Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tale of a Waking Baby

What DIDN'T we do wrong?  You know as a parent, when you see yourself making these classic parenting mistakes ... and you are well aware of why you shouldn't do what you're doing ... but you can't seem to stop doing it? 

As brand new parents, we brought my daughter home from the hospital 6 years ago, not having a clue about what to expect.  Since her bedroom was upstairs, and ours was downstairs - I put her in a pack and play in our room.

See, we at least we draw some lines in the sand.  We usually have a handful of things we have all planned out ahead of time,  like "I will not have the baby sleep in our bed", "I will not send the baby to sleep with a bottle", "I will not cater to picky eating, and prepare a separate meal for my child each night",  "I will not act impatient and respond in a nasty voice to my child's inquiries and/or pestering in a public place", "I will not tolerate insubordination" ... you know the Plans.  All the Plans you have floating around in your head, before you actually find yourself in the real life situations, with your real life child and all their delightful characteristics and habits!  Yeah.

I'd say for many of us, we end up with about a 50/50 success ratio of follow through on those initial, early dreams.  I mean Plans.  And I think that's not too shabby.  You quickly learn to pick your battles.  And when you are drained physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially by this new little bundle of joy - you slip into survival mode.  You will pretty much do whatever you need to do to get by.

Enter the poor sleeping habits of my baby boy.  My daughter in no way prepared us for this challenge.  As mentioned earlier, asleep in her little pack and play, she slept completely through the night by age 4 months.  Aaahh, and all was right with the world.  Not so with Child #2.

My son has woke up every 2 hours throughout the night since we brought him home from the hospital.  (My husband was a trooper during this time - often taking a shift with a bottle in hand.) You crunch those numbers.  Put him to bed at 8:30 PM.  Exhausted, you crash and head to bed yourself around 9:00 PM.  (Late night "me" time, what's that?)  After your brief hour to hour and a half snooze ... baby wakes up at 10:30 PM.  And 1:30 AM.  And 3:30 AM.  And lastly (this one's the killer, after an exhausting night where you don't feel in the slightest bit rested) at 5:30 AM - after which you lay him back down around 5:50 AM, look at your alarm clock and realize it's 10 minutes before you need to get up and start your day.  Really, what's the point?   Sigh.  You get up and head to the shower.

Every month we had high hopes that this would change.  Was he hungry?  Doubtful.  Was he growing?   Well, yes, but that's also doubtful as a reason.  The doctor tried to warn me early on that I was establishing a pattern that my baby would end up sticking to.  Yep.  He was right.

I read about every sleep method in the book.  I know what some of you may be thinking, "Why didn't you just let him cry himself back to sleep?  He'd learn, and after a few nights it would all be over."  You are right.  But to me that gets back to parenting plans, survival, and what we're willing to do.  My husband is an even bigger softee than I am, so if we were going to go the crying route ... it was all on me to enforce.  And I just couldn't do it!

I also tried the "no cry" methods.  It worked, kindof.  But IF standing next to his crib, rubbing his head and whispering "shhhhhhh" for 20 minutes worked (it only worked some of the time), then it only lasted for 1 hour.  Every time.  So there was our choice.  Do you want to go back to bed for 1 hour, or 2?  Do you want to be up soothing him (via the no-cry stand by the crib, or nursing) for 20 minutes or 10?   We were weak.  We chose the repeated, bi-hourly feedings.

When did it end?  This last wellness checkup, the doctor warned me sternly that now that my baby has teeth, it was a different ball game.  It was not good to be feeding him milk every two hours, and then putting him right back to sleep and let all those nutrients sit around his little teeth.  Combine this with stories from my sister in law who works in surgery admittance, who has seen many young kids come in for surgery to install caps on their teeth for this very reason - and I knew it was time to do something.

And thank heavens, the baby seemed to finally be ready to graduate.  He is now 16 months old.  We have recently switched to a pacifier, and rocking him or soothing him right in his crib .... and lo and behold!  It has finally worked.  The sleeping stretches slowly increased over a period of about two weeks.

Giddy with happiness and relief, I am finally able to report to you, after almost a year and a half of utter and complete exhaustion:  for the past week straight, my baby has slept through the entire night!

Sleep, at last ...
*o*     *o*     *o*

Have any of you struggled through similar challenges?


  1. LOL! I totally can relate! Went thru the same thing n still do at times and Buggy is 2! I can't let her cry it out esp when she is calling for mama. She pretty much sleeps thru the night but gets up at 4.30-5 n wants to nurse n usually sllep for another hr.

    Congrats on your victory!

  2. HI! Fun and helpful blog!Training babies to sleep is so painful! I always end up crying and giving in. I found you on Someone in Mind. I love reading other Mommy blogs. I'm following you. :)

  3. Irene - yes, the "mama" cry is a definite heart melter! :) Thanks for sharing my victory with me ... I thought it would never come!

    10 days and counting ... I feel likka new woman.

  4. Mommy in Manhattan - I agree about training babies! I see that you have three ... whatta woman :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by, it allowed me to discover your cool and very interesting blog, too!

  5. I have lots of those plans for my baby to be! Thanks for sharing your story. I just read The Happiest Baby on the Block (and will be reviewing it soon on Blueberry Squash) and have high hopes of being successful with baby sleep, but a feeling that I will have lots of sleepless nights ;)



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