I never intended for the boys to even use bottles, I certainly didn't want them drinking bottles in their beds every night, and I was sure that they'd be weaned off them by 15 months.
But here we are.
Every few weeks, I'd decide to wean the boys off bottles very soon. I told myself, "As soon as we get home from this trip," or "After Micah feels better," or "I can't do it the same week they have shots, that's just cruel."
So the boys kept the bottles.
But then, I gave myself a deadline. February 14th, we are driving to see my family in AZ, and I wanted the bottles gone by then.
So I started giving the boys their bottles with a teeny-tiny bit of milk and sippy cups full of milk. "Start small," I said. "Break them slowly."
But it actually made them madder than if we'd just taken the bottles away. Instead of taking their bottles, we were pretty much giving them empty bottles. The boys felt like they were being teased!
So one day, I made another executive decision. No more bottles.
That night at bedtime, I set out all of our sippy cups, and told the boys to each choose a cup for their milk. They flipped. Screaming, throwing of cups and pouring of milk. They had total meltdowns. Travis and I read stories, and said prayers while they flipped out, and then put them screaming into their beds. A half hour later, they were still screaming, so Travis went into their room again with all the sippy cups.
"Would you like some milk?" he asked them. "Which cup would you like? This one? This one? This one?" One at a time, through all the cups (about three times) he showed them our sippies, and finally they each chose a cup and went soon after to sleep.
The next two nights were the same. The screaming melt-downs, followed by eventual choosing of cups.
Naptimes differed in that we never went in with sippies. If they chose a sippy cup at the beginning of naps, they got one. If they didn't choose a cup, they went to sleep without.
The boys' sleep patterns were totally ruined, though. They weren't napping, and if they finally fell asleep, their naps were short and fitful. At bedtime, they were going to sleep late and waking early. It was awful. I wanted to quit and give them their bottles, but I tried to hold my ground. I'd started this, I could freaking finish it.
Three nights ago, the boys finished their bedtime baths and came into their room, where all their sippy cups were laid out. They each chose a cup, which I then filled with milk - and they took them happily to bed. It was a breakthrough. It was the beginning of another happy time.
They slept a full 12 hours, and at nap time they went quickly and happily to sleep, without any milk. I stood in the hallway and alternately cried, high-fived myself, prayed, and texted Travis.
Then it happened again. And again! Three days in a row!
The boys went to sleep well, but when I snuck in to check on them before I went to bed, I found that Grey had thrown up in his sleep and was laying in a pillow of puke.
Travis is out of town, so I had to handle this alone. It's much harder to carefully sneak a baby out of his bed and then wash his bed, and then move him back - if you're alone.
So I didn't do those things.
I rolled Grey over to the other side of his bed, and mopped up the puke (which was pretty much confined to his pillow) I took his pillow and blanket to the wash and sponged off his face and hair - and he slept through it.
But Micah didn't.
Micah awoke. And without a bottle to hand him, and quickly soothe him back to sleep - I was powerless. I tried to ignore him, to give him more milk in his sippy, to soothe him with just my love.
Yup. Uninterested. So he came to bed with me.
But I didn't sleep soundly, since I knew that Grey could puke again in the night, and even sleep through it - so I was fixed on every peep coming from his room.
I heard him cry out and I rushed in.
False alarm. But now he had seen me, and again - I had no way to soothe him back to sleep.
So he came to bed with me, too. The three of us lay there in the dark, until Micah quietly suggested, "E-laddy, Mama?" Aladdin?
"Yes," said Grey. They sat up.
"No," I said, "It's bedtime. You need to sleep.We're going ni-night."
"NO!" yelled Micah, "E-Laddy!" I tried to force them to lie down, and Grey started heaving. So we sat back up.
E-laddy it is, I guess.
So we watched Aladdin in my bed for half an hour, then - because I didn't know what else to do - we redid our bedtime routine.
We read stories, said a prayer, and the boys each picked a sippy cup from the cup buffet. They went happily into their beds.
But they're not asleep. They've been in there for half an hour, and they're just talking quietly and reading in the dark.
Grey drank another cup full of milk, so I can't go to sleep, but am typing quietly, waiting for the sound of retching. I am praying against it. Not just because it's awful when he pukes, and especially awful when it's in his bed. Not just because I want him to feel better.
But because I don't know what I'll do if they're both awake and out here again. It's 4am. Do we eat breakfast?
Okay, probably not.
But still. It's hard to be home alone with two little boys that are awake in the night!
I thought that I was just weaning the boys off their dependence on bottles, but I've been weaning myself. I can't just put them quickly back to sleep. I can't instantly comfort them. It's been the hardest and most stressful thing about weaning the boys.
Oh, and I just heard puking. I hovered outside their bedroom door, waiting to hear more - but all I heard was whimpering. So in I went.
So now they're in there screaming that I'm ignoring them. But seriously, what else can I do but ignore them and hope they go to sleep? Or hope that one of them goes to sleep - and then I can help the other?
That's real. That's a real question. How do you soothe your toddlers in the night without bottles? How do you help them calm down and recognize sleep if it's no longer "bedtime?"
How do you teach them how to use puke bowls?
That last question is pretty important to me, too.