*Disclaimer: I understand that some infants magically sleep through the night at a very early age. Maybe they were born that way, or maybe you found success with scheduling or cry-it-out. You may even follow that dubious method advocated by several pediatricians. Clara was absolutely not born that way, and I am very against scheduled feedings or allowing a small infant to cry when she has a need that I can meet. I could write a post on that. But those who agree with me would say Amen, and those that don't would think I'm judging them. I'm not.
Before my baby was born, I had beautiful visions of laying in bed, gazing lovingly at my newborn baby sleeping in the Arms Reach attached to my bedside. I knew that room sharing was best, but that baby should have her own surface on which to be placed on her back. I also knew that scheduling feedings or letting a baby cry herself to sleep was a surefire way to sabotage breastfeeding and attachment. Lastly, I knew that newborns sleep A LOT, so even though she would wake frequently, I could still nap in between and allow my body to recover from delivery.
After my baby was born, the picture looked a little more like this: baby only sleeps curled up on someone’s chest. Since babies are supposed to be placed to sleep on their back (instant crying), and are supposed to sleep on their own surface, this meant in my and my husband’s minds that one of us needed to sit awake and hold the baby for all of her sleeps. Cue over-exhausted momma, over-exhausted daddy who’s doing all he can, but still has to go back to working third shift a week after getting home from the hospital. You can also imagine that both momma and daddy caught themselves falling asleep with the baby in our arms while watching endless movies on Netflix. Not exactly safe infant sleep.
So step one was allowing myself to bring the baby to bed and have her sleep on my chest. I had the Arms Reach to act as a bed rail, I used a firm pillow, and never brought the covers up past my waist. I wish someone had told me that this was acceptable a month ago, and maybe I wouldn't have developed PPD from not enough sleep and too much panic and anxiety. We had to lie to our pediatrician about how baby slept, because instead of actual useful advice, all he told us was that she HAD to be sleeping on her own and that we were to simply lay her down awake and let her cry. Sorry. Not sorry. Not gonna happen.
The plus side of only-sleeping-on-mommy's-chest is that it's easy to get baby to sleep pretty much anywhere. Like on the beach, with built in white noise.
Slowly, we tried different strategies to get CG to sleep on her own. The swing worked for awhile, and eventually a tight swaddle helped her to stay in the Arms Reach for at least a few hours. Eventually, we got her weaned off of the Halo Sleep Sack, and she was sleeping in the cosleeper all by herself, except for the 4-10 times she was waking to nurse. But I was ok with that, because I had to work all day, and night time was our bonding time. Around 12 months, this bonding time was getting just a little old. I missed uninterrupted sleep. I was toying with the idea of moving her to her own room (one floor down from master bedroom), but was not at all interested in climbing those stairs 5 times a night. So we gradually moved the cosleeper, now converted to a crib, further and further from my bed. We bought a pretty curtain and created a sleep nook in a corner of our room to at least give hubbby and I some night time privacy.
But still she woke.