Posts Tagged ‘sleep training’


Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Like that title? I just made up a word, y’all.

Baby Evan has been experiencing a little bit of day/night reversal lately, but not in the usual way. Most of the time when babies get their days and nights confused it involves sleeping all day and very exhausted parents at night, especially during those first crazy, disorienting weeks right after you bring baby home. My child is doing just fine with his day-night sleeping patterns (besides the sudden and disappointing shortening of the ONE nap we have left to less than 2 hours most days) but his need-for-attention patterns are WHACKED.

Today at breastfeeding group Baby Evan flung himself into at least four different mamas’ laps, climbing over and pushing out of the way their own smaller babies. (He’s pretty much the infant version of Godzilla.) When one mom was foolish enough to pick him up after group he clung to her like she was the last empty lifeboat on the Titanic. While I was trying to make a pie this afternoon he literally hung on to my apron strings and pressed his face against the backs of my knees. His independent playtime has been cut from at least anĀ  hour a day to just a few minutes at a time followed by much crying and whining and arm-raising until someone (me) lets him rub his nose on their shoulder and dig his sharp, grubby little finger nails into their arms.

And then bedtime comes and our sweet baby boy – who was once totally unable to sleep without at least 30 minutes of rocking and lullabies – thrashes out of our arms. He wants to be left ALOOOOOOOONE dammit, alone in the dark in his crib with his stuffed Yoda and his blankie. Mere minutes (and zero crying) after E sets a totally awake and active baby in his bed there is total silence from the nursery.The baby lays himself down. He pulls the blanket over himself, stuffs a corner in his mouth, and sleeps. It’s….mind boggling. As far as I know we haven’t trained him to put himself to sleep or encouraged it in any way. In fact, I’m a little sad he doesn’t want to rock before bed, since it’s the quietest, calmest part of the day and a baby cuddle is such a great way to relax.

I’ve started to wonder if affection works the same as food – maybe Baby Evan has a necessary daily allowance of love and if I meet all his needs before 7 pm he doesn’t have to fill up right before bed. Clearly his heart is bigger than his stomach.

Of course I know I’m tempting the mommy-blogger-gods AND Karma AND Fate AND probably a pack of rabid flying squirrels by writing about this on the internet, but I’m willing to risk it. Maybe my story will help some poor exhausted parent give their kid a chance to put himself to sleep and discover that’s what he wanted all along.

A nap, a nap, my kingdom for a nap

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Although in my current sleepless state it feels like a zillion years ago, it was only early January when I first attempted to night ween Baby Evan. It went pretty well. Not great, but well enough that I was optimistic that things would only get better from there. I was prepared for set backs during new developmental phases but was super relieved I wouldn’t have to go through angry, stressful, cry-it-out sleep training every couple of months. I was not prepared for a baby who forgot absolutely everything about sleep and how to do it.

First we had the horrible vomiting puking disease that made everyone exhausted for 24 hours and then ravenously hungry for a week. No matter how many times we nursed during the day, Baby Evan woke up every 2 hours crying. Between my own exhaustion from the flu and my fear he might be dehydrated I was in no position to wean anyone, so back to night feedings we went.

Then one of his lower incisors started coming in and the paaaaaaaaain was aaaaaaawful. Teething is one of those “developmental milestones” that almost always disrupts sleep routines everything. My happy smiley baby was cranky and angry and spent many an hour wailing and gnashing his teeth gums. The only time he felt better was while he was nursing. So how could I say no?

Now we have almost no schedule. The baby wakes up for two or three feedings between 10 pm and 7 am. Mornings can start any time between 5:30 and 7:30 with no rhyme or reason. Although bedtime is still supposed to happen at 7 every night, when Baby Evan is still chasing the cat, rolling on the dog and throwing every toy he owns on the floor at 6:55 he’s clearly not tired yet so we push it back. Then there’s the mysterious screaming and thrashing that happens 40 minutes after E puts a full-stomached, sound asleep baby in his crib with his blankey. And don’t even get me started on naps. We’re down to one a day – sometimes for 30 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours. I can’t even remember the last time I took a nap but I’m pretty sure it was before Christmas. Or maybe before I gave birth. It feels like it was before Y2K. Or maybe before the invention of electricity. So I would really like to take one some time soon.

The only reason I’m not back to the same angry, miserable person I was the last time we tried sleep weaning is that E has really stepped up. He’s still doing all rocking at bedtimes and every nap when he’s home. He handled the mysterious screaming fit at 8:45 last night and rocked the baby back to sleep after I fed him at 11 pm the night before. And on Sunday mornings I get to sleep in as long as I want until it’s time for church. He understand that one morning a week where I get to pee and brush my teeth without a child hanging off my knees is vital to my sanity and good for our marriage. It also helps that Baby Evan is at a really good age – able to entertain himself for a good chunk of time (when he feels like it) and fun to play with when he needs someone to interact with. I also get mini-breaks during the various playgroups, classes and activities we attend at Papoose because my social butterfly spends the whole time climbing into other mama’s laps. Thank God he’s cute enough no one seems to mind.

I think I’ll probably try the night weaning again in a few weeks but it doesn’t really seem worth it right now. I’m tired but not incredibly exhausted, frustrated but not overly so, and I fear the other incisor is about to make an appearance so it might be hopeless anyway. I think my only hope for night-weaning is ACTUAL weaning, which is so far in the future I’d need a crystal ball to see it. And since my psychic abilities aren’t all that great (but really, who saw that Tiger Woods thing coming? What kind of rich, powerful, famous dude cheats on his wife?!) for now I’m just going to go rest my eyes for a minute.

STTN Progress

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

(That’s Sleeping Through The Night for anyone who isn’t hip to the current parenting anagrams.)

(Anagrams isn’t the right word. Abbreviations? I know it’s not analogies. Acronyms! Definitely an acronym.)

(Did I really say “hip”?)

Sunday night – Bed at 7:30, Awake from 11:30 pm – 1:00 am, lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth (in our arms), 1 feeding
Monday night – For the life of me, I CANNOT REMEMBER Monday. See why I need to start getting some sleep?
Tuesday night – Bed at 8:30, Awake at 12:30, a little crying, rocked back to sleep, NO FEEDINGS!
Wednesday night -Bed at 7, Awake at 10:30, fussy, awake at 4:30, fussy, fed both times
Thursday night – Slept 6:45 pm – 6:15 am with one 2:30 am feeding.
Friday night – Asleep at 7:30 pm…and up at 6:30 am. NO FEEDINGS.

THAT’S RIGHT PEOPLE, HE MADE IT. Baby Evan went 11 hours without nursing and the world did not end. The sky did not fall. Monkeys did not fly out of my butt. Best of all, my boobs did not explode. He slept, well, like a baby all night with barely a peep to indicate he had woken up, rolled over and self-soothed himself back to sleep. I probably woke up more times that he did to look at the clock and think OMG 5 hours! OMG 6 hours! OMG 7 hours! And by total, sheer, inexplicable luck we did it without using CIO (cry it out, yet another acronym) (see, I remembered this time).

Now, I know that was just one night and the happy dance of joy I did all the way into the nursery this morning is probably premature. And if I had any sense at all I’d STOP WRITING ABOUT IT right now because I’m setting myself up for a post in a week written from the fetal position on the floor that starts “dear internets pls halp me i cant remember the last time i slept or took a shower send wine and housecleaner”. It’s totally my own fault for bragging. Mama Karma is a bitch. Yet I cannot help myself, especially since now my last few angry, bitter, I hate everything posts seem silly and totally exaggerated. It’s amazing how much brighter the world looks after 8 hours of sleep.

No You’re Never Going To Get It

Monday, January 4th, 2010


One hour is exactly how long I made it on my first attempt at night weaning before I gave up and nursed the baby. Although by that point he was so far gone into angry exhausted screaming mode that even a few minutes at the boob didn’t help and he kept whimpering long after he was sound asleep. It was sucky and awful. I certainly didn’t get any more sleep than I normally do and poor E got significantly less. But even so, I think it was a success.

Up until now I have never been interested in what the experts call “sleep training”. I believe forcing a baby to self-sooth and sleep through the night at a young age is a modern Western ideal and biologically unreasonable at only a few months old. But you know what else is unreasonable? Nine months of being exhausted. Nine months of being the only person doing the night feedings. NINE MONTHS of feeding on demand despite my nagging suspicion he’s not actually hungry at all. Even the anti-sleep trainers all end their advice with the little disclaimer that being a good parent is really more important than how you put a baby to bed. Nothing about spending all my night feedings resisting the overwhelming urge to just shake the baby off, leave the room and walk out of the house forever makes me a good parent. Being too tired during the day to play does not make me a good parent. Using up every ounce of patience in my body before 6 am and spending the rest of my day seconds away from yelling does not make me a good parent. It also makes me a lousy wife and partner, especially because my other nighttime routine is thinking over and over how much I resent being the only one who feeds the baby and therefor the only one who gets up with the baby. The little ball of resentment and anger is like a popcorn kernel in my tooth that I focus on and pick at and poke until it’s sore and red and all I can think about. Getting divorced simply because I’m breastfeeding definitely does not make me a good parent. And so, night weaning has begun.

Baby Evan has always been a pretty good sleeper. He transitioned easily from co-sleeping to the crib and from napping in the swing to napping in his room. Our established night time routine of bath, boob, book and bed is successful and usually all he needs to fall asleep is a few minutes of cuddling and rocking. He often wakes up, finds his blanky, rolls over and goes back to sleep on his own without needing to be soothed. But the night feedings are frequent and constant, every 2 or 3 hours all night long, mostly due to habit not hunger. My ultimate goal is to get down to ZERO feedings between 7 pm and 7 am but for the next few months I’d settle for one 2 am feeding and someone else to rock him back to sleep every few nights. Sunday was our first try and it went like this: Baby goes to bed, Baby wakes up wanting to eat, E tries to get him back to sleep with absolutely no luck, I try to get him back to sleep with no luck, consider letting him cry it out for a few minutes but can’t bring ourselves to do it, give up and let Baby nurse for less than 90 seconds, baby passes out, wakes up again, cries for two minutes, passes out again.

The whole thing took an hour and a half but then he slept from 1 am to almost 7 am without a sound. He woke up the same happy, smiley baby he does on the nights we don’t have an EPIC BATTLE and has been fine all day. No signs of permanent psycological or emotional damage. I think he might be nursing a little more than usual – or maybe I’m just offering more often because I’m afraid I starved him last night – but that just means he’ll be less hungry tonight.

I’m giving it a week. A week to get to a point where I can wake up rested and refreshed and feeling like a normal person instead of a grumpy monster. If he’s still not even close to a full night’s sleep by then I’ll take a break and go back to surviving on naps and caffeine for a while until I can work up the energy to try again. Or maybe I’ll just be exhausted for the next five years. That sounds like fun too.