, and these days many days without nursing til he zones out.
So I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job in responding to his needs and hopefully letting him know that what he signals to me is held to a high regard.
So although I heard the doctor, I’m not quite listening in this case. I know when RJ is fully ready to cut the night feedings, it is something he will likely do on his own. He’s a pretty independent and strong-willed kid.
But for now, our nightfeedings aren’t going anywhere and here are 5 reasons why I still feel they are super important and special to me, and RJ too.
- Nightfeedings Soothe Him – RJ is at a stage now where he sleeps pretty well through the blocks of time he’s out. He usually sleeps from about 8:30/9:30pm on through to 3-3:30am every day, with an occasional inconsolable awakening that only the boob will fix. For the productive nightowl in me, this is amazing! When 3am hits, like clockwork, he either wakes up due to an interruption in his sleep cycle, like a night terror (not to be confused with a nightmare), or caused by some teething pain. Either way, he is looking for something to soothe him back to sleep. He doesn’t sleep with a lovey yet and though he can self-soothe through much of his other stirring through the night, this is one he can’t shake. My nursing him, helps calm things down and get him back into a restful night of sleep. Even when The Man goes in to rock him at the times when he just won’t go back to sleep, RJ knows what he wants, and it’s the boob. This is complete validation as a mom, because I know I am making him feel secure and safe by being there for him.
- Nightfeedings Remind Me of the Old Days – Sitting there nursing my half asleep 8 month old is like sitting there nursing my half asleep 3 month old, except about 10 pounds heavier. Now that the days are filled with crawling and constant movement and exploration, daytime nursing sessions tend to be quick, frequently interrupted by him noticing something he wants to touch, and much less frequent altogether. Gone are the days that I can sit back and Netflix & Chill with my little guy nursing, sleeping, and nursing again. So when he wakes up at night, this is my chance to relive our glory days. I sit there in the dark nursing my baby boy, smelling his scalp, and thinking about how beautiful this motherhood journey is and has been. Some nights I cry, not out of sadness, but out of sheer joy and an overwhelming sense of who I am to this boy. In these moments, it’s just me and my baby and the rest of the world disappears, until I put him back down to sleep and I have to snap back to reality.
- Nightfeedings = No Biting – It’s no secret, this boy has teeth, 6 of them to be exact! Nursing has become a little painful (I thought we had gotten past it, but I guess not). Sometimes I feel like RJ tricks me into nursing him just so he can bite me, ouch! I’m trying to pinpoint the cause: he could be trying to soothe the pain of the newest tooth finish breaking through; it could be because he’s bored; it could be because he legitimately finds it funny ( I honestly wouldn’t put it past him, the kid’s got a raging sense of humor). Either way, the shit hurts. So nightfeedings, when he isn’t fully awake and interested in whatever it is that makes him bite are perfect for me to get through a pain free nursing session. He’s more efficient since he wants to get back to sleep, and my nipples are thankful.
- Nightfeedings Are The Last Regular Feeding of the Day – I’ve said it before, my kid is super independent and he knows what he wants when he wants it. During the day, he’s gotten pretty clear about when he wants solid foods and when he wants to nurse. And frankly, nursing is becoming less frequent than before, and quickly. When he does nurse, I know he’s getting more milk because it holds him over longer, but I may only nurse him 2-3 times during the day. To me, this seems like he’s starting the process of weaning himself down from relying solely on my boobs for nutrients/calories/ yummy delicious milk. So our night feed is special in that it’s the last one I know will happen for the day. One day I will nurse him for the last time and thinking about that makes me truly sad. Not because I particularly enjoying having a squirmy, biting near toddler attached to my boob, but because that will only mean he’s quickly transitioning from being my little baby. I’m simply cherishing these moments because I know they are likely coming to an end real soon.Now I do have a concern with this and that is transitioning him to another source of milk. I don’t pump on the regular, but I’m going back and forth trying to decide if I should pump so he can drink it out of his cup. We aren’t a dairy milk family so I’m going to explore other alternatives so that RJ can continue growing like the champ he is without the added bullshit.
- Nightfeedings Allow Me To Be Still – The time Rj wakes up for that last feeding in the night is usually when I’m just getting in the bed. My nightowl tendencies keep me up well past the normal bedtime of your average mom, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Once I get into bed, I also don’t usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, which frankly, is the experience of your average mom. Where men can just knock out, we’re analyzing the day, preparing for tomorrow, thinking about something we did last week, imagining what we’re going to wear tomorrow (hint: yoga pants), filing taxes, doing dishes, and painting our nails all at the same time. We can’t catch a break.
So when he wakes up to nurse, I use this to my advantage. If there are 2 things breastfeeding causes over anything else (aside from this obsessive mom bond with your child) it’s hunger and sleepiness. Y’all already know about the levels of hunger I experience, but latch baby on and i’m out in no time, or at least getting my sleep hormone levels into high gear. Nursing my baby allows me to just be. To just be still and to block all the thoughts of the day out. So as he nurses and falls back to sleep, I fall into a peaceful place that allows me to join him. I forget about the responsibilities that won’t be important until the sun rises. I ignore the call of checking my phone for the last time that night. I gently put a hand on The Man’s shoulder to remind him to just be and to let him know that this love shared between RJ and I in moments like this are for him to. I simply enjoy what motherhood has brought me, and I drift away into a peaceful sleep, with my baby and my love right beside me. It’s beautiful.