Monday, November 9, 2009

The time has come... *updated* 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.


Sneks said...

Congrats Becky! I can only imagine how tough that was! But it all seems to be working well!

It's funny -- Jody Mindel (the book author) is married to my old Masters advisor. She works in the psych department at St. Joe's in Philly. She's so super great and is the BEST person to take advice from!

Sneks said...

Congrats Becky! I can only imagine how tough that was! But it all seems to be working well!

It's funny -- Jody Mindel (the book author) is married to my old Masters advisor. She works in the psych department at St. Joe's in Philly. She's so super great and is the BEST person to take advice from!

Julie said...

C-I-O! C-I-O! you can do it!

Erin said...

I'm surprised it's taken Sean this long to snap -- but good for you guys! I hope that Colin allows you to put him to bed as easily, it will make all of your lives so much better if you are able to get some sleep!

JJ said...

This is sooo good guys! You should hold off on traveling for a couple of weeks and really cement this. I feel "he" wants this too. I've sensed his frustration at waking up too early from his naps and wanting to be back to sleep. And this is not to say when he gets sick or he's teething he won't have wakeful spells but now he will be equipted with what he needs to do. Great job guys! xoxoxo

AbbeM said...

Becky, I'm glad it seems to be working! Natalie was the same: about 20 minutes the first night (although it felt like HOURS), then about 10, 5, then nothing. We expected horrible crying when we finally got rid of the binky, but that also didn't manifest at night! I think it's amazing how much they can surprise you. Good luck on being the one to put him down!

Elaine said...

You should have ZERO regrets for going to the CIO method because you have exhausted all other options for a long time. I give you and Sean so much credit, I know you do what you do b/c that is what a parent does, but I don't know how you all can function so well month after month on such broken sleep. I am glad to hear that it went much better than expected.

sam said...

Good job. We did this with Kendal and she seems much happier with the whole sleeping thing. She took about a week and a half to stop the crying and go to sleep. Keep up the good work.

Daisy and Ryan said...

wow - i'm glad he did so well with this! way to go! i'm sure it was really hard - agreeing to trying it and then the first time, esp. we're at the point where we have to do something else, too. i even tried cio with naptime for a couple days. that's where our struggle really is with going down. dad does bedtime, and aiden goes down fairly quickly with dad. with mom...he wants me to hold and nurse him and wants to go back and forth between the crib and my arms. but the cio did NOT work for us and actually made things much worse. :( aiden got REALLY clingy and would scream when i attempted to put him in the crib. a friend of ours is trying a new approach, too - the sleep lady. it's supposed to be in between cio and ncss - will involve a little crying but with you there. i put a request in for the book, and it's at the library waiting for me to go and get it today! sounds kind of like what i've been doing for the past week. i'm hoping to blog about it soon. time is just so limited these days!!

again - way to go!! so glad it is working for you all. we all know you really tried not to go with the crying, and this was a last resort. but it seems that it went much better than you anticipated, which is great! :)

Anonymous said...


When you went thru this, isay you cried for hours, but your Mother says it was only 20 minutes.

We survived it and so will you, on the future side of this you will be so happy and proud of your son.


Elaine said...

So glad things are going well!!!!

Anonymous said...

When I went in to have Danny, my Mom spoiled Kristeen by picking her up when she just "squeeked' at night and rocked her back to sleep! No way I could do this with her and still feed and take care of Danny at night. I had to convert Kristeen back to where she was before her brother was born and fast! I had to say good night, shut her door, and turn the vacuum on near her door! This way she knew I was out there but I could not hear her cry easily! Within 2 days we were all back to normal with the sleep routine!

Miss Erin said...

We just went through this with our 13 month old twins- now we look at each other and shake our heads- what were we waiting for? I guess we just needed to get there mentally. It's like a whole new world now.