State of Our Sleep Union

 
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What happened when I prematurely decided it was time to stop using the Magic Sleepsuit.

Well folks. We have reached the 5 month mark, that deadline I set for myself a little while ago for buckling down and starting baby sleep boot camp. 

We’ve gone on our vacation. We  don’t have any trips planned for the near future, nothing that could throw off her routine majorly. And while her sleep is at times okay, it is not anywhere near the holy parenting grail of STTN (sleeping through the night for the uninitiated). And so this coming week my plan is simple.

We’re going to do a variation of the oh so controversial Ferber/CIO method with true consistency (we’ve been doing Diet Cry It Out with mixed success and with admittedly mixed consistency) in order to put the baby down to sleep awake every night and have her fall asleep in the crib. And I am going to stop bringing Ryland into my bed in the middle of the night for an all you can eat boob buffet. If she wakes up and it’s been long enough we’ll keep up with 1 or 2 nighttime feedings, but after eating it’s back to the crib.

Reasonable right?….I really am asking. Because of course like any parenting decision I’m torn. To help assuage my guilt I thought I’d give a little summary of our current sleep situation, a state of the sleep union if you will. 

For the last couple of months we have tried to start every single night in the crib. We do a bedtime routine (bath every other night, bottle, books, sleepsuit, sound machine, a few minutes of rocking and shushing). And then we have attempted every night to put Ryland in her crib awake.

Sometimes she has blinked a few times and fallen asleep immediately. Other times she has fallen asleep in my arms. 

And then there are the other times. When she stares up at me in shock and horror like I am setting her down in the Savannah surrounded by a pack of hungry lions and cries as soon as I close her nursery door. 

Some nights it’s only taken 2-3 minutes of light, half-hearted fussing before she falls asleep. Sometimes it’s taken a full 10. Some nights I go in at the 10 minute mark to pick her up and comfort her, put her back down and then she falls asleep quickly. Other nights I pick her up at the 10 minute mark, and then the 20, and then the 30, and so on for an hour until finally she falls asleep in my arms instead of the crib.

Other nights an hour of this Diet Cry It Out passes and we are both exhausted and miserable and give up and I take her to nurse her to sleep in the big bed by 8pm. On these nights she’s crying and I’m crying and everyone is crying. Those are not good nights.

We have had successes though. She has slept for up to 7 hours in the crib. On these occasions I do a happy dance and watch TV and drink wine or even just read in bed and feel like it’s the most decadent thing in the world. And then I panic and convince myself she’s not breathing and check on her every 15 minutes for 2 straight hours. 

It’s really been hit or miss depending on the night. But even as recently as last night she slept for 5 straight hours in the crib.

There is definitely hope. But for every good night we have, a more challenging one follows. And the truth of the matter is that I’ve been okay with bringing her into bed with me, even if she’s only slept until 9 or 10pm in the crib. I cannot overstate how surprisingly much I have loved co-sleeping for these 5 months. At this point it feels like second nature to sleep with her warm little body curled up beside mine. On the nights when she is in bed with me I fall asleep deeply and almost instantly. I know she is safe. I can rest my hand on her stomach to feel it rise and fall with her breaths.  I can smell her little baby smell. When she wakes up to eat I flip over, let her latch, and we both fall back into deep and restful sleep. It has felt like the most natural thing in the world.

But now that she’s getting older I do know it’s time to stop. For one she is getting more active and I now wake up frequently because she wacks me in the face or kicks me in the ribs. She can roll easily in a bed and it’s getting less and less safe to have her sleep somewhere where she has the potential to roll off the side of a big bed (our bed is very low to the ground, and I have a little pillow barrier to prevent this, but still it’s a possibility). Her nursing is less and less for true hunger and more for comfort. She’s old enough and big enough to not need more than 1-2 feeds a night max, but since it’s easy access she eats more frequently than that most of the time. It’s like if you slept in your pantry. If you woke up and saw a box of Triscuits right next to your face, you’d probably snack without really needing it. 

Now that we are doing more formula supplementation (my supply is really low, not that I should feel the need to justify that, but the world we live in makes a woman feel like any time she even says the word formula she needs a 10 page bullet list of explanations for using it, but that’s another topic for another day), she is getting pudgier and pudgier. Her cheeks are so pudgy they look like she is storing food in them like a little chipmunk. Her thighs are as doughy as well, the Pillsbury dough boy, and her bottom is starting to look like a baby Kardashian. 

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Proof of pudge

Now before you accuse me of body shaming my baby, know that I LOVE the pudge. I think it is literally delicious. It is like my baby is one of those cartoon turkey legs. I would take a bite if it were permissible. But my point is that this is not a child who needs to eat all night long. She’s like a college student who has gained the freshman 15 but still orders a large pizza every night at 2am. At a certain point you just have to stop with the nocturnal binging right?

​Having her depend on me so much for her sleep is also mentally and emotionally exhausting. I feel incredibly guilty whenever I go out at night without her, even if it’s just to dinner, because I know she may not be able to sleep without me. That’s not good for her or me. She also ends up waking up at 5:15 on the mornings I go to work since she’s in the bed when the alarm goes off, way earlier than her normal wake up time of around 7. Which makes those work days longer for her and for whoever is taking care of her.

We’ve just reached the point that co-sleeping is no longer the best for our family. For some families and 5 month olds it might be. But for Ryland I know it’s time to stop. And I will miss it. I will probably cry about it. Like I said, I have loved every second of it. I wouldn’t go back and not do it even if I had the chance. The transition out of co-sleeping is hard, but it has without question made the last 5 months so much easier on both of us. And we’ve both been so much more rested than I ever would have though possible with a baby who wakes up to feed every 2-3 hours (and for a while in the beginning woke up to feed every 30 minutes to 2 hours).

And so this week we’re going to go with a new plan with 3 key components.

1. Put the baby down to sleep awake in her crib and get her to fall asleep on her own, every night. Even if that takes some crying. I may need to bring an entire bottle of wine outside and let R go in and do the interval checks on her. But I do believe firmly that babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own and the sooner they do it, the easier it is for everyone. Throw rocks at me if you think this makes me a monster. But in my gut it feels like the right thing to do. And the little bit of cry it out we’ve done so far has for the most part worked well and not involved that much crying.

2. When she wakes up, get her to fall back asleep in the crib. This will actually be the hardest part I’m guessing. I know she will wake up sometimes before she needs a feed, and we’ll need to get her back to sleep without my boob. But the truth of the matter is that she cannot use my boobs as a sleep crutch forever. They’ve worked wonderfully for the last 5 months. They need a break. It would be awkward for everyone if she still needed to be nursed to sleep at slumber parties.

3. When it has been long enough that it’s reasonable to give her a feed, feed her in her nursery and put her back to sleep in HER bed. I take back my previous comments. THIS will be the hardest part. When it’s 2am and all I want to do is bring her into bed so we can both fall back asleep quickly and easily. But I have to be strong and sacrifice some of my sleep for the short term, so that we can get over the hump. 

So that’s our plan. It may be a success. It may be a colossal failure. At the end of the day I have enough perspective to know this is not THAT big of a deal. Like really. It just can feel like it when you are desperately wanting to be one of those smug parents who can brag that their babies STTN.

We’ll get there eventually. But right now at least that’s the plan. I would love to hear from anyone else who has gone through or is going through the sleep training thing. Any tips? Warnings? Success stories? Total failures? I’d love to hear it all.

And naturally I’ll report back with updates. Tentatively our first night of this new world order will be Monday or Tuesday. I will be stockpiling wine in anticipation.

And until then I will soak up the last few nights of co-sleeping with my monkey. Rib kicks and all it has been pretty darn beautiful.

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We haven’t told her yet that the all night boob buffet is closing soon. If we had she might not have this same grin.

Meg
9/11/2016 06:57:39 pm

Your plan sounds good! We had a similar issue and I was getting up to give her a bottle once a night. She had ME trained. Started to be the same exact time every night too. We were so exhausted just from that, we let her cry it out a few nights and she now sleeps through the night. My mom pushed me to do it as I broke down crying because I was so tired, and I can’t thank her enough. I had a limit though. I think every mom who lets their baby cry it out does. I gave her one bottle before bed and if I went back in, I would only go back in once during our bedtime routine. Otherwise, let her cry. It’s not often she wouldn’t go back to sleep in the middle of the night after a few mins. I knew her diaper was dry, she was safe and fed, which comforted me. Keep that in mind as you’re tempted to go in when she’s crying. It’ll only take a few days and you’ll all be better off!

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Liz
9/15/2016 07:56:58 am

Thanks Meg!! I appreciate the words of support and definitely agree that we will all be better off at the end of it! Ended up not starting this week but am still determined to make the change by the end of September! Will keep you posted!

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sam
9/12/2016 07:33:38 am

Good luck! I hope everything goes well!! I definitely recommend reading these articles before you officially start CIO so you can be totally prepared and so it’s a real success:

https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/cry-it-out/

read thru the articles there, definitely these articles ( I put it in order of relevance):

https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/dont-have-a-cio-panic-attack/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/ready-for-cry-it-out/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/ferber-weissbluth-cry-it-out-smackdown/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/consistency-in-cry-it-out-is-critical/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/how-to-cry-it-out-bedtime-edition/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/extinction-burst/
https://www.preciouslittlesleep.com/when-baby-sleep-training-doesnt-work/

if you don’t have time to read thru everything, read at least the are u ready, Ferber vs weisbluth, the HOW TO article, and extinction burst. GOOD LUCK!

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Liz
9/15/2016 07:57:53 am

Thanks Sam! I love precious little sleep and those articles are great and so helpful! I will read and re-read those many, many times before we get started!

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sam
9/12/2016 11:30:12 am

and I love your commentary on the formula feeding! hehe seriously people…fed, safe, loved and warm- that’s whats best!

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Liz
9/15/2016 07:58:07 am

SO true!!!

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Amy
9/14/2016 04:36:20 am

Your plan sounds great mamma!

I’m curious to hear how it’s been going the last few days! Your little one is definitely old enough to learn this new skill! We started sleep training with our little guy at 10 weeks and now he only wakes once/night to feed (he’s 3 months). I’m told that by around the 4 month old mark they really don’t need the nighttime feed anymore. We decided to hire a sleep consultant to help us through the process. I was basically doing a lot of the things she told us, but the difference was that I had an “expert” telling me it’s ok to let my baby cry (for 10-20 minute intervals at a time). It gave me the confidence to know I was not hurting my baby and acknowledge that I was teaching him a new skill 🙂 The one thing the sleep consultant said about the night time feedings is that you MUST make sure your baby is fully awake for the entire feed, and that you are putting them back into the crib awake. This is crucial as it helps them break that feed-to-sleep association. You may have to unlatch a few times, pump their arm, tickle their face/neck etc., but once they’re awake again, put them back on the boob. They don’t need to bright eyed & bushy tailed, but they need to have their eyes open while feeding. So after our feed, I change his diaper, put him back in his sleep sack, sing him a little lullaby while he’s in my arms & then put him back in the crib. I was certain he would protest strongly on the first night…but to my surprise, he didn’t cry at all…I guess he was content with the full tummy, and just wiggled around/sucked his hands to get himself back to sleep….and now that’s what he does every time! The other thing I will say is consistency is KEY…once you start you gotta stick with it…if you “crack” once, they’ll learn that you give in sometimes, and that if they cry enough, you’ll give in eventually LOL…so stick to your guns mamma, you can do it! Like everyone says, it is harder on the parents than the baby, and your daughter will have learned a new skill by the end of this thanks to you!

I hear you on the stockpiling wine thing…I was SOOOO anxious to start the training I nearly was to the point of panic attacks (and I have never been an anxious person!). I looooove your blog BTW – you always manage to say everything I’m thinking, and I’m SO SO SO glad I’m not the only one that obsesses over my baby’s sleep like a crazy person (my husband says I’m OCD, which I think you need a little bit of to get through sleep training LOL).

Looking forward to your next post for an update!

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Liz
9/15/2016 08:00:33 am

Thanks Amy!! Those are awesome tips and definitely ones I will use! Of course we ended up getting delayed in starting our official sleep training (I’m kind of a procrastinator ?) but when we do start I will absolutely follow your advice. And yes to the sleep OCD thing! It’s ridiculous how much I think about my baby’s sleep, maybe we should form a support group of some kind! Will update as soon as we start the sleep training to let you know how it goes!!

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Joleen
9/28/2016 03:17:21 am

Good luck, your plan sounds great 🙂
Your baby just needs some time to adjust to new things, but she will be more than fine.
Building a routine around going to bed really helped with my little one. It also took a while for us to get used to it, but now it works wonders.
Also, I started introducing formula, so she’s getting one bottle before going to bed. I think that also made a big difference. We found organic formula that helps to create a more normal sleeping pattern, because it’s easier to digest. You can read more about it on <a href=”https://myorganicformula.com/collections/holle-organic-formula”>myorganicformula.com</a>.
I wish you all the best, can’t wait for updates!
Joleen

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