Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bottle Weaning

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.
At all.
Cold turkey.

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!
Then tonight.
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.

False alarm.
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.

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Yolo Momma said...

For moments like this, I have found that gentle singing and rocking in a glider has helped calm the hysterical moments in the night, or even before bedtime. I decided to wean off bottles at a year as the close of BF came. We are dealing with Night Terrors right now, but going with a little CIO until I may enter her room. Keep plugging through it and trying different coping skills.

B. said...

My boys are almost three and we haven't mastered the "puke bowl" thing. If they're sick I usually sleep in their room on the floor so I can hear them...they usually sit up when they need to be sick. It's a restless night, but less laundry in the end.

My boys have "lovies" to help them sleep. E. has a flannel blanket and M. has a little baby which helped the transition when we tossed the pacifiers.

Good luck!

MARCIE said...

Oh Becky, the memories you invoke. Of little screamers whose will was always stronger than mine. Of taking bottles from my first two babies before number three was born. Of holding a puking baby over the sink while I puke in the toilet. Of hearing an emergency siren in the night and being glad it wasn't my baby. Luckily I also remember the sweetness of babies who kiss you. Of knowing you are important to someone. Of all the funny things they say and do. Of the sense of pride they bring you. Of knowing you will walk across broken glass to keep them safe. And that you will give anything in the world to have them close, always.

The Jacksons said...

Recently, our 2 1/2 year old keeps waking up in the night and wants to sleep with us. (A big no-no at our house) the only way we've found to soothe her back to sleep is to walk her through the house house and whisper about all the things that are night-night. Then we talk about how the sun is night-night and that when the sun wakes up she can wake up and play. So far it's worked like a charm. We put her back to bed, turn on her seahorse nightlight sound thingy, kiss her, and walk out. Hopefully you can find a way that works! Being up with toddlers In the night is AWFUL!

Julia said...

Weaning Ward was so hard for me, too, for the exact same reason. There was nothing I could do for him, because there was only ONE thing he wanted and that was his bottle. So we pretty much traded one vice for another and he has taken to sleeping in our bed on our chest. UGH. Since Sloan is the one who always puts him to bed, however, Ward falls asleep on him and he puts him in his crib. Later he'll wake up and I'll take him out and bring him into bed with us. HOWEVER we recently discovered that Ward hates it when Sloan has stubble and would rather get in his crib than try to cuddle him if his face is scratchy. So, things have gotten pretty lumberjack around here for that very reason.