Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hallelujah!!

Henry is sleeping through the night!! I am a new woman. I feel like I'm going to be a (relatively) normal person again! This is seriously the most exciting thing since sliced bread.

*This is for potential moms and moms who are desperate to get their babies to stay asleep at night.

Hear my saga. For his first few months when Henry woke up at night I nursed him back to sleep. This worked. He was so little, he needed the food, and I was a new mother--waking up with him was still kind of exciting. Excitement wore off and exhaustion set in. I was zombie-mom trying to keep up with everything during the day. I soon learned that nursing him was a "trick" or "crutch" and if I kept it up I'd have to do it until he got older . . . and "older" was undefined. That scared me.

I felt so desperate to get a good night's rest. I would hear other women talk about their baby sleeping from 7 pm to 7 am without waking up, or at least getting a 6 hour stretch of sleep. I was jealous. I tried many techniques such as: the "up-down", "shush and pat", tank him up during the day and hope he'd pass over those feedings (this just resulted in a fully soaked diaper and baby by 4 a.m.), and others. We always had a good bed time ritual, and putting him to bed was pretty easy, but keeping him asleep was the hard part. I guess he had to learn how to put himself back to sleep without my help. Anyway, at about 5 months I tried letting him cry it out. Many friends and family said I just had to do it. They said the crying would taper off each night and eventually he'd sleep through the night. Well, listening to Henry cry and not doing what I knew would make him stop crying was/is REALLY tough. Tougher than child birth in my opinion.

One night after about 2 hours--seriously--of hearing him cry (and he'd stop for a few minutes, I'd feel relieved, then he'd start back up again) I gave in, nursed him, and he was back to sleep. I decided I'd rather wake up twice a night and feed him then let him cry. Besides, Todd needed his sleep so he could go to school, I'm sure the neighbors appreciated this, and I was half asleep when I fed him, it seemed like a good solution. All I knew is I could not hear him cry for 1-2 hours a night. No way. Nursing him back to sleep worked for a couple months until at his 9 month check-up the doctor told me he really should be sleeping through the night. I knew this, but I didn't know how to break the habit or get rid of his "crutch" since I thought I had tried everything.

After that appointment I decided to really try and cut out at least one of his wakings. I chose the first waking. So he woke up as usual, around 1 am, I went in, picked him up, rocked him for about 10 seconds, gave him his Binky, put him back in his crib and left the room. He cried for about 30 minutes and finally was silent. He had fallen asleep! I was shocked and so relieved. Immediately I ran in to see if he was alive and he was. Whew. He woke up again around 4 am, I fed him, and he went back to sleep and woke up around 7 am. The day went well, and we had the same night routine for a few nights. Then, his 4 am waking started getting later and later: 5 am, 6 am, and now it's 7 am. He doesn't wake up at 1-2 am anymore, and he is sleeping til 7 am! He goes to bed around 8 pm, sleeps til 7 am, I feed him, and he goes back to sleep til about 8:30 am. This transformation took about 2 weeks, and it was so worth it.

I'm not sure what finally triggered this good sleeping pattern, and I wish I had good answers for you mothers out there who are also desperate for a good night's sleep, but I give you hope!! I wondered if Henry would EVER sleep through the night and now he does. To you mothers: you're not alone! Now that I've gone through the process, I do recommend what works for me:

1) Have a bed time routine, i.e. bath, feed, story/song/prayer, bed.
2) Make the room dark, quiet, and at the right temperature, right around 70 degrees F. (You don't want to initiate any other sleep crutches such as a fan, music, white noise, etc.)
3) Put your baby in the crib awake, do not nurse to sleep, and leave the room.
4) If he cries don't rush to him right away, see if he can go to sleep (you want to teach him to learn to put himself to sleep).
5) If he hasn't gone back to sleep after maybe 5 minutes go in and calm him down with phrases like, "It's night-night. You're alright, it's time to go to sleep." Make him comfortable even if he's fighting you, and give him his favorite blankly or stuffed animal. (If Henry does wake up now I just pick him up, give him his Binky and rock him for about 10 seconds then I put him down and leave. He stops crying like 5 seconds later.)
6) Be consistent with this, you might have to let him cry for a while before you go in to calm him down again. It's okay for your baby to cry for a little (when he's older). Irrationally, I was worried that if I let him cry himself to sleep he'd hate me in the morning. Not so. I think he's much happier now that he's getting a full night of sleep.
7) Try to have a good nap schedule during the day. I've read that good naps encourage good nighttime sleeping.

Anyway, that's what has worked for me. I've probably jinxed myself and Henry will start waking up through the night again, but probably now. I'm knocking on wood as I type. I think we've finally got it . . . after 10 flippin' months!! *Big sigh of relief. (Maybe now I'm ready for another wee one--just kidding.)

So, good luck to you!! I know what you're going through!

6 comments:

Lindsey said...

Hey Rach! Thanks for the post! It's great to hear what works for everyone so I can get ideas. Carly is a pretty good sleeper but she's not consistent at all! One night she'll sleep from 7-5 without waking up to eat and the next night she'll wake up a ton. I need to stop feeding her every time she wakes up and see if that helps!

danette said...

Way to go Henry

Becky said...

That's great!! Since he uses a binky, what I did with my binky babies is always keep 4-6 in the crib. Then when they needed one they could just fish around until they grabbed one and went back to sleep. My secondary advice is to have him keep them in his crib and not let him walk around carrying them.. avoid the 'binky monster' thing. lol

And I think you should post tomorrow if you jinxed yourself. Every time my husband or I have shared that our baby sleeps, they wake up that night. Seriously, every time. Now we always say that they don't.

Sleep rocks! Congrats!

Last Family said...

Yeah Henry! Good Boy and good Mama. We will think happy thoughts he keeps this up.

Lindsey S. said...

Thank you for the advice. I can always use it. You are such a good momma!

Allen and Cameo said...

Quote by Rachel Freestone, "I feel like I'm going to be a (relatively) normal person again!"- I am pretty sure you are the most incredible person I know. You never seem phased by anything... and now that you are getting a full night's rest, I am pretty sure you are going to turn into super woman!