Nightweaning a 3 yr old...
Ladies, I need advice. DD has been happily nursing around the clock for 3 years in May. Up until now, I've been fine with it. She is a high needs kid who doesn't separate well from me, and we co-sleep. Her daytime nursing has naturally decreased (for the most part), and I have recently (within the last few months) limited nursing to "at-home" only.
Prior to the eruption of the first two 2 year molars, she was sleeping 8 PM-3AM and then nursing every hour from 3 AM-7 AM. Then it became every 1.5-2 hours again, even with advil. I was ok with this until I broke my ankle 3 weeks ago. My normally uber-patient self has been replaced with an easily frustrated mommy who's in pain and tired. I always said I'd nightwean her when her 2 yr old molars were done. Well, my husband's family teethes late (she's almost 3 and no sign of the top molars yet), my ankle is broken, and I'm starting to feel resentful. I never thought I'd be at this point :(
I've told DD (and myself) that if she tries really hard to nurse less at night, she could nurse more in the morning. (She's usually begging me to nurse constantly before we leave the house. We've had discussions about if you spend so much time nursing, we *miss* storytime, are late for gymnastics, etc..I'm usually prying her off of me. I count to 5 on each side for "fast nurse", but lately she emphatically tells me she wants to slow nurse, not fast nurse. She gets frustrated with breasts that are now "empty" according to her. I remind her if she wasn't nursing constantly, they'd fill back up!)
DH cannot help with nightweaning. He works 12-14 hour days, has insomnia, and migraines. He's no fun to be around when he doesn't get "enough" sleep. He would not be a successful nighttime parent.
I have the no-cry sleep solution for toddlers. I'm slowly making my way through it. I bring a piece of cheese and water upstairs at night for when she says she's hungry or thirsty in the middle of the night. I'm just at my wits end here. I feel like my body is telling me we're being close to done, and DD is NOT happy about this.
Re: Nightweaning a 3 yr old...
I've been where you are, except in my case I was pregnant, which was both easier and harder. DD1 and I talked a bunch about how the baby was going to need to nurse, and I had resigned myself to tandem nursing. Then she surprised me by weaning herself when the baby was born. I think you need to just keep a consistent message, and be as firm with your limits as you are comfortable/need. Nursing is a relationship - you can power through it sometimes if you feel it's in her best interest, but doing it longterm when you are resenting it is not good for either of you. In may case I stuck with it as long as I did because neither of us got any sleep if I didn't nurse her - it was just easier on both of us (believe me, we tried the firm "no" and it was really painful for all concerned). But do give yourself permission to say no to her if it's just about "wants" and not "needs".
I guess I don't have any easy answers except that it's ok to say no to a three-year-old. Beyond that, you just have to do what works best for BOTH of you.
Re: Nightweaning a 3 yr old...
I went through the same thing with my 3 yr old and pregnant too, except he began to sleep longer stretches when there was no more milk but still comfort nursed a lot. Then when the baby was born and he was 3.5 he started waking up a lot to nurse, and of course since we cosleep it was hard to manage him while trying to keep a colicky baby asleep at the same time. Now at 4 yrs 2 months he is STILL very attached to nursing, and I regret not giving him more tools for comfort, I always just gave him the boob and now we are having a very difficult time night wearning him. He still tries to nurse constantly during the day. I say set your boundaries and hold firmly to them it will be hard but she will get through it.