Ok, so I have been wanting to blog about this for a long time. I have been trying to think of what I was going to say. This post has evolved in my head over time and I am finally ready to talk about it.
Our little guy has never been a great sleeper. He was good for maybe the first couple of weeks, but then that stopped. Maybe he felt like he would miss out on things if he slept, who knows? But I think the past 5 days we have started to finally turn a corner.
When we had him I think my hubby and I were both on the same page. We wanted to do whatever we could do to help him so that he did not cry. This evolved into me nursing him to sleep at night and every time he woke up in the middle of the night, no matter how many times, I was there to nurse him back to sleep. I also nursed him to naps. I let him nap as long as he could, which was not very long at times and then we would try again a couple of hours after he woke up. This was the way I handled things for months.
As you can imagine, I got very little sleep. And the sleep I did get was not a good sleep. Getting an hour at a time with 10-30 minutes in between was not allowing me to rest the way I needed to rest ( sometimes he would remain awake for 2 hours overnight). I was fast approaching my breaking point. All I wanted was junk food (comfort food). I didn’t feel like doing anything because I was exhausted all day and this was not the type of mother I wanted to be. If I worked outside of the home, I would have probably been fired by now. I just could not seem to function to get anything done around the house. I knew we were going to have to try crying it out (CIO).
I never wanted to do this. I thought I would be able to “train” him using gentler approaches. I wanted to. I felt I needed to, to be a good Mom. If I let him cry I was failing him. But in reality I was failing myself AND him by not doing what was best for our situation. So we met with his pediatrician on July 5th for his 6 month checkup and again talked about sleep training. We told him that we tried CIO with checks about 2 months ago and that it did not go well. He cried for 3 hours and at that point we decided to go back to what we were doing, that maybe he just wasn’t ready.
I knew going into the appointment the doctor would tell us to try again. This time I was ready. Like I said, I was at my end. I needed sleep and I needed it months ago. I was even more convinced that our little guy would do better this time. A week before our appointment he slept for almost 6 hours straight. I knew he could do it. AND, he managed to sleep through all of the 4th of July fireworks the night before.
We were going out-of-town, so the doctor told us to wait until we got back before we tried anything. So we decided to try the night we got back. Hubby was working and would not be home until after I put him down. I dreaded this, but had to be strong. I did his normal bedtime routine and made sure he was awake and not too groggy before putting him down. I put him down at 8pm and immediately he started to cry. I told him he was ok and walked out of the room and shut the door behind me (not closed all the way but just a small crack). Of course I shed a few tears as well. It was a LONG 10 minutes before hubby got home and he said “let’s go downstairs.” I took the monitor with me, but did not turn it on, as we could still hear him. We watched TV and to our amazement he stopped crying at 8:55pm. We went up to check on him and yes he was asleep! Less than an hour! I was so happy, we both were. He briefly woke up at 9:45pm, we let him settle himself and he was back out in 10 minutes. Then he woke at 12:15am. I fed him. Then we heard him stir at 2am or so and once more at 3:55am. This time I fed him again and I think he may have woken up once more after that, but I did not get him until morning time. He was up maybe 5 or so times in total, but it was a success nonetheless, since prior nights he would get up anywhere between 5-10 times.
The next night, to bed at 7:55pm and asleep at 8:45pm. One more night like this and then Sunday night he was asleep within 20 minutes! He woke briefly at 9:05 and again at 11:15. Both times we let him cry and within 10 minutes he was back out. Then he did not wake until 5:45am!!! My breasts felt a little full at this time, but I gladly fed him then and after that he slept for another 2+hours. Last night he was asleep within 10 minutes. He was up a few more times, but I only fed him twice.
It is a work in progress, but we have already see so much progress. I know it will get better.
Now as far as naps. . .
Every thing I have read, from books, to blogs, to babycenter tells you if you are going to sleep train, do either bedtime OR naps, not both. I had every intention of doing this. After all the doctor told us to only work on the going to bed part. He told me I could do what I always did when he woke up during the night. So I was already ahead of the game by not doing that each time he woke up. I wanted to try naps to see how he would do. If he cried for an hour with his nap, I would not continue to do the CIO for naps.
So Friday I tried it. Within 25 minutes he was asleep. YAY! He slept for 30 minutes. The next nap that day he was asleep after 5 minutes. Again he slept for 30 minutes. I was so happy! But of course now I was starting to see a pattern I did not like. 30 minutes was not a great nap, especially when it was only 2 a day. (Sometimes I could get 3). This continued through yesterday. Like clockwork, his naps were 30 minutes. I posted a question on Babycenter and got some responses.
What I had been doing is keeping his awake times to 2 hours. So by the time he was asleep with his first nap he had been awake for almost 2.5 hours. I thought this was ok at his age. But it was suggested to try a shorter awake time.
So today I decided to put him down after an hour and a half of being awake. He was asleep within 10 minutes and slept for . . . drum-roll please . . . 1.5 hours!!!!!!
I could not believe it! I actually got a lot done, including this post. I am actually just feeding him now after he woke up.
So like I said, I feel like we have turned a corner with his sleep. He isn’t sleeping through the night yet, but I have hope that this will happen soon. I already feel more rested than I have felt for the last almost 7 months. And now if I can get his naps like the one he had this morning, I will finally feel like I can accomplish more and more each day and finally work on getting the last of the baby weight and beyond off.
Choosing to do the CIO was NOT an easy decision. It still is hard to hear him cry at night. I have had hubby put him to bed when he is home, so that our little guy gets used to both of us doing it. I know there are a lot of people who are against it and all forms of it. All I ask is that I hope that you don’t judge. I know topics like sleep training and breast-feeding can elicit a LOT of debate and hurt feelings. Ultimately we do what is best for our own child. That is what matters.
I know what we are doing is best for us. I know that because when I get him out of bed in the morning I am greeted with the largest, toothless smile I have ever seen and it melts my heart and give me peace.
Thanks for reading.