la Ketch

my life story

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hogging the bed.

This blog hasn’t been very mommy bloggy yet, so I’m going to take a few days to get my mom on. All uninterested parties can check back in a week for more craig’s list updates.

I want to write about my experience because I think it might be helpful to other moms & dads out there. The number one thing people ask you when you have a baby is, “is he sleeping through the night?” A few months ago I posted this but he did that exactly once and hasn’t done it since. It’s been tough going but we’ve now had a break through, turned a real corner. The thing that helped us was this book.

God I wish we had read it 6 months ago. Before he was born we read this book. It was very helpful. Davey was not a very fussy baby but we did use many of the soothing techniques to get him to settle and sleep. We especially used the “sway” and “suck” of the 5 s’s, which is great when they are 2-6 weeks but now he is 6 months and he can’t go to sleep with out either being bounced on the yoga ball or nursing, sometimes both. Also, he takes very short naps and wakes up many times during the night. He’s just not getting enough sleep, so he’s always tired and we’re always tired. It’s a problem

I really knew we had a problem when last Saturday he woke up for about the millionth time and I popped up out of bed and screamed “GOD DAMNIT!!!” Which scared the hell out of Davey, Dup and Eliott. Also, on Tuesday night I was up with Davey and Dup (who usually sleeps through the wake ups) sort of creaked his eyelids open and smiled at me reassuringly, then gave a little nod and went back to sleep, as if to say, “good job sweetie.” It was seriously all I could do not to punch him in the face. I really had a strong impulse to hit him in the face…. Hard! Something had to change.

For those who don’t know, Tracy Hogg’s book is a middle of the road between two prevailing schools of thought on sleep training: the Ferber Method = Cry it out where you leave them in a room by themselves and just shut the door and let them cry until they fall asleep and the Sears Method = “attachment parenting” where you let them sleep in bed with you, nurse them, rock them to sleep (to Dr. Sears credit he clearly states in his book that there is not one good method for every family. Each family has their own set of needs and every child is different). Tracy Hogg suggests that you have a firm schedule and that you train the baby to sleep in their crib by setting them down to sleep in it when they are tired and ready for sleep but still awake. Then, when they cry you comfort them, even picking them up if you need to but always return them back to their crib, “time for sleep now.”

So on Tuesday night I decided to try it. We had been trying to set up a routine for him for several weeks, so that was in place already. We finished dinner, I got him in the bath, we got a clean diaper on him, put some nice lotion on him. Now it’s about 7:30pm. I breast feed him and read him a book and time for bed. Usually I would cradle him in my arms, sit on the yoga ball and bounce him until he was well into a deep sleep (pacifier dropped out of his mouth, limbs limp), then I lay him in his crib and tip toe away. Instead, I lay him in his crib, “it’s time for bed sweetheart. This is where you sleep.” Then, I lay on the bed next to him and wait.

First he just screwed around a little, rolled over on his stomach, played with the ribbons on the bumper pads, talked to himself, smiled at me. Then, he started to fuss a little, wanted some soothing, I pat his back, he calmed again, fussed again, wash, rinse, repeat. When he finally started to cry, I would pick him up and walk him around, pat his back until he would stop – no nursing, no bouncing – then back into the crib. She suggests using the pacifier if they are used to nursing, which I totally did. He needed that for sure. We will try to take that away later. She suggests doing one step at a time. This first night I was focused on NO BOUNCING and trying no nursing too but I was mostly concerned with no bouncing. So, I would give him the pacifier when I lay him down, he would calm for a bit, then wind up again.

I wasn’t sure how long I could go for but I just wanted to see what would happen. All and all we did this dance for about an hour and a half before he finally went to sleep. It would come in waves and I would see that he was so close to sleep but he just couldn’t grab it, he didn’t know how. Finally at the very end I started to worry that he may actually be hungry and I decided to give him some milk. But instead of laying down and nursing him in bed like I usually do, I went to the couch where I nurse him during the day. He did take several big gulps like he was hungry, so I’m glad I did that but then of course, his eyes began to roll back in his head immediately and he was falling asleep. So, instead of letting him fall asleep there on my boob, I took him back to his crib and lay him down, “this is where you go to sleep.” He started crying immediately but I put the pacifier in his mouth and turned him on his side and gently rubbed his back and FINALLY, he drifted off. I wanted to run around the room and cheer.

An hour and a half sounds like a long time but it wasn’t really that long to me when it was happening. Also, his crying didn’t really bother me. It was all about shifting my attitude. I really think that I was helping him find something that is going to help him his whole life. I was helping him find sleep on his own. We’ve been doing it for him this whole time and that is why he is not sleeping deep enough or long enough.

So anyway, that night he did get up about 6 times total. Normally, I will take him in to bed with me every time he wakes up and nurse him back to sleep. Then, once he falls asleep, I put him back in his crib. I did take him in to bed the first time he woke and nurse him but rather than let him fall asleep while he was eating, as soon as he stopped with his big gulps, I switched to the pacifier and put him back in the crib while he was still awake and gently rubbed his back, “this is where you sleep.” It worked! He fell back to sleep. I did this two of the six times that he woke, the other times I was able to just give him his pacifier and pat his back without taking him in bed with me or nursing him and he went back to sleep.

This was night one of trying the new training. It was exhausting but I felt really encouraged because he had gone to sleep without being bounced at all. Also, I really saw first hand how hard it was for him to get to sleep unaided. He just didn’t know how to turn the switch. He didn’t know because he’d never had to!

So last night we decided to do the same thing again. This time, Dup stayed with me and watched what I was doing because he was going to try it himself the next day at nap time, no bouncy ball (he stays home with Davey during the day while I’m at work). Last night was pretty much the same deal putting him down except that it only took 45 minutes for him to finally get to sleep. I didn’t nurse him at all to get to sleep and he only woke up one time during the night. It was still hard in the beginning, at times I was crouched over the crib, almost in it with him, pressing my face against his, “you’re ok, mommy is right here, you’re going to sleep now.” I was always wondering how long we could both do it. But I had faith in Davey that he would find sleep and that he needed sleep and was very tired. Also, I was never abandoning him and he was never scared. I never let him get so upset that he was screaming or near getting sick. I did let him cry more the second night than I did the first though.

I started to realize more with the second night that what I needed to do more than anything was to give him the space to figure it out. If I kept trying to hold his arms or turn him into a more comfortable position for him, then he wouldn’t be able to find it without me. So I lay there with him and just let him roll around and cry. If it got bad for him I would pick him up for a second and rub his back, lay him back down, give him his paci and rub his back until he settled. It came in waves about 10 minutes apart. Each time I could see the sleep boat drive up to him and he would be so close to climbing on board but he just couldn’t do it. Then finally, whoo hooo!!! He did.

And when he did sleep he slept well and long. He only woke up once, six hours after falling asleep intitially. Amazing. Like the first night, I brought him into bed with me and let him have a few gulps. Again, after he stopped taking big gulps, I switched to the pacifier and put him back in his crib while he was still asleep, “this is where you sleep.” And he drifted off. I was leary about not feeding him at all because he is used to it and is still getting some nourishment at night. I am hoping to not feed him at all tonight though, we’ll see how it goes.

Honestly people, I was amazed that the shit worked. I didn’t think it could be so successful and I didn’t think there would be results so quickly. Deron did the same thing with his nap this morning. It took 45 minutes for him to finally go to sleep but then he slept for two hours. He never does that. He woke up calm and cheerful! Yay!

The reason I wanted to share such a detailed account of the process is that sometimes when you read these books it can be confusing. After Dup read it he was like, “it sounds great but what do you do? I mean how do you do it?” What I did was just jump in and give it a try and follow my instincts. I probably did my own version of what she does but I think it’s fine to do a hodge podge.

Every baby is different and every parent is different and every family’s schedule and lifestyle is different. This certainly isn’t going to work for everyone. Some people have great success with cry it out and I don’t begrudge them a bit. I liked this better because even though he was having such a hard time I was there for him. He could see me and feel me the whole time. At times it felt like I was sitting with a heroin junkie trying to kick, so funny. Still it didn’t ever bother me deeply to hear his cries. I felt like I was doing him a big service by being by his side and helping him work it out and I was so, so, so proud of him when he finally did. Yay D!!

I hope this is helpful to any mom’s and dad’s who are interested. I think it would have helped me to hear something like this so that’s why I wanted to write it down.

Watch now he’ll be up 10 times tonight… I’ll keep you posted!


At 6:29 PM, Blogger Mark Horosky said...

Thanks for this. I'm from the BBH list and have been considering doing this with my 11 month old. It IS helpful to hear a detailed account after trying to make sense of the books. Interested to hear an update! Best, Miriam.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Sheila said...

Thanks so much for this... I am gonna bookmark this page and save it for when I need it in a year!

Congrats you two, for being awesome and brave...


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