When I was growing up my aunts and grandmother loved calling me Sleeping Beauty. I love sleep! I love sleeping in. I love sleeping without an alarm clock and getting up when my body wakes up naturally. When I was in middle school and high school, my mom would let me sleep in on Saturdays. She wouldn’t bother me unless we had somewhere to be or something to do. On some occasions I would sleep through lunch, wake for dinner and then go back to bed. When I was in college I loved that no one was responsible for waking me up except for me. This proved to be a great challenge to overcome as my first classes were at 8:30 my freshman year. Luckily, I had some good friends who wouldn’t let me sleep through class too often. 🙂 When I got pregnant I knew that I would need to savor every last minute of sleep before our daughter was born. Towards the end of my pregnancy it was hard to sleep though and I was getting a bitter taste for what was soon to come. When Violet was born it was time to say goodbye to Sleeping Beauty. Goodbye sleeping till noon, heh, goodbye sleeping till 7! I can’t remember the last time I slept more than 4 hours in a stretch and when I slept past 7 or 8. In the beginning I felt like I was walking around in a fog. Now, 2 years and 9 months later….I finally feel like I am getting used to the lack of sleep. Will I ever get to sleep again? Maybe. But probably not until Violet has gotten married and has children of her own. Yes, when I am a grandmother I will sleep again! 🙂
When you nurse on demand (or request) you may start to feel like your days and nights all meld in to one long year. One long but amazing year. When I read about breastfeeding before our daughter was born I believed that she would eat every 2-3 hours. I believed that this would last for about a few months and then taper off into every 4-5 hours. This was not the case for us. Violet loved (loves) nursing. She would nurse for an 30-45 minutes at a time sometimes without coming off. She would stop for a while and then go right back on. We started calling her the milk monster. 🙂 Later when milkies got their name she became “my little milkie monster”. We laughed about it and my husband and I joked about the fact that she seemed permanently attached to my breast. Day and night she wanted to be nursing. I started out nursing at night by sitting up in bed and holding her. We did not have a head board though so my back really started to hurt from lack of support. So after a month or so, I started laying down in bed with her to nurse her to sleep. After she would fall asleep I would carefully lift her back into the snuggle nest (baby safe co-sleeper). Because I still needed to alternate breasts for each feeding and sometimes she even needed to drink both sides before falling back to sleep, I started waking up my poor husband at the end of each feeding so that we could switch sides on the bed. Was this fair to him? Probably not. But I thought it seemed fair since he never had to wake up to feed her since we never used any bottles. He hardly ever complained though. He was very supportive. He did, however, decide to sleep on the couch for a while until we got into a better pattern. I love nursing her to sleep. I loved watching her little eyes get heavy and finally giving in to sleep. She really was a good baby at night. She did have her bouts of seemingly endless crying when it was time for sleep. But I would bounce and bounce until I thought my legs would fall off. I still bounce when I hold her out of habit. But all in all she slept very well. She would wake up often but she would always nurse right back to sleep.
When Violet was about 5 or 6 months old I figured out how to nurse her on both sides with out switching sides on the bed. I could turn my body over till I was almost on my tummy and she could nurse on the left breast as I laid on my right side. Call it lazy or call it nursing acrobatics…it worked and I felt more rested when I didn’t have to get up and switch sides. Then when she was about 10 months old we stopped needing the baby safe co-sleeper and she just slept in the middle of the bed. We put up a guard rail and also had her crib (which she never slept in) beside the bed. So there was no way she could roll off.
When we lost our house in the tsunami and started sleeping on the floor on Japanese futon mattresses we developed another style of sleep nursing. She would just open as she pleased and nurse back to sleep, only on the right side. I tried it for a couple of days on and off and before I knew it, my left breast stopped producing as much milk. I cannot remember when it happened exactly, but Violet pretty much stopped nursing on the left side all together when she was about 1.5 old. I still produce milk in that breast but not much. It only comes out if she sucks on my nipple. Whereas my right breast still sprays out when I let down. Now she just nurses on the right day and night and when we sleep she nurses to sleep and when she wakes up she asks for milkies please, before helping herself and I usually can fall right back to sleep with her.
The days and nights of long hours of uninterrupted sleep may be over for a while but I wouldn’t trade them for what I have now. My nights may be scattered with bouts of wakefulness but they are also sprinkled with beautiful moments of loving words, sweet kisses and precious memories that will warm my heart for the rest of my life.