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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
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read, Newborn Care | Tags: bed-sharing, bonding, breastfeeding, cosleep, cosleeping, crib, family bed, Ferber, homebirth, naps, nursing, sleep training, Weisenbluth
Monday, September 10th, 2012
Emmett is sleeping through the night. Mostly. I know they say in 12-step programs, “Progress Not Perfection” so I’m using that mantra on the nights that he decides to cry at 3:35. Which is about every other. Some nights he is asleep for 12 hours. Others he still wakes up a few times. It could get frustrating, but I’m not letting it. Ironically with my night help gone, I am enjoying my nights more. As much as I loved my gals, it was “work” to be social at 10 pm when they came and at 6 a.m. when they left. (Yes, poor me, right?)
I think I’m finally pulling together some sort of a schedule with him too, but it’s taken 7+ months to get there. He now takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. Occasionally an evening nap. Considering I only ever got 30 minute naps with Fia until she turned 18 months, I feel pretty good about what is happening.
But what I’m learning more than anything is that every baby truly is different. I know that sounds like the “duh” factor, but I honestly thought you sleep train every baby the same way, you feed them the same way, you nap them the same way. And some get it and some don’t. But now I’m realizing that as moms, it’s our job to follow the cues and make decisions accordingly.
What what worked for Fia (3 days of Ferber) didn’t work the same way with Emmett, so we modified. Sometimes that includes putting in earplugs and letting him cry. Seems like the more we go in to soothe, the more upset he gets. The nights that we don’t go in, he typically calms himself down and falls back asleep in under 7 minutes.
This could also be because I waited until 7 months to Mom-Up with the sleep. I know the older they get the longer it takes to train them.
For a Type-A like myself, this is a growth spurt. I like things bundled up neat and tidy. Including schedules. But what Emmett is teaching me is to go with the flow a little more.
My husband seems much more puzzled. “Why is there no pattern to when he cries in the night?” he asks in frustration. “Why isn’t sleep training working?” I just shrug and say, “Don’t worry, he’ll get there.” Then I remind him that nothing is foolproof in parenting.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: baby nurse, cosleeping, cry it out, Ferber, Ferberizing, gas pains, Mom-Up, night nurse, reflux, sleep associations, sleep deprivation, sleep through the night, sleep training
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
Okay. It’s worse than it sounds. Emmett hasn’t actually lost weight. But he’s gone off his curve a bit.
When he was diagnosed with reflux about a month ago, we put him on Zantac. At that point his weight was in the 30th percentile. Two weeks later, at a follow up appointment, he had jumped into the 50th percentile. So it came with great surprise today at his 4-month check up that he has dropped into the 28th percentile and fallen off his curve.
I asked her to double check the numbers. He gained a pound in a month but he should have gained more I guess. He is 13 pounds, 12 ounces. He is super happy and incredibly active. So much so, she did say that he might be burning up more calories than the average 4-month old, thus not keeping his weight up with the curve. Nevertheless, because of his reflux issue, she was a bit concerned.
She also put him on his stomach and said he should be lifting his head up more. This is a boy who was ahead of his game at 2 months on his tummy. But then he developed the reflux and tummy time kind of went out the window. Apparently it shows. Thing is, he’s uncomfortable on his stomach and he barfs.
All this to say, I got quite discouraged. Between the visit and my angst over reading Bringing Up Bebe, I am doubting my mom instincts. We have no schedule–day or night. He isn’t staying on the curve. Yet he seems so damn lively. He rarely cries. He coos constantly. I mean, to what extent do I worry? She suggested I try a little rice cereal on a spoon to see if he is ready for solids. Perhaps that way he can put on some weight and keep the milk down. Okay, I can try that. But she also suggested an occupational therapist to see if he is sucking properly. Perhaps he is sucking down too much air, she said. Honestly, I am rolling my eyes. Does that seem a bit extreme? Seriously? I think he is doing just fine. As for the lack of schedule, she also said not to worry too much. Sleep training? Don’t think about it until 6 months or so. I should be relieved that the pressure is off. But I’m not.
This is why I hate going to the pediatrician. All the information is contradictory.
With Fia, my Brooklyn doctor said no rice cereal. It’s bland and boring. Introduce flavors. I did and she is an adventurous eater, though not a big one. Her weight gains are small, though they are on the curve. They said sleep train between 2-4 months. We did it at 4 1/2 months and she sleeps like a champ. They said get on a schedule (though I never really mastered that until 18 months). However, they refused to give her Zantac and I know she had reflux. I was so frustrated in becoming a human burp cloth that I gave up breastfeeding with her at 4 months. So who to believe?
In the end, I know Emmett will gain weight, stop barfing, sleep through the night and get on a schedule. Especially if I commit to making those latter two happen and experiment with his feedings a little more. But I’m still sitting here debating if I really need an occupational therapist. I mean, the kid sucks like a champ. It sounds like a giant waste of time.
This all seems more complicated than it needs to be. I am a veteran at this. It shouldn’t be this difficult.
Have I made your head spin? Mine too.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: barf, curve, Ferber, naps, occupational therapist, pediatricans, reflux, schedule, sleep, sleep training, sucking, tummy time, weight, weight gain, weight loss, zantac
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
I hate the book Bringing up Bebe. Not because it’s bad. Quite the opposite. I find it brilliant. And logical. And depressing. I’m only on chapter 6, but so far, every page has made complete sense to me.
I know it caused quite a stir when it came out. I wish I had read it then–before Emmett was born. I’m convinced he would be sleeping through the night by now. We might even be able to take Fia to restaurants. It makes me feel awful–like a lot of what I’m doing is now irreversible and insurmountable. Maybe the pregnancy hormones are still raging. Or maybe I’m just mad at myself for not putting down more ground rules with Cleo (nanny) about Emmett. Here’s where I’ve gone wrong:
The first few weeks of Emmett’s life, we all held him constantly. I get that. But then I started to notice if I didn’t hold him he often fussed a little in his swing/Moses basket/crib before putting himself to sleep. In the book Druckerman talks about, “The Pause.” In France, when a baby starts to fuss (not wail), the parents “pause” for a few minutes before doing anything. If it escalates into wailing, they pick them up, feed them, burp them, change them, whatever. But what they have found is that many babies fuss, then fall asleep. It’s their own way of self-soothing. Many do this out of the gate. In her book, Druckerman claims many babies sleep through the night at 2-3 weeks. But this “pause” window is finite. At around 4 months, if they haven’t learned to self-soothe, then you have to do hard-core sleep training.
I’m a Ferber fan, and we did it with Fia. But I am not excited to do it with Emmett. Unfortunately, our window is closing. He’s 4 months old this week.
He’s also on zero schedule. He naps when he’s tired. Usually when he’s being held. Or nursed. A lot of the naps are just 20-30 minutes.
Sleep? Some nights he goes down from 8:30 pm-5 a.m. Other nights he wakes up every 3 hours. There is no rhyme or reason.
Looking back, I realize that rather than capitalizing on his ability to put himself to sleep or get any semblance of a schedule, I just went with whatever happened each day. Still do. Cleo still picks him up when he fusses. I’ve asked her to give him a few minutes before rushing to him. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn’t. I can’t blame her. I do the same thing. I’ve made us both inconsistent. I also nap with him on the weekends. I love his little body next to me. Every morning I put him in bed with me to nurse and get an extra hour of sleep. Should I stop?
With Fia, I had a lot more confidence in sleep training. She woke up at 3:33 every single morning. So I knew it was just a habit. Emmett is all over the place, so I’m not convinced that he’s not hungry or gassy. Plus, he is such a good baby 90% of the time. He rarely wails. He likes to sit in his carseat or swing and entertain himself. He laughs and coos. I hate to think about CIO with my little guy.
I might take off next week and just let Cleo do things with Fia while I tackle the schedule. Maybe getting the days down will help with the nights. But how? Even with naps, I get confused, then I give up. Am I supposed to do it every 2 hours? What if he sleeps for 20 minutes? Then do I keep him awake for 2 more hours until the next nap? There’s no way. Especially if there is a feeding involved. He’ll fall asleep on the boob. Guaranteed. But probably just for 20 minutes again. By that time, I know I’ll just say screw it and throw the attempted schedule out the window. I’ll continue to be consistently inconsistent. Unless….I really decide to commit.
But then does that mean he can’t nap with me on the weekends? What about the mornings? Can I have my cake and eat it too? I don’t think the French do (which is why they’re all so skinny–as also pointed out in the book).
He is my last baby so the heart part of me says “F-ck the schedule.” But then my brain part says, “Yes, it’s time to get some order back.” And I know most babies thrive on a schedule.
I can’t even tackle the restaurant ordeal in this blog post. Suffice it to say, eating out with Fia is an exercise in misery/exhaustion. In France, toddlers apparently sit quietly and eat.
I hate this book.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Newborn Care | Tags: Bringing Up Bebe, CIO, Druckerman, Ferber, french parenting, pregnancy, pregnant, schedule, sleep, sleep training, The Pause