Monday, September 18, 2017

Finn's Sleep Training

I know sleep training can be a sensitive subject, especially when it comes to Crying It Out.  I know that every.single.parent. is doing what they believe is right for their child, despite what sleep training method they choose or don't choose. 

Two things you should know about me:

1. I don't drink coffee.  I just cannot get past that bitter taste.
2. I don't do well on lack of sleep.  Some people can (ie my husband), but I am not one of those people.

Therefore, I know I need to get a solid eight hours of sleep at night to be a pleasant, functioning person. This was literally my biggest fear about having a baby.  I knew that, even though we had NO CLUE what we were doing, we would figure it out and Finn would make it.  We'd definitely screw up a time or two, but he'd be okay in the long run.  Instead, I was more worried about how we would all make it if we were running on so little sleep.

The first six weeks were a fog.  We were waking up every two to three hours and feeding, which was tough, but Finn napped so much during the day and Mike was home, so I was able to nap and catch up on sleep.  Survival: check!

Then, a miracle happened and Finn started sleeping for longer stretches of time! Most nights we could count on him to sleep a solid five or six hours when he went to sleep and then wake up every three hours for the rest of the night. We were in heaven! Not only were we surviving, we were thriving!!

I think we got cocky and someone wanted us to have a nice little reality check because right around three months, Finn decided sleeping was for the birds.  There were nights where he would wake up every hour and other nights where he wouldn't sleep anywhere except my arms.  He also decided that I was the only one who could put him to sleep, which was exhausting.  Add in that we were traveling abroad and then in the United States and we were a HOT MESS.

Image result for tired meme

We asked the doctor about it at his four month appointment and he said that it's normal for babies his age to have a sleep regression, but it was probably also all of the moving preparation that added to his poor sleep performance.   Unfortunately, our first month back in the United States was as chaotic as our last one in Berlin, bouncing around from place to place.  I know people are understanding when it comes to babies crying, but I was so self-conscious about waking up our hosts every hour that Finn woke up, I began feeding him, just to keep him quiet.  There were some nights where we nursed five times over an eight hour period.  Guys, I was struggling.

I knew once we got into our house in Groton, we were going to do some serious sleep training with Finn.  Mike and I spent HOURS researching how to get Finn sleeping for longer stretches.  I knew that he probably couldn't last all night without eating (which was fine!!), but that he definitely didn't need to be waking up every hour or two.

After hours of research, we knew that Crying It Out or the Ferber Method was what was going to work best for us.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy and that Finn might not be the only one crying, but that it would be worth it in the long run.

So, one night we were FaceTiming with my parents and Finn had gone to sleep for the night.  About 45 minutes later, he woke up and I sent Mike up to try and console him, knowing that it was probably a lost cause (remember, no one's allowed to put him to sleep except me, according to Finn).  I was frustrated because I just wanted to talk to my mom and dad. That's when Mike came out of Finn's room and suggested we start sleep training that night. I agreed out of desperation and so it began.

That first night was rough.  In hindsight, FaceTiming with my parents was the perfect distraction because we had some extra support to keep us going.  The first night, we started out "easy."  After Mike went in to console him, we waited one minute before going back in.  Then, three minutes, then five minutes, then seven minutes and then ten minutes.  After we reached ten minutes, we just kept going back in every ten minutes.  We'd alternate who went in to try and keep it neutral and we tried to only stay for a minute, which is hard when he's still crying.

At some point, Mike was ready to give in (he's secretly a softy!), but everything we had read said that once you start, you have to stick it out.  Let me tell you, that wasn't easy.  Mike and I were struggling and my parents were, too!  Luckily, they've done this three times (although, I'm pretty sure my dad blocked it from his memory because he didn't remember doing it at all.  My mom, on the other hand, definitely remembered it, especially when my brother flung himself over the crib!) and knew that it's worth it.

After an hour and a half (!!!) at 8:30pm, Finn fell asleep!!  Guys, that moment was maybe as exciting as the moment we returned to the United States.  Mike and I sat there in silence wondering if it was really true.  And, believe you me, it was! He had fallen asleep on his own!! Hallelujah!  We went to bed and hour and a half later wondering how long he would sleep.  We had told ourselves that, if he woke up before the four hour mark (so before 12:30), he would need to go back to sleep without feeding.  Guys, he slept five and half hours!! I felt like a whole new person!  I fed him and he went straight back to sleep.  He did wake up once in the middle of the night and cried for about twenty minutes (we went in after ten to comfort him) before falling asleep again.  I did end up feeding him once more that night, but overall, it was a complete success.

An hour and a half later and this is what we got

Since then, we've been met with nothing but success! I was worried about nap time since crying for twenty minutes for a thirty minute nap is hardly worth it, even according to the experts, but he usually only cries for about five minutes before falling asleep for a nap.  Bedtime takes a little bit longer, but we rarely have to go in more than once to comfort him before he falls asleep. He still wakes up twice during the night to eat, which is completely fine at this point.  He's still only five months old, so asking him to go twelve hours without eating is a lot to ask. We've watched him (on the baby monitor....we don't DARE go in his room when he's sleeping) wake up, cry for a minute or two and then fall asleep.  Guys, this is what I dreamed of! I know letting your baby cry it out is tough and definitely isn't for every mom or baby, but it worked for Finn and us and we're all sleeping better and are happier people!

Pure Bliss!

Sleep on Finny, sleep on!
Sweet dreams, everyone! This mom and dad are off to (hopefully) get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep!