Belle has been sick a bit recently. Nothing major, just sniffly and cough sort of stuff. It makes it more difficult for her (and by extension us) to sleep. For a while she was doing pretty well with the whole "sleeping in her crib in her own room" thing but when she got sick it sort of went out the window. She'd wake up coughing like she was going to hack up a lung, then she'd start crying because she felt miserable. Because of that we started to get lax with her sleeping habits.
Even with naps we would hold Belle until she fell asleep, and sometimes rock her to sleep. When it came time for her to go down I would put her into her crib and hope she didn't wake up. If she did, she'd realize what was going on (I would no longer be holding her) and she'd start crying. Not wanting that to happen, I'd pick her back up (which would bring an immediate halt to the crying) until she fell asleep and try again. Sometimes she'd stay asleep a while, other times not so much. At night it became a regular occurrence for us to bring her into our bed. That was cool in some ways (she is very cute) but other times it would make sleeping harder.
Belle would sleep between Janelle and I. If she woke up that meant she had two readily accessible toys - our faces. She has a particular affinity for grabbing my beard and pulling on it as hard as possible (which is quite hard...seven month old babies are stronger than you think). She'd also grab our necks or cheeks or lips and squeeze. This was disruptive to our sleeping patterns to say the least. But at least we didn't have to get up and put her binky in in the middle of the night. We didn't realize it but Belle had assumed control of the sleeping patterns in our house. This past Saturday was my breaking point, after weeks of zombie-ness.
Due to her lack of regular naps and irregular night sleep schedule Belle had been fussy all day (for a few days). She wouldn't sleep but the time she was awake she'd be irritable and impossible to please. And I checked, that' s not just because she's a girl. I was watching Belle alone and after one of those put-you-down-and-hope-you-don't-wake-but-oh-crap-you-did-and-now-we-start-again sessions I decided that she just needed to sleep. So when she started crying I left the room and let her cry. She cried for about a half-hour before falling asleep. It was tough but I knew she needed rest and wasn't getting it. She slept for about 30 minutes and woke up in the best mood she'd been in all day.
Saturday night I convinced Janelle it was time to lay the law down with Belle, who had somehow become 7 months old. I figured we needed to get in the routine now of Belle being able to put herself to sleep so as she got older we wouldn't have to do all these weird things to get her to sleep, and also so she wouldn't be sleeping in our bed. The last couple days have been a little tough due to hearing her cry, but she's crying less and less each time, and getting more and more rest. The result is a more pleasant baby and also more pleasant parents.
My experience as a parent so far has been that just when we think we're got something down, or just when we think we're in a rhythm, something happens to screw it up. So we'll see. Belle should be teething more soon...we'll see how that impacts the sleeping. Anyway.