Sunday, February 28, 2010

We're Crying It Out.

Oh, man. I really wanted to be one of those Moms I keep coming across on the Internet - the ones who say they sleep with their babies snuggled in bed beside them, and do whatever it takes to make them feel happy and healthy and well. Attachment parenting seems to be the ideal these days. It sounds so nice. And there's all these studies saying how good it is for your child. I read blogs by Moms who do it with a smile.
And we did share a bed with Griffin for the first couple of months. But he really likes to sleep with his arms straight out to the sides, and Jai and I were clinging to the edges of our Queen-size bed, trying not to move too much. He slept pretty well, but the two of us, not so much.
Having him in his crib, but bumped up right beside the bed seemed like a great compromise, and it was... at first. It was nice to have him so close (for those middle of the night "he's still breathing, right?" moments.) He's never been a great sleeper, but getting up three or four times a night isn't so bad if you don't actually have to get out of bed. Mostly I just rolled over and gave him a soother, and if that didn't work, I would pull him in and nurse him for twenty minutes or so, then slide him back into his crib. Not too bad.
But then, a couple of weeks ago, he decided that he hated the soother, and only I would do. And those feedings moved from being two hours apart to an hour and a half, to only an hour. I've been sleep deprived for months and months. There've been nights when I couldn't speak without slurring my words. I've felt like my IQ has dropped many, many points. That's all part of being a new parent. But at the end of those last two weeks.... banging my head against the wall was starting to sound like it might bring some sweet, welcome relief. Jai and I both came down with horrible colds. Not even Griffin was happy.
Sorry, attachment parenting. We are now crying it out.
Not that this is any kind of magical solution. In fact, it's torture. For everyone involved. He sleeps great at first, and then, between the hours of midnight and five a.m. we endure many long bouts of soul-rending crying. With a stop watch.
What we're doing is not actually called "crying it out" but that's the basic gist. We got the book "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Dr. Ferber at the local secondhand bookstore. Basically, in progressively longer and longer increments we let him cry on his own, only going in to offer a few minutes of comforting at a time. Tonight is night number four. Everyone seems to think that within a week, things will start to get better. I certainly hope so. I really hope so. I really, really need it to be so.
If anyone out there has any words of wisdom to offer on getting babies to sleep better, I'd love to hear them. If you had kids, did you let them cry themselves to sleep? Did they cry every time? For hours? (and hours?) All I can find on the internet is testimonials from people who say that they felt like it was too cruel, so they just toughed it out... it only lasted for a few years. Good for them, I say, you are made of stronger stuff than I.
Anyway, that was a bit of a rant, but this is what we have been up to. Poor little Griffin. Send some happy thought his way, if you're reading this. And Sweet Dreams to you, too.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there guys - you'll do it! Lauren, if it helps, I went through the very same thing with you and you're right, it feels/felt torturous but I knew deep down you needed the sleep and to learn to sleep. Errol says it's times like this you feel this will go on doesn't. Errol then says, 'you just go on to the next stage, but at least you'll get some sleep!! Welcome to parenting'...ok so maybe not quite as motivational as he was hoping it would sound - Jan, you went through this with Brett .. sound in with your wisdom and words of hope!! Love to you all - you are amazing and great parents; Griffin is very, very loved! XOXOXO Grandma and Grandpa

Anonymous said...

just a quick thought ... would Griffin sleep better without his sleeping cap? His hair is filling in quite a bit now - I know Justin was a pretty 'hot' sleeper when he was a baby so we went without the cap. Anyway, just trying to think of something that may help! XO me-in-afterthought.

Caroline said...

I don't have any kids, but lots of my close friends are having/have had kids this past fall and winter. From my admittedly cushy observation post, it seems to me like "kitchen sink strategy" is the way to go. When attachment parenting isn't working for everything, try Something Else. If Something Else isn't working for everyone, try Plan D. Etc. The bottom line: don't feel guilty about trying everything but (including?) the kitchen sink! It's an important survival mechanism. Good luck!

Kristin said...

Every child and set of parents are different, so there isn't one single strategy that works for everyone. Think of it this way. Every child struggles with some things, and finds other things easy. Learning to sleep well will be a struggle for your little one, but he'll grow up to learn other things faster than you can believe.

I think Caroline's right. Try everything until you find something that works.

Anonymous said...

When I look back on my own mothering babies stage, I guess I'd say that two things really stand out upon reflection. ONE is that, as mentioned above, there is no paint by number approach; it really does come down to this child, with these parents, at this time, in this place - so learn from others, books, internet, but know that you're probably just looking for an affirmation of what YOUR intuition says is right and what YOU want to do as parents. And what YOU think or want to try or change your mind about or commit to IS LEGITIMATE just because it's yours - and this is your time to be mom and dad. Griffin has come to you because you're the best flawed human beings to raise him :) Trust that. Point TWO, is that we are all going to make mistakes; small ones and big ones - and that makes us feel sick -- but your son is strong and resilient and you will get through mistakes and experiments and even just plain crappy days - because you really deeply love each other. The love, real love, makes it all survivable.

So after all that, I'll specifically, that sleep is super important. Yours and his. So it's worth figuring out why he's crying. Is he warm, cold, hungry, overstimulated?? Is he going through a grow spurt and needs more milk/food? You're nursing and you're tired - that automatically means less milk produced as a long day goes by. Can you commit to your own rest in bits throughout the day and lots of good food and fluids at regular intervals and see if he gets a bigger drink at bedtime and then can sleep a bit longer? He's at 9 or 10 months - sounds like a growth spurt period could be in full swing. And as far as the crying it out goes - if he settles and it works, it works. If he's crying for more than a half hour at a time, I'd say there's something else going on. Maybe try it, if it doesn't really seem to be working, give it up but maybe try it again at a later date. You're obviously caring, loving parents and you and Griffin can figure this out. And it will pass!! Wait til he's 10 and you can't get him to wake up and get out of bed in the morning!! But that's leaping ridiculously ahead. One day at a time, Lauren. Rest, take good care of yourself, you and Jai take good care of each other, and that really, really helps you to take good care of your son.

Big loving, rambling thoughts from Cheryl (honorary Auntie.....)

jai and Lauren Soloy said...

Thanks guys. Yup, I told Griffin that mistakes are inevitable. Poor little man. He had a great sleep last night, though, so those happy thoughts must have done some good (hatless, so you may have a good idea there, Mom.) Now if we could only get him to nap well, too. Geez, we ask for a lot!!!!

Anonymous said...

Leo was the same - sleeping in with us and then moving (being moved) in on his own. As for crying, we did the pick-up/put down business which worked brilliantly. He'd cry, we'd pick him up and sooth him. As soon as he stopped crying, we'd put him back down. He'd start again and we'd repeat. It took a few nights but it did work for a few months, and then we got in to bad habits again and had to start over... Because he was older the second time, we'd let him cry for 5 minutes and then go in, put him down, tell him goodnight, and leave again. This was much harder (he was about 12 months at the time) but still only took about 3 nights. The things to watch for with both of these methods is the relapse. Often it will look like they've got it and then you'll have 2 bad nights so hang in there!

Good luck!

x rachel

jai and Lauren Soloy said...

I can totally see how it would be so easy to slip! Especially since we are both essentially lazy people. Things are maybe getting a little easier, but it's still insanely hard to listen to him cry those big gut-wrenching cries. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that he has everything he needs - except sleep!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lauren and Jai and precious Griffin,

In speaking with/beside all of us 'old' parents (aka Grandma, Grandpa, honorary Aunt Cheryl, and me), we have the gift of knowing that Griffin's sleep difficulties will resolve. Lots of practice in our lot!

Jai and Lauren, I can think of a couple of guiding thoughts to add into the mix of all the encouragement you have received. When your cousins were Griffin's age, I learned that bedtime routines helped on the road to sleep-full nights. By establishing a routine, Griffin will learn about what to expect, what will happen, what will happen next after that...each evening before bed. It will be your consistency to the routine that might ease his experience. As parents, Griffin is learning what to do for himself what you have done for him for the first 9 mos. of his life. Developmentally, he is now able and should be learning to soothe himself, settle himself, with his own strategies (imagine: soon crying will be replaced by playing with his fingers, talking to himself, cuddling a toy, listening to a story tape) etc. In learning, his 'anxiety' (those long cries) will be replaced with the routines you have introduced. The hardest part is the way we parents fall into the guilt trap. Yikes! It is a huge, deep trap. Griffin is wrapped in the love you two have created, with each other, and he knows he is loved. He is safe and this is your first 'educational enterprise' in the name of sleep!

You both know yourselves well. Even if you consider yourselves 'essentially lazy' people, you can still do this! Routines and consistency, whatever new gig you try until the right-for-Griffin routines stick. I worry a bit about your mind-numbing fatigue Lauren :( Maybe ask a friend to babysit Griffin for a few hours so that you can go home and sleep, even if in the middle of the afternoon! And when Griffin sleeps during the day, so must you.

Good luck to all 3 of you during this teaching and learning opportunity :) Trust yourselves, with gentleness and love. One night at a time.. Aunty J.

The Mama said...

Hey - this brings me back to the times when R was doing the exact same things. Been there, stressed over it, cried with R, and sorted it out. Will call tonight so we can chat. I have some ideas and other books to recommend if you want.
Karissa & Brad

sherrieg said...

I didn't get around to commenting until now (after you've done a happy follow-up, yay!) but I was just going to say a bunch of the same things, especially how much happier everyone is when well-rested and that a predictable routine was the ticket in our house (and as you said, it helped keep me sane, since I felt more in charge). So glad that he's been sleeping more, so that you can, too. :)