This past month, I started weaning her off her swaddle by swaddling just one of her arms. I first did it on a night when I knew she was exhausted, and would likely sleep through anything. All in all, there was no trouble with swaddling just one arm, she adjusted to it very easily for a few weeks.
4 month sleep regression. I had read countless things about this stage, and every night as I put her to bed, I braced myself for what was to come: "would the sleep regression start tonight?" Right after she turned 4 months, she randomly woke up 3 hours after she went to bed - (she usually would go 6-8 hours before waking up!) I immediately thought "Here we go, this is it." And I instagramed this picture from our baby-cam, announcing that the sleep regression had arrived!
Many of you had encouraging words for me: "Good luck!" "It's terrible, but you'll get through it!" etc., etc. But then...that didn't happen again for a few weeks. 4 months and 1 week passed, then 4 months and 2 weeks, 4 months and 3 weeks and then we entered the last week of her 4th month. I thought "maybe we're in the clear! Maybe she won't have this sleep regression!" And then...all of a sudden, it hit. I was up every 2-3 hours for about a week straight. I don't so much mind the getting up part, as long as I can feed her and get her right back down to sleep, but the problem she's been having for a little over 2 weeks now is the "going back to sleep" thing. She tosses and turns, and she startles awake almost immediately after falling back asleep. For two nights last week, I was stubborn. I had just fed her, and I knew she wasn't hungry. I also knew that nursing her would help her fall back to sleep almost immediately, but that she was using nursing as her only way to go back to sleep! So I refused to give in, and tried to get her to sleep by other methods. (which is hard...if I'm holding her and she wants to nurse...she will kick and arch her back every way she can in order to reach the boob!) After 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night, I gave in and started nursing her again - heck, she usually eats every 2 hours during the day anyway. In the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed...some battles just aren't worth fighting anymore.
This has been a tricky balance for me. Many people will say that I'm helping her form bad habits here by always nursing her in the middle of the night, and I wouldn't disagree with that. But I've also read many counter arguments to that. These people say that sometimes, you need to do whatever you can to get through the regression/night and you have time to break bad habits later. This paragraph struck me from this article on Sleep, Baby, Sleep.
I look at a sleep regression like when you first bring your baby home from the hospital. Anything goes at that point, anything she needs you provide. No set rules. So that the both of you get some sleep, otherwise you'll slowly start to lose your sanity. Don't be afraid that your going to have to start sleep training all over. Like I said, once your baby already has those skills, the most that you'll have to do is remind her, not start all over.The only thing that made me get through the last two weeks was a complete change of mindset. I was so focused on "not giving in" that my mind would go to a dark place in the middle of the night. After 1 to 2 hours of trying to get her to go back to sleep, I start to think crazy, stupid dramatic things:
"Of course my baby can't go to sleep"
"Maybe I should just stop nursing her altogether if she's going to be like this"
"I can never do anything again, so much for ever having a social life!"
"Who needs F*** sleep anyway?!"
"Well great, I'll just be super tired tomorrow then, ugh!"But WHY did I let it get to me so much? Do I really think I'm the only mother up at 3 in the morning trying to get her baby to sleep? Across the country, and across the world, there are hundreds of other mothers doing the exact same thing I'm doing at the exact same time. And what does it really matter? Sure...maybe I'll be a little bit tired the next day, but you know what's truly amazing? I can take a nap. I don't have to get up at 6am to go work an 8 hour work day - I'm extremely lucky for that, and I have no right to complain.
Once I stopped the self-loathing of being up in the middle of the night, and once I came to terms with the fact that for these few weeks during her regression I'm going to nurse her extra during the night, and I'll worry about weaning her from that later on, I became a much more sane person. Last week, she tossed and turned one night from 1:45-4:00 am: waking, sleeping, waking, sleeping. I was in and out of sleep during that time watching her on the monitor, but she never cried that whole time, and from what I could see, she was in the process of learning to put herself back to sleep. Before I knew it it was 5:30am and she was up and crying...but the important thing is she had spent all that time calmly working through going to sleep by herself. It was a long night of me constantly checking on her, but it was still progress in my eyes.
Kellymom.com is basically the breastfeeding bible, and the article "Sleeping Through the Night" is pretty much exactly how I plan to continue with Natalie. The link is great, and I highly recommend reading it if you are going through the same thing as I am. It basically says that every baby is different. Like learning to crawl and walk, babies reach the milestone of sleeping through the night at all different ages, and on their own time. Natalie may not necessarily be waking because she's hungry, but because she's still learning how this crazy, scary thing called life and the world works. Who am I to deny her a little bit of comfort in the middle of night? At the end of the day, giving in to that isn't necessarily a bad thing.