What (if anything) would you have done differently? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-13-2009, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I've been reading posts on here for a while and I notice so many moms of 8, 12, 18, 24 month old lo's who have similar sleep patterns as my ds (needing to nurse to sleep, sleeping just one sleep cycle at a time, waking to nurse many times at night). My sweet boy is not quite 5 months old and so I know not to expect STTN yet, but would hope that we'd get some longer stretches as time goes on (give or take with teething, developmental milestones, etc.). Right now we are getting 2-3 hours usually, ocasionally 4-5 hour stretches but more frequently 1 hour stretches. It's tolerable, but difficult to imagine doing for over a year!

I've been reading NCSS, among other sleep books and of course I am addicted to MDC! Apparently I'm making my DH crazy with all of my worrying about future sleep concerns. I know I need to relax and let it be what it is, but I do worry about how long I can manage work + home life + personal sanity without some more solid sleep.

My worry is confounded by having many, many friends who do not bedshare or co-sleep (but do breastfeed) and have babies who have been STTN for months (some with lo my son's age!). They have no advice for me that I really want to hear (e.g. CIO, stop co-sleeping). Plus our pediatrician, who is ok with us bedsharing for the most part, mentioned that if we want him to sleep independently and for longer stretches, we should work on that now rather than later when seperation anxiety and other milestones will get in the way. We really like co-sleeping and trying to do the AP thing even though I have to work away from home. I try to stay confident/true to this decision, but it's difficult at times not having other friends who are in the same boat with sleep!! UGH!!

SO, before I put all of the books away and start meditating on letting all of this go, I want to ask those of you who have been here before me....

Would you have tried to do anything differently when your lo was younger to help them sleep longer/without nursing/etc? Should I be doing things like focusing on the PPO or finding other ways to help him self-sooth now?? Do I really need to work on getting him into his own space (in or out of our room) before he is 9 months old? If I don't do these things, am I doomed to years of not sleeping??

I'd also love to hear from other working out of the home moms who bedshare and breastfeed--how did you manage the balance and lack of sleep????

Thanks to you all!
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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Well I have 24 month old son, still sleeping in our bed and nursing all night (or alot). Just around when he reached two years of age he started sleeping for about a 5 hr stretch once a night. I think this is his personal sleep style. He is a light sleeper, needs help getting back to sleep, ect.

What might I have done differently?
Dr. Sears suggests not having the child always fall asleep the same way. One night nurse to sleep, one time walk, bounce ect. Have the father do it. I do think if earlier on we had consistantly worked other methods we would be less tied to this now. I could also take breaks from it and not feel like it's either me or him.

I also might have put him down in his own space to start the night.

What might this have changed?
He would be less dependant on nursing to fall asleep... perhaps my husband could put him down more. When he did wake up he would be used to other methods of falling asleep and either me or my husband could get him back to sleep in other ways. All night nursing lost its appeal to me after about a year... but many nights it was still the easiest way for everyone to get the most sleep. I no longer felt he needed the nutrients every few hours (maybe once a night) but it was habit and a hard habit to break when I was very tired and wanted the easiest way to go back to sleep. Part of this is his own personality. He is VERY strong willed and not easily persuaded by other means. Also the nights we do put him down in his own bed and can cuddle together just me and my hubby till the boy wakes up later are great. They are fantastic.
Yes we can cuddle together on the couch while he is sleeping in our bed, but is nice to now get to start the night (some) with just the two of us together.

BUT! it is also nice at times to have the whole family together in the bed when we wake up, he is so silly and loving in the morning it helps me wake up in a good mood.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:45 PM
 
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What would I do differently? I'm not sure.

Right now, I have a 26 month old co-sleeping, but who we read/cuddle/put to sleep in our shared bed around 7, and then LEAVE there for hours. She sleeps through the night, with the possible exception of waking to pee once, generally about the time WE come to bed (10?), or maybe drink a little water.

Along the way...we dabbled in putting her down in a crib (for the sake of getting time baby-free safely, but in the early months she was very much an attached Moby rider or lap sleeper a LOT of the time. I don't know that I could or would have changed that. We night weaned at 17 months because I was going to lose my mind nursing 2-3 times a night at that point. It seemed to be more habit than need, and with a few nights of me sleeping in another room and Dad providing night soothing, the habit was pretty much broken and we moved on to much better sleep. We stuck with the putting her down and spending a few hours without in the evening pretty much all along the way. The night nursings were hard, but I wanted to nurse on demand at that point. I do think if you're feeling crazy, it's ok to sleep alone and let Dad take care of things, even just for half the night. It can be really amazing the difference some continuous sleep makes for YOU.

Right now, we're working on getting her to fall asleep more independently and cooperatively, but that's a different problem, not one about STTN. Since we've been able to get couples time in another room, I am not feeling too compelled to get her out of "our" bed.

We are still breastfeeding, but I've tried to separate that from both immediately on waking and immediately before sleep, so as not to make a routine habit of it, but keep it a conscious request. Doesn't mean we don't sometimes nurse to sleep, but it's rare. Dad usually reads a story and puts her to sleep. He's taken the lead on sleep all along.

I've heard the tales of the STTN baby, but I don't entirely believe them. Moreover, I wouldn't give up the cuddles and peaceful times spent in bed together, and like the poster above, the radiantly happy wakings in the morning.

Co-sleeping, Breastfeeding, EC'ing, Baby-wearing, Homebirthing mama to two fabulous girls 6/2007 and 8/2010
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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Nothing. I've had babes that have slept thru from early on, and one babe that still wakes several times a night at 19 months. She's different, and normal. It's more normal for the babe to wake than not.

And I don't for a minute believe all the "oh my baby slept in a crib and slept thru the night from week 2" stories. Nope, I certainly don't.

SANDRA, 41 year old VERY laid-back mama to VERY free range kids Brett (16), Justus (11), Autumn (4), and Ayla (1)... four perfect NCB's! :::
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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we took turns co-sleeping with ds until he was 3. He was a very difficult sleeper, sleeping in 2 h stretches (sometimes less) until he was 18 mo. I'm glad we stuck with bed-sharing, because now we have a very independent, confident kid who's not afraid of dark or monsters, has no problems falling asleep or going back to sleep by himself.
With this new baby, I plan to do exactly the same thing, EXCEPT worrying.

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Old 08-13-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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Well, my baby slept through the night from the time she was 2 weeks old. By STTN, I mean that she slept with us in bed, and only stirred to nurse (or if she was wet), I nursed while she was half asleep, and quickly went back to deep sleep. We would even change her diaper while she was asleep, or change her wool pad if she was nude. She just went through a few weeks of waking in the middle of the night, but it might have been related to milestones and more independence (she can now roll everywhere).
I completely understand about the sleep deprivation. Sometimes that drives me batty too. If I can't take it any longer, I say bye to baby and DH and go for a drive and listen to NPR - somehow that relaxes me. Even though she STTN, I have insomnia. lol : So there goes that. Baby is also extremely high needs and I can't stop entertaining her during her waking hours, which wears me out.

Would I have done something different from the beginning? I don't know. To deal with this dilemma I try to surround myself with Mamas who have similar parenting styles and have gone or are going through the same things. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing by always responding quickly to her whines, needs, and cries. It's nice to find reassurance in commiserating with other Moms who do the same. On the other hand, I have my nephew who is only 2 weeks older than my baby and he is super independent. He sleeps through the night in his crib, in his room, never cries, uses a paci, feeds from a bottle and is soooooooooo easy to live with (they can travel with him with no problems, he doesn't mind having strangers babysit him, etc). But then I wonder how he will develop emotionally and mentally, what kind of relationship insecurities/securities he will have when grown up, etc. His Mom is what I would consider a "Mainstream Modern Mom" (and I mean no harm by this at all, it's just a different parenting style from my own). Everyone does what they can live with and what works for them. The way we have chosen to parent our baby is extremely difficult in today's society (no friends or family nearby to help everyday, etc.) but as much as we feel its inconveniences, we also feel it is the right thing for our daughter. HTH.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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Both of my boys have slept longer stretches when they've been given opportunities to pee in the potty/toilet. When I'm lazy and don't get up to potty the baby, but instead just nurse him back to sleep, I always regret it, because he's up again an hour later still needing to pee. My older son slept basically one hour at a time until a friend suggested I potty him when he was about ten months old - then we started getting longer stretches of sleep much more consistently. I've been pottying my second baby since birth, and the sleep situation has been dramatically better - he could just be a mellower baby than my first, but I think it helps a lot that I am responding to his needs better.

Mom to DS1 : 11/2004 and DS2 12/2008; happy to have discovered ECing, co-sleeping, and tandem nursing during our journey together

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Old 08-14-2009, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your responses! I guess if STTN is defined as not waking up completely to nurse, then ds has been sttn for a long time. The problem I suppose is that I don't sleep through the night since his moving around/rooting wakes me up! If I get at least one unbroken sleep session for 4ish hours I'm good. It's the waking every 1-2 hours that makes me bonkers the next day!

I'm not sure I understand the comments about not believing people who say their lo sttn. My best friend has a dd born the day after my ds. She had planned to co-sleep but for several reasons they ended up moving dd into the crib in her room when she was just a few weeks old. She has been sttn (from 7pm to 5 or 6 am without waking) for at least 6 weeks. I don't see any reason to think that my friend isn't telling the truth about that. Maybe her dd wakes in the night without my friend knowing, but she puts herself back to sleep without crying out! No way my ds could do that!!

I think it is a problem for me that I don't have friends who are currently co-sleeping/bedsharing, so I don't really have anyone around here to commiserate with. I am a child psychologist whose research has focused on the importance of responsive parenting. I never imagined I would in any way second guess my choices, but here I am!! Most of my friends are also child psychologists who practice more "mainstream parenting" and so there is a mis-match there.

My worry is two fold: a) that I really should be balancing teaching him some self-soothing techniques with going to him and responding to his every need and b) without better sleep on my part I will not be as loving and responsive a parent as I'd like to be.

DH is very supportive of the AP parenting thing (now--it took some convincing), but unfortunately he has some health issues that preclude him from being very involved in the nighttime parenting. He does his best but DS does not sooth or go back to sleep for DH--it seems like as soon as DH is in charge of DS, ds is awake and wanting to play with daddy. There is not any type of daddy = sleep association, even though we have all shared the same bed for a while.

My thought right now is to try to relax more and go with the flow, while trying to get as much sleep as I can for now. Maybe gently work on having ds sleep without me next to him for some of the night and/or work on the PPO in the middle of the night?

I'd love to just have faith that he will learn to go to sleep on his own and sleep without me right next to him within the first year so we can just sit back and enjoy things as they are right now!

BTW, he sleeps well in the swing or pack n play for naps during the day. I'm not home then though--my sister is our nanny and she stays home with him....

Thanks for your input! It's nice to at least have an online support group, especially if I can't have a face-to-face one!
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annemoonstar View Post

My worry is two fold: a) that I really should be balancing teaching him some self-soothing techniques with going to him and responding to his every need and b) without better sleep on my part I will not be as loving and responsive a parent as I'd like to be.

DH is very supportive of the AP parenting thing (now--it took some convincing), but unfortunately he has some health issues that preclude him from being very involved in the nighttime parenting. He does his best but DS does not sooth or go back to sleep for DH--it seems like as soon as DH is in charge of DS, ds is awake and wanting to play with daddy. There is not any type of daddy = sleep association, even though we have all shared the same bed for a while.

My thought right now is to try to relax more and go with the flow, while trying to get as much sleep as I can for now. Maybe gently work on having ds sleep without me next to him for some of the night and/or work on the PPO in the middle of the night?

I'd love to just have faith that he will learn to go to sleep on his own and sleep without me right next to him within the first year so we can just sit back and enjoy things as they are right now!

BTW, he sleeps well in the swing or pack n play for naps during the day. I'm not home then though--my sister is our nanny and she stays home with him....

Thanks for your input! It's nice to at least have an online support group, especially if I can't have a face-to-face one!
I don't know if this will help, but with my first child ( now 6 years old) I had all the same doubts and she woke through the night to nurse constantly and I never got any sleep and she could NOT fall asleep without nursing. I nightweaned her around 17 months and she started sleeping longer stretches. Around 2 and a half I transferred her to her own bed and started out sleeping there with her and gradually started phasing myself out.

Anyway from then on she has been an incredibly amazing sleeper. She hardly woke at night except from nightmares or sleep peeing. She actually looked forward to going to bed and still does. She is extremely independent and confident. I like to think that its because I met her needs when she needed me to and she thinks of bed as a happy comforting secure place, not a place where she was forced to learn to "self soothe". This is my opinion and my experience of course.

Now with all that said there are a few things I wish I had done differently and I am doing them with this LO. She is 3 months old. Im having her actually have a bedtime and a bedtime routine. I got her used to sleeping in her cosleeper for naps and bedtime so that I can put her down and have a few hours with dh in the evenings. She comes in with us at her first waking. I don't instantly nurse her at every whimper and sniffle. I realized that babies make a lot of noise at night.

I also try not to stress about it too much. I know now that this really is a short period in my life and the life of my child and it will be gone before I know it. If I have a bad sleeping night, I grab a nap or have dh watch her if Im desperate to have some time to sleep without a baby. And the rewards of co sleeping I think outweigh the disadvantages. A great book I have found for just realizing the coolness of co sleeping and how to nightwean when your baby is older is Good Nights: The Happy Parents' Guide to the Family Bed (and a Peaceful Night's Sleep! by Dr Jay Gordon and Maria Goodavage. Doesn't really have any sleeping tips but helps with the frame of mind for co sleeping I think.

I think I will come back and read this post when Im feeling seriously sleep deprived!

Shelley, married to my wonderful DH and mama to DD (11) DD (5) and  DD (2)
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Old 08-14-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I forgot to add one other major thing I did differently. I almost never have my LO sleep on me. Every time she falls asleep I put her down. I think I can count on one hand the amount of times she has slept in my arms or on me since birth.

But, now she won't sleep in my arms even if I want her to. She wakes up and I can tell she wants to be on a flat surface like a bed. So... although I think it helped her sleep on her own for a few hours in her bed better, its also kind of a bummer. In the long run though, I think its been very helpful.

Shelley, married to my wonderful DH and mama to DD (11) DD (5) and  DD (2)
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Old 08-14-2009, 05:09 PM
 
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I honestly have no clue. DS is such a quirky sleeper, I can't even imagine what would have worked.

Me+DH+DS1+DS2+Dog=me and a house full of guys, which is really just peachy, thanks.
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