Putting an End to Sleepless Nights

Day One

bedtime formula

Janell Genovese

I call all my neighbors to apologize in advance for the screaming they're bound to hear, and I promise to buy them all lunch. Next, I talk to my kindly pediatrician. I know what he's going to say -- Ella needs to learn to sleep on her own, and this is the only way to make it happen -- but hearing it from him is reassuring nonetheless.

Night One

7 p.m. We decide to start on a Friday, when Patrick can leave work early. That gives us three days to do this together, because come Monday, he'll be back to working late and I'll be on my own.

8 p.m. After giving Ella the bottle, bath, and book recommended by Ferber, we sing her a song and place her in the crib. She's content lying there and listening to us sing. But as soon as I say goodnight, she starts crying. It's hard to walk out of her room, but I do. We order Chinese food and pop in a DVD. Following Ferber, we take turns going into Ella's room at five-minute intervals to reassure her that we're still here. Within 40 minutes, she's fallen asleep.

1 a.m. We're sleeping on the living room couch because Ella's bedroom is right off ours. Still, her piercing cries wake us instantly. My husband goes to her as I watch on our video baby monitor. She ignores him completely, and I know she's screaming for me. I put my hands over my ears and try to block out her crying. Maybe because I don't have the movie to distract me, listening to her wail is a lot worse in the middle of the night. She cries for an hour before finally collapsing into sleep. Patrick and I doze off seconds later.

5 a.m. As I wake to Ella's cries, I realize that it's 5 -- the hour the pediatrician told me I could get her -- and I run into her room and take her into my arms. She's smiling that big, lopsided smile of hers. She's clearly not mad at me, and I feel instantly relieved.

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