Try not to resent me while I go ahead and brag about my kid while I still can. Little Miss Sophie sleeps through the night. You heard me right. That wasn’t a typo. My 4 month old sleeps through the night. Now, believe me when I say I am fully aware that this could change in the blink of an eye (and it has). This is precisely why I am enjoying it while it lasts. After all, it was a journey to get to this point.
Phase 1: Co-sleeping (AKA: no sleeping)
In the beginning, my husband and I set up our Pack n’ Play with attached bassinet in our guest bedroom where I’d be sleeping with baby. Although I use the term “sleeping”, baby and I were certainly not doing much of that on those first few nights home. During the day, she slept just fine. In fact, I would have to wake her every 3 hours to make sure she was nursing enough. But nights? Ha! Nights were torture. Between all of the cluster feedings and just wanting to be held, I couldn’t get her to sleep in that bassinet for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Thank goodness I didn’t splurge on getting an additional stand-alone one or I’d have been sorry. I was exhausted, especially since I was recovering from a C-section. It felt like there was no end in sight.
Phase 2: Bed-sharing
It took a couple of weeks of shushing, rocking, swinging, swaddling, noise machines, and projectors for me to finally turn to one of my online mommy support groups for help. One woman suggested that I try side-nursing to give myself some rest. It looked awkward and was admittedly difficult at first, but once I got the hang of it, my over-fatigued body was thanking me. Still, side-nursing didn’t solve ALL of our problems. It actually forced me to do something that I swore I would never do: bed-share. Full disclosure: though bed-sharing isn’t recommended, there are ways to make doing so as safe as possible (which is obviously what we did). Bed-sharing literally saved my life and my sanity. At a little under a month, Sophie went from sleeping in half hour spurts to 4-hour stretches … then 5 hour stretches … then even 6 on some nights. Before I get berated by any sanctimommies, my pediatrician was completely fine with her sleeping this long as she was 1) nursing at least 8 times a day, 2) gaining weight, and 3) making plenty of pee pee and poopy diapers. Though I was finally getting some rest and I loved having her so close each and every night, I knew this couldn’t continue forever … especially since I had planned to move back upstairs into my own bed with hubby and he’s an unpredictable sleeper.
Phase 3: Co-sleeping (again)
At the 2 month mark, we both moved upstairs with daddy. I was back in my bed and since she outgrew the bassinet, she slept in the upper level of her Pack n’ Play next to me. Oddly enough, she went from bed-sharing back to co-sleeping with ease! She had absolutely no issues being back in her own space. But of course, we had a new obstacle to tackle. Our bed makes a ton of noise and daddy is a “mover and shaker” when he sleeps. If he wasn’t waking baby up, baby was waking him up. It was an absolute nightmare. As much as I wanted to keep her in our room, there was no way it would work for all three of us. I had two options: 1) move back downstairs with her or 2) transition her to her crib. I went with the latter.
Phase 4: The Crib
After only a week of being in our room, Sophie was sleeping in her own crib in her own room right next door to ours. If I’m being honest, this transition was a lot harder on me than it was on her. In fact, you wouldn’t know that she had never slept in a crib before. Within days, she began sleeping so soundly that she started dropping some of her night feedings. Eventually, we only woke up once every night (around 4:00 am) to nurse! I didn’t think things could get any better … until they did!
Phase 5: Sleeping Through The Night
The day before the 3-month mark, I woke up at 7:30 am in shock because the baby didn’t wake up for her usual dream feed. Naturally, I ran into her room to make sure she was still breathing. #mommyproblems All was well and she had just slept through the night for the very first time. I chalked it up to a fluke and thanked my lucky stars for one night of uninterrupted rest. Oddly enough, it happened again the following night, and then again the next. My baby was officially sleeping through the night—anywhere from 10-12 hours! Nobody believed me. She didn’t cry it out. We didn’t “sleep train”. It happened organically and without force. On top of this, she was still taking 2-3 naps a day lasting anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. This heavenly bliss lasted for nearly an entire month.
Phase 6: The 4-Month Sleep Regression
Luckily, I did a lot of readings during my pregnancy so I knew to expect sleep regressions at 4, 8, and 12 months (and beyond). Still, for whatever reason, in my delusional mind, I thought it wouldn’t happen to us. The joke was on me when just before 4 months, Sophie began waking up 5-6 times a night for a solid 4 days. Even putting her down for just one nap was mission impossible. I didn’t understand how she was functioning with such little sleep (or how I was for that matter). I couldn’t do anything except pray that it would end soon. I was at my wits’ end. Oddly enough, it was just those 4 nights that were rough. After those hellish days, she went back to waking only once for a dream feed—not the best thing ever, but certainly better than waking a handful of times each night.
Phase 7: Over The Hump
After a couple of days, things changed all over again … for the better at least. She is now sleeping through the night once again, averaging about 9-10 hours (man, I miss those 12-hour ones). Our nighttime/bath routine starts around 7:30 pm. She nurses to sleep and is in bed by 8:30 pm. Most nights she will wake up around 9:30 pm to be “topped off” and then she’ll sleep straight through until about 8:30 am. She has also added another 45-minute nap to her routine for a total of 4 naps. This new schedule really allows me to get more things done throughout the day. Then again, she’s also more active when she’s awake so I still have my hands full! In addition, she started nursing prior to napping as well which she has never needed to do before. Between that and all of her new activity, I think this is why she’s starting to nap and sleep more regularly—because, you know, infants are, like, super busy. 🙂
I love sharing my experiences as a new mommy: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the adorable. It’s a lot of fun for me and—I guess if you’re reading this—for you as well! I want to end this entry with my humble opinion about “sleep training”. I don’t want to come off as a sanctimonious jerk, but since this is my personal space, I’d like to share what I believe.
Even on the worst of nights, I could never let Sophie cry it out. I know CIO and the Ferber method have been around for years. I know that they are methods that are “proven” to work. Even still, these methods are not for me. They never will be. If she wants to be held, comforted, and loved then I will always hold, comfort, and love her. I’d rather be exhausted to the brink of death rather than “training” my little one to think that I won’t come for her when she needs me. I will go back to co-sleeping if she needs it. When she’s bigger, I will go back to bed-sharing if she needs it. My husband completely supports me. We will do whatever it takes to keep our little love happy and secure. You guys know that I always say, “You have to do what works for you and your family” and I sincerely stand by that. This is what works for us.