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Slumber Story

So we still haven't embarked on sleep training, even though the report is in and the money is spent.  There is a part of me that just can't bear the thought of tears, even tears that are due to breaking a "negative" sleep association and not one that is due to distress.

Yeah, I'm a big wimp.

That's how she feels about sleep training.
But seriously, even though the OT recommended a "gentle" sleep training program, I do not find it gentle at all.  It basically involves putting Baby Loquacious down when she's drowsy, shushing and applying firm pressure on her until she sleeps, and repeating the process as necessary if she gets up, until she goes to sleep.  If she cries and a more extreme method is required, it entails letting her protest in her crib, alone, for up to a certain number of minutes ("progressive waiting" - sounds a lot like CIO / controlled crying to me!) before entering the room again to do the shushing and firm pressure.  Once she is asleep, the approach suggests not picking her up again until morning (while still using the shushing and patting when she wakes up throughout the night).  That's just night #1. 

After that, there is no firm pressure (only shushing) on night #2.  On night #3, there's just presence (and no shushing or pressure).

I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I fear psychological scarring.  I fear the breaking of her trust in us.  I fear surges in her cortisol levels from crying in distress or frustration.  I fear the horrible sound of her crying and her throat getting hoarse from hysterics.

Surely, at some point in her life, maybe when she's two or three, she'll figure out how to self-soothe to sleep.  I can't imagine I'm the only momma on the planet, ever, who has not sleep-trained their kid, and I'm pretty sure there aren't very many 5 year olds in the world who need to be nursed multiple times in a night to get to sleep. She'll learn on her own at some point, right? Right?!

Of course, that's not to say that we didn't incorporate some other strategies from the OT.  We have! And Baby L gets a sufficient amount of sleep now.

The things we are doing:
* nightly wind-down routine
* regular, scheduled mealtimes
* no more iPhone play, period
* dim lights
* white noise app
* cooler temperature in the room (16-19'C)
* cool mist humidifier
* drawn drapes
* no more musical toys to play with post-dinnertime

And here's her sleep schedule, which averages her about 13.5 hours per 24 hour period:

7:00 am Wake up
7:45 am Breakfast
9:30 am Nap (45 minutes)
12:15 pm Lunch
1:30 pm Nap (45 minutes - 1.5 hours, depending)
5:30-6:00pm Dinner
6:30 Wind-down routine (bath, massage, 2 books read over and over again, nursing to sleep)
7:15-7:30 pm Sleep

Baby L still wakes up every 2-3 hours to nurse, but these are usually brief stints.  She will sometimes sleep with us, but when I can I will move her back into her crib after she's asleep.

She wakes up happy, too.  She doesn't cry; usually, she will just stand up or sit up and talk/babble to herself for a few minutes.  Eventually she will try to get my attention and wake me up, but it's not immediately upon her waking.

I know that it's not ideal that Baby L needs me in order to get to sleep.  However, she does manage to sleep in the car or her stroller or with a bottle when I'm not around, so there is some flexibility there.  Would it be better if she could get to sleep on her own? Yes.  Would it be easier for Hubbs and I if she stayed asleep, so that we could go on dates or do other stuff later in the evening? Of course.

But this is the season we are in, and it won't last forever. Baby L is happy and thriving, and much as I selfishly want some of that freedom when she's asleep, I am loathe to jeopardize the quality of her present sleep arrangement, and the strong bond of trust that she and I have, for the sake of my own ease.

Maybe I'm being dumb and making life harder for myself and Hubbs.  But maybe I'm doing something that is done in other parts of the globe by mothers from various nations, and maybe what I'm doing is intuitive and makes sense for us and for the good of Baby L.

Hard to say.  But for now, I just don't think the sleep training is going to happen.     



You know me... CIO is not happening in my house. You are not the only mom. Eventually they will be brilliant sleepers. Happy unmentally scared sleepers!
Andrea F said…
The smartest thing a mother can do is listen to her gut feeling. If it feels wrong to you than it is not time.

My first born was a terrible terrible napper/sleeper. We did the night routine of bath, bed, books yada yada yada. The gentle shushing. Standing over the crib for what felt like hours with out hand on his back, not talking just shhhing. I swear he could sense when we left or hear the bones in my ankles cracking...cause he'd leave a deep sleep and bolt up and cry for us.

We refused CIO because it didn't fit our beliefs. At 14 months something magical (MAGICAL!!!) happened. He started sleeping these long stretches. He started to nap okay on his own in his crib. At 15 months we started quietly counting each night he was sleeping through the night (SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!).

I have no idea what happened. We had been pretty consistent but seriously he just did it on his own. Reflecting back I remember how incredibly exhausted I felt for his first year and a bit. I hope you can catch a nap break as often as possible!!
mitzerella said…
take a classroom full of children. can you tell what sleep training method was used on each and everyone of them? nope. so i would not go as far as saying that CIO will create mentally scarred sleepers.

do what you think is best and good for you for being open to an array of methods
AussieMummy said…
No sleep training going on in my house either, don't worry :) My little one is 10 months old and had started sleeping through the night.. then 4 teeth (count them, FOUR!!) started coming through the top gums all at once. For the past 2 weeks he has been waking every 3 hours or so. I'm not going to let my baby cry alone in the dark. I go in and soothe him by giving him his pacifier and laying him back down (he sits/stands up to cry). Do what feels right for you! :)
asphodellium said…
My eight-month-old is no good at sleeping, either. I have nothing against CIO, but I'm also hesitant to sleep train this way. I'm not sure it'll work on my girl, at least not without it being very, very unpleasant. And necessitating lots of "firm pressure" (I assume that means "holding her down so she doesn't clamber around and keep herself awake forever").

Andrea's story gives me hope that it'll click for her eventually. In the meantime, what's an extra cuddle or two, or thousand?
Ms PR said…
Sleep training doesn't necessarily mean CIO or scarring, but I do agree that you should do whatever you can handle and feel works for you.

For me, I had to put Joe Jr on a routine from the beginning and I wanted to make sure she was sleep trained. She slept through the night at 7 weeks and I am most grateful and NEVER take my hours of sleep for granted. This is because for me, personally, I would go nuts if I didn't sleep enough. I'm one of those people who need good rest so that I can serve my family and enjoy. Keeps me sane too! :) Best friend calls me a sleep diva. LOL

But yea, if it's not your thing, that's totally cool too, as long as you can handle it and you're doing well. You're happy and not constantly complaining. You are the momma and you know your baby best!

PS. Awesome that you're doing some of the suggestions by the OT. Babies really do love routine. Keep having fun!
Mrs. Loquacious said…
@April - How's Ollie sleeping these days? Here's to happy, but tired, moms! ;)

@Andrea - Your comment gives me so much hope. You have no idea. Maybe I need to give you a giant hug the next time I see you! :D

@Mitzerella - I wouldn't say that all kids would consider sleep training a traumatic event, but I think mine would! So in my case, I would definitely think that psychological scarring is a possibility! But that's unique to Baby L and I wouldn't say that it is like that for all other little ones. :)

@AussieMommy - Thanks for reading my blog!! Welcome! And I can't let Baby L cry alone in the dark either.

@Asphodellium - Welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog! :) Firm pressure is exactly that: a hand that places firm pressure on Baby L's chest or back. It is apparently a very comforting thing, according to the OT. I am using it when I nurse her (firm pressure on her back or bottom) and she seems reassured by it. But yeah, I'm trying to enjoy all the extra cuddles, and the nose picks, and the chest slaps and kicks to the belly..LOL!

@MsPR - I am a bit of a sleep diva myself, and in those first few sleepless months I was very hard to live with (ask Hubbs!). But it is amazing how my body has learned to cope with the multiple night wakings. I mean, I can drive, carry on conversations, play with Baby L, and function without narcoleptic episodes. On occasion I need a nap, and I try to take those when Baby L naps (since she's napping on my boob anyway).
Ollie is settling into the 8pm-7am sleep routine with anywhere from 1-3 wake-ups in between. You know... Totally unpredictae! 10 months old, why would he be sleeping through the night already? ;)
Mrs. Loquacious said…
@April - If this was FB, I would *so* "like" that comment! :) At least the 8-7 is predictable-ish. It still gives you a few hours in the evening. :)

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