Monday, April 23, 2012

Mommy Talk Tuesday: Sleep

This week's topic is sleep!  Something I quite enjoy but don't get enough of. 

With Lynden we're still working on sleep training (ha ha, I joke).

(sort of...)

We did do sleep training with him when he was a baby and we did the cry method. 

It was something we threw around for a bit but Lynden was an infant who wanted/needed to be held, much like all babies (and there is Nothing wrong with that).  Then one day, just after Xmas (he was 3 months old) he fell asleep on his own while "playing" with his play mat. 

It was the first time he had a) put himself to sleep and b) wasn't held while he was falling asleep.  We took this as a cue that he could do it so we started letting him cry it out around new years. 

We would let him cry for 5 minutes and then go check on him, without picking him up.  The next night we'd increase the time and within 4 days he was doing it. 

It was actually harder to get Danny to not go in; thankfully the second night was at his sister's who backed me and made Danny wait it out. 

Sleep training him was really hard, he would fall asleep great but wouldn't stay asleep for long.  We'd be up multiple times a night trying every trick in the book to get him back to sleep in his own bed.  It was even harder because Lynden was one of Many babies born in a very short period of time in our circle of friends and family and all their babies seemed to be sleeping.  I remember having a conversation with one of my cousins about all the things we had tried and she was impressed with some of the things we had thought of.  We tried everything and were having no luck.  So, a lot of night Lynden ended up in our bed out of sheer exhaustion. 

{I should note: these are just facts for me now.  As bad as I know it was then I don't really remember it now.  That's the beautiful thing about mommy amnesia (same amnesia that makes us "forget" labour), you can have lots of bad nights and once you have 2 or 3 consecutive good nights you think "it wasn't that bad"}

When Lynden was 18 months Danny was going to be in the Cayman's for a month and Lynden was in bed with us Every.Single.Night.  I couldn't handle it anymore, so I set out to make it so Lynden would sleep in his room once Danny was gone.

It took 3 nights.  The first night it took him 3 hours, the second night 30 minutes, and the third night he slept through the night.  (Thankfully my grandparents were there so I had the support at 2 am during the crying). 

Even now we have good nights and bad night with Lynden.  Until this last week Lynden was in our bed at some point, which is not comfortable for me.  I end up sleeping on the couch once he comes in and it was getting too much for me to handle. 

So, we went back to re-training him, but now that he's almost 4 we can bribe him!  And with Easter candy in the house the reward is perfect.  Each night he makes it in his own bed (by this we mean he can get up to go pee and can come sleep in our bed once Danny gets up to go to work) he gets half of a large chocolate egg (in pieces throughout the day).  On the third night he gets the treat insides (we had a large kinder egg, an egg with smarties, and another with gummy bears).  It took 3 night before Lynden was not getting up or calling us. 

He might wake up a few times but he goes back to sleep quickly; I think he just wants to know we're there. 

With Alyssa it's a completely different story. 

The joys of having 2 kids. 

Again, around 3 months we started to prepare to sleep train her the same way we did Lynden, because it was what we knew. 

She was not sleep trainable. 

She would cry and we would let her, except she rarely made it to the 5 minute mark without being beyond hysterical.  When we would pick her up, because we Had to pick her up, she would be drenched in sweat and promptly vomit on us.

Sleep training was not for her. 

We held her while she fell asleep and slowly put her down with less and less time in our arms. 

By 4 months we could put her down while she was awake and have no tears.

Now, don't think it was a walk in the park.  Shortly after we could put her down on her own she would wake up around 10:30 and stay awake until 2.  Every night.  It sucked. Thankfully it only lasted a few weeks (I say that now).

Speaking of sucking, she also went through a phase from 5 weeks until almost 12 weeks where should would nurse all night, and not in a "eat-every-few-hours" kind of way.  I mean she would be starving all night long and would want to nurse every moment she possibly could.  It was not pleasant and really cut into any sleeping time I had. 
She's now 16 months and my god she's easy!  We put her down at naptime or bedtime and she rolls over and doesn't make a peep.  We were recently on the Island, which meant she had to sleep in her playpen, sometime we haven't used since our previous trip to the Island.  The first night I put her down and she sat up, looked around, and then laid down and went to sleep. 

Now don't get me wrong, we occasionally have a bad night with her (in fact we've had 2 very bad nights since she was 4 months, one a few weeks ago) where she'll wake up crying and wants to snuggle.  However, she likes her bed and the freedom to move around, so we'll bring her to bed with us and she's out before we get under the covers.  If we wait 5 minutes she's rolling over trying to get comfortable which is her was of letting us know she wants back in her crib.  Every now and again she wants to sleep with us for a few hours but she always ends up back in her crib, which is great because until recently we've had Lynden in our bed. 

{Since writing this she had a bad night due to teething.  She was up 4 times in one night and would only sleep in my arms.  Teach me to "boast", which you shouldn't do.  It upsets other parents and the sleeping gods will even the score.}

{Not that I was bragging, I was simply explaining that the universe is rewarding us for dealing with Lynden's horrible sleeping habits when he was younger by giving us a good sleeper}

She's a fantastic sleeper.  She goes to bed around 8 and gets up 12 hours later, with very few interruptions.  I've said it before: she might be my favourite ;-)

To any parent out there who is trying to sleep train their baby I only have a few tips of advice, not that I'm an expert by any means, it's just what helped me. 

- Have a support system
It's beyond exhausting when the baby is up at 3am for the 5th time.  Have someone, who can afford a sleepless night, come stay with you so you have their encouraging words when you just want to cry.  (My sister in law helped the first time, my grandparents when Danny was away, and I even called my mom at 3am to talk when I was ready to give in.  No, I wasn't mean and called her randomly she was at work already)

- Make a plan and stick to it
Talk to your partner before hand and decide how you are going to handle things, who gets up when, and all those other details.  Decide on a plan to try one technique for 4 days (nothing happens in one night) and stick to it. If it doesn't work take a break for a day or 2 (catch up on some sleep) and try something else for 4 days. If you know you're on day 2 of 4 you know there's only 2 nights left, compared to trying something indefinitely, you're more likely to quit before anything can happen.

- Have a routine. 
Kids like routines, they know what to expect, so make a bedtime routine and try to stick to it while sleep training.  It allows them to recognize the signs and know bedtime is coming.  Be it a bath, story, lotions, naked baby time (key in our house), cuddles, or anything else. 

- Be prepared to adapt
You might have an idea of how something is going to go, first or third child, and it's okay if things don't go as planned.  We thought we'd be able to to train Alyssa the same way we did Lynden.  She steered us on what was going to work for her (and she's the one we don't have to worry about at night)

- Take a break
When you aren't sleeping it wears you out.  Make a point to take a break during sleep training; go out, have a long bath, something that allows you to take a load off.

- Breathe!
I read in one of my baby books when I was pregnant the first time that a baby's cry is tuned to an octave that we, as humans, naturally find annoying.  If you've heard your baby cry during you know it's the exact right sound to get to you.  So, if you decide to let them cry at bedtime be prepared for your blood pressure to rise, you need to breathe.  It does help (remember labour??)

- Whatever you decide is best
If you decide to sleep train your baby, through any method, or not that's ok!  Only you can make the best decision for your baby.  Other people will have opinions as to what you should and should not do; use any advice you want and discard the rest.  Don't, Ever, let anyone make you feel bad for what decisions you make (on sleep training or anything else). 

The Not So Secret Confessions of a Second Time Mom

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