At Ivy's four-month check-up, her doctor suggested we think about where and how we want Ivy to sleep in the long-run. Four months, it seems, is the ideal time to shape a baby's nighttime and nap routine. So while she still looks like a bitty thing, four-month-old-Ivy's habits lay the foundation for toddler-Ivy's sleep.
With that in mind, my first thought was, Oh, shit.
Despite having been through the whole baby-growing-up thing already, I find it impossible to believe that Ivy will ever be, say, 16 months old. But the idea of Ivy's sleep "schedule" looking like it does now this time next year scares me.
Currently, Ivy sleeps with Rob and me. Her crib is at the foot of our bed (leaving us with about 18 inches of floor space all together. It's like we're on a boat). She starts the night in her crib, after nursing to sleep. Then the first time she wakes up, she comes to bed with me, and (most nights) she stays there, scooching around and kicking me in the stomach until morning.
And don't get me started on naps! Naps are an unpredictable mess. If we we're lucky and don't have anywhere to rush off to, Ivy will nap in her crib for a solid 45 minutes, provided she's swaddled and I nurse her to sleep. Most of the time, she ends up napping in little bursts: in the baby carrier, in the car (after some major squalling), in my lap while nursing, on my shoulder after nursing...
When she was brand new, I knew that always nursing her to sleep (and then holding her for hours while she slept) wasn't ideal, sleep-habit-wise. But it felt unnatural to do anything else. Now, as much as I want to put Ivy down to sleep, I'm used to the idea of her sleeping in my arms. (Also, she's really soft and cuddly and nice to hold. So there's that.) And then the idea of toddler-Ivy, unable to nap anywhere but on me enters my mind and I freak out.
I'm trying to get better about helping Ivy sleep somewhere other than mashed up against me, especially for her naps. I even picked up a couple of books on babies and sleep. Both books could've just said, "Everything you've been doing so far is wrong." Awesome. A few nights ago, I tried one expert's "gentle" techniques for putting Ivy to bed, and ended up crying silently while holding her in the dark, feeling like an idiot for having "done it wrong" since the beginning.
I catch myself feeling nostalgic for those new-new baby nights, when Ivy's age was still measured in days. Yes, there were some rough evenings, but things were fairly straightforward: when she woke up, it was probably because her tummy was empty. I never wondered whether to offer her some milk or just pat her back. I didn't once think about the possibility of toddler-Ivy sleeping in my arms. I barely even looked at the clock. I was exhausted, but I also felt more relaxed, coasting along in a no-routine sleep-routine.
I can't decide if this pressure I suddenly feel to "fix" Ivy's sleep is productive, or if it's just that bullshit pressure where everything is All Your Fault. Maybe it's a little of both. I'd definitely like things to be more predictable, but I don't know how much control I really have over that. And as much as I understand the idea behind thinking in terms of future toddler-sleep, right now Ivy is still very much a baby.