Sleep is one of those really contentious issues when it comes to children and for some reason whenever strangers ask me about Jess they seem to question how well she sleeps.
With my return to work I recently became very fixated that Jess should be sleeping through the night, in her own room. You are repeatedly told that this is what should be happening and it can make you feel like a bit of a failure if your child is still waking up three or four times a night! In addition to this I am very attached to my own sleep and really hate being dragged from my nice warm bed a couple of times a night to coax a child back to sleep. Especially when said child is exhausted but is for some reason fighting against the inevitable.
I will admit that when I have put her down, crept back to bed and then heard her start crying again I have, occasionally, lost the plot completely. Even though I know that screaming at your child to go to sleep is actually the last thing that will encourage them to do so.
So, nearly on my knees with the lack of sleep and having to go to work (I know it's only three days a week but I am weak!) I decided to go for some serious sleep training. I went and looked at the "No Cry Sleep Solution" which I understand is very good, I seriously considered some form of controlled crying and weaning her at night. I know for some these measures do work but I could not deal with the idea of leaving Jess standing in her cot screaming or denying her a bit of boob when I know that's what she really wants. I did look at the NCSS but didn't think it would really fit in with the way we do things, especially when I read the bit about keeping a sleep diary, I don't want to keep a diary, I want her to sleep now!
Fortunately John demonstrated his ability to take a step back, have a think and come up with a simple solution. So now, she starts off in the cot and when she wakes up after we've gone to bed, she comes straight in with us and we all snuggle up together. His reasoning was that things are a bit weird for Jess at the moment, what with starting nursery and trying any kind of controlled crying or night weaning will make her feel even more like we're pushing her away.
So far this has been working brilliantly, she comes in, she sleeps, we all sleep. I feel far happier about getting up in the morning when I have spent the night in my own bed not sitting in Jess' room practically crying from exhaustion and Jess is sleeping for up to seven hours in a stretch not just two or three.
To be honest, I've always been a bit ambivalent about co sleeping. I don't think it's a magic cure all and, on the flip side, I don't think it's creating a rod for your own back. Everyone has to do what feels right for them. The reason I haven't really done it is because I like my space and I sleep better when I'm not worrying about rolling onto a tiny being. The tiny being is now less tiny and is much more comfortable to sleep with because of that. I still hope that if we continue what we're doing for a little while she will eventually become more comfortable with sleeping and spend longer and longer in her own cot but for now this is suiting us.
I thank my lucky stars I have a partner who can bring me back to the path and remind me how we wanted to bring our child up. Once again, the practice of following our instincts on what is best for our child has worked better than believing in the myth that children should sleep all night long on their own from a very young age!
As an aside, Jess has learnt to kiss this week! It's delightful, despite being a bit heavy on the teeth, tongue and dribble!