This year has certainly had ups and downs. Adjusting to having three children when one of the kids is just two is seriously NO JOKE. I feel much more optimistic about the future. There were days I wondered what had we done? ha! I hesitate to talk about Anna Kate's nighttime sleep and napping (lest I jinx it), but y'all, it is SO MUCH BETTER. Even the last few weeks I've seen improvements in her ability to self soothe and fall asleep without so much help from me. It's a big deal. A month or so ago, I was desperate for her to learn to fall sleep better on her own. My old tricks weren't working anymore for the older baby she had become. (Believe me, I tried for months to get her less dependent on me for self soothing.) I'm not opposed to some controlled crying for baby when I know she's tired, safe in her crib, clean, well-fed, loved, etc. However, Anna Kate rarely fell asleep on her own, especially for naps. She did better at night. She would just get more and more upset and anxious if I let her cry any. It felt like it was making things worse to try to let her fall asleep on her own. Yet, there were days when she desperately needed to nap and I couldn't get her there. Days where I would nurse her for 20 minutes, then try to rock her to sleep without success, then stand up and hold her over my shoulder for another 20 minutes, sway and sing, etc. for FOREVER. She mostly wanted me to STAND with her. (High maintenance, I'm telling ya!) So hard to do for very long as she now weighed over 20 pounds! Sometimes after that whole routine she would fall asleep on me, then immediately wake up as soon as I put her down in her crib. So frustrating! Baby girl just had to start falling asleep in her crib on her own. (Also, I should say that while I'm working to get her to sleep, our three year old has full reign of the house. I never knew what kind of mischief would await me if I took too long to get baby girl to sleep!)
I have no doubt that part of Anna Kat'e napping troubles was that her routine was constantly being messed up by the lives and schedules of the four other people in the house. I have no idea how we finally worked through that awful period. (It lasted about a month.) I guess I became more determined and consistent. I still nurse her before she goes to sleep, cuddle her, etc., but now most of the time, she's going in the crib awake (unless she happens to sack out on me quickly and I hold her longer while she sleeps on me.) The crying is pretty minimal (sometimes not at all) and then she falls asleep ON HER OWN. Life changing, friends. I'm a mama to three. I know this. It is liberating to know that she will finally fall asleep and get the sleep she needs. She's taking better naps and sleeping better at night. She is now even falling asleep in her car seat if she's tired enough. I can't tell you how many times she fought falling asleep in the car and cried instead. This gives me hope for future vacations that she will be able to sleep if we need her to.
Pretty much all of my issues with Anna Kate this year have been sleep related. She's a happy baby. Meeting milestones. Nursed well from day one. She's eating solids well. She loves to go on stroller walks with me now. One of these days, I'm going to look back at the blur that was this year and miss Baby Anna Kate, but right now I'm totally in love with little toddler Anna Kate. I'm happy we made it through the first year!