OBB one week later: Houston, we have a problem

If only everyone who thought to utter the words “Mission accomplished” would keep their big, fat mouths shut.

I knew we would still have work to do establishing consistency in Sophie’s sleep. She learned last week how to go to sleep by herself. She’s been doing this practically perfectly since day 1 of Operation Bedtime Bootcamp. What a relief to know we can put her to bed and within about 15 minutes she’ll be asleep.

Even her naps, which were nonexistent unless I was holding her before, are practically perfect. She goes down without much fuss. They had gotten shorter the past few days, but  I realized she may be waking when the white noise machine (a Sleep Sheep) timed out. So I stopped putting it on for naps and now we’re back to longer stretches.

But let’s just say the troops aren’t as keen on staying asleep in the middle of the night and the battlefield commanders are split on their tactics.

Three nights ago, during a fit of particularly fierce crying, Dominique had had enough. His heart was breaking listening to what seemed to be endless protest. She woke after just an hour of sleep. This break had clearly been rejuvenating. Her energy stores were back up and she was ready to go the distance.

Tracking Sophie's sleep

We had, once again, tried to put her to bed about an hour earlier than normal to make up for shorter naps during the day. Her exhaustion was apparent. But it appeared she was treating her early bedtime like a nap. That nap was now done and she wanted UP NOW.

It was way too early to feed her and we hadn’t devised a plan for early wake-ups that didn’t involve more crying and checks.

After nearly two hours (I know, gasp), we got her out of bed. Dominique sat with her on the couch until she was clearly tired again. About 40 minutes. Then we re-implemented the bedtime routine, including putting her to bed awake, and off to sleep she went.

I was terrified and mortified, filled with self doubt. Everything I have read about sleep training stresses one thing. Whether you believe in crying it out or not, consistency is key. Since we got Sophie out of bed I just knew that this was the end of her sleep independence and we were doomed to more nights of hours upon hours of nursing, walking, nursing, walking, repeat.

I doubted myself as a mother. Dominique had reached his limit and yet I had planned to continue our sleep training method until she went back to sleep or it was time for another feeding. I was frozen. Hadn’t planned on a change in course. Now what? Was I a heartless woman who clearly missed the signs that her tiny baby needed her? Did my partner now question my ability to care for our daughter?

The tension and anxiety buried me. I holed up in our bedroom and poured over my sleep resources looking for answers while Dominique waited for the little one to get sleepy.

The next night we put the baby to bed within what seemed to be her reasonable bedtime, 7:45 – 8:15, and she went down perfectly once again. She woke around 10:30. She had a little trouble getting back to sleep, but no major trauma. The rest of the night was golden.

It seemed we were on to something with her bedtime. Maybe she can’t go to sleep earlier than 7:45. We agreed to keep her up until then no matter how sleepy.

Then last night happened.

7:45 put down for bed and asleep in less than 5 minutes
9:00 awake
9:25 second check of the night and she fell back to sleep when I put my hand by her face. Grr. That shouldn’t have happened. She’s supposed to wait till we’re out of the room! 10:30 awake again. Now it’s been more than 3 hours since she’s eaten so we redo the middle-of-the-night routine.
10:40 put back to bed but she’s totally awake with no intentions of sleep. start checks. this makes her more awake.
11:30 she’s getting sleepy again so we redo bedtime routine. She cries off and on, five minutes at a time.
12:00 Dominique picks her up and holds her until she gets sleepy. Puts her down. Arms and legs start flailing, so (*I’ll get back to those limbs in a minute.) he gently holds her in the crib.
12:20 sleep.
1:15 awake. start checks.
1:30 she’s still awake and now it’s 3 hours since last feeding so I nurse her again and place her back in the crib awake.
1:45 she fusses for a minute, sucks her fingers, stills. I watch the baby monitor and the timer and fall asleep myself.
3:45 awake. feed. put down awake.
6:15 awake. feed. put down awake.
8:00 up for the day. She’s smiling, as usual. Happy as a clam.

I, on the other hand, am a wreck. I have no idea where to go from here. Maybe a combination of plans that will involve more intervention on our part to limit the crying on hers. Maybe I deal with the status quo until after her 6-month check up next week and see what suggestions her pediatrician has. Maybe I stop feeling guilty, or worrying about everything, and reinstate CIO with checks throughout the night for one more week. A surge, if you will.

I will be reaching out to my sleep support group, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, in case you thought perhaps all was lost, as I write this, Sophie has been down for her first nap of the day for more than an hour. Placed in bed awake, asleep within minutes without making a sound. There has been progress, absolutely.

(*as for the monster limbs, Sophie had been swaddled to sleep until a week before we started sleep training when we moved her into the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. It’s a big, puffy, fat suit that is supposed to help babies transition out of the swaddle. It allows for some limb movement but makes it harder for the babies to smack themselves awake. But Sophie had been trying like the dickens to suck on her fingers, which is harder to do in the fat suit, so we ditched it a couple of days ago and put her in a sleep sack. It’s a sort of arms-free sleeping bag. Maybe it was too soon? I don’t know. She does fine with this during naps. It’s that darn middle of the night that has me scratching my head. Maybe I need a big person-size fat suit?)

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About Tara McLaughlin

I'm a stay-at-home mom to two girls in my boyfriend's hometown of Bern, Switzerland. Life as a new mom in a foreign country has been, in so many ways, rewarding and challenging. I will document that journey here, on Another 52 Weeks.
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11 Responses to OBB one week later: Houston, we have a problem

  1. Hang in there mama. It’s not a perfect process. You like me want it all settled and organized and figured out. Babies on the other hand seem to think they get to have minds of their own. Let’s not even get into how teething, getting sick and just plan off days can throw your best laid plans into chaos esp. during sleep training. You guys will get this down. The unswaddling thing is def not a perfect science. Does she have a pacifier or little lovie blanket she can snuggle? Maybe that would help? Course don’t get me started on the pains of pacifier, esp. when they figure out if they throw it out of the crib they get to cry so you can get it for them again. THAT is a fun one I like to call pacificier ping pong 😉

    • What? It’s not perfect? GRRR. MUST REACH PERFECTION!!!! She doesn’t do paci’s. My child wants the real deal. I just started considering the lovey. (See below) and we’ll see how that goes. What would I do without you cheering me on. 🙂 Thanks mamma.

  2. Heather says:

    We had a similar problem with Ezra and his swaddling which he loved, but he oh so needed those fingers too….Guess that is just trial and error till you get what they want….Like Keryn said, Ezra does have a silky animal thing which stays in his bed he likes to have.

    She might be going through a growth spurt. Are you still breast feeding exclusively?

    • She may be going through a growth spurt and yes, she’s still exclusively breastfed. We have her 6-month check up next week and once we get the green light we’ll be starting to introduce solids. Hoping that once she’s well established on solids that she will stretch out her night sleep as well.

      As for a “lovey,” I read about those recently and decided to try it with one of her tiny little bears. I stuffed it down my shirt all day and put it with her for a nap and now for the night. Watching her on the monitor, she nearly killed it. In fact I had to sew its head back on tight. So we’ll be looking at another possibility in coming days. Something we can buy 3 of to have around the house just in case. lol.

      • Heather says:

        I am cracking up think of you with a bear stuffed down your shirt…You ARE a good mom!!!!!!!!!! Solids might defiantly help!!!!!!!!!!

  3. JKP14 says:

    that happens to us too but i promise that tonight will be better- its almost like they remember and don’t want to cry for two hours again. i usually give up around the 2 hour mark as well and feed her- luckily she goes back to sleep rather easily and its usually for 6 hours. Two nights ago we had the 9:15-11:15 pm problem with wanting to play, but last night she slept her longest stretch ever (6pm to 2am)!! keep doing what you’re doing!

  4. JKP14 says:

    also, she can probably go more than 3 hours for the first feed- i know its awful to hear them cry but maybe start with a 5 hour cutoff for two nights. Then try to extend to 6 hours for the first night feed. That’s what we did and it helped because we were basically feeding her too often at night and she was up almost every hour. Hang in there!

    • Thanks so much, we’re going to institute a new plan – we’ll let her CIO w/ checks if needed. If she’s still crying fiercely after 90 minutes with no signs of calming, then we’ll do either a calm hand or pick up/put down awake until her next feeding time. I’m going to start with 4 hours as the limit and see how she does. If it’s good for her, then we’ll push it by 30 minute increments until we’re at 6 hours. I think this is a reasonable compromise. It gives us an end point for crying to help with our emotions and it also lets her know we’re there but we’re not going to nurse/walk her to sleep, even if we do come in while at the same time hopefully extending her nursing times. So, that’s the plan. Wonder if she’ll buy it. 😉 Thanks so much for the support!

  5. Christine says:

    We were having the same problem. C was up every two hours and like you, I was reading every damn book out there. We have the same routine every night like you guys do– You are doing everything right—don’t ever doubt yourself as a mother. We had a major breakthrough last night. C will be 6 months in a few weeks. For the past month or so, I have not been feeding him more than once in the middle of the night. Over the course of a couple of weeks, he has been fussy and my husband wants to go turn him over on his tummy. I tell him not to because the baby needs to figure it out on his own. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s part of the soothing process. I am proud to say that C has only woken up 2 times in the middle of the night over the last 2 weeks. The one thing I don’t do is take him out of the crib when he is crying. I just pat him on the back and leave. Last night. I got the BEST 40th bday gift–he slept from 7:15-4:30– had a 3 oz bottle and slept til 7. I was a happy camper!! Keep your chin up—remember, try not to read too much. My mother said to me—-“Stop reading the books–just enjoy being a mom”!

    • Christine, thanks for the encouraging words. And congrats on your sleep victories. Your mom is right about those books. I get so obsessed. I think the reading is good, but there has to be a limit. A time to put things down and just go with your instincts. But it’s hard to enjoy being a mom some days when you are dizzy with exhaustion and your little one is grumpy from being overtired. We’ll all get there one day I guess! We’ve devised a short-term plan to deal with the middle of the night. I’ll see if it works. Happy birthday and hope you continue to have a good sleeper! 🙂

  6. Melanie says:

    Cue Paula Abdul “one step forward…two steps back…” lol
    I think I get too excited when Max sleeps through the night 2 or 3 nights in a row; I go and jinx myself by bragging about how good he sleeps and blah blah blah…and it’s like he hears me through his super telekinetic mom/son spidey sense and whispers to himself “mwah ha ha…I’ll show her…tonight…” maniacally drumming his little chubby fingers together. Last night was one of those “every 2 hours” kind of nights. I have to keep reminding myself that he is growing, his body is changing, teeth are coming in – a lot of uncomfy things might be happening to him right now – so we might be on this path for a little while longer…so it’s not always necessarily something that we are doing “wrong” – don’t doubt yourself, you’re doing an exceptional job and remember to just keep taking that one step forward.

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