Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Great CIO Disaster of 2009

I'm sure you can gather from my title that last night didn't go so well after all. Well, it actually went beautifully for about 34 minutes before it all went to hell in a handbasket.

I guess I should start back at the beginning.

While I heart cosleeping, I have to admit it is taking its toll. On all of us. Nate is still waking 2-3 times a night to feed, even though I know he isn't truly hungry. It's purely out of habit. The boy has the nose of a bloodhound and can smell when fresh milk is in the vicinity because he is nestled tightly against my bosom. A few suckles and he's back to his coma. But if I offer his beloved Soothie, he wants none of it. Apparently, our fickle little paci snob will only accept it during daylight hours. This means we are all up every 3 hours during the night. Sometimes more. It could be much, much worse so please don't interpret this as a griping, woe-is-me whinefest. I am just recognizing the limitations of our current arrangement.

I have fared quite well living on broken sleep intervals for just under 6 months. But I am running on fumes. I am so forgetful and exhausted most days that espresso can't even save me. It's a wonder how I manage a full-time job on top of mommyhood. And Nate is also affected when he doesn't get enough nighttime sleep. He will become overtired and will refuse to nap, leading to a high-needs, spirited baby begging for mercy. DH is also increasingly afraid of rolling over into him as his girth expands. DH We decided that as we are on the brink of Nate's 1/2 birthday, there was no better time than the present to get him accustomed to sleeping in his crib.

Around 8pm, Nate caught a case of the evening "fussies". Short attention span, zero tolerance for amusement, rubbing of the eyes and a dash of crankiness. This lets me know when he's had enough and is ready to hit the sack. So, instead of taking him to bed and nursing him side-laying as we normally do, I took him to his nursery, changed his diaper and turned off all the lights. I cuddled him in the glider and nursed him until his eyes glazed over. He wasn't completely asleep but was drowsy enough to pass the limp wrist test. I wrapped him in a soft blankie (a SIDS risk, I know...but he likes to grip it as he drifts off to la-la land) and gently laid him in his crib.

We had success. After several minutes of peacefulness, I took the time to write the previous post. Full of hope but not exactly brimming with confidence. I was a bit scared yet composed.

The tranquility was pierced with screams and wails approximately 10 minutes after I hit publish. He had just eaten 45 minutes ago so he couldn't possibly be hungry. He had a fresh diaper. He was not sick or feverish. His reflux has all but resolved itself entirely in the past month.

It was time to Ferberize.

I went in to soothe him - patting his back and butt and shushing him, trying to get him to take his pacifier. It was a lost cause. After 30 seconds, I retreated back out to the living room, while my son cried exponentially harder. It was as if I had strapped him down on the Wheel of Torture and was tearing him limb from limb, all while using an apple on his head for target practice. The five minutes I restrained myself before returning to him were downright dreadful. My heart shattered in a million little pieces as I listened to his cries, and I confess I shed some tears right along with him.

I sauntered back into the nursery, trying desperately not to make eye contact and get down to business. But how could I not look at my baby as he implored me to hold him close? I again made an attempt to soothe him to no avail. If anything, I felt my presence made the situation worse. He began choking on his saliva, nearly throwing up from the power of his shrieking. He reached his chubby arms out to me, shaking and crying louder than ever. It was so intense I almost broke down weeping. I rubbed his head, kissed his sticky, tear-stained cheek, swaddled him up in his blanket and turned away, walking out and closing the door.

This dance lasted for 2-1/2 hours (yes, you read right - TWO AND A HALF HOURS) before I had had enough. I did the unthinkable - I gave in and picked him up. His crying immediately ceased and all I could hear was his raspy breath muffled in the crook of my neck. Defeated, we both sunk into bed for the long night.

I'm at a loss. I can't just shut the door and let him cry it out until he passes out from sheer exhaustion. I don't want him to completely lose confidence that I will respond to his needs. And I don't want him to associate his crib with a traumatic experience. But surely if he didn't go to sleep after 2-1/2 hours of gradual extinction, something is amiss. Most Ferber advocates claim their child only cried for 30 minutes - possibly an hour - before settling down. But Nate gets so worked up that it's impossible for him to soothe himself. He just gets more overtired, inflating the problem.

At this point, having a toddler sleeping in our bed is appealing.

I feel like a terrible mother. Did I create a monster by facilitating attachment parenting? I feel like a failure because my son has atypical sleep habits, at which most adults balk. He naps in a swing he is quickly outgrowing and he sleeps with mommy and daddy. I feel like I am doing him a disservice to allow him to sleep with me because he is growing dependent on me to fall asleep. But it feels wrong to just stick him in his crib cold turkey and listen to him cry out for me. Is this really what is best for him long-term when the short-term is so agonizing?

Tonight is round two and so far, it's been over an hour of fruitless Ferberizing. Am I forever doomed? Once you cosleep, do you never look back? I mean, animals cosleep with each other and naturally wean, sleeping independently as they age. Should I take the same approach with the hope that he will one day desire his own space? Or should I take the reins now and adjust his sleep patterns while he is still young enough to mold? No matter what it takes or what sacrifices must be made?

Sleep is so incredibly important for a healthy lifestyle. Just as important as diet or exercise. I realize this. I never in my wildest dreams conceived how hard it would be to execute.

I just wish I knew if I was doing the right thing.

Ten minutes is up. Time to go back inside the ring. May we emerge victorious and unscathed.

10 comments:

Geohde said...

Ah, you poor thing.

I won't offer assvice, other than to say that perhaps given Nate is so used to sleeping with you two that a more gradula introduction to his own bed might help?

xx

J

sacredandscarred said...

We cosleep here. I think TTG is of a very similar age to Nate. He feeds at least a couple of times overnight, more if he's teething or unwell or about to have a growth spurt, or sick or whatever. This site has really interesting info about breastfeeding http://tribalbaby.org/Breastfeeding.html

To be perfectly honest, I don't think Nate has any sleep issues. What you've written about his sleep sounds completely and utterly normal to me. I think a big part of "sleep problems" is unrealistic expectations, usually perpetuated by books and other media.

It sounds as though CIO is absolutely breaking both your and Nate's hearts, and as though you do not want to do it, but co-sleeping isn't working for you and you don't know what TO do.

Have you heard of the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley? It's supposed to be a gentle approach and quite good. I have never read it or tried the techniques so I can't comment personally.

Perhaps another option could be cosleeping in a different configuration. Could you set up his crib next to your bed, maybe sidecar it? That way you can all have your own space within the same space.

Being a mom AND in the paid workforce fulltime would be very difficult, I don't know if I could do it.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

We are battling this exact.same.thing. The first night I relented after 80 minutes. The second night I stopped going in to soothe her and instead sent G--she was out after 70 min. Last night only G went in and she was asleep after 20 min. Last night was likely an anomaly, but I'm hoping she is getting used to the crib.

I will say after a good night's sleep (she woke once to eat after 6 hours and went back to sleep for 4 more which is HUGE for us) she is much happier. I feared she would be angry with me, but she's not.

Try to stick with it and maybe have DH respond from now on. I feel like when I took myself out of the equation it helped us both.

Thinking of you sweetie! ((HUGS))

Meghan said...

I'm impressed you made it so long before picking him up! I second the rec for the No Cry Sleep Solution. We've been using that and the Sleep Lady and now she usually goes to sleep within 20 minutes with us right by the crib to comfort, sleeps for about 5 hours, wakes up to stuff her little face, and then back down for another 5 or so (this second one is a little trickier for us).

Good luck with it! This sleeping thing is hard

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing your experience - I'm pretty sure we're heading in the same direction although I doubt we'll make it to 6 months before ousting the baby from our bed. I have no personal wisdom at all, but a friend tried moving a mattress into her daughter's room and sleeping on the floor for a couple of nights to get her daughter used to the crib before leaving her alone in the room - I wonder if that's an option, or even just a comfy chair for a couple of hours?

Me said...

I saw your status update on MySpace and came over to read what's going on. I'm not a mom and so don't have any REAL experience to offer. However, in response to your question about children naturally weaning themselves from cosleeping... my little brother slept in my parent's bed until he was about 8 when, much to his chagrin, my father PUT AN END to it. Likewise, my niece and nephew are 4 and 6. BOTH of them STILL sleep in my sister's bed. I don't think that most kids ever really WANT to stop cosleeping... meaning that it is the parent who makes the decision about when it's time to stop. Which is admittedly different for different families.

Fertilized said...

you have my utmost support and respect. MT is still sleeping in a pack and play in our room ... Either I sucked at hte CIO or something. He will scream and scream and scream for hours without stopping or winding down. So I gave in and compromised in a pnp. I am hoping that by moving the pnp farther out the door evidentually we will get to his room and in the crib ..Heck I dunno, I am no expert. I just could not do the cio... I am a cio failure

countingpaisley said...

First and for most I think mom knows best for baby. So if it isn't working and he is still waking every 3 hours then something does need to change.

By 6 months of age it is normal for a baby to sleep through the night, or wake possibly for one feeding. His waking could partly be from being woken by your or your husband or habitual. (I'm not trying to knock those who co-sleep, just offering a possible reason why he is waking up so often)

I have a son about 6 weeks younger than yours so my advice stems from my own experience with my son.

Since Nate only knows co-sleeping for his night sleep a transition is going to be rough and take some patience. Here are a few ideas I use with my son (and he's been sleeping 10-12 hours a night since 10 weeks, but I know every baby is different and every family sleep situation..)
-Turn off all lights (minus very very low blue night light)
-I speak only in a low whisper (if at all)
-I put on a sound machine in his nursery, it sounds like the rain
-I swaddle my son, he is a big 4 month old (18+lbs) so I have big swaddling blankets and I wrap him up
-I then nurse him in a rocking chair
-I then stand up and place him in his crib awake or asleep

I stick to his routine and knock on wood things have been great. I also use a lavender scent in his room that is suppose to help sleeping.

As for CIO or not to CIO, whatever you are comfortable with is what you should go with, just stick to your guns so he doesn't get confused. There are many different methods of CIO. If my son has woken up and has recently eaten I give him a few minutes and if he doesn't settle I come in and pick him up and then put him down as soon as he stops crying. I think it's a baby whisperer thing.

CIO isn't as cruel as some make it out to be. For your son to learn to settle himself and gain independence is a great thing.

No matter how you choose to get Nate to his crib (if you do decide to do that now) I wish you all the luck!

VHMPrincess said...

have you read the "ask moxie" pages on sleeping? Some babies cannot self-sooth after crying - the crying only makes them MORE UPSET. My son was like this, but he would THROW UP. How old is he? We did not try it until at least 9 months w/my daughter and 12 months w/my son. What ever you pick, good luck!

Janna said...

We are going through the same thing, but not at night. She has always slept in her bed at night. It's nap time. She will not nap for more than 30 minutes at a time unless I'm holding her. If I'm holding her she'll sleep for 2+ hours, but I just can't get everything done and still hold her while she naps. She can be sound alseep in mny arms and if I try to put her in her bed she wakes up within 10 minutes screaming. I let her scream for 20 minutes the other day and I just couldn't stand it. I was crying right along with her. I went in a few times to give her the paci and rub her tummy, but nothing soothed her. I have no clue what to do. So I COMPLETELY feel your pain!