First up, thank you so much for your comments on my last post. I suck at replying to comments, but I always really appreciate them, especially when you are telling me that I’m not alone! The whole sleeping-through-the-night (by which I mean not feeding) thing is so frustrating. It seems to be the one thing that everyone comments on/asks about. Strangers, friends, family. Even people who have children (really? you don’t remember what this was like?!). Everyone has an opinion on what to do, or what E. ‘should’ be doing. It is tiring having people judge your parenting on one tiny aspect of your baby’s life.
Anyway. E. will get there eventually. I can’t blame him for still waking up twice a night to eat- I have made no attempt to stop him. We’ll see what the pediatrician thinks.
I’m reading one of the books I placed on hold at Christmas at the moment- it just came in to the library. It’s called Kalila, and the story is told from the perspectives of the mother and father of a very unwell baby who has been in the NICU since birth. If I remember the review correctly, the author (who has two children well out of babyhood) lost a baby after birth, and this novel has been kicking around in her head and on paper for fifteen years or so.
I’m reading it in fits and starts because I just can’t read too much in one sitting- I want to burst through the nursery door and hold my baby, my wonderful little E. to my chest, and kiss his head, and tell him again how much I love him.
It’s a good piece of perspective for the week, even if fictional. Because, really? We have no problems over here. Inconvienences, yes. Things I would like to be different, sure. But actual issues? Nada. We are so lucky.
So we do have something to report on the sleep front, although not in relation to sleeping any longer at night. For the last few months, if we were rating the independence of E’s sleep on a scale of one to ten, where one is E. is unable to sleep unless with us, and ten is fully independent dump-in-the-crib-and-then-run sleep, I’d rate him at a seven. He goes into his crib wide awake. He does put himself to sleep. The only thing stopping him from that perfect score was that he needed us to put our hands on him while in the crib to keep him on his side while he settled himself. He started last month to actually hold on to my forearm as he went to sleep- again suggesting that he did need this contact. This was our routine for both naps and bedtime- into the sleepsack, blind down, lights off, white noise machine on, lullabies in the rocking chair, kisses and cuddles and then into the crib, held so that he was forced to stay on his right side, and then wait it out while he wriggled or squealed or alternated thumb sucking with crying, until he went to sleep. Unless he was absolutely hysterical, once he went into the crib, he didn’t come back out.
In the last couple of weeks, E. has been given me a few signs that he was ready for a change. He started fussing during the lullabies. As soon as I stood up from the chair he’d lunge in my arms towards the crib. Some naps he really fought me holding him and seemed genuinely angry rather than just engaging in mantra crying.
So four nights ago I experimented. E. was totally exhausted from a busy day. I did our bedtime routine exactly as we do every night, but when it came time to put him in the crib, I laid him down, told him I loved him, gave him his monkey (trying to encourage a lovey- results not yet determined), and then stepped back and sat down in the rocking chair. Twenty minutes later, after almost no crying, I walked out of the room, leaving E. asleep.
E. has put himself to sleep with no help, and with no crying, every single night since.
Naps weren’t immediately as successful. I tried each day, but would have to intervene when it became clear from his crying that he needed help. The teething wasn’t helping- yesterday he threw a nap strike when I first tried to get him down at the usual time (and then went down at noon for two hours- thank you Ad.vil!).
But then this morning he rolled around and wriggled and sat up a couple of times (I laid him back down and said, “It’s nap time, E.” and then sat back down in the chair- no noise, no eye contact), and did an awful lot of mantra/pissed off crying while he tried to get comfy. I was THIS close to getting up to intervene, and then he stuck his thumb in his mouth. And for the next few minutes he sucked his thumb, or pulled it out and cried, but the crying jags got shorter and shorter, and it was clear to me that he was settling himself. And then he went to sleep.
This afternoon? NO crying whatsoever. He made a lot of noise and sang to himself, but then he just rolled over, stuck in his thumb, and went to sleep.
Both naps were short (thanks, teeth), but I still think this is a huge accomplishment for him.
Today E. is rating a nine. I’m still sitting in that rocking chair, because it’s very hard for me to judge from the monitor what type of crying he’s doing. But if this continues, I reckon in a couple of weeks I’ll have a baby who will put himself to sleep, without me being in the room.
I’m really proud of him. And I’m proud of myself, too. This is one thing I feel I can look back at and say, “I did this.” I listened to and watched my baby, and read his signals, and pushed when he was ready, and now the baby who would only sleep in a carrier while I paced around the room seven or eight months ago, the baby who four and a half months ago needed to be swaddled and jiggled until asleep, the baby who just last week needed to have us holding on to him, is now a baby who puts himself to sleep.
Edited to add that I just realized this is my three-hundredth post! We’ve come a long way!