I'm now convinced that, if you wanted to become a millionaire, you should publish yet another "How to Get Your Child to Sleep" book, because it appears to be a saturation-proof market. And you can feel free to contradict every other sleep book out there, because heaven knows there's no consistency at the moment. Cry! Don't let them cry! Crying is good! Crying is evil! They'll get over it. They'll never get over it. Never let them sleep with you. Always have them sleep with you.
Meanwhile, the exhausted parent is trolling the bookstore aisle looking for the shortest of these books, because you can hardly stay awake long enough to read them.
We started with a good-sleeping baby, which is different than many, I realize. She started sleeping for long stretches at about 8 weeks old, with nary a sleep-book in sight. You know what that is? Sheer dumb luck.
Then she hit four months. And it all fell to shit. Down to sleep by 8pm, which was great. And then...up at midnight, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, or some combination of the above. I put it down to the "4 month sleep regression" phase and hoped she'd work it out.
Today she is five months. (Editorial note: 5 MONTHS? Where did it go?) And not that I expected her to figure out her sleeping in one month exactly, but I've had the sneaking suspicion for the last week or so that she's developed some bad habits and doesn't really know how to get out of them. Kind of like she was when first picking up objects: good at clinging to them, not so good at letting go. She'd be clenching to some small item and look at me like, "are you going to help me get rid of this thing on my hand? Because I'm done with it, but it won't go away."
The other thing about the sleep books is the minefield of opinions people have about them, and about your choices. I had a feeling that she just needed to, yes, 'cry it out' for a few nights to get herself through this phase, but I was afraid to do it: both because I hate to hear her cry, but more because I felt the ghosts of a thousand judg-y parents hovering over me, whispering, "oh, I could never let my child cry. It's just cruel."
But, ghosts aside, we did it. Friday night, we girded ourselves up for a scream-fest. Down to bed at 8pm: check. Up at 10:30pm: check. Then...one minute, pat her and soothe her and assure her we are here. (We're right next to her, given that she's still sleeping in our room, but she can't see us.) Then, three minutes. And five. And ten. And another ten. By now she's CRYING, but not in a scared or panicked or painful kind of way: mostly in a SUPER PISSED OFF tone, which is less heartbreaking than the others. After about 45 minutes, she feel asleep. I breathed out. And waited for the next wake-up.
When she started to stir, I rolled over, figuring it was probably about 2am. I checked the clock. 5:30am. I checked again: 5:30AM. Holy. Mackerel.
For us, it took one bad night. And that was it. Since then, she's down by about 7:30pm, and sleeps until 5am. It is a freaking miracle. And I am starting to recover the pieces of myself that had been scattered across six wake-ups all night long for the last month.
I don't know what works for every kid, but this is what worked for ours. At least for now. At least until the next developmental spurt, or teething festival, or...whatever.
Naps are another matter. They're getting better, slowly, but certainly not as dramatically as the night-sleeping. But we'll take what we can get.