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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Night One of Sleeping Training

No offense to all the parents who use Ferber or other sleep-training methods that incorporate crying it out, but I just don't know how you do it. Let me say this. When Tessa was a baby, I was very militant and outspoken in my belief against crying it out. Usually, I would never criticize a parent for the way they were raising their children, but if someone even mentioned crying it out, I could recite the research on how it raised blood pressure and stress levels and why exactly I thought it was cruel.

Well, I've lived a lot and learned a little in the years since Tessa was a baby, and I no longer think it is exactly cruel, although I still have very strong opinions about it if a parent does it before a child is even four months old. I can now understand why a parent might feel like they have to do it, even though it is not for me.

I guess since I'm not crying it out, it's not technically sleep training, but considering the fact I've never had a baby sleep in a different room than the one I'm in, for me, it is. So, I had decided last night, I was going to lay her down in her bed, tell her good night and leave the room. If she cried, I was going to go in and comfort her and then leave back out once she calmed down.

It didn't go quite like that. Ella fell asleep as she was taking her last bottle. When she was finished, I took her in her room and laid her in the crib. She promptly rolled over and woke right back up. I told her I loved her and walked out.

We had the baby monitor (another first for me!!! never owned one with Tessa) on, and Tessa sat in the rocking chair beside of it. I swear, I think it was harder for her than me. I went to get a load of laundry from the dryer, and Tessa yells, "Momma, momma, she's crying." I come back to the living room and listen. Ella is merely whining. I tell Tessa to wait until she's full out crying.

When I come back to the living room with the laundry to fold, I can hear Ella talking on the monitor. I fold and fold some more, waiting on it to get quiet, when all of a sudden, I hear a blood-curdling scream through the monitor and also from the bedroom. Tessa and I both start running. Ella had gotten up on all fours and crawled headfirst into the headboard. She had headbutted it and was crying about that.

I picked her up, comforted her and got her quiet again. I come back into the living room and start on the laundry again. A few minutes later, I hear another scream, although this time, it isn't quite as loud. Tessa and I go running again. This time, Ella had her arm caught in the crib railing. I didn't put the bumpers up because I know it can be dangerous to use them.

This goes on for at least 30 minutes, and before too long, she is crying for no reason before I can even get sat down to fold the laundry. I think my biggest problem with crying it out is it just feels unnatural for me. If my baby is crying, I feel a sort of primordial urge to go to them, to see what they need and to help them. I just can't not respond.

I eventually knew it was going to go on all night, and I had things to do. I picked Ella up, came back in the living room, sat on the couch with her and patted her bottom. Within minutes, she was back to sleep. Now, she had gone to sleep in my arms earlier in the night but woke right back up as soon as I laid her down. So, this time, I held her longer. I sat here for 15 minutes, and when I laid her down, I made sure she stayed on her side instead of rolling over. Eureeka!!! She stayed asleep.

She slept from 8:45 p.m. to 3:45 a.m. I wish she had slept longer, but I still like that she did a straight stretch in her own bed. Tonight, well, it's not been as easy, but I'll do another blog post about that tomorrow night when I see how she does for the rest of the night. And, tonight, she has a roommate -- Tessa.

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