PT 2: The Hows of our Sleep Training Process

PT 2:
The How
I read several first-hand accounts of sleep training and decided what method I wanted to do. Many moms said it was vital to get the husband on board for help and support – but I knew my husband and just as I had been, he was 100% against CIO. So I had to do it without him. It definitely made it harder, but even though he helped a lot, I was the one facing the brunt of Cobi’s sleep patterns {or lack thereof}.
I decided to try a modified Ferber method; which basically entails 5, 10 and 15-minute checks once you lay them down. I say modified because the one thing I wanted through all of this was not to feel guilty, but to feel like I was genuinely helping him. I told myself that I needed to stay true to myself as a person and especially as his mother. Anytime I felt like it wasn’t going well, I wasn’t going to follow some rulebook on what I can and cannot do – I need to trust my instincts. I did, and that’s why I have no regrets. You will notice in the sleep logs those places I “broke the rules” because I felt uncomfortable.
This is what the first night looked like:
Night 1 - August 14, 2012
7:00 pm started bedtime routine: nursing, bath, lotion massage, PJs, books, song, prayers
8:02 - laid in bed swaddled- immediately crying
8:06 - did a check, kissed his head, said I love you, gave pacifier, walked away - cried harder
8:12 - check
8:17 - kiss, check and pat - caved and nursed him for 2 minutes to calm him down. He screamed even harder when I laid him back down.
8:23 - another check
8:30 - another check, kiss, pat, say I love you and goodnight
8:36 - did check, he had kicked and thrashed so much he was wedged into the corner of the crib. Unswaddled him, put him in a warm sleeper, kissed and said goodnight. Fussed and squirmed - no crying.
8:43 - silence...
2:20 - awake, nursed
2:40 - back in bed
2:42 asleep
7:15 - awake for the day

The first night it took 41 minutes of crying to him to fall asleep and he slept 5 hours and 37 minutes, which was a vast improvement! He then slept another 4 hours and 33 minutes. I was so encouraged when the first night went so well that I even braved telling my husband what I did. He was amazed he’d slept so well, but still skeptical. On to night 2.

Night 2 - August 15, 2012

bath, pjs, massage, song and nursing-
6:45 laid in bed
asleep right away
7:40 - awake, squirms in crib on and off
7:53 - crying, do a check, kiss, tummy pat, pacifier
7:56 - asleep
8:06 - crying
8:08 - check, pat tummy... he was crying REALLY hard so I picked him up, held him & kissed him. then laid him back down
8:16 - quiet, but not asleep
8:20 - asleep
3:30 - awake, nursed,
3:54- back in bed, asleep
7:15 awake for the day

The second night I nursed him before laying him down instead, and he became so drowsy that he fell right to sleep when I laid him down however he work up about an hour later and we had to do it all over again. But his sleep again was awesome, he only woke up once to eat.

I was really hoping that by night three the crying would be drastically improved.

Night 3 - August 16, 2012

got home 7:40 - diaper, pjs, kisses, nursing
8:04 - in bed, talking/fussing
8:08 - crying
8:15 - did a check, stroked his head, rubbed his tummy and chest, kissed him and gave him his pacifier. He calmed down
8:17 - crying
8:34 - went in, picked him up, nursed him and soothed him. He was crying REALLY hard and thrashing in his crib. My gut instinct told me he needed his mother. He calmed down. I didn't nurse him to sleep, but when I laid him down, he was calm.
8:36 - asleep
3:30 - awake, nursed
3:48 - back in bed, asleep
6:47 - awake for the day

This time is took 34 minutes for him to go to sleep, he slept about 7 hours and then another 3.

Night 4:

diaper, pjs, books, sing soft lullabies, bedtime prayer and kisses
8:35 - laid in bed
8:36 - crying
8:42 - shushed, pacifier, kissed
8:46 - crying
8:56 - check, kissed, pacifier, tummy rub
8:57 - crying
9:04 - stopped crying
9:06 - asleep
4:47- awake, nursed
5:03- back in crib, asleep within two minutes
8:03- awake for the day

Time: 31 minutes to fall asleep.
Sleep: 7 hours, 41 minutes + 3 hours

Even though his night sleep was a huge improvement – in fact I was amazed and felt so great myself; I still felt like it shouldn’t be taking 30 minutes for him to fall asleep after four days. Even so I figured maybe he just needed a little longer so I continued on and his pattern was very similar for the next few days. Once we made it to seven days and it was still taking 30 minutes for him to fall asleep I decided to modify my approach. I had read about the extinction method before and hated the sound of it; however my son did seem to be even more angered when I went in during “checks”. It was almost like he felt betrayed, he would look at me while crying and seem to say, “How can you stand there and do nothing!” It was morbidly heartbreaking.

I decided after that first week to try the extinction method.

Night 8 - August 21, 2012

6pm - started routine
6:37 - in bed, crying
7:01 - quiet
7:05 - asleep
11:16-awake, nursed
11:25 laid in bed, cried
11:26- asleep
4:13 - awake, nursed
4:32 - asleep in bed
7:32 - awake for the day

Time: 29 minutes
Sleep: 4 hours, 11 minutes + 4 hours, 47 minutes + 3 hours

Night 9 - August 22, 2012

6:15 - started playing quietly, then routine.
7:07 - laid in bed
7:21 - he banged his head on the crib slats and cried really hard, went in to soothe him and just held him for awhile.
7:29 - laid back down, not crying.
7:32 - asleep
10:40- awake, fussing. Didn't go to him
10:49- asleep
10:58- awake. Left him.
11:02- dang it Daniel went in there
11:15- asleep
4:52- awake, nursed- he was cold I put socks on him
5:20- asleep
9:20-awake for the day

Time: 25 minutes
Sleep: Was a little tumultuous and the husband disrupted it. I’m not sure whether to count his early wake ups as wakes or not?
3 hours, 8 minutes + 9 minutes + 5 hours 38 minutes + 4 hours

That was the last tumultuous night and then his sleep improved. He stopped having his early-night wake ups and would sleep straight until his middle of the night feeding which was usually 4am. His bedtime varied depending on when he woke up from his last nap but in general he was sleeping 8 hours and then another 4. Only a few weeks later he had his first night of sleeping 11+ hours straight, and during his seventh month he was doing it consistently a couple times a week.

What would you have done differently:
I researched my options and had tried all the “gentle” methods from months 3-6 and nothing worked for my son. I wouldn’t have had the strength to start with extinction and I needed to learn what worked for Cobi specifically because every baby is so different. After learning that he had a harder time when I would perform checks, that’s when we made the switch and I’m glad we did.

Talk about your modified approach:
Like I said earlier I really needed to be comfortable with whatever method I was using. Those nights that you see in the log where I “broke the rules” and comforted or soothed him – I do not regret one bit. I knew at that time as his mother that he genuinely needed me and wasn’t crying just from being tired or left alone. He was either scared or hurt. Sure, I do think it drew out the sleep-training process and that may be why it took us closer to two weeks to see permanent improvement and results. However this was of the utmost importance to me and I am so happy I did it this way.

What was your husband’s reaction:
It only took a few days for him to be on board with it. I was having a really hard time emotionally; and I did need his support and strength so I had to tell him that. He stepped up, even though he didn’t initially agree with what I was doing; he trusted me as a mother and his wife and that was enough for me. As he saw Cobi’s sleep and overall happiness improving he slowly started to change his mind and at the end of the two weeks he was a believer. I know that he agrees that sleep-training isn’t for everyone but he agrees it was the right thing to do in our situation.

How is sleep now:
Cobi is 7.5 months old, so it's been about 7 weeks since we sleep-trained and he sleeps fantastic. This week has been a little bumpy but that's because we moved and had a busy weekend of traveling. However he is well rested and has an established nap schedule. We are all happy and no longer sleep deprived. Of course there are off days; busy days, sick days etc that change his sleep for the better or worse but in general he is consistent and will sleep 12 hours with one wake up to nurse.

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