I desperately need some sleep! Since Emma hit the 4 month mark, she hasn't slept through a single night. She slept 10-11 hours straight most nights from 2-4 months of age and suddenly stopped! WTF???
After about 6 weeks of this, Ryan and I decided we needed to research our options. We're perfectly fine with her waking up 1-3 times per night but she's up 6-10 times per night right now which is just not okay for any of us. We have a great routine during the day and loosely followed the EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep) schedule to get her accustomed to a routine. She naps fairly well most days and we know she's perfectly capable of sleeping through the night so why doesn't she???
Around the 4 month mark, Emma started sitting, she cut her first tooth, and rolled from her back to her front. Many development theories indicate the sleep is disrupted when milestones occur. My theory is that this onslaught of development caused Emma to stop her great overnight sleep habits. After the couple of weeks of adjusting to her new skills (and tooth!) she had simply forgotten how to get herself to sleep all night on her own. She wakes up every 1-3 hours now. All. Night. Long.
I typically nurse her back to sleep. It takes about 9 minutes and works almost every time. The problem with this is that I'm reinforcing her belief that she needs me to fall asleep! So when she stirs and wakes up a little, realizing that she's not in my arms nursing anymore, she calls for me to come back. We really need to work on this.
Here's what we've done so far... When I put her down for the night, I nurse her till she's comfy and relaxed and has a full tummy. Then, I lay her down in her crib. She sometimes lets out a single cry of protest. I give her the paci (if she wants it), say "shhhh", and she turns her head and closes her eyes. I leave the room and that's that! She basically puts herself to sleep. So why in the world can't she put herself BACK to sleep during the night? Oy...
Ryan tries to get up with her if it's been less than 3 hours since she last woke. That way, she's not being nursed every time. It's hard for me to make him get up with her though! First of all, I'm the lighter sleeper so I wake up first anyway. Second, it's my job to stay home with her all day whereas Ryan has to produce back to back radio shows every afternoon. I feel like, if one of us has to be drained all day, I guess I'd rather it be me. Does that make me a martyr? Maybe. I also feel like it makes me realistic. We decided to have a baby. Having a baby means not sleeping, for like 18 years, right?
People have said that letting your baby "cry it out" is easier than you'd think. Honestly, I know too much about the chemicals of the brain and the development of attachment to let Emma cry it out right now. The release of Cortisol (while crying) sets her up for disturbed sleep, excessive hunger during the day and night, and obesity later in life. Plus, when Emma cries, all I see are red eyes, big tears rolling down her cheeks, and desperate hands reaching out for me to hold her and tell her that I'm there for her and everything is alright. As her mother, it's my job to do that.
So, for the time being, we're not getting much sleep. We're working on it slowly since we're against the cry it out approach but slow progress is better than no progress. Plus, Emma is cutting another tooth and is thisclose to crawling and pulling herself up from sitting to standing so I know we're dealing with some developmental sleep disturbances in the meantime! I'm maintaining and attitude of patience and perseverance with the knowledge that I have to go with my gut and do what I think is best for my daughter, right now and always.