The frustrating moments in my life have mainly stemmed from the sleep problems I have been encountering.
Ever since we returned from Southern Utah, Terran has been a horrible sleeper. I'm talking waking up almost every hour, only can be consoled by nursing, bawling every nap time. Granted, his nap times have never been what I would call easy, but they have gotten really bad.
I'm constantly running on four or so hours of sleep and I am developing sleep problems of my own. I have a really hard time falling asleep, and I'm talking like, hours! Right when I'm about to fall asleep, I realize Terran is probably about to wake up and my sleep is going to get interrupted. I am having some mean headaches again. Ugh! I have been pretty miserable.
I have read almost a dozen books on sleep training, blogs, articles, anything. Sometimes I would reach for my phone at 2 in the morning after he had woken up again and I was so frustrated and google something to do with "sleeping through the night" or "crying it out" or "no cry sleep solution."I would rephrase the search in hopes of finding a new article that would be my sleeping Bible that would solve our problems. My head was becoming filled with the knowledge and opinions on both sides of the spectrum.
I was really hoping to avoid letting him cry for long periods at a time, but I have been doing the gentle methods this whole time. For us, there has not been that magical night where he decides to cut out a feeding session, or combine his naps, or decide to sleep through the night.
Part of what has made me so frustrated is that I have tried from the very beginning to have a consistent schedule that is flexible with his needs to gently guide him into being a wonderful sleeper. I almost never used the swing, I avoided the vibration setting, tried not to have him nap a lot in the car. Now, ironically, some of the things I am reading say that you should do those things, where before everything I found was agreeing that you shouldn't! As if there have not been enough instances so far to make me never want to judge another mother or think to myself, "It's common sense, it should be done THIS way." There are too many options and opinions out there, as well as so many babies that are completely different than others that there really is no room for judgment.
This past week I realized I can't continue on like this. Zach isn't really able to help much because he has been working late days, has school, is in the middle of a military course, and just left and will be gone for four of the next six weeks. Good timing, right?
I decided that some form of crying it out was the answer. But what? And when?
My pediatrician said there are two ways - put them to bed and don't get them or comfort them until morning (I knew I couldn't do that!) or you can set a timer and go in every twenty (or whatever you feel comfortable with) minutes. The thing you don't want to do is let them cry one night, decide you can't handle it, go pick them up, then do it again the next night. Terran was basically forcing me to do this with his naps because he would cry if I was holding him or not, rocking him or laying in his crib.
So that made things more complicated. How would I handle all the little bumps and random awakenings and do I feed him in the night? He was used to at least twice but lately four feedings a night!
I fought with myself for a couple days of whether or not I really wanted to do this. Was it going to be best for Terran? I decided yes, then no, then yes, then no. Over and over, every nap time and every moment I didn't have enough energy to play with Terran the way he really wanted me to.
Now I am continuing this post a week or two after beginning it. Zach and I decided we needed to do something and made a plan. We would help him fall asleep on his own, then deal with his night awakenings the same way as usual. This was a method I found that I thought I could handle. That first night I did the same night routine, but instead of letting him nurse until he was completely asleep, I paid attention to when he stopped eating and just was suckling and took him off, and laid him in his crib. I got in the shower, but Zach was in the kitchen and could hear him scream. 14 minutes, then he was out. Not too bad, I thought. He still awoke three times to feed, so I just fed him and he went back to sleep.
The next two nights he was extremely tired and fell right to sleep. Again, self doubt would creep in. Am I letting him nurse too long again? The third night he was a little more awake, but I put him in his crib and left. He cried for five minutes, then asleep. This was definitely a step in the right direction, but his night awakenings were not changing, neither were his naps.
We decided to go camping, and I stressed that it would mess with his schedule. He didn't nap well, but he didn't change much with his night sleeping.
Today I decided it is time to work on bettering his nap times. He still takes 30-40 minute naps, but going down for them has become very difficult. Even nursing and the car don't work like they used to. Zach and I have observed that his body really doesn't know how to fall asleep. He is also such a curious, alert, observing child that he will fight sleep if there is anything going on. So, I am doing a little nap routine and then I put him in his crib. He immediately cries, and hard, and since this breaks my little heart I pick him up for a quick snuggle and another little bounce, then set him down, kiss him, and leave. First nap, ten minutes. Second nap, he went down without crying but fussed then quiet then cried, but was asleep within minutes. I didn't exactly count that one because I knew he was going to go down. I am going to plan my days to be home at nap time for the next several days and continue doing things the same. I have hope that he will quickly evolve to just falling asleep on his own, with no tears.
There are more hopes here as well. Lengthening his naps, sleeping through the night, etc. But let's not get crazy just yet. :)