This post is going to be long and rambly - sorry! I've got some pictures to post, so I'll try to do that soon.
For the past month, at least, G has been waking for hours in the middle of the night. Pretty much like clockwork, here comes 2 am and G wailing in his crib. As long as we were in the room with him, he stayed pretty quiet, just awake. He would lay in his crib and just stare up at us. But he would do that for hours. As soon as we tried to leave the room, he would completely melt down. Nothing seemed to work to put him back to sleep - nursing, rocking, and we even tried a little cry-it-out but couldn't take his sobbing.
I had planned on starting to wean after his one year doctor's appointment (which was Monday), but we decided to night wean him first. During these long wake ups, I would try to nurse him back to sleep, but it usually didn't work until he had been up for a couple of hours already. Sometimes I was feeding him twice a night. So we started only feeding once a night, not nursing him if he woke up before 4 am or so. Soon he stopped waking up at that 2 am wake-up, but he was still up for at least an hour and a half.
So we decided to drop all nighttime feedings. No matter what, we would not feed him. We also decided to not pick him up from his crib, no matter how hard he was crying. We wouldn't leave him, but we wouldn't do more than rub his back or head.
Night-weaning actually went really well. He never seemed to miss nursing, and he never cried for more than a few minutes when he first woke up. However, he was still staying awake for hours every night.
At his one year check up on Monday, we discovered that he hadn't gained any weight since his 9 month appointment. In fact, he had lost about 9 ounces. This was really surprising for us since he was obviously growing - he had grown almost 2 inches. He was meeting his milestones, especially his motor skills; he had even started walking 3 steps or so on his own. The pediatrician urged us to up his fat intake and introduce cow's milk, even though we were concerned about his allergy.
I don't really want to get into this much, but I will say that I was upset at the implication that I had to wean in order for G to gain some weight. We still think G's lack of weight gain is because he went from little physical activity at 9 months to sitting up on his own, crawling, standing, and walking. Now, he's rarely sitting still. The pedi wants G to be on mostly cow's milk by Monday, but weaning that quickly proved to be painful for both me and G. So we decided to wean a bit slower. Now I'm only nursing him four times a day: first thing in the morning, for his morning nap, for his afternoon nap, and right before bed.
G has protested a few times during the day when he wants to nurse, and there have been some tears involved in trying to get him to take milk from a sippy. He's absolutely refused to drink more than a few sips of milk from his straw sippy that he loved so much, so some new regularly sippies seem to have done the trick. The whole weaning thing really breaks my heart, especially when he buries his face in my chest, tugs at my shirt, and cries wanting to nurse. But we'll hold onto the nursing to sleep for a bit longer. I'm honestly not even sure how to get him to fall asleep at these times on his own!
Anyway, the point of this post was to say that G is now mostly sleeping through the night, from 7:30-5:30! It's been about five days now that he hasn't done more than wake up for a quick paci replace. It's amazing, really. We're not thrilled with the early morning, but he's getting about 10 hours at night, so what's to complain about, right?
Here are our nighttime rules that seem to be working:
1. No feeding.
2. No picking up.
3. No talking.
4. Stay in the room with him, but he tries to talk to you or play, leave the room for at least five minutes.
We've been also pushing food and milk as much as possible during the day. I swear the boy is eating almost every hour, and sometimes he gets cranky about it. So I'm not sure if it's our nighttime rules or the extra calories, or both, but I know I'm really enjoying the sleep!
So I see some hope out there that our restless babe might actually sleep through the night on a regular basis. And without us having to resort to Ferber, even!