Thursday, March 8, 2012

Remind me how hard this is

Ashlynn was such a great sleeper.  Key word-WAS. Right up until she hit 4 months.  Her big sisters gave her a virus and at the same time she started teething pretty intensely.  While she was sick she barely let me lay her down to sleep.  As the cold passed the night waking didn’t.  Teething the first tooth is a long drawn out ordeal with the gums swelling, the tooth coming up and receding over and over.  Just as expected her gums on the bottom have been bothering her off and on.  Sometimes so much that she refuses to nurse from the pain or lay down from a throbbing head.  Other times her gums are fine.  We’ve recently passed a bad few days of teething and the night waking was just getting worse.  Teething can no longer be my excuse for why she isn’t sleeping well.  Something had to change. 

Last week I reached my breaking point.   Ashlynn was waking up at night every two hours, often every hour.  I was so tired I was bursting into tears in the middle of the day. It was time to teach Ashlynn how to soothe herself to sleep for her naps and let her cry it out at night. I’m certain I’m mostly to blame for this night waking habit.  When she’s sick and teething she cries out and I go to her, pick her up, nurse and cuddle her. Every time.  At 4 months my baby girl turned into a conscious child with much more going on upstairs.  Surely she’s smart enough to put two and two together.  I cry-Mom comes.  This is my third kid.  How am I at this breaking point once again?  It’s almost the same time as with Bella too.  You’d think I would have seen this coming.  I guess I thought we’d bypass this phase since Ashlynn was such a good sleeper up until this point. 
Project cry-it-out started last Friday.   I’d really  hoped to avoid this stage with my third baby.  It’s excruciating to listen to her cry and not go to soothe her.  Success happened quickly though.  By day two she was putting herself to sleep for her naps by sucking her thumb or pacifier.  I put her in her crib after a few minutes of pre-nap rocking, she cries for a few minutes and then goes to sleep.  Today I put her down awake and she didn't’ even cry; just rolled over and went to sleep.  She’s taking three, one hour naps each day and I’m not loosing my mind trying to rock her to sleep before each nap.  A tiny bit of my sanity is back.
The night time game plan gave me more anxiety.   Ashlynn has no trouble putting herself to sleep for the night.  Each night she nurses and is asleep by 6:30-7PM.  Typically she wakes up about 3 hours later to nurse again.  This feeding I don’t mind.  It’s the waking every one to two hours after that I can’t handle.  On Friday night, as predicted she woke for her first feeding around 10PM.  Also predictably, she woke one hour after that crying for no apparent reason.  I let her cry.  Scream really.  Justin said the sound could be used to torture soldiers.  Thirty eight minutes later she had put herself to sleep.  It was terrible and I was in tears at the end.  But she slept for three hours until she woke for her second feeding.  Success!    The second night she cried for 40 minutes, the third night just 3 minutes, and every night after it’s a bit of fussing and then she sucks her thumb and goes back to sleep.  That means I’m getting four hour blocks of sleep instead of less than two hours.  I cannot tell you how much this has improved my outlook on life.  The next step is to eliminate the 5:30AM wake up. She generally doesn’t nurse much so I know she isn’t hungry.  I’ll take the small successes and work on this next. 
My sleep training bible is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby.  It helped quite a bit with Arabella and I pulled it out last week to review my game plan for training Ashlynn.  I don’t think any book can really give parents the answers for how to let your child learn to soothe themselves but this book gave me the right ideas.  It’s all about tailoring it to your comfort and style as a parent.  I have a hard time stomaching the crying but with every baby I reached a point of no return.  Either the kid had to sleep more or mama is going to loose her mind from exhaustion.  I definitely recommend this book for new parents.  It’s usually my baby shower gift for friends. 

The good news is that Ashlynn seems more rested when she wakes up in the morning.  We’re moving towards a good three nap per day schedule.  She’s getting three naps each day it’s just extremely variable as to when and how long the naps are.  On the days that she naps well she also sleeps better at night with less crying. 

I’m really excited with how quickly she caught on and started soothing herself back to sleep without my help.  I’m always hesitant to start sleep training with my kids this young.  I feel really guilty about making them cry it out.  In the end my need for sleep helps me dive right in and get’er done.  I just need someone to remind me about all this 3 years from now when I miss having a baby in the house. Please!  Someone remind me how hard this is!


Heather P. said...

It is hard...even with one child! I had to do the same thing with Caleb around 6 months. He all of a sudden decided he wanted to wake up every 3 hours, and after one month of being back at work, I was at wits end and exhausted. One night we just let him cry for almost an hour. Two nights later, he slept through the night and has been doing so (most the time) ever since. Baby sleep = happy mommy and daddy and happy baby!

meredith said...

38 minutes? you deserve a medal!!