Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She’s co-sleeping through the night! Ha! They said it would never happen...

Woo hoo! I’m writing to spread good news and hope to all co-sleeping and other mothers out there whose babes are currently all night-wakers and feeders. At 13 months Bella started to sleep through the night! With no crying, no training (not formal anyway)... i.e. no misery and guilt. Wow. Phew. I did wonder if it would ever happen but I am so, so glad I held out now. After the soul-destroying experience of following the crowd and training Jemima at only six months (I know, a mere newbie. T’was gentle training but still, I’ll always regret it), I have fed and cuddled a co-sleeping Bella countless times every night since the day she was born, in good faith that one day it would pay off. And it has... here’s how. This one is for you Kat! I have only just seen your comment on last post... sorry and hope this lifts your spirits!

I suppose in a way you could call it training. Not really though, and it was accidental. After two weeks of sharing two single beds pushed together with my husband and two babes, at my dad’s house, (actually there was also a ‘nest’ of duvets etc on the floor, where one child would start the night but often where either James or I would end up by morning), I was getting a bit rattled. So the minute my sister’s family left us I announced that I was starting the night in the spare double room all on my own and when Bella woke James could bring her to me. We’d then spend rest of night in there together (me and Bella only I mean). I was so excited to have some space and fell asleep stretched out like a star fish, super happy - albeit with the usual slight downer of knowing that soon I would wake up for the first of many of our midnight love-ins.

When I woke to find Bella being handed to me smiling and laughing by James, I was about to groan, “The fun begins”, when I noticed it was light outside.
“What time is it?”
“Ah... hang on? What time is it? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

This was quite honestly the first time I had slept for more than three hours in a row for nearly 18 months (sleepless latter half of pregnancy included in calculations). Not only had I just slept for seven hours undisturbed but after she fed we both went back to sleep until 8am. Oh. My. God.

This was the same child who, all that week, had been waking hourly and feeding in a frenzied, upset way, unable to sleep without my boob, but too tired to feed properly. Or she was just teething? Who knows, and who cares anyway now! It is history. For three nights we did the same thing, Bella snuggled up (read: squashed between) with James and Jemima, me blissfully spread out in my own bed. Each night she woke, murmured a bit, sort of cried a bit once or twice, James shsssshed her and she went straight back to sleep. I spent my days dancing around the house, rejoicing in my new well-slept self. I was convinced I had less wrinkles and looked positively 10 years younger, having been complaining all year of looking like an old woman thanks to loving Bella so much. There was only one thing that worried me. While I had absolutely no desire to return to the all- night feeding, I did want to go back to sleeping and cuddling up with Bella and James. Would she start waking again once I came back?

No! Hoorah! We took it slowly, starting with her in the nest on the floor for a week, where she woke once a night, two nights, and not at all the rest of the time. Amazingly for us, one of those nights she did not even feed but cuddled up to me instead. Then she came back into our bed and continued to sleep through. She sometimes wakes but mostly goes straight back to sleep. Once or twice she has fed once, which I can handle, no problem. Three weeks have passed now and the pattern continues. Joy.

Post script – (For those of you who, although this post was designed to give hope and encouragement, are simply too exhausted and milked out to rejoice with me, and are still in the stage where you feel more comforted more by other’s suffering than other’s successes) - There is one blip... jet lag. We came back from the UK to PP two days ago and put it this way, it is 10pm and Bella has been walking (oh yes, she is walking now too!) around the house and helping me type for the last hour that it has taken me to write this. She is now having a bath with James. Even if we do get her to bed before midnight she will wake a few hours later to romp around for a couple of hours... they say children are affected by jet lag for the same number of days as there were hours in the journey... i.e. 2 down, 10 more to go...

Have faith, take courage, stick with it... it will happen to you.


Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm so happy for you ( and I'm not saying that through gritted teeth I promise!). Just a quick question - was Bella feeding much at night just before this? ie actually taking in lots of milk rather than just comfort grazing? Its just that M seems to feed more at night than any other time in the 24 period and I feel like I'd be denying her milk she needs. I'm trying to feed her more during the day but she's not that interested, I know if I stopped feeding her at night she would be more interested in the day, but I can't do that without her getting upset. It's a chicken and egg situation and I know I must be patient, but I could do with looking ten years younger too! Gayle

Anonymous said...

Hurrah! That's great G. Re: jetlag I always thought that it was a day per hour of time difference...rather than per hour of the journey?! Whatever, they do what they do anyway!!

And don't worry Kat. It WILL happen. (Really glad to know you are reading Motherland!)

It took my daughter over two years to sleep through even once and 2 and a half years to self-wean off the breast....As soon as she stopped night-feeding (and the key definitely seems to be altering the way they fall asleep at night), she slept through the night every night. I think once you have made up your mind that you really mean business (without allowing crying of course!) they get a whiff of it too and begin to adapt accordingly. (Being co-sleeping, bf etc babies, I think it is part of their continuum to move along with you so this need not be drastic action - if that makes sense? For example G didn't say ' I will not feed at night' just 'I will sleep somewhere else, bring her in when she wakes.' It was enough for B to decide she didn't need it at night, in fact.) Interestingly and surprisingly to me it also happened for us whilst I was on a trip back to the UK... I think it was the change of scene, the cold and all the general excitement that enabled it. Plus which I felt more ready and available to take the plunge (how do they know there isn't an alternative unless we offer it?) and try some different ways of getting her to sleep - e.g. we chose reading and cuddling. I took advantage of a few extra late nights when I knew she was exhausted and said ' ah, you don't need booby - let's just carry on reading this shall we...?' We still do that now (read and cuddle) every nap and every night time. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes and sometimes an hour.... but it is truly lovely and she will be three in November.

I aided the night-weaning through discussion with my daughter and some tips from the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (there's one for babies and one for toddlers). It is very pro co-sleeping and bf and gives you some practical things to do suitable for their age. Plus it gives you a focus beyond needing more sleep! Really wish you lots of luck with that and if you want to discuss more you can email me directly via K. T x

Georgie said...

Hello Gayleee!

Well to start with I think it is only me that thinks I look ten years younger - James says I look same as always. But what would he know! MOre importantly, yes and no. Some of her feeds would be serious guzzling swallowing 5 minutes each side proper hungry drinking and others would be either quick comfort feeds or frustrated wriggling about (arrgghhh) teething type feeds. But they are different because Bella did feed a lot in the day. I noticed that when we were together in summer actually - she always seemed to be on boob whereas Margot didn't so much. B had a long feed before most naps, not always in morning though if I was our working. And I suppose I would stick her on whenever either of us needed to sit down and relax! But she would probably have about four proper feeds in the day yes. You know one way to increase day feeds is to feed her before her meal. I got into habit of doing this for Bella because sometimes she would be tired and not want to eat at the table. So I would just feed her on both sides and then she would perk up and sit and eat. She may eat less food but breast milk still more nutritious for them at this stage anyway as long as they are getting enough food to get them their iron etc. I do think the timing was right with Bella but then as we did not plan it maybe not... I guess we won't know... well apart from the fact that Bella knows what she wants and makes it known and so would scream her head off if she was not able to cope or not happy with situation. So I guess she was ready. You might find that now Josie is at school and you have quieter mornings Margot will feed for longer - Bella does feed more when not distracted and when I am peaceful. Ohhh good luck and at least second time round we know there is an end in sight!! Gxxxx

Ann-Marie Dewhurst said...

Well done and good for you! I'm not sure weather we sleep through yet or not as I don't wake up.

Mind you I do start off in our double and wake up in lo's double, so there's something going on lol!But it least I'm still asleep.. he he.
Nice to see you back xx

Georgie said...

ha ha you sound like my friend Jo! I have never slept that well co-sleeping unfortunately, I love it and sleep ok, but I do wake when baby moves or wakes. It must be wonderful not to cos there is no pressure or desire to ever change anything. Whereas I must admit there were many nights when I was definitely doing it for Bella's sake and losing much sleep over it! If I am on my own with her in bed that's great - I just need space that's all. SO when husband there too... gets kind of squashy!

Georgie said...

hi tara! for some reasons my comments are noy going up in order sorry. Great stuff thanks so much for sharing it all. I think the duvets and cosiness of cold countries help a bit to get back to sleep when they wake too. Here she is naked and no sheets so wakes and rolls and sits up whereas there the weight of covers prob felt all snuggly why move sort of thing!

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Stacy (mama-om) said...

Hi -- found you through your facebook group (looking for peaceful/gentle/instinctual parenting groups)... and I like your blog!

I see you're on the continuum concept list. I used to be on it but went no-mail last year.

Nice to meet you -- and congrats on all the extra sleep and your contented girl.