Where to even begin. This week has been the hardest in the history of parenting for us.
My darling daughter, the absolute light of my life, started having some trouble with sleeping at around four and a half months old. She went from being a champion sleeper ( waking two to three times over a twelve hour night) to more and more until the last few weeks it has been hourly. She also stopped having longer day sleeps and would only do fourty minute naps. I chalked it up to so many things; teething, illness, wonder weeks. Whilst I am sure none of these helped all were separate issues which ended up with the underlying fact she wasn’t sleeping whatever the weather! I fact she was pretty grizzly. I spoke to a helpline on numerous occasions over the last two months and even went on a sleep workshop and realized that it was a problem that she was feeding to sleep. Basically she was associating that action with sleep so each time she woke after a sleep cycle she would cry out to be fed. This resulted in her eating extra food, no doubt uncomfortable and also her bringing some back up, especially after mammoth feeding sessions to try and sleep!
I tried everything they suggested; patting, popping the nipple out just before she fell asleep etc and it worked to an extent. She could fall asleep herself If I was laying on my bed next to her, but would still want a feed when she woke to resettle. So I knew she could do it she just didn’t routinely. It reached the point because I was laying down to feed her, as she is 11kg and my husband has been working away , all this feeding was ruining my back that she would fall asleep on my bed and wouldn’t go to her cot.
Let me be really clear in this statement. I am totally not a fan of controlled crying/ cry it out for my child. I wanted to do whatever baby steps we could towards her self settling but after 2 months we were in a bind. I knew it wasn’t working for her and I also felt the longer it went on the harder it would be to change.
So we went to sleep school. For one day. I had the assistance of a midwife with years of experience and a cot in a room with a video camera so we could see what she was up to. It turns out my daughter shouts whilst she tries to settle. She has a bit of a tantrum really as she is frustrated trying to settle herself, she then drops off and wails and shouts then drops again. I saw it with my own eyes it is in no way crying herself to sleep it is shouting in frustration as she tries to drop off. I had been rushing to her at each cry because I didn’t want to be cruel but in doing so hadn’t allowed her the chance to settle. Each time we went in to pat her she got angry as it wasn’t helping, each time I shhhhh at the door she gets angry too. Despite all my best intentions and plans to do everything so gently she just needed space and time to do this her way.
On the first night home she slept for 12 hours with just two feeds. It is now four days out and she does some shouts/cries/grizzles for about 10 mins and goes to sleep. Each time I do the exact same routine; feed, book, sleeping bag and say goodnight. After 10 mins I sshhhh and reassure at the door if she isn’t asleep. Her cries are always stop and start frustrations, never a real cry. There are never tears on her face…… it just sounds horrid to me.
It also proves to me that each baby is individual and each parent also. I would have loved to slowly and gently teach my daughter to settle and I honestly think I got her as close to that as she would allow but she has just needed space to learn this herself. I have no regrets on spending the first six months filling every want and need she had but I do feel the gift of sleep is important for her but also for me. Her awake times are much happier ( her) and although I miss her intensely when she is asleep that breaks means I am refreshed, can do the jobs and have all the quality time when she is awake. To be honest the sleep school was more for me than her as she was ready and I was so unconfident in this area as she didn’t want to learn in the way I had envisaged. So hard!
have you ever had this situation ? What would you do?