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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sleep, finally

Annika finally slept all the way through the night last night. Night weaning is a success!

Getting to this point was not easy for us. I spent the better part of her first year trying to figure out how to "get" her to sleep. I never had any intentions of sleep training, but I kept hoping that if all the stars were aligned and all our ducks stayed in a row, she would sleep better.

I finally realized that it was a matter of maturity (Her's, not mine, I'm still pretty immature.)

I wasn't ever planning on night weaning. I hoped that she would just eventually start sleeping in longer and longer chunks and that would smooth the way toward her sleeping through the night.

I've heard stories of children who do this. I'm sure she would have... eventually. But I have also heard stories of children who are still night nursing at 3. I had a feeling Annika would be one of those children, if I didn't do something about it.

In order to figure out what I needed to do about our sleep struggles I turned to my trusty reporter skills and started asking questions. 

Over the past several months, I've asked every mom I know about their nursing and sleeping habits. I've found plenty of similarities but it is true that babies' sleep tendencies vary pretty widely. 

I've heard ragingly successful stories of babies who sleep through the night before six months or before a year. I don't believe people who say it "just happened." That could just be the cynic in me, but I really don't believe it.

I've also heard horror stories of trying to night wean a child who has the capability of full sentence structure and logic.

After reading as much as I could online about attached parents who co-sleep and night nurse and talking to as many moms as I could get my hands on, I came to the conclusion that some time around the age of 18 months would be a good time to night wean and if I didn't do it then, I could settle myself in for another year and a half of being woken up at night.

In case you're new to my blog, I don't handle night waking well and I am so surprised I lasted this long.

I am embarrassed to say that in a deliriously sleep deprived and pissed off state of mind I tried (unsuccessfully) to night wean around 8 months. What a disaster! She cried. I cried. It only lasted a couple of nights and I gave up, realizing that neither we were not ready for it.

After that I slowly accepted that my life was never going to be the same. I gave up on the idea that I was going to be able to get up and putter around for a few hours after Annika went to bed and then sleep through the night. That just wasn't my life anymore, at least not for a while.

So I waited. I commiserated with other moms. I thought about night weaning. I debated. I decided not to do it. I really wanted to wait it out and let Annika guide herself toward her own natural sleep rhythm.

Then I thought about it some more.

And I thought about it. 

The truth is, I'll admit it. I'm weak. I'm tired.

Plus, I need to prepare her for spending the night away from me. It won't be long before she'll be spending some nights with Toyin and I'd like for that to go as smoothly as possible. It will be easier on both of them if she can just go to sleep and stay asleep. And I'll sleep better knowing that she won't wake up looking for me in the middle of the night.

So I bit the bullet and over the week of Christmas I began what I thought would be a torturous process.

Once again, I was wrong. Happily, surprisingly, it was easy. The first night was the worst. She cried off and on for about an hour when she awoke and I reminded her that we were not going to nurse at night any more. One night she asked for food and I gave her some yogurt. Then over the course of the last few weeks she's still woken up, but gone back to sleep pretty easily with hugs and drinks of water on most nights.

And now, she's sleeping like a baby. Finally.

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