Hi, I'm fairly new here too, but I'll chime in. This has been a great place for me to come and learn about how babies really behave, not how our culture says they should
behave. As far as sleeping through the night, I think that is one of the biggest and most unfortunate myths out there - that your child should be sleeping through the night at any point in the first year or even the second. Here's a link:
Click "articles" then under "by topic" click "sleeping". Lots of good info there on healthy infant sleep. Sounds like you are already realistic about this, but this might provide even more realism, maybe more than you'd like. :LOL
When I first has my dd, I felt like getting her to sleep through was a goal that HAD to be achieved with urgency. I felt this way because people kept asking - not just asking - harping on it (this cultural myth of ours that babies should sleep through).
She slept with us the first 3 weeks and did sleep 5-8 hour stretches, which I now feel wasn't normal and was due perhaps to her fatigue from the birth? I'm not sure. Either way, we then moved her to her crib where she continued to sleep long stretches. Not healthy or normal for an infant, but she never fussed about it. On the occasion that she did wake at night to feed, she would spend the rest of the night in bed with us. Then, at 3 months, she started regular and very unhappy night-waking. At first, I was upset and wondered what was wrong - then I discovered Attachment Parenting and realized this was normal - she had no business alone in a crib down the hall to begin with. (We never let her cry - that was one instinct I felt and followed. My other instincts were a bit off, I can see that now.) We brought her back into our bed and she hasn't slept through the night since. I nurse, so it's easy to get her back to sleep. I barely even wake up usually. She is 14 months. I don't expect her to sleep through and don't plan to even work on it until 18 months or later.
I know you said you had to stop nursing - my heart goes out to you. But, you can do the same with a bottle. Could you bring the baby into the bed with you? You'd get a lot more sleep - I promise. If not in your bed, how about in your room?
Check the link above for research on co-sleeping, in case you have reservations or want to learn more.
I didn't intend to ramble, just to share our experience. Hope I helped a little! I know I needed this "talk" when my dd was 3 weeks old. Stop listening to anyone who asks you about sleep. If anyone tells you their child is sleeping through before a year or talks about sleep training - ignore them - it's not healthy. Night-waking IS healthy and normal.
You are right, it will be a LONG time, but that's OK. That LONG time will pass very quickly. At 14 months, I still feel like I had my dd yesterday. Again, sorry to ramble! (And super-sorry if I sound preachy - I don't mean to at all. just wanted to share and having been there done that, I know I felt much better once I changed my expectations about sleep - my daughter's and my own!)