I've been wanting to write on this forum for a while but now feel like we've experimented every avenue and some of your experiences might help us.
DS turned 1 a few weeks back.
We coslept for the first 3-4 months and this was a great experience. He was swaddled and therefore didn't move much at night. Both my husband and I loved cosleeping and we all slept fairly well (as well as you can sleep with a newborn ). Our intention had always been to cosleep in the beginning and slowly transition him to his crib.
At around 4 months, he was moving more in his sleep. Before four months, we always went to sleep when he did and were starting to want a bit of time on our own at night. So he starting sleeping the beginning of the night in his crib. He'd wake at 12 or so and spend the rest of the night in our bed. This arrangment was ok although we weren't sleeping as well. DS would wake to nurse every 1,2,3 hours. We were starting to feel the effects of accumulated fatigue but weren't committed to changing things too much as we were still ok with it.
Over the months we tried different techniques to either try to get him to skip a feeding and experimented with getting DS to fall asleep on his own. We'd start making progress and then somehow get tired give in and end up back where we started.
I've read the no-cry-solution and Dr. Sears books. I think we're too tired to do intensive sleep logging. We've tried and in the morning we just can't remember and in the night our notes are barely comprehensible. I wanted to try a gentle method to helping DS sleep but I feel DS might have too persistant a personality and I'm not sure we're lucid enough in the night to follow such subtle progressions.
For example, in the no-cry-sleep method, there are 6 phases. Well it's been two months and we can't seem to get past phase 2.
Fast forward to him turning 1. I decided once and for all I had to cut out the midnight feeding. I was then totally ready to take him into our bed at 3:30-4 when he woke next to nurse and have him spend the rest of the night in our bed. My goal was to get a 5 hour stretch for me to sleep. I'm reaching exhaustion, as is my husband. I started a new job in December and feel I'm forgetful and am scared that too many mistakes could cause me to loose my job. My husband and I are both stressed and get impatient due to lack of sleep. We don't have the luxury to nap during the day to catch up on our sleep. In short, we could be better parents and spouses if we'd get a bit more sleep.
This is how the night went before trying to cut out his first feeding. He'd go to sleep at 7:30. He'd wake at 11:30-12, I'd nurse him back to sleep. Then between 12-6 or 7, he'd wake anywhere from 2-4 times. So for at least three weeks now we've been pretty consistent with not feeding him at his first waking. He can protest anywhere from on average an hour and a half to last night 3 hours. I finally gave in last night and gave him water with a bit of milk because I was reaching desperation.
With cutting out his first feeding, we have seen some progress, though it's not as quick or smooth as I would have hoped! He has slept 2 or 3 nights for 7 hour periods which is a record! He never slept more than 6 hours before and that was maybe twice when he was under 4 months. In the last 8 months, four hours was his longest stretch. So this new thing of him sleeping 7 hours straight is promising but we'll have that one night and the next will go back to normal with him crying on and off for 1.5 hours. Normally I'll go into his room and try to comfort him without taking him from his crib. But if he's crying too much I'll hold him, rock him, etc. We have lullaby CD and a special teddy bear. So I can spend an hour or more trying to get him to go back to sleep. He'll be asleep and then when I put him back in his crib, he starts crying. I can be super patient and loving for an hour or so but I can't be so for three hours in the middle of the night. My husband and I takes turns but it seems some nights nothing will work. We lay down on a futon with him as well sometimes.
I never wanted to do CIO but with the lure of longer sleep we have tried it. We didn't achieve what others seem to achieve in 3 nights. DS shows a lot more protest than some other babies seem to. I mean we never did CIO full out because we've always been ok with brining him into our bed at an hour we deem acceptable (3:30 or 4 am). At this age, he could almost always be teething so on bad nights we wonder whether he's teething.
Just a note, that DS is a healthy 1 year old with no health problems. He uses a soother at naps and bedtime.
Sorry for the long post but I just wanted the whole history of his sleep habits to be clear. I wish we could hire a sleep consultant because I feel lost right now. I worry that he's not getting the sleep he needs by being up for these long protesting periods in the night. And also, he's been really into pulling my hair so cosleeping has become quite uncomfortable for me. He just constantly pulls at my hair. I love having a peacefuly sleeping baby in my bed but that only seems to be a small % of the night. Besides that, just being in our bed doesn't seem to be a sure-fire way to settle him anymore.
Do you think these 2-3 nights of 7 hour sleep is a sign we're making progress? Progress of course being of our goal for him to sleep between 7:30-3:30/4?
Thanks in advance for any replies!