Friday, August 1, 2014

Sleep Training

Sleep training a baby is one of the most controversial parenting topics out there.
I have no relevant pictures, so enjoy some newborn shots of her SLEEPING! :)

And, before we go any further, I suppose it's important to remind you that the Hubs and I are kinda inbetween parents. We don't do attachment parenting, where everything is 100% baby-directed and baby decides pretty much everything. But, we did (& still do) nurse, baby wear, and believe in natural birth, all very attachment-parenting-esque. We also don't 100% do parent-directed parenting. We did work hard to get on a schedule, but don't follow 100% of it's belief's and practices either. We're in the middle. That said, if anyone on the child-directed side heard I did sleep training, I'd be ousted. The parent world is a tough one and many people feel VERY strongly about what is right or wrong. I can't really say what's right or wrong for anyone else. All I can say is what we felt was right and did/do for us. Simple as that.

Before having Bailey, I really had no idea what we'd do in terms of sleep training or not. I didn't really even know the options. I guess I just sorta stuck my head in the sand and hoped Bailey would be a good sleeper.

Yeaaaaaah. No dice. Bailey is not one of those ILOVETOSLEEP babies. Not even a little. That's not to say she's a bad baby. She's not. She's a great baby. She's just a mover, not a sleeper. Girl is go, go, go, goooooooooooooooo all. the. time. Wonder where she gets that from? While I LOVE to sleep, I'm much more go-go-go all the time, so I can't be too mad that my daughter is similar. Like mother, like daughter.

So, when it came to sleep-- let's just say I got used to not sleeping through the night. Now, I will say she was never a TERRIBLE sleeper. She RARELY woke more than once in the middle of the night (MOTN) and naps were so-so. She wasn't one of those 4-wake-ups-just-needing-to-be-re-paci-ed babies. Generally, she woke once in the MOTN around 3am, nursed quickly, and went right back down. Even as young as a few months, she was in this routine. Nothing really to complain about. Of course there were off nights, especially when she and I were solo when the Hubs started his new job, but those were always the exception, not the norm. Naps were also so-so. She was in daycare, so they varied on time and length a lot.

We kept up the one MOTN wake up and so-so naps until we moved for the Hubs new job. After that move and I was staying home with B all the time and decided it was time to start really working on getting naps consistent and down.

I started consistently putting her down in the same, quiet place (her crib) at the same time, everyday. Awake, so she'd learn to put herself to sleep. So, we'd nurse, play, and then it was nap time. Everyday. Was it easy? Nope. Was it restrictive on what and when we could do things? Yep. Was it worth it? YES. A thousand times, yes. After a few weeks of this, she is a pretty darn great napper. When we first started, she'd fuss for sometimes up to 20 minutes before falling asleep. Now, max 5 minutes of not even FUSSING-- just like coo-ing to herself- and girl is OUT. Now, if it were up to her, she still wouldn't nap and she'd be goooo goooo gooooooooo until she was so beyond overtired. But, it's not up to her. When it comes to nap and sleep-- I go parent directed. It's up to me. So, she naps. Everyday. 8-9:30am and 2-4pm. Like clockwork. Sometimes there's even a little catnap in the middle of the day around 11:30am. 

Once we got naps down, I wanted to focus on MOTN. I really didn't mind the one wake-up. It was snuggle time and it felt like nothing in the whole world existed except us. It was special. But, she was 7 months old and it was time. I firmly believe babies NEED sleep. It helps them grow and develop and is very, very important for them. I wanted her to have 8ish hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I also KNEW Bailey could physically handle 8 hours of sleep without eating. She isn't 4 weeks old and 5 pounds. She had randomly STTN a few times, as well. I firmly believed (and still believe) she was simply waking out of habit and we just needed to break the MOTN snack habit. I knew she could and just needed a little push. 

And, of course, the idea of ME getting to FINALLY STTN again was also appealing.

So, the Hubs and I decided (and, yes- WE decided. While I'm staying at home with Bailey right now so of course I have more of a all-day role with the B-related decisions, WE are her parents and WE make all the major decisions together. Always.) over the 4th of July weekend, since he had an extra day off and we had no plans, we'd do it. Sleep train. The oh-so-dreded Cry It Out (CIO). I was not looking forward to it AT ALL. I know my child and I know girl can CRY. None of this "oh she cried for 10 minutes and then went out." No, no. Girl can CRRRRY. But, it was time. I'd tried other techniques (limiting time at the breast during MOTN feed, changing time of MOTN feed, etc) and nothing worked. CIO was our last resort. It was time.

The first night, Bailey woke up at about 2am. I went in, told her I loved her and patted her for a few seconds and then walked out without turning on lights and without picking her up. SO HARD. Walking away from YOUR baby while she's crying is SO HARD. And, the crying continued. I went in every so often to reminder her we loved her and tell her to go to sleep (never turning on the light or picking her up). And, she kept crying. And crying. I watched her on the video monitor and continued to go in every 20 minuets. It was awful. I hated every second of it. 5 minutes felt like 5 hours. 5am rolled around and she had been crying for 3 hours straight.

And, I then committed the #1 CIO cardinal sin. I broke. I couldn't take it. I went in and picked her up and she fell immediately asleep. I tried to set her back down, but she woke back up. So, I held her while she slept til 6:30am and we started our day. While I felt like I failed, I was proud that I did not nurse her. So, small win.

That night, I prepared for battle. I got headphones and my iPad all ready to watch Netflix all night, while having the video monitor up on my phone. I was ready. I went to sleep. Imagine my surprise when I woke up at 2am to nothing. Silent. Fell back asleep and woke back up at 3something & 4something and both times-- silence. 6am came and she finally woke up. SUCCESS!!! She slept through the night!!!!

The next night, same. And the next. We're going on about a month now. Sure, we've had a random night here or there with a quick wake up in the MOTN where she fusses for 5 or 10 minutes, but always goes right back down, on her own.


Again, I can't say it's the right move for anyone else. But, it worked for us. It's HARD. CIO is SO hard. I think we got very lucky that it only took 1 night and it still felt like an eternity and I have no idea how I would have taken it any longer. But, it worked for us.

And, she's happy and healthy. And sleeping.

Which makes me very, very happy. :)

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