It started when this mama finally felt ready to night wean. Wait, I didn't tell you about that? Finally in March we had night weaning boot camp. I mean, Eliza was 2 years and 4 months old. IT WAS TIME. So, one night I suited up with a sports bra and a turtle neck and put my sweet girl to sleep telling her that we would have milk when the sun shined, but no more milky at nighttime (thanks to this book for helping her understand and for illustrating a beautiful scene of a toddler nursing in mama and daddy's bed!). And, wouldn't you know, just as everyone predicted, it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be. We comforted her, held her and talked to her when she would wake up in her big girl bed (we were also at the same time trying to get her out of the habit of spending half the night sleeping with us - she was getting to be a big girl and we were running out of space in our Queen bed!), and eventually she would fall back asleep. The first week was rough, she would be awake in the middle of the night for 1-3 hours, but eventually she learned how to fall asleep on her own. Gently, and knowing that we were right there if she needed us. It was, as most things in our parenting have been, a gentle way of helping her learn this important skill. It taught me a lot, too, about her capabilities, her intelligence, and made me realize that she likely would have been ready for night weaning a lot sooner. But, it (nursing at night) was working for us... and then suddenly, it stopped working (I got resentful and suuuuper crabby), and so I knew it was time. I've followed that mantra a lot in my parenting - do what works for you, and then stop when it doesn't. Who cares what someone else does, or what a book says you "should" be doing? Only you know your family/baby/toddler/child.
Anyway, once that was done I thought surely she'll be sleeping through the night soon, right? RIGHT? I mean, she knows she can't have milk in the middle of the night, why would she wake up? I thought this was in the bag, dude. I thought for SURE she'd be sleeping through the night peacefully in no time at all. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh how I laugh at my March and April self. No, for some reason, our kid was the one who, even when she nightweaned, still woke up about 2-3 times at night. Y'know, just to check in and say HI!HOWSITGOINMA? And so we continued this trend for many weeks, and then, just as it was getting better and she was down to waking up only once on average, we up and moved. And her sleeping started to suck harder, and she was spending close to the entire night sleeping with us, and... then we were all crabby once again (this girl is very limb-y and all of those lanky limbs flail. Hard. In the middle of the night.). So it took a week of leading her back into her bedroom every time she would come into our bed at night - and wow is that hard when you are sleeping SO hard and she comes in and all you really want to do is pull her into bed with you so you can just go the f back to sleep... but we stuck to it. Every night, every time she'd come in, we'd lead her back to her bed. Time after time after time. And I was dragging each morning (I need a lot of sleep - like at least 8 solid hours), but it eventually started working. We talked about it a lot during the day, too, how big girls sleep all night in their big girl beds, and how mama and daddy are more fun when they get enough sleep. When she would sleep all night, she would be SO proud of herself in the morning. She would run into our bedroom and shout "Mama I slept all night in my big girl bed!" and we would cheer and tell her how happy we were and how proud of her we were. And you could see that she was proud too.
Here we are three months later and I can say that *most* nights, like maybe 6 out of 7 nights, she is sleeping all night. Usually falling asleep "like a big girl" (no nursing to sleep, our latest venture), and sleeping all the way to... 6, maybe 6:30. Yeah, that's not so hot, it would be awesome if it was more like 7:30 or 8, but hey, I guess I need to count my blessings.
There you have it. To most, it doesn't sound like much to say that my almost-3-year-old is finally sleeping through the night in her own bed...but for us it is huge. We got there in our own time, together, and as gently as we could. Yes, it took a long time and most moms look at me like I am full on cray-cray whenever I feel brave enough to share our "method". We did what felt right to us at the time, we let that guide us, and we couldn't be more pleased with the outcome.