In our 10 weeks of child rearing and 38 weeks, 6 days of gestating said child, I have come to realize something.
This baby thing is basically one big science experiment.
From "Let's try to get pregnant" to "why won't she sleep" every outcome has been up in the air, and each has been dependent on so many variables it would make your head explode if you really thought about it for any length of time.
Keeping this kid alive in itself doesn't seem so hard, but trying to excel at it so that she will thrive, THAT is a challenge. I read and google and ask around, and come away with more advice than I would ever be able to execute. But how to decide how to proceed?
As you may or may not know, we are currently trying to get a handle on this whole sleep thing. We continue to be extremely lucky that M sleeps through the night for the most part. And for the most part I mean probably 1 night out of 14 is off, and the rest she goes to bed between 7 and 8, and gets up no earlier than 6 am to eat, then hits the sack again within about 45 minutes for another few hours. We love this schedule. This schedule is the bomb.
Her daytime schedule remains slightly less than ideal. Meaning we get short 30-40 minute naps throughout the day (maybe 4-5 each day) and maybe once a week she will take a great afternoon nap of between 3-4 hours. This is overkill, I would settle for 2 hours.
So, we've been working on sleep issues. We had been practicing attachment parenting, which worked for us for the first 8 weeks. When she cried, we went to her, soothed her, fed her, whatever she needed. But heading out of week 8 was when the short naps arrived on the scene, so we moved to a slightly more humane version of what people refer to as "Cry It Out". We don't let her cry indefinitely, but only 5-10 minutes. If she doesn't settle, we soothe her and put her back down. For most naps, she never cries more than 10 minutes. Maybe once a day she will go on and on, and as soon as I pick her up to soothe her she settles and then falls fast asleep when put back in her crib.
I was feeling torn about this strategy. The theory behind attachment parenting is that if you let your newborn child cry and cry until she stops, she is learning to soothe herself, but is also learning that you are not there to soothe her. This is the last thing that I want. I may not be the most competent parent, with the most sunshiny disposition and the most enthusiasm for kid-related things, but I want my kid to know that I've got her back, no matter what. However, I also don't want her to feel like we resent her in any way, and I think that is the danger of ALWAYS being there for her, especially since I don't have the most sunshiny disposition nor the most enthusiasm for kid-related things.
And you know what? For now this change is working for us. M is sleeping more during the day, albeit still in short stints, but overall there is more daysleep happening. And she is happier. Gone are the days of many many meltdowns. Now we have a real scream-it-out, nothing will satisfy her moment maybe every 2-3 days, and they are much shorter episodes than before. And when I put her in her swing or chair instead of wailing she is content for a while to watch her mobile or some other toy.
I'm also happier. I don't feel guilty to put her in her swing while I do some dishes or laundry because now she doesn't cry. Even though her naps are short, I know to expect them to be short so I really get all my shit done while she's in there instead of trying to nap myself or take a break. Break only happens if I can get all the other stuff done before she gets up, or when SB gets home to take over.