Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September Sleep = Success!

I am thrilled to report some great progress on the sleep front, and it came easier than Steve or I could have ever imagined.

Anna was sleeping wonderfully before the summer, and then our hectic schedule really took a toll. There was a point a couple of months ago where I was in tears, I was so frustrated. And then I went to Anna's 9 month pediatrician appointment, and I realized while I was in there, that pretty much all of Anna's sleep problems were our own damn fault. I knew exactly what was going on, I knew all of the biggest sleep training methods, I had read countless books about infant sleep. I knew that we either had two choices- we could either put a stop to our traveling or I could just suck it up and make sure she gets enough sleep, and worry about the "bad habits" after the summer was over.

Well, we opted for the second choice. And I don't really regret it. I loved cuddling with Banana Bean and co-sleeping helped us through the summer.

Then we came home. And now that we were able to settle back into our normal routines, we started getting antsy to get Anna back to sleeping well on her own. This past week, her cold finally went away, she started napping better, and we decided it was time for some action.

My favorite books regarding infant sleep training were The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and The No-Cry Nap Solution, both by Elizabeth Pantley. The NCSS was great for fundamental sleeping information, but the NCNS book was FANTASTIC. I originally re-read NCSS and got a little frustrated. We HAD the schedule and the routine. We HAD the bedtime routine down pat. I knew the specific problems that we had and it seemed like the NCSS didn't even touch on them. I finally picked up the NCNS, which had been sitting on my bedside table for three weeks, and it was exactly what I was looking for. This book addressed all of our very specific problems- Anna was used to nursing to sleep, Anna was used to sleeping with us, Anna didn't know how to put herself to sleep, and Anna also stands up in her crib and even after 2 months couldn't figure out how to sit down or lay down.

After implementing and getting comfortable with a bunch of the techniques listed in the books, we were ready to tackle getting Anna to fall asleep on her own. We decided to use the Ferber Method's progressive waiting approach...which I fully acknowledge goes against the whole "no cry" pattern I've got going on, but I honestly felt that she was ready for this, especially after implementing so many of the No-Cry techniques. The first night, she had had two great naps, we went through her bedtime routine, and then I kissed her and told her good night and stuck her in her crib. We then went in to rub her back, reassure her, and calm her down at 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and then 15 minutes - just no picking her up, and no nursing. Although we had steeled ourselves for a full night of tears (on her side and my side), she was conked out within the hour. And then put herself down three more times that night.

Steve and I had an adult conversation. We cooked dinner. We watched TV together. We felt like a married couple for the first time in months.

The next night she was down after 15 minutes, and then the last two nights she has fallen asleep within 5 minutes of laying her down. Having my evenings "back" and not dedicated to running up and down the stairs every 45 minutes feels absolutely heavenly.


I can't even believe how easily this all came together for us. Do I wish we had done this 6 months ago? Maybe. I really cherished rocking with Banana over the last year, and I cherished feeling her warm little body next to mine. I also don't know if it would have helped or hurt this summer with all of our traveling. And I very strongly believe that Anna being almost a year old now has helped in making this easier. I am, however, definitely happy that we are doing this now and NOT in another 6 months, haha.

Next week we are tackling naps - sweet dreams, everyone!


Lisa Elaine said...

Yay! Congratulations on finding something that worked for you! Sleeping issues were our biggest struggle for the first 4 months. I loved NCSS, though I have to admit I didn't follow everything in it. I think parents just instinctively know what's "right" and when for their little one. Anna still gets up once a night to eat, and I'm hoping she will drop this feeding within the next few months. If she doesn't, I might try some progressive waiting :) Being a mommy is so much better when you can get some sleep isn't it ? :)

Robin said...

Congrats! Life is so much better for the whole family when baby learns to sleep! I also read NCSS and ended up using the Ferber method with Eva and it does work. I remember when my pediatrician's office gave me a handout on the Ferber method (I think Eva was 4 months old) and I was horrified. BUT, as a Mom I think I just knew that she was not ready for that approach to sleeping at that age. Starting at around 6 or 7 months, we began using some of the Ferber techniques to varying degrees and overall it has worked. Now Eva sleeps about 8 hours a night on her own and then sleeps about another 2 hours in our bed early in the morning. Soon, I will be weaning her from coming into our bed but I am just not quite ready to tackle that one yet :)