I night weaned my son when he was just 2. He had been feeding through the night since he was born, he was always a frequent waker, and to adjust to that we bedshared and he would feed when he needed to resettle through the night. It worked for us, I felt less stressed and got more rest that way (although not enough rest! Haha).
I started to cut his feeds down so that we could start fertility treatment for #2, I was terrified to do it as I had never needed any other night time parenting skills and I was so concerned about how the change would impact him. I night weaned by telling him there would be no more milk until morning from now on (or words to that effect). I stayed with him as normal, but didn’t feed him. He was very sad and cross, as expected, but he just had one night of crying, we cuddled and I sang to him, and after that back strokes settled him and he started to wake less frequently overnight.
I was so proud of us afterwards, together we made it through that experience. It made me feel closer to him than I ever had before. We found ways through it together and grew together, and whenever I look back on that night I feel so emotional. It taught me that we could navigate difficulties and transitions. I also remember the unfailing support of my other half who was there all night, and who has always taken for granted my right to choose how I feed our babies.
I wrote this at the time to remember that special night. He’s almost 4 now, and rereading it always takes me right back to his babyhood.
Shrill and sweet, we lie side by side, arm to arm, united in your cherished infancy still, and listen. You look at me, wide eyed – ‘bird’ – as the light creeps outside; no children playing, no daddy sighing or neighbours hammering, it’s just you and me, baby.
You snuggle into me as we slip towards our unknowns, your tummy warm and full at this final 5am.
I lie in bed, listening to sorrow, my tummy clenched. This is it, I always knew it, this would be it. This would be how it would go. In salty desperation I tell You, no, no, no, this can’t, this won’t. Not like this.
Quivering, you cling, discombobulated.
I search inside for tools I’ve never needed, rusty screws.
And creakily, gingerly, we arise. Flickering, I sway… I feel your hot breath on my neck and suddenly it’s just us, it’s just you and me, baby, and it’s a closeness I’ve never known. And we stand, and I sing, and I sing, and I sing, until, church mouse, ‘sing gain’.
Oh how my cheeks run hot.
And then, when my back runs raw & my heart o’erspills, we sink, together, all three… And you, you in the valley – you in the valley, gazing neither left nor right but fearlessly ahead, you unlock the unthinkable and you sleep.
And then, my baby, you are a man.
And I, I hold your hand. And together, together we walk, stumbling, falling, tarrying this new path.
Thank you, thank you my darling, thank you for all the hours you gave me.