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....