Posts Tagged ‘ Ferber ’

Why I Can’t Sleep With My Toddler

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The other night Phil was out of town. I was having one of those cravings for Fia… you know, like the kind when you want to eat your child, yet you know you’ll never have enough of them to get full? It’s that insatiable feeling of mom-love. I decided to have her sleep in bed with me. I envisioned spooning her all night and getting some sort of tangible fullness. Uh-huh.

9:30 pm–in bed reading my book. Fia lifting legs in the air. “What are you doing honey?” “Making shadows Mama. Look!”

“It is two hours past your bedtime. That’s it.”

Book closed. Lights out. Fia puts hands in air. She swings her arms back and forth. I bark, “No more shadows!” I’m officially annoyed at my decision to have her sleep with me. Plus, I had to shut off my Kindle during a riveting reading moment.

11:00 p.m.—a foot is in my mouth.

12:30 a.m.—I am eating Big Bird.

1:00 a.m.—Emmett starts to cry. I hear him through the monitor. I sneak into his room to pacify. Pitter-patter. In come little feet. “Fia, go back to bed,” I whisper.

This is important for two reasons. First—it’s one o’clock in the f-cking morning. But second, Em is so sensitive to noise that if she starts talking, he’ll jerk up and start giggling. Yes, my baby laughs too much. I realize there are worse problems to have…but in the middle of the night, all issues seem insurmountable.

I get Em back in his crib, Fia back in my bed. I threaten that I’m putting her back in her crib. But I know she’ll wail. I can’t take the “you get to sleep with mommy tonight” back.  I can feel Ferber shaking his head…

3:00 a.m.—an ankle on my ear. A thigh on my stomach. I am in a bad game of Twister and I’m losing.

4:00 a.m.–Wayne pounces on the bed and yowls. I curse myself.  How did I forget about the stupid cat? Fia bolts up in bed. “Mama, Wayne is here!” Yep, didn’t know that. Thanks.

I get up, grab the 18-pound load of fur and sequester him downstairs.

5:30 a.m.—Em wakes up. This time he’s hungry. I sneak in again. Put him on the boob. Pretty soon her little shadow appears, then her little body. I have to whisper again, “Get back in bed. Shhh. Shhh.” Emmett pulls off the boob to look. It’s his big sister! Cue the giggling. I tell her to just lie quietly on the carpet in front of me so Em can’t see her.  She does. And puts her legs in the air. Yep, the shadow game is back.

6:00 a.m.—Em is sleeping. So is Fia. I am wide-awake. The sun is rising and I can feel the bags pulling down on my face.

I didn’t get one cuddle. I am not full. But at this point, I don’t care. I just want my bed back.

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Milestone Monday: NO FREE PASS FOR MOMS

Monday, September 24th, 2012

There is no free pass in motherhood. A while back I wrote about why the boob rocks and how I would get extra sleep every morning because Phil had to get up with Fia. I would lie in bed with Emmett, he’d nurse and we’d both fall asleep for at least an extra hour. I was so thrilled–almost giddy–about this scenario.

Anytime I needed a break from the chaos or wanted to relax, Emmett and I would just disappear under the guise of nursing. Don’t get me wrong: I did put him on the boob. But it went beyond survival for us/him. It was more like the perfect excuse to escape when the going got rough.

Wow, kid #2 is easier on the mom, I thought with glee.

Well, I should have known better than to brag. Or get too far ahead of myself. Because when it comes to babies, they really love to f-ck with you. Just when you think you’ve got it down….

Emmett is now 8 months old and I’m more exhausted than ever. Granted, it could be because I listened to my friend Cassandra’s advice to “Mom-Up” and sleep train him, thus getting rid of my night village. (Damn you C!) So now, he sort of sleeps through the night. You know, the usual–consistently inconsistent. (That should be the slogan for babies, btw).

The mornings though are when I really get screwed. He is so excited about moving (almost crawling), not to mention he is an incredibly active baby, that now when he wakes up, there is no sleeping. He nurses and is ready to M-O-V-E. This boy waits for no one.

What sucks even more is he and Fia have swapped time zones. Em wakes up at 5 or 5:30 and she sleeps until 7. So I’m up before the sun, done nursing in 20 minutes, and attempting to think about the day ahead while Fia and Phil snooze away.  Phil has very little sympathy. Why should he? He bore the brunt of early mornings for months while I smugly enjoyed what I thought was mother nature’s free mom pass. Ha.

Cassandra, I now hate your term Mom-Up. I want to Mom-Down. Somehow though it just doesn’t have the same ring.

Emmett–be glad you are so damn cute and happy. If you weren’t, your mom would ignore your early morning wake-up call.

I know this is one of many examples of the tables getting turned on moms, so please feel free to share your own sad tale. I may as well brace myself for more.

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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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Milestone Monday: Is No Schedule a Schedule?

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.

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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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