Sunday, April 13, 2014

More sleep stuff

If you've been reading lately, you may have heard me complain about sleep.  The lack of it, really.  If Teddy had been our second baby, I'm guessing he would have been our last.  Or, at least, he wouldn't have had a sibling so close in age.  He is a really, really terrible sleeper.  After the first week, when he settled into his pattern of 2-3 hour stretches of sleep, I felt a little crazy.  But I looked forward to him being a little older, remembering that by the one month mark both of our girls were sleeping a bit better.  One month came and went, with no real change.  At his two-month appointment I asked the pediatrician about this, hoping for some encouragement.  She said that by 4 months, almost all breastfed infants are doing pretty well.

Right before 3 months, he started giving us a couple 4-5 hour stretches, and I thought we had made it.  Into the land of I-can-tolerate-this-for-a-while.  But a few days later he got sick, and went to hourly wake ups.  And then this past week it got even worse, with half-hour wake ups (or, perhaps, never really going to sleep, but I was too tired to be sure).  I didn't even feel safe driving.  I found myself on roads I didn't even remember turning down.  One particularly bad 3 a.m. I gave up.  I bough the Ferber e-book and read.  Not all of it, but enough of it, and particularly the parts that were relevant for us.

That makes the third sleep book I purchased.  The No-cry Sleep Solution (total crap, if you ask me), which we read with thoughts of sleep-training MJ.  The Sleepeasy Solution, which worked for Greta (who really didn't require much of anything, but it was helpful when we decided we had to get her sleeping a little better).  But Teddy's still so little, and only Ferber purports to be able to do anything with babies that little.  So Ferber it was.

In one night we took away the swaddle, the pacifier, and put him on his tummy (not a Ferber recommendation, but something I felt was necessary).  I was so sleep deprived the risk of SIDS seemed minimal, though the next day I freaked out and bought a movement monitor after having nightmares of him stopping breathing.  Ferber recommends letting them cry for 3 minutes, then checking on them, 5 minutes, check, 7 minutes, check and 10 minutes.  The first 3 minutes, the first time, was torture, as he screamed bloody murder.  I checked on him, he calmed down, then cried a bit more, but I didn't have to go in a second time.  It was awfully quick.  Although he cried a bit longer at subsequent wake ups, they were always more like fussing in which he calmed himself down.  The first night he woke only 3 times.  The second night only twice.  By the 3rd night he was putting himself to sleep.

I've always been opposed to hardcore sleep training.  I don't think a baby this age needs to be forced into some rigorous schedule.  As such, I'm really not trying to get him to sleep through the night, just trying to get him to sleep.  He now wakes twice a night, eats and goes back to sleep.  I can tolerate that.  I fully expect some sort of regression in the future, because he seems to be waking unnecessarily to eat, but I'd rather worry about that when he's older and has the physical control to comfort himself more easily.  The whole thing makes me wonder, if we'd done some sort of sleep training with MJ, whether she would sleep better now.  She still struggles to put herself to sleep unless she is totally exhausted, whereas Greta is expert at it.  Although I don't think I could have handled Ferber's suggestion that if the child gets so upset they puke, you just quietly clean it up and leave again, neither Greta or Teddy has had much issue at all with sleep training.  The couple minutes of crying they endured (I think we had one half-hour spell with Greta and that was it) is certainly less than the amount MJ cried as we struggled to get her to sleep without actually sleep training her.

My perspective on this has changed so much since having kids.  From first kid to third my position has mostly reversed (though I still don't support the rigorous schedules that some parents strive for).  If you have the mental capacity to be a sane and kind person with very little sleep, then go for it and wake hourly.  I did not.  My children certainly benefit more from a well rested mom and the ability to put themselves to sleep, and the little bit of crying they went through seems minuscule in comparison.

I really appreciate the comments and support that people left for me here and on instagram.  I'm sure this isn't the end of our sleep troubles, as Teddy still flails so much and is so active that I see more in our future.  But we've reached a place where I can be more sane for the next bit until we go through some other sleep transition.


  1. Aww I love babies sleeping on their bellies! Luke become a belly sleeper at 3 months because he rolled there and never went back. But yeah the movement monitor would be calming in this situation! SO glad he's sleeping better for now!

  2. I firmly believe that people who can be so vocally against sleep training have probably not experienced a wake-up-every-hour type baby. Especially because that up every hour stuff usually begins after 2-4 months of crappy sleep.

    I had two kids who pulled that every hour stuff and I KNOW how awful it is. And at that point I also quite firmly believe it's in everyone's best interest to intervene in some way because not only is it not healthy for the mama/parents but it's not great for a baby's development to get such chaotic sleep.

    So just writing to say been there, done that and I'm hopeful you can get some better rest soon. And for what it's worth - we did sleep training with Bella and she still is up during the night quite often and a pain to get to sleep most nights. So maybe it would have helped MJ or maybe it wouldn't have made much of a difference - hard to say!

    Good luck!

  3. SO so so glad to hear that you are ALL getting some better sleep! Honestly, I wish I had sleep trained W MUCH earlier than I actually attempted it. He still isn't a great sleeper, but he's getting there, I guess. I'm always shocking myself with how different of a parent I am now than how I was with my 1st- some good ways, some not as good ways. But at the end of the day, I trust myself to do what is best for my children, myself, and my family. Like you said, your kids benefit from a well rested mom!