Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sleep Training, Night one...

Our second daughter is 7 1/2 months old now, and that means that its been about 7 1/2 months since we have had a decent nights' sleep. Well, you could say 9 months because during the last 2 months of the pregnancy the nights are spent flipping over trying to find the right position. With the baby keeping us up all night, and our 3 1/2 year old keeping me busy all day, the light at the end of the tunnel was flickering. Dimly.
I read some books, researched online, asked for advice from many, and tried to remember what we did with our first daughter and how we survived so many sleepless months. The reality is that our older daughter was just a better sleeper! I did read books, research and sleep train her, but she was easier to train because she was tough to put to sleep but once she was asleep she stayed asleep. Our baby #2 goes to sleep rather quickly but only stays asleep for 1-3 hours at a time. So all the techniques that worked the first time were just useless.

We created a bedtime routine including a bath, massage, nursing in the rocker and then to bed at 7.
We tried feeding her at dinner time (she was begging for food since she was 5 months old) to rule out the possibility that she wasn't getting enough milk. I gave her a "lovey" to sleep with and I slept with it a few times to get my smell on it. I spent some time most days letting her "hang out" in her crib so that it would be a happy place. We even tried allowing her to co-sleep all night but that just resulted in her sleeping restlessly and keeping us up all night too. We moved her crib as far away from our bed as possible (her crib is in our room because we only have 2 bedrooms and when she finally sleeps she will share the room with her sister!) so that she wouldn't be able to see us. Nothing seemed to help! She still woke up every 1-3 hours! Finally, yesterday I spoke with my girlfriend and she knocked some sense into me.

She has 2 girls the same age(ish) as ours, and she has many siblings (with kids of their own), she is smart and on the same wavelength as I am. So I always trust her judgement and value her input.
She said that I was crazy to be getting up all night with the baby, she is already 7 MONTHS OLD!
7 months old sounds young to me, and I remembered reading somewhere that 9 months old was the milestone when babies no longer need to nurse at night. But she insisted that the baby does not need to nurse at night anymore, and that her girls were both done with night nursing at 3 months old. She said that I was not being a mother, I was being a slave and that I was going to be sick if I didn't start sleeping. I agreed, and my back did go out on me a few weeks back as a result of not sleeping, but how did I make her sleep!
My friend insisted that she needs to be out of our room, so as per her suggestion, we set up the pack and play in the bathroom ;)
Then we made a plan: My husband would take care of her all night. That way, she would not see me and expect to nurse. And as with any babys' habit you try to make or break, it should just take 3 days. And 3 looong nights. OK, I am ready and really really hoping this works!

So, Night one:
We let her hang out in her pack and play for a few minutes first, and then put her down in her new room after her regular routine at 7pm. The room was very dark and we turned on her "rain" noisemaker because she was used to that noise at night. We put her lovey in the pack and play and off to bed. She went to bed quickly as usual, and slept till 10ish as usual. But this time, she just wimpered a little and went back to sleep. Already an improvement from her waking up at 9:30 or 10 and needing to be consoled back to bed. Around 10:30 she woke up again, but back to sleep in a few minutes. She woke up around 11:30 and my husband went in after a few minutes. Now this was the rough one. She was used to nursing between 10:30-11:30 so I knew that is what she wanted.

He went in and did all his best Daddy moves. After a few minutes, he retreated to our room frustrated.
I kept quiet even though my nerves were lit up like a Christmas tree. My baby! This was hard. He waited a few minutes and went in again for 15 minutes or so. He retreated, defeated once again. This time I was frazzled from holding myself back and listening to her cries...for me. I could hear the words describing a babys' experience of crying it out from the book "The Continuum Concept" (by Jean Liedloff) ringing in my head:

"He awakes in a mindless terror of the silence, the motionlessness. He screams. He is afire from head to foot with want, with desire, with intolerable impatience. He gasps for breath and screams until his head is filled and throbbing with the sound. He screams until his chest aches, until his throat is sore. He can bear the pain no more and his sobs weaken and subside. He listens. He opens and closes his fists. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps. It is unbearable. He begins to cry again, but it is too much for his strained throat; he soon stops. He waves his hands and kicks his feet. He stops, able to suffer, unable to think, unable to hope. He listens. Then he falls asleep again".

But does this apply to a 7 month old? And she wasn't crying that hard, I thought. My husband returned and was very frustrated and when I said to him "calm down" in my late-night, frazzled Mama tone it put him over the edge. He went downstairs to cool off. "I can't do this", I thought. But the words of my friend came to mind and reminded me "She doesn't need to nurse at night anymore". It took him many attempts and defeats, while I sat at the edge of the bed ready to give up and pick her up at any minute-but by 12:30 she went to sleep-FINALLY! Ok, time to pass out.

5 am, she wakes up. The minute I hear her I look at the clock and already see improvement, she slept a record 4.5 hours! But at 5 she was awake... and crying. He went in at 5:20 or so, comforted her for a few minutes and then came back to bed. She fussed but didn't cry. She fussed and yelled but didn't cry so we left her, and by 6:10 she was back to sleep. Until 7am. When she woke up I sprinted into the bathroom to get her and it was like a reunion! I was sure she was STARVING and would need a record-breaking nursing session, but when I sat down, she calmy nursed, slowly, not starved at all!
And only one breast! Then 30 minutes later she calmly requested to nurse a bit more.
What a relief, my baby wasn't starving all night and we have all survived night one. Hopefully tonight will be better.

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