We knew the 25 minute cat naps and marathon rocking session were not sustainable. The cat naps would never be sufficient, and the marathon rocking session was isolating, depressing, and consumed so much time. I know, I know. You do what your baby needs. We get that, but we also get that there comes a time when it's no longer about the health and happiness of just the child alone, but the health and happiness of the family. Fact: if I'm exhausted and depressed, I will not be giving my daughter the care she needs, and she will suffer for it. We couldn't let her continue in her chronic, sleep-deprived state, and we needed to start addressing the impact it was having on the health of the family, especially me. So we decided to do sleep training.
I'm calling it nap training though, because nighttime sleep hasn't been quite as big a problem as naps. We decided on full-extinction cry it out (CIO). This is not without controversy. You can read horror stories for days, and there are those who maintain it's more or less child abuse. If that's your view, it's OK, but no study has show any detrimental affects to the development of the child, and unless you can show me one, let it suffice that it's what we decided would work for our family, and you're entitled to your (hopefully well-informed) opinion. There are loads of resources on sleep and nap training, so I'm not going to go too deeply into the "how" of CIO. We've been reading "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. It was recommended to us by numerous friends who have kids who sleep well and is based on loads of medical data.
We started last Sunday night (it's Wednesday as I write this), and I am overjoyed to share with you that as I check our sleep log and the baby monitor, The Baby is going on two and a half hours of uninterrupted daytime sleep! That's right baby, SHE WENT THE FUCK BACK TO SLEEP!!!
I wanted to write a post on Monday, because Monday really fucking sucked. She did OK Sunday night, went down smoothly for her first nap of the day Monday (one hour after waking, as usual) and was awake 30 minutes later, again as usual, but this time, she was on her own to sort it out. She was awake but pretty happy for 30 minutes, and then cried for another 30 before we got her up. Lather, rinse, and repeat for the rest of the day. Listening to your child cry when you know it's in your power to make it stop makes you not only feel like a bad parent but a horrible human being. The Wife and I did a pretty good job of keeping each other strong though (Jesus did I win the lottery every day when I landed her). Sleep training is all about long-term benefit. The Baby needed more sleep, and that wasn't gonna happen unless she acquired the skills to do it. So Monday sucked.
Monday night was pretty typical. The Baby got tired around 7:00 and went down for a cat nap as usual. She was up again 30 minutes later for a final feeding, diaper change, and then right back down. The rest of the night was pretty typical, except when she woke as usual at 5:30, we didn't get up. We know from experience that's not her "awake for the day" time, and as we hoped, she squawked for about 15 minutes and then went back to sleep until 6:30 when we got up.
Naps on Tuesday were better. She was already noticeably better at putting herself to sleep for her first sleep cycle. There were a couple times after setting her down that I was sure she wasn't going to do it, but she did, every time. Sleep for 30, wake, squawk for a little while, and then she finally managed to get herself back to sleep for another sleep cycle, unassisted, for the first time that we could remember. Parenting is all about little victories, and that was a big little victory.
Today is better yet, with even more improvement in getting herself to sleep. I also need to call out a product here - Baby Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit. We've only used it once, so take this with a big grain of salt, but we just got The Baby up after a solid two hour nap. After a while, I thought she'd either stopped breathing or the feed on the baby monitor had cut out, because I'd never seen her stay motionless for that long during the day. I'm not ready to call the suit a magic bullet, but if this last nap is repeated, I won't hesitate to say it.
That's it for now. We're so proud of The Baby!