Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Minutes

How long is this going to take?  How old will our son be before he sleeps through the night comfortably?  I've hesitated in writing this post for a long time because, quite honestly, I don't want or need the judgment of any other moms about this topic.  I'm already stressed enough without hearing the opinions of everyone else on what I should be doing or how I should do things differently.

We've been struggling with sleep, off and on, pretty much from eight (or so) months forward.  As soon as we tried to start getting C. to go to sleep on his own, it became a problem.  It hasn't been a problem throughout every stage and we have had some successful periods with him sleeping through the night for enough nights that I think we've finally broken through.  Then something changes (illness, schedule change, etc.) and the struggle starts again.  I am fully aware that we have played into this problem in some ways.  The simple truth is that neither one of us is good at letting our baby cry.  There are many factors that go into this.  First is the fact that we waited so long for him.  We've already spent enough nights with empty arms and sad hearts.  Listening to our little one cry while we sit in another room, miserable at the sound of his angst, is not something either of us has ever dealt with well.  Couple that with the fact that our little boy, with very few exceptions, is always happy and you can see why it's been a challenge.  When he does get upset, he's dramatic.  He gets huge crocodile tears that melt your heart and make you want to do anything to make them stop.  He knows how to push our buttons well and push them he does.  None of that is to say though, that we haven't done some things "by the book," so to speak.  We've always had a simple bedtime routine and we've tried to stay consistent with things like how long we are willing to let him cry, what we say when we go in to comfort him and so on.  Some might think of us as coddlers but the bottom line for me has always been that I want to parent from an attachment standpoint.  From an adoption perspective, attachment is critical.  From the moment I laid eyes on our tiny baby, I knew that if there was one thing I didn't want to mess up, that was it.  To that end, we have been highly successful; however, C's sleeping habits have been another matter.

None of this is new to me.  I "helped" all of the parents of former children I cared for get their babies to sleep by telling them to let the babies CIO, within reason.  Now I'm wondering if I didn't make things harder for them.  Knowing what I know now about being a mom, I can't help but wonder if I should have just kept my mouth shut back then.  I don't think our efforts with C. have been an utter failure.  He does sleep, he just wants someone to be there with him.  Somewhere along the way, my emotional connection to him got the better of my rational reasoning about how to sleep train a baby.  One thing I've learned is that the very act of being the parent of another human being is rather irrational at times.        

All that said, and with all the ups and downs of this whole process, things have gotten much worse in the past week or so.  I think lots of things are going on.  I think C. is entering a new stage of cognitive development in which he is more aware of our interactions and he's testing his limits, testing us to see what happens when...  I also think he may be teething and/or growing, which can both cause disruptions in sleep patterns.  Add to all that the fact that he will be starting daycare in a couple of weeks, (and you all know how I feel about that) which has made me want to work that much harder to get him to sleep peacefully on his own.  Whew!  Well, it's not that hard to see why the whole thing has gone "tits up" to coin a lovely phrase my husband likes to use when things are really a mess.      

So that brings us to tonight.  I am on the verge of tears as I type this right now.  I just let our son cry himself to sleep for 57 minutes.  You read that right, three minutes short of AN HOUR.  Now I'm thinking, "What have I done?"  I'm a horrible mother...he's going to be scarred for life...on and on.  My rational mind knows he will be fine.  It knows that even if my decisions tonight were a big, fat mistake (which they quite possibly were) he will survive.  What was that thing about motherhood being irrational again? get the point.  He did cry himself to sleep.  He did eventually give up.  The interminable question though, is should I have let him?  I honestly just couldn't do it anymore tonight.  The past couple of weeks, particularly the past three days or so have been exhausting.  Last night I was up until 1:00 with him and then by 4:45 he was in our bed.  He hasn't been napping well either, sleeping in 20-40 minute spurts.  So on one hand, we have an exhausted baby who is clearly not his typical, happy self, coupled with a mama who just needs a break and on the other hand we have a baby who has to scream for nearly an hour before finally falling asleep.  Do you see why this is so hard for me?  Why it seems that either way I go is wrong?  I don't want to coddle him to the point that he thinks he can manipulate us and that he won't nap at daycare...but I'm also not at all happy with letting him cry for that long.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do that again, unless I go outside or something.

I guess the decision of where to go from here will have to be based on what happens next.  Will he make it through the night because he cried himself to sleep, or will it not really matter?  Will he wake up happy and refreshed, or will the screaming resume the second he opens his eyes?  After reading this article and post on Ashely's blog the other day, this has been on my mind a lot. In any case, it's neither here nor there.  I did what I thought was best tonight, and now I'm second guessing myself like crazy.  There en lies part of the problem.  I need to make up my mind on how we're gong to handle the current problems we're having, then we need to be firm and consistent until this phase passes.  I know that in my rational mind but well...what was that thing about motherhood being irrational?

My final thoughts on this are that every child is unique, and as such, they each have unique needs.  Child and parent relationships are unique too, which certainly factors into the equation.  I think I used to think, before becoming a mom, that this wasn't that difficult.  That if you did basically the same thing with any kid, sleeping would become a non-issue.  Only now can I see how wrong I was.  How hard this is from the parenting perspective.  Knowing C. as I do, I realize he is an exceptionally people-oriented child.  He is always in tune to people and what they are doing, saying, etc.  He is a social butterfly.  I honestly think, on a primal level, he doesn't want to be alone.  Therefore, I think that for him, sleeping through the night is harder than it might be for some other children.  Perhaps that's just me justifying the situation in which we now find ourselves, I don't know.  The bottom line though, is that I do know my son better than anyone else out there and I know what does and doesn't work for him...for us.  Now I just have to pair that with my knowledge of child development and my prior experiences and we should be able to solve this problem yet.  There...maybe a little positive energy will go a long way.  I certainly hope so because I am pooped!


Hoping for a Miracle~~ said...

Oh Melba....I so know where you are coming from!!! I let my little guy CIO when he was younger and he has slept through the night since he was 5 weeks that is not to say that we have not had some long nights in there because we have but for the most part unless he doesn't feel good, or might have a bad dream or something just isn't right he does sleep through the night.

Also mind you I had a colic baby for the first 3 I know how frustrating all this can get!! I don't think one way is the right way to teach your child sleep habits, but for us that is what he ended up having to do because he wouldn't sleep...sometimes he would only cry for a little bit but others it would feel like eternity and like you it was close to an hour...the longest nights of my life and I felt like I was doing something so wrong as I sat outside his door peeking in so I knew he was okay...but rest assured he was fine and is fine to this day.

Now 15 months later we have a little boy who mostly goes down for naps without any problem unless we are way overtired then he might fuss for a minute or two but most nights by the time I leave the room he has snuggled himself in and is sound asleep!

If you choose this route to go the first week is going to be hard but I promise you it will get better....but as you said yourself C knows what buttons to push and could be testing you right now!

I will say lots of prayers for you guys to get through this time with C as I know your patience is at its limit and its pulls at your heartstrings! He will be sleeping through the night before you know it! Feel free to email me anytime if you have any questions!!!

Debbie B said...

Been there done that doing that I'm living that, etc.....

Isabel finally started sleeping through the night around 2 and then we moved. We're finally starting to see some improvements in her sleep now, but she's always started off well, just not slept all night long. We're convinced she just wakes up and misses us, because it only takes about a minute to get her back in her bed and she's back to sleep, normally. With him being so social it might be the same thing. One thing a doctor recommended we do was to put pictures in her bed of Dave and I so she could see us if she woke up. Or maybe you could get a motion sensitive cd player that has your voices singing or talking to him. If you find that let me know. :-)

Check out the No Cry Sleep Solution (something like that). Gives you some creative ideas on how to remove yourself from putting him to sleep. Or if you want I'm happy to email you some of their ideas. That's ultimately what helped us get a bedtime routine that works for Isabel.

rlvd said...

worn out mama--- thinking of you!!

interested to hear if the CIO helped matters

Meeghan said...

I had some of those same thoughts pre-children (and maybe some even today, esp. with children at work...working on that :)

There isn't one right answer. Go with your gut. Don't worry about day care. They will figure out what works for C and do it. M was trained to go to sleep on her own when she started daycare at 8 months, but if she cried at all they rocked her to sleep. This was the same for all kids. They did not want one child waking up others.

We did the cry it out thing, but never had to endure a night that long. I don't think I could have handled it. Although I did sit on the proch a few nights :)

Know you are doing a great job. You are a great mom and just trust your instincts, you know best.

Rachel said...

Oh, judgment from this fellow momma. Just prayers for sleep and peace.

We did let Little Man CIO at six months. He cried for 41 minutes. He slept through the night for about a month, then he started waking up and I started rocking him again in the middle of the night. Last week I had to do CIO worked. Again.

But last night he cried and cried and my momma heart couldn't handle it. K & I are going away Saturday night for our first overnight sans-baby, and I had to go rock him to sleep.

Every baby is different. Every momma is different - and that's a good thing.

Wishing you blessed peace and sleep, my friend....

I read that article, too, on Ashley's site. I then cried for like two hours because I had done CIO and I felt like a horrible momma!

Wendy said...

Melba, I'm sorry it's been so hard and C's had so much trouble sleeping. I hope that it gets better for him and for you and your husband. That's hard when nobody is really getting good rest.

You have a lot of changes going on and coming up in your lives - take it one day at a time and give yourself a break, too. Being a mom is wonderful and hard at the same time and you are definitely an amazing mommy.

Richele said...

Oh, Melba - my heart hurts for yours! Wouldn't it be so nice if there was an answer?! I don't know what's right - does anyone? I do know that it hurts to hear them cry. So I hug them. And yes, I'm tired. Fortunately Brandon is a sleeper, so I'll be on Fletch hug duty and Mike will be on Jess hug duty. And then we'll switch.

At night, we read three books, sing two songs, then take turns tucking them in and lying them down (again, and again, and again) and then we're out the door. Fletch and Jess definitely cry the hardest, but it doesn't last long. They are just sad to see us go. 15 minutes was always my max, I offer a hug and lie them back down again. I do the same thing in the middle of the night. I don't wait 15 minutes, though, in the middle of the night. If it's a whimper (usually Jess) it is short-lived and she goes back to sleep. If it's a scared-y-cry (usually Fletch) we run in and hug him. He settles quickly, I lie him down, and he cries then falls right back to sleep.

I don't know if we're spoiling them or making them terrible sleepers or what. I just don't know.


How's that for a large amount of some non-help?

It's the thought that counts, though - thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Melba! I totally get it. I had a rough night last night, too. We have been inconsistent CIOers and that is pretty much how she sleeps, too. Inconsistently well. For a long time, she would go to bed awake and not make a peep. Then she got sick, then we went on vacation. It was all over. We were letting her CIO way past my comfort level, but I didn't know what else to do. I was stressed to the till.

Then she just switched. After we read, I would rock her for less than five minutes and sing her soft songs and lay her down drowsy. But it had to be the right moment.

I don't know what happened last night. It didn't go well and I spent the night with her in the guest room because I just couldn't listen to her cry.

Here is my opinion. Most kids are going to have cycles of good and bad sleep. Anytime a sickness, vacation, move or similar stressful even occurs, they are going to have some regression. I think it will just be a never ending battle until they are 5 or so. I am sure that makes you feel better, huh?

You have to do what you have to do. I do not for a second believe that if you choose to let C CIO, it will have negative affects on him or your relationship. Do what feels right (and what helpd you all get the best sleep!).

I'm with you, my friend. I hope you got more sleep last night than I did.


Melba said...

Thanks to all you great ladies for your help and support, and my IRL friends too, you know who you are. It helps so much to know we're not alone and to hear your affirmations.

The CIO didn't work at all. He was up again by 12:45 and I must (shamefully) tell you that at that point, we caved. He came in our room and stayed there for the rest of the night, despite my best intentions of moving him back. I was/am not thrilled about that but it is what it is. I just couldn't/wouldn't listen to him cry anymore.

Today is a new day and we will keep trying, keep plugging away.

Happily, he IS napping as I type this. He cried for a few minutes when he went to bed, which turned into a happy/sleepy babble. He kept that up for a good while, maybe 15 minutes or so but I went about my business and left him be. By the time I came back in from putting the clothes on the line, he was asleep. That was over an hour ago and I'm feeling a little bit less like a failure and more like a mom who is doing the best she can! :)


Ashley said...

This post was so hard to read because I think we ALL know, in some form, how you feel. We all know our children need adequate sleep. The hard thing is, like Bri said, kids go through great and not-so-great sleep cycles. It's figuring out that magic solution to get them back in that good sleep cycle. All I can say is, hang in there. Trust your mommy gut. If you do continue with CIO, know that it takes a few days. If not, that's cool and good luck with you all getting good sleep.

Hugs, babe. It will get better!

Tracey... said...

It can be frustrating....MONTHS 1-3 WERE I can't imagine what no sleep or lack of sleep would be like at this point too....i am so sorry....anyway...

CIO works to a point and I will let Sam go for maybe a 20- or tops 30 minutes, but after that I go in rock him again for maybe 5 an leave again...On our worst night I've had to do that 3 or 4 times.

You are doing great and I think baby's life is full of stages and we just have to take each one day by day and deal with them as they come.

Good luck and lots of prayers...I'll send you a STARBUCKS gift need the caffeine!!!

Kel said...

Hang in there mama! I'm in the same boat, and I agree with BB,it's all a cycle.

Christine said...

Hugs* we all have been there in some way, maybe not sleep issues but made decisions that we felt guilty for, didn't know how to handle...

I can feel your exhaustion though, and you did what you needed to do. You know your boy best, and together you'll figure it out just in time for another lesson to be learned.

The thing I will say, though, is that THIS is the age that they learn how to get what they want, and this is the time to start kinda putting your foot down, because the later it gets the harder to start setting boundaries. That being said, it's not like there's a deadline, or you're going to ruin anything by giving in for a while longer, because you know what decisions need to be made in what circumstances.
Good luck melba, you're such a good mother who obviously loves her son very much, you're doing good

H said...

I TOTALLY agree that every baby is different, and you've gotta do what's best in your house! I have a problem that I can't seem to find anyone else having...or at least no one is writing about's not getting K to sleep, because she goes down super's getting her to sleep through, because she wakes up EVERY NIGHT between three and four, and she hasn't eaten in the middle of the night for the past three months! So my point is, no article should be able to tell us "how things should be done", because the last time I checked, I'm the one who lives at my house, and I know her better than anyone, just as you know C better. Sheesh...just what we need, more pros telling us how it's done. Hoping that you get the rest you need and C gets some happy sleep! Hang in there! And praying for your new schedule coming up, BTW.

Patti said...

Ahhh, sleep.
Jeb has never slept through the night in his own bed, and he is 2 years and 8 months old. We've done some CIO here and there, with moderate success, but something always mucks it up-- teeth, developmental changes, we moved a couple of times, blah blah blah. We have "flare ups" where for a week or 2 sleep will be esp bad, and I usually get to my breaking point and say "that's IT! we are sleep training!!" and it sucks for a few nights and then works for a few nights and then I'm rested enough to say to myself "eh? we're fine, he won't be little like this forever..."
I fully realize I am inconsistant at times which doesn't help, but I know my kid, and as his needs change, so does my parenting. Jeb was never going to be a good sleeper. He is who he is, just like I can't take credit for his awesome temperment or great sense of humor.
I also thought I knew a lot before I was a mom. Being a mom has helped me be so much more open and understanding toward other people. My good friend once said "I was a much better mom before I had kids". SO TRUE!
I don't know if ANY of this is helpful, but I sure can empathize. Keep loving your kid, this will pass.

Denver Jen said...

I really feel for you. Sleep deprivation is such torture and getting your child to sleep is so hard because there is so much conflicting information and every child is different. Nora has been sleeping through the night (unless there is a developmental/illness reason) and I think a lot of it has to do with daycare. She only naps for 30 - 40 mins. the entire time she is at daycare. This is bothersome to me but we have not yet been able to remedy it. However, she's so tired by the time evening rolls around that we are able to very easily put her down and she sleeps all night. Having him in that new setting with lots of stimulation might make sleep a little easier for the both of you. Daycare is really hard so at least you can think of that positive:). Hang in there!

TXMom2B said...

Andrew didn't sleep through the night reliably until 14 months, and that was when we started CIO at about 8 months. I came to realize that he just needed to wind down. Even now, at 22 months, he fusses and plays for at least 30 minutes, usually an hour, before conking out on his own. I think some kids are just like that, whereas others fall asleep more quickly. Big hugs! I, too, am trying to find a one-size-fits-all sleep solution for when we bring our second child home soon, but I know it just doesn't work that way. Almost as soon as I had an answer for Andrew, he changed or something happened and I had to figure it out all over again.

Lane said...

Sending a hug your way! The second-guessing yourself is the worst. I heard a "parent's bill of rights" the other day, and one that smacked me upside the head was "you have the right to make mistakes as a parent." I am totally NOT saying your sleep approach was a mistake (it sounds reasonable to me), but I'm saying that whatever you do, even if it doesn't work out the way you expected and changes from time to time, it will all work out in the end, and you are still an awesome mom. Hang in there!

Sally Bacchetta said...

One of the first things our pediatrician said after our daughter was born was, "There is very little concretely 'right' or 'wrong' in parenting. What you need to do is find what works in your family." Now, five years later, I'm still following his advice.

I've never been comfortable with CIO; my husband has always been. So, he agreed not to criticize me for going into the kids' rooms during the night, and I agreed not to be a witch the next day or complain about my lack of sleep. That works for our family.

I've had success by comforting the kids when they need it in the night, but always in THEIR rooms. Illness, teething, new developmental stages... these things usually had me sacked out on the floor next to the crib, often holding a tiny hand through the crib rails, but at least they stayed in their rooms, so we didn't have to break the "sleeping in Mom & Dad's bed" habit later.

That has worked great for us, but then again, that's just us. :) You are not alone!

Thinking of you, Sally

Jamie said...

hi melba ~ just thinking of you and hoping the nights have gotten better since you posted this. :) it's so hard to know exactly what to do sometimes....milo has slept pretty well since about 6 mo but he only sleeps at home. he won't nap or sleep ANYWHERE else which makes traveling or being anywhere else at naptime really really difficult. :( we were out of town for christmas last year for a week and he didn't sleep the whole time we were gone.....completely exhausting! we just went to a family reunion and the same thing happened....makes me want to just stay home all the time ~ but of course we can't do that. ;) i actually wished SO much that we had "trained" milo to sleep WITH us so that we could sleep even when we're not at home. the only place he sleeps is in his crib, lights out, fan on, door closed. nice at home but not so nice other times. we just do the best we can and know that eventually and some point in their little life....they WILL sleep. ;)
hang in there ~ just wanted to say hi and offer some support.