I'm back! I very rarely post on our blog, but I've been pretty surprised lately at some of the messages I've gotten on Facebook about my experience cloth diapering, sleep training Noah, and other things pretty much related to being a mom. So, my thought is, if people have questions, I'll be glad to help, and post them on our blog!!
This morning I posted a status on Facebook about Noah sleeping through the night for the first time ever. He is 10 1/2 months old. I'm sure some people are thinking, 'man, what took so long', and others are thinking 'what in the world did she have to do to accomplish that'. I even had a couple of private messages about it, and one debate about 'sleep training' and the cry it out method. Although, as a parent, I don't have to explain my parenting choices to anyone, I find it necessary in this instance to explain myself, because it may help that mom, that family, that is going through what we have gone through the last 10 months. So this blog post isn't to validate my reasoning to the nay-sayers, but rather to hopefully let other moms know, IT'S OKAY, you are doing a GREAT JOB, no matter what your choices are as a parent.
Since Noah was born I have been a happy breastfeeding mama. It wasn't easy at first. I cried every time he nursed because it was so painful for me in the beginning. Don't let this discourage you if you are deciding to breastfeed or not! The pain doesn't last, and for some moms, it isn't painful at all. Anyway, that's a whole other blog post. I nurse on command, anytime Noah seems to want the breast, he gets it. We don't necessarily schedule nursing sessions, but they have always happened about every 3 hours or less, depending on his wants and needs. This also means, since he was born, every time he wakes at night, I nurse him back to sleep. Every, single, time. There were times around 2/3 months, that Noah was only getting up 1/2 times per night. But since about 4 months, he was getting up at least 3 times per night, and sometimes more. As we neared 10 months, he starting getting up 4/5 times per night, and I was becoming more and more exhausted every day. At Noah's 9 month pediatric appointment, our sweet pediatrician suggested crying it out. We have gotten to know one another well enough, that she understood I am more of an attachment style parent, and I think she knew I was going to resist. She has a 3 year old of her own, and she explained her experience with crying it out. How she felt like a horrible parent, cried herself as she listened to her baby cry, but after 2 nights, had a child that was sleeping through the night. Carl and I talked about it, but after some discussion, I just couldn't do it, and I continued to get up 4+ times per night. Noah slept in his crib, but most nights, he would end up in our bed, because I was too tired to keep getting up to walk to his room. Even in our bed, he woke constantly, and I got zero sleep because I couldn't get comfortable. Bed sharing just didn't work for us.
As the weeks went own, things got tough at home. I was irritable, easily frustrated, and my lack of patience with Carl and Noah was obvious. I was even starting to feel hopeless and worried I may be experiencing some late onset postpartum depression. I even went to see a doctor, who suggested medication, but I didn't want to take anything, so I changed my diet and tried to exercise instead, hoping that would help. Although the eating and exercising did make me feel better, I was still not a very nice person to be around. Each day when Carl got home from work, I couldn't wait to hand Noah off to him. All I wanted to do was go to bed, which meant Carl and I were not having anytime together. Then, I gave in. I knew something had to be done. I researched things myself, and decided I wanted to sleep train, but I didn't want to leave Noah alone to cry it out. I just couldn't stomach it.
So, night 1, a Sunday night. I found an article about a crying it out method where mom was involved. At about 5:30, I gave Noah his bath, read him a couple of books, nursed him (but didn't let him fall asleep), then put him down in his crib. He immediately started crying. My heart was already breaking. I pulled a chair up to the side of his crib and sang to him, read to him, and patted his little back through the crib all while he cried and cried. This lasted for an hour. He stood up almost the entire time, clinging to the side of the crib, but I comforted myself, knowing that I was still there for him, not leaving the room. After an hour, he laid down, and fell fast asleep at 7:30. At 10:30 he was up again. Carl and I alternated going into the room, talking to him, even picking him up sometimes, but I wouldn't nurse him. He cried and cried, and Carl and I both had doubts about our will to go on. At about 11:45, we both left his room, closed the door, and after 10 more minutes, he fell fast asleep. The remainder of the night, he woke twice more, cried for less than 2 minutes each time, and fell back asleep on his own. The next day, Monday, for Noah's naps, I followed the same rule. I read him a book, nursed him, but not to sleep, and put him in his crib. I checked on him every 5-10 minutes while he cried, until he finally fell asleep on his own. On Monday night, we went to a Christmas party with Noah in tow. He fell asleep in the car on the way home, and slept soundly when Carl moved him to his crib. He slept the entire night without waking once, and slept until 8:15 the next morning. Unbelievable!!
So there you have it, that's how we did it. For us, it took 1 night, and 1 day of sleep training. I'm not crazy, I know there will still be nights he wakes up, and we will keep with our training. This isn't over, but we have found a solution for our family. And that is the point of this post. Every family is different. What works for us, may not work for you, and that is okay. No matter what decision you make, it's your decision, and what works for you is the best decision for you. Nap times during the day are still a struggle for us, as well as getting Noah down initially at night. But we will figure that out too, but now with sleep under our belts. ;)
The last 2 days, with more sleep than I have had in 10 months, I feel like a completely different person. I can function through the day, I can be a better mom and wife. I am eager to play with Noah, and love on him constantly, because I am rested. When Carl gets home, I am not exhausted, and we are able to watch a movie together and actually have a conversation. This is what is working for us. Find what works for you!
Note: I am not an expert, so please talk to your pediatrician about your sleep solution. I am just a regular ol' mom who is figuring it out as a go :)