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No one’s crying it out

Posted on 19 February, 2017

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. It  has been 7 days since my last blog post. In those nights Freya has slept for 12 hours six nights!! I am guilty of the most grievous deadly sins of sloth. Yes, I have gone to bed many nights at half nine just to reap the full benefits of sleep. I am further guilty of wrath. The bin men with lights and sirens at six in the morning have been victims of my  internal ravings. I have felt envy at all the sleeping homes on the morning/middle of the night that Freya woke early at 5:15am convinced it was time for socialising and eating.   On this day  I felt travel sick for the entire day but powered through with a gluttonous amount of chocolate cupcake decorations eaten, in hiding, in the utility. But of all my sins the one I am least repentant for is pride. After last weeks depressing failures in controlled crying we can now say that she can definitely settle herself and soothe herself back to sleep. She wakes and chats herself to sleep. She rubs the blanket against her cheek as a comfort and despite the fact that every inch of me knows this won’t last I couldn’t care less because this week I slept well, this week our daughter is settled. For this I’m rolling around in the pride and slathering it on. She did it! We survived!  Nobody killed any body! She is, for however fleeting a time, sleeping through the night!

Now I will say a few Hail Mary’s and erase it all from my memory. That horrific first night– gone. Freya’s crying, screams and pleas- gone. My guilt, tears and frustration- gone.

My selective memory will hone a new version of events. In a few years I will say things like ” Freya was always a good sleeper, just like her brother” and ” She never gave us a moments bother” “. In truth crying-it-out took a full week to have any effect and I am definitely not feeling as smug about her sleeping as I thought I might be.  Are we set for a life time of sleep? God no. Our day still starts on average at 6:30am followed closely by her brother in full action mode at 7:00 am but as Steve says ” At least we know she can do it”.  I’m pretty sure tonight we will have a shocking night because the golden rule of having a baby who sleeps through the night is that you never, ever,  say they are sleeping through the night. Let alone publish it on the internet. So in true Catholic form let us never, ever, speak of this again, Amen.

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We continue crying it out

Posted on 12 February, 2017

Let me start by saying it’s all gone pear shaped! After my last post I was hoping to come back and smugly flaunt my sleeping child in front of you. During the week it was starting to look good, the night before last I could see the victorious blog post come together. But it wasn’t to be. It has been a week since we first started the controlled crying method and we are exhausted. I’ve put a night by night record at the end of this post for those of you who are interested but it can be summed up pretty easily. Controlled crying hasn’t worked (yet!).

Our win has been one night she slept through for 12.5 hours. I was thrilled for her, for us, for the possibility of a continuum of sleep filled nights. She was a delight in the morning and because she woke before her brother we started the day with low lights and giggles. It was blissful. This glorious time was the night before last. I thought we had cracked it. While outwardly saying, “We’ll see how tonight goes” inwardly  I thought we had really found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is a certain misunderstanding that second time parents have more sense than to think one night of sleeping through means you are home and dry. Really second (and I’m guessing third,fourth and fifth time parents) are so knackered that if anything you cling to the dream of a string of good nights sleep so tightly that you believe the mirage. You believe it so completely that you crawl on your hands and knees to the well of sleep and it believe it will never dry up.  Then you wake up. You realise that you are in fact, almost, back where you started.  Last night she woke and tried to settle herself. It briefly worked then she woke with ferocity. She stayed awake and upset from 4am to 5:20am.  She would settle briefly when we comforted her, but it had no lasting effect. I wouldn’t say she settled herself in the end. She just got too tired to cry and drifted off. At 7 o’clock Ewan was ready for action and the house wakes once again. Not a win! No gold. No well filled with sleep.

The big question is with the upset and broken sleep is anyone any better off than before we started controlled crying?

Today with bags under my eyes sizable enough they would have to be checked through I would still say it’s worth it. Some nights she has woken and babbled herself back to sleep. This has been amazing. I’m so proud of her for managing that. We haven’t given her a dummy, for no particular reason other than we haven’t. We haven’t given her a toy because of the seven leaflets I got when she was born about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which says cots should be barren waste grounds free of all toys,teddies and creature comforts. You did read that right by the way. In Freya’s first week  a lot of midwives called to the house and they ALL gave me at least one leaflet on S.I.D.S until eventually I counted them and refused to take anymore of them.  It’s left an impression on both Steve and I that’s still hard to shake even 8 months later!

Basically we are asking her to settle herself in the confines of her sleeping bag with just a breathable blanket to hold on to. At times she can actually do it. She is, as I should mention more often, amazing!

When I was thinking if this was worth it there are actually plenty of positives I forget when I’m tired and cranky.

1) She has once slept through for 12 and a half hours and woke up happy.

2) She has been woken by drunk people shouting on the street and settled herself back to sleep with ease.

3) She still only wakes fully once a night.

4) She has not had a bottle at night for a week!

5) Now when she’s awake at night she sounds frustrated that she isn’t asleep.Frustration is better than stress (That’s not a major win but I’m really looking to take what I can)

6) I’m hugely proud of her. Not only for the nights that she settles but for the nights that she raises herself onto all fours so that she has us in her eye line as she shouts for us.  She knows we are there and she’s not going to stop calling for us. It’s an odd positive but when my Mum said that crying-it-out worked after two nights when I was a baby I thought, what kind ofa light weight was I? Where was my gumption? Where was my fight? At stupid o’clock  last night I thought of the quote “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” While the poem doesn’t fit the circumstance, especially since at 5:20am it’s more likely to get light than dark, the sentiment is perfect for her. She won’t go down easily she will rage,rage at us until she is answered .I admire her for that and for that she is right. Obviously,I would admire a good nights sleep all the more but for now you have to admit, the girl has grit!

On the negative side she is still waking and crying at night. Last night was the longest we have been awake with her in months, including when we were giving her bottles! Steve deciding to go to the bathroom and he returned as she was settling excited a burning rage in me that should be really reserved for much more serious crimes. But Steve is the nearest human being that I can be cross with so at 4 in the morning he receives the full wave of my internal rants. Similarly, I’m sure the fact that controlled crying was my idea crosses his mind more than once in the small hours. But on one point we are agreed, we are exhausted.

Somehow we are trying to find the momentum for another week of crying-it-out. We are not going back to bottles! There is only one way left. Onwards. We are going to figure out a more set bedtime routine, where Ewan and Freya can both be clean, fed and in bed by 7. We are going to keep going with our adapted form of crying-it-out. The longest interval we have left her crying before going to her is 10 minutes. Theoretically we should be extending that time the longer she is awake but it doesn’t feel right for us so we will stick with our plan. Oh joy!!

Again I will let you know next week how it goes. Thanks for reading and thanks for the responses to last weeks post. To everyone who send lovely messages,left comments here or on Instagram and chatted about our ventures into crying it out thank you. I had expected a bit of negativity so either you are silently scolding the screen or you just decided to keep quiet, either way thank you!!

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A week of crying it out.

Night by Night

Night 1) An hour of hysterical crying, upset and heartbreaking for everyone. See the last post for the ups and downs of it all.  After that terrible night we needed a game plan. So we agreed we would try not picking her and comfort her verbally at a 5 minute then 10 minute intervals for a half an hour. If after a half an hour  it wasn’t working or if she was getting really stressed we would take her up and cuddle her until she settled. Both of us were happy with the plan. It wasn’t strictly by the rules of the method but it was about all we were up for after a terrible night the night before.

Night 2) Woke at about 2:30 am. From her first cry to snoring took only 33 minutes. We didn’t pick her up and unlike the night before she was calmed and was comforted by us talking to her. She was significantly less upset than the night before and within a half an hour she had calmed herself to sleep.

Night 3) Awake and babbling for a while. Getting back to sleep wasn’t helped by Ewan waking also. From when  she started crying it was about a half an hour in total, three visits to her without picking her up, plenty of shushing.

Night 4) A few half wakings and she babbled herself back to sleep. She has become very verbose at different points in the night but talking isn’t  crying so we’ll take that.  I didn’t check my watch because when she wakes in the night I play dead until there’s a problem. But at some point she fully woke and cried. One visit with shushing her calmed her and she settled herself quickly. (This is when I thought we were nearly there!)

Night 5) It took 45 minutes for her to settle. She was much more upset than the previous nights. In the morning we found a poo in her nappy and put the night down to a blip in the radar.

Night 6) She slept from 6 -6:30, wahooooo!

Night 7) She was awake for an hour and twenty minutes. The longest time yet and very upset.

When I look back on each day it’s really not so bad but dreams of a full nights sleep lull my tired mind to a happy place. Fingers crossed that next week we get there, or at least nearer!

 

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We’ll all cry it out

Posted on 5 February, 2017

Last night was our first venture into controlled crying with Freya, this morning I feel like I’m hungover, I’m riddled with guilt but I’m proud of our little girl. For those of you who haven’t heard of controlled crying it’s not a contentious method of helping your baby sleep well and those who have tried it generally block it from their memories. The idea is that you put your baby in her cot awake, say goodnight to her, and then leave the room. Then if she cries,and she will, you wait for a few minutes before going in. Stay with her for a few minutes to reassure her, then say goodnight and leave the room again.

Then you extend the time between visits by 5 minutes (or an interval of your comfortable with) until she falls asleep. You leave your child to cry for a longer stretch between visits. The promise of this method is that your child learns to soothe themselves to sleep and your house will become a restorative sanctuary of rest for all.

This is method is controversial to say the least. Some people think it’s cruel and unnatural to leave a small baby cry for any length of time. Some people think it’s nothing short of barbaric and will emotionally scar your child. So why are we such cruel and evil parents? Good question.

It’s one I asked myself a lot during 2-3 am. The current situation is that she wakes once a night, has a bottle and returns to sleep. She is not hungry but the bottle soothes her and she sleeps. Over two weeks we have reduced her bottle from 6 ounces to 4 ounces. She is not overly concerned about the reduction. The comfort from feeding is all she needed to settle.

Part of me thinks I should count my lucky stars. She’s only waking once, she settles with a bottle,  get on with it and thank the sleeping Gods. In fact thanks isn’t enough we should offer them bountiful gifts for being so merciful! A bigger part of me knows that feeding her when she’s not hungry is far from ideal. She has never got herself back to sleep once she wakes in the night. At the moment she simply can’t soothe herself. To me it makes sense to teach her how to soothe herself by giving her some space to do that. She won’t want to. She’s used to us soothing her to sleep. She likes that. But I really do think once she gets the hang of it she will sleep better and be able to get herself back to sleep when she wakes. Which is win win. If it works!

So for right or wrong we decided to brave “controlled crying” technique last night. Our biggest mistake was not talking about how we would comfort her when we are going to her before we got into bed. Steve thinks that anything short of picking her up and cuddling her until she is no longer crying is too horrible to even think of. I think that when you pick her up she thinks, “great here comes my bottle” and so the heartache of being put down again is too much and too confusing. I opted for rubbing her back and saying ssshhh five thousand times, mixed with telling her I loved her while I tried not to choke on my own tears. In-between we whispered about what on earth we were doing but mainly stayed silent and tried not to move.

It’s bloody miserable. It’s” heart being ripped out of you” kind of horrible. One minute feels like three hours. Every muscle in your body tenses. If I didn’t know it was humanly impossible I would have said that I held my breath for the full hour.

The task was made all the more challenging by the fact that we are sharing a room with her. So she can see us. We are in the bed beside her cot and we aren’t going to her. She’s devastated, beyond devastated, she’s distraught, her heart is bounding,she’s using every last ounce of energy to scream for us. All she wants is us and to sleep (a bottle would be a welcome addition). As I waited out my time to be able to comfort her my mind raced.

“Give her the bottle,this isn’t fair. She’s hysterical, she thinks we don’t care. What is wrong with us. This was all my idea. Steve must think I’m a monster. This is horrible but in a few days it will be worth it. She can learn to settle herself, she can. Ewan did. This worked with Ewan. He isn’t emotionally damaged. Is he? How would I know if I had inexplicably broken a bond, if on some level he never really trusts us. I wonder what time it is. I’m afraid to move to check. Anytime I move and don’t go to her she gets more upset. Maybe that’s my imagination. Maybe she won’t love me tomorrow.”

I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. But here are some positives. She went to sleep by herself without having taken a bottle. From her first cry to a snore took just over one hour. During that hour there were some (brief) quiet times and at one time she was babbling to herself. She slept all the way through to seven after her trauma hour. She greeted me in the morning with a big smile. She had a full bottle when she woke at 7 but she didn’t seem ravenous.

She did it. We are alive and smothering her with kisses this morning. I was certain with Ewan that we were going to stick with controlled crying. We did and after 4 days he slept through the night and continued doing that ever since. With Freya I’m not so certain. I think the difference is when we started with Ewan he was older, we were tireder and needed him to sleep so much while we waited for the time to go in to comfort her a concrete wall separated us

As you can hear I’m full of doubt and uncertainty but I also know that at some point she will need to settle herself without a bottle. I just don’t know if she needs to learn that now.

I’ll report back next week but for the moment. I’m going to watch this piece of television that puts it all much better than I can https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBifwhMwCrI  Then I’m going to look at endless photos of her because she’s hanging with her grandparents today.

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