Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Plan of redemption (of our bed)

I remember when I first heard of the term "co-sleeping." I thought 'There is no way my kid will ever share my bed.' And if he had a hard time sleeping on his own, it's called the "cry it out" method. ADUH! All those mothers who whined about "not being able to bare the crying" for a few hours were weak. And I was anything but weak.

One of the biggest problems with my plan of no co-sleeping was the fact that we live in a one-bedroom apartment. So until our basement was finished we were going to have to keep him in our room.

I was dead set on keeping our bed a baby-free zone. I couldn't imagine wanting any interruptions to my nightly snuggle with Mr. Zman. We had finally found our snuggle synergie, with the initial spooning and then blissful tummy-sleeping with my one foot touching some part of his leg at all times. It had taken blood, sweat and tears compromise. And the coziness thereof was exceedingly great.

However, when I brought the little bundle home and realized I could actually breastfeed LYING DOWN (who knew?) the bed invasion began. After the first few weeks of life he was sleeping 4-5 hours at the beginning of each night. Then, when he'd wake up for his nightly feeding I'd just reach over to the bassinet and pull him into bed without batting an eye. And back to sleep I fell until morning. Mommy was well rested, baby was well fed, and all was bliss.

But pretty soon my little Einstein started getting smart. Why was he spending the first 1/2 of the night on his own in the poopy (is that a baby swear?) crib when mom was right nearby in a much warmer, cozier bed? Plus every time he made a peep there was on-demand feeding!

And thus the nightmare began. Pretty soon we were only getting about 1/2 hour of baby-free snuggle time instead of the 4-5 hours we'd had initially. And when you're half asleep with the knowledge that in just a few short hours he's going to need to eat and end up in your bed anyways, we quickly caved.

And it got even worse. I think since our bed is so squeaky we would usually wake him up every time one of us rolled over or got up to use the bathroom. He was waking up AT LEAST every 1-2 hours and nursing constantly throughout the night. We were tired. We were exhausted. We were nearing the end of our wits.

Ugh! So many issues, so few solutions.

But we're no quitters. Procrastinators? Maybe. But certainly not quitters

So for the past couple of nights I've been trying various degrees of "crying it out" with the little man. And it's been BRU-TAL.

At first I tried the Ferber method of going in ever few minutes to reassure without picking him up. That was an utter failure. One hour later, with my skin crawling and eyes watering I couldn't stand it any longer and rushed into the room to hold him to my chest and put him to sleep cuddled up next to me.

The next time we tried I took a tip from a girl in church and stayed in the room so he could see me, hoping this would calm some of his fears. It was a no-go. He still screamed for about an hour before I caved. Except this time I could see the shape of his frightened little mouth, his wild eyes and the beads of sweat on his brow from the extent of his crying. I felt like a horrible mother and decided then and there that he'd just have to sleep in my bed until he went off to college.

Then tonight, something changed. First I went through our bedtime routine and laid him in his crib. I then quietly let myself out of the room and the crying began instantly. After a couple of minutes Zach went in to soothe him. At this point he concentrated on exuding an air of confidence and reassurance. He leaned over baby F and stroked his face, telling him he was okay and that he wouldn't let anything happen to him. Then he started singing. After a few more seconds of crying his face softened, his eyes closed and he drifted back to sleep.

When Zach crept down the hall with his tale of success, I was pretty astonished. After all these nights of feeling like a failure was this the light at the end of the tunnel I'd been praying for?

About 10 minutes later Frankles awoke in a terrible fit of fresh screams. I channeled my inner Ceasar Milan and with a calm-assertive energy opened the door. I did exactly as Zach had said: leaned over the crib, whispered encouraging words and stroked his face, all while radiating positive and loving energy.

And BAM! He was out like a light, off to dream land like he was born to sleep on his own.

It's been two hours and there hasn't been a peep from the little guy.

Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between baby and baby cage with mattress crib? Only time will tell.

Keep your fingers crossed...

And stay tuned!!

love, aloicious


Casey said...

Ugh, CIO was terrible but totally worth it. We started with Graham at 7 months, we took away his pacifier and endured three nights of CIO hell and then he slept through the night after that. We lucked out with Elliot, she's always gone right to sleep without much crying and has slept through the night since six weeks. We take no credit for that.

Good luck to you guys, I'm glad you found a compromise that seems to be working.

Katie said...

Tough it out! You'll save yourself sleep in the future if you can keep him in his own bed. My sister-in-law has a 4-year-old who sleeps with her every night, wedging herself between her mom and dad. Don't let that be you! Way to go!

Ali-Pants said...

Oh Casey, I hope we have a similiar experience. Cross your fingers for us!

And Katie, yeah, I would HATE to be in that situation. Hopefully we can nip this little situation in the bud in the next few weeks.

Keely said...

Ah, the all-night Mama diner. Yep, been there. To be honest I'd have no problem letting X sleep in our bed except that he is the WORST person to sleep with. I got kicked, punched, name it.

We pretty much did exactly what you just did. Or, rather, I did, since hubby works nights. I just told X that I'm sorry, I love you and I'm right outside, but you have to sleep here now. I let him cry for 5 minutes exactly, went back in, laid him back down, and left again. He got the idea after a couple of days.