Wednesday, February 06, 2019

I Sleep Trained MJ and Almost Gave Up!

Our start with MJ wasn't fabulous... he really gave us a run for our money. But over the months, we got most issues sorted, and he stopped being a cranky baby and stopped rejecting bottles (he feeds super well with bottles now, thankfully).
BUT he's a horrendous sleeper! At first I thought maybe it's just a newborn thing. So I gave it 3 months, and then it was still as bad... in fact a bit worse with him waking every 2hrs at night instead of 3hourly, crying the house down until he got milk. I read that most babies can sleep through the night when they hit 6 months, and their bellies can store more.  

He hit 6 months but it never got any better, not even a bit. So at this point, I've never had a full night's sleep since he was born (except for one night I was in Batam and left him with my mum)... A typical night - put him to bed by 7pm, 9pm dream feed (if I don't then he will wake shortly after 9pm!), 11pm dreamfeed and I turn in for the night myself, 1am he wakes cries and I feed, he takes maybe 30mins to be rocked to sleep and I can't put him down otherwise he wakes immediately so not like I can co-sleep and lie with him, by 3 am he wakes again, I feed him and he is awake until 4am if I am lucky, if unlucky then 5am he sleeps and I can sleep again. 6am he wakes up for good and my day starts. A few days of this is ok... but MONTHS of this takes a great toll.. both in terms of physical exhaustion and mental stress too. Really some kind of hell. One that I didn't experience with Myla cos she dropped her night feeds and slept through the night on her own when she was around 6-8 weeks old until today.
So I made the (somewhat difficult) decision to start Sleep Training him, and read up about the different methods. I decided that the Feber method would be most feasible. This is with controlled crying, where the parent checks in on the baby at specific time intervals if they are crying. 

So that first night, we did our usual bedtime routine. Milk, bath, diapers and pajamas (multiplied by 2 ah, because I have to do the same for Myla as well, that's why around 5-6pm it's crunch time at our house lol) and then finally read a story together. Put myla in her playroom (she sleeps in there temporarily while I sleep train MJ). Then instead of rocking MJ in the tula and pace about the house like I usually do, I just carried him for a while, said a few soothing words in our bedroom (his cot is in our bedroom), and then put him down, said goodnight and left the room.
Sleep Training Night 1 : He spent the first 20mins just rolling around in his cot and cooing, very calm. So I thought, hmmm this isn't so bad.
 Then instead of sleeping, he started crawling around. (He's quite an early crawler). And then came the crying.
 and hour later... CRYING HYSTERICALLY. And in his desperation, he freaking hit a new milestone and pulled to stand in his cot and was cruising around the edges. WTH... the boy wasn't even 7 months old yet. Of course I was doing all the check ins but there didn't seem to be any progress.

I was wondering how long more do I let this continue. It's past the one hour mark.   :(  But if I call it quits now, then the past 1 hour of struggle would have been for nothing and we would be back to square one. And how long can I continue to live the way it had been going the past 6 plus months??? That's not a great option.

Suddenly, and the 1hour and 20min mark, he fell asleep. AND HE STAYED ASLEEP UNTIL 7AM. That part really shocked me, I thought for sure he would wake in the night and I would be in a dilemma of whether to feed him or rock him or let him cry it out (again!!!???).
By the way, it's important to keep a journal when Sleep training so you can see the pattern, what works or doesn't work, if there's progress etc. My journal is just scraps of paper ... cos I'm like that one... lol.

That 1 hour 20 mins was hell. I knew we were in for a tough first night (compared to some babies who like cry for 30 mins the first night and then fall asleep) because our boy is kind of strong and strong willed.  But it can only get better from here right?

Sleep Training Night 2: He cried for 40 mins, and slept through the night.
Ok, 40 mins is still pitiful and heart wrenching but it's a lot better than night 1. At least it's sub 1 hour. Yay... night 3 will prob be 20 mins?

Sleep Training Night 3: He cried for 45 mins. What the hell man... no progress and it's night 3. Most of what I read online in forums and stuff, babies have a tough first 2 nights and by the third night no more crying.

Sleep Training Night 4: He cried for 1 hour 10 mins. This is a huge set back. Why are we back to this point again? I've been very diligent with the sleep training and not breaking any rules (like using old habits like rocking him or feeding him to make him go to sleep even if he'll just sleep for 2hours max and I have to repeat again).

I decide to give this one week. Mostly because after he goes over that hump of falling asleep on his own, he's then able to sleep through the night and not keep waking and he's able to self sooth and he wakes up happy.

Also, not all babies will have linear progress (most of them do.. like 70% success within 3 days or something and it just gets better each day).. but some babies (MJ is always that "some baby" btw) will have what is called an Extinction Burst.

An extinction burst is a concept from behavioral psychology. It involves the concept of elimination of a behavior by refusing to reinforce it. The undesirable behavior worsens before it improves when you are trying to get rid of it.

Sleep Training Night 5: Same story but he cried for 30 mins instead

Sleep Training Night 6: Wow we are pushing a week now and he isn't magically falling asleep easily when I put him down for the night like what I read online (that most other parents are describing). He slept after 15 mins of crying

Sleep Training Night 7: SAME 15 mins. But less crying during this 15 mins.

Sleep Training Night 8: This is where we are right now, today. He took 20 mins to fall asleep but he hardly cried during this time.

I had forgotten what several hour blocks of sleep felt like. It actually feels like sleep now. Life is starting to feel good again. MJ sleeps soundly and he wakes happy, not cranky, and our daily routine goes much more smoothly (because I am not disgruntled from lack of sleep). I might get fatter, because I can lie down at night and not have to carry him and walk around for several hour. But ok la, that's a good trade off.

So yeah, sleep training was heart breaking especially the first few nights, and it was disheartening when he was regressing and not progressing as quickly as other babies did ( I kept thinking maybe this won't work for him and we should stop)... it didn't work magically overnight... BUT IT WORKED.

We are still in the midst of training and I'm fearful of regression, and I kind of can't believe he's actually sleeping all night (because hello, this boy woke every 2 hours every night, plus would not go down easily after each waking).

I'm very glad I decided to sleep train. Not all babies need it but I think the babies who do need it will benefit from having it. And life is so much better now for us.

If you have any questions etc feel free to leave a message, I'll try to help (though I'm no expert but I feel I've earned my stripes cos MJ not an easy case uh!)

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:20 pm

    Just want to give you a bit of knowledge, he is your child so do as you wish with this information. I have done infant mental health training so have a little background. When you leave a child to cry it out this raises a hormone called cortisol which is a stress hormone, when this is raised for long periods it starts to shut down parts of a child brain which is needed to form and maintain bonds later in life. When you leave a child to cry to sleep these hormones will remain sky high because they are incapable of bringing them down in their sleep which obviously affects that part of their brain the whole time they are sleeping. Your child will stop crying and learn to go to sleep but this is a form of detachment rather than going to sleep because they are safe and happy. I know it must be tough being a mum is but I am always wary of this since doing this training. Regression is part of development too. Good luck.

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  2. Hi thanks for that. Yes I did read abt cortisol levels etc while I was reading up on sleep training. There were studies for both sides of that camp.

    From our experience, I can see that the training has taught him self soothing techniques which he otherwise never picked up on his own because I gave him habits that didn’t allow for him to develop that skill. So every night with each time he woke he cldnt get back down without me feeding and then rocking. He was cranky in the day too because his night sleeps were like a series of naps with fairly large amounts of wake time between those “naps” some more.

    Now he wakes just as often I think ( Cos sometimes I hear him- he will roll around in the cot for 10seconds and then silence and he’s asleep. Compared to In The past, he wld spend far more time crying at night , yes even while I rocked him for an hour plus to get him back to sleep because he was over tired and he cldnt settle.

    I did have my reservations abt all this before starting the training and while training too (esp when it wasn’t gg well). But now I have no doubts this was the right move for both of us.

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