our daughter is now 5 months old, has slept in bed with me since birth. (my husband currently sleeps in separate room due to his own unrelated sleep issues). she is a very happy baby by day, provided she is mostly in arms. our challenge, or rather my challenge, is sleep, be it naps or overnight. she has always nursed to sleep for naps and bedtime. As i was always laying with her as a very young baby, when she would stir awake during naps or overnight, i would offer her my breast. sometimes she nursed for food, sometimes just sucked for comfort. unfortunately, i didnt realize that i was setting her up to ONLY know how to settle to sleep with a nipple in her mouth, which brings us to our current problem. i am happy to continue to nurse her to sleep for naps and overnight. however, when she stirs awake, as babies do many many times, she cannot simply adjust and fall back asleep. she searches frantically for my nipple in order to get back to sleep. this means that five minutes and twenty minutes and an hour into her naps, and many times overnight, each and every time she wakes, I must immediately offer my nipple! she sucks sometimes, or simply holds it sometimes, until i manage to extract myself which can sometimes take an hour to do so, as the process often wakes her and then she is desperately seeking again! i have the pull-out as mastered as humanly possible (pushing her little chin up, or pressure in and up under her bottom lip). so, if she sleeps 15-16 hours a day, i am right there with her the entire time in order to be ready to offer nipple again for her to fall back asleep.
i feel that i am doing her a disservice by not having guided her to fall asleep on her own after stirring awake, without having to have my nipple. she can hardly adjust her little body while sleeping without waking herself up and needing the nipple right away. this obviously disturbs her deep, restful sleeps she needs. i have tried laying beside her, soothing her while not offering my nipple when she stirs awake, which leads very quickly to whimpering, then crying, then really crying. it doesnt feel right to me to deny her the only way she knows how to fall asleep. (we have used a lovie since birth, as well as have a routine of lay down/stories while nursing/humming twinkle twinkle while nursing and she drifts off). initially when it's time for nap or bed, I cannot lay her on the bed without her starting to cry until i am down beside her nursing within 10 seconds.
My concerns are a few: concern of this ongoing indefinitely and her always needing me for the next two years, which surely can't be good for her, right? My doula and lactation consultant, both AP-minded, are mentioning my eventual need for personal balance. She will not take pacifier/finger.
I am optimistically hoping that there are moms out there who have been through this and have had their babies outgrow this dependence of nipple for sleep, who gradually began to wake then sleep unaided. Am I hoping for the impossible? i can keep this up for a while longer if i know that is a possibility. Thanks soo much for any help! Leanne