Dear Magic Sleep Suit,
You have served us so well for so many months. You held my sweet baby tight so she could sleep through the night….
Wait. That is so not true. We still are not sleeping through the night. In fact, Sabine’s sleep is so disordered that she is often sleeping worse than a newborn. I am a member of a Facebook group for tired Mommas of poorly sleeping babies. Recently I posted a lament about her bad sleeping habits and a mom actually said it sounded like her little one who had colic… and then assured me they outgrow colic. That was the nail in the coffin. Sabine does not have colic, she is 8.5 months old.
The Professor and I had a phone conference call with a pediatric sleep specialist yesterday. We sent her two weeks of sleep logs that painted a very real and very sad picture of our current sleeping habits. She took a long look and said, “Oh this is terrible. She is all over the place and is sleeping worse than many newborns I see.” I almost cried when she said this. I needed affirmation. I needed someone who knows baby sleep to confirm that yes, there is a problem here. The specialist also assured me that at 8.5 months, this kind of disordered sleep is bad for the baby. Sabine needs her rest. The bags under her eyes and her sadness around 4 p.m. attest to how tired she is.
The good news is that I am not doomed to be awoken three, four, five and sometimes six times a night. Sabine’s sleep can and will improve. After taking a detailed history of Sabine’s sleep habits she diagnosed my little one with a severe nursing addiction. For Sabine, nursing is the BEST THING EVER. It is soothing, it is comfy, it is tasty, it is sleep inducing and she NEEDS it to fall asleep. This needs to change.
The sleep specialist helped us outline a sleep training plan that will work for us. If at any point we feel it is not working, or we are uncomfortable with how fast it is moving, we can stop, call her back and we will modify it to be more gentle. Initially, though, we are going with the “rip the band-aide off” approach over a two-week period.
Step 1 is losing the Magic Sleep Suit. Tonight Sabine will have her final sleep in it and tomorrow we will set her free. I am terrified to do this, but the specialist had a very good point – we do not sleep the entire night in the same position, how can I expect Sabine to sleep the entire night and not change positions? So this is the end. My heart pounds when I type this. The end of the sleep suit… shit. WHAT ARE WE DOING? 🙂
Step 2 is ending our nurse-to-sleep habit. We have already been working on putting Sabine down for naps and bed awake, but I am not consistent and will often fudge and let her nurse to sleep before transferring her to the crib. Tonight I began a new nighttime routine where we have warm milk (our way of saying nursing) before dinner, then we have a nice bath and warm milk in the tub (I bathe with her still – it’s such a sweet routine!). After she is in her PJs I rock her a bit and allow her to nurse a little more while talking softly and keeping her awake. When she is done with her warm milk we say night night, I sing “All the Pretty Little Horses” and then its lights out. Tonight the routine went SHOCKINGLY well, although she was put in her sleep suit right before we sang our song. We shall see what tomorrow holds!
Step 1 and Step 2 will happen simultaneously during “Week 1,” then on Thursday we will start Step 3, teaching Sabine how to sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is a HEATED issue so I’m going to be a vague with our plans to try to keep the potential shit storm at bay. (If you would like to know more details about our plan feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll email you with more information.) I will simply say that the method we have chosen is designed to be swift, but will be done with lots of checks and compassion. Sabine’s weight gain is good again, she is eating solid foods with zest (finally) and can go long periods during the day without nursing and without any trouble. She is ready to sleep through the night.
I’ve ordered supplies to help our transition: two soft kitty lovies and one video monitor so we can check on her without going in (and so stressed out Mama can check without her knowing I’m home!). Monitor arrives tomorrow and the lovies on Monday. I REALLY hope that this is the second to last post I ever write about baby sleep, with the last post being a victorious one!
Anyone quit the Magic Sleep Suit yet? Any tips for tomorrow night other than having a huge pot of coffee at the ready in the morning? 🙂