Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Sleep Story

When Abbigail was one month old, I wrote this post. Little did I know, we would have a long 9 months ahead of us before she would actually sleep through the night. 

I know a lot of parents have had it and still have it a lot harder than we did when it comes to babies sleep habits. My blogging friend Jess asked me (and other mommy bloggers) to share our sleep story. {Side note: Jess has a little girl who was born a few months after Abbi. They named her Abigail Ann! Same name, spelled different. Awesome right? I think they're destined to be best friends!} So here it is: 




Let me also, preface by saying every baby is different! There is no right way to sleep train your baby. There are many different ways to do so and it's all about finding out what works for you and your baby.  I mean no offense to anyone. If I mention a sleep training method that you used didn't work for us, please don't take it personally. I'm just here to share our story and what worked for us!

Like most newborns do, Abbigail slept A TON when she was first born! It was awesome! Morning and night, that girl was always sleeping! After about a month, Abbi decided she liked sleeping during the day a lot better than sleeping at night. I found a blog post that basically explained Baby Wise. The author said all three of her babies slept 8 hours straight at 8 weeks old and 12-13 hours straight at 12 weeks old! I thought, THAT'S IT! This was going to change our sleep habits! We were going to get Abbi to sleep through the night by using this magical sleep schedule! It was hard! I felt more exhausted from trying to keep her awake during the day, having her scream all day because she wanted to sleep than waking up during the night. AND it wasn't working for us! Abbigail was mad and grumpy during the day because we were keeping her awake and she was still waking up in the middle of the night. Basically, she wasn't getting the sleep she needed!

Something had to change. But I didn't know what to change or where to start! We had some very rare but awesome nights where she would sleep 6 or 7 hours straight and it was awesome! We felt so rested and happy, then the next night she went right back to waking up every few hours. I was at a loss.

As she got older, she slowly started sleeping for longer stretches and starting at about 5 months she would only wake up once. I know, a lot of other mom's are thinking "only waking up once? That would be a dream for us" and it may be. However, for us it was still exhausting. Every morning I would wake up groggy, tired and irritated. I was irritated at my sweet, innocent baby girl because she woke me up during the night. Selfish right? Then I would feel guilty for feeling that way. What was my sleep deprivation doing to me?! {as you can see, my emotions were going crazy!}

My feelings exactly. 
We finally figured out that if we gave her a bottle, she would go right back to sleep. Then it didn't feel so bad! We would put her to bed around 10pm, wake up at 3am, give her a bottle, fall back asleep and wake up for good at about 7am. Not bad huh? I still felt tired, but I think I was a little less crazy. I was getting more sleep!



Now we were creeping up on 9 months old and she still wasn't "sleeping through the night." Over and Over people would tell us, "you just need to let her cry herself to sleep," "She will never learn if you always go comfort her," "she needs to learn how to put herself to sleep." I didn't like it. I didn't like hearing my precious baby scream for over an hour and realize she still wasn't falling asleep. I felt like I was neglecting her. I'm her mom! I'm supposed to comfort her and instead I was just letting her scream. This didn't feel right to me. It wasn't working either.

I took Abbigail to her 9 month appointment. I finally brought up my struggle with her pediatrician. He told me nutritionally, she didn't need a bottle in the middle of the night. Like you and I, if she feels hungry during the night, she can teach herself to fall back asleep, then eat in the morning. He also said part of her waking up once at night was out of habit. She figured out that if she cries at 3am, we will wake up, hold/cuddle her, and give her a bottle! What could be better? This gave me comfort, but I still didn't know which sleep training method to use.

I turned to the internet. (After 4 years of studying child development, you'd think I would know this stuff off the top of my head?! Wrong! I'm clueless!) I read about "no tears" methods and "cry it out" methods. I felt like the no tears methods were telling me to do things I was already doing, and that was obviously wasn't working. Then I came across the Ferber method. It seemed reasonable and people had a ton of success stories, so I decided to try it.

We would put Abbigail down for the night and let her cry for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes we would go in, tell her we love her & that is was time for sleep, put her pacifier in, and leave. Then, we would let her cry for 10 minutes and repeat. Basically, we would go up in increments of 5 before we would go in and comfort her. We would also use this for her naps during the day. We never had to go more than 15 minutes without her falling asleep. I finally felt like we (the parents) were finally in control. It took 3 days for her to totally figure it out and sleep all night with ZERO interruptions. 3 DAYS PEOPLE!!!!

via
She hasn't woken up in the middle of the night since we used this method and she is usually pretty good about falling asleep quickly when we put her in her crib, whether it be for nap time or bed time. It is divine! {Mental note: start earlier with the next baby!}

And that's our story! 10,000 brownie points to everyone who actually made it through this whole post. Hopefully hearing our success story will give you some hope! For all you moms struggling with babies who won't sleep, know it does get better! Eventually. Keep researching and find out what works best for you and your sweet baby!

What methods have you other moms used? 
How did you get your baby to sleep all night?

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