Family Bed Hell

My youngest son, Bodhi, is right now on his own in his brother’s room having his first  “quiet time.” I put him in there after he flailed awake when I laid him down in my bed for his afternoon nap. He is supplied with a snuggly (his penguin, Darth Vader), books, and sleepytime music. At least the crying has stopped for the moment. I’m desperate. 

See, I have been nursing the guy to sleep for all of his nearly two and a half years and we do family bed, so there’s no crib involved. I guess you could say that we practice attachment parenting, though lately, he’s a little far too “attached” for my liking. For the past month or so, he falls asleep for naps easily enough, but either he wakes on his own 10 minutes after I lay him down in bed, or he does this flailing awake thing the moment he touches the mattress. So, on top of a non-existent nap, he has also been taking up to two hours to nurse down at night. On the nights that we don’t have the long bedtime ordeal, he’s awake 20 minutes after I lay him down and I have to repeat the whole nursing process over again. It’s driving me frickin’ nuts.

I know the kid is tired. I know he needs a long nap. When he has gotten a nice long nap (say 1 1/2 – 2 hours) in the past (fond memories), he wakes happily on his own and wanders out of the bedroom to see what I’m up to. If he has a brief nap, he wakes crying and will cry for quite a while until I go in to get him. If I catch him quickly enough, I can usually nurse him back to sleep on the couch so that I can read or watch a DVD – anything to at least escape mentally while my boy is sprawled asleep and nursing on my lap. 

A few times, I have refused to nurse after a lengthy time (a half an hour or longer) and have just held him and rocked him and after a long intermittent crying jag, he has fallen asleep after another hour or so. Once, he has fallen asleep in my bed with me rubbing his back after another hour and a half nursing ordeal. 

I don’t want to give up the nursing and I actually don’t mind that he’s up 2 -3 times a night for a quick nip, but he’s gotta take a nap. That is my only time to myself to actually think non-mommy thoughts. I’ve read the “No Cry Sleep Solution,” and the “No Cry Nap Solution” by Elzabeth Pantley and they sound promising, but I haven’t stuck with any one method. I’ve consulted Dr. Sears. But basically, they all say in the end something along the lines of “Remember, your little ones are only little for a very short time. Enjoy holding your baby while you can.” Ok. Ok. I get that. But, christ, I need a break! When my idea of a good time has become 2 minutes in a bathroom alone so that I can pee, we’ve sunk a bit too low. 

My first boy was a terrible sleeper too and between the two boys, I’ve been up many times every single night for nearly 6 years. I’ve come to accept the night time wakings. It’s the nursing marathons that need to end and the long naps that need to begin. Speaking of which, he’s been quiet for a while, so I’d better stop ranting and check on him…

But far be it for me to dissuade you from being an attached parent or bringing your kids into the family bed.  As long as you don’t mind someone clamped on to your nipple for three or four years and not sleeping, it’s really a great experience. Really.

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