The Tale of the All Night Nurser

A long while back, I wrote about my adventures into unplanned cosleeping (click HERE to read) with Harper. It has been somewhat of a struggle to find the delicate balance between sleeping and my sanity. When she was about 10 weeks old, the unexpected happened… she started sleeping through the night. Not only would she sleep about eight to ten hours, but she was doing it in her Rock n’ Sleep thingy. IT WAS GLORIOUS. I was rejuvenated. I was rested. I was sleeping through the night with her. It was a fluke, because six weeks later ,when the pesky four-month sleep regression popped up, our sleepy baby was nowhere to be found. Between the regression and our decision to stop swaddling her, the Harper we had experienced at night, was gone; a whole new monster was born: The even-less-talked-about All Night Nursing Monster. Now, you may think I am being dramatic or telling tall tales, but rest assured, I am not. For the last few months, Harper has nursed all night long. Some of the time I am positive she is latched on for dear life for pure security and/or pacification reasons. Nonetheless, I am turned into a human feeding tube for roughly eight hours a day. The same eight hours I treasure spending with my eyes closed. I sleep through most of it. Sometimes I try to get cute and shift away. She may last at most an hour before she is rooting and fussing for her boob back. I oftentimes wake up with back pain and a throbbing noggin. When I finally pull myself out of bed, that is when she decides that she can sleep very soundly on her own. Although I absolutely have grown to cherish and even love cosleeping with my little Harper, it is time to start breaking the night nursing habit.

The game plan was that Eliott and Harper would share a room when Harper was transitioned into her crib. Well, Eliott is not a ready to room share with a baby. She hoards food and wants every single light on all night long, therefore we needed to go to plan B. We decided to move Lily in with Riley and give itty bitty Harper a big ole room all to herself. We also took Riley’s old full-sized bed (which we replaced with a twin) and stuck in there for Mom, if needed. The first night, Harper ate some quinoa at dinner, had a bath, and then nursed and snuggled. She passed out and I placed her in the crib. She slept for three hours and woke up for a short nursing session and back in the crib she went. Good thing we put that full-size bed in there because she did that same song and dance every three hours that night. It was okay though because she was in the crib NOT nursing all night. The next night we started with our new nightly routine and had a similar result. Harper was fast asleep in her crib in no time. By the time 1 a.m. rolled around she was over it. There was no more nursing and putting her back into the crib. She was restless until I caved and put in that full size bed with me… latched. I have even tried having Logan doing nighttime wake ups and she did great the first night. It is very apparent that this will be a an up-hill battle of wills. She is much more determined to sleep with me than I am not to sleep with her.

I know in a few months that this will all dissipate on it’s own and I will be able to look back and laugh. I am just more worried about this habit of control I am forming. I am wanting to control this situation so badly but yet at the same time I am allowing my 7 month old to take the reigns. I can honestly say I am at my breaking point and two steps away from becoming a zombie. I have also embraced this as much as one can as a sign that I need to slow down and cherish this time. She is the last baby I will breast feed. She is the last baby that will co-sleep. She is the last infant that will depend on my naturing for her survival. Would all this be easier if she was like her sisters and sleeping all night long by 8 weeks? Absolutely. Than again, here I am, missing the point. Harper is my last gift and she is making damn sure I get to find the positives in all this. Soon she will be toddling around, talking, climbing, playing and snuggle time with mom will be low on her to-do list. She will self wean soon enough and even sleep in a big girl bed before I know it. I will sleep soundly than remembering the times where all she ever needed and wanted was me. I will think of that time fondly. I just need to keep telling myself that to get through the NOW.

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  1. Heather P. -  July 6, 2012 - 10:22 am

    Risa, my first thought is ouch! I can’t imagine how you are functioning everyday on such little sleep with 3 girls. As you said it will end soon and she will be your sleeping beauty. Thank you for sharing! You never know how each baby will be.

  2. Kim -  July 7, 2012 - 10:14 pm

    I have had this same problem with my son! He will be one on the 19th and it’s finally starting to get better at night 🙁 we went from nursing all night to now him going down at 9pm then sleeping until 2 then sleeping until 6 so slightly better, I find if I sleep in a t-shirt not a tank top he nurses less too

    • Risa -  July 7, 2012 - 11:02 pm

      She did the same thing as you LO last night so hopefully it becomes a pattern 🙂 Hopefully he will celebrate his birthday by STTN for you

  3. Christina -  July 7, 2012 - 10:25 pm

    I, too, have an all-night nurser! We have managed, after 2 months of ups and downs, to transition him to sleeping in his crib, falling asleep on his own, and waking up every 2 hours wanting to nurse. Trust me, the latter is a vast improvement over the every-45-minutes wakings he was pulling before – but at 9 months, he is sleeping for shorter intervals than he did at 9 weeks!
    While I definitely agree that we need to treasure even these tough times, and I’m sure a time will come when I wish I could solve my son’s problems so easily, I feel like I’m letting him down by not being able to somehow teach him to get back to sleep on his own. Any Moms out there with advice?

    • Risa -  July 7, 2012 - 11:06 pm

      I know what you mean about teaching him to go back to sleep on their own. I honestly feel that by us helping them by nurturing them completely now that they will be so much more confident later in life. You are solving his problems easily… all he wants is you 🙂

  4. Kate -  July 20, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    Your Harper sounds EXACTLY like my Abby, born 12/4/11!! Like you, I feel like co-sleeping and snuggling are things I should enjoy for this fleeting moment in the grand scheme of life…however my husband vehemently disagrees. He is insisting on forcing her into her crib. She doesn’t sleep at night for long stretches; between 2-4 hours. I’m seeing my pediatrician next week to make sure everything is alright physically before we, I mean my husband, starts the sleep training.

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