For the last two months or so, E has been saying that it's time to transition Finn to her crib. And for the last two months or so, I've been putting it off. We bought her really nice furniture, gave her a super cute nursery, hung cow photos and chandeliers -- all of this HAD to be done before she arrived in February. And at 6.5 months, she has yet to sleep a full night in there. We have used her room quite a bit, but never for long lengths of sleeping.
When she was born, we had her sleeping in a Moses basket that we bought at Goodwill for $5. It was wonderful to be able to carry her all around the house in her sleeping quarters. We started by placing the basket in a bassinet that my cousin let me borrow. We were able to have her in our room, but not sleeping with us. During those first two months, whenever she would cry in the middle of the night, I (or E before I quit pumping and started exclusively breastfeeding) would get up, grab the basket and head downstairs to the living room to feed her. We would end up staying down there, with us sleeping on the sofa until the morning, Finn in her basket on the chaise of the sofa. E & I were both of the mind that if it's his night, he didn't want me waking up and vice versa. Only problem with that? I had to get up either way to pump. At about two month, we decided that we were going to "transition" her into her room. We would place the basket in her crib. We did this for a week or two and then I realized how easy it would be to just have her sleep with us.
I would be able to feed her without getting up. She would be right there and if she fussed, we definitely would hear her. And so it began... My mother had always advocated for co-sleeping, but the hospital had petrified us. One of our nurses scared us with a story of a father who five days earlier rolled over his five-day old daughter, smothering her. I had always thought that co-sleeping was for those weird parents who didn't have any boundaries, the moms who would "whip it out" in public without a cover whenever their baby was hungry. A lot of perceptions change when you are placed in a sticky situation. We became co-sleepers and I enjoyed it.
I tell everyone who asks why we co-slept that I had to do what I needed to do to survive. Sleep is a rare commodity when you are a new parent and I didn't realize until I had my daughter how much I need sleep. So I was able to sleep better when she was sleeping next to me. I was able to feed her without really waking up. But I also could sleep well, knowing that she was right next to me, snuggled into my side. I secretly loved our nightly routine of feeding, sleeping and snuggling the entire night. I would wake up in the middle of the night and Finn would be laying in a huge wet spot. At first, I thought she was spitting up, but then I realized that it was all head sweat. She is a sweaty baby -- she sleeps better when she is stuck to your bare skin, head sweaty or covered in a warm blanket, head sweaty. In fact, one time in the late spring, we were napping, her on my chest and I had covered her with a fuzzy blanket. She was softly snoring for almost 45 minutes. I lift up the covers to see her sweet face, and I see the beads of sweat, dripping off her face. But she was sleeping so peacefully, I just lifted the blanket ever so slightly to give her a little fresh air. She was awake within a minute or two after that.
But the real reason why we co-slept was because I enjoyed it so much and I was going to miss it when we had to stop. I didn't want my little girl, sleeping away from us. I don't enjoy sleeping by myself, how could she? What if she gets lonely? So I dug my heels in when E would suggest her crib. I said that I would wait until after his trips away. Why start something only to stop it mid-way? I wasn't going to sleep by myself during his trips away and so we would wait until after mid August.
When E suggested the crib on Tuesday morning, after the third weekday morning of her waking up at 4:30am to sing to us for an hour, I hung my head in defeat, knowing it was truly time. Parenting is really hard sometimes in that you have to do what is best for them and not for you. I needed to give her the chance to be independent. I needed to let go of my need to sleep with her and let her grow. This is the first of many times where I'm going to have to put aside my feelings and let her stretch her wings, that I need to put my faith in her and see how far she can go.
So last night, we began the transition. At about 8:30, the lady and I went upstairs. I got her dressed for bed. This was the first time in weeks, that she was going to sleep with 'jammies on. Her usual pajamas when she was sleeping with us was simply her diaper. We laid in our bed for our bedtime nursing session. She fell asleep directly afterwards. And I scooped her up and moved her into her crib. I had put the burp cloth that she had been sleeping on in our bed under her head and left her my trusty pillow (the one that I had since I was born) to snuggle with, having read that the transition is easier if her crib smells like our bed. I told myself that when she woke up crying, I would move her into our bed for the remainder of the evening. I think that I was trying to ease the transition for myself.
I slept terribly. I slept so lightly, thinking that she was going to be up at any moment. At 2:00am, she woke up. She started fussing and whining. But she never cried. I would flick on the video monitor occasionally, just visually checking on her. You have no idea how hard it was for me to remain fixed in the bed. I had made a promise to myself and I knew that I couldn't break it. I could only go get her if she cried. She whined for about 15 minutes and then was silent. I suddenly got scared, turning on the video monitor to check on her. "Is she breathing? Should I go check on her?" She put herself to sleep!
About 15 minutes of her falling back asleep, I must have fallen into a deep sleep because the next thing I hear was my alarm going off at 5:30am! On night #1 of sleeping in her crib, she slept through the night! E was right -- the reason that she wasn't sleeping through the night was due to our tossing & turning. It had nothing to do with her inability to sleep for 7.5 hours straight. I was the one that was holding her back for sleeping peacefully.
Now I recognize that it was a single night and that tonight could be her waking up at midnight. But I also recognize that she can do it. She can sleep by herself and that she sleeps well by herself. Are there going to be nights where she still sleeps with us? Absolutely. But is tonight going to be easier on me to put her in her crib, knowing that she sleeps well in there? Absolutely. As much as she is growing up and becoming more independent, so am I.