Sleep training is draining the life out of me right now. Before becoming a parent, I never imagined the effect that trying to help your child sleep better can have on your soul. To look at the clock and dread the hour and what it means… To know that you will have to listen to your child scream in pain, and know that it is important that they get past that pain. It’s something I know needed to happen, and it’s something that I want to make sure that I never need to go through as intensely ever again… with her.
Souris had been sleeping nights since she was a month old. There never was a need to put her on a sleep routine. I was always able to fly by the seat of my pants with her – feed her when she was hungry, put her to bed when she was tired. This worked amazingly for us because it allowed us to go where we needed to go whenever we needed to, knowing that Souris would be content, fed, and well rested.
Now 7 months old and with two teeth in already and two on the way, teething has become quite the chore for my little one. It has caused her to start waking up twice in the middle of the night where she would doze right through it all, in pain because the rash on her bum became too painful when she would fart (yes, I can’t believe I just casually talked about farting and rashes on a blog…) She would scream and cry, and the only thing that would soothe her was to give her a bottle and then snuggle with her dad and I. Where I had previously gotten my bed back, I ended up falling asleep with her cuddled against me by sheer necessity.
Anyone could guess that a few days of this would cause a pattern, and just as I had anticipated, Souris would start waking up without pain, but expecting me to pick her up and bring her into bed with me. The day that I did pick her up, put her next to me and looked at her smile and get right to deep sleep, I grumbled and promised that I would not make a pattern out of this.
I now have a child who is not able to soothe herself to sleep. I don’t regret the way that I parented her as an infant because I believe that it was important not to let her cry at night (since when she cried, there was always a valid reason). Souris was the type of baby who had a difficult time sleeping, and sleeping with us was more of need for her at that time in her life). Yet, I now confronted the fact that I needed to change my parenting style with my child’s changing needs. She now needed to learn how you fall asleep on your own.
The Cry It Out technique (that my doctor recommended I use) is one that I dreaded to try. I could not imagine being able to let my child cry for such a long period of time, alone in her crib, and expect her to fend for herself. To read that there was an alternative to this was highly reassuring to me.
I bit the bullet and purchased the program online. And so far, I have no regrets. I do recommend that, if you have struggles with your infant, toddler, or child’s sleep routine, you check it out.
I had never thought of sleep in the way that Dana Obleman explained it. I immediately understood how allowing Souris a pacifier at sleep time made her rely on it in order to get to sleep, setting herself up for failure with sleep. It resonated with me when Obleman encouraged parents to set up a great, fun and predictable routine for children in order to let them ease into sleep. I feared having to face the cries that would resonate from the bedroom once I put her down, by herself and in her bed, but the explanations of why my child would be crying gave me the resolve and reassurance to continue on my path to better sleep.
Receiving daily emails (which you can of course de-activate), having different ways of learning the technique (videos, books, worksheets and activities) makes it a lot easier to stick with the technique, especially after a few days, when the crying starts grating on your soul…
I am now in my third day of training Souris to sleep. The first day, she cried about 25 minutes at 2am before surrendering to sleep and going straight until 8. The second day, the cries lasted slightly a bit longer. And today, I am happy to say that, once in bed at 8 pm, she cried a whole minute in that half-surrendered mumble of a cry before dozing off.
It is now 11 pm, and Souris gave out a few weak cries. Where I would have previously jumped to my feet to get her pacifier in her mouth before she could get really riled up, I am now encouraged to wait a few minutes to see if she can get back to sleep on her own. And she did! The cries didn’t even last a minute. And ladies and gentlemen, she does NOT have a pacifier in her mouth! I repeat, she does NOT have a pacifier! *the crowd cheers*
I maintain great hopes that in a very few short days, Souris will be falling into sleep effortlessly. I am reassured to now know a few tricks to help transition her to sleeping fully on her own (the book goes through a series of recommendations and ideas on a three day cycle). And when imagining the future, I know that my daughter will most likely be a great sleeper, and I will have played a role in giving her the tools to surrender to the sensation of sleep and surf her dream clouds happily.
My daughter still wakes up with a smile, and that is great. Every time I hear that cry in the monitor and feel that dread sneaking up my spine, sense the pain at hearing my daughter feeling lost and confused, I remind myself that this too shall pass, and that I need to give her a chance to get through it. Going back is not an option – that would only harm her more than anything.
For all of you parents out there struggling like I am, I feel you. I had heard it before, and I am here to say it to you, it does get better. You don’t have to feel as though you are traumatizing your child into sleeping by him or herself. You will get your nights back! Hallelujah!
With that, good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!