I am just really conflicted about what to do with our sleep situation. DS is 9.5 months old and has been in our bed since he was a week old. How I feel about the co-sleeping thing seems to depend entirely on whether we get more than one 2 hour stretch between wakings at night. When he sleeps more deeply I wake up totally in love with DS and very happy with the co-sleeping situation. On the other hand, when he wakes more frequently or is restless while sleeping and I don't get as much quality sleep I wake up very frustrated and determined to make a change. It seems like we get about 50% of our nights that I would define as "good" and 50% not so good. And by "good" I'm not even talking about STTN!! I don't have any idea what makes the difference for him. In some ways I wish it would just be consistent one way or the other so I could feel more confident about what I should do. I've had several failures to launch with NCSS, mostly because I haven't been 100% committed to making a change yet.
I really like having him so close at night, being able to snuggle with him and having his little smiling face to wake up to (in the morning, not in the middle of the night!). He is also SO snuggly and loves being around people, which I know is probably just his temperament, but I like to think that our choices have helped nurture that side of him. Then there is the fact that I WOH and so the nighttime is really my quality bonding time with DS, and the night time nursing has helped me stay sanely breastfeeding while pumping during the day. And then there is the simple fact that change is hard and I don't look forward to the idea of doing something different that might cause even less sleep on my part, or DS's or DH's part.
On the other hand....I do WOH in a relatively cognitively demanding job (in academia) so sleep is pretty important for my livlihood. And on those nights when DS has woken up every hour to nurse and in between those feedings is kicking me and wiggling all over the bed, I really start to feel anger and (gulp) even resentful towards him. And although I can easily be convinced that this isn't true, I do worry about the mainstream viewpoints with regards to infant sleep. I worry about him being sleep deprived and that impacting his brain development. I also worry about how hard it will be to transition him into his own bed when he is older and if we are doing him a disservice by not helping him learn go to sleep on his own. And as much as I am against CIO, I do find myself wondering if it's really as bad as we make it out to be. I am surrounded by friends and colleagues who are by all accounts good, loving parents, who have done CIO and their kids are seemingly ok. I know that we don't know the long-term effects, and I honestly don't think I could follow through with it, even if I bought into the philosophy, but I still find myself wondering....
I know that once I decide that I need to make a change I really need to stick with it and be consistent. So I just haven't done anything because I can't decide! Sleep deprivation certainly doesn't help with decision making! There is a part of me that keeps hoping that things will just magically improve and I won't need to do anything different. I realize that that might happen, but not for a long time and I guess I just am not sure if I can ride it out until then or not!
Anyway, sorry for the ramble. If you've read all of this and have any thoughts for me, I'd love to hear your story! Thank you all for this supportive environment!
What really stood out to me in your post was that your current sleep arrangement is not working for you as a family. Cosleeping is awesome as long as it works for everyone involved. When it's obviously making you feel resentful and angry, it's time to change something.
I could have written this post myself, as the saying goes, at least in the past. My DD is 18 months and still co-sleeping and waking to nurse often. DH and I considered making changes, as you said, at several points over the past year and especially around the time you are at right now. We would always end up backing out of any plans to enforce changes, because it felt just that - forced. I don't know if this will encourage you or discourage you, but in my situation I feel more and more capable of "going with the flow" and letting DD do her thing as time goes on. That wasn't always true - until a month ago I would start to feel like there was a problem that needed to be fixed after a period of her not sleeping well, which seems to come every month or so with teething, growing, sickness, etc. But now I can handle it. I've learned to better identify the cause of her sleep troubles and try to help alleviate it, but by no means does it completely solve the problem. I still end up with several nights of little sleep in a row, but I try to compensate by going to bed with her or taking a nap if possible. And I also just seem to handle less sleep better as time goes on. Again, this may not sound helpful but my point is that if there are things you like about cosleeping, you may have ups and downs along the way but end up being able to benefit more from the positives and suffer less from the negatives.
That said, another thing to think about is the stage your child is at. I read a book called "Sleep Timing" (Moxie's blog also has a post on it if you do a search) and that goes through the different ages at which making sleep changes can work better than others. When I read it DD was 14 months but already displaying traits of the 17-21 month old stage, and that was not a good time because they are especially insecure and exploring feelings of attachment. I am looking at the book now and they suggest 12-16 months as a good window of opportunity, like Dr. Gordon.
Anyhow, thanks for listening and hang in there!
So DS sleeps the first part of the night in the crib. When he wakes, DH brings him into our bed to nurse. If we all fall asleep, we just co-sleep until the next waking. If we stay awake, DH will take DS back to his crib once he's asleep. So it's flexible. Sometimes DS is in our bed most of the night. Sometimes hardly at all. This flexibility has worked for us.
We have seen DS's first night stretches get longer and he sometimes settles himself after his first waking (with no crying--just happy and/or grumbling sounds).
DS still wakes up a lot some nights after his first waking (every 1-2 hours), but some nights are really good. When we choose to keep him in our bed, I don't feel bad about it and I accept any additional wakings that happen. All to say, I appreciate the flexibility and I don't think it's an all-or-nothing kind of deal. I still get the snuggles, DS' sleep is improving some, and he's comfortable with both types of sleeping arrangements.
So we started out doing NCSS, which did help somewhat. The thing that helped the most was setting up another bed in DD's room and moving the cosleeping into that bed. That way, even if I'm with her all night, we don't have DH's movements waking us both up.
Another thing that helped tremendously was having DH do the nighttime parenting for the first part of the night. So basically what we've done is partial nightweaning. I nurse DD to sleep, then turn on the monitor and sneak out of the room. DH goes in when she wakes up, then stays with her for several hours. This way I get at least a few solid hours of sleep almost every night, but I still get to cosleep, and DD has an attentive parent responding to her the entire night. It just isn't always me. Of course, we could only start doing this once she'd learned to fall asleep in ways other than nursing.
None of this has been a magic cure for us, and we still have bad nights. However, I feel like *my* life is much, much better than it was a few months ago, and I don't have nearly as many feelings of resentment toward my child. Overall, I'm really glad we started making changes. Totally worth the effort.
Good luck, OP.
So, my DD just turned 1 two weeks ago, and we have coslept since birth, with the exception of a 6 week period when she was 6 months old when DH really wanted to put her in her crib. During that time, I had so much reservation that I slept in the guest room (on the top floor with the nursery...being downstairs was just WAY too far!), and for six weeks she still woke up every 1-2 hours, at which time I would have to get up, rock and nurse her, and lay her back down. The first week was very emotional, and I got even less sleep that I did with her nursing all night, because I was constantly staring at the video monitor and missing her little body next to mine. It did get easier, and I did move back downstairs after 4 weeks. But after a trip where we coslept again for a few nights, when I tried to put her down in her crib when we got home, she would startle herself awake and scream immediately, which broke my heart. I decided she obviously was communicating to me that she needed me (although I now know this is a common occurrence, and a little more rocking would have done the trick), and I decided it was time to reconvene cosleeping. I was so tired from having to get out of bed fully awake, literally pulling myself up the stairs, etc, etc. For the first few months, even though she nursed a lot, I got so much more sleep and was very happy with my decision. Then, around 9-10 months when she was teething, she decided she needed to nurse ALL night, as in never unlatch. I know it was comforting to her, but it was really getting to me. I tried to unlatch her, as I knew I shouldn't let her do that on any level, but sometimes I would fall asleep and wake up with her still attached. About a month ago, I actually got mastitis because she was nursing so aggressively. I couldn't believe I got mastitis with an 11 month old! I'd never had it before. It was nothing short of miserable, and I had a mild case!
Anyway, here we are, still cosleeping and still nursing all night. Like you, I LOVE having her so close. I agree with you on all the benefits of cosleeping, and I also agree that I fear that she is not getting adequate sleep. Even though I am exhausted, I would probably struggle through it; however, DH is ready (and has been for quite some time) for her to be in her own bed. I too am very afraid of the initial "battle" of transition. She wakes everytime I try to lay her down, even if it is in our bed. I literally have to get into bed with her and let her nurse, even if she was asleep to begin with. She wakes up every time my body is removed from hers.
Well, I see her stirring on the monitor so I suppose I should finish this novel for the time being! I just wanted to let you know that every single thing you said is completely valid, and more common than you would think! I'm very relieved to reaize this, also. I'm going to check out the link a pp posted, because it sounds like she is at a good age to begin a transition.
Sorry for making this so long, but I've been keeping this in for a long time! Good luck!
The last two nights have been super rough for us. DS has a cold which is part of the problem, and maybe he is teething (he doesn't have any teeth yet but is showing all of the day time signs). So he was VERY restless for most of the night and required me alternating walking with him and nursing for him to settle back to sleep. I've gotten no more than 1 hour of consistent sleep in the last two nights, and most of the night wakings last night were after just 30-45 minutes of sleep-ugh! DH gives a lot of lip service to helping, but he either doesn't wake up or just feels the need to remind me that DS is sick so I should just relax. Easy for him to say when he has been sleeping solidly for the 3-4 previous hours!!!
I broke down this morning and told DH that we have to do something and he has to help me with it. I am not functioning well enough currently to be able to even decide what it is we can/will do, so the first thing is for me to find a way to catch up on some sleep. DH agreed to help me get in at least one 2-3 hour stretch somewhere tonight so hopefully that will help. Then we can discuss what to do from there.
Thank you to the pp who provided the info on the bed timing book. I've been reading on the author's website and it is very informative! I will probably buy that book to help us with our decision making. Right now my thinking is that DH and I just need to come up with some plan to assure that I am getting at least one or two 2 hour stretches of sleep for the next couple of months to get us through this developmental phase. Then after DS's first birthday I am going to do Dr. Gordon's nightweaning thing. If that doesn't work, I don't know what will happen next. But at least that's something....
Thank you all for the words of wisdom and support! For those of you still struggling with this too, lets keep chatting! Maybe if we all put our sleep deprived brains together we can come up with some other ideas!
DS is home with my sister and with DH (who WAH) during the day. According to them he eats quite a bit while I'm at work--at least two 5-6 oz bottles of EBM, plus 3-5 servings of solid foods (usually some yogurt and spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and some fruit--mangos or peaches and pear juice). Plus they leave some finger foods (organic oat O's and yogurt melts) available which he snacks on during the day. And then I always nurse him as soon as I get home. He's a pretty big boy so I think he'd getting enough food! But it's a good thought....thank you!
I WOH as well and I know first hand how hard this can be on your brain and body... so mama from another mama who has been there, twice!
ETA: About the CIO and it seeming to be OK for your friends and their kids. Truth is, you dont know. You dont live with them, you know what they tell you... but it is possible that it took them many bouts of CIO for it to work. It is possible that it just DIDNT work and they thought it did because they slept in another room and didnt hear their child. It is possible that their older children do have issues going to sleep now or attachment issues.... it is possible that they dont as well... but you dont know. I would not judge and compare to other families.
Especially because people with older kids tend to forget, I know my MIL says that she had no problem getting her kids to sleep and even said to me, "I dont know why you are having so many issues, we never did." However my husband has never STTN, has awful insomnia, and has had it all of his life. When he reminded my MIL that he would just go turn on the TV and watch tv for hours in the middle of the night when he was young (like 3 or 4) she admitted that she forgot about that... but I guess since he wasnt bothering her, she didnt think that was a "problem". Still she thinks that we are alone in our issues because of how we chose to raise our kids because in her mind a 3 year old not sleeping but watching tv for 3 hours a night is ok, she still claims that they had no issues...
trottin', pole dancing, Norway and Sweden lovin' , ,WOHM Kiddos born 12/11/06 and 08/09/08
with #3 EDD:01/2013 So in love with my sweet Swede and my bonus-son 10/25/98
OK with that out of the way... I know how you feel. The first 6 months or so I kept planning to put DS in the crib, I'd always say "this weekend we're gonna get him to sleep on his own" and then he'd have a night or 2 of better sleep and it would go out the window. Only once did I ever put him in the crib, with me standing right over him and singing to him, and the sight of him in the cold empty crib all alone left me bawling. I scooped him up, brought him to bed, & from that point on, it was only a short time before we just disassembled the crib and used the space for his toys. My point is though, try it for a night or two... or even just 5 minutes like I did. See how you & your baby feel about it. Maybe it will be easier than you think, & you'll both sleep great. Maybe after just a few minutes you'll think it feels all wrong. And once you know one way or the other, stick with it. Get rid of the crib if you intend to co-sleep or get rid of any accommodations for him in your bed if you intend to crib sleep. That doesn't mean you can't change your mind again down the line but it will feel much better to have made a decision! Being on the fence is awful!
Baby Boy 9/08 & Baby Girl 3/11
Thanks again for all the thoughts and comradre! DH and I haven't even discussed moving him into his crib. We have a convertible crib in his room down the hall (ah, the ignorance of pre-baby--I sort-of remember thinking he would be STTN in there quickly!), and he plays in there every night for a little bit but except for rare napping occasions has never slept in there. We have a futon in our bedroom next to our bed, which he starts the night off on. My ideal situation would be him sleeping through the night (or at very least just waking once or twice) with us in our bed. Second best, would be on the futon. And last would be in the crib in his room. But I have no idea which of these would be the easiest to accomplish. Right now I have been focusing on trying to do Pantley's Pull Out method when he goes to sleep--for a while before the holidays I really thought it was working because he was sleeping way more deeply and longer, especially at the beginning of the night. But that went away after a couple of weeks and now he fights the PPO big time. He will occasionally roll over and go to sleep but it doesn't seem to keep him sleeping any longer than if he falls asleep nursing. Oh well! For now that is about all I have the emotional and physical resources to do. After the 12 month mark maybe I'll feel more comfortable doing something else....
I would have paid good money for it to work too!!
trottin', pole dancing, Norway and Sweden lovin' , ,WOHM Kiddos born 12/11/06 and 08/09/08
with #3 EDD:01/2013 So in love with my sweet Swede and my bonus-son 10/25/98
Crunchy mom--could you please send me the citation for the CIO study you mentioned? I would LOVE to read that!
There is also some interesting info here, though some of it has been criticized as inaccurate:
We tried the Pantley pull-off when he was younger and it was so stressful for me... and him I think... so we abandoned it. He has too much of a need to suck. After that, and after trying to get him in the crib for 5 minutes, I just decided not to fight it anymore. Accepting that he needed frequent (mostly comfort) nursing & me beside him all night made it much easier... being in that indecisive place you're in now just made me so angry & resentful and definitely less rested. I hope you can come to some decision!!