August 31, 2009

To sleep or not to sleep...

If you were stranded on a deserted island, with no prior baby knowledge, and you had a baby, what would you do? Would you instinctively know to lay your baby down somewhere away from you, by themselves, and let them cry until they fell asleep? I doubt it. Would you try to find something for them to eat other then the breast milk that naturally came from you? I don’t think so either. I do realize that there are something’s with this scenario that I do not practice. For instance, if I had my baby on the deserted island, I would not have the luxury of an epidural for her birth. However, my point is that a lot of parenting techniques are not the natural and instinctive way of doing things. Take for instance animals; have you ever seen a dog let their puppy cry it out? Or feed them with a bottle instead of their milk? If you have, please let me know… that is interesting. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not follow a completely “natural” way of life. I have a TV, Clover plays with toys that most certainly would not be made out of materials found on a deserted island, and I let her use a pacifier. However, the two most basic elements of a baby – eating and sleeping – are where I like to practice the “natural way”.

Since Clover was born, we have had what a lot of people would call “sleeping problems”. She would not sleep anywhere but in mine or Dustin’s arms. If you laid her down, she woke up. Sometimes she slept in a swing. We “struggled” with this until she was six weeks old. Then she would sleep in a bassinet next to me for short periods of time. She would not take a nap anywhere but with me, and in her car seat if we went somewhere. Then she got to be too big for her bassinet. With her past “sleep problems”, night wakings, and with my attachment to her, we decided it would be best to put her crib next to our bed. This was the closest thing to co-sleeping I could think of without actually putting her in our bed. From four months up until recently, she would sleep for about three hours and then wake up. As soon as one of us picked her up, she would lay her head on our shoulder and go back to sleep; obviously not hungry, but needing comfort and closeness instead. We would rock her for about 20-30 minutes and then lay her down again. Only to have her either wake up immediately or wake up shortly after. We would pick her up, and she would go right back to sleep. Stumped, I tried everything I could think of (except the most obvious, which I will get to). I thought maybe she was actually hungry but too tired to fully wake up. So I tried feeding her when she woke up. Sometimes, she would go back to sleep for two hours, sometimes she would wake right back up - therefore, there was no clear indicator that she was waking up because she was hungry. We tried Tylenol throughout the night, thinking she was in teething pain. Nothing. We tried giving her different comfort items. We tried rocking her again after the second time waking up, laying her down, then rocking her again when she woke up, then laying her down… the only thing THIS accomplished was a shitty nights sleep for Clover and no sleep for us. So we ended up taking turns holding her all night. As you can imagine, we all were feeling a little flustered. After tons of research and lots of advice (none of which I was completely satisfied with). I decided to go against my better judgment and let her “cry it out” one nap time. I’m sure all moms’ who have done this before can relate. It was TERRIBLE. I let her cry for 30 minutes. By the end, she had swollen eyes, a swollen face, hiccups and we both felt like crap. I know other Mom’s have said that you have to do this for about a week for it to be effective. But my gut instinct told me it wasn’t right for me or for Clover. Dustin and I had a serious conversation, and contrary to what others might think, HE disagreed with the crying it out method more then I did. We both feel (and it’s a good thing we agree) that it is not about us. So we don’t sleep for the first couple years of her life? Big deal. At least we are there for her when she needs us. And at least we are the type of parents that we want to be for her, instead of the ones that other people think we should be. WE are her parents. WE are the only ones that make the parenting decisions regarding her. So, it was our choice. That is when we discovered the answer… This is big, so wait for it…. We let her sleep in the bed. (I know, everyone who doesn’t agree with this is gasping right now!) But guess what else… we all sleep! She’s comfortable, I feel better with her next to me, and we all sleep! I’m still a little hesitant to let her sleep in the bed, only because she is not past the SIDS age, and I am petrified of SIDS. However, it’s the only way she stays asleep. Last night, after she was sound asleep, I put her in her crib (which is pushed up next to the other side of the bed so she can’t fall out of the bed) and prayed that God would please show me what to do. I asked that He would give me a clear answer if we were supposed to keep “struggling” with getting her to sleep in her crib, or if we should let her sleep in our bed. I told Him that I would do whatever He thought was right and whatever was best for Clover…and she woke up ten minutes later. Who am I to argue?

1 comment:

  1. Just wait a few years until she wants to sleep in and you're trying to get her up to go to school! She'll sleep just fine when she's old enough to have her own Grandma-crochet to wrap her fingers in. I don't know how you kept from cutting off the circulation in your fingers! Maybe the problem with the bassinet/crib was that she didn't have enough sprawl room. She could get into any position on your chest but maybe she didn't like the way she was placed in the crib. Whatever works for the 3 of you is good.