We've been having a struggle with Olivia and her sleeping habits at night since at least after her last round of teeth in January. She would wake up two-three times a night if nothing else just for reassurance that someone would hear her cries and come to her. After a few months of sleep deprivation, Brian and I had reached our limits and knew we had to change it up. We are really good about keeping her on a schedule and responding to her cues of when she's ready to go to bed for the night, but we weren't great about keeping her bedtime routine consistent. It's in my family's nature to be creatures of habit and Lil Miss is no different, she likes her schedule to be followed and lets us know when it's not by getting a little crazed.
So new routine went into effect about four weeks ago and consisted of heading up to the nursery with one parent-usually armed with the last bottle for the evening, a book, the pacifer and a burp cloth. We would try to read to Olivia while she was taking her bottle, then give her the pacifier and let her curl up and go to sleep in our arms in the glider before making the transfer to her crib. Week one was awesome for me, we wouldn't even finish the book before eyelids were getting heavy and she'd be off in the land of dancing sugarplums. I'd make the transfer, she'd promptly curl up and would only wake up once in the middle of the night if she was in extreme need of a fresh diaper. Brian struggled, she would doze off for him but then look like trying to get a cat in a box when he would make the transfer to the crib. I could have her tucked in within about 15 minutes but he would be up there for an hour or more and she was more restless on the nights that he was responsible for. By the time week two rolled around, she was starting to fight me even though we agreed that I would be the one taking her up every night.
Last week it came to a head. I was home alone, trying the routine and she just wasn't having it but I knew she was exhausted since she halved her usual nap during the day. By the third time of taking her out of the crib (yes I know this is a no-no) I was confident that she was fed, dry, had her pacifier, burp cloth, lullabies were on and she could not possibly need anything else except to manipulate her exhausted Mommy a little bit more. So I made the tough decision to shut the door and walk away. I went into my room, put the baby monitor to the lowest volume setting and let her scream her little body till she was so exhausted and she fell asleep on her own. It was awful, but it worked. She slept the entire night! The next night I told Brian the plan and I laid her down again this time to listen to her for about 45 minutes - but again she slept the entire night. By the time I laid her down last night, she made one long wail when I shut her door but was already quiet by the time I made my way downstairs to the family room.
I hated doing it and it broke my heart, but her sleep pattern is so much better. I miss our nights of cuddling in the glider, but this is really better for everyone overall. Even daytime naps on the weekend when both of us are home are just so much better and she will take one 2.5 hour snooze consistently. Obviously the little white nubs of teeth that I see peeking through her gums are probably going to rock this boat, but for now the bedtime thing isn't such a chore for the first time since back to the Post-Glenn days and to steal a page from the McD's slogan - I'm lovin it!