I started reading Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. It turns out I’m fairly French in my parenting style, but I’ve obviously forgotten a thing or two about getting babies to sleep through the night and blend into the family’s general schedule. Basically, I’ve let the whole world revolve around the babies, and that has not done the rest of us a lick of good. I know why it’s happened, but it needs to stop. My level of frustration has reached a peak. Something has to give. He has to learn to sleep. He’s going to be a year old in a couple of weeks, and this just isn’t acceptable. And that means Henry has to be on the receiving end of some tough love.
Later, when I put Henry down for his nap, he slept for exactly 48 minutes. He needed a good two hours, but he stirred, heard another noise, noticed I wasn’t there, and got up to start bawling. I was never able to get him back to sleep via the no-cry ideas, even though he was obviously still tired, and by then, he’d woken his sister, too. Yippee.
Being extremely tired, he fell asleep on his own at 6:30 that night. He woke up crying at 7:30 and I nursed him. “This is your last nursing till early morning,” I told him. “I need you to understand that. No matter how much it hurts the both of us, we’re going to have to tough this out.” I planned to nurse him at 2-3am if he woke then, but not before. No comfort nursing. He fell asleep at my breast and I tucked him back in.
The elder children and I watched three episodes of Friday Night Lights, and he woke up screaming again at 10:30, just before the show ended. I picked him up and cuddled him and he melted into my body. “I love you, little guy, but no nursing.” He cried for a long time, even though I was holding him. Eventually, we tucked ourselves into bed together. I reviewed the techniques in The No-Cry Sleep Solution while he continued his protestations. The irony was not lost on me. Eventually, he stopped crying, and I put him back in his crib when he was calm. It was midnight before he fell asleep to the sound of his own fussy noises and my intermittent shushing.
True to my word, I nursed him – quickly – as promised when he woke at 2:25. He went back to sleep easily and stayed asleep, but this is also typical. He doesn’t usually wake in the early morning hours. He woke up a little when his dad got up, and David, unaware of my new sleep training plan, brought him out to the kitchen. I’d have left him there, since he was quiet; Henry looked like he wasn’t ready to be up just yet.
Henry was tired all morning from a premature wake-up, but I kept him up till almost lunch time. We ate our meal on the patio, and while I was lingering in the sunshine, Davey poked his head out to tell me Henry was crying. I checked my watch. 12:30. An hour. I went in to try to put him back down a la the no-cry method. Henry was so happy to see me, he did not go back to sleep.
By dinner time, he was more than ready for bed, but we still had quite a lot of evening to get through. He had his bath, then we went upstairs to remake the bed Evie had wet that morning. Henry likes it upstairs, so he was fairly happy, and I read the stories in the girls’ bedroom instead of the living room. He was nursed and asleep in his bed by 8:30. Just after 9:00, he woke up crying. I was not prepared just then for going to bed, so I began to gather my books and water and whatnot. In the few minutes it took me to get to the bedroom, he had laid himself back down and he was just fussy-crying. I quietly left my things by the door and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and change. By the time I finished that, he was sound asleep. Huh. Perhaps that “pause” I was reading in about in Bringing Up Bebe really works.
I read in bed for a while, and he woke up again about 45 minutes after his last round. He cried more persistently this time, but I was curious what he’d do if left alone, so I left him alone. He wasn’t even really looking at me, just standing up and laying down, crying and stopping. After a few minutes, he didn’t get up again. He hiccuped once or twice, then fell asleep, and stayed that way. Very interesting.
He woke up again at 1:15, and he cried for five whole minutes, the longest five minutes of my life. I wondered if I should nurse him now, even though it wasn’t 2 o’clock yet. Crying makes you thirsty. He finally laid back down, but he didn’t go to sleep. He tossed and turned, and when he started crying again 20 minutes later, I got up and changed and nursed him. He sucked only half-heartedly, so I know he wasn’t really hungry, but I don’t feel badly about the nursing. He didn’t wake again after that until David got out of bed just before 8.
David, as instructed, ignored his son and snuck out of the room while Henry wasn’t looking. Henry fell back asleep. He woke for the morning at 8:45.
That pause between crying and attending to the cries is vital. It’s fairly natural when baby is sleeping in another room down the hall: I have to first wake up, convince myself to get up, walk to where baby sleeps and then attend to him or her. Often, by the time I get there, baby will have quieted down, and I am free to go back to bed. But when baby is sleeping right at the foot of my bed? I jump up right away to attend to his needs, real or imagined, and that has set us up for some very bad sleep habits. How long is this “pause”? I’m thinking that ten minutes is not unreasonable, maybe even 15, but this all depends on the nature of the cries. He is very good at working himself into hysterics pretty quickly. However, none of Henry’s cries lasted for more than a few minutes last night, none sounded particularly urgent, and I suspect that, if I continue to wait, his wakings will decrease, or, at least, he’ll quit letting me know about it every time he rolls over.
It’s actually best if I am unseen and unheard while he’s attempting to settle himself. I am not a help or a comfort. I am a crutch. If he sees me or hears me, he wants me and will not be consoled until he has me, so I really, really need to adhere to this “pausing” business.
Five minutes is an eternity in the dark with nothing to do but listen to baby! I have to watch the clock and keep telling myself that it hasn’t been that long, that he’ll be okay. And obviously we’re at crying it out vs. the no-cry method. I think he’s too old for that. Like all babies, he knows how to get what he wants, and he will attempt to work the system to his advantage. It’s human nature. 🙂
Also, I want to avoid having to put him down for two naps, if possible. I spend all day putting one or the other to sleep, and it isn’t very conducive to my peace and contentment, which in turn makes me a cranky, slightly resentful mother. I’m going to be aiming for one good nap around lunchtime and an 8 o’clock bedtime. I think that’s doable. And if he can get to sleeping well at night, that should be enough for him.