Sunday, March 04, 2007

Baby + Milk = Sleep

One week ago I stopped nursing Genevieve down for her naps. I didn't want to do it; those naptime-nursing moments each morning and afternoon--reveries of cuddly drowsing, of slowed-down time--were my favorite parts of the day. I hated to give them up, and now I'm in serious mourning for that impossibly sweet snuggling. It's just one more baby moment gone; one more reminder of how big she's getting, how fast.

But I did it for a few reasons: I knew she didn't need to eat that often, that it was purely for comfort most of the time, and though there is nothing wrong with that--what could be more natural than an infant seeking, and receiving, comfort?--I knew that since she didn't need it, it would be better for her not to THINK she needed it. Because sometimes it just isn't convenient to nurse for naps. Sometimes the baby has just eaten an hour before, sometimes she needs to nap when Mama isn't around, sometimes it doesn't mesh with the schedule. It's hard, too, to nurse to sleep at naptime with a toddler running around, in and out of the room, marginally unsupervisable. I'm lucky to have the sort of toddler to whom I can say, "It's Genevieve's naptime now, I'm going to nurse her, it's time for your whisper voice, can you find a magazine?" and nine times out of ten she will truly stand at the bed, silently paging through a back issue of "Real Simple Family," hunting for the photos she likes of the children helping cook dinner, or of the girl with the dalmation t-shirt, until the baby and I are done and I can motion to her to meet me in the playroom, and she dutifully folds her magazine up and totes it out of the room in a pantomime of a busy, cooperative adult. But then there's always that tenth time.

Mainly I stopped because I felt Genevieve was too reliant on nursing to fall asleep, even though she was perfectly capable of putting herself to sleep without it--just reluctant to do so. I want to work on the nighttime nursings, and I think that will go more easily if we get rid of the nursing-nap associations.

But giving up this ritual has come at high cost to both of us. We miss it. Today I went up and nursed her to sleep again after all, because she was in a fury of frustration and not-quite-fullness, because in her baby mind, Daddy just did the nap thing all wrong, and sleep was not imminent amidst the screams. She nursed both sides with aplomb. Then she fell heavily asleep, and Genevieve and her over-full belly napped for two solid hours. So: no regrets.

1 comment:

Donna said...

As much as I *know* how much you miss the naptime nursings, I think you're making a good decision, for all the reasons you've laid out, esp since she is able to put herself to sleep. Good luck with the nighttime nursings! I hope it helps!!!