Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sleep Training Is a Drag

But I can say it's worth it. I know it's controversial and I totally get why many people don't like it, but in our case it was definitely the right decision. In fact, I was pretty much dragged kicking and screaming to it, but I can honestly say thank goodness my husband insisted we finally do it.

With the exception of a few weeks in late July / earth August, Ben’s sleep habits have been awful. Getting him down wasn’t too hard as he would usually fall asleep nursing, and then after he quit the boob, after having a bottle. But he would wake up many times every night. Nap times have been very hit or miss. Some days he’d take great naps, others not so much. I was so exhausted because of the night waking and lack of naps in the fall that I did let him cry a bit at naptime and it seemed to work. We didn’t let him cry at night much because we didn’t want to wake our daughter. Then in November he got what turned out to be the first in a long series of ear and sinus infections. I certainly wasn’t going to embark on any sleep training when I knew he was sick and not feeling well. By mid-January we were pretty sure that Ben was going to end up needed ear tubes and so we agreed that we’d wait until after that happened to start any sleep training. First, I didn’t want to do it if there was a possibility that he was waking up because he was in some kind of discomfort or pain. I was also hoping that maybe some of the sleep problems would resolve themselves once the tubes were in.

Ben is actually scheduled to get the tubes put in tomorrow. But events conspired and we have already started the sleep training. First of all, his sleep habits were getting worse. Not only was he waking up multiple times a night, but it was getting harder and harder to get him down for the night and back down. He would seem to be asleep in my arms, but the minute I moved toward the crib I’d feel his little body shift and his hands would grip my shoulders. Then a couple of weeks ago, he caught a virus. Ben's sleep got even worse while he was sick and I got almost no sleep for 3 days straight. I ended up getting very sick myself and my husband had to take over all the night shifts for a couple of nights. I had taken him to the doctor so we knew it was a virus and not an ear infection. Once he was better my husband really put his foot down about sleep training. I kind of hated that he was being so fucking uncompromising about it, but I was truly too sick and too tired to really argue. Less than two weeks later and I am so grateful. The very first night was hard. Ben cried for 30 minutes, and I cried for almost as long. BUT, he slept the entire night through without a peep. The next night he cried for about 10 minutes, the third night for only 3 minutes and the 4th night he cried for 30 seconds. Since then we’ve had several nights were he didn’t cry at all even though we put him down awake. In fact, we could hear him babbling happily in his room and then after a few minutes silence. The other nights he has cried a bit, but always for 30 seconds or less. And, with the exception of 2 nights, he’s slept for between 11 and 12 hours straight.

Even now I still hate to hear him cry for even a few seconds. To be holding a sleepy but happy baby who is cooing in my arms and then listen to him cry because I’ve put him in the crib just hurts my heart. Truly though, I know it’s soooo much better for him to be getting good sleep and I also know that I am a much better mother, wife, and employee because I’m not so freaking tired all the time. After so many months of chronic sleep deprivation, I truly felt like the walking dead. I had very little patience and frankly, couldn’t even think straight. I’d read something for work multiple times that I should have been able to understand and I just couldn’t figure it out. Less than two weeks of getting somewhat normal sleep and I feel like a completely new person.

My husband definitely was ready to do this much sooner than I was. The other night I told him how much I appreciated that he hadn’t said I told you so after Ben adapted to bedtime and started sleeping through the night so quickly. He responded that he was too relieved and happy to care.

So, while I can’t say that sleep training is enjoyable, I can say that for us it was definitely worth it. Of course I say that knowing that compared to some people we’ve been lucky. I have friends who have told me stories of their children crying for hours, of making themselves vomit from the crying, and of much longer adjustment periods. So I do know that we are lucky that Ben adjusted his sleep patterns and his reaction to being put to bed so quickly. I’m not sure I would have been able to hold out had he cried for much longer that first night or if he had continued to wake multiple times and we’d had to listen to him cry several times a night, etc, etc. But fortunately he didn't and I think the entire household is happier for it.


Lea Bee said...

yes, sleep training is awful, but the results are stupendous. e, 16.5 mos, can put himself to sleep both at bedtime and at naptime. praise jeebus.

Penny said...

Sleep training is a must! It sounds bad (I mean, it's bad to hear the crying) but it's not like your baby can communicate in any other form, you know? Or that you can. If we could lecture our babies to sleep better, we all would right? Instead it's this cruel process of establishing boundaries for the first time and letting them figure it out.

Meghan said...

I don't understand people who don't. My brother in laws 4 and 2 year old still won't sleep through the night. I'd be a mess. So glad it was relatively smooth for you and Ben