According the my Good Night, Sleep Tight book, I am supposed to report to a friend each morning during the Sleep Shuffle (which can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks) to stay accountable, celebrate the (small) victories, and work out the kinks. West suggests talking to someone who is going through a similar process/phase. To my knowledge, no one I know is doing this with a child right now, so instead I’m going to hold myself accountable via my writing and you, the kind souls who read my posts.
Last night was less than great. We’ve been home since Sunday after our weekend trip to SoDak (our reason for holding off on starting the Sleep Shuffle any sooner). We knew we needed a couple days/nights to get everyone back on track after getting home, but both kids got sick right before we left for our little vacation, so it didn’t really seem like the right time to start sleep training, even though we desperately need some more sleep in our lives. As usual, when RL is under the weather, I revert way back to newborn stage with her and nurse her to sleep every chance I get. No exception this week; that is, no exception this week until last night.
In classic Raegan style, she slept for about three evening hours after I nursed her down for the night. When Ben went up to try to “sssshhhhhush” her back to sleep, she would have none of it. When I went up and tried nursing, she did eat a bit, but she would not go to sleep. It seemed that all she wanted to do was cry and fuss and squirm and scream.
FOR THREE-AND-A-HALF HOURS!!
Wait, I take that back. She did doze off a few times during that block, but it would last maybe 20 or 30 minutes and she’d be making noise again. Ben kept trying to go in there, but nothing he did seemed to help and he eventually got so tired, he could hardly keep himself sitting upright in the rocking chair.
Me? I was hiding in our bedroom with a pillow over my ears. No joke.
Eventually, some time after 1:00 a.m., Raegan fell asleep. And she stayed asleep until 6:40. I wondered if we were in for A Day (especially because this was Ben’s first day back for school work days), but I started the nap process with her early and somehow, it all just worked. It wasn’t perfect, but twice today, I managed to go through a sleep routine with her, put her in the pack’and’play, sit for a few minutes with her, and then leave. She wasn’t asleep either time I did, but she got that way, on her own and without major, major fuss. AND she napped well (which was obviously greatly needed!); so well that I had to wake her up from her morning nap and almost had to do so again for her afternoon one. I even heard her cry out about 30 minutes into the morning nap but she put herself back down, without any assistance from me. Unreal.
OK. Some of you have stopped reading or are about to. You don’t care about every little detail of my daughter’s naps today. That’s OK. I understand. But for me, this is huge. Raegan got some of her best day sleep ever today and got it mostly on her own accord. She is nine months old. This is WAY overdue! So yes, I am rambling on about it because in our little world, it is a BIG DEAL. I had wanted to avoid nursing her to sleep today if I could, in preparation for the upcoming shuffle (which we still hadn’t decided when to start), but somehow I accidentally started “nap training” (which is supposed to be the hardest part of all this) and it went freakishly well. Amazing!
Clearly encouraged by my day with Raegge, I decided to plunge in and start the shuffle tonight. If I haven’t explained it before, the basic idea is that you stay with the kiddo until they go to sleep but you don’t use any sleep crutches to get them there. No nursing, rocking, walking, touching, etc. You let them work it out and find their way, but you stay close. After three nights, you move closer to the door. After another three, you move to the door or just outside the door. And so on and so on until you’re out of sight & said kiddo is going to sleep totally solo.
What I didn’t fully realize until tonight was that this whole shuffle is really a lot like crying it out but with you in the room. According to West’s book, the difference is that because they can see you, they don’t feel as abandoned as they might if left to cry alone. I don’t know. I’m not an expert on sleep or parenting or anything, really. But we had to try something to get more sleep, and you know what? I think it might be working.
I don’t want to be Night One Cocky, but it went much better than I anticipated. Maybe that’s because I thought she was going to scream at me for at least 45 minutes. No idea where I go that number; it’s just what I had in my head. Thankfully, it only took 25 (see? small victory! yay!). And she didn’t scream the whole time. I was surprised, after the fairly peaceful nap sessions, that she screamed as much or as loud or as long as she did, but she eventually calmed down, put her head down on the mattress, and went to sleep. Kind of just like that.
Now we haven’t hit her normal evening wake time yet, so that right there is reason enough not to be cocky, but our plan is to use no sleep crutches to get her back to sleep. It might mean that we all (except for HD, who miraculously sleeps through the chaos, most nights) might be a little more tired for a few nights because there won’t be any quick-fix nursing sessions to get us all back to sleep. I’m willing to accept that because I honestly believe we’ll be better off in the long run. I also believe the long run might not be too far off. If anything, I think we might have been holding Raegan back on this whole sleep thing by rushing in and always doing the work for her. She needs to learn to sleep. Maybe if we just let her flipping figure out what works for her, we can all move on from this dark age of sleep deprivation. You know, she is a rather independent little soul; I could see her liking this whole I Do it My Way thing.
I won’t be posting every day on this, but I’ll try to keep a log that details our highs and lows. It’ll be a good way for me to keep track of it and hopefully keep on track as well. We have a busy fall in front of us; here’s hoping we’ll be better rested for it soon!