Finally Sleeping Again
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
It's hard when your children don't sleep, both for them and you. It has an effect on the day ahead and can cause irritability, again for both them and you, but it can also have a knock on effect for sleeping later.
This is what happened with Dot. She didn't sleep very well for one night, which then made her a bit crabby the next day, which is unlike her.
Dot has always been one to fight sleep and will physically shake herself awake, much like I used to (according to my parents!). Because of this, trying to get her to have a nap or two and then trying to settle her for bedtime became more of a struggle.
This struggle continued and escalated until only Mikey was getting sleep at night. For nearly a month, my husband and I were taking shifts in trying to settle her down and even when she did sleep, it was only for an hour or two.
We couldn't go on living as zombies and we knew something had to be done. After much reading up, discussions and thought, we decided on the Cry It Out method.
Now before you tell me it's a horrible way to get your child to sleep, it wasn't a decision we took lightly. Far from it, but although we needed sleep, much more importantly, so did Dot. She had gone from sleeping 14 hours a day to barely 8.
Before, Dot's day used to end with a bedtime feed, a story and a cuddle, but she would always fall asleep in my arms before I put her into bed. She never went to sleep in her cot awake.
Now, I blame myself for the situation escalating. You see, I used to breastfeed Dot and I made it to 6 months, but for my own health, I had to stop, despite me not being ready to. I missed the cuddles and that connection that we had so I enjoyed having her snuggle up in my arms.
However, as she got older, Dot expected to be cuddled back to sleep and we knew that it had to stop.
So, back to the CIO method. Dot had to learn how to sleep on her own, so with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, we began night 1. She had her bedtime milk a bit earlier, we had a cuddle, brushed her teeth, then I put her in bed, while I read a story from the chair. I then kissed her goodnight, told her I loved her but it was bedtime now so she had to go to sleep. I switched on the nightlight and the projector and left.
I sat in my bedroom fighting the urge to go in and rock her to sleep. I didn't just leave her though. I went back every few minutes to reassure and soothe her, then increased that time slowly. I also watched her from my doorway (without her seeing me.) After over an hour, she was asleep.
I'm not going to tell you that that night wasn't easy. It was really hard, I hated listening to her crying and I cried too.
However, she finally slept. All night in fact and when she woke, she was our happy, smiley little girl again with the tears long forgotten.
We've stuck rigidly to the plan and for the past week the time to sleep has decreased from 2 hours to 5 minutes. There are no more tears and Dot is also sleeping in the day again. It is still early days, but fingers crossed it'll carry on well.
I know that there's a debate about CIO and I was strongly against it but we chose what we thought was right in this situation. It's never easy to hear your baby cry, but the tears are quickly forgotten and it means that Dot is getting the sleep she needs. Plus, she gets extra cuddles in the mornings!
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