Sleeping through the night (or not)

Ah, the coveted “sleeping through the night” merit badge.

In short, Corban’s still doesn’t have it. At least by definition for a 9-month-old (for a newborn, 6 hours straight is considered “through the night,” and at that stage, it truly feels like it).

Every night at about 2 a.m., I am aroused from my sweet slumber and must force my eyes open enough to stay awake while feeding Corban. He goes right back to sleep after filling up, and the whole thing including a diaper change, takes about 20-30 minutes, provided I don’t fall asleep in the chair and wake up 2 hours later with a sore neck. But on the best nights I still feel like a zombie come 6:30 a.m. when C is up for the day.

At Corban’s pediatrician visit last week, our doctor said this routine is common in breastfed babies and will likely continue as long as I continue nursing him when he wakes. The problem is Peter can’t sleep when he’s moaning (it’s not really crying, just making noise) and the easiest way to guarantee he’ll go back to sleep is just to nurse.

So, after discussing with the doc, our solution – or at least current attempt – is to turn off the monitor at night. Or, rather, not turn it on. And hope that Corban is able to just go back to sleep without us waking up.

Big boy pajamas (glow-in-the-dark, even). His sleep sack thingie (“nightgown” as I like to call it) is still the easiest for middle-of-the-night diaper changes though.

This worked the first night, sort of. We didn’t hear anything from him till around 5:30, at which point I brought Corban into our bed and nursed him lying down and we all went back to sleep till 7.

Obviously, if he had awoken in the middle of the night, he was able to settle himself back down without making too much noise. Success!

Then we were out of town, so I nursed him on demand at the tiniest peep for three nights just so as not to disturb others in the house.

Monday night, we forewent the monitor again, and this time Corban freaked out. He full-on cried in the middle of the night, and wouldn’t stop. For, like, an hour. So finally we couldn’t handle it anymore and I fed him. Poor baby. I am totally a proponent of cry it out, but this seemed extreme. Was he really, truly in need of food? (Very doubtful.) Or did he just think so? (More likely.) Or maybe he just wanted to know I was there to feed him like usual? (It’s habit at this point.)

So the past few nights we haven’t used the monitor, but if he wakes Peter (I’m that rare mother that sleeps through everything, even her kid) I’ve been nursing him. Pretty much back to square one but sans monitor (which has actually caused a few late starts to the day because Corban has been our alarm clock for so long, and these days he doesn’t cry when he wakes up – just sits up and babbles in his crib, which usually isn’t loud enough to hear across the house).

I feel kind of stuck. I’m not really sure what to do to end the night-waking. Part of me is fine with just continuing on with it because he is so sweet when he falls asleep in my lap and I’m sure a tiny part of me will miss those mid-night nursing sessions when they’re gone. But another, more rational part of me is tired and ready to start sleeping like a normal person again. And I know Corban needs to learn to sleep through the night as well.

So I guess in summary, help? Seriously, any advice would be appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Sleeping through the night (or not)

  1. Susan Slaber says:

    We had exactly the same thing with Jonathan at 9 months. It was not pretty. We finally had to bite the bullet and just let him cry. Talk about the need for discipline and perserverance on our part! Not fun in any way, shape, or form, but it did the trick.


    • Ellery says:

      We had a similar situation with our son, too. It took a few nights of crying it out but it worked. We knew he was waking out of habit, not need to eat because he would wake at the same time every night, which is what it sounds like Corban is doing. We followed the BabyWise principles (not sure if you’ve heard of it) but here’s a link to a great blog with some suggestions for helping baby sleep through the night. We started letting him CIO on the weekend when neither of us had to get up for work. If he’ll take a pacifier you could offer it to him in the middle of the night after he’s been crying for a determined amount of time (we gave it 15-20 min). You still have to get up, but after a few nights he’ll realize he’s not going to get you and hopefully he’ll just go back to sleep. Hang in there!


      • Alison says:

        Glad I am not the only one going through this at this age. I do believe CIO is best for him to learn healthy sleep habits, but for some reason it’s harder in the middle of the night than at naptime! That site has some helpful thoughts to consider, thanks.


  2. Laura B. says:

    Hmm. I’m sorry that you’re in such an exhausting stage of motherhood. Ev’s sleep pattern was very similar to Corban’s until we stopped nursing altogether, and I chose to indulge it. Partly because of what you say about it being such a wonderful, snuggly stage, but for more philosophical reasons, too. I guess I am more of the viewpoint that I’d rather build absolute trust between myself and my girls, and so I was happy to show her that I was ALWAYS there to help her. As she’s grown in understanding, and comprehension of language, I can explain to her that I want her to try to do things herself, and because she trusts me, she believes she can. And that includes sleep. But it is incredibly tiring, and does require so much work. So maybe, this is more commiseration than advice 🙂 Hang in. It gets better. And then you have another one…


      • Laura B. says:

        Oh, I didn’t mean to try and compare– I can’t even fathom working on such little sleep as moms get, and then going out to actually live as a functioning adult. Even though I have two non-sleepers, I have the luxury of pajamas and cuddling all day long 🙂


      • Alison says:

        No worries – I didn’t take it that way 🙂 Just compared to the early days, sleep is so much better now – not great, but better at least! Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be functioning, haha.


    • Alison says:

      Congrats on the impending arrival of your baby and thanks for commenting! We tried dream feeding when he was younger and it didn’t seem to work for us, but maybe it’d be worth revisiting.


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