Well, as soon as I thought things were improving, they went downhill fast. We were back to 20 minute naps, multiple wake ups at night and a cranky pants baby. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. As I researched sleep, the one consistent thing I was finding (because every expert has different advice) was that adequate daytime sleep was really important for the brain development of baby. So along with dealing with the fussiness, I was also dealing with some massive mom guilt that my kid was going to flunk out of school because I couldn't figure out how to get her to nap. Awesome.
The only option we had left was to let her cry it out. Whole new world of mom guilt. Seriously, so freaking hard, but we really felt like we had no other option. I've never been one of the people that believes letting your baby cry it out is mean and cruel and will turn them into serial killers. It makes sense to me that we have to teach babies lots of things, and teaching them to sleep is probably one of those things. When I was pregnant, I fully expected to someday pursue this form of sleep training. However, at 3am, when E is crying, and I'm watching the monitor obsessively, its hard to remember that I believe that and a lot easier to convince myself I'm doing permanent damage.
I made an appointment with the pediatrician, because if I was going to continue on this course, I wanted some reassurance that there wasn't an underlying problem like an ear infection, and I wanted to ask if it was a good plan if/when she was teething, because she was starting to exhibit a lot of the signs of teething. Thankfully, baby girl is healthy, but the doctor does think she is teething. She supports cry it out, but also let me know that if E wakes up after 4am (which she does pretty much every night now) that I should go ahead and feed her. Keep in mind that whenever I've talked about E sleeping through the night and especially during that 2-3 week period that she was sleeping through every night, she was going 9 and 10 hour between feeds, so to hear that my new normal is 6 hours is a little rough, but adjusting my attitude to expect to wake up and feed her at that time instead of going to bed thinking she should be sleeping until 7am and getting frustrated when she wakes up at 4:30am has really helped.
The pediatrician also said that if she's going down for bed by 7pm and getting up for the day around 7:20, she's getting enough sleep (even with lots of wake ups), and she may just never be a big napper. On one hand this is really frustrating, because with her naps being so unpredictable, it's hard to have any kind of schedule. Also, she gets very fussy as the day progresses, which means it's not only hard to get things done during the day, but also, when she goes down for the night, I want to crash as well. On the other hand, now that I've pretty much accepted that no amount of me setting a routine is going to change how long she naps, I feel like I can be more flexible with our schedule. Silver lining?
As for crying it out, I know it works for a lot of families, but at this moment, we're not really following it. I still sometimes allow E to fuss for awhile before I go into her, but it's based more on how she's crying, when she's doing it, etc. Sometimes she wakes up fussing and I know if I leave her she'll go back to sleep. Sometimes she wakes up royally mad and I know that leaving her to cry will not do any of us any good. Honestly, I just wasn't strong enough for it. Having the doctor tell me she was getting enough sleep as is and knowing she's teething crumbled the last of my resolve.
So we still do a bedtime between 6:30 and 7pm, and she often wakes up several times before her 10pm feeding. After her 10pm feeding, she's great about sleeping until somewhere between 4 and 6am. Feeds again, and back down until 7:20ish. If she starts to have a lot of wake ups between 10pm and 4am, we may revisit sleep training. During the day, she naps between 3 and 6 times for a total daytime sleep amount anywhere between 50 minutes and 3.5 hours (usually around 2 hours- the 3.5 hours has only happened twice in the past month, but ohhhh those were glorious days).
Is it ideal? No. Did I hope/ expect she'd be a better sleeper by now? Yes. Her dislike of naps would make me question if she was my kid but I still vividly remember pushing her out of my lady bits. It is what it is, it's only a season, and it's where we stand right now.