Last night, Jerry went to Barnes & Noble on a mission. He was to purchase a book or books about How To Get Your Baby To Sleep So That You Will Feel Human Again. He was gone a long time, browsing the Baby Improvement section and determining which theories are the best fit to our parenting style. We’re somewhere between Attachment Parenting (nursing on demand and allowing the baby to call the shots) and hard-line Suck It Up You Infant Parenting.
Jerry has a much better personality type than mine when it comes to finding the Best Book For Us, because he will take the time to really LOOK at a book, consider the theories therein, and compare to other books on the shelf. I will go to a bookstore, in my perpetual hurry (even when I’m not in a hurry, I’m still in a hurry — I hate this about myself… But I have two speeds: breakneck and OFF. Makes life with a toddler interesting sometimes)… ANYWAY. I will hurriedly go into a bookstore, find the shelf with the titles that interest me, and pull about 6 off the shelf. I’ll flip through them, and then, concerned that one of the rejected books might have The Pearl Of Wisdom that I’m looking for, I’ll buy all six. This is a stupid way to be when on a budget. So I send Jerry. He’s better at it, and I can recognize that.
He came home with two books. Good Night, Sleep Tight: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go To Sleep, Stay Asleep, and Wake Up Happy and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. We both sat down after putting the girls to bed last night and skimmed one of the books. Because of the fact that we all got a decent nap yesterday, both books agreed that it would be a good time to start sleep training Miss Alice.
So that is what we did.
Both books said that quitting the nighttime nursings at 9 months is totally acceptable, and a healthy baby at this age does not physically NEED to nurse in the middle of the night. She is getting enough food during the day (and I know she is), so this night waking business is just a nasty habit. To break the habit, we can either quit cold turkey and let her scream her guts out for a few nights (with no reward), or we can try a softer approach that will take up to three weeks or so — basically, we’d pat her and stroke her and back slowly out of the room.
As we are both so sleep deprived that we’re having difficulty functioning, and because it’s taking a toll on our marriage, we opted for cold turkey. Harsh? Perhaps. Will Alice be in therapy at age 35 because her parents left her alone in her crib for a few nights when she was under ten months old? Unlikely.
So. Last night, because Alice’s crib is still in our bedroom (a condition we hope to remedy this evening), we went upstairs and got ready for bed (and changed her diaper and put her BACK in her crib for more screaming)…. I slept on the sofa in our den downstairs, and Jerry slept on the sofa in the New Room. In the quiet of the house, I heard Alice every time she woke up, which was only twice (after we went to bed — 5 times before that between when we put her down and when WE went to bed). This morning, she took a nap (NOT her idea) at 9:30, which lasted about 45 minutes. Jerry and I both doubted that she’d be able to go to sleep, but she did. Wow. And now she’s down for an afternoon nap — AT THE SAME TIME AS HER SISTER!!!!
Tonight will likely be rough again. I’ll keep singing and rocking with her and putting her down drowsy for every sleep time, and I’ll STOP nursing her to sleep. It’s become a habit for both of us.
But both books said that “sleep begets sleep,” and that babies who aren’t getting enough sleep during the day have trouble getting enough sleep at night, which causes them to have difficulty during the day, etc. It’s a cycle. So if we can break the bad habits by making them unavailable to Alice, we’ll be able to get back the cheerful, rested baby we had gotten to know before this last run of ear infections and teething.
Helen didn’t have sleep problems at ALL, except that she’s a VERY light sleeper during the day. I’m hoping that these books will help with that as well (though I have to say — having Alice screaming so much has made it so Helen’s sleeping sounder… So perhaps there’s a blessing in there after all)…
Wish us luck!