"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

- The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carrol
(From Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sleep Training Day Zero: Reset

I've had a lot of response from my blog yesterday about our recent sleep woes with Abbey. I want to thank everyone for their support and advice and for sharing your stories. It is so reassuring to know that ya'll have been there, too. And have emerged on the other side. So, thanks.

Yesterday, Scott and I did a lot of talking and analyzing. I went to the bookstore and bought two books that were recommended to me over and over. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth and (insert dramatic music here) Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber. Yes, THAT Ferber. As in "Ferberize" and "Meet The Parents" fame. But we know we need to put a plan into action. Up until this point, we'd really been following the "child lead" model of sleep/eat/play routines. And I think that has suited us very well up until this point. I don't regret that approach at all. My research is teaching me, however, that there's a big shift that happens at four months of age, and it's time to reassess. It's time to get a schedule in order. While I was up in the wee hours with Abbey the other night I thumbed through the No Cry Sleep Solution, which had been given to me by my sister-in-law. Pretty much everything it had suggested we were already doing. I knew that "attachment parenting" and the Sears approach wasn't going to work for our lifestyle. So, we're going to give this other side a shot. More on that later.

Yesterday - last night specifically - was our collective "re-set" as we begin sleep and nap training today. We know that Abbey isn't sleeping enough during the day and that causes her to be overtired and not sleep through the night, which causes for another rough day. Vicious, horrible cycle. Studies show an infant her age should be logging 14-15 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. She was doing about 12 on a good day. That's a problem. We've been struggling to keep her awake at the end of the day so that we could reach an arbitrary bedtime of 8 or 8.30. Life pretty much sucked from 6pm until bath-time. So, we started there. Abbey started to show signs of tiredness around 6pm, and we decided to go ahead an chuck her in the bath and start the bed-time routine. Bath, massage, jammies, book, bottle, nurse, bed. She was peacefully asleep without protest by 7:30 - a whole 30 minutes/hour earlier than normal. We thought, "Yay! Smooth sailing the rest of the night!"


At 9:30 she was up and wailing. I was just getting ready to go to sleep. I decided to try to nurse her and get her back down. And that worked. For 20 minutes. We knew it was time to put the plan into action. The plan being to let her cry it out.

Shock, gasp, horror. I know.

Here's something that I have found really fascinating over the past 24 hours. Several moms who I have SO MUCH love and respect for sent me messages saying the EXACT SAME THING. The gyst being, "I didn't want to admit this to everyone, but we let our baby cry it out." It's interesting to me that we associate this method with a negative stigma. Well, I'm here to say, "fuck that". Allow me to blog about it for all of us - so that we no longer have to hide in the shadows in shame. I am committed to sharing this parenting hurdle openly because, seriously, you do what have to do. Scott and I have committed to trying the Weissbluth approach to sleep and nap training for two weeks. If it doesn't work, then we'll try something else. But I'll be damned if I'll show any shame or embarrassment or fear of judgment for trying to make a happy household.

Nanny nanny boo boo.

So, where were we. Ah, yes. Cry it out. So, Abbey started wailing at 10pm. Scott and I flipped on our respective bed-side lamps, turned on the white noise machine (aka loud-ass fan in our bedroom), turned the volume off on the monitor, and read. We read for exactly 26 minutes. That's when I looked up and saw that the lights on the monitor were no longer dancing. I turned on the camera (yes, we have a video monitor - and love it - and I HIGHLY recommend them) and saw a peaceful, sleeping angel. Out like a light.

She woke up at 3.30 am and against what was probably my better judgment, I got up and nursed her. I just thought she'd likely be hungry. It had been 6 hours since her "snack" and 8 hours since a proper feeding. Luckily, she fell right back to sleep afterward. She woke up again at 5.30am - which is actually fairly normal - so I got up again and nursed. Again, against my better judgment, I threw her in her swing and she slept until about 7:45. But she slept. And so did I. But we will be towing a harder line tonight.

Last night was a HUGE improvement over what we've experienced the past two weeks. Heuuge. So, I feel like we're on the right track. And I'm hoping for continued progress.

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