Monday, February 22, 2010

The Upheaval

It's been a while, I know.  We were out of town.  But I have stories of Willow's visit with her Massachusetts family (including the famed two-days-younger-cousin Francie) to come, as well as the pattern for the finished heirloom sweater!  Willow's wearing it right now, and it looks lovely.

It was a little overwhelming.  Neither Dave nor I are particularly good about having our routine disrupted, and it appears Willow takes after us.  Not that it wasn't wonderful seeing everyone, and getting out of the house, and actually doing stuff besides watching tv and sleeping, but that's what we're used to doing, so anything else is a little scary.

Francie is adorable.  I almost wish they had been born further apart so I could have spent more time holding her, instead of always holding my baby.

But they had absolutely no interest in each other.  In fact, at times it bordered on outright dislike:


We had to keep them separated.  Either Francie didn't like Willow:


Or Willow didn't like Francie:

Of course, Francie might justifiably have been thinking Willow was making fun of her pants.  Not that Willow would understand an Urkel reference.  Here's a more flattering picture of Francie:

Or possibly it's just a scarier picture.  It looks a little horror filmish.  Anyway.

As if that wasn't enough upheaval, when we got home Dave, Willow, and I embarked on a Misguided Sleep Experiment.  Our doctor had given us the surprising and certainly very welcome instruction to shut Willow in her room for twelve hours, and not open the door no matter what.  We were told that scream she would, for four nights, and then it would never happen again.

We weren't quite able to bring ourselves to do that.  We talked a good talk while we were up in Massachusetts, but I don't think anyone there will be surprised to learn we didn't follow through.  She does still get up in the night to eat, after all, and who wants to starve their baby?  So we compromised: if she was fed, changed, warm, and comfortable, then she could work out her existential problems herself.  We would put her down to bed, and let her cry until she fell asleep.  And when she woke up in the night, we would feed her, change her as necessary, and then put her down in her basket.

Seems simple enough, right?  And not horribly inhumane?  But it didn't feel that way.  We had never heard of anyone doing even this at two months, much less the twelve hours thing.  We tried it for two nights, and they were the most miserable nights imaginable.  I cried.  A lot.  I spent most of the day crying too, because although Willow seemed fine and unbroken, I felt that I was betraying an essential trust.

It also turned out to be a lot more complicated than it seemed.  What about during the day?  Are we teaching her that she has to cry herself to sleep at night, but not during the day?  So she just screams all the time?  But I feel that an essential part of parenting is the giving of comfort, and that's certainly not something that goes away as the child grows.  And what about the sleeping?  She is still pretty much only willing to sleep on a person during the day--am I supposed to insist that she get herself to sleep in her basket during the day, too?  If not, that's certainly sending a mixed message.  But if so, she will simply be screaming all day long, because babies sleep a lot.  Not to mention, it's good to hold babies. 

We talked and argued and fought and cried (just me and Willow.  Dave didn't cry) and it was just Not Good.  For anyone.  So we decided not to do this now.  She just seems too young.  She's only just started to respond to stimuli, and smile, and coo, and it doesn't feel like she's ready to be forced into self-sufficiency.  It seems like we'd be struggling for a short-term gain, only to be screwed in the long run.  If it were something I felt confident in, that this is the right thing for my child, however hard it might be, I think I would be able to follow through, but I just don't feel that way.  Maybe in another month or two.  RockNoodle and Toaster were both Ferberized, and maybe we'll end up doing that.   Or maybe she'll just magically start sleeping through the night, which is what various other parenting books I've read have said she'll do (of course, they're also all "if she doesn't, does it matter so very much?"  Um, yes). 

On top of all this, we tried pumping, which let me tell you worked really well with my stress levels up and my supply levels down.  And Willow hated the bottle.  Shocker. 

No more upheaval.  Bring me television, bring me cookies, bring me my baby to rock to sleep and then hold while she sleeps.  She's just a tiny baby still.


Laura said...

Thank you! I needed my cute baby fix!

J and I went through all that sleep stuff, too. He was in the "let her cry" camp, while I was on the "maybe she just misses me and I miss her and this is killing me and I want her to know she can count on me and leave me alone I'm getting her so shut up and let me do my thing because it feels right to get her and screw you you're not the mom" side of the issue.

I do believe that some children can be Ferberized without much fuss. Mine couldn't. She would cry for 100 hours straight if you let her. She is a very persistent person. I hope this quality will help her doggedly pursue her dreams someday. It's not easy being her parent, though.

I'll just tell you our experience, which doesn't much matter because all kids and parents are different, but here it is anyway. P was up every 2 hours every night until she was 18 months old. At 18 months we moved. Something about the new digs, I guess. She suddenly slept through the night. And that was that. But it was definitely her decision. I don't think Parker has ever changed her routine because someone wanted her to. It has to be her idea.

I hope you have better luck!!!!

regina said...

Willow and Francie are impossibly cute. I have to correct something in your post: while we did resort to the Ferber method for Toaster out of sheer desperation (he didn't sleep through the night at 18 months of age), we didn't do it with Rock Noodle. She slept with me/us for the first six months of her life, and had litte trouble making the transition when she was moved into her own crib. It seems we learned a thing or two the first time around.

Kirsten N. said...

I'm surprised to hear that a doctor told you to let her cry at only two months... I thought you weren't supposed to "Ferberize" until 6 months, at least?

If it doesn't feel right, don't do it!

Kate said...

Francie has vowed to make you pay for the Urkel comment. If you think she looks scary in the last picture, wait until she's standing over you, watching you while you sleep. She knows where you live.

Kitty said...

Wait on the Ferberizing until she is older! You're right to follow your instincts.
I am absolutely, completely, wholeheartedly in the "let them cry it out" camp. Here's what worked for us: put J to bed around 7, then do a "dream feed" at 10, during which he woke enough to eat and be changed, but was so sleepy that he never really woke up entirely. At about 3 months, he started sleeping from the 10 p.m. feed until 6:30 or 7 in the morning. When I saw that he was physically and emotionally able to do it, I decided that he didn't need to be fed anymore in the middle of the night, so that's when I would let him cry. It only took him a few nights to learn that he wasn't getting the boob anymore at 3:00 a.m.
By 5 months (following Ferber's guidelines) I'd weaned him from the 10 p.m. feed and he was sleeping the full 12 hours.
People think that Ferber is a monster...but I have a happy, growing boy who loves his crib, goes to sleep easily, and sleeps all night. The trick is to Ferberize early enough that by the time they can sit up, stand up, reach for you, scream "mama", etc., they know that bedtime is for sleeping, period. I don't envy people who only start to let babies cry it out at 9 or 10 months - yikes!
Willow is adorable, as usual!

Amy M. said...

We used "The Baby Whisperer" books as a guide for lots of things, including sleep issues. She has an awesome pick-up, put-down method. It was the only thing I found that was middle of the road- everything else seemed kind of on one extreme or the other.

Izzy said...

Even though I can't get my 7 week old to go more than 3 1/2 hours between feeds and am shattered, I'm definitely a fan of the natural approach!

A friend of mine reassured me that we're all creatures of habits, so keep the faith that eventually, they will sleep at night. I'm desperately clinging on to that thought and will go with the flow in the meantime.

I guess it's easier to say that being based in Ireland, as we have the luxury of at least 6 months maternity leave, rather than the 6 weeks I hear you get in the states?

I'm really, really sorry to hear you had to go through that, I can sympathise that emotions are all over the place at the 2 month mark.

Amber said...

Oh man I could have written this post nine months ago! We tried the cry it out for a week or so. Our baby was older (four months?) but it was still torture. What cemented it for mw was the fact that she withdrew during the day. I didn't like to see it change her personality (even if the books said it would be temporary). My husband and I decided we would night time parent even if it was inconvient for us. She's 13 months now and hasn't slept through the night. She is, however, the happiest most outgoing little girl ever and I figure I'll catch up on sleep someday! Like you I never thought my daughter would nap anywhere but my lap (while attached to my breast). Then at one year she started nappig for two hours in her crib. It was crazy... And awesome!

Céline said...

I am expecting a baby for April and it was difficult to read your post... I read (too much) books about caring for newborn and I have to admit that it seems a lot more natural to follow your instinct: if something doesn't feel right, then don't do it (I know: it is easy to say that now because the baby isn't born yet). I think that babies need more than food and being clean: they are human being after all, not machine!
Anyway, she may just feel insecure for example in which case you can put her in bed but hold her hand or rub her head so she knows that you're here and she is okay even if you are not holding her.
Anyway, I can't really give you any advice but I guess I just wanted to tell you that I am glad you didn't do what the doctor said...

Eclectic Eccentric said...

Your Ferberization experiment was painful to read. Poor Willow! Poor Mommy! Poor Daddy!
What a terrible idea. I tried that idea 26 years ago and it's still a bad idea. Babies need snuggles, comfort and security and they won't get it abandoned in their baskets. I have 4 grown babies and none of us have suffered over-much from sleeping in the same bed or draped around each other when they were little.
Teach them independence when they are older. Focus on that little poem about how the dusting can wait because you are rocking your baby.
I stumbled into this because I was admiring Willow's lovely leafy sweater. You did such a nice job with it. I absolutely agree about the bound off edges too. I'm looking forward to seeing Francie's sweater too.

Lilacrosesandthemoon said...

Willow is the most beautiful baby ever. She has a most sweet face. I also love her name. My 21 year old is also named Willow. That's why I'm here snooping about. I saw the photo for the beautiful sweater that you are sharing with us for free that is very kind of you. Since my Willow is expecting her 2nd baby in September of this year I was looking for a sweater to make . After looking at night all over for a good pattern I found yours and free even. Thank you lots. Goodnight Willow and of course goodnight to your parents. I am off to find yarn from my stash. If not it's a trip to buy yarn. Oh how horrible to have rummage around to buy more yarn. Lol