We're not getting much of that 'round 'ere these days. (Stupid teething!)
Gwen is up every couple of hours through the night, nowadays. It's pretty horrid. We are getting very, very tired. The other day I reviewed my well-thumbed copy of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and discovered that we are doing a whole lot of things right already: we have a bedtime and a bedtime routine, we keep night feedings dark and quiet, we don't change her diaper at night, and so on. But there is one more gigantic step we need to take: we need to help Gwen learn to fall asleep on her own.
Right now, when she wakes in the night - every time she wakes in the night - she gets fed until she goes back to sleep. This is despite the fact that she can go much longer than an hour or two without food, and that we're confident it's the teething pain, not hunger pangs, waking her up. Ultimately, Gwen doesn't know any other way to get to sleep. She is fed, rocked, 'shhhed' and sung to until she is asleep, then we oh-so-carefully transfer her from lap to crib and tiptoe out of the room. This beautifully ensures that when she wakes again, she has no clue how to get herself back to sleep, and cries out for us to help her.
The solution to this given by the book's author Elizabeth Pantley sounds very astute. The plan has several phases; when you feel Phase One is well-established, you move on to Phase Two, etc., with each Phase limiting interaction further and further. So Phase One starts out with the full rocking, shhhing, and nursing bit, but would have me de-latch Gwen before she falls fully asleep. Eventually - and this would probably take weeks - I would be patting and shhhing her as she lay in her crib, without picking her up. And sometime after that, when Gwen awoke, she'd put herself back to sleep (unless she was genuinely hungry) because she would have learned to deal with less and less assistance in that arena.
This makes a lot more sense to me than the 'cry-it-out' methods that recommend me going in every x minutes to pat and soothe (but not pick up), because when Gwen wakes up in the night she is usually crying so hard that she doesn't even know I'm there until I pick her up.
The downside to this plan is, of course, that it's a lot of work. When it's 2am and I am barely holding my eyes open while I nurse Gwen in her room, I don't want to spend 30 minutes finding the balance between sleepy and asleep so that I can de-latch Gwen at the right moment. I just want to do what's easy, which is nurse her until she's completely out, then transfer her to the crib so I can go back to sleep myself. But the choice becomes clear when I ask myself whether I'd still like to be nursing her to sleep two (three, four, five ...) times a night when she's 18 months old.
I discussed this with Chris, and we both agreed that while we are ready to move to the next step with Gwen's sleep, we also need to be energetic enough to be able to stick to the plan in the middle of the night. That means getting some rest during the day. And that means I've got to give up one or more of the things that I currently do during the day, so that I have time to rest. So, in short, our sleep training is going to wait until after my half-marathon (in two weeks! YIKES!) because after that I won't be busy walking five days a week.
Straight from marathon training to sleep training. Gotta love life as a parent!