Saturday, March 23, 2013

Update On Baby Not Sleeping: Baby Is Sleeping!

Alternative title for this post: I Take Back Every Negative Thing I Ever Said Or Felt About The Cry-It-Out Method.

A month or so ago, I had written about our thirteen months of sleep deprivation, as our Babygirl was waking up one, two, three times a night for feedings. It was getting so, so hard for me to get up and get through my clinic. We were perplexed by her behavior, as our two-and-a-half-year-old son has been sleeping through the night since he was about three months old. We were becoming pretty desperate in our quest to get her to sleep through the night.  So, I reached out to all of you!

I had asked for advice, but clearly rejected any remote suggestion to let her cry. I had made a feeble attempt at letting her cry once, and she had not only woken up Babyboy, but also vomited, requiring a two a.m. crib change. Also, I hated letting her cry... It felt awful to me.

I resented my friends who said things like, "Well, when you're desperate enough, you'll try letting her cry again," or, "When you guys are ready to really do it, cry-it-out really works."

I had secret conversations with other moms who were also suffering from frequent baby awakenings, talking about how we couldn't understand those parents who could let their kids cry. "How could they be so callous?" we would wonder, sort of smugly.

Hubby and I soldiered on. We tried stuffing her with food and milk before bedtime, in hope that if she was only full enough, she might sleep. We tried wrapping her really snugly. We tried not wrapping her.

Hubby had a few longer work trips. I was on solo baby duty. And with some of my long afternoon commutes,  I found myself even starting to nod off in traffic.

But what finally changed our minds was the concept that as bad as the disrupted sleep was for us, it was just as bad for Babygirl.

I finally got really serious about the sleep issue and started to read about it. I asked our pediatrician, who was pretty matter-of-fact that Cry-it-out was the only thing that was going to work. I searched online, and did not immediately avoid all advice regarding the Cry-it-out method. I actually read that Weissbluth book, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, which is terribly organized, but actually full of good information.

It finally registered with us that we were not doing our toddler any favors by running to her and feeding her multiple times a night. HER sleep was disrupted, too. SHE was not sleeping through the night. SHE was not learning the skill of soothing herself to sleep, which could lead to endless sleep problems, and even anxiety.

THAT did it. I could suffer endlessly if I thought it was for the benefit of my child. But the idea that we were messing her up? No way.

I decided to man up and extinguish these nighttime awakenings.

And so on a random weeknight two weeks ago, after we got her down to sleep, we simply did not go to her when she cried. This was a few days after she had hurt her finger, and she even had stitches. It didn't seem to bother her, so we went ahead with the sleep training.

It wasn't that bad. I thought of it as the same as when she wants something she can't have because it's bad for her, like toddling out into the road, or trying to pet my mom's mean old cat. She cries when we hold her back from those things, but we don't feel bad about it, because we're keeping her safe from harm.

That's how it was that first night. Sort of, oh well, she's crying, but this is what's good and right for her, and so we can tolerate it.

She only cried for about twenty minutes: hard and angry at first, then sporadically, then just a little occasional yell, and then she was back alseep. She didn't vomit, either. She woke up twice more that night, and cried less and less each time.

The next night hubby was gone, and I was determined to continue the training. Unfortunately, she did vomit on her first awakening, and I had to use great skills to get her out of the bed still sleeping, strap her onto her changing table, change the whole crib, and her, and put her back to bed. That sucked, and she still kind of reeked, but hey, she was asleep. She didn't wake up again, either. Nor the next night. Or the next.

We're solidly into a week of full nights' sleep. TWELVE hours. She's sleeping great! We're so proud, of her and ourselves. I'm on an energy high. I feel like I'm on antidepressants.

Thanks to all the advice you all gave me, and:

I Take Back Every Negative Thing I Ever Said Or Felt About The Cry-It-Out Method.

Next step? We need to clean up the bedtime routine for the both of them. Future post: When Your Kid's Bedtime Routine Takes Two Hours, And You've Got Work To Do. Or something like that... I suspect that it's going to involve more crying-it-out. Any advice welcome....

14 comments:

  1. So glad to hear baby girl is sleeping better! We did CIO at 5 months because we just couldn't take it anymore. Went from 3 awakenings per night to 0 after one 20 minute cry. Since our kiddo is such a light sleeper it's probably a good thing we did.

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  2. It's especially rewarding for me to read this after being subjected to the following on my facebook page (paraphrased), from a mom who hasn't gotten a good night's sleep in over a year:

    "I think maybe people whose parents leave them to "self-soothe" a lot are the ones who are really needy in romantic relationships later on. Does it create an ongoing sense of longing or loneliness? I don't think American psychology has really figured this out, has it? Maybe this is why I think teaching self-soothing below the age of 2 is a bunch of B.S. But, I'm also a bit of a martyr."

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    Replies
    1. At least she admits she's a martyr

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    2. Are you actually a martyr if your actions end up resulting in MORE crying, and a chronically sleep deprived child?

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  3. I want to know how you solve the 2 hour bedtime routine.

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  4. I still remember that euphoric feeling of those first few full nights of sleep! Glad you found something that worked for your family! Hope the good times continue!

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  5. Yes, we had a 2 hour bedtime routine too--it was a literally song and dance as our kids made us sing about ten songs (twinkle, somewhere over the rainbow, songs from mary poppins and sound of music etc. etc.) and read about ten books. they cried every time we said "last song" or "last book". finally we stuck to our guns and limited it to two picture books and three songs. yes there was crying in the beginning, but that stopped after we grew some spines.

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  6. While I am glad you and your child are sleeping, I still reject the notion that cry it out is the only option. I sleep trained my 3 year old when he was 15 months old without it.  I have talked to many mothers from other counties who have never heard of cry it out method. Just like it is unlikely that CIO will cause psychological damage, it is also unlikely that people who do not use this method have sleep deprived toddlers and parents. My mom friends and I are well rested, and our toddlers sleep just fine, despite not using this method. Every child and his/her parent(s) are different. We should all be respectful of each other's choices.

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  7. our bed time routine is an hour, hour and a half tops. But, I only have one almost-a -year old, so it probably doesn't count. But when she has to sleep over with her 4 y/o uncle (another long story), this is how we do it: We aim for bedtime between 8-8:30. So 7:30 is bathtime- both kids together in the bath. Then the baby plays on the floor while the 4 y/o gets books/story (we pick 3 books from the shelf). Then, the baby gets her bottle and I'll sing to both of them until the baby is asleep. The 4 y/o is usually sleeping by then, too, but if not- he can get 1 cup of water (I keep a bottle by the door) and right back to bed. Good luck and congrats on sleeping baby!!

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  8. Good for you! and Good for her!
    Now forgive yourself for any negativity and enjoy:)

    My girlfriend and pediatrician gave me a "Weissbluth" and I have referred to it through out my three sons growing and changing sleep patterns.

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  9. Glad to hear of your success! Sleep is a blessing.

    Here's my blasphemous approach to a quicker bedtime: cut out the bath. First, it isn't very good for your child's skin to get washed every day. Secondly, at least for my daughter, the bath was such a fun time that it got her all riled up, which is the opposite of ready for bed. We did baths / showers after swimming (which she did about 3 times a week starting at 3 months old) or when she was really dirty-- and always at least once a week. But almost never before bed.

    Think about this routine. Child looks sleepy: ppo them in pajamas, read a book, sing a song, lights out, good night. Under 30 minutes. Having them outside running around all day helps-- a really tired child will just fall asleep.

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  10. Glad to hear of your success! Sleep is a blessing.

    Here's my blasphemous approach to a quicker bedtime: cut out the bath. First, it isn't very good for your child's skin to get washed every day. Secondly, at least for my daughter, the bath was such a fun time that it got her all riled up, which is the opposite of ready for bed. We did baths / showers after swimming (which she did about 3 times a week starting at 3 months old) or when she was really dirty-- and always at least once a week. But almost never before bed.

    Think about this routine. Child looks sleepy: ppo them in pajamas, read a book, sing a song, lights out, good night. Under 30 minutes. Having them outside running around all day helps-- a really tired child will just fall asleep.

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  11. Hey! So nice to read this - you seem to have gotten through the CIO much better than I did as an anguished, desperate resident who needed to start studying for her boards. I like the justifications you made that help me, 7 years down the road, feel better now about my decision back then. As I said before, I have a wonderfully healthy, happy, intelligent 7 year old who never brings up the fact that he was hoarse for a week at 8 months. I fully believe that children are so malleable and adjustable - there is little we can do short of neglect and abuse in this wonderfully developed society to hurt them as long as we are loving them. Whatever method we choose, as long as we do it lovingly they will survive.

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  12. Thanks all so much- appreciate the comments though I don't always get to reply in a timely fashion... Wonderful supports here... --Genmedmom

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