When I was pregnant, my big complaint was insomnia, which began in my second trimester and only got worse.
But even tougher was the reaction I got every time I mentioned my insomnia to anyone: "Just wait until the baby arrives."
At the time, I laughed off the warning. But when my beautiful daughter, Ella, finally arrived -- and my body was finally willing to grant me the sleep I craved -- I really learned what it meant to be sleep deprived. Waking every hour or two to nurse or change Ella left me exhausted, both physically and mentally. While nursing, Ella would peacefully fall asleep, only to start screaming the second her little body touched the bassinet. But if my husband, Patrick, or I slid her between us in bed instead, she'd stay asleep. We tossed out all thoughts of establishing good sleep habits early on, in favor of getting a few hours of uninterrupted zzz's.
Flash forward to now, when Ella is 15 months old and still sleeping with us every night. We had tried Ferberizing when she was 4 months and 8 months old. Ferber advocates that you teach your baby to put herself to sleep by letting her cry it out. Patrick was willing to tough this out, but I always insisted we give up after a few days. My reasons were practical -- we live in New York City, so her screaming kept up not only us but also all of our neighbors -- as well as emotional. I just couldn't bear to listen to my baby cry.
So why try again? For starters, whoever coined the expression "sleeping like a baby" didn't know what he was talking about. Babies flail about in their sleep, so Patrick and I kept waking up with a fist or foot in our faces. And our bed seemed to grow smaller as Ella grew bigger. None of us were getting enough sleep, so I swore to my husband that I would faithfully heed Ferber's advice. What follows is my night-by-night account of our sleep-training days.