Sleep Training, or Why I spent the night at Bobby’s Saturday night…

So before the folks who are “anti-CIO” whomp on me, let me share the following scenario:

Malka’s bedtime routine is lovely – the three B’s: “Bath, Bottle, Book,” and a lot of snuggling, singing, rocking and in about 10 minutes – BAM – out like a light.

For about 2 hours. Wash, rinse, repeat. Except the falling BACK asleep took about 1.5 hours.

For about 2.5 hours. Wash, rinse, repeat. Except the falling BACK asleep took about 1 hour.

For about 3 hours. Wash, rinse, repeat. Up for the day at 5:15 or so am.

And Narda, the world’s BEST partner, took the lion’s share of nights, as I was on duty with Malka ALL DAY LONG, who, by the by, would only take 40 minute naps, and sometimes a 2 hour nap IF we were lucky. I am now back at work, and Narda’s on day duty for the summer.

Through it all, Malka is STILL a mostly happy baby, but her cranky moments were getting bigger and bigger and bigger. All due to sleep deprivation – not ours, but HERS.

Her pediatrician recommended sleep training about a month ago, but we weren’t ready, we thought she was too little, and wanted to wait for her to be at least 5 months. Her babysitter said she is SO ready for sleep training, she just needs to learn to soothe herself to sleep – she’s almost there, but keeps waking herself up…

So we make a plan. We’ll do the “combo method” (Ferber/Weisbluth). We’ll check on her in 5, then 10, and then 15 minutes, and we’ll feed her AFTER midnight. (As one of the doctor’s in the ped’s office said: “she has ‘reserves,’ she’ll be fine.”)

Friday night we are all set, I’m a wee nervous – we do the 3 B’s, and instead of rocking her to sleep, we snuggle a bit more, put her down in her crib, sing a few songs to her, hand on belly, tell her how much we love her. And leave.the.room.

My heart begins to break into a million little pieces already, but I’m a strong woman, and it’s “all good.” She cries for about 5 minutes, and is OUT.LIKE.A.LIGHT. We look at one another, and think – No, SURELY, it can’t be THIS easy – but we even watch a movie. I pop up to go in and check on her every 45 minutes or so, just to make sure she’s OK. So she went to sleep at 7:45pm. After the movie, I go to bed, pop in the ear plugs, and settle my head down on the pillow. It’s about 11pm now. And she wakes up. Crying. I pop up, remove the earplugs, and instinctually start for her room. Narda says to wait a few minutes, to see if she will calm herself. We do the 5, 10, 15. But wait – I can BARELY make it to 5, and I start crying, saying, “I’ll do nights until she’s 30, I HAVE to go into my baby.” And Narda doing her best to console ME, when we need to focus on consoling Malka. We go in, and put hands on her belly, lovingly, I’m fighting back tears, we tell her we love her, and we leave the room after she settles. She starts crying again. I lose it. I envision all kinds of awful, evil things that are happening to my baby, I’m picturing years of therapy for abandoment issues, all kinds of horrible things. I literally push Narda out of the way, crying hysterically and pick up Malka, holding her closer than I ever have before. I tell Narda to make a bottle, I feed Malka, (still crying, mind you), and rock her to sleep. She’s asleep from midnight to 2:30am, and I go to her again, and feed her. She goes back down at 3:20 or so, and is asleep until about 4:30am, where I go in and rock her back to sleep, and she’s good until 6am; where I make Narda take her for a bit, and I sleep.

Realizing that sleep training is a complete and total disaster for me, we decide that I’ll spend the night at Bobby’s Saturday night, and be home by 6am where I’ll take the morning shift. It was Bobby’s birthday, and a bunch of us went out for dinner. It was my FIRST “night out” since having Malka in our lives, and MAN, was I POOPED by 10pm. And dinner wasn’t served until 11. The two glasses of wine, and the constant calls to Narda helped. I bowed out at about 11:40 or so, kissed all goodnight, and took a cab to Bobby’s where I played with Biscuit for about 10 minutes (She has the CUTEST little butt wiggle – she wiggles her ENTIRE hind end when she’s happy – I can’t even begin to describe the cuteness) And I’m out by midnight, up at 6, and in a cab home.

So basically what transpired Saturday night was: we put Malka to bed at 7:40, and I left for dinner with Bobby. She slept until 8:20. She woke up screaming, and it took about 28 minutes of demonic posessed screaming and she went back out. (Narda’s recount of the events, not my words) She slept until 11:50pm. She woke up crying, and continued to do so for about 10 minutes. She woke back up at 1:50am, Narda fed her, and she cried from 2:00 to 2:15, and then was out from 2:15 to 6am. When I came home and was with Malka at this point.

Sunday was a completely new chapter, however! She took 2 AMAZING naps yesterday – from 10:30am to 11:50am, and from 2:15pm to 4:50pm! We put her to bed at 8pm, after our 3 B’s and LOTS of snuggling and singing, and she was asleep in 3 minutes. She didn’t wake up until 1:50am. That’s 6 hours folks! Narda fed her, and she was back asleep in less than 30 minutes – from waking to diaper change to bottle feed and back asleep – LESS than 30 minutes! She started squaking/talking at 5:37am, but stopped at 5:47am. She’s STILL asleep, and it’s 7:30am. We’re looking at 11 out of 12 hours here. I AM IN SHOCK.

It actually WORKS. I was a mess, but I can now tolerate 5 minutes of whiny crying when just 3 days ago, I could not. Malka is learning to soothe herself to sleep, which is a VERY important lesson we all need to learn. The best part? Malka wakes up HAPPY and content. She is now about to wake up, as I just heard a noise, but hey – I’ll take 11 out of 12 ANY day, as opposed to 7 out of 12 on most days. It’s MUCH healthier for Malka to sleep longer than she had been.

We’ll see how each day continues, but I think we are on the road to healthy sleep for ALL of us…

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10 thoughts on “Sleep Training, or Why I spent the night at Bobby’s Saturday night…

  1. Congratulations! I’m convinced that it’s all about finding something that works for the parents and the kid. Following any theory rotely (is that a word, even?) if it’s not working well is silly, but figuring out what will work, that’s smart. 🙂

    Of course, we’re dealing with a kid who doesn’t have the ability to have normal self-soothing. The problem is that we don’t know what she CAN do. The quickest she falls back to sleep is if we run in there the second she stirs and pop her binky back in for her (she’s swaddled, so she can’t do it herself). We’re trying to convince ourselves to try something new, though, to see if she’ll sleep better in the first part of the night. (She doesn’t have much in the way of “reserves”, so it’s hard to deny her bottles, even though she’d be fine.)

    ANYWAY! Congrats to you and Narda and Malka! Here’s to many happy 12-hr-nights.

  2. Sleep training is fabulous and much better when you can do it now than when they can crawl out of their beds and really cause a real riot. Good job!! It will not only help her…but her moms will get much more sleep, too.

  3. Glad that Malka is sleeping so well – that didn’t take long at all! And a sleeping baby is a very very good thing.

  4. Yah for miss Malka and for you all.

    It’s kind of funny that Ferber just completely withdrew his whole theory of sleep training. (one of the local papers had an article on it) From talking to many parents it seems to really work.

    So glad she’s learning the self soothe.

  5. I’m sorry it was so stressful for you. The day the pediatrician sent us home and told us to do that was the Worst Day Ever (she was like 4 weeks old and it was completely ridiculous…).

    Now, of course, we know that she wasn’t sleeping because she was starving, but I digress…

    I’m glad to know that it really does work when then time is right. Yay for all of you!

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