Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Experience With Sleep Training

If you've ended up on this page exhausted, bleary eyed, and shaky from so much caffeine, I understand. 

I, too, have been there.

When I first found out I was pregnant with Cali in 2012, the first thing I did was go buy 17 more pregnancy tests to confirm. The second thing I did was go buy every "baby sleep book" the bookstore sold. 

It's one of the first things you hear when you tell people you're pregnant... "Good luck. Get ready to never sleep again". 

Well, of course, I was going to be different. MY kids were going to sleep because all you have to do is put a little effort into it. The people whose kids don't sleep? Those people are lazy and they've just never taught their kids to sleep.

Just watch me, people. I'll show you how to do it.

What's that? Oh. You want to know my secret? Sure. I'll share it with you. Here is all of the "sleep training" advice I received and followed to a T.

Here we go...

1. Put the baby down in their crib "drowsy but awake".
This is the big one, guys. Simply rock (and rock, and rock, and roll your eyes at, and rock, and sing to, and walk around, and sing to some more, and rock some more, and sprinkle magic unicorn dust on) the baby until they're drowsy and tired but NOT yet asleep. Then lay them down in their crib and they'll drift off peacefully all by themselves...

What will probably happen next is the baby will scream their bloody head off until you pick them up again and rock (and rock, and roll your eyes at, and rock some more, and sing to, and bounce some more) them back down to their drowsy state. What's that saying? "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, again". Keep at it, folks. They eventually will put themselves to sleep.

2. Don't nurse/feed them to sleep when they have midnight wakings.
I'll be honest. I didn't/don't follow this rule 100%. I'm about 50/50 BUT if what they say is true, that should be ok. Half of the time my kids go back to sleep without being nursed. 

3. Keep the lights low on midnight wakings and don't engage the baby.
Pretty self explanatory. Don't make eye contact. Don't speak to them a lot, Don't make waking up at ungodly hours of the night fun and interesting.

4. Use white noise.
Guys. It's like a wind tunnel in our bedroom. We've got so much white noise that it drowns out my thoughts. I'm not entirely sure if it's supposed to drown out sounds for the baby or drown out the baby sounds from me. Either way, this is one sleep rule we've never had a problem following.

5. Swaddle. 
Sure. OK. Done. Baby's wrapped up so tight if they're ever admitted to the psych ward, the straight jacket will feel familiar.

6. Make the room as dark as possible.
Not only do I have black-out pull down shades. I've got black-out blinds AND curtains. Yes, people, I have THREE FREAKING LAYERS of black-out paraphernalia on my windows. No stray of light left behind. Or let in. Whatever. 

So those are the main "rules". And I followed them. For realz, y'all. And you know what happened?

You can probably guess. I mean, ALLLLLL the books and people say "if you just follow these 'simple' (this word is very relative) rules from the beginning, you'll have a perfect sleeper."

So I listened to them. I DID. I spent hours trying to find that elusive "drowsy but awake" stage. I spent even more hours of my precious hours patting my babies butts and "shhhhh'ing" them back to sleep to help them self soothe. I did/do this so much my back hurts from bending over the crib so much.


My babies (yes, both) woke up and cried and wanted me. And woke up some more crying. Aaaaaand woke up again. On and on and on and on and on. No matter how many times they put themselves back to sleep. No matter how many times I didn't nurse them. No matter how tightly they were swaddled. No matter how dark the room is. NO MATTER WHAT I DID, they just want to know I'm still there. They want me to pat them, shhhhh them, just wake up from my peaceful sleep and let them know I'm there. 

Sure, I'm not nursing them 100 times a night and technically they can put themselves back to sleep without me picking them up, but I still have to get my butt out of bed and make them aware of my presence. 

It's great. 

*eye roll*

I haven't slept in 3 years.


But there is light at the end of the tunnel! 

Cali is now 3 and last night she slept 6 hours straight without waking up!


Look, OBVIOUSLY this post is (mostly) sarcastic and in jest. I really did follow these rules and I really do still have bad (horrible) sleepers. So, I honestly can't help you if your kid doesn't sleep. Trust me. I'm literally the last person you want to take sleep advice from. BUT just know that if you, too, have followed all the rules and you're still a zombie because your kid STILL doesn't sleep, you're not alone. I'm tired with you! And you're not doing anything wrong.

Do you need to hear that again?

You're not doing anything wrong.

It took (and is taking) me a very long time to convince myself of this. Because, truth be told, you probably run into a lot of women who's kids seem to have their sleep shish together. They're rockstars. 12 hours straight by 12 weeks and they never look back! Woo!

Well, good for them. 

I have no idea how they did it.

Go ask them.

All I can give you is my sympathy.

And encouragement.

Keep on keeping on.

I mean, they eventually have to sleep. 




Please, God. Tell me they eventually sleep...

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