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Didn't I Tell You?

Wasn’t it just a week or so ago that I was talking about Madeleine being in a great routine groove?  And didn’t I say I hesitated to say anything because I didn’t want to jinx it?
Yep, the no-hitter is officially over.

The day after I posted that entry (wish I was kidding about the timing) Maddie woke up at 5 a.m., about two hours before her normal first feeding.  Our loose “rule” is that anything after eight hours is fair game, and 5 a.m. is exactly eight hours after she goes to bed.  So I got up, figuring she was extra hungry, and since she went right back to sleep it was no big deal.
The very next day, same thing, up at 5 a.m. to eat.  I decided she was trying to add in a feeding, and so altered her nursing schedule from 5 a day to 6 a day, accommodating her 5 a.m. and bringing the other meals closer together. 
The next night, 4:45.  The night after that, 4:30.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
I don’t mind adding in a feeding; she’s a small thing and in no danger of overeating, emotional eating, any of that stuff.  And she’s not a big comfort nurser, so I’m not worried about that.  But as the time crept earlier and earlier, I realized it was becoming habit.  The dreaded sleep training would have to happen again.
But just as we settled on a course of action, she woke us up screaming at 12:30, inconsolable.  Half an hour of snuggling and rocking later, she calmed down enough to be put down and she quickly fell back to sleep, not to awaken until 7 a.m.  We guessed a nightmare, said our thanks that she didn’t get up at 5, and sat back to enjoy our old routine.
Hah!  The next night, it was back to the 5 a.m. thing.  The night after that, 6:30, so we mentally gave her until the weekend before we tried the sleep training.
And then last night happened.
Maddie woke up at 2:30.  And 3:30.  And 5:15.  And 7:30, before finally getting up at 9.  Each of the first two times, I’d soothe her without nursing and she’d go right back to sleep.  At 5:15, I fed her, and at 7:30 brought her into bed with us.  Bewildered and truly sleep-deprived, my husband and I gathered this morning to try to figure this thing out.
Teething?  If so, why only at night?  Where’s the fever, the drool?  Bad dreams?  Then why the whining – wouldn’t it be screaming?  Upset stomach?  Then why would she be soothed so easily to sleep?  And the nights are the only thing changing; her days are happy and burbling, her naps right no target and heartily enjoyed.
As parents, we want to do what’s best for our daughter, and we find ourselves constantly weighing the whole “good for her now vs. good for her in the long run” thing.  If she’s truly hungry, I want to feed her.  If she’s using it as a crutch, I want to help her find ways to comfort herself.  If she’s had a nightmare, I want to comfort her.  If she’s reaching for me in the middle of the night out of habit now, I want to help her turn to herself instead.  But how are we to know which it is?  By getting up to comfort her, am I helping her, or creating a problem that will hurt worse in the long run to fix?  By leaving her to mostly work things out for herself, am I giving her a useful tool, or am I ignoring a hungry and scared child?  All we have to go on are our gut feelings and our parental instincts, which, at 3 a.m., are frankly a bit slow on the uptake.
So right now, we’ve got no plan.  Just crossed fingers.  Wish us luck tonight.


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