Let’s be clear from the outset. I am a wimp. I love my sleep. The last time I managed several consecutive late nights* I was about 21 (I am 30 something now) and I still needed to make up for it with mammoth lie-ins. By the time I was 25, I needed to nap the afternoon before a big night out. So you can imagine how the sleep deprivation of a newborn hit me. Hard. Like a smack in the face.
You do get used to it, though. I never really believed that before, but hey – you have to. And of course the rewards are worth it. To put it in perspective, I would rather be without sleep than without Mushroom.
When he was little, I breastfed Mushroom to sleep whenever he needed it. It worked, and that magic hormone, prolactin, also helped me get back to sleep. As he got older, the health visitors (among others), told me that I should start waking him up before I put him down, to teach him to put himself to sleep. I nodded and smiled. And ignored them. Wake a sleeping baby? Madness. I would sooner return to a lit firework. Besides, he only woke three times a night (apart from during growth spurts) which, with me going to bed early, was quite manageable.
Then the ten month growth spurt kicked in (he was weaned onto bottles by this time, nursing only at night) and all bets were off. After a crazy month I decided to give sleep training a go. I started with cry-it-out (CIO) with disastrous consequences. He cried for an hour, became increasingly distressed and vomited everywhere. The Health Visitor had said not to comfort him if this happened. Yeah right, ok. Of course I comforted him! He finally went to sleep after a few hours. The next night he cried as we headed up for bathtime and I worried I had created a fear of bedtime so I overcompensated for a few nights with extra cuddles, and vowed never to do CIO again. It helped that shortly afterwards I heard from other mums who had been evangelical about how CIO had worked for them, that it had only worked temporarily for most.
A week or so after the CIO disaster, I tried a variation on one of the no-cry sleep training techniques (I can’t remember whose, its possible I made something up based on Dr Sears’ advice) with some success. I had to wait until Mushroom was almost asleep before putting him down and then hold his hand for a while, but it’s still progress. Some days this still works but throw a cold, a new developmental milestone, or teething into the mix and we’re back to sitting in the rocking chair for 20 minutes til he’s in a deep sleep.
Anyway, as I said. You get used to it. Mushroom is now a year old and I am thinking it might soon be time to change things, starting with weaning him from night nursing. This may or may not reduce the number of times he wakes. We shall see. I hear that a lot of babies start sleeping better when they start walking so I am holding on to that. In the meantime, I still refuse to let him CIO again so we will find our own way, as whatever the health visitors say, all babies are NOT the same.
I will let you know if/when we get any breakthroughs in the sleep department. Please do share your stories/frustrations below!
*Late night pre Mushroom = After 11.30pm.
Late night post Mushroom = After 9.30pm