Getting Serious about Sleep

Guys, for all you expectant mommas, or mommas with newborns, or hopeful mommas, I would love to be able to tell you that the sleep issues one faces with a baby aren’t that bad.

But frankly, sometimes, they are.

In my last post I talked about how Charlie’s night waking doesn’t bother me because it’s usually just a minute or two, then she nurses, and she’s out like a light again. I enjoy cosleeping. I love having my baby near me.

I could live like this for a long time, honestly. But in the last week we’ve had a new and startling development: Charlie won’t nap. Not at all sometimes, and at the best she’ll only nap for 20 minutes. UNLESS I’m napping with her.

This is a big. freaking. problem.

I work from home. It’s a necessary thing for this kid to not go to daycare-I have to work somehow. Which means she has to nap. Also, she’s a tiny cranky angry monster if she doesn’t nap at least 3-4 cumulative hours a day. And I would love nothing more than to take that many naps with her  a day, but I just can’t.

I fear that our cosleeping has created a dependency that has to be broken and fast. We actually tried something that I never thought I would try today: Crying it out.

Lest you rush to judge me I’ll just tell you, I have done a SHIT TON of research on this, and there’s no evidence that CIO is damaging or cruel when done correctly. That being said, even armed with all the evidence, I only made it about seven minutes. We laid her down after she nursed and had a diaper change, she cried for five minutes, Chief went back and patted her shushed her, told her it was time to sleep and left. Then she cried for another two minutes before I couldn’t handle it, and also before I remembered that she is room sharing with us for another six months, so CIO isn’t feasible for us.

So put away the pitchforks and torches.

What we’ve decided is that we have to break the association of momma=sleep. Which is a bit heartbreaking. I narcissistically love being everything to her. We also know that, at least for now, CIO is not in the cards for us. We want to try a few other things first.

So we’re going to try some no cry things. Chief got her to sleep this afternoon by comforting her, laying her down, and then repeating this each time she cried this afternoon. It took him about an hour, but she is now asleep in her bed without a swaddle or a sleep suit-just her jammies. He has agreed to becoming her night time person for at least the next week to see if we can break the association of momma=sleep, but we’re not leaving her to cry, because neither of us can handle that. I know it’s very likely that she will cry, but she’ll be in his arms and he says he can take it.

We’re really hoping this will work. I don’t even mind the night waking. I don’t mind getting up with her in the night, but I know she needs to nap. It’s crucial for her brain development that she get enough rest, and if I have to withhold the boob at night to make that happen that’s what I’m going to do. She’s six months and almost 15 pounds, so she is capable of not eating at night now.

Send me strength because I will need it. I want to give that little lady every single thing that she wants, but I know that it’s more important to give her what she needs, and that’s what I’m desperately trying to do.

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21 thoughts on “Getting Serious about Sleep

  1. I wish I could share a magic solution, but… I don’t have one. We did cio around that age, after exhausting everything else. Does she have a set nap time, wake time, nap routine etc? If not, that could help so that she’s tired enough but not overtired come nap time. Good luck!

    • She has round about times. Like she wakes up almost every day at 7:30 on the dot, and within an hour to an hour and a half is ready for a nap. Then it’s about every 3-4 hours she needs another nap. And she wants to start bedtime at 7:00 and if she isn’t asleep by 7:30 she melts down. And that had all been working just fine until very recently. I’m not opposed to trying CIO again, but if we do that she needs to be in her room so we want to try some other things first. I think breaking the boob and sleep association is a big part of it.

      • Ah yes, that’s a tough one to break! It’s been a long time since we did that with dd1, but I recall the sleep trainer getting us to nurse 15 mins before normal bedtime, so she would be drowsy but not asleep. Then do a story or whatever you normally do just before boob.

      • When we had success we also implemented a strict routine and this worked quite well. I think I was actually keeping Monkey up too long and that was why he wouldn’t go to sleep easily. Once the routine started sleep followed quite easily. I was so surprised!

      • We did a cry and comfort thing (and he was still in the room with me when we did this and it still worked). Basically I let him cry for a short time then I would go in and comfort and stay next to him making comforting sounds until he went to sleep. I didn’t pick him up and I didn’t go in and out of the room. Once I’d decided to go in then I had to stay in until he went to sleep. If he woke before the scheduled end of nap time (like by loads, not 5 or 10 mins) I would put him in the pram or car right away and take him out to try and get him to go back off. I would wake him if he was still sleeping at the end of the scheduled nap time. All this helped him get into the rhythm of the schedule and honestly in a matter of days he went from never sleep long in the day and waking 6 times a night to proper day sleeps and maybe one night waking. I was able to get more flexible with the routine once we were doing it as a matter of course but initially I was really strict with it and it definitely paid off.

  2. This may not be something they want to explore, but have you tried having her nap in a carrier on you? That’s something we do, since Ansel is also a terrible napper. He sleeps well in his crib at night, but just can’t hang during the day. Side CIO isn’t something we want to do either, this has worked for us. But also, maybe it comforts you to know A naps for shit and we don’t co sleep? In any case, I’m sending you strength and sleep!

    • I’ve thought about that and had other helpful mommas suggest it. I’ve done it in the past when nothing has worked, but I don’t want it to be a habit because I do my work at home work when she’s napping. If I do it when she’s awake I feel like she’s being ignored. I’ve pretty glued to a computer when I’m working and she’ll only fall asleep in the carrier if I’m up and walking around with her.

      tonight we tried baby whisperer for 1:45 minutes and she cried the whole time. At least she was being held and loved, but it was awful. I sort of gave in-I did nurse her, but I kept her awake the entire time and I put her down awake. She cried for less than a minute and then was asleep I have no idea if this was the right thing to do, but after that long of crying in mine and Chief’s arms I no longer felt confident that she wasn’t still hungry. I sobbed for about thirty minutes in the kitchen while he was handling it by himself at first.

  3. Ahhhh this is such a hard time. 6mths is about when we had a real go at it for our son and it worked but you just have to keep at whatever system you choose. Consistency is key. I think her going down already with chief sorting it is a great sign she will adapt. I think it is so important we teach our babies to sleep by themselves at some point. In adulthood you often here of people who are good or bad sleepers and I would be so interested to see if the bad sleepers were taught to sleep when babies. It is a real gift to give our children. My monkey still needs some presence from time to time. He is now 4 and most nights I lie with him for 5 mins while he nods off to sleep but he will happily go back to bed during the night if he needs to get up to pee. It is all a work in progress. I am probably going to be a bit stricter with this baby from the get go – ie swaddling her and putting her down still awake in her crib after her allowed awake time. A friend of mine did that for kids 2 and 3 with a lot of success. She was so strict though. If you visited when baby was just about to go down it was too bad – you weren’t holding that baby. It was going right in the crib. Of course now I say I’m doing that it will probably be a disaster but I’ll have a crack anyway. Good luck!!!

  4. I had a very boob/momma-sleep-dependent baby, and I was terrified of sacrificing my own sleep, and too traumatized by CIO to do anything about it for a long time (just shy of two years). I was lucky, in that I was a SAHM though, so I didn’t feel like I HAD to change anything until I was ready. I’m sure sleep training a two year old is vastly different than a six month old, but I agree consistency is key. One thing that really helped me, was advice from a friend that babies are VERY adaptable, it’s usually way harder on the parents than it is them. If you start small, and keep to your routine, you’ll get there eventually!

    • I feel the same way-I’m a SAHWM so even though I have to work it’s not that bad, because it’s part time and it’s flexible. This all came about because she stopped napping and she just really needs those naps. She’s sleeping now and has been for an hour and a half, but it took an hour and forty five minutes of crying in arms and me finally nursing her and letting her cry a bit more. So hard!

  5. We did CIO and it worked wonders for us. Don’t you just wish that sleep wasn’t an issue at all? That they could just “get it” from the beginning? It would make this whole parenting thing SO MUCH EASIER lol Good luck girl! Hope you figure out what ever works for you and that beautiful little girl soon!! xo

  6. Naps! Ugh! Calvin was a terrible napper. And I would get so bent out of shape, researching why he naps for short spurta(20mins) was he over tired. Undertired? I had no idea and would seriously stress. My friend had told me that one day it would all click for him. And sure enough it did. It was around 7.5 months that it clicked and I had dependable nap times. Then teeth came in and that flew out the window for a couple weeks. Then we settled again on great(for him) naps. Then he had to transition down to two naps, and it took us a couple of weeks and we were good with napping two solid naps for about a month and a half. Then he became mobile. But truthfully, it does click for them. One day, but even though it clicks doesn’t mean there are set backs. Hang in there!

  7. We have a pretty set schedule and Crosby isn’t a good sleeper and just a mediocre napper. Although he’s a little younger than your girlie, I can’t bring myself to attempt CIO. I let him fuss sometimes, but I personally just can’t hear the crying. It kills me!!

    I have no advice- just lots of hugs cause sleep… What a hot topic when you have a little. There’s either not enough, too much or too dependent on momma! (C fit/fits all of those categories). Hmph!

    • It took a certain level of desperation to try it, and I was sobbing three minutes in, so I just knew it wasn’t for us. At least not at this time. And yes-never attempt CIO before six months. That’s the earliest they recommend trying it. I’m not saying I’ll never try it again, but at this point I don’t see it in our immediate future.

  8. Though Chick doesn’t have a difficult time sleeping at night, naps are not his BFF. He has always fought them, and will cry and scream until he passes out. Luckily, he is a wimp so he gives up after about 10 minutes.

    He is also one for the “baby disco nap” i.e. the 20 minutes naps. I’ve been able to lengthen those through trial and error- he naps longer in his rock n’ play with a blanket over his feet (yes, specifically his feet) than in his crib without one.

    Call me a cold-hearted mama, but I don’t have a problem with CIO. I’ve only had to do it a few times, but he normally gets himself under control after about 15 minutes. And so far this doesn’t seem to have any lasting impact– he’s still the happiest, sweetest little thing when he wakes up!

    • I actually said to Chief last night that I think she would have slept better with CIO than the pick up/put down. i think having us in there actually made it harder…..BUT now we’ve committed to trying it for at least three nights. We have told ourselves if it’s not decidedly and definitely better by night three we will abandon it and try something else. I’m not saying perfect, but better. I honestly don’t have an intellectual problem with CIO. It’s my stupid emotions that get in the way.

  9. I’m interested to see how this all goes for you because my little on is almost 5 months and a terrible sleeper. He has no idea how to put himself to sleep and this means serious bouncing/rocking and mostly nursing down to sleep for every nap and night wake up (sometimes 1-2 hours each time). (I have to also admit some of this is health related because he has had terrible gas since day 1 and has yet to outgrow this even though I have given up SO MANY foods he may or may not be allergic to. Ugh.) He is totally dependent on nursing and even though he is too little for CIO, I have tried 10 minutes here or there when he was too frantic to bounce and I just needed him to get some energy out. He seriously screams and works himself into a frenzy and I don’t think this method will ever work for him. He is a very stubborn baby and I give in with the boob way too easily. I’m so scared he will never sleep because my sister has similar attachment parenting styles and her 16 month old still nurses 3 times in the night. Eek! My husband and I are EXHAUSTED and I am so sick of researching sleep methods. Hearing about your struggles is comforting to me, so thank you. I am SO SO sick of reading blog posts with monthly updates and everyone seems to say their babies sleep perfectly. I am convinced people lie to make their lives look ideal, but it’s really soul crushing when you just want to relate to someone and not feel like you are failing your child. I’ve even googled looking for bloggers who discuss personal sleep struggles and came up with hardly anything! So thank you for being honest and real!

    • Oh bless you! You sound a lot like me! The boob is such an easy fix and I didn’t mind using it until I felt like it was actually being detrimental to my child.

      When Charlie was younger I was a Braggy McBraggyface about what a good sleeper she was-she never slept through the night but she did a lot bette than I had ever hoped for. The the four month regression hit and it’s been up and down since.

      Last night she cried in arms for an hour and forty five minutes. Finally I was no longer convinced she wasn’t hungry, so I nursed her but kept her awake. Then I laid her down, she fussed for a minute tops, and then went to sleep. For five hours. Which is basically a miracle. She got up twice, I fed her both times, kept her awake both times, laid her down drowsy, she fussed a bit; then went to sleep.

      It’s the first night she’s slept the whole night in her bed in her life. I still got her up and snuggled her in my bed at her normal time-I’ll never give up early morning snuggles. Her nap this morning was an hour and a half. She did wake up in the middle, but she just swung for a little while and then went back to sleep (we’re napping in the swing. I’m not tackling daytime sleep until night time is sorted. This is the best nap she’s taken in over a week.

      So so far, the results are promising, though starting was rough. We’re hoping for significant improvement over the next few nights. Keep the faith darling-I believe it can get better.

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