After 6 nights of sometimes-hourly wakings, the child has started to sleep. The past two nights she has slept through the night. While I can write some pretty great papers with one data point, two data points is exponentially better, because then I can call it a trend. So we have two data points, and I'm hoping the trend continues.
I'm fairly certain her wakefulness was developmental, because every time she woke up she was happy and wanted to play. Very much like the 4 month wakeful, in which they have become newly alert and so excited about the world around them that they can't sleep. Only this was much more extreme. I can't hold developmental changes against her, but it did bring to light the fact that we needed to teach her how to fall asleep. All the sleep books instruct "Put your baby down drowsy but awake so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own." Which sounds great in theory. But she always wanted to sleep at ~7, only an hour and a half after I get home. And rocking her to sleep was some extra time I got to spend with her, not to mention how scrumptious a happily sleeping baby is. I wanted to soak it in. Futhermore, I didn't always want to be home by 7 so that she could fall asleep in her crib.
But I have accepted my fate. She will start having a consistent bedtime, with few exceptions. She will fall asleep in her crib. On her own. We tried it last night, and she did great. For the past week we've been intermittently trying to get her to fall asleep on her own (intermittent, the ultimate sleep no-no) so it wasn't entirely new to her. But I decided that last night was the beginning of our new rituals. The end of me rocking her to sleep. So into the crib she went (with her new soothe-and-glow seahorse) at 8 (because she had taken an evening nap.) And she fussed. So I went in and patted her. She screamed louder. And then she stopped. Five minutes later she was asleep. 8.5 hours until her next wake up. I'd like to think this is the new normal, but only time will tell. If I can push her bedtime to 8 I think I can live with that.
What this week has taught me is something I have avoided accepting. I always thought that parents who give up any-and-all social life after their child is born simply lack willpower. It's difficult to bring MJ to friends houses, I can see why some people just don't want to deal with it. But it's not all willpower, especially when they get to be older babies. You simply can't drag them anywhere and everywhere, even if they are flexible babies. At some point you have to buckle down and have them fall asleep in their own bed. At the same time. Every day. I hate that this is true, but it is. It is not fair to her to keep messing with her schedule as she gets more-and-more alert. Before, she didn't notice what we did or where we took her and had no schedule, so it didn't matter. Now she does. So, while willpower is part of the reason for a lack-of-social-life, babies are the other part. Babies. Babies. Babies. But I swear, they are worth it.