For whatever reason, the whole sleep thing is the one parenting hurdle that I have yet to master. Parker spent 2 years in our bed, then we spent almost 2 years in his before we got smart and put Nona in his room as a stand in. While we are determined to not follow the same road with Lexi, I can see how easy it would be to keep taking the path of least resistance in the sleep department.
Here’s my dilemma. I fall firmly in the camp that believes newborns should not be separated from their mothers. For me, it just felt wrong to have my babies anywhere but next to me at night. I slept better with one hand on them, they slept better sensing me near and the fact that it made the night feedings easier was a bonus. The problem is that I’m not sure where that evolutionary codependency ends. I mean, 10 months ago, Lexi was just a helpless pod baby without any sense of object permanence or socialization. Now, she’s starting to talk, understands that I’m still around even if she can’t see me and she’s >this close< to walking. At this point, I think that she’s nursing to sleep out of habit, not necessity. Plus, she’s no longer sleeping well, which means that I’m no longer sleeping well and the last handful of nights have been a cycle of her waking me up, then me waking her up, then both of us waking the Irishman up. It hasn’t been pretty. Here’s the problem: while my gut is telling me that she’s probably ready to make the transition to her own bed, I have such a problem with letting her cry and then are bound to be tears aplenty when she’s ousted from our bed.
Just to be clear, I’m okay with her fussing or grunting her displeasure. But little Miss Lexi doesn’t fuss in her crib, she cries, then screams, then is entirely inconsolable. It’s a heartbreaking cry complete with big alligator tears and that breath-holding pause that signals a wail is about to follow. In the past, she’s only done this for all of 60 seconds before either the Irishman or I scoops her up before we wallow in a massive amount of parental guilt for letting her cry even that long. I know what you’re thinking. At this rate, we’re hopeless. Yesterday, I would have agreed with you. Today, I have a plan….or at least the start of a plan.
After two successful naps in her crib today, I know that I can lay her down when she’s already sleeping and that she’ll stay asleep for at least 45 minutes. The plan is to keep that up for bedtime, too, until she is sleeping at least the first stretch in her crib. Since her crib has been only decorative up until this point, any time in her crib is an improvement. Once she wakes, we’ll try to pat and shhhh her back to sleep. If this doesn’t work, we’ll pick her up, rock her and then attempt to lay her back down. Rinse and repeat until we either collapse from exhaustion or until it’s morning. We should probably plan on taking shifts.
Phase two of the not yet tested sleep plan is to lay her down nearly asleep, but to allow her to fall asleep on her own (thanks for the suggestion Liv and Amber!). Phase three, the final phase, will be to lay her down sleepy and let her do her thing. My major problem with this plan is that she still nurses at night and I’m not sure if simultaneously night-weaning and transitioning her to a new sleep environment at the same time is the best idea. Or maybe it is. Ack! I wish there was a manual that came with these babies!
For the next several weeks, I have a feeling that I’ll be consumed with this sleep thing. Dear Lord, I hope I’m wrong. I know that one day, our sweet baby girl will sleep all by herself for the entire night, I just don’t know if that night is in the near future or closer to her 16th birthday.
So, wish me luck, send up a few prayers if that’s your thing and let’s all hope that this process is as painless for Lexi as possible because it majorly hurts my heart to see her distressed.