Let me state upfront that I have no real complaints about sleep. At about 7 weeks old, Gwen suddenly decided that she only needed one night feeding, and since then I've been doing pretty well in the sleep department. I go to bed about 2 hours earlier than I did in my pre-parenting life, the better to be ready for that one nighttime feeding, which makes my evenings really short and my quality time with my husband practically nil, but honestly - I know this phase will pass. It's only another four months before I can reasonably start to train her out of the habit, if she hasn't lost it already.
For extra added irony, the first night that Gwen decided to wake up only once was the first night that Chris was scheduled to take the 'first' feeding. Since the first feeding ended up being the only feeding, I slept for nearly ten hours that night. Good times.
Now that we're all clear that I'm not complaining about sleep, I want to confess my weakest link as Mom. I am not good at putting Gwen back to sleep after her night feeding. To be honest, I'm not that good at putting her to sleep at bedtime either. And if we're going to come clean, well, I'm not so hot at getting her down for a nap.
For her naps, I usually rely on either the swing, the sling, or the stroller to help lull her to sleep. She has *never* napped in her cradle. Bedtime usually comes when she starts yawning, at which point I stuff her full of food then put on the dreamsurf CD and cross my fingers. But after her night feed - I'm completely at a loss.
It's already dark, and quiet, and the soothing sounds of ocean waves fill her room. I don't talk to her or stimulate her in any way, and in fact I try not to make eye contact, even half-closing my eyes when I look at her so she has nothing interesting to look at and hopefully gets the idea that her eyes should be closed too. She is swaddled comfortably, and once she's finished eating she seems content if not always sleepy. I rock her gently in the chair for a while, then put her down in the cradle and exit the room.
Twenty minutes later, guaranteed, she is crying again and I have to start all over. I am often up for an hour or more, sometimes getting so frustrated that I tag Chris and make him get up to walk the floor with her at 5am.
I know she's not hungry anymore, having just fed her for a good 20-30 minutes, so why is she crying? Boredom or loneliness is my best guess, or perhaps frustration at not knowing how to put herself back to sleep. I confess I've had no luck at distinguishing a tired cry, a hungry cry, a pain cry, and so on - feeding her *always* shuts her up, so every cry seems like a hunger cry, though this is likely not the case. I also think she has convinced herself that she needs my boob in her mouth in order to fall asleep. One night before bed she drank a 3-oz serving of formula, then rooted on my chest until I nursed her, at which point she fell asleep on my breast after about 5 sucks. So that's not hunger, she just believes that my breast is the place to fall asleep.
I'd much prefer, obviously, if she started to learn that she can fall asleep without something in her mouth, and so I try to put her down when she's 'sleepy, not asleep'. But after the night feed, even if she is asleep when I put her down, she wakes back up. The fact that she doesn't cry right away fools me every time - I think, "maybe she'll fall asleep on her own" (it has happened, rarely). But no, 20 minutes later I'm up again.
I guess what I need to do is just hang in there for the next few weeks and see what the 12-week/3-month mark brings. Hopefully it will get easier at that point, and in the meantime I'll just keep trying not to instill any bad habits.