A LOT of big changes are happening around here these days, and all occurred in less than a month:
- We are no longer co-sleeping;
- McKenna is sleeping through the night consistently; and
- She is down to 3-5 nursing sessions per day.
Whew. Even officially writing that down took a lot of emotion out of me.
Nursing and co-sleeping were definitely two of the main attributes I used to describe our style of parenting that first year. It was great – I loved everything about it.
Co-sleeping was one of those things that worked, until all of a sudden it just didn’t. And in true McKenna fashion, she never does things slowly. Instead of doing a slow transition from co-sleeping to independent sleeping, one day it just STOPPED. I slept in my room and she slept in hers.
I mentioned we had a slight regression along the way – and after reading many words of advice on Facebook and speaking with other mothers, I blame that regression on poor timing. I strongly feel as though McKenna was going through a growth spurt at that time, and it had nothing to do with our new sleeping arrangement.
But now, DARE I say the words I at times I never thought I would? Dare I take it a step further, and write it down for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE? That McKenna, is finally, consistently, sleeping through the night? ALL ON HER OWN?
Of all of the parenting challenges Matt and I faced in those first 365 days, sleeping was definitely the most difficult. It was SO up and down. We would have good months and bad months. Nights that had one or two wakeups and then nights that had sometimes upwards of 5. We struggled with what the books told us – that by 3 months, most children are fully capable of sleeping through the night (those children also likely fart rainbows). We struggled with what (some) of the experts said was the solution for those children who did not – the dreaded (in our household) cry it out method. We struggled with our own feelings of inadequacy anytime we faced a parent who spoke with pride about their babies who were in their own cribs, sleeping through the night at 6 months. It seemed nearly an impossible feat to accomplish, and as though it was nowhere in our near future.
But anytime the discussion was had, it was never decided upon that we should “Ferberize” McKenna. We do not judge those who choose this very effective sleep training method, because we are not in their houses when the sleep training occurs. We can only know what happened anytime we tried this method on our own baby – 3 or so times over the course of those twelve months in moments of severe desperation – and the result was terrified screams, shaking, and one dreadful, dreadful night when McKenna was ten months when she literally threw herself out of the crib. I thank God every day that our floor bed was beside to break her fall.
No, the Ferber method wasn’t for us. And thankfully, we were definitely on the same page when it came to that.
But yes, sleep. It was all over the place. I rarely complained – after all, I had an entire year off to nurture and care for her, and I had made a promise to myself that the first year would be all about McKenna. About establishing a comforting mother-daughter relationship wherein she felt secure and loved, and would truly trust me to take care of her needs. I still have no regrets about this decision, and fully intend to use this strategy with the next baby. And I honestly have to say I am amazed about how well I am able to function on broken up sleep. And Starbucks.
But at some point, that co-sleeping, nursing through the night relationship began to fail us. McKenna was no longer getting the quality sleep she needed, and instead of waking up and falling asleep immediately when nursed, she screamed and cried and reached for comfort, not milk, multiple times throughout the night.
That was when we knew it was time for the relationship to change.
I wish I could tell you an exact method we used to end co-sleeping, but there wasn’t really one. We simply stopped, and McKenna was ready. And trust me, we HAD definitely tried before, and she was NOT ready before. There was minimal crying (besides the growth spurt) and then there was just success. Continued success.
McKenna now goes to sleep every night at 7:30 PM after a consistent bedtime routine. She sleeps until 4:30-5:30 AM, awakes for a snack, and goes back to sleep until 8 AM. We are working at cutting out that last feeding, but if I’m being honest, I am in no rush.
Reason being is that although this is everything I wished, hoped and longed for.. I still miss those days. Those days where she was absolutely dependent on her Mama for sleep. I am really starting to think as motherhood as sort of a double-edged sword: you are always wishing for something, and when that something comes true, you can’t help but long for those moments from before. In this particular situation, the moments I long for and will always miss are the late night cuddles. The nursing sessions, when it was just her and I awake in our quiet little household. Those moments of extreme bonding that I would never, EVER take back for ANYTHING.
But as I said before, my post about all of these FEELINGS (the feelings about the end of co-sleeping and the beginning of weaning) are to follow. They are too intense, and too important to not deserve their very own blog post.
But above all these feelings, I am so incredibly proud of my little. Proud of her father and I too, for never feeling forced to doing anything that was outside of our comfort zone. For sticking to our guns, listening to advice when necessary but only taking the particular parts of said advice and applying what we felt would work for our family to our real life situation.
Well done family. We did it :). Here is to many more nights of amazing sleep!