I like to sleep. I need to sleep. I do not do well without sleep. I don’t mind getting up once or twice a night with an infant, but more than that makes for a cranky mommy. For me as a parent, sleep is probably the thing I take the most seriously. I expect my kids will go to bed early and sleep through the night most of the time, and I go to great lengths to make sure that happens.
Penny is now five months old. She has entered a separation anxiety phase that manifests itself as frequent night waking and wanting to nurse every two hours. My older two went through the same thing. Now, as a well seasoned mom, I recognized it the first night it happened and have been working to put a quick end to it. My previous experience tells me it’s easier on both of us if I do.
I am also not a fan of the cry it out method. We had to do that with Samantha at nine months old. She wouldn’t put herself back to sleep, she wanted to nurse. She was feeding every thirty to ninety minutes, more often than when she was a newborn. It had started when she started teething, at 10 weeks old. Nursing made her mouth feel better, and she became a boob addict. I was a first time mom and didn’t recognize that she was soothing herself, not hungry. (Ten weeks is really early to teethe, how was I supposed to know?) At five months, the separation anxiety kicked in and it got worse. At six months, Samantha came to our bed. I slept, shirt up, freezing, with a baby attached to me for three months. I was mostly awake during that time because she was a restless, noisy sleeper, and I am a light sleeper. Not a good combo. And heaven forbid she wasn’t in direct physical contact with me for even a minute. She would fuss and scream until I pulled her close and shoved a boob in her mouth.
I was not coping well on that prolonged sleep deprivation. For everyone’s sake, she had to sleep through the night. We tried everything we could to gently get her back to sleep on her own. Nothing worked. So we resorted to the gradual cry it out. The method where you go back in five minutes, then ten minutes, then fifteen, until they put themselves to sleep. It was horrible. She vomited a couple of nights from crying so hard. When she did finally manage to put herself to sleep, it was after two hours of crying (both her and me), and she fell asleep sitting up, holding onto the rails of her crib like a little prisoner. Broke my heart.
With Ella, I was diligent. She also was not a comfort nurser, so that was easier. She never once in her entire life (well, maybe up until she was two weeks old) fell asleep nursing. She was always awake when I laid her down. However, she also began waking frequently at night around five months old. I nipped that in the bud. A few nights of going in her room and singing without lifting her up and she stopped the night time waking. Then it happened again around nine months. She wouldn’t go to bed. We did the same cry it out method we used on Samantha. Ella only cried for ten minutes before putting herself to sleep.
Well, Penny is at that five month point where she’s waking a lot more at night. And I’m at that sleep deprived post-partum point where that is just not going to work. So, now I’m going in her room at night, stroking her hair and singing. Hopefully it will be just a few more nights and she’ll be back on track. Then I just have to wait for then nine month sleep issues.