Who would have thought that such little hands and toes would make you feel more love than you have ever felt, more worry than you sometimes think you can handle, more guilt that you didn't think was possible, and so much joy you think your heart is going to explode. I find myself everyday staring at my daughter, usually in amazement at how quickly she is developing and the sense of humor that is coming out, but sometimes I look at her and am scared shitless. How have we made it to 9 months? There were times that I thought I wasn't going to make it to the next day. There were times that I thought I was all alone in my worrying and guilt. But thanks to the internet and great friends, I learned that I am not alone and we are all just making it day by day. Most of us have no clue what we are doing, and for what it is worth, that makes me feel so much better. I know that there are going to be tough days, there are going to be more times where I will feel like I am a complete crazy person, I mean even on my good days I feel like a crazy person. There are going to be more sleepless nights, ear infections, teething pain, but I will make it through. WE will all make it through!
Sleep. There have been countless books, methods, and opinions on how to get your baby to sleep. I think I have read about them all. And, not one helped us. The only thing they did do was overwhelm me and made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Delilah has never been a great sleeper. Even after she was born, when babies usually have 24-48 hours of nothing but sleep, Delilah didn't sleep. I was always one of those people who needed, at the absolute minimum 8 hours of sleep in order to function and not be an asshole. But hey, everything else in my life had changed, so I was going to have to adapt to getting less sleep at night, no problem! In between when she was born and 8 months, the longest stretch she ever slept was 5 hours. Mostly she was up every 3 hours. She slept in her Rock N Play for 6 months next to our bed. When she would get up I would nurse her next to me laying down, and then put her in the Rock N Play, and dutifully rock her until she was asleep again. Some nights were easier than others and some nights were absolutely painful. She didn't like to lay on her back, she would only sleep for an hour on her tummy in her crib, she woke up at the slightest noise, it was terrible.
One night, I was rocking her to sleep, and the Rock N Play started squeaking. I was on the verge of tears because even the faintest noise would interfere with her falling asleep, and then the craziest thing happened, that squeak relaxed her, stopped her from crying and put her to sleep! Needless to say, I "squeaked" her to sleep for months until she outgrew the Rock N Play.
I had started putting her in her room for naps, so she would get used to being in there, but getting her to stay asleep once I put her down was nearly impossible. I think I would have had better luck finding a unicorn to ride to the grocery store. I would nurse her for 30 minutes, rock for an additional 10, lift up her arm and see if it dropped (something I read about, if her arm falls with no muscle movement, she's asleep), get up and continue to bounce, then very slowly and ninja-like place her down on her belly, and then….. NOPE, head is up and she's awake, back to repeating the 40 minute nurse/rock/ninja routine. Once I would finally get her in her crib, she would sleep….for about 30 minutes. My life consisted of nursing and trying to keep my daughter asleep. That was all fine until, around 8 months she started waking up every 2 hours. I was getting no sleep. Like none. There were nights she was crying, I was crying, and my husband looking horrified.
We decided to let her cry it out. I really don't like using that phrase, it is so negative sounding, and anytime you say it to someone, you get that look, that "how could you let your precious baby cry, you are terrible" look. I was at the end of my rope, I couldn't remember a thing, and I was definitely being an asshole, to everyone. Especially my husband. We had tried it around 6 months, but after 15 minutes, I could not do it, she was crying too much and it didn't feel right. I was skeptical to try it again but I feel like we had no other choice. The fate of my marriage and sanity depended on it. The first night she cried for about 2 hours. Not straight, don't get worried! There were moments of playing, frustration, and being tired. It was hard. But not unbearable like the first time we tried it. It was reaching 9:00 pm, that was the time I was going to get her if she wasn't asleep, and at 9:02 pm, she was out. That night she woke up at 1:00 am, then 5:00 am, and up for the day at 7:30 am.
It took about two weeks to get everything situated and for her to get used to the new routine. The second night she cried for about 1 1/2 hours, woke up at 4:30 am, and up for the day at 7:30 am. She slept for 7 hours straight! The third night was about the same. We were seeing improvement in her sleeping, but the crying was still lasting a while. I read and had friends that said it only took 3 days for them to stop crying. It was great she was sleeping, but at the cost of crying for over an hour? I didn't think I was going to make it much longer. But right when I was just about to throw in the towel, I was able one night to put her in her crib after nursing, and she put herself to sleep, no crying. And it continued. It was amazing! A miracle! Not only was I finally getting more sleep, but I also wasn't spending the majority of my day nursing her, and on top of all that, she wasn't crying anymore!
Naps were more difficult, but I never let it go longer than an hour, and it never went longer than an hour. I would nurse her to sleep-ish, and after she was done nursing, whether or not she was asleep, I would lay her down, and it has gotten to now she will fall asleep on her own! Now, I lay her down, she plays, and then she sleeps :)
Life was good. And then the ear infection happened…. we went back to waking up every 2 hours and crying when I put her in her crib. I did NOT let her cry during the ear infection, I couldn't do it. She also spent a night sleeping on me, it was the only way I could get her to sleep. So, last week was pretty much like old times, not to mention traveling for Easter. But yesterday after 8 days of antibiotics, and an obvious recovery, she only fussed for 10 minutes, and was then asleep! She also napped for 2 hours. As of now, she goes to bed around 8 pm, wakes up around 4 - 5 am to nurse, and then is up for the day at 7:30 am. Fine by me ;)
I have given up the thought of ever sleeping longer than 7 hours, and have learned to function during the day on much less. I never thought I would be able to do CIO, but I feel as though I had no choice. I know all of Delilah's bad sleep habits were caused by me, and with the next baby I am going to try to stop them before it gets as bad as it did. I followed my instincts and listened to my gut. If Delilah was in pain or was hungry, I obviously would not let her cry. There is a point when you can hear a cry and know if it is out of frustration or an actual need. Anyways, this was a long post but I wanted to share our story.
I'm not sure if it make a difference, but we use this noise machine and Delilah has a blanket, we call Fuzzy, that goes with her everywhere. We also keep a small pillow, a stuffed bunny, and this seahorse, in her crib so she has something to play with.
"Sleeps like a baby" (Yeah, right.)