Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seventy Two Hours of Sleep Training

I'm putting this out on the Internet for two independent but very important purposes. First, it'll function as something of a journal - or hopefully a funny memoir we can share with Piglet in happier times. *wince* Second, it'll hopefully provide some support and encouragement to other parents thinking of sleep training but either not knowing where to begin or fearing that it'll make things worse or damage their children irrevocably. I can't speak authoritatively about the last point but I can share how it's changed our lives already...yes, I'm risking even jinxing our considerable progress at this point just to spread the good word!

We're using the Sleepeasy Solution. Prior to the mini-breakdown that precipitated a Sunday morning mad dash to Barnes & Noble to pick up the book, I was more or less firm that I wouldn't let the baby "cry it out" ("CIO") at least for a few months. The anti-CIO literature out there is so prevalent that even I, with an open skepticism for most attachment parenting theories, was really terrified that I was going to ruin the baby by letting her cry. But after worsening sleep and naps, to the point where she was waking maybe twenty times a night and napping 20 minutes at a time four times a day, IF that, and my pediatrician assured us that she was ready, I couldn't ignore it any longer.

Our first impulse was to hire a baby nurse that my friend Sarah had used. She had insisted way back when I was pregnant that I would need a baby nurse and I'd privately rolled my eyes at her silly extravagance. It's a baby, not quantum physics. Yeah...anyway, I wondered if perhaps we should try ourselves before outsourcing, not only because of the $$ ($175 per night!), but also because I had an uneasy feeling about getting someone else to do something I really should have the cojones to do myself, if I was going to do it at all. And so, we picked up the Sleepeasy book and I read it in one sitting.

It's been two nights and two days and I do have to say that while it isn't "easy" by any means, we are so lucky that it hasn't been too heinous. In the night she hasn't ever cried for more than 10 minutes at a time *knock wood* and both nights so far she has cried very little after, say, 9pm. Naps are harder because she cries at the beginning and the end of the nap, and also I'm alone and have to stay strong and talk myself up! There is no worse feeling than going in to get your baby when she's been crying and having to see her teary face break into a sweet, trusting smile as soon as she sees you. You feel like a special kind of monster, that's for sure. But I have to say that, even though it's early days yet, the improved sleep has improved her disposition considerably. She's not whining and complaining all the time, and seems to be able to focus much better. Definitely, some kids don't do well with this type of method. I've heard of kids screaming for hours on end and forcing themselves to throw up :/. So thank heavens for small mercies. I don't think I could have kept trucking through those types of circumstances.

Despite my sincere belief that this really is the best thing for her and the time is right, it's such a sensitive parenting issue and really one of the most difficult things I've had to go through yet. If you're thinking of it, but are yet feeling guilty for even contemplating it, and feeling yourself torn by the Searseque stuff you're reading about how it's "lazy parenting" and will cause your child to hate and distrust you, well, all I can say is that I understand! And I hope you find a solution that'll work for your family! Sleep deprivation is truly the suck.

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