It sounds like Abigail’s being tortured in the other room.
I can’t even believe I’m going to admit to blogging while listening to my daughter “cry it out,” but I feel like it’s the only way I’m going to be able to hold strong until she gives up and falls asleep. I know she’s tired. She’s actually quite exhausted. But she knows that when she cries, I come waltzing in to rescue her (or to pick her binky up off the floor and swiftly put it back in her mouth).
Not today, little one…not today.
I feel confident in saying that things are going to change because I experimented with the “cry it out” method last night. And wow, while listening to her cry her eyes out for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes is more painful than labor contractions at 8cm dilated, hearing her finally calm herself down felt like the most amazing accomplishment since actually pushing a baby out of my body (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I felt like I’d conquered an impossible feat). She went back to sleep. And she slept until 7:30am (and so did Mommy).
Let me backtrack a few months.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that we’ve had our ups and downs with Abigail’s sleep schedule…for the most part, however, we feel like we were extremely spoiled in the early months. She started sleeping through the night at two and a half months. That continued for another 5+ months and then something happened. Something terrible. A little something we like to call “sleep regression.” Whether it had to do with the fact she could pull herself up, or she learned how to crawl/walk, or she had a bad dream, she began waking up every night between the hours of 2am and 4am.
That was brutal.
Right when you think you’re back on a normal sleeping schedule after months of exhaustion, you realize that you’re an idiot for thinking it would last. For some lucky parents, it does last…for us, it obviously didn’t (side note: Abigail’s asleep…she cried for 23 minutes and after some last ditch efforts of sad, sad whimpering, she finally gave up…5 gold stars for Mommy!).
7x7xDaddy, being the AMAZING husband and father that he is, resumed his role of “middle-of-the-night-check-on-Abby-guy.” Night after night, he’d roll out of bed, check on Abby, put her binky back in, and 9 times out of 10, he’d return to bed with our baby, her baby and, of course, blanky (which we refer to as the “3 B’s”).
Every night, we found ourselves in one of these positions (the most common being “H is for Hell” – and we have a queen size bed)…
And as much as we love snuggling with Abigail and as much as she loves sleeping with us, we knew something had to change. Trust me, I’ve read the books. I know we’ve been doing the wrong thing. I’ve actually read this one paragraph in the book our pediatrician gave us over and over and over again that clearly states:
“During this difficult period, you may need to experiment with several strategies to find those that help your baby sleep…some children go to sleep more easily with the door open (not Abby)…others develop consoling habits, such as sucking their thumbs or rocking (nope…but we probably never gave her a long enough opportunity to figure one of those out)…go to her side but don’t turn on the light (well then how is Daddy supposed to find the binky she threw violently out of her crib?), walk with her (then how are we supposed to get her in our bed?), and certainly don’t take her to your bed (ohhh…gotcha). “
See, we read. We’re smart people. We apparently just don’t believe what the experts are saying. And we hate hearing her cry! And we love cuddling her and making her feel safe and secure. (excuses, excuses, Mommy…)
As my Dad stated last night over a delicious sushi dinner, “babies are designed to learn.” It was a simple, obvious statement that really packed a punch.
Guess what Abigail has been learning? That when she’s going down for a nap and she stands up immediately to throw binky (and now sometimes baby) overboard, Mommy comes to the rescue. And that when she wakes up in the middle of the night missing us, she’ll cry out and Daddy will come in like a knight in shining armor to “save” her and she’ll get “rewarded” for this silly behavior by getting to snuggle for the rest of the night.
Well, it’s time for her to learn something new. Bedtime is bedtime and her bed is perfectly suitable for a full night’s sleep. Nap time is nap time and if she wants to be soothed by her binky (and baby) she should probably think twice before flailing them overboard.
And last but not least, Mommy and Daddy love her unconditionally and while these first few days of “crying it out” are going to be tough on all of us (even though Daddy’s out of town so he’s missing out on all the “fun”), we’re trying to teach her a better habit so that in the long run we’ll all wake up in the morning well rested and ready to snuggle (as evidenced by this very picture I took this morning).
That being said, it would be a lie for me to say we’ll never allow her in bed again…it will happen. I know it. And when it does, we’ll all absolutely love it…but it’s not going to be the norm. And it’s not going to happen anytime (too terribly) soon.
Wish us luck!
And PLEASE share your sleep training stories with me to give me strength, inspiration and a few laughs…
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to enjoy these few minutes of silence by doing the dishes and taking a shower.