Well...sister had other plans. For the past few months we've been struggling to get her to spend more of the night in her own crib, because we had become increasingly aware that she just wasn't sleeping well between us anymore. We loved (still do!) having her there with us at night, but we started to realize that none of us was getting good sleep together anymore. She tossed, she turned, she woke and "nursed" which usually ended with biting me, she woke up fully sometimes and wanted to play, pinch faces/arms, kicked us in the sides, rolled about and generally wreaked havoc on our peaceful (ha) sleeping space. Needless to say, the nights were the opposite of restful, for all three of us.
So, we started to reign in the bedtime routine, stuck to a bedtime give or take 20 minutes or so, and the beginning stretch of the night was getting better. But then, the waking started. She would wake anywhere from 2-4 times between 11 PM and 5 AM, and it was time to make some more changes.
One night last week, after being asleep only about 2 hours, she woke up around 10:30 and just would.not.fall.back.asleep. We rocked, we sang songs, we read a book, we swayed back and forth, Matt took over and we thought maybe she had a tummy ache/earache/teething...so we brought her into our bed to cuddle and hopefully sleep. She cried and carried on there, too, and then, stopped, looked back and forth between us, as if to see if we were paying attention, and started up again! We realized that she was absolutely playing us, and it was decided that it was time to dig in our heels and try to let her "cry it out".
Now, you all probably know how much I HATED the idea of letting her cry. It felt against all of the knowledge I have about child development, attachment, nighttime parenting, and mama intuition, and yet, I felt as though all of the things that did feel right just were not working for Norah. So, Matt and I looked each other in the eyes, said we were in it together, and would stick it out, and that we loved each other and loved her and this was the right thing to do. I took her to her crib, laid her down with a hug and kiss, and went to sit in the chair in her room while she worked it out.
And. She. Screamed. and Screamed. I occasionally reminded her that I was there, I loved her, and would try to pat her or give her hugs, but she was ever-loving pissed and none of my soothing helped any at that point. For an hour and 15 minutes, she screamed, until she dissolved into a pathetic lump of hiccuping exhaustion in the corner of her crib. That was the moment in the whole debacle when I finally cried, because I felt so terrible that I had just let her go through that in order to fall asleep. I tiptoed out of the room, and she slept from about midnight until 3 am, and then we started the whole thing all over. It was a long night.
But the next night went slightly better, and the night after that was better still. The past 3 nights, she has slept in her own crib without any wake-ups from 8ish-5ish! I'd call that progress! There are still occasionally times she will wake up and cry out once or twice, but she settles herself quickly and is out again before we would even go in. As much as I hate that this was the way we had to do it and I still hate any minutes she has to cry without us there comforting her, her sleep and ours is so much better now than it has ever been.
The other thing is that just prior to this decision, Norah weaned herself entirely. She just stopped wanting to nurse, during the day, during the night, at bedtime. If I offered, she bit me, and hard. So, I stopped offering unless she was practically asleep, and tried to continue pumping, but that was pretty pointless pretty quickly. I even tried offering after a few days without, and she couldn't have been bothered to even consider it! It was really a lot harder on me to be done than I had anticipated, and maybe it's because she made the decision for herself. It wasn't something I chose to do when I thought we were both ready. I'm glad she did it herself, because I'm sure it was MUCH easier (physically, at least) that way, but a little part of me stings with the notion that my baby no longer needs me in that very physical way anymore. I had intended to nurse her until at least her first birthday, but we are pretty darn close and I know that she has benefitted from every day we did nurse. Still, those pangs of "my baby, where have you gone?" still rise up and bite me more often than I thought they would. I love every minute of watching her grow, but it's so hard to let go of those things that signify babyhood, too. And in fact, just as I am writing this, I read this post, which tells me I am far from alone with feeling this way, so there's that.
So, that's where we are with sleep. I'm hoping that things stay stable here for a little while, but I know that there is always going to be something that throws things off just as soon as you strike a rhythm with kids, so I won't get toooo comfortable here just yet ;)