How exciting, we’ve now approached the “cry it out” portion of sleep training a baby, which is easily one of my favorite stages of motherhood. I can’t wait to see how my toddler handles 3am scream fests from her brother. Music to her ears? Probably!
I think I can speak for all parents when I say that sleep training sucks a fatty. Letting our babies cry so they can learn to self soothe and fall asleep on their own at night is heartbreaking for sure. But for many mommies and daddies who covet a full night sleep and aren’t a fan of co-sleeping, this is the only way to achieve independence for everyone.
I’ve been thinking about this since we brought Leo home 4 ½ months ago. How do you let a baby cry it out while your 2 ½ year old sleeps in the room next door? Surely the baby will wake the toddler and then you’ve got two kids up. Sounds like hell. But unless I wanna nurse a baby throughout the night until he’s a year old (I DON’T), then I need to nip the nighttime feedings in the bud now. But I’ve been putting off CIO because I just want to sleep, and I’d rather get up and feed a baby and fall asleep while nursing than lie awake staring at the clock while he screams.
As per usual, I got the tough love nudge I needed from our family pediatrician a week and a half ago when he told me that at 19.1 lbs at 4 ½ months, Leo didn’t need to be eating through the night anymore. I asked what the heck I’m supposed to do about Annabelle sleeping when Leo is crying his face off and he sort of shrugged and said we all go through it. He told me that it should only take a few nights for him to stop crying.
As if Leo was my only nighttime sleep bandit.
Annabelle regularly robs us of sleep by getting up nightly to crawl in bed with mommy and daddy. And it’s not like she just goes to sleep. She comes to party. There’s no deeper sense of dread than when I’ve just crawled back into bed after feeding Leo and I hear a bedroom door open and little feet pad down the hallway toward my room. Every night as this scenario unfolds I lie there waiting for the moment she strikes; when my doorknob turns. I know it’s just my 2 year old on the other side, but at this hour she’s nothing more than a thief coming to rob me of my sleep and I’m quaking under the covers. Maybe if I just lock my door she’ll simply retreat to her room in peace. Who am I kidding?
In addition to the tough love talk I had with my pediatrician, I also had this same conversation with a nurse who facilitates a weekly toddler group I sometimes attend. She told me that I had to put the kibosh on Annabelle getting up in the middle of the night. I will have to get up and walk my Little Miss back to her room telling her that it’s bedtime and she has to sleep in her own bed. And then when she cries and attempts a second trip I do the same thing. And do it again for the third time, the fourth, etc. Even if it takes us 50 times; we have to be persistent until she gives up, which should be 3-4 nights. I feel like we’ve sleep trained Annie like a thousand times in the last 2 ½ years. Ok, more like 4 or so, but whatever, I just want her to remember the drill so we can stop going through this every 4-6 months.
As we heeded the nurses advice and spent 45 minutes that night walking and re-walking Annabelle back to her room, it broke my heart to hear her call my name through sobs as daddy took her away. Thankfully I was nursing Leo during all of this so he was in a blissful slumber cuddled up to mama and her crying didn’t faze him. The next morning we reiterated to Annabelle that she needed to sleep in her own bed and she couldn’t sleep with mommy and daddy anymore. The sad look on her face told me that she understood, and my heart broke a little more.
We braced ourselves for night two….but she didn’t get up. And night three was the same. Aside from announcing her waking at 7am by opening and slamming her door shut; that’s it. I was amazed that one night was all it took! Don’t jinx!
I’m happy to report that it took Leo about 3 nights and he finally started sleeping through the night, too. It’s been a little over a week and he now sleeps soundly from about 8:30pm-7:30am every day! I wake up with rock hard tatas the size of breast implants, but I’m A-OK with that. It gives me an opportunity to pump and build up some date night milk storage! And I have to say after getting a full night sleep I love nothing more than scooping Leo up at 7:30 and sinking into his comfy glider for a nice long nursing session. Sometimes we even fall back asleep together and I love the cuddle time.
I feel like we’ve got it figured out for now. I know things change every few months, as history would indicate. But for now I’m reveling in sleeping uninterrupted and feeling good that I’m teaching my kids some independence along the way.
The next thing I’m dreading until the end of the earth and back is POTTY TRAINING. Can I seriously just hire a potty training expert to come to my house and just do it for me? I’m not kidding, can I? These people exist, right?