26 February 2010

The Miracles Continue

That's right. She did it again. 12 hours of sleep.

Part of the reason this is so strange is because Daphne has never, ever, EVER dropped a night waking on her own. I read the books about feeding your baby every 3 hours from day one and then eventually they start dropping the times they wake up at night. Well, thank you books for getting my hopes up, because the only thing feeding Daphne every 3 hours accomplished was that Daphne wanted to eat every 3 hours around the clock for the rest of her life. Finally around 7 or 8 months I decided she did not still need to wake up every 3 hours to eat, so I cut out the 9PM and 3AM feedings.

Please don't judge me for using the "cry it out" method. Believe me, I tried the other more gentle ways first. That trick where instead of giving them the bottle you sneakily give them the pacifier? Yeah, I'm pretty sure she grabbed that pacifier and threw it at my head. And then there's going in and holding them but not giving a bottle. Or gradually lowering the amount of milk you feed them at the nighttime feedings until they are down to nothing. Also not met with great amounts of enthusiasm.

I especially liked this trick for the children like Daphne who awaken at the exact same time every night: If they usually wake at 9, go in at 8 and get them to stir just a bit. You don't want them to wake up all the way, just enough so that they think they woke up and then they won't wake up at their usual time. Riiiiiight. So instead of waking 3 times a night she was up 6. Good one.

After months of no improvement, I finally felt like I had to let her cry. I'm not a huge advocate of crying it out before a baby is 3 or 4 months old because I don't feel like they understand why you're not helping them. But 7 or 8 months? I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted Daphne to sleep. And I feel like it's important to nip sleep problems in the bud as early as possible. You don't want to be dealing with these issues during the toddler years when they are no longer confined to a crib and can get up to sneak into the pantry and smear peanut butter all over the walls.

She cried for hours and hours and hours, but after a week or two I finally got her down to 1 feeding a night. She still occasionally wakes around 9 and will be awake for several hours some nights, but she's fine just hanging out in her bed. And she still loves me so I don't think I did any lasting damage by leaving her to cry. I guess those issues will come up when she's in therapy in 20 years.

So, you see how it is so miraculous that all on her own she hasn't awakened for her 1 feeding. And I realize it's only been 2 nights, but at least I know she is thinking about being ready to sleep all night long.

Maybe there is something to letting a child be completely ready to drop his or her own feedings on his or her own terms. There is such pressure to have your baby sleeping through the night as early as possible...but I would have loved to have her drop feedings without the hours of crying that we went through. (Remember that David is gone at night, right? Listening to your baby cry while you have no one to go through it with you really stinks.) At the same time, I was not doing well sleeping in 2 hour chunks for all those months. It was very hard to function. So how do you balance doing what your baby needs you to do with doing what you need to do to function as a human being? I have no idea. Drugs? Drinking?

I think praying. Lots and lots of praying. And when you feel like you can't do it anymore, you squeeze her a little tighter because you know life would be horrible without her, and you know that someday you'll look back and miss the time when she depended on you so much.


Paige said...

so true!

Serwa Chic said...

We had to do cry it out after trying just about every other method I could think of. Every other method resulted in Jude screaming, and I eventually decided that he could either scream in my arms (devastating me), or he could scream in his crib.

I admire you so much for making it so long with minimal sleep. I'll be praying that Daphne keeps this up!

Lacee said...

Yay Daphne!
Ryder never dropped any feedings on his own either. We use the Ferber Method and it works great! I know all babies are different though.

Your blog is great by the way :)

Kendra said...

YAY!!! That is so awesome Melissa! Here's hoping she continues, at least most nights, to sleep! I bet you feel like a new woman! I know with Levi we tried to pay attention to his cues too and when he would let us know he was ready for a transition and that worked well mostly. I totally understand and sympathize with letting her cry it out and hanging in there - it's SO, SO hard. And no, you haven't scarred her! :D