Sunday, March 18, 2012

To sleep or not to sleep...

I've broken my own rules.
You'd think being a mom of six would make me pretty wise in the raising kids department.
But no.  Apparently I'm a slow learner.

Or maybe I just realize that there just aren't any rules for parenting.  Every child comes with their own rule book. Only they don't actually give you the rule book with the child...

I think if we had only three or even four babies we would probably be patting ourselves on the back for being awesome parents. Six has made us wise. Now we know that we don't know anything.

We started out completely clueless with the twins.  We learned the hard way that babies have to go to sleep alone if they are going to sleep through the night.  They were a year old before we finally put them down awake in their beds to sleep.  They cried 45 minutes the first night, 30 minutes the next and after that just a few minutes of fussing and they were off to dream land.  Why on earth did we wait a year?! we would ask ourselves.

With Austin we learned that it is much easier to start sleep training with an infant.  I would just put him down a few seconds before he drifted off so that the last thing he remembered was being alone in his crib.  If he got really fussy I would just pick him up again until he calmed down and then I would put him down before he was completely asleep. As he got older he would sometimes cry a bit in bed but never for long. He always slept through the night.

Jenna came along when Austin was 3 1/2 and we were totally 'experts' in the baby department.  We started putting her down just before she drifted off to sleep from the beginning and she slept from 10 or 11 to 6am by four weeks and by three months she slept from 6:45pm to 7am every night with a good two hour nap in the afternoon.  She rarely cried and  she was happy and easy going... We patted ourselves on the back.

Then came Benson.  He was Fussy.  That's with a capital F.

That little one could not regulate himself at all.  He  napped in little short unpredictable spurts and woke every two or three hours all night.  I would put him down slightly awake and he would just get more and more agitated until he was screaming.  There was no fussy-winding-down period.  This was a really hard time for me.  We had just moved to Idaho so I really didn't have any good friends.  Jenna and Benson are only 15 months apart and Austin was four or five and still at home.  Dallin and Landon were really struggling with dyslexia in 2nd grade so adding a fussy non-sleeping baby to all of that was the recipe for Depression with a capital D.  It took a year to recover from that state of depression by the way...

At six months I truly reached a desperation state. I had tried putting Benson down alone but when he cried he didn't just kind of fuss, he cried this desperate sad wailing cry.  I just killed me.  I mean physical pain. I couldn't stand it.  I read seven (SEVEN!) books about how to get your child to sleep.  All the big titles.  (Healthy sleep habits Happy child, Babywise, The No Cry Sleep Solution, Solve your child's sleep problems...) I was searching for an easier way.

There isn't an easier way. They all involve some crying.

The Ferber method (Solve your Child's Sleep Problems) is my favorite and most of the books I read are variations of the Ferber method. Read more about the Ferber method here. And I also read a good article here.

How long should a baby sleep? This is a good sleep chart.

Basically there are three parts:
*Have a sleep routine and stick to it.  Include some soothing activities to prepare the baby for sleep.
*Put the baby in bed and leave the room.
*Go back in to comfort the baby in increasing long intervals--five minutes then ten minutes etc.

I had to either continue the path and  let him sleep with me (with me not sleeping), get up with him every couple of hours until he was four or five and could sleep alone or I could follow the method and  let him learn to go to sleep alone.

We chose the latter. He cried through his naps (and would fall asleep later while eating and rocking with me) and he cried 6 or 7 hours (I was always checking on him) when put in bed at night.  It didn't help to go in and comfort him--he would just get more and more upset. I filled his crib with binkis and eventually he would grab a binki and lay down and sleep.

Finally the third night he cried a little less before he went to sleep.  By a week he was taking naps again and crying for an hour or so at bedtime.  By two or three weeks he was taking all his naps in his crib and going to sleep without crying at all.  He never woke up at night again.  He slept through all his toddler years better than any of the other kids and he went back to being the smiley, happy, easy-going kid he is today.

So then Jackson joined the family.

I forgot everything I learned.

I just snuggle him in bed with me for naps and we snack and snooze: eat, sleep, eat some more, sleep some more...  He was sleeping through the night most of the time so I didn't worry about it but the last month or two haven't been great in the sleep department.  I'm tired. When I'm tired I don't get a lot done. I have truly enjoyed this babe but I have been ignoring some important things.  Laundry, budgeting, healthy eating/exercise and really cleaning my house are just a few.

It is time for Jackson to sleep alone so I can get a decent night's sleep and he can learn some self-soothing skills.  I'm working on a plan and I am writing this down to hold myself accountable.


ariel june said...

You can do it, Kim!!! btw, you asked me a question on my post that's somewhat similar, but I didn't respond because I didn't see it until a month later and thought you probably didn't need or care to know the information at that point. But just in case, I'll just answer it on here: yes, I would nurse Jori to sleep, but then make her comfort herself back to sleep when she woke up during the night. Cold turkey, until 5 am. This was actually the direct opposite of what one of the books I read in said to do, but it was kind of what I had to do. It was my one indulgence, you know? Start the night off right, then go from there. But now I am putting her down awake (who knows what counts as drowsy-I just have to go by the clock) for night time and naps.

I feel kind of silly giving you almost advice, since you've got six kids and I only have one...but I'll just say, you can do it!! That's not advice, right? Give whatever plan you come up with a fair run-I'm sure it'll take. :)

sariah said...

Wow! That would have been really hard with Benson-- but I totally understand. I hated having to let my kids cry but it always ended up working better than rocking them to sleep. I never had one have to cry that long.Tat would have been torture.

We found a cool old oak rocker 3 months ago (seriously- we FOUND it in my Grandma's driveway and she didn't know where it came from so she told us to have it :-)) and at that point I started rocking Leif to sleep while singing to him. It was so soothing and lovely. The most wonderful motherly thing to do. Well. It turned him into an awful sleeper in about 3 weeks! I had to go back to just putting him down cold turkey. So sad....

Juli said...

Isn't it funny how we forget. Every child is like being the first. It hurts to listen to them cry. You will be so happy when it's done though.