It has been one whole year since Butterfly started waking hourly during the night. ONE YEAR.
Now, before she was 6 months old, she would only wake once per night. Then, one week before Christmas last year, everything changed...
We used to be on TH routines (VOMIT), so she always went to bed awake, and would cry for me for a few minutes before falling asleep. I used to try and justify this (as TH does in her book) by saying it was just a "whinge", an attention cry, not an emotional cry. Looking back now it breaks my heart to think that every night my beautiful daughter went to sleep begging me to stay with her, to hold her, make her feel secure. And I ignored it. I hope you realise how incredibly difficult it is to admit all of this to you, and how much my heart aches for the time we lost listening to that stupid book! I am getting very emotional writing this...
At 6 months old, that "whinge" turned into an emotional cry... screaming, sobbing, basically it escalated to a point that I, brainwashed as I was, couldn't ignore it. So I began breastfeeding Jocelyn to sleep. And she began waking on the hour, every hour, for more boobies. MAJUH sleep deprivation! So I searched for an answer, and all I kept coming across was the "Cry it Out" method. The alternatives to listening to the crying were, "Go outside so you don't hear it"! I mean, where the FECK was I looking to have come up with advice like that?
So we tried it, I mean I've blogged about this before... so yes, we tried it. Yes, it "worked" (ie she stopped night waking), but it didn't sit right. So I only lasted a few nights before buying and reading "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Leidloff... I'd heard Sausage Mama raving about it and thought it might have an answer. It did.
I learnt a LOT. A baby craving a parent close, settling them to sleep peacefully was not a selfish, naughty WANT. It is a NEED. Having someone calm them at night when they wake up in the dark is a NEED. Sleeping with a parent during the night is the most natural and soothing thing for a child (not to mention I got SO much more sleep!) The Continuum Concept gave me the confidence to parent instinctually, to give my daughter what she needed. And what she needed was ME. I felt like such an ASS for ever following a baby trainers advice, but hey, I was a new Mum and the book seemed to have all the answers.
So I started breastfeeding to sleep, cosleeping, and attending to Joss lovingly every time she woke. YEP, it was hourly, and YEP, I was sleep deprived! But HAPPY and at PEACE. And I knew I was doing the right thing.
That is what has gotten me through this past year. The knowledge that I am doing what is best for my beautiful little girl. If someone had've told me that the hourly waking was going to last a week, I would have cried. I never imagined that a year later, she would still be waking during the night! Having said that, it has slowly improved over time. Now she wakes twice or three times a night on a good night, hourly if she is sick or teethy. We just deal with it as it comes.
Sleep deprivation sucks ass, but I have found some ways to deal with it...
- Sleep when Butterfly sleeps (ie nap during the day)
- COSLEEP! Sometimes I barely wake up, just roll over and offer the boob, and go back to sleep. Getting up and going into the nursery was the real killer. We have Butterfly's cot (with one side removed) against our bed, so essentially we sleep on the same surface but have our own space. Research safe cosleeping before doing it.
- Surround yourself with positive people. I hang out with AP friends who never once pushed the CIO method on me, just supported me through the rough times. Having CIO thrust upon you on your worst days isn't healthy.
Life hasn't been easy this past year, I have had horrible days, horrible nights and times where I felt like I couldn't keep going. Don't be under the illusion that it is easy. I have always said that if I get to the end of my tether I will read Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution"... but I don't know what that book is like because I've never reached breaking point.
Now, not every babe who is breastfed to sleep will wake hourly. Actually, before we went on "routines" Butterfly would sleep 4 hours straight (as a newborn!). Most of my friends' babes haven't gone through this (the ones who BF to sleep I mean).
But if your child IS like Butterfly, take heart. It won't be forever. It does improve and it does get easier. I'm at the point where I FEEL less tired than when she would only wake once a night! Its such a great investment, Butterfly is a wonderfully happy, smart and confident child! She isn't the overtired monster I was led to believe she would be, if she wasn't forced into a "one size fits all" routine *Blows huge raspberry to Ms Hall*
I am happy. I wasn't always. I didn't realise how depressed I was until I put down that book, the clouds cleared, and I started to enjoy the intimate time during the night I spend meeting Butterfly's needs. Its my job as a mother and I relish it!
I look forward to having another baby. If he or she is a night waker like Butterfly? BRING IT ON! I can't wait to be a mother all over again! To those who think I won't be able to handle Butterfly when I have another, well, I will show them... I don't care what anyone says, how they parent their own kids, I have found my happiness and no one can take that away from me.