To recap the past month or so...
We eventually got to a point where not nursing to sleep became a fairly acceptable arrangement to the wee folk, and shortly after, we decided to take it to the next level of weaning them off needing someone to lie down with them as well. It just felt like time. And we decided that we were okay with some crying to get them there, which is not our normal MO. But being that they are older now and can at least grasp the concepts we explain to them, we figured it wouldn't be a huge deal or take very long before they got it.
Well, it's certainly a rare occurrence, but we were wrong. So very wrong. It was basically a disaster. King Toad Agooga took it the worst. He would rarely, if ever, go down without an hour or more of sobbing at the door, running back to the bed in relief when we'd come to check in every few minutes, only to climb down and start up again when we'd say goodnight yet again and leave. It was tragically sad. The Goblin Queen did actually get used to the idea pretty quickly and would normally go right to sleep without a fuss--that is, when KTA wasn't keeping her awake sobbing, during which she could sometimes be heard saying, "Bubba... Bubba... SHHHH!!!" Thankfully, The Barbarian caught that audio one night with his phone. It's pretty much the cutest thing EVER.
So we tried various arrangements, especially at naptime, which was worse than bedtime for KTA. We even set up the other toddler bed in the playroom and tried separating them. But for the most part, he basically stopped napping and she was getting maybe an hour. Compared to their previous 3-4 hours, this was a huge difference.
Then something happened. I woke up bloated and uncomfortable one morning. I tried to ignore it, but by midday, I knew my stupid fucking diverticulitis (if that's even what it turns out it was--more on that at some point) was rearing its totally obnoxious head again. I took my mama's advice of going on an extremely low fiber, mostly liquid diet to see if I could calm it down, but three days later, I was still not well and all of a sudden, the telltale lower left quadrant pain began.
They didn't run labs this time, but assumed it was the same thing and so, therefore, prescribed antibiotics. Again. So I had to emergency wean my children. AGAIN. Like, seriously? Is this a fucking joke? It's been two weeks now and I really haven't even allowed myself to think of it much or come to terms with it at all. I'm not letting myself feel the feels I need to in order to process this because I just can't handle it right now. Because I would be sobbing a dozen times a day when my poor girl either asks to nurse or, more frequently, pulls my shirt down just enough to expose the tops of my breasts, lays her little head against them, closes her eyes, and inhales deeply, over and over.
Dammit. Tears. Enough. I'm done.
Anyway. During all of this, we also decided to start them at a little toddler playgroup that meets down the street at the local church twice a week for a few hours. It's sort of like pre-preschool and is small, casual, and headed by two women who have been there since their own grown children attended and clearly enjoy what they do. KTA took to it like he'd been there for years--literally the teachers' words. But TGQ was not okay with me leaving her there AT ALL. They would literally have to wrench her out of my arms as she scrabbled to hold on for dear life and SCREAMED. But I knew in the end that this was a great experience for them, that I really needed the downtime, and she would totally get used to it soon.
It took me until last week, on my birthday, in fact, when I couldn't bring myself to do that to her on my special day, even though it fell on a day they were scheduled to go, to really stop and realize my kids were not okay. KTA, and, therefore, everyone, had started waking up at 5am most mornings, a huge departure from his more normal 7-7:30 wakeup time of days seemingly long past. If we make it till 6am now, that's considered a good morning. So their 10-11 hours at night and 3-4 hours during the day had turned into 8-9 hours overnight and 1-2 during the day if we were very, very lucky. They were clingy, especially with me, and were sad and fussy and unhappy much more so than usual. They were also demanding shows much more than normal, as they tend to do when they don't feel well. They had circles under their eyes. They were not okay.
Then I stopped and thought about it and realized we had completely turned their world upside down in a very short amount of time. They are still getting used to The Barbarian being gone for extended periods on a very regular basis (we all are...), they had only just gotten used to falling asleep without nursing when they were forced to wean completely (cold turkey) a second time, then all of a sudden we weren't even lying down and cuddling them to sleep, and they were left with strangers in a strange environment twice a week. And all at once, my heart broke and I saw just how hard and impossible all these changes were for them. They were suffering in a very real way and I felt HORRIBLE. How did we not realize this was way too much, way too fast? What the fuck were we doing? I felt so selfish and out of touch with my children, like I had completely betrayed them. They had been trying to tell us they were not okay and we hadn't been listening. We had just been powering through, thinking it was hard now, but that this was all good for everyone in the long run. But at what cost? Our happy, healthy children? Nothing is worth that. NOTHING.
So I tearfully told The Barbarian that night that I wanted to start lying down with them for sleeps again, and a few short days later, I decided playgroup was too much right now, especially since KTA's early alarm clock makes it so they're ready for a nap halfway through. We can't (or rather, aren't willing to try to) change the fact that The Barbarian travels for work, and we can't change the fact that I needed those stupid antibiotics again and we've weaned for good this time. But we can change our expectations regarding how they get to sleep and whether they're ready to be away from home with people they don't know on a regular basis.
So we did. And you know what? The positive change in them was almost immediate, to the point where both families commented on it that very weekend during our Mother's Day celebrations. It was obvious they were feeling SO much better. They are getting more sleep (mostly...we're definitely still working on that one) and aren't using up precious energy attempting to cope in stressful situations. A little normalcy has been restored for them and their needs are being met again more fully. And it shows, confirming we made the right choice in backing off as much as we could.
So we'll wait and try again in a few months. And that's okay. A little disappointing, yes, but ultimately not a huge deal.
Honestly? I kind of missed our naps together. Because I like naps. All kinds of naps. I could nap every day.
And now I can again.