Friday, November 30, 2007

On Sleep

Well, I can't post everything I want to on every topic that comes to mind. My Baby is too busy these days, and that is a blessing. But the blog suffers.

So, I will tell a tale of Ferb*er.

This is the system. Break the bad habit of nursing to sleep and get BB sleeping through the night, all in one fell swoop. This is how:

Nap 1: put baby in crib. When he cries, go in to comfort at 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, 15 min, 15min, etc. If he doesn't fall asleep, get him up after an hour and skip that nap.

Nap 2: Repeat.

Bedtime: Pleasant bedtime routine, then into bed and the same method as the naps.

Day 2, etc.: add 5 minutes of cry time to each interval.

Baby should be responding after 3 days to a week and the cry times will have decreased.

What happened in our house:

Day 1

Nap 1: Nursed to sleep, as per usual.

Nap 2: Cried for the hour. Cried harder when I went in to comfort. Didn't nap.

Bedtime: Cried for 45 min, and gave up in exhaustion. Whimpered in his sleep for hours. Slept through the night. Hmmm, this might be working?

Day 2

Nap 1: Cried the hour. Cried harder when I went in to comfort. Didn't nap.

Nap 2: Cried for 45 min. Fell asleep for 20 min, then woke screaming.

Bedtime: Cried for 90 minutes, fell asleep for a few hours, whimpered in his sleep for hours, woke to nurse (kept him awake), cried an hour before going back to sleep.

Day 3

Nap 1: Cried the hour. When absolutely ballistic if I went in to comfort. Didn't nap.

Nap 2: Done. Back to nursing.

So why did I quit? On paper, it looks like it was working, that he was starting to learn to sleep on his own, right?

The change in his personality was horrible. He went from being the happiest, most easy-going baby in the world to the neediest, most anxious baby in the world, literally overnight. He would scream when I left the room. He would scream if we walked anywhere near his bedroom. He would lose his mind if I put him in the crib. He would scream if I lay him down to change his diaper. When he woke from his last Fer*ber nap, he would scream unless my husband and I were both holding him at the same time.

I realize that this could have been a temporary situation. That he might revert to that easygoing temperament in a couple of weeks. But the possibility that he would remain in this anxious state was there. And it seemed a sacrifice that wasn't acceptable to me.

Also, the concern we both had for BB's well-being was putting major, worrisome strain on our marriage. It wasn't worth what was happening between the two of us.

It took me a week of comfort and gentleness with BB to get him over his fear of the bedroom. He is still crying when he wakes up, something he has never done in his life (he would usually just play or call out to me). He still sometimes cries when I lay him down to change him.

I think the problem is that I tried to go from full-on attachment parenting to this very detached style. I don't think it could have had much success. There needed to be an intermediate step. Though, most people say that you must stick with the CIO method for at least 3 days, and I (admittedly) did not do that. Who knows? It might have worked.

Incidentally, I also picked up Dr. Sears' book when I brought home Fe*rber's. It is all about attachment parenting and says that CIO isn't affective. Imagine my guilt when I picked it up and started to read that night.

So, the whole experience has taught me this: I am an attachment parent. The solution to my child's sleep problems isn't going to come from him CIO. I bent to the pressure all around me, from mothers swearing up and down that CIO was the "best thing they ever did". It doesn't suit me and it doesn't suit BB.

So how is the sleep now? It is going quite well, actually. I have stopped nighttime nursing; he has gone a week without middle of the night boobie. If he gets up in the night, I rock him to sleep or bring him to bed with me. And we are getting the best sleep we have for weeks. He even slept from 9:30pm-7:00am this week (in his crib, no waking).

It is a moving target. Naps aren't always of good length, but are improving. We are sticking with a daily schedule, religiously, and following the 2-3-4 rule (works like a charm).

And I have decided that the "problem" was always one of perception. Nursing to sleep is not necessarily a "bad habit". It is a parenting choice. I agree with Dr. Sears on this one - it can be a healthy, comfortable way for a baby to fall asleep. He will grow out of it as he starts to wean.

The major stressor in the whole situation is my return to work in January. However, I have managed (just this week) to arrange my part-time schedule so I work from 1:30-4:30 daily. I can put him down for his morning nap at home, his afternoon nap at the sitter's, and home for bedtime - he never needs to stop nursing! (Ha, Ha, little joke there....)

It just took me 10 months to figure this out. I'll let you know what happens if all my best-laid plans go the way of mice and men.


Carole said...

I so agree. It's a parenting choice. I partially co-slept with both my kids. Let them nurse to sleep...did all the things that some said I shouldn't. They both sleep well in their own beds (4&7). Ultimately...we know what's best for our kids...but the pressure does make it hard!

Aurelia said...

I've had the same experience. CIO is a nightmare, especially at that age.

Now, when they were 2 or 3, we had some issues around staying in the crib and in the room, and I had no problem saying that big boys had to stay in bed at night adn I would close the door and say that's that, because he could argue back with me and discuss it!

And I could win the verbal battle!

But 10 months is very very different.

It gets easier, even if it doesn't feel that way.