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!!
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!