As you all probably know, LP has never been the greatest where sleep is concerned. For the first few months she slept during the day for an hour or two at a time, waking for feeds and a little play time but at night she would be awake from about 8pm until anywhere between 3am and 6am! She would sleep on us but wouldn’t let us put her down.
Gradually LP’s sleep has got better. She regularly wakes 4 hourly for feeds at night but up until recently she would only nap for half an hour at a time, every couple of hours throughout the day. A few weeks ago LP started to sleep for longer during the day – we would put her in her sleeping bag, rock her to sleep and put her in her cot and she would sleep for at least an hour 2 or 3 times a day.
Last week LP got her first tooth. This coincided with a week of really bad sleep for LP and I. She would wake every 2 hours at best and would take forever to settle enough to be put down. She would also wake every night at around 3am and would lay awake in our arms for a couple of hours, not letting us put her down but not going to sleep either.
This changed yesterday. Yesterday LP slept from 7pm until 6am! She woke roughly every 4 hours, cried slightly and settled herself and I didn’t have to get out of bed at all! However, as she usually wakes every four hours for food I went to bed at 10:30pm and then stayed awake until 1am waiting for her to need her feed – she didn’t need the feed and I eventually must have gone to sleep.
I woke at 6am when she started stirring in her cot and could not believe it! A whole night of her sleeping! I was amazed. I honestly never thought that she would sleep through, and I am more than expecting it to be a one-off. But I now at least know it is possible!
I also know now that LP doesn’t need night feeds. If she wakes I am now happier to shush her or rock her back to sleep without feeding her, as she can go all the way through the night without a feed – this was evident in my massive and painful breasts this morning! I have never felt so painful and engorged! Luckily she fed well this morning and I felt so much relief afterwards!
When I went to get LP from her cot at 6:30am, after she’d had a little play, when I first saw her I felt so emotional. I realised that we have never been apart for 11 hours before. I know she was only in the next room, but I have always seen her every few hours. The longest I have been away from her was 6 hours when I went Bridesmaid dress shopping with a friend.
When I got LP from her cot she gave me such a huge smile, and I gave her such a tight hug. I realised then, more than ever, that I won’t be breastfeeding forever. The night wakings won’t happen forever. My beautiful baby girl is growing up, and before I know it she will be sleeping all night, drinking cow’s milk from a cup and needing me in different ways – for cuddles and bedtime stories, for play time and teaching, for kisses and hugs and all the love that is there but that you just can’t see it.
For now, I am happy to keep breastfeeding whenever LP needs it, and for as long as she needs it. I always said that I would breastfeed for a year if I was able to. But now I realise that LP will wean herself from my milk when she is ready – at this rate it will be around a year anyway. That day will always come too soon. I have never seen breastfeeding as an inconvenience, a chore. Breastfeeding has become such a lovely part of my day, a time that I can sit quietly with LP and just appreciate how much I love her. It is usually now only night feeds, her bedtime feed, first thing in the morning and then lunchtime that I feed her, so as the feeds grow less I appreciate them more, knowing that it won’t be forever.
LP, grow into the person you are to become. Grow strong, learn all that you can and laugh every day. But please, don’t grow too big too soon. Take your time and enjoy every moment of life. Life really has only just begun.