So, here is the update on the sleep situation as detailed in my last post. We got struck by the stomach flu here, and then a bout of the snots and coughing for the baby and myself, so we didn't start anything until last Friday night.
We figured we were going to have to do SOMETHING that involved crying, but I am constitutionally unable to deal with leaving him in the room to cry by himself. So we settled on what is variously called the gradual approach (Weissbluth), the "stay in the room" method (Dana Obleman, The Sleep Sense Program), and the Shuffle (Kim West, aka The Sleep Lady).
(I will come back and give html links to those things in a bit, I want to just get this down while it is fresh. If you really want to know the links, shoot me an email.)
We read the above references and went with West's book. It is most thorough for the approach we took. Essentially it goes like this. Nights 1, 2 and 3 you sit beside the crib and pat and talk to your baby until he falls asleep. Pick him up if he is hysterical, but just to calm him down, he must not fall asleep on you. Nights 4, 5, and 6, move halfway across the room. Reassure verbally and occassionally go to pat and coo, and pick up if necessary, but mostly stay across the room. Nights 7, 8, 9 sit at the door and do the same thing. Then go out of the door but stay visible. Then out of the door, not visible, but so the baby can hear you. Etc.
All "sleep solutions" start with the same premise: routine is best, early bedtimes for babies are best, and good naps mean good nighttime sleep.
Our routine is simple, after Thomas eats, I change him into jammies and as soon as my husband gets home, he says goodnight to daddy and we go read some books (2-4 depending on my mood) and then lights out and we say a prayer and sing a song and I nurse him. This all takes about 20 minutes. And he isn't a long nurser at bedtime. (Naps are a different story....I have to unlatch him every time.) When he stops nursing, he gets burped on my shoulder and rocked for about thirty seconds, then I put him in the crib.
We are now on night six and I am already sitting beside the door. The first two nights he stood in his crib and leaned over the bars and clutched at me. Wailed his little head off. But, I was sitting right there, patting him and talking to him. Every now and then I would pick him up and snuggle for a few seconds. After about 45 minutes, he fell asleep. The second night he cried a little less, but figured out that he could lie down and poke his little hand between the slats and grab my leg. I didn't want that to be a crutch for him, so I scooted out of the way and just patted his bottom myself. Each of those nights he woke up once, and then started his early waking at about 4 a.m. However, on the third night and the fourth night he didn't cry much at all and we moved to sitting a few feet from the crib. Those two nights he only waked up once in the middle of the night and then at shortly after 6. The FIFTH night? Tuesday night? He slept the whole night through. Finally fell asleep at about 8 and woke up about 6:30. Last night, the sixth night, he fell asleep with no crying, and very little complaining, with me sitting right by the door. He did wake once, very gassy, but when I picked him up, he flung himself to the side and pointed at the crib, so I laid him back down and patted his bottom for a few seconds and then went and sat by the door. He then slept solidly, AND SO DID WE, until 6:45 this morning.
We anticipate a bit more complaining when we go out of the door, especially since his brother's room is right next door. We are not going to take that step for another few nights since I have a meeting tomorrow night and all day on Saturday and things will be a bit disturbed.
But kids, check it out. We have had some serious chunks of uninterrupted sleep! Now I don't know if it is the wonderful PLAN that has worked, or if it was just his time (Jonathan started suddenly sleeping through the night at about this age.) But what a blessing!