"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" – John 3:16
The very first thing we learnt about having a baby in our antenatal class was that life would be a total chaos with sleepless nights. I must say it was definitely true for the first couple of months. A certain kind of order has been gradually introduced into our life since then, but sleepless nights are still here for us now at six months and half.
First 4 months
To be fair, even though our little Anna wasn’t the best sleeper, she wasn’t a nightmare in the first 4 months either. Except for the first few weeks when we had to feed her every two or three hours, she often went down to sleep between 9pm and 11pm, woke up at 3am and 6am for a feed, and then woke up for the day at 9 or 10am. She first slept in a Moses basket and then moved to a little crib next to our bed at 12 weeks. Some nights were better and some nights were worse, but overall it was manageable.
4th month – sleep regression
When she was around 4 months old, one night she woke up every 1 or 2 hours. After a few days, she managed to have 3 or 4 hour stretch but then went back to every 2 hours. I did a lot of searches on the Internet to find out why, and checked out other people’s comments about their experiences hoping that there would be an end to these tiring nights.
The most plausible reason I found was sleep regression marking a permanent change in a baby’s sleep habit from sleeping any time any where to forming proper sleep cycles like adults. It is a great developmental milestone. But apparently if babies don’t learn self-soothing at the light stage of the sleep cycle, they will keep waking.
5.5th month – a failed attempt at controlled crying
After 6 weeks of those waking-up-every-hour nights, we started to lose hope that it would become normal again. Some of the common advices are switching to formula, starting solid early and controlled crying.
It took me a while to be able to breastfeed as I had a problem with milk supply. After all that effort, I really didn’t want to end it so soon. Anna showed no interest whatsoever in food. Nothing other than nipples could get into her mouth. So solid wasn’t a possible solution. Therefore we decided to let her sleep in her room and some controlled crying was unavoidable.
We started out by the normal bedtime routine with bath, 5 minutes of lullaby, and feeding. We put her down to her cot when she looked a bit tired and sleepy. Of courses, she cried because she used to being fed to sleep. Simon would pick her up, sing lullaby to calm her down and then put her down again. We weren’t a fan of the crying-it-out method, so we read “The Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg and tried the pick up put down method. But every time when she was put down, she would immediately cry. The crying became longer and more difficult to soothe each time.
I was in the next room. I felt really stressed hearing her cry and I ended up crying with her. After an hour of this pick-up-put-down, I couldn’t bear it any more. I took her to my bed, cuddled her, gave her the feed that she wanted.
After that night, she has been always in bed with us. It works out much better this way. I don’t need to wake up completely to feed her and hence I feel much more rested in the morning. I often fall back to sleep before she even finished eating. I have done more research into co-sleeping so that I could be fully aware of the good and bad things about it, which I will discuss in a separate post.