Friday, July 16, 2010

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This Week in Mommyhood

Here are two words I never thought would appear on this blog: Sleep Training. There's absolutely nothing wrong with sleep training I just never thought I would do it because I don't like the "cry it out" involved. I've told myself that Cati will sleep when she is ready to and that mommy guilt would prevent me from letting her cry because how can I let my baby cry when I know exactly what to do to make her stop? Well, lets add that to the things I said I'd never do that I'm doing now that I have a child.
It all started because we made the big move this week and Cati is now sleeping in her crib. The bassinet was too small (another thing I said I'd never do: keep the baby in the bassinet more than 2-3 months) and Cati was getting too mobile. I can kind of handle her waking up every two hours at night if she's next to me, but the thought of having to get out of bed and walk to her room every two hours overwhelmed me. The first night was harder on me than it was on her. I was so used to having her next to me that I felt like I was missing something. I was thisclose to crying, which makes me wonder when all the sentimentality will end (I can't possibly be sad about every single little change, right?). My goal that first night was to let her put herself to sleep and have her feedings be three hours apart. I was "moody" (Alex's word) as a result of Cati crying for 25 minutes before finally falling asleep (I was in the room and would comfort her every so often, but she still cried). Then she woke up over an hour later, cried for a few minutes, and then went back to sleep. I managed to get her to stick to the three hour goal more or less. The second night my goal was to go four hours between one feeding. That took a lot of will power! Last night my goal was to have feedings at 11pm and 5am. I almost broke down when Cati was crying and in and out of sleep for an hour. I kept going into her room after 5 minutes of crying and I would rub her back and tell her I love her. That would soothe her enough to make her fall asleep but after a few minutes she would start crying again. She eventually went to sleep and then I had to wake her up to feed. So progress comes in baby steps. Laying her down for naps has become so easy; she'll cry for 3-4 minutes and then fall asleep. At bed time she'll cry for a little bit longer but is asleep within 10 minutes of being laid down.
I'm taking these successes as calmly as possible. I thought Cati would put up more of a fight and make me regret the decision of doing sleep training. She's been open to me feeding her more during the day and her night feedings (to make up for taking away a night feeding) has adjusted to sleeping on her belly (she rolls over the minute I set her down). I'm taking things day by day because I know that things can change very quickly (I bet by the time she starts sleeping through the night she'll start teething). I'm happy with how things are working out and all I can do is hope they continue to go as well. I felt like I was doing Cati such a disservice by not letting her learn how to soothe herself. Hopefully I'm headed in the right direction to helping Cati become a more independent individual. Let me just add that I don't think I would have been able to this sooner because I (a) would have been afraid Cati wouldn't attach to me and (b) would have not been able to distinguish her cries.
Here's my only-been-sleep-training-for-three-nights-so-don't-think-I-think-I'm-some-kind-of-expert advice:

*Set goals and stick to them: Whether it be waiting after five minutes of crying before trying to soothe or waiting three hours between feedings, set some goals and make them realistic. Then pat yourself on the back when you meet your goal. Sleep training is hard and you need all the positive reinforcement you can get.

*Dedication: You need to be dedicated to whatever course of action you plan on undertaking. If you aren't dedicated you aren't going to stick to it and, at that point, it's not even worth trying. Why try to change things if you aren't willing to see them through? This goes for everything parenting related. Hearing Cati cry makes my feel physically sick, but I need to hear her cry if I want her to learn how to soothe herself to sleep and improve her sleeping habits. You have to take the good with the bad and hope you come out on top.

*Support: This goes hand in hand with dedication. Make sure your partner supports your decision to sleep train. You won't get far if your partner isn't willing to help you meet your goals.

*Do what you feel comfortable doing: If you don't feel comfortable letting your baby cry for more than five minutes then don't force yourself to withstand more than five minutes of crying. Heck, if you don't feel comfortable doing sleep training at all, don't feel forced into doing it because everyone says your baby should be sleeping x amount by x age. Again, if you are comfortable, then you will be more dedicated.

*Be prepared for it to be hard and then celebrate if it's not as bad as you thought.

*Babies adapt quickly and they won't remember that you let them cry for a few minutes. It's their wakeful time with you that's the source of memories. And if letting them cry will help you get more sleep and more me time then I'd say it's a fair trade (happy mommy=happy baby!).
With all that said, let me just say that it feels soooo weird not having Cati in our bedroom anymore. I feel like I'm a kid again and my parents are out for the night so I decided to throw a party. We have the lights on, music playing, and whispered tones are a thing of the past. I feel like I'm reclaiming a little bit of adult space. I sort of want to jump on the bed and pillow fight to celebrate having the room back.

Wow. Didn't think this post would be this long! Luckily, that's all I have to say about this week :)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I could have written this post myself! I am so happy the sleep training is going well for you. My son is doing so much better now that he is finally getting a good night sleep, he is such a happy boy anymore. I am so glad i finally caved and did it because it definitely worked for us too.