Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sleep Training Revisited

Remember how my baby was sleeping through the night? Or, at least, doing something that resembled sleeping through the night considering there was still a feeding taking place between 3-5 AM before she woke for the day somewhere between 5-6 AM. Yeah, that kind of sleeping is not happening anymore.

I knew she (and therefore we) would get off course with sleeping on our trip. I wasn't comfortable letting her fuss even a little bit in California. Partly because the sleep books don't recommend it and partly because the walls were so paper thin at our hotel that I hated the idea of anyone else waking up from my sleeping baby. So this meant I was getting up every 2-3 hours with Bella, letting her comfort nurse in a chair that smelled disconcertingly like the ghost of boyfriend past (hello, Aqua di Gio, long time no smell!). Each of those nursing sessions seemed to go on for 20-30 minutes as she would cry each time I tried to put her back down. Eventually, I would give up at some point in the night and bring her into bed with us, at least so I could lie down and get something that resembled sleep.

So I was tired from our trip, but that is nothing compared to now as we have had to start over from square one with sleep training. The sleep books imply that it will be an easy-peasy thing to get your baby back on track; just one or two days of night wakings and then you'll be back in business. However, the sleep training books also say that babies sleep very heavily their last couple hours of sleep and THAT certainly isn't the case when it comes to Bella. So here we are, day four of re-sleep training and I am wide awake at 4 in the morning, finally giving up on my sleep after getting in and out of bed four times having to check on the decidedly NOT sleeping Bella.

To anyone who judges me sleep training, you should know that I judge myself even more. Everything about letting her cry, even if it is at short intervals, puts my nerves on edge. My brain is shouting at me, "WRONG, WRONG, WRONG" and "BAD, BAD, BAD". Dr. Sears wasn't accurate when he said that parents who sleep train go down a slippery slope to ignoring their babies needs as they become immune to hearing their babies cry. I am anything but immune to it. I wish I didn't have to sleep train, but I have a baby who will happily wake up several times each night. I don't have it in me to wake up with her that often, nor do I think it is in her best interest. So we sleep train. And it sucks.

I knew being a parent meant signing up for being exhausted. I got that. But why, then, do I feel like it's so unfair to be so damn exhausted all the time? Is everyone else this tired? And WHY in the hell do I think having a second child would be a good thing?


  1. Hey Laura -- I have a couple comments:
    1) Kudos to you for even attempting sleep training. I have not yet and wish that i would get ballsy enough to do it. My current technique is this: let him fuss for 5-10 minutes and then go get him :) (it's yet to work btw)
    2) YES i am very exhausted. VERY. I, however, have the "luxury" of going to work and relaxing for 8 hours a day. Your job is MUCH harder. I have no advice for you on this one -- other than I firmly believe your day is soon coming where Bella will give you some reprieve. Take advantage of Husband and relax when he is around -- sounds like he's a pretty good guy :)
    3) and a second child IS a good thing, but it is kinda like inviting a tornado and a hurricane into your home for a period of time. But like all natural disasters, they get cleaned up and people adjust. It would work just fine :)

  2. And, FYI, the word verification to post my previous comment was "HERPE PAL" What is up with that?

  3. Kimberlie,
    Are you not my herpe pal? I don't see the problem. HAHA.

    I still think working moms have it harder because they have to get all the grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc done AFTER work and and taking care of the kids. Now that would really exhaust me.

    A tornado and hurricane, eh? Sounds fun :) I get what you mean, though. You adjust and can't even fathom life as it was before.

  4. Hi Laura,
    I was forwarded your blog from a friend of yours that I work with. I love reading your posts, I can relate to all of it. Last August I gave birth to my third son 7 weeks premature. That was an ordeal, but a story for another time. As far as sleep goes, I am a firm believer in doing what works best for everyone to have the best nights sleep possible. In the case of our last two babies that has been having them sleep with my husband and I. We put up one of those toddler gates on my side of the bed and I lay the baby perpendicular to me, so that his feet are closest to me. He has been sleeping through the night since about a month after he came home from the hospital. Our middle son, who is now 7, transitioned to his own room from 12-15 months of age. We plan to do the same with our youngest. You'll find what works best for you and Bella, too. Happy sleeping!

  5. I feel strongly about this, so I will give you my two cents. I spent almost three years of my life exhausted because my daughter woke up multiple times a night as a baby and toddler. We tried on a few non-consecutive occasions to let her cry herself to sleep, but she would go for hours and not lose any steam. So she spent the first two years in and out of our bed. Bad habit!!!
    With my son, I decided to bite the bullet and let him cry as long as it took. He has the same powerful lungs, but wasn't as stubborn. He cried for almost two hours the first interval of the first night, than only 45 minutes the second interval. The second night, he cried maybe 40 minutes the first interval, than maybe 15 minutes the second interval. I didn't go into his room AT ALL either night. That is all it took for him and he started sleeping 9-11 hours straight (with a few fussy wake ups the next few nights). I didn't think it was possible, but it absolutely worked. I firmly believe that they need to get used to the fact that sleep will take place WITHOUT you. I think I felt guilty and too perpetually exhausted with my daughter to stick to my guns, especially since I was a working mom, but I think if I would have tried letting her cry much sooner in life and just let her cry it out for consecutive wake ups, even if it took three hours, she would have learned. I've heard its ok to come in and comfort them, so they don't feel abandoned, without picking them up, if that makes you more comfortable. BUT DON'T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THE CRYING!! You will be a better more patient mom to Bella when you are rested!!

  6. I absolutely don't think it leads to inattentive parenting. I can't imagine EVER being immune to their crying. I KNOW without a doubt that my son is sleeping better too, cause when he sleeps by me, he wakes up any time I move. If he gets out of his routine too much or gets sick, sometimes he will wake up and cry...but don't give in, this starts the bad habit again.
    For awhile I thought he was in physical pain by the way he cried, so I was reluctant to even try letting him cry, but I soon realized he was manipulating me (yes, they are smart enough). They know what it takes to get you to stay. At least give it a try...and I'm more than willing to talk you through it.
    BE STRONG...good luck.

  7. Erin- Thanks for the support. I would have considered co-sleeping with Bella, even just on this past trip, but she doesn't sleep well next to us as she is a light sleeper. Oh well, c'est la vie. Enjoy snuggling your little ones:)

    Hilary - It's good to hear your perspective and get your support on the DRAMA that is sleep training. As hard as it's been, I do not regret doing it with Bella. It's in the best interest for all of us and I cannot begin to imagine the multiple night wakings going on for years AND being a working mom.

    And - WOO HOO - she was back to sleeping a long stretch of 9 hours last night!! I think this post was written during that "extinction burst". Whew. The worst is over.