So I started nursing her to sleep. It started off just being here and there, when I knew she really needed a nap and she just wasn't going to sleep. Then it started happening more and more for naps, and then after a while I felt guilty nursing her for naps and then expecting her to go to bed on her own. And it was just easier when we were traveling so much because she always fought going to sleep in the pack 'n play.
But hey, it worked. And for the most part it didn't really affect her night time sleep. She has been pretty much waking once a night since that time. And throughout the most recent month 5-7 nights of the week her once is at like 5am, and even makes it until 6:15am sometimes.
Except nursing her to sleep ISN'T working anymore. She regularly wakes up when I try to transfer her to the crib, and at that point if I leave her she just screams. If I try to nurse her back to sleep it doesn't always work. So she is skipping/missing a lot of naps. Not to mention I can't be away for more than a couple hours at a time and I ALWAYS have to be the one to put her to bed. That isn't really conducive to any date nights or the like. I've missed a few events I really wanted to go to simply because I didn't want to burden any one with trying to get her to sleep, nor did I want to leave her upset.
Which means it is time to break the habit once and for all (I hope).
We started the Ferber method (progressive waiting approach) on Thursday night, and it went over much much better than I expected. Bedtime was hard for me to give up nursing her to sleep, because we almost never had any issues with it (other than me wanting to be gone a couple evenings). And she was quickly drifting off to sleep so I had to cut her off. I gave Elsie some snuggles and laid her in her crib with her owl. When I closed the door she cried, so I set the timer on my phone for five minutes. By the time it went off she had already calmed down considerably, to the point that I didn't feel I needed to go back in there. And less than 20 minutes after I put her in her crib she was asleep. Really? Just like that? I was thrilled.
Naps yesterday went pretty well too. I never had to check on her for the morning nap, and she was asleep in less than 20 minutes again. For the afternoon nap I could tell she wasn't as tired, and while watching the monitor, shortly after I walked out, she threw her owl out. I decided to just leave it be, she was quiet. But she kept getting up and reaching for it. At about the 20 minute mark I decided to go in and get it for her. She cried HARD when I walked back out, but again, only for a minute or two. I didn't think she was going to fall asleep because she was just playing around, but right when I was going to throw in the towel and go get her, she fell asleep. SCORE.
Elsie only slept about 45 minutes for that nap, so she was pretty tired come bedtime. I had to work hard to keep her from falling asleep while nursing (actually I'm not really sure I succeeded). When I laid her down in the crib she attempted to protest, but her cries lasted less than two minutes and I'm pretty sure she just passed out.
Where I am running into the biggest problem, is early in the morning. Yesterday she started stirring around 5am. She started fussing around 5:30am. And by 5:45am she was pissed and wanted me. In the past I would have gone in shortly after 5, nursed her, put her back in her crib, and she most likely would have gone back to sleep. But the truth is I do want to wean soon (there are only so many more swift kicks to the jaw I can take), and once I'm done nursing I don't really want her up for the day at 5:30am. In my ideal world both girls would be in their beds until 7am. Yep, that's all I'm asking for, 7am. On a good day I'd take 6:30am. But before that just makes me not a very good mom. Not because I need to sleep (well sometimes), but because I crave a little alone time in the morning. To workout, or shower, or just freaking sit on my computer because I can and it's quiet.
Right now I'm going to try and avoid nursing her until 6am, and hopefully keep pushing that time back by 10 minutes or so every few days until I'm not nursing her until 7am (the earliest time I ever intend on serving breakfast). But we'll see how it goes. Naturally I sat down to type this post out and now it's 6:05am and I haven't really heard anything from her. Good work Elsie, good work.
I know sleep training isn't for everyone, but I like to share our experiences with it, because if the child takes to it I believe it is a truly beneficial process for everyone involved. My life changed dramatically when we sleep trained Ryann, and I doubt the change will be quite that dramatic this time around, but I am excited to have a little bit more freedom in my life. And I honestly expected her to resist and scream a whole lot more, but Elsie surprised me. Thank goodness.