What is it about parenting that makes it necessary for you to eat your words?
From day one, Lucas wasn’t interested in any of the sleeping crutches that so many parents blissfully count on. He dropped the full swaddle while we were still in the hospital fussing until his arms were free. He was kicking so hard at night that he would unswaddle himself within moments. And don’t get me started on the pacifier…the kid wasn’t interested. White noise or no, it doesn’t phase him and he finds cosleeping as disastrous as I do, thrashing about and whining until we put him in his own space. We went through a phase when we was about 3 months where he would thrash about startling himself awake every half hour or so. Turns out the kid is a tummy sleeper and once he got to consistency rolling over, we’d get long stretches of snooze.
One of the pediatricians I work with comes by to see me regularly and asks every time if we’ve started sleep training. No, I proudly told him when I went back to work, we just don’t need it. Luke would wake up once a night around 2 or 3. I’d feed him and then he’d nod off to sleep. I must have spoken too soon because that was about all it took for Luke to start on a disastrous sleep regression. Lately the sandman had been avoiding our house and it was time for us to figure out why.
I’ll admit, sleep training sounded like a horrible prospect to me. Letting your child cry, I thought, would be gut wrenching and impossibly hard. The rub was though–as his sleep regression went on and Luke was waking every 2 hours, then every 45 and then only sleeping if someone was patting him gently–that he was crying as much if not more than he would during a few nights of sleep training. After Tuesday night punctuated by a two-hour session of screaming from 12 to 2 (sorry neighbors), we realized that something had to be done.
We decided a graduated “cry it out” approach would be best. The plan is, to let the child fuss for 3 minutes, then 5, then 7, checking in on them in between and reassuring them that they haven’t been left alone. The next night, you start with 5 minutes, and the third night, 7 minutes and so on. Everything I read promised a three day taper, but I’ve long ago learned that Lucas doesn’t read the same books I do.
Night number 1: he woke up around 11:15 and I spent the next 45 minutes going back and forth to his bedroom telling him I loved him and that it was time to rest. Eventually though, he dosed off and it wasn’t until 4 that he made another peep and put himself back to sleep. Could this really work? I was practically dancing when I got up in the morning and found him still snoozing.
Night 2: less than 20 minutes and Luke was back asleep.
Night 3: we never even made it into his room to check on him.
Night 4: the little trooper slept from 7-5, nursed, and went back to sleep until 7:30.
The improved sleep is amazing and I know in the long run it’s better for all of us, but I will miss cuddling him and rocking as he nods of so sweetly. I’m continuously reminded to not rule out a parenting decisions. You just never know what will work for you and your kid. There’s no panacea for any of this and we’re all just figuring it out as we go.