Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Letting Not-Asleep Babies Lie

Here's the thing about the sleep-training: I really have to think of it as Not My Problem, or I would never be able to get through it.  Let's face it, I kind of suck at the nap-training, and that's exactly the same thing, only it's all on me.  So while every time I put Willow down for a nap, I have every intention of saying nope, you are tired, kid, and napping is what you will do, and you won't do it on me, or in the stroller, or under any other fancy circumstance you want--you will do it in your crib.  The end.

Only of course it's not the end.  I cave.  There's only so much crying I can listen to.  (Also, we have construction going on all the time.  And sometimes she does seem to genuinely not need a nap, and I was wrong.  And sometimes I'm just rationalizing). 

But the night-time--that's Dave's problem.  I do often nudge him to make sure he's heard that she's crying and is awake, but that's just because I know he's slept through many a night-feeding, and hasn't been trained for six months to wake when she does.  (Turns out he's usually awake and I'm just being annoying, but I can't tell).  But when she's crying, I try to remain as sleepy as possible, and think of it as just this noise that's keeping me from getting back to sleep, and the sooner it stops the better.  I pretend it's the cats going at it outside.   (Sometimes, in fact, it is the cats.)  Dave knows better than to complain about being tired and getting up, because of the pointing and laughing that will result.  Me?  Six months.  You?  Two weeks.  Please.

Our method is this: she wakes, Dave waits a couple of seconds, and then goes in to pet her (doesn't pick her up, doesn't do anything other than gently but firmly tell her to go back to sleep).  Then we let her cry.  The first night we let it go for forty minutes and that was god-awful.  But the two nights after that?  She slept through the night.  8pm-5am.  And she does that about fifty percent of the time.  And when she does wake up in the middle of the night, she only cries for about ten minutes at most (except for this one night, of which we shall not speak) and then goes right back to sleep.  Dave and I have agreed that in another few nights, we're going to try some actual training, and he'll wait five minutes before going in.  And then a few nights after that, ten minutes.  I'm sure there will still be some nights when she'll awaken after all this is done--it's not magic, after all.  But it is already infinitely better than waking every two or three hours.

The problem, my friends, is with the 5am wakeup.  She thinks it's time to get up, but she's wrong.  Not on our account--hell, Dave's up anyway--but on her own.  If we get her up, she's exhausted again after an hour, and the whole day is thrown off.  If we let her lie there and tell her to go back to sleep, she cries for an hour until we go get her and the whole day is thrown off.  If I cave and go in and nurse her and put her back in her crib, she still won't go back to sleep.  We've tried putting her to bed earlier, but it's still not quite right.  I mean, maybe it would work if we put her to bed at 6pm or something, but that's a hard thing to ask of the household at large.  Cutting the four of us down to one bathroom for the entire evening is just not going to work.  And the fact of the matter is, we had this issue even when I was getting up in the night--past a certain point, she would not go back in her crib, but if we brought her in the bed with us, she would eventually go back to sleep, and then she would wake well-rested and in a better frame of mind for the entire day.

So, uh, that's what we're doing.  Maybe it's a bad idea for the long term, but for now everybody gets more sleep this way, and everybody's day is better, because when she has a bad day, man, do I ever have a bad day.  And therefore Dave has a bad day, because I'm not one to suffer alone.

4 comments:

Amy said...

Ughh, I feel for you. Miss. D wakes up every morning at 6:30 - I'd love for her to sleep just another hour.

Izzy said...

We do the same thing with Seb. He's started wanting to sleep on his tummy, which worries me. I spend ages trying to turn him back and eventually get so worn out that I bring him into in the bed with us, where he doesn't turn over because he's wedged in between us and I sleep with one had on his tummy to stop him turning!!!! My guess is that most mums start of with good intentions but end up bringing the baby into bed!

Nikki Van De Car said...

Oh Willow totally sleeps on her tummy most of the time. She started doing it as soon as she could roll over, which freaked me out at first, since she couldn't roll back over onto her back, but I told myself there are only so many things I can control and forced down the panic.

She seems to really like it. At first she did it because she rolls over when she's angry and then she's stuck like that, but now she rolls over as soon as I put her down, as though she's more comfortable like that. And since I sleep on my stomach too, I can't blame her...

Stacey said...

I totally understand! Isabel (3 yo) is still a horrible sleeper, and we had all those same problems. I couldn't be the one to let her cry it out either, I'm a total sucker, so I made Hubs do it. We still haven't solved the early waking problem. She comes into our bed and cuddles at 5 am, and that's the only way she'll sleep till 6 or 7.

I think you're doing the right thing by just letting everybody get the most sleep they can. All kids have different needs, and some just want cuddles! And moms need sleep!