This is the “sequel” to my other post, Diary of a Sleep-Deprived Mom, Part 1. If you haven’t yet, you should read that post first before reading this one. Just to give you the basics, I decided to “sleep-train” my nearly 10-month old son Jake by letting him cry it out. I also decided to keep a diary each day so that I could really see his progress (and my mindset) as they changed from day to day. Here’s the breakdown (no pun intended ;-)):
Day One: I’m a complete mess. Jake is so happy and playful while I give him his bath and put him in his pajamas. He doesn’t know what’s coming, but I do. I start crying before I can even finish singing him, “You Are My Sunshine,” and I put him in his crib and walk away. Before I even leave the room, Jake is sitting up in his crib, wailing in outrage. I spend the next forty minutes or so crying, listening to Jake screaming so angrily, like he’s been betrayed. And he has. I was snuggling him and catering to him every night, and now I’ve just suddenly changed the rules! It’s not fair! But fortunately, Justin is there to remind me why we’re doing this, and he’s reading me all kinds of research he’s looked up online that discusses the benefits a child gets when he finally learns how to sleep independently (i.e. more energy during the day, better mood during the day, better development, etc.).
I turn off the monitor every now and then to give myself a break from listening to the crying. Justin goes to check on Jake and reassure him a few times, but it only seems to make Jake angrier when Justin leaves the room. Justin accidentally breaks the “no touching” rule, because as soon as he reaches in to grab Jake’s pacifier and put it in his mouth, Jake grabs Justin’s wrists and tries to somehow pull himself up out of the crib. He’s completely desperate and frantic. As the minutes of crying tick on, I feel like a terrible mother. Jake finally stops crying after 2 hours and 15 minutes. The silence should feel wonderful, but I feel sick. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing (even though Justin keeps trying to reassure me), and I send myself to bed early (though I don’t get much sleep).
Day Two: I’m cautiously optimistic tonight. I understand that last night was the worst that it will be, and the crying *should* be shorter tonight. Somehow Justin and I have reversed moods, because tonight he is the one who needs emotional support. After digesting everything that happened last night, he’s feeling guilty and upset about Jake and he’s having second thoughts. He didn’t realize it would be this hard. We both coddle Jake extra much through dinner, bedtime, and bathtime. Jake doesn’t seem to understand why we’re showering him with extra attention, but he’s loving it and perhaps hoping that last night was some strange fluke. Justin lingers when it’s time to tell Jake goodnight, and he’s reluctant to leave the room. I sing Jake a couple of songs (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). Jake’s eyelids begin to droop, and I lay him down in his crib. As soon as he’s left my arms, he’s sitting up and screaming again, realizing what is happening. I tell him “Night night!” and I leave the room.
Justin and I are a couple of nervous wrecks as we listen to the monitor. We cringe every time Jake reaches a particularly high-pitched, anguished scream. I start cleaning up and straightening the whole house, trying to keep myself busy by putting coats, shoes, and toys back in their proper places. At an hour in, Justin feels defeated and insists, “This isn’t going to work! He’s not going to stop crying!” And then, about fifteen minutes later, it miraculously stops. Jake has fallen asleep, for the second time in a row, in a flopped over position (legs extended in front of him and head laying down between his ankles–a pose I’m certainly not flexible enough to achieve). But, nevertheless, he’s sleeping.
Day Three: This is the easiest night of sleep training so far. The bedtime routine (dinner, bath, pajamas, song) goes off without a hitch. Jake actually falls asleep while I’m rocking him before I can even finish the first song because he’s exhausted from his lack of napping earlier today. I gently lay him down in his crib, but it’s no use. He wakes up when he hears the creak of his bedroom door (mental note: must find WD-40 to grease the door hinge), and he sits up, fully awake and angry that I’m leaving the room. However, after only fifteen minutes of half-hearted crying, he decides to drift off to sleep. He’s simply too tired for his marathon of screaming tonight, and Justin and I are grateful. We begin to think that maybe this sleep-training thing will work after all.
Day Four: Jake experiences a regression tonight. He begins crying during bath time, which he never does. I can’t get him to play with his bath toys, or splash in the water, or any of the things that he normally enjoys. Justin thinks that perhaps Jake has made the connection that bath time precedes “sit alone in my crib” time. Justin and I try to reassure Jake and calm him down while we finish his bath and put on his pajamas. Justin even stays in the room with me while I rock him and sing to him, which he doesn’t generally do. I eventually get Jake calm and in a droopy-eyelid drowsy state. I lay him down carefully in his crib, and he immediately pops his eyes open, sits up, and begins wailing. I tell him “Night night!” and run out of the room. Will this ever get easier? Jake cries for 35 agonizing minutes before falling asleep.
Day Five: I am relieved that Jake doesn’t cry during bath time tonight. He watches the entire episode of Wheel of Fortune after dinner (his favorite show, on account of the sounds and the spinning wheel). He plays and splashes in the tub, and giggles as I put his pajamas on. Justin lingers again while telling Jake goodnight (it’s almost harder to put him in his crib when he’s so happy!), but eventually leaves the room so I can turn out the lights and sing a few songs. Jake keeps his eyes wide open as I sing “Jesus Loves Me.” His eyelids droop a few times, but it’s obvious that he’s fighting to stay awake and soak in the last few minutes of Mommy-time. I place him in his crib, and like usual, he starts crying and sits bolt upright before I can even leave the room.
After twenty minutes or so, we don’t hear Jake on the monitor, so we sneak a peek into his room. He isn’t sleeping. Jake is sitting in his bed, playing with the turtle light in his crib and his taggie blanket. I’m not sure why he hasn’t fallen asleep (maybe he napped too long today?), but at least he seems content! He cries and plays quietly off and on for the next hour, and eventually falls asleep about an hour and twenty minutes after I laid him down originally.
Day Six: Jake has been more clingy during the daytime for the past couple of days. I’m not sure if it’s because of the sleep training, or because of a natural phase that he’s going through (my Mommy email newsletter this week said that babies who are 42 weeks old may go through a brief fussy period). He’s having trouble playing independently, and he just keeps up a general whine all day and wants me to hold him (which I’m happy to do). I start worrying again that I’m doing the wrong thing, and somehow damaging him psychologically and making him feel insecure.
Bedtime was pretty normal tonight. Jake was tired but fought to keep his eyes open while I sang him his bedtime songs, and he started wailing immediately when I laid him in his crib. He cried off and on for an entire hour before falling asleep, and I’m pretty sure that he started chewing on his crib rails (it was dark in there when I went to check on him, but his crib rail was wet and I felt little ridges in the wood!). I’m glad that he’s finally laying down to sleep instead of flopping over in a sitting position, but I’m upset about how long it’s taking him to get there. Isn’t the crying supposed to decrease at some point?! I’m feeling insecure about all of this sleep training mess, but I know I’m in too deep to go back now.
Day Seven: We follow our normal bedtime routine, and Jake cries for about 35 minutes before falling asleep tonight.
Day Eight: I am really nervous about tonight, because we made plans a few weeks ago to go to a dinner party at our friends’ house. My mom is babysitting Jake tonight, and then we’ll pick him up when we’re on our way home. I’m just afraid that the sudden break in the routine we’ve established will undo everything that we’ve been working towards, especially since Jake doesn’t seem to be “trained” yet. My mom assures me that he’ll understand that the rules are different at Grandma’s house, and that when he is at home with his Mama and Dada he is expected to go to bed in his crib. I hope she’s right!
(Later that night): When we arrive at my mom’s house after the party at around 10:45 PM, Jake is asleep (but according to her, he’s only been asleep for about five minutes–way different than his usual bedtime of 8 PM). I manage to get him into his car seat without waking him, and I even get him into his crib at home without waking him. However, after Justin and I get ready for bed and go to sleep, around 12:15 AM, Jake wakes up and starts crying. I step into his room to check on him, and I pat him on the arm and assure him that everything is okay. I wouldn’t normally pop into his room so quickly, but I worry that he’s feeling disoriented after falling asleep in Grandma’s arms and then waking up in a different place. That might have been a bad move, because Jake continues to cry even harder after I leave the room.
Naturally, Justin and I start over-reacting. Justin grumbles, “This is NEVER going to work! We just undid everything!” I start mentally cancelling every nighttime plan that we have for the next year (including our Wednesday-night Bible study, any potential future movie nights or date nights, and Fourth of July fireworks). I start thinking that we’ll just never go anywhere after 7 PM for the rest of our lives. We’ll have a strict curfew, and get Jake into bed at the exact same time every night, rain or shine. And maybe eventually he’ll stop crying for an hour before he goes to sleep, but I might have to get used to the fact that he won’t–that he will always ALWAYS put up a fight before going to sleep.
And then suddenly, Jake stops crying. He only cried for about 20 minutes (and much of that may be due to the fact that he saw me walk into his room and then leave again). It’s kind of funny how all of our freaking out just suddenly stops when he stops crying. Like I suddenly realize, “Oh! Nevermind. It’s going to be okay…” It’s funny how things can seem like the end of the world when it’s the middle of the night and you’re exhausted and a baby is crying.
Day Nine: We go through our normal bedtime routine, and Jake falls asleep after only TEN MINUTES of crying. Justin doesn’t even believe me when I tell him that Jake is sleeping already, and he has to go and see it for himself. It feels like a miracle!
Day Ten: We go through our normal bedtime routine, and Jake falls asleep after only FIVE MINUTES of crying. I never thought this would happen! Especially so soon after my freak-out on Day Eight. I’m ready to go ahead and call sleep-training a success. I know we’ll need to stick with it, because any prolonged breaks in the routine could send him back, but I feel like all of the crying and stress was worth it. After all, it was only ten days (even though it felt like a month).
Another added bonus that I hadn’t considered before we started this was that Justin and I have our nights to ourselves. I didn’t realize how much things had become all about Jake all. the. time. Now after Jake goes to bed, Justin and I can spend a few hours just being the two of us again, talking and relaxing and just hanging out without the stress of a sleepy, cranky baby needing constant attention.
I’m so glad that we decided to do this and stuck with it even though it was hard. I hope this diary helps any other moms out there who are going though the same thing!