And since I'm awake....let's talk about sleep.
I don't consider myself a sleep expert by any means. I think I was suuuuper blessed with a child who enjoys sleeping almost as much as mommy and daddy do. We had the best dogs too. They were lazy just like me. :] When A was first born, we had some nights where both him and I were up, stumbling around, just staring at each other....some nights where he went back to sleep easily....and those nights where he screamed, cried, and thrashed and I screamed, cried, and thrashed along with him. On those nights, my husband seemed to sleep incredibly peacefully. I don't know how, but one time I had to literally punch/slap him HARD to wake him up. That all being said, I hardly felt sleep deprived.
My kid slept really well during the day. For the first few days, I attempted to get things done around the house or the blog. But eventually, I just started lying down on the couch and snoozing along with him. I tell ya, motherhood got pretty boring so I slept. My kiddo was awake and then back down within a 2-3 hour window. And he slept for 1-3 hours at a time. It was glorious. During those first few months, I just nursed him and/or rocked him until he fell asleep.
Then he started wanting to stay up with mommy and daddy at night. I really missed my husband and our carefree days and so we started trying to get him to bed a few hours before we went down. It was working great. Most nights, we'd bathe and I'd put him to sleep in his crib. When he woke up in the middle of the night, the hubbin would bring him to me and I'd nurse him back to sleep and let him sleep in our bed. We still co-slept for convenience and bonding, but we also got a few hours of alone time. And I also realized that I slept better when he wasn't in our bed.
Sooooo many people had their ideas and opinions about sleeping. They theorized that if we didn't get him out of our bed or off the boob, I'd never get my bed back. It was more important to me that we get decent sleep and still bond with our kiddo, so this new arrangement was perfect for us. And truthfully, we weren't ready to have him completely out of our bed. We continued this way for a few months and everything was golden. I don't remember what the trigger was, but at some point, Austin decided his crib sucked and he never wanted to sleep in it again! lol Then we went back to cosleeping fulltime. It was hard because I missed spreading out and not worrying about smacking my kid, but it was so much easier to have my shirt off and let him nurse to his hearts content all night without having to wake up. We all slept pretty good then too.
BUT THEN. Sore nipples made their way into my life. CONSTANT. NURSING was the enemy.
I had just started school and couldn't sleep well due to Austin's nursing marathons. When I say he nursed all night, I am not kidding. LITERALLY. ALL. NIGHT. I'm all for being attached, but GEEZ! It was at that point that I implemented the "Dad-Is-Going-To-Contribute-Even-If-It-Kills-Him" sleep method. Here's how it works: During the day time, we aim for two naps. If he takes them great, if not...oh well. I won't lose sleep over it [heehee]. He is no longer allowed to sleep past 4, but ideally 3pm. We play and eat and hang out all evening. Around 7, he starts fussing because he's tired, but he can't sleep....yet. We play s'more. Our bedtimes around here are closer to 9 and 10 than earlier just because of our lifestyle. So around 8, we'll give him a bath. Usually I take one with him. We'll lotion him up and dress him in something comfy depending on the temperature. Before I got pregnant, I'd nurse him, but since switching to formula, I'll either feed him a warm bottle or daddy will. Then I kiss him and hand him over to dad. Dad takes him to his dark bedroom and silently rocks him to sleep. If he wakes up [and I do say if, because lately he's sleeping 8-12 hours at at time], daddy rushes in and silently rocks him back to sleep. If after 20-30 minutes the kiddo doesn't go back down, dad will either bring him to me or make him a bottle. Then usually I'll feed him and let him sleep with us for the rest of the night or dad will put him back in his crib once he conks back out.
Of course there are variations, such as no baths, reading books, watching tv after the bath and whatnot. And you better believe there are nights he just WON'T go back to sleep or won't go initially at all so we just bring him to bed with us. But for the most part, it works like a charm. I haven't slept this well in a long time. This started as a way to avoid sore nipples and has morphed into a way to transition him to his bed so that when Baby B arrives, we don't have more than three bodies in this small bed.
Like I said, I'm no sleep expert. And my baby is certainly the most chillaxed baby I have ever met. If all those other methods haven't worked for you, give mine a try. It's kind of a mixture of things, but we just don't do self-soothing here. Don't get me wrong, our kiddo can soothe himself just fine, but we just believe it's our responsibility to love on that kid and help him feel secure enough to let sleep take over and to really enjoy sleep.
And honestly, I recommend The Baby Book to any and every parent. First time or not. Seriously. This book has saved my sanity!