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The time has come

12/14/2013

Belle

This video illustrates Sabine’s evening exhaustion. Sleepy fussy Bean, I hope you learn to sleep better in 2014!
I have reached the end of my rope. The bags under my eyes are taking over my face. My baby has bags under her eyes because she sleeps so poorly. I am strung out, exhausted and ready to take the big step.

We will be sleep training the first of January.

It pains me to do this, but seeing my kid with bags under her eyes while her little friends all look fresh and rested has pushed me over the edge. I feel that at six months we have a well-established relationship. She has developed new cries and fusses and is learning ways to manipulate me to get what she wants. She talks, laughs and clearly loves her parents. A few nights of cry it out sleep training is going to do so much more good for our relationship than bad. Or so I hope.

Before anyone lectures me on the evidence against CIO sleep training please take a minute to remember that every baby is different. Some folks sleep train at three months because their baby is ready for it. My baby was not ready for it then, but I can confidently say that we are at a point now that it is not just OK, but it is necessary. For my health. For her health. For my marriage’s health.

I also need to state that I am not expecting her to sleep through the night yet. Her good nights always include one nighttime feed where she guzzles both breasts. Clearly she is hungry and I am happy to wake up once a night and feed her. I am not happy to wake up three times a night to have her just comfort suck and then be up for the day at 3 a.m. I’m not happy to have her only nap fitfully in my arms during the day. We need quality naps and sound sleep. We need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Not six.

Since 8 weeks we have had a very meticulous bedtime routine that includes lots of nursing to tank her up an hour before, a warm bath in the tub with Mommy (I bathe with her and we have a grand old-time), cuddles and jammies with daddy and then nursing/rocking to sleep. I have tried adjusting her bed time and the later the bed time the earlier she wakes in the morning. She sleeps and naps in her Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit (a god-send device. I shudder to think how awful our sleep would be without the sleep suit). Moms of good sleepers, what is your bedtime routine like? Did you do any sleep training? If so, what method did you use and how did you like it?

I can’t wait to be done with this chapter of exhaustion. I’m ready to move on and blog regularly about all the amazing things Sabine and I do. I want to tell you about NYC and the challenges of living in 900 square feet (and sharing one bathroom with a man… good lord they leave a lot of hair… everywhere!) So I raise my evening beer to you all. May 2014 be filled with positive pregnancy tests, healthy deliveries and fabulous sleep for all my fellow exhausted mamas!

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25 Comments

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  1. December 14, 2013

    You know your baby best! Trust yourself and your instincts/

  2. December 14, 2013

    Here here! We start no later than January 1! Like Sabine, it is time for Bryson. I’m a pushover and relent to every desire, and that needs to stop. I’m doing him no favors, that’s for sure.

    Read Ferber’s book. It explains sleep very well. I still reference it now with Matthew at 2.5 years old. Very scientific and interesting. Don’t just skip to his schedule. Read the intro chapters! You’ll be glad you read it!

    We can do this together! Matthew took 14 full nights. I’m hoping for half that this time.

    • December 14, 2013

      And with that – I just started Ferber. Bryson woke after not even 2 hours in his crib, and I quickly referenced page 75 and started. We’re doing this. I’m tired. It will be a long night. I will feed him only after he’s gone 4-5 hours without nursing – so at 1:00 is the goal. He goes 4-6 hours during the day – we can go 4-5 at night.

      Here we go! I better get my spreadsheet started! Hooray!

  3. SM #
    December 14, 2013

    While it’s not nearly time for us yet, I will be using CIO if it comes to that with Turkey. It was nice to read your post today because I’ve already seen so much negative commentary about CIO. From what I understand, it’s not nearly as bad as some people say it is. My BFF did it with her kids and had amazing results. It only took three nights with her youngest and he sleeps 12 hours a night now! All her kids are happy, healthy and well-adjusted. Good luck to you and Sabine!

  4. Jillian #
    December 14, 2013

    Healthy sleep habit, happy baby by Weissbluth. Talks about 3 different methods of CIO. From gradual to full…I have a 6mth old now and 1 night feeding is all we do. Other than that she goes in about 6pm and sleeps until 6am. She takes 2-3 good naps a day. Email me if you have any questions or want to know exact methods. My 6 month old is my 4th child so I have some experience with this 🙂

  5. December 14, 2013

    There’s a lot of emotion (on both sides) about CIO, but at the end of the day you know what’s best for you and Sabine. I know from my own experience with Seamus that sometimes what is regarded as best practice isn’t what’s best for YOUR baby. For me it was the breastfeeding issue. It was a disaster from the start and we were both suffering because of it. Yes, I could have persevered and I could have pumped and taken pills in an attempt to increase my pathetic supply. But I was so worn down that I just didn’t have the energy for it anymore, and it was preventing me from spending true quality time with my son. Ultimately I knew that I needed to give up on the “best” (ie. the breast) in order to be a better mom all around. It sounds like you’ve reached the same point with the sleep issue. So do what you have to do to keep yourself healthy and happy in order to be the best mom you can be for Sabine.

  6. December 15, 2013

    I was one of those mamas who said I would NEVER (never ever ever EVER) do the CIO method. Until I had my first child. At four months, she would sleep through the night but refuse to take ANY naps. She was so tired and would fuss all day long. I was miserable. She was miserable. We were both a mess. I was desperate to try anything, so I gave the CIO method a chance. I felt guilty and embarrassed doing it, but I needed help. The first day, she didn’t sleep at all. The second, she was asleep within ONE minute and we never looked back. I still, ideally, hope to avoid the CIO method with our second child for as long as possible, but when I need it, I’ll use it. You just gotta do what you gotta do. You’ll be a better mom if you feel rested and she’ll be a happier baby. Good luck!

  7. December 15, 2013

    We slept trained out daughter at four months. It went really well. I too expected to give her one wake up and for a week we did but when I tried to switch when it was so I could pump at 11pm she ended up sleeping for 10-12 hours straight. It was amazing and she was like a new kid. She clearly needed the sleep as much as I did. I don’t regret sleep training for a second.

    We plan to start with our son a bit earlier, both because I believe he can handle it and because I’m going back to work sooner than I did before. He’s almost 8 weeks now and we’ll sleep train him at around 3 months. Again I don’t expect him to sleep through the night. I just need a good six hour stretch. He can already do this, he just does it too early, so we have to figure our how to move it back a bit. But we’ll get there. We’re still swaddling but I just got the Merlin suit, per your suggestion. I hope it helps us transition to the crib (he’s in a rock n play sleeper now).

    As for the bedtime routine, yours sounds great. I would only recommend putting her to bed earlier. It seems counterintuitive but the earlier you put her down the later she’ll likely sleep. Good luck!!!

    • December 15, 2013

      E, what method did you use with Osita?

  8. Erin #
    December 15, 2013

    I can’t remember exactly when we did it but I think around 5-6 months. I used Sleeping Through the Night by Mindell (similar to Ferber) and found I like checking on him less (the checking seemed to ramp things up for my little guy). It worked well and my son sleeps like a champ still and he’s almost three. It was emotional at the time but I believe it has more than paid off by allowing him to have years of good sleep and healthy sleep habits. Good luck!

  9. APE #
    December 15, 2013

    We kept our son in a cosleeper in our room until about 5 months. I was up with him every couple hours. It was exhausting. We tried a pacifier but he just wouldn’t take it. At five months we went on a vacation with my whole family and we put the baby in a pack-n-play next to the bed. Each bedroom had it’s own air conditioning unit which put off a ton of white noise. We noticed that he was sleeping pretty much all night the whole time we were there. It was quite amazing. when we got home it was very clear the co-sleeper just wasn’t cutting it anymore so we started putting him in his crib in his own room. We did CIO…we did a whole routine of bathing (every other night, or every third night), lotioning with the Johnson nighttime lotion, fresh diaper, reading and then nursing until he was sleepy but not fully asleep. I would lay him in the crib and then walk out. He would cry. I would go in first after 3-5 minutes, but I would not pick him up. I would pat him, and reassure him I was there and then I would leave again. Then I would increase the time I waited to go back in by a few minutes. By the time it got up to 10 minutes, he was out. I would only go in once in the middle of the night to nurse him and then we would all get up around 6:30-7:00 to get ready for the day. At that time he started taking two naps a day. I also noticed the earlier we put him to bed, the better he slept. He went to bed at 7:30 every night. It was awesome. Hubby and I had alone time and I learned that it is true…sleep begets sleep. I do remember as he got older and we started to wean from the breast I had to let him CIO when he would wake up at night. Eventually he realized he wasn’t getting anything from crying and he stopped. He is now a few months shy of turning four. He sleeps all nights every night, pretty much. Bedtime is 8 now and we still get up at 7. No naps at home anymore but he’s okay.

  10. December 15, 2013

    Yay for good sleep ahead!!! You will never look back. She may cry for 3 days but it will bring you sleep – and I’m convinced sleeplessness is what causes those mothers to drown their children in the bathtub – we need it, they need it.
    Rowan has always been a dream sleeper at night and thank The Lord we never had to cry it out at night. Naps were a different story.
    As to what made her a good sleeper, the only book/method I ever read was bringing up bébé which talked about “waiting” to see what they wanted and not jumping the second they made noise. We did very well with this from the beginning but the final thing that made it so much better was moving her to the nursery and turning off the monitor (doors open). Amazingly enough, she slept way better without the noise we made and we slept hours longer because I didn’t get up to feed her unless she cried….and she didn’t. She kicked around a bit and went back to sleep. To think of all the times I got up when she didn’t need it….
    Unfortunately we did CIO for naps at 7 months. Two days of hell….one days she cried for 100 minutes. This girl knew how to put herself to sleep and stay asleep – as did it every night! Pure manipulation. But since those two days….dreamland. We had two scheduled naps a day and somehow bedtime got even better. Good luck!!!

    Ps – our night routine has been since day one pjs, book, nurse, bed – and we added lovey when sleep training too which was huge.

  11. Kathy #
    December 16, 2013

    I did cio with my babies when all other calming no longer worked. I put a timer on and gave myself a “this is when I’ll pick her up” time. Gloriously, they were always settling long before that time came. I think it’s something some babies just have to go through to learn how to put themselves to sleep. You’ll all feel better and by the way, my daughters are grown now and none of them had any issues or resentments because of it, lol.

  12. Jen #
    December 16, 2013

    Jodie has been sleeping through the night from about 8 weeks (8 hours then, 11-12 hours now) and I’m not sure anything we did or didn’t do made that happen. I do think Ali’s sleep training on the blog “Not All Dreams Come True” (I think that’s the title) went to sleep training and wrote a lot about the experience, which might be helpful.

    One thing we’ve done from the start is only get Jodie when she is straight up CRYING. She’ll fuss and whine and what not on occasion as we put her down for a nap or to bed, but I’ll only go in her room if she’s freaking out and crying tears. We also make sure she gets good naps during the day, but honestly, I think we were just lucky. She likes to sleep!

    Good luck my dear. Thinking about you and the bean!

  13. arbrefleur #
    December 16, 2013

    I know you’re probably hearing this from a lot of folks but I can’t TELL you how similar my story is to yours. The sleep was NOT improving month after month. I’m amazed you made it this far with Sabine, you’re a strong lady! So today, we are currently on Day 4 of sleep training right now! Day 1 was gut-wrenching, soul-shattering HELL for me. Baby, quite frankly, I think she was fine. After all the crying, if I stayed strong and didn’t go in, there was eventually sleep. And she needed it. My girl, though a month younger than yours has been on the exact same sleep schedule. Fitful naps during the day acquired only by mom exhausting herself with rocking/bouncing baby in her arms for longer than the nap duration (ug!). And at night, we got 9ish pm until 3ish am on good days, then we were up from then on, with her snacking on the boob, fussing, crying, etc. It was no way to live, I felt frantic and out of control and couldn’t really see a way out. As a four-year IFer, I love the baby so much I almost didn’t care, but it’s not healthy for her at ALL and that was the bottom line. She was a high energy, happy baby during the day (other than when she tired to sleep, which trying to fall asleep = screaming) but she was running on pure adrenaline and was way over tired. So, like you, that’s what put me over the edge. I actually haven’t heard all the negative stuff people say about CIO and I don’t want to, but i can imagine. But I can tell you that even on Hell Day #1, she woke up and acted like her normal self! Not even like she was happy because “thank god you’re here mom, that was horrible” but she was just happy. She was fine. Still quick to smile and laugh as ever. That made me feel a lot better and she’s learning the skills of soothing herself to sleep and putting herself to sleep. One of my biggest hurdles was not wanting to change her. She is who she is, i thought. If she’s not a sleeper I don’t want to force her. But I don’t want her to be unhealthy and we were reaching unhealthy, plain and simple. I’m a terrible sleeper and have difficulties falling asleep my whole like so I feel like a hypocrite making her do it, but who’s to say that’s not because I wasn’t sleep trained as a baby. (I wasn’t, so who knows.) Anyway, sorry for this massive wordy comment, but your story was just soooooo close to home. The end of the story is she slept through the night Day 1 of sleep training and then Day 2 and Day 3 as well. It was AWESOME. We do a 6:30 bedtime (which seemed cray cray to me, but it worked) and one midevening feed to tank her up (9 or 10 pm). Naps are different story and we’re still working on them. I’ll let you know. But at least we got our nights back and it happened right away!!!! Good luck with whatever you choose it’s fine!

  14. December 17, 2013

    To be honest and seeing it in the long run, I think its good to let a kid CIO within reasonable limits. Before anyone thinks I am stupid, let me tell you where I am coming from. I am no parent, but I remember multiple instances where I have cried and thrown giant sized temper tantrums at my parents who just left me in my room cooling my heels because they believed something was good for me. Sabine, as you say is clearly sleep deprived and so are you and there is no way she is going to remember that you let her cry at 24 weeks. Think about it, a few years down the line, she is going to absolutely want to drink that soda, eat that entire packet of creamy preservative laden biscuit, absolutely hate her vegetables, what will you do then? You are going to be stern and let her cry it out then, correct?They are all normal growing pains that parents have to go through, so I’d say, do whatever it takes to keep yourself sane. Of course, no parent in their right mind will make a kid cry till the kid gets blue, but don’t even bother feeling inadequate if people tell you CIO is not good for the kid. Its their opinion and they are entitled to it, so are you. I think you are doing great.

  15. Martha #
    December 18, 2013

    Hi there, our first daughter was very nap-resistant from the start, so I started doing CIO for daytime naps at about 4 months old I think. Extinction method (see HSHHC by Weissbluth, mentioned above). For the first few weeks she did cry every time (but less and less every time) until by about 5-6 months old she went down without a single whimper… and still does. We’d read her 2 books and bam, out like a light. I always nursed her to sleep at bedtime as well, which made her prone to developing a night-time nurse-to-sleep habit. Result: at 5 months we did some night-time training too (over the previous 6 weeks she’d started waking up more and more frequently until she was up basically every hour and needed nursing to go back to sleep). That first night I made her wait 4 hours between feeds, which was hard. She fed at 10 pm, then she cried for about 45 min at maybe 1 am (fed at 2 am), then cried again at about 5 am (fell asleep after about 20-30 min and slept past 6). The next night she slept for 7 hours! Woke around 1 am, I fed her, and she slept till morning. Then the feeds just got later and later until they reached about 5 am. So she slept from 6:30 or 7 pm until 5 am! Then until morning, and 2 naps a day. Bliss!! Her bedtime routine was the same as Sabine’s.
    Our second daughter was better at napping from day 1. I started putting her down awake at 4 months but would go in to pat and reassure (but didn’t stay too long, like maybe 30 seconds). By about 7 months going back in led to extended nap resistance, so we totally banned going back at that point. At about 7 months we also started doing putting down awake at night too. I went back in in the Ferber style that first night, but now that she’s 1, we never go back in (after she got a bit older it led to bad places). She never really liked breastfeeding and really resisted nursing to sleep, so that had never been an option for her bedtime ritual. I think it made it a lot easier for her to learn the new routine.
    One caveat: I never enforce sleep-training when they are sick, because sick babies need cuddles in my opinion! It makes it harder after they get better because they typically need a little re-training. but it is hardly ever as hard as the first time, and it is NEVER as hard as sleep deprivation for mama/dada + baby.
    Our girls are now 3 and 1 and for the last 4 weeks or so both have been sleeping through the night (although at the mo the little one wants to get up at 5:30 am, which sucks). Overall, it’s so good. But even one (or on ‘bad’ nights, 2) night-time feeds are OK if you’re sleeping around those until morning…
    You are going to make this happen! It’s hard but it WILL work, and not long from now you’ll be writing comments like these. Just don’t give up, and try to be super consistent. Also the Troublesome Tots website is REALLY good and will help a lot.

  16. jak #
    December 18, 2013

    chupacabra fusses like that too. it means he’s tired, so as soon as he bitches at us that he’s tired, we say, “wanna lay down and take a nap?”, and we lay him in his crib (with his stuffed animal friends and a blanket – i’m going to hell for this probably) and he rolls onto his side, sticks his thumb in his mouth, hugs his stuffed owl to his face, bitches a tiny bit (it’s not a cry, it’s a bitch) then falls asleep for at least on hour. no nursing to nap, only nursing to night sleep. naps in the cirb, night sleep at the foot of our bed in a packnplay because he bitches to be placed outside of our bed. unless it’s getting close to evening time and his late afternoon nap is going on and on and we have to go to work the next day, we NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wake him up or bother him. he is the boss of how long he sleeps, and usually it works out great.

    does bean have a blankie? or a stuffed animal? now that she can roll, she’s really out of the danger zone of SIDS. chupy loves his blankets and animals and snuggling them really helps him to get into sleep mode. just a thought………?

    i wish you the best of luck. i dont know what happens that makes sleep work for some kids and not others. temper and nature i’m sure, but also early pattern and behavior too.

  17. December 19, 2013

    Sleep training works, do it and don’t look back. It’s HARD but it’s not as bad as you fear, I promise. And it works. There will be setbacks, ie. 16 month getting molars and he’s up EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR. but once those teeth pop through, back to normal. It works. Good luck!

  18. Emily #
    December 19, 2013

    Have to read the Weissbluth book. Naps are so important and you must protect their nap schedule! I have been doing this ever since I read the book and some people think I’m nuts for not deviating from his schedule, but it’s so important! Also, if you do CIO, you’ll have to do it for naps, too. Also, you might not want to hear this but CIO method took much, much longer than the “3 days” that everyone mentions. My son woke up at 5 every morning for a feeding then went back to sleep until 7 for several months then finally started sleeping from 7 pm until 7 am around 9 months.

  19. Amanda #
    December 24, 2013

    Good luck with sleep training. It is amazing when you get to sleep entire nights uninterrupted. Kiddos and parents both agree!

    On the living with a baby in the apartment thing… Do you have neighbors below you? I do, and I am pretty sure my neighbor below hates me (or my son)– yes he has come up to tell me about the noise and once he banged on his ceiling back at my banging toddler. Sorry but toddlers are going to bang shit on the floor and I can’t always be there to stop him. It was 5 or so pm for the record.

    Maybe time to invest in rubber floor coverings…. Sigh. That is pretty much the only bad part about living in a small communal building with a toddler. Thankfully there are other places to go and play 🙂

  20. December 30, 2013

    Hey Belle! (adorable pictures). E-mail me when you get a chance… kathrynp at gmail dot com Today/tonight I am thinking of going cold turkey without the pacifier which will essentially land us in to a crying spree for the next few days. I am scared out of my mind, not sure if I can do it (but once you start you can’t go back because that’s just cruel)… anyway, I know you’re out of town but didn’t know if you would be around for some occasional text message or e-mail support!! You still planning some sleep training soon?

  21. lauren #
    January 3, 2014

    How is this going for you? Tonight we’re committing to the crib… my baby is a little older than Sabine and sleeps well in the rock and play swaddled, but touches both ends when he sleeps. We tried moving him at 5 months and he was having none of it sooooo we’re going all in this weekend now that I’m out of excuses and he is 6.5 months. I’m so nervous since my mantra the past half a year has been “anything for sleep”…. maybe I’ll commission a adult sized rock and play / swaddle combo!

  22. January 4, 2014

    I found you tonight via googling whether my husband inflicted lifelong nerve damage while giving me PIO. Very serendipitous — looking forward to reading all about your adventures. Regarding CIO, my son was an IVF baby as well, and I think something about that makes us feel like they deserve better, kid gloves so to speak…so I was strongly opposed to CIO for the longest time, until he started acting like a newborn all over again at five months. One of the sleep books had all this brain research on the dangers of poor sleep, and that’s what finally convinced me: this was actually for him. It took two nights and we never looked back. With a few blip-on-the-screen exceptions, he’s been an excellent sleeper since (he’s now almost four).

    FWIW, we did intervals (two minutes, five, ten, etc.). Also, make sure the room is “prepped” for sleep — white noise, blackout shades. Finally, we have done a few sleep consults with a baby/child sleep expert and one of the key takeaways from that was the two, three, four rule. I think your kiddo is still taking a morning nap, yes? So the rule is two hours after waking in the morning they go down for the morning nap. Then three hours after waking from that they get the afternoon nap. Then four hours after the end of that nap is bedtime. That worked for us for the longest time.

    Anyway I wish you all the best — sleep is so key.

  23. January 10, 2014

    I know how frustrating it all is but I just have to say that Sabine has the cutest little “talking” voice! Fingers crossed that sleep training has gone well and 2014 has started off with lots of sleep for mommy and baby.

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