So I finally sleep trained Elise. And it is MAGICAL.
It all started when my friend Meghanne mentioned she was going to do it one day. At first I thought to myself, "I couldn't do it! She needs the extra comfort at night! She'll just outgrow it!" Meanwhile, all three of us were waking up multiple times each night, Elise and I both stayed awake until she nursed herself back to sleep, and then she was in our bed for the rest of the night. We were all tired, and things didn't seem to be improving fast enough for us to feel anything close to rested.
The next night, after yet another day of feeling like I needed a nap from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, I decided I'd give it just one more whirl. I'd tried on and off in the past, and usually after fifteen minutes and a couple of checks that just seemed to ramp up the hysteria, I'd called it quits. So that evening, I did our regular nighttime routine with Elise, but told her that I was going to go downstairs while she fell asleep and would check on her a little later. I have absolutely no idea if that helped or not, but she seemed to understand since she whimpered a bit when I put her in her crib.
She started crying as I walked out the door and I told myself I'd give her until 8:00, which was nine minutes away. I sat on the stairs and watched the minutes tick by. One...two...three... and at the eight minute mark, there was silence. I tiptoed down the stairs and turned on the monitor, telling myself it was probably a fluke, but I'd try it again the next night. She woke up twice that night, but I also managed to get her to a) stay in her bed and b) not nurse herself back to sleep. When we all woke up in our respective beds in the morning, it felt a little too good to be true.
On night two, I gave her the same spiel before starting our routine. And when it was over, I put her in her bed and once again walked out the door. I sat myself down on the stairs, ready to either give up or sit for around eight minutes. By the time I had gone through that thought process, she'd stopped crying. 2.5 minutes. She proceeded to sleep from 8pm to 5:15am, then nursed, and then slept until 6:50 - an especially late hour for her.
On night three (last night), we were both feeling pretty good at bedtime. I walked out, and one minute later, she was putting herself to sleep. She woke up a few times during the night, but yet again I resettled her back into her bed without nursing. She woke up for the day at 7:10.
Tonight when I walked out of the room she didn't even fuss. I turned on the monitor when I got downstairs and I heard her babbling to herself a little bit, but all was quiet in less than five minutes. I'm crossing my fingers for no wake ups during the night.
I never thought I'd be able to do it, and I guess I previously thought that it might be too traumatic for Elise, but we're now on the flip side and I'm SO glad we did it. We wouldn't be here if she'd hit the 9 minute mark on the first night, so I take that as a sign that she was ready for it. She's very clearly NOT traumatized. And we're already all feeling the benefits from it. Elise seems happier in the mornings after having gotten a better night's sleep. Chaz and I are also feeling more sprightly as well, since even on the nights that Elise has woken up a couple of times, we aren't being jostled by a toddler elbow in our faces or backs or sides during the rest of the night. And while I admit that I sort of miss the middle of the night cuddles that co-sleeping gave me for a year, I think Elise's new ability to sleep independently will serve her (and us!) very well long term.
Three cheers for sleep!