I know this can be a sensitive topic and I've hesitated to post about it, but thoughts about sleep having been consuming many of my waking hours (of which there have been many) lately, so this is really just a ramble of what's been running through my head.
I really hoped that Sprout would sleep train on her own. I know that's naive, but it didn't stop me from hoping. She really is quite an "easy" baby so it would have been nice if that carried over to sleep. ...Not that she's a "bad" sleeper. We've gotten into a fairly reasonable routine of bedtime at about 7:30pm, followed by a few minutes of rocking whenever she wakes up between then and 10:30pm-ish when we go into bed, and then nursing every three hours or so throughout the night until maybe 5:00am where she more or less stays on the boob until she gets up at 6:00 or 6:30am. She usually doesn't cry, just fusses until she is nursed and then goes back down to sleep with minimal rocking, if any. Fairly reasonable, right? Except that she's still waking up to nurse every three hours. Which means I'm only sleeping about two and half hours at a time. And that can catch up with a girl, you know? Anyway, all this to say that we're getting to the point where we are starting to think about sleep training.
But here's the thing, even the thought of several more months of interrupted sleep isn't enough for me to feel guiltless in letting Ms. Sprout cry, and from what I know, even the most gentle sleep training methods usually involve tears.
Back when The Bean was wee, we did a modified sort of Cry It Out. He never cried very long, but still, it was hard. (Jen wrote about it in this blog post.) Read that with the knowledge that Jen was the "strong" one. I fought back tears of my own while she reassured me that it really was going to be best for all of us. After a few days he was going down without any fuss. I even remember a period following his sleep training where he would happily give us goodnight kisses and then roll over and close his eyes before we shut the bedroom door. (He's currently in a stage where he procrastinates like no one's business at bedtime, and occasionally will tell us, "I'm going to cry." when we are getting ready to leave the room. Yet I don't struggle with this in the same way as I did/do with having a baby cry.)
So you think we'd be able to do the same thing with Sprout knowing that the results are likely to be positive. Or we could do the other CIO method which I would describe as more of a "back away slowly" method than a "go in and check on them often" method. But still, when I hear her fuss and know that I could go in and comfort her and I'm not, I get itchy.
She is still just a little baby. She hasn't even been in this world as long as she was inside me (though that won't be true for much longer). She finds joy in things like holding her hands under a running stream of water, bouncing, grabbing the cat's fur, and blowing raspberries. She finds comfort in closeness. Who are we to deny her that? When I pick her up to rock her and she lets out a big sigh and puts her little dimply-knuckled hand on my chest before letting her heavy eyelids close I melt. I am not ready to let that go yet.
Plus, any time we've started thinking about sleep training something seems to come up that makes it feel like a Really Bad Idea. She has a cold. She's learning to crawl. We're going on a trip. She's figured out how to get out of her swaddle (surely one change to the sleep routine at a time is enough!). She's teething. She's learning to cruise.
Still, at 2:30am it's dark and hard to see those dimply little knuckles and feel quite as nostalgic about rocking her to sleep, so maybe one day soon we'll decide it's time to give sleep training a go.
Any tips on how to do it without either baby or Mama crying are welcome!