baby sleep, motherhood, parenting, sleep deprivation

The story of a cow. milk. and sleep.**

Once upon a time there was a new mother who gained a beautiful darling little boy and lost the ability to sleep. When will I sleep again? She asked her friends, those with a few children each, and whom she therefore regarded as the experts on all things baby. Soon they promised. Wait until he’s on rice cereal, and when this didn’t work, try more weighty solids, bananas, fish, or chicken will keep his belly full until morning but when this too failed, they all promised one thing: When hes done weaning he’ll sleep through the night, most definitely. Most certainly. Are you sure? the new mother whispered through a yawn. Oh yes, they said, at least, that’s how it was for our kids. And the new mother smiled as her eyes shut and her nose dipped into the tea cup because while we all believe our children to be absolutely one-of-a-kind unique we listen to the stories of those who have been in the trenches with the hopes that in this one particular area your child will color inside the lines and follow in the paths of children before him and sleep, sleep, sleep.

The weaning process has begun and we’re down to one morning session plus the wakings that occur through the night. While he is content now with the bottle and I could wean him completely if I wanted, the honest answer is I don’t want to stumble down the stairs and clear the gate at the bottom to make his bottle- nursing is just easier and helps lull him to sleep for a little while longer in the mornings when my perky bunny is up at 6:30 ready to attend to his business meetings and return the important phone calls from Tokyo requiring prompt attention [why else would anyone in their right mind wake so early?] It’s not the most comfortable sleep but gives me a chance to gather my bearings and wipe off the cobwebs on my sleepy brain [as many as can be dusted- some are permanently stuck I’m afraid, it appears drugs are not the only thing that kill brain cells- sleep deprivation may have lasting effects too.] Waleed’s doctor told me not to introduce a bottle once he was past one year of age, but its the only way he’ll drink his milk and oblige me to sleep for his naps and at night and I’d rather he get milk than no milk at all. As much as I expected to feel my heart break in pieces to wean him, its been gradual and that has helped all parties involved both physically and emotionally. Plus there are definitely benefits to having back one’s body such as the ability to guilt-free drink a cup of coffee again and letting K take over bedtime, something he’s longed to do but. . .

I was also hoping for sleep. And so far cow milk is not offering the promised panacea. He naps like an angel but his night sleep is not long and uninterrupted. He still wakes twice a night and he wants to imbibe something before he returns to sleep. I tentatively tried cry-it-out a few nights but it appears he’s developed endurance and can go for much longer than I have the willpower to bear. So I change his diaper and I nurse him to sleep. Even two minutes of nursing will suffice, but nursing I must do if I hope for sleep to return. Twice a night. Every night. I don’t know if he’s hungry or rising from habit or if its teething or if he’s waking from dreams [which apparently begin bothering them around now] or a plethora of other reasons, but despite the full-fat organic cow milk, he’s still waking. I weaned him. I’ve arrived at the promised land. Where’s my promise?

Still, he’s worth it. The soft curls, the smile the size of Nebraska. I’ll do it for him. I’ll have plenty of time when he’s grown and not quite so desperately in need of me, to get all the sleep I need. I will miss these sleep-deprived days. Right?

Any advice on the matter of sleep [and the lack thereof] much appreciated! 

**and ofcourse last night? he slept all night! It’s like he reads these posts! But- his diaper was soaked through- I suspect this might be more the reason of his wakings than any other. . . if anyone has any advice [bigger diapers?] I’d love to know. . . hate depriving him of his feed before night since I think he needs it.

17 thoughts on “The story of a cow. milk. and sleep.**”

  1. *updated to add, he slept all night tonight! And leaked through his diaper. This may be the issue … wondering how to fix that now .. bigger diapers?


  2. The sleep ebbs and flows (in my experience), and sometimes the sleep will be even worse for different reasons (when he's driving and out on his own….terrible!). But, from my experience, you will definitely miss these days before he always sleeps through the night (and someday you'll even the days when he's a teen, out driving at night and keeping you awake, but still coming home to give you a goodnight hug). Sigh.


  3. Aisha, even though he's taking cow's milk, he's not completely weaned. From my experience, as long as you are nursing them, they will wake up. It's an emotional thing, not a physical thing. Even though he may be full, the breast is like his pacifier. He needs it emotionally. My guess (no promises!) is that when you wean him completely, he will no longer have a reason to wake up. The diaper may be part of it too but that's not something I went through.



  4. Julia, you're right, the sleeplessness just takes different forms! Thanks for the perspective.

    Rasha- that's true- I'm thinking maybe if I fill up a bottle with water at night to give him, the urge will diminish with time? That's a good point, though he's taking 95% of his feeds from the bottle he is still getting some through breastfeeding. Fingers crossed!! 🙂

    Thanks Aamina 🙂


  5. I love that opening paragraph – it's so true that we always hope and pray that our children will follow the same pattern as have those of other mothers, but only in this one area 😉 I'm sure you'll get better advice than this, but I say just roll with it – I've been sleep-deprived for about 3 1/2 years now, and a mother's body and mind eventually adapt 🙂 Just in the past month we've accepted and embraced that we won't truly be sleep-training our daughters, and for the first time, I've really been able to enjoy the snuggling and nursing (well, only the younger one!) without the paranoia of thinking I'm doing something wrong, or I've failed in some way. And I LOVE it 🙂 Finally! My 1-year-old still wakes a few times a night, but if I'm in bed long enough overall, I'm still fine in the morning. Before we know it, they'll be off to school and be all independent and other horrible things, so look at it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle 🙂

    Shoot for bigger diapers and maybe one of those inserts that gives it added bulk for added absorption? And slather on the diaper cream, although I'm sure you already do! Good luck, however you proceed 🙂


  6. i'm guessing you've already tried giving the mild in a sippy cup rather than a bottle? that's how louise takes her milk now. have you tried nighttime diapers? huggies overnites are the best as far as i'm concerned, pampers makes one too, but it's not as thick as the huggies version. we don't usually even need diaper cream, the only time diaper rash is a problem is if louise poops in the night, which has only happened a couple of times. other than that, i guess all babies have their own agenda, hopefully waleed's sleeping will even out soon.


  7. I don't know that I have any good advice for you, other than to say that Bear sleep-regressed around age 1 (although it doesn't sound like Waleed is experiencing regression, right?). I would guess that it is a comfort thing for him. Maybe once he is completely weaned, he will react differently.

    As for weaning, while this doesn't answer your direct question, I will say that weaning did me a world of good both physically and emotionally (I know bfing advocates are shuddering as they read this). I breastfed past the first year, and once I stopped, I could tell a difference. Something about those hormones was not doing me any favors…

    I would try the next size up of diapers. Bear still wets through her diaper at night frequently, and I'm not sure what else to try. Moving up to the next size definitely helped initially.

    Wishing for more sleep for you…


  8. My daughter was so attached to nursing, I didn't think any of the usual tactics would work, so I just went cold turkey. We had a few sleepless nights (where both of us cried!) but we got thru it (it wasn't cry it out because I was carrying her/with her; just not nursing her). Good luck!



  9. I've never breastfed, so i can't help you there, but from what you say, he's not actually weaned. She's right, it's a comfort thing. My little guy (19 months) is pretty much sleeping through the night but he often wakes up and carries on like he's having a party. For over an hour! If he's crying, only a bottle of warm milk will soothe him back to sleep. I tried water and he threw the bottle across the room more than once. He'll drink it but he still wanta the milk. Just last night at 4am he woke up and starting making yelling noises. I shouted for him to lie down and go to sleep THREE TIMES. And you know what – he did!

    This is not advice. Just sharing. Cause I've been exhausted for months.


  10. I have absolutely no advice. My little guy woke up two nights in a row only two times. That is my dream right now, only two wake ups per night. Of course, three nights ago he also woke up twice, but it took him TWO hours to get back to sleep. Still I am not even remotely considering weaning. So I guess I can take more. 🙂


  11. Sadia, thanks for the advice I really appreciate it- did not know they sold inserts! I tried a size up diapers and he wet through them today 😦 As for the brain adapting, it definitely is on my end too- but like you pointed out you feel like your child SHOULD be doing something . . . and when they don't you keep striving, buty ou make a good point- maybe just accept that sleep is what it is and enjoy it all while its there 🙂 Thanks for the perspective!

    Kate I did not try nighttime diapers thanks for the suggestion am going to go out to buy them today! I have tried giving him milk in a sippy cup but he doesn't care for it- he does drink water in it just fine and he'll drink milk but he dribbles most of it than anythign else. Is Louise off bottles for the most part?

    Raising, I am certainly looking forward to not having the hormones going through my system- there are definite perks like you said- you mentinoed sleep regression and I just think the facts are that for the most part until they're older we'll be sleep deprived. BTW- I am going to put your blog on my directory this weekend- my dad's surgery happened around the time I planned to and I lost track of things- my apologies.

    Rasha, so when she woke at night demanding nursing what happened? Did you give her water? Rock her? Did it eventually work? Would love to hear how you got to end those- like your baby I think he enjoys it and is habituated rather than needing it.

    Amen, anon 🙂

    C I bet we never fully catch up, ol but glad to hear your little one is sleeping 🙂

    A Woman My Age, thanks for sharing, sympathy is always abundant here from me to you! I have a feeling W will fling his water across the room too! 😦

    Kmina, still hon??? I am so sorry! Its all about perspective, hope for sleep for you soon!


  12. louise is totally off bottles thanks to my blogger friends! i would have had no idea it was getting to the time to wean her off of them otherwise. luckily for us the transition was a snap, she didn't even bat an eyelash, but i don't think it's that easy for a lot of kids. i hope waleed is able to transition for you soon, some of these new steps can be so hard (like eating in general for us). i hope the nighttime diapers help 🙂


  13. My daughter is 7 and religiously wakes up one time each night. I am so use to it that it doesn't bothers me at all. Sometime I stay awake for 2/3 after that…but it all worthed.


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