May 31, 2012

Good sleep comes to those who wait...Part II

Disclaimer: I'm not interested in Mommy Wars. Swaddle, no swaddle, pacifier, no pacifier, (six pacifiers), cry, no-cry, room-sharing, bed-sharing, Sears, Ferber, Spock... Everyone seems to have an opinion on ...everything... when it comes to babies and parenting. Every baby is a unique individual who has never before existed on this planet, and parenting is not a competition. I like to think we all share a common goal - wanting what's best for our kiddos. Yes, we have different means and strategies of achieving that goal, but we're all in this together. Your baby may grow up to be my baby's friend, spouse, pastor, colleague, senator, etc. I'll do the best I can with the knowledge I've got (and lots of prayer!), and hope you'll do the same.

Click here for Part I.

Part II

"Move me and I'll shoot."
The first night actually wasn't so bad! I went in to reassure him first after five, then 10, then 15 minutes of sporadic crying, and he fell asleep. He woke up about once an hour for the rest of the night, cried maybe 5-10 minutes, then fell back asleep before I even needed to go in there. I'd wake up, turn on my timer, turn down the audio, turn on the video, and watch, in and out of sleep. WOW - I thought. It can't really be that easy.

And it wasn't.

On the second night of our family sleep study, we took a surprise trip to Crazytown, the real city that never sleeps. While the first part of the evening went just fine (we graduated to 15-20-25), we did not sleep much between the hours of 1:00-5:00 am. Let's just say that Bryson is a very strong-willed little guy. He knew something was different, because for the past (almost) seven months, we had responded pretty immediately to his every peep by picking him up, rocking, singing, or some combination of those. That was right for us then, but this was right for us now. We needed to try something different.

I didn't read Dr. Ferber's book, so I won't say we used "the Ferber Method." I did read lots of articles, blogs, (sometimes embarrassingly judgmental) blog comments, and book excerpts on various methods, however. That's how I decided we'd try our own spin on progressive waiting, with some snuggly reassurance and a slew of binkies spread throughout the crib for easy access.

 Progressive waiting is just that: you progressively wait a bit longer each time before going in to reassure you're little one that he's okay, that you love him, and that he is not alone. You don't just leave them in there to cry all night (or in our case, longer than 30 minutes), as some people mistakenly assume. I went in to check on him every 20-30 minutes, but I wasn't sure if that was helping or hurting his efforts to doze off. I also wasn't sure how to count the minutes, since he would fall asleep for 5-10 minutes at a time before relaxing his arms, waking himself up again! He wasn't crying for 30 minutes straight, but he wasn't sleeping either.

It was just as miserable as "they" said it would be, if not more. I doubted everything. I was awake, in my bed, Googling my aching, sleepy heart out and texting my mom and sisters, my Texas support team. I knew we committed to try this for a week, but I also knew my baby needed sleep, and I did too.

Did all babies cry this long? Was I a bad mother for not giving in and holding him all night? Would this work, or does he have sleep problems that won't be addressed with this method? I feel hungry, but I'm normally asleep right now, so I shouldn't go downstairs to make a bowl of cereal...should I?

At this point it's worth noting that while I wanted Jeremy to be awake to commiserate, I also wanted to be the one to get the "reward" of comforting B at the proper interval. I was the one with my eyes glued to the monitor, after all. That meant the poor guy really didn't neeeeeed to be awake with me, so I quit bugging him around the 3:00 mark.

Sooo...yeah...about last night...
Somewhere around 5:00 am, I gave up for the night/morning/whatever it was, and asked Jerm to bring B into our room, where he slept rather peacefully for a few glorious hours. Night two of the sleep study was just about the same. We got most of our crazies out before midnight, but we were still awake for two hours that morning before I called it. I was afraid we'd spend a week doing this and see no improvement...then what?! But night three was even better. The crazies were out by midnight, and I didn't really remember what happened between then and 6:00 am, which was a good sign.

For the next four days and nights, Bryson and I were on our own. Jeremy had the midwatch, which meant he'd be working all night and sleeping during the day. It was time to see what we were made of...




...and we were made of AWESOMENESS!

Full disclosure: Writing this particular blog post has been a (lame?) mommy dream of mine. I've had the title in mind for months. (Feel free to make fun of me for that, BTW.) On one hand, I wanted to shout this news from the rooftops of my quiet, sleepy house, and other other hand, I didn't want to jinx us by sharing this before a full week was over. I also didn't want to rub it in to sleepy mama friends on Facebook, hence the spoiler alert on Part I.

A favorite pose, admiring his binky collection.
Now. I should mention that one big change that coincided with the better sleep was the switch from white noise to lullabies. White noise clearly wasn't working magic for us like it had in the early days, so I figured we had nothing to lose by trying something new. After our time in Crazytown, I remembered that I had an album of lullabies on my iPod. We used them when putting my niece to sleep as a baby, and in a mushy, sentimental Aunt Nikki mood one night, I saved them to my iTunes. Little did I know how valuable they would be!

There is such a remarkable difference in our sleep patterns it's redonkulous.

For the most part, each night keeps getting better. He used to wake up at least 3-5 times in the first couple of hours of being asleep, waking up and needing to be (fairly easily) settled every 2-4 hours from that point on. Now, he goes down around 8:00 and wakes up to nurse between 5:30-6:30, with a few barely noticeable peeps in between. If he wakes up, it's for less than five minutes, and he's back to sweet sleepy sleep.

In addition to having the nighttime sleeping down, his naps have improved dramatically! He will fall asleep within minutes of laying down, and he his new normal is now anywhere from 60-90 minutes. PEOPLE. Before this, his naps would last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, like clockwork. No kidding. I don't even know what to do with myself these days.

I'm not taking a minute of this for granted, since I feel like it could change at any time (like as soon as I click "publish"). I know we still have plenty of sleepless nights ahead of us between teething, growth spurts, colds, and all that other fun stuff. Still, if this is our new normal, I'll take it!

I realize some people will read this and think, "How could they let him cry? They must be heartless monsters!", etc. etc. To those people, I redirect you to my disclaimer. We did what was right for us, based on a lot of reading and careful consideration, and so far it seems to have worked for our family. Our little man is as happy as ever, and seems to love us just as much as before. His sleep habits have changed, but his charming personality has not :)

If you're struggling with severely interrupted sleep on a regular basis like we were, my advice is this: read all you can about your options, pray about it if you're the praying kind, and give it time to work before giving up. Don't let anyone tell you there's ONE right way. Even the "experts" don't agree. Nobody has ever had your baby before. You're the expert! Do what feels right for you.

And friends, let me tell you. This sleeping-for-more-than-three-hours-at-a-time-then-snuggling-with-a-happy-baby-by-morning business?

It. feels. so. right.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!


  1. Yeah... what a difference this will make in all your lives! And, how smart you are to know that Bryson's schedule is Bryson's schedule and not what the baby books and blogs say. Afterall, he hasn't read them!

    1. Thanks, Dawn. It's such a crazy change! Now I need to work on getting myself to sleep through the night ;)

  2. Yeah Bryson! And way to go mom and dad!