Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the no-cry sleep solution

Well, I have a couple of blog posts only partially done, I am hoping to finish them in the next few days!  Our lives have taken a little bit of a sudden turn when I decided last week that I just cant live with our sleeping patterns anymore.  Something has to change before I completely loose my mind.  I am totally serious.  Seriously.  Totally.  Totally and seriously.  I am not kidding.

I had previously mentioned the fact that our daughter wakes up numerous times during the night to our pediatrician and she basically said 'thats what co-sleeping, breast fed babies do'.    Great, thanks.   

I also had been unable, until just recently,  to connect with anyone I know who does both of these things.  Anyone!  Most families co-sleep and bottle feed or breast feed and allow baby to 'cry it out' or the so wonderfully coined 'self sooth' (by bawling their eyes out for you???).  There are a few moms who state their dear babies slept through the night from the beginning.  I wonder, are they taunting me?  Kidding, but really?  How is that possible.

Anyway, I just discovered this wonderful author, who happens to live in the super awesome state of Washington as well!, named Elizabeth Pantley.  I actually left a comment on one of the greatest attachment-parenting type give away blogs; Mama In Flip Flops2.  I didn't win, but ordered the book anyway even before she drew names!  I knew it was meant for me to read.  I knew it.

Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four.  She supports breast feeding and co-sleeping, as well as most of the american 'modernized' methods of child raising.  She feels any variation of the 'cry it out' method is truly just not answering babys needs.  Finally, someone who doesn't want to suffer but at the same time doesn't want their sweet child to suffer either.

I started to read monday, a difficult task these days with a toddler that wants everything I touch or look at!  Oh, and her molars are coming through, I actually just discovered that this afternoon after she wouldn't stop screaming.  I went to give her some of my clove teething oil and reached back there and felt what I can only describe as a small marble pressing up through her gums.  The poor sweet dear.  Some of the 'magic numbing oil' and chamomile tablets quickly helped.  

So, as I was saying.  A few pages into the book and I was getting teary.  I do blame this mostly on sleep deprivation!  But, by the time I hit page 20, I was in a full on cry-it-out-cause-you-don't-know-what-else-to-do-session.  

Here is what did it, actually its on page 11, a quote from one of Elizabeth Pantleys 'test' mothers;

''I am truly distressed, as the lack of sleep is starting to affect all aspects of my life.  I feel as though I can't carry on an intelligent conversation.  I am extremely disorganized and don't have the energy to even attempt reorganization.  I love this child more than anything in the world, and I don't want to make her cry, but I'm near tears myself thinking about going to bed every night.  Sometimes I think, 'what's the pint?  I'll just be up in an hour anyway''..... ''

It really hit home for me.  That could have been out of my mouth.  If I were only coherent enough to state it so eloquently.  No, instead I am spending my time loosing most things I put my hands on, putting the crackers in the freezer and being unable to finish sentences.  Sleep deprivation does not sit well with me.  

Last night we started step one in Elizabeths plan:  the sleep log.  Oh, how I dreaded writing down every waking moment AND how long she was up.  It really wasn't that bad, I mean, hey, I was up anyway.  :-)  

Funny thing, when she woke me for the third time last night, at 5:30 am, I was actually peeved because we had gotten so much sleep!  I wanted a 'bad' night of almost no sleep for our first log.  I thought by doing so, our results would only get much, much better.  After doing the math, I learned on our 'good night' the longest stretch of sleep we got was 3 1/2 hours.  Not cool.

Step two was today: the nap log.  I can sum that one up: a nightmare.  With her current teething, and me allowing her to fall asleep nursing  for the past 15 months, I have had a really tough time now getting her to sleep without her 'pacifier', if you know what I mean.  After letting her doze in my lap for just over an hour I had to call it quits.  Truthfully, I needed to run to the restroom.  Breast feeding makes you thirsty, ect. ect..

I was able to pretty much finish the book while she was napping and was more prepared for step three, our nighttime routine.  We had a very early dinner, an earlier bath, a much quieter and dimmer house, and now, an early bed time.

I am so afraid for step four, weaning her off the breast for sleep.  Her teachings sound wonderfully gentle and still encourage answering babies cries in ways I am comfortable with,  I am just really scared to have a horrible and long night.

This will be 100% of my focus for the next week or two.

Wish us luck.  The good Lord knows we will need it.


Frugal Living Online said...

You sound exactly like me four years ago when my first was 15 months old. I was breastfeeding & co-sleeping and I was miserable. I thought I was going to die--I was so tired. I read the no-cry sleep solution book right about that time, too.

I'm interested to see how things go for you.


Cathy said...

Erin - I think I've only commented once or twice, but I had to jump in today to try to encourage you. I have three children - the youngest of whom is nine, so it's been awhile since I went through this - but I did. I just wanted to remind you that this is just a teeny tiny phase in the grand scheme of child rearing... you WILL get through this. And you'll even forget mostly what it was like. I don't mean to diminish your struggle, I've been there and I do remember how hard it is. But you'll figure it out. And your sweet baby will figure it out. You'll get there. And before you know it you'll be putting braces on those teeth and wishing she would be home long enough to give you a hug... it goes so fast.

A wise mom once told me, in the midst of my baby years, "These will be the longest nights/days and the shortest years of your life." So true.

I'm praying for you as you walk through this.

Rachael said...

My heart goes out to you Erin! although we tried co-sleeping and it didn't work out for us or for M, I can imagine it would be very hard to get sleep, but still nurture your daughter. We do a little bit of letting M cry (and it is not fun of course!) but I hope this book gives you some relief and you can all get more sleep! It sounds like a great start towards that process.

The Keevy Family said...

Erin, It's no fun to be sleep deprived! Although I am not there right now, it was not that long ago I remember sleepless nights.
We did somewhat scheduled feedings with our kids when they were infants, but also listened to their cues for extra needs. I have never tried co-sleeping, just because it didn't interest me. I think whatever you do, just remember that you are the parent and you will have the best instincts on how to care for them. On the other hand, it's good for them to learn to fall asleep on their own. I think you'll find that if you make sure she has everything she needs and try not to run in her room at every cry, she may just learn to put herself back to sleep. It's not cruel, just training. This will be hard, so set some limits. Once you know she has everything she needs and you've gone through your routine for bed, etc...use a timer. Decide ahead of time: are you going to try it for 5 minutes? 10 minutes? That way it won't feel like it's going on forever and you can have an idea when to try a different approach.
The other option might just be to try to get her to sleep on her own just for naps first and ease into this. Give her lots of love and snuggles when she is awake, but remember how smart they are even at this age.
Hang in there, the first couple of days are going to be the hardest. And I agree with Cathy who commented above, this stage seems like it will never end--but before you know it, it will!
Keep us posted.