Unsleeping like a Baby

15 Oct

Oh Peter. Long gone are those few weeks you so preciously decided that sleeping through the night was something you were willing to put into practice.

Here writes your tired mother.

When Peter was born I read a book that told me babies had to be taught to fall asleep. Certainly the author  hadn’t seen the little sleeping blob I brought back from the hospital. This little human who I had to undress constantly because he kept falling asleep while eating! What nonsense! Who had ever heard of teaching a human to sleep? Well, apparently everyone, except me. Reality hit hard when Peter started showing signs of his now well known 40 minute naps. When we came close to the 2 month mark, my dear sleeping angel, the one I had to wake up to eat, was now refusing to sleep. It’s now been 5 months of trial and error. I’ve read the books, I’ve done the training. Sometimes in the middle of the trial (mostly when Peter is crying) I’ll stop and think to myself: I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing to this poor child. But I guess all mothers go through this, or at least that’s what I want to think.

It’s been a long long long (long) process. Please, enjoy my misery:

1. Walking it out

When Peter was about 2 months we resorted to walking him to sleep. If we didn’t he would not go to sleep. This is a baby that up to a month ago would not sleep in his stroller. I personally had never heard of such a thing. I used to envy those mothers who at least had the opportunity to strap their babies to the stroller, go for a walk and come back with a sleeping bub. He would not sleep in the swing either. So the only solution we had was to walk him around in our arms.  We carried him for up to an hour. Sometimes, if he cried we would walk around and lift him up and down (like weights). I was terrified when after and hour of walking I looked at him and his eyes were still open. I felt like crying and pulling my hair out.

I read many books, and although each one had a different method they all agreed in one thing: Put your baby down while drowsy not while sleeping. Sounds easy right? Ha, ha, ha.

2. Placement in the crib.

As time went by (close to four months) the walking was reduced to a few minutes. Then came the most nerve wrecking moment of the day. Placing the infant inside the crib without him waking. It was like this never ending game of Jenga.  Any false move and off you were to do some more walking. Phillip was so much better than me at this, I used to loose control at the end and Peter would wake up instantly. Needless to say it drove me nuts (the part were Phillip was so much better than me). I wanted to cry right along with Peter.

When Peter was close to 5 months, it became clear to me that the walking had to stop. You see, Peter is a big baby. When someone first meets him, they always comment on how big he is for his age (So either he is really big, or really ugly (and people find that commenting on his size is the most appropriate thing to say)). So as he started gaining more weight, it dawned on me that if I kept this going on, I would be carrying this huge baby around for a year, and my back was asking for a break. That’s when the real training began.

3. Pick Up, Put Down : What the Hell am I doing?

I had been told by Peter’s doctor that I could not let him cry it out before 6 months. And since I was loosing my mind by 5 months I decided to try another method. This is actually what worked for me so if I seem cynical at any point, that’s because I’m a cynical person. But the method worked, so I couldn’t be more thankful.

The Method goes like this: You place the baby in the crib while saying your “sleepy words” (mine are: Go to sleep: genius I know). Anyway, as soon as the baby cries you try to soothe him in his crib with out picking him up , if he cries (CRIES) you pick him up, and as soon as he stops crying you put him back down. You do this as many time as you have to until he gets the point and falls asleep. I think I was into my third day with the training, when I stopped, looked at a crying Peter and thought I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The more I picked him up and put him down, the more he cried. At one point he would cry if he saw his crib during the day. I felt like a terrible mother. I was using Peter like my guinea pig. He was crying because I had taught him the only way to fall asleep was to walk it out, and now I wanted to change it. It took me a whole month. But we finally did it. Peter falls asleep in crib. He still wakes up at night, but at least the walking stopped.

4. The long arm goodnight.

Peter slept in our room for 4 months. I didn’t want him to sleep in the other room. I was/am terrified of something happening to him and being so far away (10 meters). But Phillip convinced me it was better for him. Before he moved away, I used to sleep with my arm inside his crib. Whenever his pacifier fell out or he was fussing about, my arm was there, ready to take over. So it was like he was never waking up. Sometimes my arm would get caught between the rails. Most nights it would fall asleep and hurt the next day. But we were able to sleep. Oh sweet sleep.

5. Crying it out

This I wish I had the courage to do. I don’t.

Although Peter knows how to fall asleep on his own. Apparently he only wants to put this knowledge to work one time per night. So even though he falls asleep by himself the first time. The next 10 times, he needs his mother to come in. Sometimes at 3 A.M when I’ve been up 5 times to place the pacifier back or to give him a rub so he settles back. I dream (maybe I’m still asleep?) that I had it in me to let him cry it out. I can’t say I’ll never do it. But I do know right now I’m not able to.  But give me a month and I’ll check back on that one.

So this is Peter’s sleep diary so far. Hopefully my little boy will find out soon that sleeping through the night is the new big thing. It will certainly make for a saner mother.


One Response to “Unsleeping like a Baby”

  1. mrsmouthy October 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM #

    For every book on how to get your baby to sleep through the night, I could write a book about why that method doesn’t work. Seriously. Our first “cried it out” for 2 hours the first night (until I nursed), 3 hours the second (until I nursed), and 4 the third (until i nursed). The doctor told me to try again–he needs to cry for 5. That’s when I stopped trying. We’re on our 3rd kid; he does not sleep through the night; I do not care. I honestly think that trying to not care is the best method.

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