Monday, November 9, 2009
The time has come... *updated*
...to let non-sleeping babies cry. This is probably one of the hardest decisions Sean and I have made as parents, mostly due to the fact that we didn't really agree. Since Colin was born I felt strongly that I would not/could not let him cry himself to sleep. It just didn't feel right, so I read a lot of books and gravitated toward the 'no-cry' camp because it was in line with they way I was feeling. Colin wasn't ever a crier, I could always soothe him by picking him up and holding him so when I started to get panic-attacks when he would cry, leaving him to cry was NOT an option. I was convinced I could get him to sleep without torturing both of us and making him cry. Honestly, we almost got there, unfortunately our success coincided with Colin's marathon teething and I think he made an association with the pain and going to sleep by himself. A few times while putting him down for a nap he would fight me so I tied to leave him to do it himself but I never made it more than a few minutes.
Over the last couple of months, Colin's sleeping has degraded more and more and it has become clear that he knew he was manipulating us. I knew we had to do something but grabbed onto any excuse not to: he was teething, we were going away that weekend, Sean was going to Chicago.. all valid reasons but excuses none the less.
When I got home from a week upstate Sean said we were doing it. I wanted to give him a week to re-acclimate but we finally decided 'a fresh start' was the better approach, since he would just re-acclimate to our old routine and possibly make it harder. After some discussion we agreed to compromise and follow the plan laid out in Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell (There is also a Revised Edition.) I liked this plan because she concentrated at the bedtime routine, and allowed you to do your normal overnight routine (for us, picking him up and rocking or walking him back to sleep.) Her theory is that 80% of children who put themselves to sleep will easily put themselves back to sleep. We had found this to be mostly true for Colin since the nights he put himself to sleep he slept much better than the nights we helped him. She also insists on frequent checks to reassure everyone that things were okay. We spent the evening discussing with Colin what was going to happen. I think he is old enough to understand what we are saying but not really old enough to be able to anticipate the fear.
Knowing I was the weak link, Sean asked me to leave the house for the process but I felt that wasn't a very good precedent to set. I couldn't just leave the hard things for him to do, and if Colin was going to go through it, so was I.
I set myself up in the tub so I could run the water loudly if I started to loose control. I got a book to read to help the time pass, and a pad and pen so I could document the event. I tried to put on my 'scientific observer' hat and to be honest I think that mind set helped me cope.
Everyone who I talked to who has been through this said it was never as bad as they thought, and that turned out to be true for us as well. I thought for sure Colin would be way worse than the 'textbook' case of 40 mins of crying on night 1, and hour on night 2 and about 20 mins on night 3. I was prepared for him to go on for at least 2 hours on night 1. Nope! 20 minutes! Night 2, I was again prepared for a marathon thinking we just got lucky with a very tired baby but Colin only cried for 2 minuets! He didn't go right to sleep but he wasn't upset. He even said 'bye bye' to Sean as he was turning off the light.
The author suggests giving him two weeks before repeating the routine overnight if necessary. The first night he woke up twice before getting up for the day around 6:15 and last night he slept straight through until 5:30 (which was probably a little early for him to wake up because he wasn't exactly happy about it but eventually he committed to waking up and was fine.) We will have to wait and see what his new wake up time will be.
Sean wants to do the routine himself again tonight to make sure Colin is solidified in it before I try. We are pretty sure he will give me a bit more trouble, but I was also sure he would cry for a long time so I guess we will see.
We aren't though the woods yet, but so far we have all handled this remarkably well. I have more to say about my fears going in but I'll save that for another post.
*Night Three* - Colin cried when Sean put him in the crib, and all through his last book, but as soon as Sean left the room he was totally quiet. Overnight was a different story. He woke up once at 10:30ish and again at 2:30, although he pretty much refused to be put down until he decided to get up for the day at 6:30.. Sean and I took turns holding him and for the most part he was quiet but as soon as he was laid down he would flip out. He may have had a stomach ache, I gave him pomegranate for the first time and the seeds may be too much for his sensitive tummy.
*Night Four*- Mommy's turn! Unfortunately Sean got called to school for an all hands on deck meeting tonight. We were all a little nervous about me going it alone, but Colin did fine. Again he cried through the book in the crib (which we may have to eliminate it isn't really working as a transition, its more like torture) and he cried on and off for about two minutes after I left but I never had to go in and check on him. So HOORAY! I think we are over the worst (and it wasn't even bad.) The plan is to start nap training this Saturday, and then work on overnight if he isn't sleeping though on his own the week after that.