Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For love of sleep

Something had to give around here.

We were all sleep deprived. For the first time that I can remember, visible circles were forming under my eyes and my ability to complete ordinary tasks was slowly dwindling. I used to pride myself on the fact that I could go without having or needing much sleep. Those days are over. All the while, I kept thinking that I would take the newborn days all over again if it just meant we could sleep.

We got ourselves into come bad habits. It was either pacifier abuse, growth spurts, regression due to new skills, or just a stand-off between parent and child. If I’m honest it was probably all of the above.

It all started almost a month ago. I know for sure because unlike my non-type A self I’ve been tracking E’s sleep since she was 5 weeks old. Around October 12th everything went hay wire. Elizabeth started rolling over and at the same time waking up every two hours. It wasn’t every two hours like it was when she was a newborn, wake, eat, back to sleep…it was more wake every 2 hours, put in pacifier or feed, spit out pacifier, cry, which equaled 4 trips to the nursery every two hours.

It all started around her dedication weekend and now looking back, I’m not surprised that she was absolutely intolerant of the 20+ people who suddenly took over our house. But what started out as a few nights of disrupted sleep continued on for weeks. Every once and awhile we would catch a break but more often than not this every two hour thing was status quo. The difficult part was figuring out what on earth was behind it. So I did what any mother would; I started googling.

(PS…most of my parenting knowledge comes from google, forums, and great websites like this one, this one, this one and this one.)

Along with cozying up with google I also checked out books.


1. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child / 2. The Sleep easy Solution / 3. The Baby Whisperer Solves all Your Problems

Not shown but also skimmed: The Wonder Weeks

First step in our eyes, try to figure out what is going on. First thing we realized, we were unintentionally promoting a sleep prop. Pacifiers…love to hate them! I love that E takes a pacifier and over the last month I’ve hated it. I must also mention here that just a couple of weeks prior to the regression we stopped swaddling. Well, that was not ideal. With her newfound dexterity, Elizabeth would pull out the pacifier and throw it across the crib and then scream. It wasn’t a game, she didn’t realize what she was doing, it was just a reality.

While I was proud of her newfound skills I was not so fond of grappling to find the paci in the middle of the night only to slide back under the covers and realize we were starting all over again. Vicious cycle. After 3 weeks I couldn’t take it. Not only that but she learned to roll over. Only from back to front. Alex and I looked at each other in bewilderment and did what we thought we would never let her do. We let her cry. We knew she had to figure out how to sleep on her stomach or we would never sleep again.

And learn she did. That part only took one day before she re-figured out how to sleep on her tummy. But we were still up all night due to that darn pacifier and agile reflexes. So this past weekend we started sleep training.

We took our cues from the Baby Whisperer and started instituting the 4 S’s before bedtime, the shush-pat, and Pick up/Put down. The 4 S’s include swaddling, sitting quietly, winding down, and the shush pat. I read that we should sit with her for ~5 minutes on our lap right before putting her down. I laughed. Alex laughed. There was no way that would work. Well we were wrong. First time, we sat for 3 minutes tops and she was almost asleep. Crazy! If only it all went so easily. Talk about needing a backbone. I’ve heard it said that to train Navy seals they make them listen to babies crying for hours on end. Well we’re that much closer to Navy Seal designation!

So many tears on both ends but we held it together and it only took a few nights. In fact, I felt like we were reaping the reward last night when she woke a few times but babbled her way back to sleep. You see, we still give her the pacifier initially but over the past week she’s learned to fall back asleep without it. We’re calling that success and patting ourselves on the back. I’m sure it’s just because the wonder week is over and soon enough we’ll be doing this again, but here’s to hoping our sleep has been momentarily reclaimed.

It was excruciatingly horrible. I do not wish that on anyone. But if it creates a good sleeper those hard days and weeks were not for naught.

And that is the end. I hope.

So tell me, sleep tips? Have you had to sleep train, cry-it-out, etc?


  1. Oh, I really hope it works!

    I wish I could give you some tips, but instead I bookmarked this post for when I need it in a few months! Thanks for sharing your journey. :)

  2. Yeah, I'm with Carrie. Yikes. So glad sleep has been more peaceful for the three of you these last few days!