sleep training begins, kinda

It’s generally a bad idea to talk about a particular parenting style on the Internet, because it always leads to disagreements – breast versus bottle, stay-at-home moms versus working moms, natural childbirth versus medicated… all of those arguments we’ve had a hundred times or more.

Which is why it’s probably a bad idea for me to write about this, but a couple of posts this week got me thinking about it, so here it is.

I’ve started sleep training Lucy.

Let me back up: for the past four months, my mom has been living with me, so the idea of letting Lucy cry it out simply wasn’t an option. My mom is respectful of my parenting decisions, but she’s also a grandma, and it goes against her instincts to let her grandbaby cry. Besides, I never would’ve let Lucy cry it out when she was younger than 6 months old anyway.

But lately, bedtime with her has turned into this ridiculously elaborate dance, and it basically feels like she’s training me, instead of the other way around, and I have to put a stop to it.

Lately, Lucy’s sleep routine has been:
* Bathtime.
* Bottle.
* She starts to fall asleep on the bottle, then wakes up and wants! to! play! (Which, WTF? Wasn’t the whole POINT of the bath to make you sleepy, kid?).
* She rolls around on the floor and plays for at least an hour, sometimes longer.
* She eats some solid food – because I figure what the hell, we’re awake, and maybe having a little extra in her tummy will make her sleep longer. (Tip: it doesn’t.)
* Play some more. I get increasingly desperate for sleep.
* Another bottle. This time, she falls asleep while drinking it.
* Burp.
* Caaaaarefully transfer sleeping baby to crib. If she wakes up, she screams bloody murder, then I have to pick baby up and rock her until she falls asleep again, then repeat transfer process. (This may take up to 5 times or more, before successful crib placement actually occurs.)
* I crawl to bed and collapse, and pray that she sleeps through the night. Which she’s done, like, maybe 4 times in her life. Normally she wakes me up after 3-4 hours.

So. That’s completely ridiculous, right? I mean, I know it is.

The thing is, when I’ve tried to let her cry it out, I end up caving in. She screams and screams, and eventually I just can’t take it anymore, so I go get her. (Of course, the message she receives from this is, “If I scream loud enough, Mommy will come back and get me.” So that’s completely useless.)

Last night, she woke me up at 4 a.m., as per usual. I gave her a bottle, burped her, and put her back in the crib. As soon as I set her down, she woke up and started shrieking. I sat down on the floor next to her crib, reached through the slats, and tried to pat her and comfort her, to get her to go to sleep on her own.

I did that for half an hour. She never stopped screaming.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I could feel myself starting to get angry – which is completely irrational, I know. She’s a baby, she can’t help it. But she had me up past midnight, then woke me up less than 4 hours later, and I was just exhausted and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I left.

I lay down in my bed and I stared at the clock. Lucy screamed for 22 minutes, then she finally fell asleep.

(For the record? Catie slept through the entire thing.)

I don’t feel that guilty about it – I mean, she wasn’t hungry, she wasn’t sick or in pain. She was just pissed off and didn’t want to sleep. Or she didn’t know how to get herself to sleep. Which is mostly my fault, because I haven’t made her figure out how to soothe herself yet.

I don’t know if this is something I’m going to do long-term. All I know is that I’m raising these 2 girls by myself, I don’t have a partner who I can tag-team for nighttime duty. And I have a full-time job, and I am useless during the day if I don’t get enough sleep. So I have to do something.

This is less about a particular parenting philosophy, and more about basic survival.

Trying SO HARD. But so far she can only go backwards.

Besides, based on the smiles and laughs I got this morning when she woke up, I’m pretty sure no major long-term damage has been done. Yet.

8 thoughts on “sleep training begins, kinda

  1. Good luck! This is pretty much what worked for us, too. It’s hell while it’s going on, but there’s that delicious bright spot in your future where you can get 8 hours of sleep again.

  2. I’ve never commented, but I’m a new reader and I just wanted to tell you that you can do it! I just slept train my first baby and we eventually did CIO. Our bedtime routine was looking a lot like yours, and it was just hell. We did CIO and once she figured out how to soothe herself, she slept better, more soundly, and for 12 hours a night EVERY NIGHT. CIO is horrible (for you, not the baby) and people tried to make me feel guilty but for my baby it was totally the right choice. I so feel your pain but it is WORTH IT.

  3. I had to do that with my son. It is the worse but I needed sleep!! I found I am a much better Mommy with sleep and he will get over it. I hope Lucy can learn to soothe herself quickly and you get some sleep!

  4. Hi cindy I trained my 2nd son and it worked brilliantly I spoke to a consultant here in the uk who told me about a great method it took 2 nights for my son to get the hang of it and it was amazing when he eventually went to bed cried for 2 mins quietened and then went to sleep on his own zx it is worth it believe me xxxx my 1st son was in my bed more than his own and I couldn’t do it with my 2nd. Don’t feel guilty it’s better for all I you in the long run x

  5. Well you know I’ll back you up on letting her soothe herself! Crying for 3 hours would not be so good, but 22 minutes? She’s FINE! 🙂 Crying is not always a sign of distress. At her age it’s every kind of communication, including “I WANT TO PLAY RIGHT NOOOOOOOOW!”
    Lately people have been posting a study on facebook about how you’ll permanently damage your kid if you let them cry it out. But the research they cite is basically people who neglect their children and let them scream for hours at a stretch. A baby crying for a few minutes after you put them down is a normal part of the crankypants going to sleep process.
    And besides, YOU need your sleep too!

  6. It needs to be done, and she proved it to you with only 22 minutes. We eventually had to do it and it really does change your life when you can feel good again. I file this under a wise piece of advice I got from a family friend who raised 5 kids, on kids being a nuisance in one way or another…”It’ll go on as long as you let it.”. The hard part is getting to the place where you know you have to do it; then you find the backbone you didn’t think you had, and home life gets better. I really do think kids like to have a parent be “in charge” and decisive. I think it gives them security when they don’t have to lead.

    We eventually got to where she would wake for a drenched diaper, but Huggies Overnight fixed that. IMO it’s just another tool at your disposal.

  7. I had to let Cam cry it out when she was a baby. I tried everything and was at the end of my rope. Like you, I found myself getting angry and knew that it was better to just let herself cry. Sometimes I look back and feel guilty, but when you’re in the midst of it, it’s sometimes the best decision.

    Hang in there…hopefully sleep will come soon!

  8. We did it with Boo, and she was a champ after a couple rought bedtimes. Go sit outside, put ear phones in, take a shower just to avoid the “mom guilt”. My mom used to say that she would lay my sister down and walk down the driveway twice just to not hear her cry. After a week she was a sleeping champ!

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