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.
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
9:25 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.
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?)