Posts Tagged ‘ cosleeping ’

Part 2: Can You Top This Sleep Training Saga?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

We left off yesterday with my friend Jennifer’s saga to sleep train her daughter. Eleanor is 2 1/2-years old and Cece is 4-years old. Both have been good sleepers. They share a room. But a few months ago Eleanor began to fuss. And Jennifer began to go in. Before she knew it, they were playing musical beds in the night, no one was sleeping, she and her husband were fighting, and everyone was miserable. Something had to give.

So they hired a sleep consultant, Renee Wasserman, from SleepHeadSolutions, to give them a plan that would work. For more on all this, and all the drama it entailed to reach this point, you can refer to Part 1.

Now it’s the second night and Jennifer is hoping it will be better than last night’s fiasco. So here she is again, with the play-by-play:

NIGHT 2:

We get a late start to bedtime.

As usual, Cece falls asleep right away.

As usual, Eleanor starts screaming under the door immediately.

Crap.

I realize we forgot to give Eleanor her antibiotics. Yes – we’re sleep training this poor child while she’s on antibiotics for an ear infection. In our defense, we’re halfway through the prescription and she hasn’t complained about her ear in a week. And we’ve found that there’s always, always a good reason to put off sleep training…

I bring in the pink medicine (this kid loves taking it) and then since I’m in there, I give in to her screaming potty request. She pees in the big potty in the bathroom, which is probably one less pee I’ll have to clean up off the floor in the morning.

We return to the girls’ bedroom and Eleanor wants to get into her sister’s bed. I let her sleep with Cece since I figure she’ll most likely end up there during the night anyway. Night two is around the same as night one but Eleanor cries for shorter periods of time. And she keeps her pajamas and diaper on all night. Huge progress!

We celebrate in the morning.

NIGHT 3:

Eleanor is up twice during the night but not for long. Again she keeps her pajamas and diaper on. She sleeps in her big sister’s bed all night. It feels like we’ve moved a mountain! I know it’s not ideal for the girls to be sleeping together in a twin bed. Cece complains about Eleanor sleeping on her hair and rolling on top of her, and, as our sleep consultant points out, she might just be replacing me with her sister.

In a perfect world Eleanor would be capable of sleeping through the night in her own bed but I gave up on a perfect world a long time ago. And I know we’re headed in the right direction.

NIGHT 4:

Eleanor sleeps through the night without waking up! She snuggles with her sister but now they both seem pretty comfortable together.

NIGHT 5:

Eleanor has another successful night. This is changing our life. We realize we didn’t have evenings before this – I used to tip toe out of the girls’ room at 11pm, trying not to wake them and then it would be musical beds all night. Having kids that sleep feels amazing! The next day after school/work we go for a celebratory dinner and then to Pinkberry for dessert.

NIGHT 6:

We have a bit of a relapse tonight. Maybe from the Pinkberry sugar? Eleanor is up a few times crying in the night. It’s still a whole new world though. I just look at her on the monitor and don’t go in. Now I can say with confidence she will figure it out. And sure enough, just a few tired tears and then right back to sleep.

Now the question is: do we allow them to keep sleeping together in one twin bed or do we try to nip that in the bud too?

Per our sleep consultant’s advice we talk to the girls about having more space for their bodies to stretch and grow if they stay in their own beds. Eleanor is going to try to sleep on her own tonight. Their snuggling is so damn cute though. And I’m very proud of Eleanor’s progress and I feel bad enforcing another difficult challenge so quickly.

NIGHT 7:

In an effort to get Eleanor to stay in her own bed, we decide to push the girls’ two twin beds together. This way the girls can be in their own beds and also beside each other. So far so good - 10pm and not a peep. Maybe pushing the beds together is the answer?  Nope – Eleanor ends up in her sister’s bed again. We think about it and decide we’re ok with this arrangement for now. Hopefully they’ll outgrow sleeping together when they’re ready and if they don’t, we now have the tools to make another change when we’re ready.

It’s been less than a week of sleep training and life has already changed so much! The improved sleeping has made a huge impact on all of our lives. The girls seem more rested, we’re all happier people, my marriage feels easier, I’m more productive at work… I can’t believe It took us this long to finally fix the problem. We should have done this many, many months ago. Getting outside help was key for us – we were too tired to think straight and our repeated attempts weren’t working. I realize now that Eleanor’s job was to test us and she was doing great. We just needed to set the limits for her. When I think about it, Renee really sleep trained us.

If anyone wants to contact Renee her info is:

Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H.

SleepyHead Solutions

Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

www.sleepyheadsolutions.com

www.facebook.com/sleepyheadsolutions

 

Pic of girl sleeping via Shutterstock

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Should Kids Sleep in the Same Room?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

In New York City, kids almost always share a room. And not because everyone in New York believes in co-sleeping. It’s just that space is at a premium. In our building in Brooklyn, there was a family down the hall with a boy and a girl. They shared a room until they went to college. I’ll admit I was a bit aghast at teenagers of the opposite sex sharing a room. But that’s how life is for a lot of people. Whether it’s villages in Africa where entire families sleep in one room, or places like NYC. Space, money and necessity dictate that reality.

I grew up in the country, outside the small town of State College, Pennsylvania. We had a big farmhouse with 4 bedrooms. There were 4 kids. My two brothers shared a room, as did my sister and I. We had a guest room. When I was 12 though, my sister moved into the spare. I remember how elated I was to have my own space.

We are now living in LA and renting a house with three bedrooms all on the same floor. Fia and Emmett each have their own rooms. Thank god, because it’s been a challenge keeping them from waking each other up in the night. Only in the past couple months has Fia started to sleep through his cries. Which is obviously a point many people will make: kids adapt.

We just recently found a house to buy. It’s beautiful and big at 3100 square feet. However the layout is such that there are two bedrooms on one floor (a master and a second one), then on the bottom floor is a guest bedroom and bath. I really don’t want either kid separated from us at night. I like being on the same floor. Plus, the way I feel about having company, we have to have a guest room at all times. Especially one on a separate level. At least that way we have our own space. We are taking a contractor over today to see if there is a way to create two bedrooms out of one or perhaps turning the laundry room into a small bedroom. But I don’t want to get into a lot of construction. Nor do I really want my laundry room in the garage.

I got to thinking: at this age, as long as Emmett continues to progress on the sleeping front (as in not waking up multiple times), is there a reason for them NOT to share a room? I suspect we’d be in this house about 5 years, so we would be far away from the tween or teen years. Then the plan is to move back to New York, where we’d all probably share a room. With the cat. (Kidding.)

Part of me thinks it seems strange to have a big house and yet have the kids share a room. But then I think, maybe not. Maybe it’s a good thing. I guess I want the option to put them in their own rooms if they end up keeping each other–and us–up at night. What do you guys think?

Now if only I was a co-sleeper, and believed in family bed, this problem would be solved. But something tells me that my strong stance on teaching kids to sleep by themselves– and my feeling that parents need their own bedroom– won’t be swayed.

I await your insight.

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My Favorite Blog Posts of 2012

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

It’s 2013. Time to toot my horn! Time to tell you my favorite blogs that I wrote from 2012. This, in hopes you have so much free time, you’ll dive in and read all of them! Yes, I’m starting off the New Year giving you work and working on my own issue with modesty (screw those resolutions).

In all honesty, I’m going to throw my editor, Sherry, under the bus and tell the truth: She asked me to give a list of my favorite blog posts from last year. I’m not saying this to brag, but it was actually really hard to choose. Do I go funny? Serious? Newsy? Controversial? Each post I do is so personal and most of them I really try and put something out there that I feel strongly about. Whether by humor or conviction.

In the end, I picked a variety of subjects and tone. The ones I left out, but am still really glad I wrote (in case you feel like getting extra credit) are the saddest. The nanny who allegedly stabbed two kids to death, the Connecticut Shootings, the Penn State (my alma mater) molestation scandal. There actually is one that is incredibly sad that I did choose. But it’s a more personal sadness. You will know which one I’m talking about below. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. The Failure Hour. My most brilliant invention yet, and what I think every mom should do!

2. Fia Turning Three. Before you roll your eyes or skip over this one, I urge you to read it (assuming you have kids. Why else would you be reading my blog unless you’re really really bored?). It’s not just about Fia. It’s about the unquenchable love these babies bring to our lives.  And our quest to hold onto it. Tight.

3. Losing Justin. The magnitude of loss is still hard to fathom. Father of two young boys. Son to my Baba Yaga. My first cousin. When Justin was killed, so many hearts shattered. I would do anything to turn back time and say it isn’t so.  I want people to read this to understand how quickly life can change. And to send peace and light to all of us who will forever grieve his death.

4. Losing My Mom. I wrote this on the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death. It actually gave me great peace to write it and to know she is in a better place. Especially since much of her life was so tragic.

5. My Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem. Okay, this has the word “Ugly Vag” in the first sentence. How can you not be intrigued?

6. Should Depressed People Procreate? Hell yeah! I did and I have the happiest babies on the block.  Lots of judgment here from those who have never been depressed.

7. The Death of Rody. I’m happy to report we have a new one. He is blue. And he’s an indoor Rody now. This, after the still-mysterious toy killer hit our yard. Last night we saw SIX–yes SIX coyotes on our street. I have my suspicions…I’m thinking coyote puppies who are teething…

8. Homebirth–I Don’t Get it. And still don’t. But I will say I am lessening my judgement with baby #2 on a few things…like cosleeping. I still believe strongly in sleep training. But I do get on some level why people sleep with their babies–because they are delicious. I do it from time to time. And did quite a bit with Emmett for the first 8 months. I just think you have to have a baseline of good sleep, both yours and your baby’s, before you go down that road.

9. A Monkey Made Me Lactate. Enough said.

10. Why The Boob Rocks. You would think this post would have been well-received by most. But oh no. There is a line in there that stirred so much controversy, I had to open another bottle of wine while blissfully nursing Emmett. In fact, I got so drunk I passed out and decided to make drinking to oblivion while breastfeeding a nightly habit. In fact, I’m in a blackout now.

 

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Why Do Co-Sleepers Use the Past As Their Argument?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Here’s what really gets to me when I talk about sleep training. So many of the co-sleepers defend their position by comparing what people did in the dark ages with babies. Here is an example from last week’s post:

“In tribal times, you would have never made your baby cry all alone in a crib. And we wonder what’s wrong with society!!…Until the 1920′s, babies have slept with their parents for centuries. It’s still the norm in all other cultures other than in America.”

I’m not singling out this particular person. I appreciate she read my blog and took the time to comment. But this is the type of thing I generally see when discussing sleep training.

First of all, let’s get the facts straight. America is not the only country to put babies in a crib. Most of the developed world doesn’t co-sleep. That includes Europe and Asia too, which encompasses, oh, a few countries here and there. Let’s not forget Canada. You think crib makers only sell to the United States? Seriously?

But my real annoyance is the comparison of current day to that of tribal and biblical times and what those in third world countries do. I’m pretty sure a villager in Africa would be thrilled with a crib. I am guessing that is the least of their worries though.

Has anyone ever toured the Tenement Museum in NYC? It’s an amazing place. They have reconstructed a real tenement to show how families used to live. This is before housing and labor–including child labor–laws were enacted.  It was commonplace for a family of 8-10 to live in a 300-square foot space with no running water or electricity. No indoor plumbing. There was no room for cribs or separate bedrooms. Infants routinely died from diarrhea. Sanitation was completely lacking. To use those times as a barometer for what is good for today seems completely ludicrous to me.

Also, you think none of these people from past generations let their babies cry? Think again. Whether you were working all day in the fields or in the sweatshops of New York, don’t you imagine that parents were completely exhausted and just collapsed at night? They probably slept through a crying baby. If they did wake up, sure, mom put the baby on the boob so they could both sleep. I get it. It’s called survival.

Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four babies under the age of 5 dies. Who wants to compare those statistics to what we have?

I know what you’re going to say: infant mortality rates have nothing to do with co-sleeping (unless you suffocate your baby, which does happen and thus why the AAP recommends against it).

But what irks me is this instant assumption that if something was practiced “for centuries” and still exists in villages in Africa, that we should use that as an argument for practices today. I spoke before about this in my case against homebirth.

There was a time when pregnant women were routinely drugged into a “Twilight Sleep” and strapped down unconscious to give birth. They were also given a pill to prevent their milk from coming in. Hard to fathom right? Seems completely insane. Inhumane even. But just because I believe in hospital births, epidurals and the beauty of modern medicine and vaccines doesn’t mean that I concur with the major and egregious practices of the past.

So sure, come up with why co-sleeping works for you: that you love having your baby snuggled tight next to you; that it’s a way for everyone to get more sleep; that it is your bonding time. Those reasons make sense. I did it too. Still do for weekend naps. Put Em on the boob and we drift off. It is heaven. It didn’t work for me at night because I was too paranoid of rolling on him. I was up constantly checking myself.  Now he’s in his crib and doing really well. So whatever works.

But for those of us who want to sleep train and have our babies in their cribs getting an uninterrupted 12-hour stretch of one of the most basic human needs, please don’t point to history and lambast us for our decision. And for the record, here is a recent study that backs up why sleep (and thus, sleep training for those babies who don’t just fall into it naturally) is so crucial. I’m just saying…..

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

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Is it Time to “Mom-Up” About Sleep Training?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

At 7 months, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to my “hired” village, and as my friend and Babble blogger Cassandra Barry likes to say, “Mom-Up.” I had to get rid of my night ladies. Places in Africa needed water wells for god’s sake. I think I could have built/dug 20 so far if I hadn’t employed my gals.

It’s just that with Fia, I was such a wreck from no sleep and no hired help, that I kinda lost my sh-t. We Ferberized her at 4 1/2 months. I became evangelical about the beauty and benefits of sleep training. With Emmett, I’ve done the opposite. I have managed to find all sorts of excuses–some valid, others not–to put it off.

He has reflux. He has gas pains. He’s farting too much. He must be in pain. He’s pooping too much. He must be in pain. He’s not pooping enough. He is constipated. He ate too much. His tummy hurts. He didn’t eat enough. He must be hungry.

This little dude has me weak in the knees with his ridiculously happy temperament that it’s been hard to think about letting him cry.

But the real reason I haven’t done it is I’m not tired! I think in order to go full throttle on sleep training, you have to reach the brink of insanity and misery. Or be falling asleep at red lights. Or have your husband threaten to check you into the psych ward.  Instead, with 8 hours of sleep a night, I have bounced happily through his infant stage, feeling pretty damn good as our bank account dwindles.

Phil and I both started talking about sleep training oh, about 4 months ago. Emmett would sleep happily on one of us while we watched every episode of Storage Wars, The Daily Show, and Breaking Bad. I wasn’t frantically going to bed at 8 pm, hoping to get a 3-hour stretch of zzz’s.

“When are we going to sleep train Emmett?” Phil would ask. “Soon,” I’d say, sipping my wine, not taking my eyes off the TV.  Neither of us were exactly motivated.

At 10 pm, we’d hear the knock on the door and in came our night help.

Frankly, with that set up, I didn’t want to “Mom-Up.” I mean, no one gets an award for lack of sleep, so for me, this was the right decision. To a point. But then it became a bit ridiculous. A little too easy. And I knew it was also in Emmett’s best interest to learn to put himself to sleep. Not to mention we needed our house back. And to some extent, our freedom. I didn’t want to travel anywhere because I knew I’d be the one losing sleep. Having a night nurse does get limiting–in an upper-class-problem kind of way.

So, with this 3-day weekend, we decided it was time.

Night 1:

This one was pretty bad. We put him down at 8:30 pm. He was up at 10:30. I changed his diaper (was only wet). He was up again at 11. I went in and tickled the back of his perfect neck (god I love that boy). He fell asleep until 1:30. Then started to wail. Fia woke up and started wailing too. Phil was running one way, I the other. It would have been comedic if it weren’t the middle of the night. Phil got Fia back down then came into Emmett’s room. I was sitting there rocking him.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought he pooped,” I said, knowing he hadn’t.

“Look, we are either doing this or not. If you can’t handle it, go down and sleep on the couch, and I’ll do it.”

“No, no, you’re right. Okay.”

I put him down (asleep) and walked out. He slept until 3:25. Then we let him cry for an hour. But before everyone freaks out at my cruelty, it wasn’t like he wailed for an hour. He would calm himself down and have 5-10 minute bouts of sleep. Then gear up again. Neither of us went in.

He slept until 7. The worst night was over.

Night 2:

Much better. He woke up at 10:30. I changed his diaper. He slept until 4 a.m. Cried for 7 minutes. I didn’t go in. He put himself back asleep until 6:30.

Night 3:

Down at 8 pm. A small crying fit at 3:30 for 5 minutes. Not a peep until 6.

I think we are there. And I am feeling this tremendous sense of freedom. I’m already planning our next two trips. As happy as Emmett was, I think he’s even happier now. He too is getting the sleep he needs. I also get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be proud.

It also goes to show that there isn’t just one “right” way. This is a good lesson for my judgmental self. I was so sure that Ferbering at 3-4 months was the only way to go. Until I read Bringing Up Bebe. Then I thought I should have done everything differently to have my kids sleeping through at 4 weeks via “The Pause.” I was cursing myself (though by Chapter 6, I was annoyed by the book).

But now I have a baby who is sleeping through the night, who can still take naps on me during the day or sleep on us occasionally while we watch TV. I have flexibility to do what I want when I want. And for me, that’s the true definition of “Mom-ing Up.”

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