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Yes, a week shy of her ten-month birthday,
and Cora has finally slept until 6:30 a.m., three nights in a row.

How did I do this, you ask?

Child abuse.

If you’ve been reading regularly you
know I’ve been plagued by almost ten months of sleepless
nights; I’ve sleep-trained almost a half-dozen times now, and
Cora will sleep to perhaps 5 a.m. once or twice then go back to her
middle-of-the-night tricks. She’s been particularly bad for
the past few months, going through that developmental fast-forward
phase where she’s constantly “working” and having
trouble going into a deep sleep. I’ll hear her wake up,
crying, and go into the room to find her half awake but standing
up, or on her hands and knees rocking, or sitting up in the corner
of the crib.

For the past couple of months I’ve gritted my teeth and tried
to be understanding. My head knows she has no nutritional need for
nursing in the middle of the night, but sometimes she’s so
wound up it’s the only thing that calms her down. Most nights
I’d stand by the crib, holding her and rocking, trying not to
nurse, until she was calm enough for me to lay her down. Of course,
the minute I left the room she’d start crying again, but I
tried to ignore those.

Over the past couple of weeks I began to toughen up a bit, going in
just to make sure she hadn’t gotten into a harmful position.
I’d pick her up and put her right back into her sleep
position, tuck her in, and walk out. She’d wail for 10-20
minutes, then go to sleep.

Not too bad, but still, two or three times a night really wears on
a girl.

So this week, my beautiful, magnanimous husband took pity on his
haggard, sleepless wife and let me sleep in over the weekend,
taking both kids until Cora demanded to be fed at 10 a.m. This
bounty of sleep – ten hours, interrupted only a few times
– made me realize how INSANE it was that I was still getting
up every night.

Which means that the next night, I didn’t.

Cora cried, and I stayed in bed. Didn’t even go in to check
on her. I stared at the monitor, flickering with lights like a
fireworks display as my lusty-lunged daughter spelled out her
displeasure. I reminded myself that she has been going through this
developmental phase for three months now, and has surely learned
how to lie or sit herself down. I also reminded myself that of all
the times I’ve gone in to check on her, she has never been
hurting or projectile-vomiting or stuck in between the slats of the

She was just crying ‘cause she was ticked off.

Thirty minutes later she was asleep, hiccupping accusingly even
while she snored. A few hours later she woke up again, cried
halfheartedly for ten minutes, and went back to sleep. And when she
finally got up in the morning, Cora was all smiles, as if the night
had never happened.

Emboldened, I vowed not to get up the next night – and
didn’t have to make that call. One 30-second crying jag was
all I heard from her before 6:30. And last night? Straight through.

There is a downside, of course (isn’t there always?) –
in fact there are two down sides. First, she wakes up at 6:30 ready
to eat, and whereas I used to nurse her around 5 a.m. and
she’d go back to sleep until 9 or so, she’s so
refreshed from her unbroken sleep that after her nursing she wakes
up when I put her down in the crib. I’ve solved that problem
by bringing her into bed with me at 6:30; she nurses, conks out,
and is out until 9 a.m.

The second down side is that my body is getting used to sleep, with
the curious side effect of me being hideously tired all day.
It’s as if my body is realizing I’m finally listening
to it for the first time in ten months, and now that I’m
getting a good eight hours (broken only once, miracle of miracles!)
it’s demanding that I pay up.

But believe me – I’m not complaining. I’d rather
be tired from getting some regular sleep than tired from not
getting any at all.

Will I be getting up again in the middle of the night? You bet. I
know there’s more teething and sickness to come, and
I’ll be up and about and hollow-eyed once more. But I know
that when the time comes to sleep-train again, after the illness is
over, I won’t be going in to check on her a la Ferber every
few minutes; I think that after a certain age older babies and
toddlers are done more harm than good with those tantalizing
glimpses of mommy.

For now, I’m enjoying my deep(ish) sleep.


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