Sleep for our little Sam has always been a challenge. We had a good stretch from around 11 months (old) to around 15 months but then many setbacks from 15 months to 20 month. He we just sick so so many times.
There were so many setbacks that we moved the futon permanently into his room so if one of us had to sleep there, we could.
I seem to vaguely recall a good 4-6 weeks in the summer around 21 months old where we could leave him in the room by himself and he'd cry for a bit and talk for a bit and then fall asleep. Sometimes we'd still have to go in to sooth him or rock him mostly asleep but he slept mostly independently. Then we had the upheaval of company and tried moving Rachel into the same room and then we went on vacation and it all went to pot.
So once we were back from vacation and trying to get things normalized, we were almost pleasantly surprised to discover that all Sam really wanted was for one of us to stay in the room with him while he fell asleep. This was a big step forward from the rocking so we obliged....we obliged every night (45 minutes to 2hrs/evening) for 4 months.
After that we started formulating a plan and on January 1 we implemented Mission: Sam the big boy who can sleep by himself. We talked about it with him during the day and then implemented it for his nap...the nap was easy... the night bedtime was pure nightmare. Here is how the mission has played out:
Jan 1: 1.5 hours of crying, screaming, begging, hysterics. In 10 - 15 minute intervals, or whenever the pitch seemed to reach hysteria, we would go in and comfort him. Hugs, back pats but no rocking and we didn't stay for long. The hardest part was after a while he was desperate to do anything to keep me in the room. He knew the old rule that as long as he stayed lying down in his crib I would stay with him. So when I went in to comfort him and he threw himself down on his mattress, plastered his face to his blanket and gestured wildly at the bed begging, 'stay stay mummy stay bed.'
I said "no Sam Mommy won't stay, I'm close, you're a big boy now."
"mummy sit chair sit sit mummy please."
I said "no Sam, Mommy leave the door open, you can hear Mommy and Daddy we are here."
"rock rock stay stay down."
He was using all his words, all his knowledge of how this had worked in the past to try to make it better.
It was the most awful 1.5 hours. My heart broke for him.
He finally fell asleep....until 12:30.
12:30-1:15 crying, calling. We went in various times to comfort him finally let him get noisy. At 1:20 I'd had enough but I went in one last time to give one last hug and be firm. I found out his diaper had leaked at some point and his PJs and blankets and sheets were soaking wet and freezing cold. My Poor Boy!!
I changed him, changed the crib, found new blankets and couldn't bear to leave him again. So I crawled into the spare bed and spent the night. He woke several times through the rest of the night calling for me but was comforted by me being so close.
Night 1 felt like an epic fail.
It got better.
Jan 2: 1 hour, whining crying, no hysterics and he slept through the night with just one verbal comfort - which we could do from our own bed in the other room.
Jan 3: 30 minutes, intermittent whining, crying. Again slept through with just one verbal comfort in the middle of the night
Jan 4: 20 minutes, whining. Several verbal comfort, hugs through the night.
Jan 5: 20 minutes, only whining. Verbal comfort, hugs in the middle of the night.
Jan 6: 40 minutes, mad, crying! Verbal comfort, hugs in the middle of the night.
Jan 7: 20 minutes, mostly talking calling, no crying. Several wakings but quickly comforted.
Jan 8: 10 minutes, one call for water. Slept through the night!!
Fingers crossed for tonight!