October 10, 2012 by Melissa
My baby girl Alice turned one last week. The first year can be achingly long yet goes by way too quickly. She’s now a toddler: walking, almost running, climbing and showing her displeasure with nearly everything in her world. She had another big first a few weeks ago: she put herself to sleep at bedtime and slept all the way through the night. Yes, it took us almost a year to figure out how to teach her and how she needed to learn that important task. I put the onus on us in this instead of Alice because with Lucy, we had help. She went to daycare her first year and I’m betting that her daycare provider had more to do with her figuring out how to put herself to sleep than we ever did. One day I just set her in her crib because she was so heavy, my back hurt from rocking her. I left the room to get some Tylenol and take a break and she didn’t cry like she had a month or two previous. In fact, she rocked back and forth for a while and, soon, was out for the night.
A while back I wrote about our failure at the cry-it-out method with Alice. She cried so hard she puked several times, 4 nights in a row. We were unwilling to try it anymore. We knew it would be hard but this was beyond what we could do. So we backstepped for a rough week as we reestablished Alice’s trust in us and surrendered. I called Amma Parenting for help. They referred me to Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D. She provides private sleep consults for parents. I wrote a tearful and pleading email to her asking if she could help us and received a quick note back from her assistant saying that she could definitely help us. We set up an appointment for the end of October (she’s that busy-we’re apparently not the only ones at the end of our rope).
The thing is, once we had help coming, we relaxed and started trying different things. We tried sitting in the room with her while she was in the crib. At first we sat in a chair and read but she just thought it was play time with us facing her. Then, one night, my husband laid on the floor facing away from her. She screamed for a few minutes then laid down herself and, within a few minutes, was sound asleep. She proceeded to sleep almost 11 hours without waking.
Our biggest problem with Alice wasn’t that we had to rock her to sleep or even the night wakings as she went back to sleep pretty quickly. Our problem was that after going to sleep, she’d wake up 2-4 times in the first few hours, needing help each time to go back to sleep. We didn’t have any reliable time to ourselves to watch a movie, talk, clean up. There was no reliability.
We’re sticking with this routine for a while and we’ll start moving ourselves closer to the door, hopefully out the door, within the next few weeks while she puts herself out. What a relief to have a) a reliable routine, and b) uninterrupted sleep! It really is unbelievable how much sleep problems can cloud your outlook, your health, your mood. When you’re not getting it, it’s all you can think about.
I’m still going to wait a while to cancel our sleep consultation…You know as soon as I do, something will change.