Sleep is something that I have not got a lot of in the last 12 months or so. I know that moms everywhere will share that sleep is never the same after having kids. I get that. However, in our household sleep was something I just didn't get. It wasn't that I was having a few interruptions during the night. I was waking up one or two times an hour! One night I actually counted 16 times. I didn't sleep while I was pregnant either, so when you add it all together it HAD been about 12 months without a good night's sleep. London slept the first week of life and then woke up. It was months before he got back to sleep.
We starting trying to sleep train when London was 4 months-old. He just would not settle down (for hours and hours), so I decided he wasn't ready. The pediatrician said that he should be sleeping better, and that his night feeding should be eliminated. Problem was that he wasn't ready. His eating schedule was totally flipped around, nighttime bringing with it an all-night buffet. Now I realized as this was happening that it was not ideal. I am not so clueless as to think that eating during the night was not reinforcing his wakings, but you cannot (and my body could not) go from frequent feedings to no feedings very quickly. And we both needed some sleep...I had work. And I have to be "on" at work! But a maximum of two hours of continuous sleep, and going to bed at 8pm, was not going to suffice for the long-term. And as he got older, I knew it would only get worse.
We started with naps. At four months-old he had never really napped, so we needed to string together more than an hour of sleep to get him used to the expectation. Putting him on his belly to sleep really helped. Once he got into the habit of napping, we started stretching out the time between feedings to get him used to longer stretches without eating, and eating more at each feeding. We aimed for four hours. Once we got that down, I stopped all night feedings except one at around 11. During this time, he also started eating solids, which likely helped the process along. I kept that 11 o'clock feeding until he really started to eat a substantial amount of solids, and when he seemed to eat less voraciously. So at eight months I decided we were going to chuck that last feeding, and I was going to let him cry, and comfort him, but not pick him up. I made sure I had four nights in a row where I did not have to worry about work or other obligations, in case I was up all night. The first night he cried on and off (with breaks of about 2 or 3 minutes) for about two hours. The next night, as expected, the length of time became less, and the next night even better. By night four, he woke up a few times but put himself back to sleep. It took another whole week for me to actually sleep more than an hour or two at a time (I had been so conditioned to wake up). So now, with London nine months-old, he is finally sleeping for more than an hour at a time, and not needing my attention even when he does wake up.
I'm still tired, and still waking up more often than I need to, but I am feeling so much more human! I'm so proud of my little man, and proud of my patience in coming up with a plan. That is what I found so hard about him not sleeping. That I did not have a plan...every night was a new adventure, with new hope that maybe that night would be different. But alas, every night was miserable. No sleep for me, and only a little more than that for him. Having a plan that was broken down into doable steps, made it work for me. I get the feeling that he will never be a great sleeper, but I am hopeful that we can continue in this much more manageable direction. Thank goodness he is such a happy and charismatic kid, or all of the sleepless nights would have been a lot harder to take.