I didn't really notice that her night wakings/feedings were increasing until about two months ago but I chalked it up to a growth spurt or some other temporary thing. It wasn't until a few weeks back that realized just how out of whack things had gotten. She'd go down around 8:00pm with no problem, maybe 10-15 minutes of squawking, tops, but then she would be up again somewhere around midnight, then 2:00am, and again around 5:00am, before she was finally up for the day around 7/8:00am. It was definitely a gradual regression because had I realized I was getting up three to four times a night consistently for two months I would have done something sooner! Here's the thing, when you're tired, your mind doesn't process the same and I am definitely TIRED these days!
I started researching different methods and reading what has worked for other moms. I reread a blog from my girlfriend in PA who went through the wringer with her little guy (she's hilarious, read about her experience HERE ). I kept coming back to the Ferber Method aka Cry it Out (CIO). I have to admit, like most loving moms, I was hesitant to try a method that seemed to encourage crying but I also trust my mommy friends who have used it with much success and sing its praises. A lot of the message boards warned about trying the method without reading the book and getting all the facts, which sounds like some solid advice so I ordered the book.
It was delivered yesterday and I dove in. One thing I appreciated immediately is the chart showing an infant's sleep cycle and when in it that cycle they typically wake up. The chart also shows you what chapters relate to your specific sleep issues! GENIUS. I suppose they knew that groggy mamas and daddies don't have the mental capacity to read through the chapter index like the rest of society. Our problem is not falling asleep initially but being able to return to sleep when she wakes up after a sleep cycle and also, a dependency on the boob for late night snacks. See chapters 4-6. Perfect! Here we go.
I began reading after I put her down for her evening nap (4:30ish) and immediately came across my first mistake. No naps after 4:00pm! I got her out of the crib and brought her down for some playtime. I fed her a BIG dinner since one of my concerns is that she's waking up hungry and not just out of habit. Then we did our nighttime routine, bath, story, nurse, crib. Dr. Ferber also suggests keeping your wee babe up a little later than normal to help them sack out hard. She was out like a light in 5 minutes. So far, so good.
11:00pm: She fussed and cried for a bit but went back to sleep without me needing to go in and comfort her. Piece of cake. I even started to think she might just sleep through the night on her own.
12:45am: It begins. She started really crying and was fully awake, so I went in to comfort her and begin the separation intervals (3, 5, & 10 minutes). She lasted until the 10 minute interval then drifted off. She is the perfect child, this is SO easy.
1:15am: What's that I hear? She's crying harder than before... screaming, if you will. No, baby go back to sleep! You are perfect, remember??? Start the intervals over. She falls back asleep by the 10 minute one, again.
1:40am: And we're crying again. Is this going to work? She's starving to death! I need to hold her! I am the worst mother alive!! She's going to hate me. Why am I doing this to my sweet baby?? She's asleep by the 5 minute interval this time. Progress!
I had predetermined that I was going to feed her at 2:00am, unless, of course, she had already trained herself and was sleeping soundly.
2:05am: MOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYYY, I NEEEEEEEEEEEED YOOOOUUUU!!!! (Loose translation). I pick her up, nurse her for a shorter period of time than usual and put her back in the crib while still awake.
2:25am: The child slumbers.
2:30am: The mother slumbers.
8:20am: I wake up and realize it's 8:20am (cue happy dance)
8:25am: I peek in to find baby girl starting to stir. She's happy to see me and we get up to start the day feeling relatively rested and dare I say, optimistic about tonight!
I put her down at 10:20am for her morning nap, it's 11:50am as I'm writing, and she's still out.
The goal tonight is to increase the length of the intervals for checking on her and to delay nursing half an hour. I'll be writing again tomorrow with the results!
Please say a prayer for my sanity, if you get a chance.