It was two nights ago that he miracle occurred. Okay, maybe "miracle" is a bit of an exaggeration, but over 12 hours of her sleeping with barely any fussing and no needed of mama to get up sure felt like a miracle. I'm sharing more about it here to remember for next time- and for any of you interested in my approach. (note: I'm no expert, this isn't fool-proof and even last night we didn't get 12 straight hours since I think her teeth were causing her pains)... but, I'll share anyhow!
Last week after Analise's 9-month well child check up I decided it was time to night wean. Analise is in the 77th percentile in weight, clearly happy and healthy, so she doesn't need nursing at night even thought I was still feeding her when she woke pretty regularly at both midnight and 4am. And I was ready to get more sleep. I consulted facebook, as we do (hah), for advice and words of wisdom, and went for it.
My plan was as follows: nurse her as normal at 6:45pm/7pm right before bed. Then no milk all night. I would get up with her and hold her, calm her down by rocking/singing, maybe even offer a pacifier (which she intermittently takes), just no milk. I realized how quick the plan needed to change when she woke up and threw a major fit at midnight. Picking her up made it worse, so did trying to give her the pacifier. So instead, I stayed next to her crib, sang and said "shh shh shh" until she self soothed. I also covered my boobs by hugging a pillow, since I've heard (though unsure if true) that babies can smell the milk- maybe a pillow helped cover it?! It took around 35 minutes at midnight and a little less the second time around 3am. The next night, I tried the same routine. It was less painful and a shorter fit. By the third night, she only needed me in her room one time for less than 10 minutes to self soothe!! I thought we were almost there....
Then Friday occurred. Several things changed, which could have contributed to the set back. We had friends in town staying with us and she (unbeknownst to me at the time) was beginning to start another round of cutting teeth- 3 in fact, all on top! So both Friday night and Saturday night around midnight-2am we had 1-1.5 hours of a screaming and unhappy baby. This made for very cranky and unhappy parents... I'll spare the details but we were both at our wits end, especially with one another... one of us just said "Just feed her!" and the other of us said, "You're not helping!" and well, we were not very good at handling that. But we fixed it later. I realized later that I hadn't done a very good job at explaining my approach to Kevin and making sure he was 200% on board before I just dove in to this on my own. Even with Kevin out of town 4 days a week, we are still a team, and I need to communicate like it. Lesson learned.
So set back Friday and Saturday... then get to Sunday. The miracle day. Here are the things that I think helped contribute to the full 12 hour sleep - good morning and afternoon naps (consistent rest), one extra nursing during the evening (fill up the calories during the day hours), and a bit of infant advil at bedtime (Kevin and I noticed she was unusually fussy at bedtime and contributed it to the three teeth she is cutting up top). Unfortunately, neither Kevin nor I were able to fully enjoy the over twelve hours she got because Kevin gets up at 4am for his Monday morning flight- but I actually felt insanely rested at 4am when he was getting ready and leaving. I'm so happy she showed us she could do it, however, and that she is on her way to more consistent and persistent sleep all night.
Last night (Monday) she woke up at 3am and cried for about 20 minutes before I went in to get her. I gave her a bit of medicine again because she was inconsolable even after I walked her around for a bit. I sure hope these teeth make it through and we can maybe soon get another 12 hours straight... (either way, I know I'll get some uninterrupted sleep next week as Kevin and I have our first overnight trip planned away! I'm excited and nervous at the same time, more on that later...)
All in all, I know it's a process and I know progress won't be linear. But we're all learning and growing and doing it together as a family. What an amazing experience!