For the last week, E has been waking up only once or twice during the night. It's been an amazing change.
I've talked numerous times to other moms about our sleeping issues. I heard everything from "Consider crying it out." to "It won't be like this forever, enjoy the snuggles when she wakes up." In reality it's not that black and white. What was I supposed to do? I wasn't going to accept those answers.
We don't necessarily think cry it out is awful ::gasp:: but it's not for our family.
Yes, I love my daughter's snuggles. She is a great snuggler. She loves to snuggle and nurse so much that she was waking up 5-6 times (sometimes 7!) through the night. I was completely exhausted. I wasn't enjoying anything about that.
Not getting enough sleep really took a toll on me. Luckily, M isn't working too much right now, so he would get up with her in the mornings and I could get a solid 2 hours of sleep. Really, though, 2 hours straight of sleep wasn't ideal. As much as little ones need their sleep, mommies need theirs too.
I noticed the mornings where she woke up a lot the night before I would be irritated, less patient, unhappy, and very, very moody. I felt like a teenager going through puberty. Not only were my hormones coming back in balance, but I was so over-tired.
I noticed E was over-tired too. I'm sure she didn't want to wake up all those times, but the poor girl wanted to nurse and snuggle. Who was I do deprive her of that? When I want to eat, I eat. I want to give her that, but really I was burnt out.
I started reading everything on "High Needs" babies. As we all now, E is a high needs baby. I of course, again, love Dr. Sears. The first step was to understand why she was sleeping differently that other babies. After the why, it was okay now, how can I help her? I didn't need to her to sleep through the night, I just needed her to wake less often, so I in return could get some sleep to be the best mom I can be.
It became really overwhelming trying different ways. This my friends, is such a gray area. We all know each child is different. You can try everything, every expert tells you to try, but you have to end up doing what's best for you and your baby. Nothing was working so at her 1 year check-up I finally broke down and asked what do I do? My pediatrician gave me a few options. He agreed that 5-6 times a night was a lot, and was too much for her age. "Try giving her a snack before bed that's high in protein." He suggested. In my head I'm thinking, yeah okay, like that will work. She goes to bed an hour and half after dinner, so I never thought about giving her a snack.
That night I decided to give her a snack high in protein. (just the leftover meat from dinner) She ate a handful of beef while we did out night time play, then off to bed she went at about 7:00/7:30pm. about 3 hours go by and she still wasn't awake. Usually she wakes up 3 hours after she goes to bed. I decided to doze off to sleep. I hear a cry and wake up at 3am. 3am? Did that really just happen? She slept till 3 am? I nursed her, preparing myself for her to be up a few times later on. She woke up at 6:30am. I was in shock.
A week later, she has only had one night where she woke up 3 times. We are nursing happily 1-2 times a night, and we are all finally getting the sleep we all needed.