I'm feeling good and hopeful today! I finally got to the good part of the Sleep Lady book. She separates it by ages (from newborn to age 5 and then from 6 to 8 months). Since Hannah is on the cusp of the first at 5 months, I figured I should read both. There wasn't much in the section on 5-month-old babes--just the following paragraph that I found interesting and enlightening though not terribly helpful in developing a schedule.
"Around the fifth month, babies start to test how their actions can affect the world around them. They want to probe their powers, and their limits. You may see it a bedtime. One favorite experiment for these budding Einsteins seems to be "If I cry, can I make Mommy come to my crib?" Respond and show her that yes, you'll come to check on her. But once you've reassured her, don't linger."
On to the good news: the chapter on 6 to 8 months is AWESOME! It provides me with a clear schedule and game plan to adhere to as far as when she should nap, how long she should nap, when she should eat, and when she should go to sleep. Granted, I can't force her to go to sleep or stay asleep so I'm not going into this naively thinking it'll be easy peasy, but I'm thrilled to have a plan to work toward.
As far as getting babies to sleep, she recommends the "Sleep Lady Shuffle." Here's how it works: I wind Hannah down as usual and when it's bedtime, lay her in her crib, as usual. From there instead of patting her butt for eons (which would only provide her with another sleep crutch if I continued on with that method) and instead of leaving and letting her cry it out, I stand next to her crib (actually she suggests sitting in a chair next to the crib but I didn't feel like carrying a chair upstairs) and occasionally pat or "sh-sh" her until she falls asleep. I don't do either the patting or the shushing with any regularity (thus avoiding creating a crutch), but I stay close to provide some level of comfort. After 3 days, I move my position a little closer to the door (this is why she calls it the "shuffle"), then after 3 more days, I move to the doorway, then into the hallway. I was actually reading this while doing her bedtime nursing tonight and decided to try it immediately. As I expected, it took a full 40 minutes, the first 20 of which she cried pretty hard, then she took 10 crying off and on, then the last 5 just whimpering a bit. I took off work early today because I was completely exhausted and needed a nap so since I was rested, I was patient, and since I had a game plan, I had hope. Those two elements, patience and hope, enabled me to happily stand by her crib for 40 minutes until she was comfortably asleep. I know, it's only the first night and probably entirely too soon for me to feel all giddy and relieved--I'm sure there's still a lot of work ahead--but I love a good plan.
OH, and I decided to take personal time from work to supplement all the hours I'm missing this week, and I also decided to take vacation for ALL of next week. I'm going to use the time to focus all my efforts on getting her on a healthy schedule which is going to involve me being able to rest and nap and have downtime during the day so I can keep my wits about me during all her various crying jags.
Okay, now I need to create an Excel spreadsheet with our goal schedule and a game plan for getting on it and being consistent!!