Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Sleeping Story

Gavin has never been a great sleeper.

If you've been reading here for a while, or if you've ever talked to me in person - you know this. I've been tired for almost a year. I've learned to live on few hour increments of sleep. But even that wasn't the worst part. I think that comes with the parenting territory, ya know? Babies don't sleep long and what not...

But that wasn't Gavin's only "problem". He was colicky. So for, yeesh, how long? Maybe 2-3 months he would scream for several hours every night. It's funny that I really can't remember how horrific it was actually - only that at one point I remember thinking, "this is horrific". 

After that, Gavin's sleep crutch was nursing. Tugging away until he'd pass out and then I'd make the highly skilled magical transfer to the crib. And this worked out really great, until he grew too big for a swaddler. 

We'd have a mostly rough nights with a few good ones so I partly felt like it would eventually work itself out. That somehow, Gavin would learn and become a "magic" baby that everyone on Facebook seems to have and I could get on with my life and stop running into walls and what-not. 

But that didn't happen, and after encouragement from friends and extensive online research, we decided to cry it out. This was probably around 6 months. And yes, it was the only way we could get him to sleep. He wouldn't rock, he wouldn't nurse anymore, he would cry in the swing, he'd cry regardless, so he may as well cry in his crib.

And it was hard. I shut down. Like a lot of anti-CIO postings I found online, it goes against that "maternal instinct" that is commanding you to go pick up that baby of yours. So I scrolled through pinterest for hours at a time, the "mood" timer on my BabyConnect app reminding me every 15 minutes to go and comfort him. At which he would get even angrier because mama would not pick him up like he wanted. And eventually he'd fall asleep - and he'd actually sleep. There were nights we got up to 10 straight hours. And then I became superwoman. But there were nights we got 5 too... 

Gavin went from crying for 45 minutes to only whining for 5 before sleep and now he doesn't make a peep when I lay him down at night.  He's currently teething 4 top teeth, so his sleep isn't great, but he's not usually screaming when he lays back down. 

There are nights when we back track. He has mental leaps, and he has sore gums, and he has new tummy feelings from trying new foods, but he knows his routine, and he knows that mama means business when she lays him down, so these episodes aren't near what they were when we started.

I'm not advocating that CIO is absolutely the solution for everyone. But was the best for Gavin. I think that's what being a parent is all about. We absolutely know what is best for our own individual children and ourselves. I tried cosleeping with Gavin but side-nursing made my back hurt something terrible and I didn't get any rest because Gavin wanted to snack every hour or so.  

So, here are my 5 tips for Crying It Out:

1.  Start a routine. For probably 5 months we've done the exact same thing every night at the same time. Gavin eats, takes a bath, gets a lotion massage before jammies, we pick up the toys taken out throughout the day, read a couple books, pray with Daddy, and nurse. Of course we've strayed from this a few times to go out etc., but overall this is our routine.

2. Find a happy place.  Y'all a six month old has a super developed set of vocal cords. Gavin's screams are somehow the loudest thing I've ever experienced.  My happy place was pinterest and tumblr sitting on our bed with the door closed. Our rooms are right across from each other so I had no issue hearing him. I could mindlessly scroll and be able to listen to Gavin. 

3. Know your baby.  Well duh, I know that you all know your babies, but listen for his cries. I know when Gavin is screaming because he's angry, and I know when something is wrong.  One night Gavin woke at about 5 am with a cry that sounded terrified - not at all like his upset I just woke up whine. Usually I kind of take my time going to him to give him an opportunity to quiet back to sleep but I didn't waste any time going to him that morning and sure enough, he had thrown up from a little stomach bug that we didn't know he had.

4. Stick to your guns.  My friend encouraged us to start CIO when Gavin was around 5 months. And we did - but it was hard. And often times Nathan or I would give in and go pick up the little guy. Had we really stuck to it he might have been better at putting himself to sleep sooner. And if it only took mom or dad 15 minutes to go pick the baby up - baby knows to cry for at least that long and longer next time...

5. You're doing a great job.  That's all. Parenting is hard and you're doing great.

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