Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apparently, I was wrong

I've been on an infant sleep kick lately because I've finally gotten to the point where I am...just...tired. All I can do is beg to some unseen something, "Please don't make me let my baby cry. Please don't. I can't stand it. But I need some sleep. I just don't know what else to do." The following is the abridged version of our sleep journey so far. 

I feel like a complete failure. I feel like I have tried everything except the one thing I do NOT want to try-the thing I have done everything in my power to avoid.

I can't get my baby to sleep. 

I've tried to be patient with myself as a new parent and my daughter who is just a baby. I've tried to joke about it. I've tried to be positive. But the truth is, I'm just not. This is really hard for me. I feel like I have been slow to learn, and I feel like I've done everything wrong with how I have bee trying to help my baby sleep.

When Lily was younger, we decided she would sleep in her little bassinet by our bed because I thought it was the 'right' thing to do. The AAP suggests that babies should sleep close to Mom but not in the bed.

Apparently, I was wrong.

We tried to move her to her crib, which was in our bedroom. She was a big girl after all, and it was time to sleep in her big girl bed. Surely this would be the 'right' thing to do. We would give her a bath and read her a story, followed by nursing and rocking to sleep. Routine is supposed to work. 

Apparently, I was wrong.

The bath would get her excited. Nursing and rocking seemed to work well. We added our fan as some white noise, and she seemed to understand that as soon as the fan came on, it was time to sleep. After ninnie. With ninnie.

She would fall asleep in our arms, and we would put her down in her crib. Or at least try. Epic fail. Eyes would pop open no matter who long she had been in dream land before.

"Don't put her to bed asleep. Put her to bed drowsy and let her cry it out a little," our pediatrician told me. I nodded in compliance, but thought, "No way. I am not going to make my four month old cry it out. She's just a baby. I am not that kind of parent."

Apparently, I was wrong.

"Try a swing," kindly church members suggested. That seemed to work for awhile. She even slept seven hours straight a couple of times. Mostly it was a routine of one five hour block, nurse, followed by a three hour block of sleep. 

During all of this, I was exhausted. I would pull Lily in the bed with me sometimes while she nursed so I could rest. This was against Robbie's wishes. He would boil inside when he would catch us co-sleeping. Besides being upset  due to his concerns about safety, he was afraid we were starting a bad habit. I just couldn't take it. I was beyond exhausted. I felt utterly alone in those wee hours of the morning when everyone else got to sleep. 

We coslept for awhile. Robbie hated it. Lily and I loved it. I felt decently rested. Cosleeping was great! 

Apparently, I was wrong.

Robbie really did not want Lily in the bed anymore. I didn't mind it, but I became willing to change it. I don't remember why I decided to start going along with this, but I did.

During the cosleeping months, the batteries went dead in the swing. We replaced the batteries and started putting her in the swing for naps. She was taking long and consistent naps! Wonderful! 

But shouldn't she be sleeping in her crib? Like a baby? Even in the swing she wakes up every 1-2 hours. Maybe I get a 3 hour stretch. Maybe. In some way, I am still wrong. When I am exhausted and rocking my baby to sleep, I think,"Everything is working against me. I am being FORCED to use cry it out methods." I hate myself for thinking it, I hate that those methods even exist, and I hate that I might be one of those parents who eventually resort to it b/c I am not strong, patient or GOOD ENOUGH to not use it. 

So as our last resort before the dreaded last resort, I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. 

Before reading it, she was consistently taking one nap a day from about 11:30 am-1 pm or 1:30 pm. Sometimes she would take a second nap, but it wasn't consistent. She would also be ready for bed 8:30-9:30 pm. Most nights it was easy to put her to sleep. It has NEVER been easy to keep her asleep once placing her in her crib. Some nights, I just did not feel like fighting it, and I would put her in her swing after she fell asleep. She loves it.

Apparently, I am still wrong.

At ten months old, my daughter still does not sleep through the night and does not sleep in her crib. All I hear are voices saying, "You are wrong wrong wrong! You've failed!" No matter what I choose to do to help her sleep, it will result in years of therapy in her adult years where she'll blame me and accuse me of being a terrible mother. Of course no one directly tells me these things, but I start thinking these thoughts with all of my reading. 

Back to The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Apparently, I was wrong. Again. 

Babies are wired to have a 6 pm or 7 pm bedtime. Oops. So besides being unrealistic on the days that I do not get home until after 9 pm, this is a tall order! I also have been allowing my baby to nurse to sleep. According to some, I am wrong for this. According to Pantley I am not, but I should work to shorten the time she uses ninnie to fall asleep. 

I am working hard. She still wakes up 1-3 hours. I am exhausted. I see improvements, but sometimes it feels like we backtrack. Pantley says that's part of the progress. I hope so, because we are all out of whack right now! And hopefully if this works, I won't beat myself up over all the damage I have been doing to my daughter the past ten months for all the WRONG things I have been doing.


  1. I just have to respond to this one...

    I have felt the disparage you feel right now with my youngest child. I have 4 children and can say that the first 3 were not wonderful sleepers, but weren't terrible either. My youngest was different. He was a terrible sleeper. We did everything "right", and yet he still didn't get the sleeping thing. We couldn't CIO either even though we had with the first 3. It's different. The one thing that worked for our little man was my husband taking over night soothings. The first couple of nights were tough as all he wanted to do was nurse, but eventually my husband could sooth him. That was it - great sleeper from there on. There were some tears, but he was still being comforted by dad. I call it the power of daddy, and it has helped soooooo many people.

    Nothing you are doing is wrong. You are not a failure. You have to be able to live with yourself and your actions at the end of the day, and if CIO is a deal breaker, then don't do it. You have to find what is "right" for you, and if I could give one word of advice, it would be to throw the books out the window. Every book out there advises agains picking them up out of their bed to comfort them, and yet that is the only thing that worked for us.

    Good luck :)

  2. I am right there with you, cosleeping for me and my daughter is great, but not for daddy, although for the past two weeks she has had a nasty cold while cutting two molars so he has been open to the cosleeping again. Before that I had been trying the no cry sleep solution for about 2 weeks and we were doing good, even got her to sleep in her crib one full night without waking at all, then the cold and the teeth hit. Now, she is feeling better and daddy is ready to get her back in her crib, mostly because he is really afraid of rolling over on her, so I guess this week we will be starting over with the no cry sleep solution.

  3. there is no "right" way, every child is different. I know you don't want your 4 month old to cry it out but you may want to try sitting by the crib so she knows you are there and time it. Only let her cry for 5 mins, literally time it. If she can't settle herself in x amount of minutes then comfort her. Obviously, if she starts crying really hard I'd cancel the plan all together. Just a idea. I have done this some night when I'm just done. I have also done a rotation with the hubby. Every 20mins we switch until the baby was alseep. A happy mom is a happy baby. If you are tired and stress, so is she.

  4. Putting her to bed for the first time is okay. It's the waking up every hour that I don't understand what to do. If she's sleeping in her crib and wakes up, she'll pull herself and stand up and cry and cry until someone comes to get her.

    In the swing, she'll get into a position where she can stop it from swinging and sit there and cry and cry until someone gets her. :o/

    I'm not sure how to help her anymore. I'm confused. And tired. Mostly confused. No. mostly tired. I don't know what I am.

  5. I really think you have to find what works for you and your family. If you want change because you're tired, then change. If you want change because someone else's uninterrupted sleep sounds nice, I don't think it will happen. ;)

    That said, I do think you should know it's okay for babies to wake up 1-3 times at night. Some people won't tell you, but it is more common for babies to wake up hungry during the night if they were exclusively BF for a significant amount of time. It's healthy. Their digestive system is working well.

    If it makes you feel better, my 10-month old usually wakes up 2-4 times a night. He goes to bed around 6:30 and sleeps about 12 hours...with 2-4 very short interruptions. Usually he eats and goes back to bed. If he wakes up less than two or three hours after a feeding I assume he was startled awake and he just needs some help going back to sleep. I'll lay him down and hug him so he can't roll/crawl/walk away and hum softly until he falls back asleep. It usually takes 5-15 minutes. While he might fuss about it he usually doesn't do a full out cry for more than 1-2 minutes. Of course, he's conditioned to it now because I started doing that two months ago, but you can always try it and know that the first few times you do it she'll resist a lot more than once she realizes the pattern and knows what to expect. Babies are smart. ;)

    You also have to know that older babies are capable of more resistance than younger babies. Any change you implement now will be harder than the books say because your sweetie isn't six months old. She's almost a year, she has opinions, and she might just prefer to keep you up all night! You have to decide if you're willing to go with that or not. If not, she'll adapt. She might scream about it the first few times, but she probably screams when she wants to play outside and can't too. A ten month old will cry when she's stressed out, but she'll also cry when she isn't getting what she wants.

    Also, putting her down earlier might make a big difference...I know our worst nights are those when I can't put him down until about 8:00 because we're not home. But an early bed-time the next night (like 6:00 or 5:30) helps him catch up and he's much more cheerful the next day. ;)

    It also helps me to remember my first baby. She was born significantly underweight, but she came home with us like normal. She woke up to eat every 1-2 hours until she was 4 months old. At ten months she was still waking up every 2-3 hours to eat. I knew she was hungry because she would guzzle a ton every time. Somewhere between 10-11 months (about the same time she cut two teeth and started eating real food for 80% of her diet) she started sleeping for 5-6 hour stretches. It was amazing. I woke up to feed her one night and felt so rested. I'm just sure it will happen some day with my current baby. In the meantime, I cherish those late nights when it's just the two of us because I know they will be gone oh, so quickly.


    ps. Sorry this was such a long response! I hope it helps!