No more expert books, please!
I know there are many different schools of thought out there, each with their own fancy lingo and terms. I know that family and friends all have their little tricks and advice. I know that any philosophy I want to adopt, I can probably find a doctor who agrees with me.
But I think after all this, what I have learned most is to trust my own instincts.
Tired and worn-out, we had decided to "sleep train" Caleb. He was still feeding every 3 hours, even through the night. We had been repeatedly advised by many people that by six months there was no need for him to be feeding through the night. And he also needed to learn to soothe himself to sleep without our help, or he would have sleep issues his whole life.
His schedule before sleep training was:
7pm - nurse and bed.
10pm - nurse, awake time
11pm - bed
2am - nurse, sleep
5am - nurse, awake
8am - nurse, nap
11am - nurse
1pm - nap
2pm - nurse
5pm - nurse, nap
7pm - nurse, bed
Having tried the attachment parenting up to this point (which involves attending to the needs of the baby as he expresses them) and he still wasn't sleeping through the night, we were advised to try several "cry-it-out" methods. What we learned is that Caleb does not have the capacity to cry it out. He can (and has) cried for six solid hours. If we let him cry during naps, he cries until naptime is over, without having slept a wink.
Oh yeah - he doesn't just cry - he shrieks. As though he was in excruciating pain. People who have never heard this before are terrified something is wrong and run to his side.
So last Friday we finally came to our wits end with sleep training. It was 3 in the morning (which is never a good time to start a disagreement!) and we were exhausted, and Caleb was exhausted, and Colin was waking up because of the crying.
(That's another thing - no sleep book tells you what to do with your 2-year old while you spend an hour trying to get your baby to sleep, or how to keep a 2-year old sleeping while your baby is shrieking at night.)
At any rate, I realized that all the sleep training had done was make Caleb terribly afraid every time I left the room, and also scared to pieces of being in his room. I came to two important conclusions regarding Caleb and sleep:
1. I realized that he eats for a good 15 minutes at 2am, and so probably really does need the feed.
2. I realized that he is not ready to be by himself yet. He is only a baby and still needs the comfort of his mother. He is only 7 months old. I can understand this.
The worst of all this sleep training is that since Friday when we decided to toss this theory, Caleb has NO sleep schedule at all. He can't seem to fall asleep for daytime naps, and only sleeps from 8pm-10pm at night. After 10pm, he comes in and out of sleep every 15 minutes or so, whimpering and trying to nurse until 5am, when he's up for good. Last night he actually fell asleep as long as he was latched onto me, and if I tried to unlatch him, he started whimpering and shrieking. Right now I'm not getting any more than a couple 10 minute cat naps, and wishing I had been satisfied with 10 hours of sleeping/feeding, instead of yearning for a solid 6 hours.
I am fervently praying he will settle down in a few days, once he realizes that I have not abandoned him any longer.