Friday, August 20, 2010

The Baby Whisperer V. Lady Luck

When we were all in various stages of sleep training with our first children, my playgroup friends and I constantly compared notes on what we did, what we'd researched, and what we struggled with.

I hated to use CIO with Will, but it was quick and effective--at least when I used it to combat a hitch in his normal sleep patterns. We first used it at five months (sitting up distracted him from sleeping), again at eight (cruising was the culprit), and then sporadically and as necessary if teething or illness set him back. But Will slept through the night VERY early, and was regularly snoozing for eleven hours in a row with no snack by the time he was two months old? (My archives might have slightly different information, but I'm too tired to search.)

Anyway, staying asleep was the norm for Will, although to get him to sleep we were always happy to brush his teeth, read him books, rock him while singing, and tiptoe out once he was asleep.

Then Finny arrived, and we just couldn't. Somewhere in those first weeks, we started putting Will down while he was still awake. He cried, so I suppose that was our most recent CIO attempt, but it took two nights. TWO NIGHTS. And now he falls asleep all on his own, every night and every naptime.

Enter the second child, shiny and new! Because successfully nursing Finn was at the forefront in those early days, I didn't just allow co-sleeping...I planned for it. As we approached four months, Dave and I decided it was time to go to the crib. Not the bassinet, not the travel crib, but his for-real, down-the-hall, my-very-own crib. That was absolutely problem-free for Finny. I missed him, of course, but I didn't have to perform the frequent monitor checks that I'd done for Will, nor did (or do) I wake up in an all-consuming panic because I had a dream that he was still in our bed somewhere.

Even in his crib, though, I wanted to answer the call of the nursing infant, so Dave and I made a deal: he fetched, I fed. Somewhere between five and six months, we changed it up so that Dave was trying to persuade Finny not to eat, to rock him back to sleep instead, but that only sometimes worked.

Whenever I doubted our choices during these first seven months of Finn's life, I remembered that multitude of conversations from Will's infancy, particularly something my friend Mo had said. One day, she told us that Ryan was waking up and doing an hour or so of "Daddy time" around two a.m. "He just wants to play, and it's no big deal," she said (or something like that). Mo was also the friend who threw out all the how-to books because "they don't apply." About sleep specifically, she was hilariously annoyed that the author-pediatricians got to take credit for a sleep plan that works, when it was actually some cross-section of timing and luck that made THAT plan work at THAT juncture for YOUR baby.


Last Wednesday, I had a sleep-deprivation-related meltdown. I called Dave at work and made a weepy, exhausted plea for something to change. "I've found my threshold for consecutive nights of interrupted sleep," I told him, "and it's six-and-three-quarters months."

For the next three nights, Dave slept in the playroom and made a point of NOT bringing Finn to our bed until it was at LEAST 5:30 in the morning. By Saturday night, Finn was cooperating enough (still waking up, but not begging to eat until his 6:30 wakeup) that Dave could sleep in the master again.

On his seven-month birthday, as I was putting Finn down for his nap, he started to arch allllllll the way back while he was also busy ignoring my whispered version of "Twinkle, Twinkle," and my inner mommy ear heard his whine and just KNEW: he wasn't scared of me leaving or sad to be abandoned--he was mad, and he was REALLY tired. So I put him in bed (with Scout*, who is desperately seeking new batteries by the sound of it) and said "I love you, good night," and left. He cried and crawled for thirty minutes, then slept for just over thirty. Fine, whatever.

But that night! Oh, that night!

He cried for 15 minutes after I left, and then he slept. All. Night. Long. From 7:45 p.m. to 6:45 a.m., and it was GLORIOUS.

Today's afternoon nap was 8 minutes crying followed by 90 minutes napping, and tonight he whined for a grand total of 3 minutes before conking out at 7:20.

I know this is interesting to maybe six people, but it's worth recording here so the lesson is underscored, easy to come back to: I listened and waited for Finn to be ready to cry it out; I trusted myself; I stuck to it; and then the other 99% of this success story,


*Thanks to Melissa for this guy--we all love him.

1 comment:

Penny said...

There is also something to be said about when sleep traing is implemented - it is not exactly random. There is a judgement by parents as to when sleep schedules should be changed up a bit. And usually this happens after weeks or months of observation. So I rather think it is not exactly luck, but more to do with parent instinct for when their children are ready to learn.