Last week I gave in. I finally admitted I couldn’t keep up with Milly’s nocturnal feeding habits. I wasn’t quite at the sobbing in my cereal bowl stage but I could see this point was becoming increasingly inevitable. I was tired. I was getting irritable (just ask poor Poppy). I needed sleep. And more than two hours in a row.
I HATE giving up. But I’m learning sometimes as a mummy you have to admit defeat. Luckily Mr J and I share the joys and burdens of parenthood as equally as possible, so when I hit this point he had my back. He was at hand to take the sleep baton off me and start THE INTERVENTION.
As I’ve mentioned before, Milly started on a defiant sleep regression from about five months old. Her night waking gradually crept up from one feeding session to two and then three. One particularly awful night, I think we actually hit five wake ups, but that memory is all a bit of a blur. But even more painful than the frequency of the awakenings was the often two hours it was taking to resettle her back into her cot. I was getting déjà vu of the early days of her life. She just wanted to sleep on me, nuzzling into my chest. Usually relentlessly nursing herself into the land of nod.
Now there is something incomparably warm, cosy and utterly cherish-able about a night time breastfeeding rendez-vous with your baby. I was caught up in the bubble of this bonding wonderfulness for far longer than I thought was possible to survive on minimal sleep. But then something switched. I can’t quite put my finger on when or why it happened, but we both changed. I hit the wall with tiredness and instead of treasuring these moments, I was starting to resent them. And Milly had changed too. It was habit rather than hunger dictating her nocturnal waking patterns. It was a bad, bad habit. It was time for THE INTERVENTION.
You see, we’d been in this position before. Poppy’s sleep hit a similar (if not worse) all time low at a similar age, forcing us to reconsider our night time parenting tactics. So, this time we knew what we needed to do. It was time to ban the boob in the night. And the only fair way we could think to do this was to remove all temptation. It was time for Mr J to take control of the night shift – from settling her to sleep to comforting her during the night. Not an easy task at all when you don’t happen to have a pair of milk-laden breasts for back-up.
The first night was tough for Milly and Mr J (and me… thankfully Poppy slept through completely oblivious). Our little angel was not going to slip into our poxy new regime without putting up a (noisy) struggle. Luckily Mr J is equally stubborn and infinitely more patient (in particular if the end reward on offer is sleep!) By the morning after, I was tempted to give up again (I’m a complete soft touch). But doing that would have made the anguish of the night before futile. We needed to stick to our guns. Night two was better (phew) and gave us hope and reassurance that we were doing the right thing. Night three she slept through until a blissful seven. Amazing. Night four and five she tested us again (but with far less gusto). Night six and seven she made it through the night.
Although I’ve taken to fondly referring to Mr J as the ‘sleep master’, I wouldn’t say we’ve cracked sleeping just yet (every parent knows even daring to think this is a sure-fire way to provoke a lifetime of sleepless nights). But for now we’ve caught up on a little sleep. And long may this continue. Keep your fingers crossed for us…