Monday, June 25, 2012

Sleeptraining...not for the weak at heart & mind...

If you're one of those people whose baby or child was just magically a good sleeper who was sleeping through the night by 6 weeks of age, then you probably can't relate to what you're about to read and I more than likely will envy you. My son, Lil J, was a nightmare from about 10 days of age on when it came to night. Whether it was colic, reflux, food allergies, or other issues altogether, I may never truly know, but what I can say is that it sucked. For the first 2.5 months, I spent at least 22 hours of the day trying to comfort a baby that just cried nonstop. I was always tense as I had no idea how to make this little being stop howling at me. NOTHING WORKED and the fact that it made my hair stand on end and made me think awful thoughts made it that much worse. 

Needless to say, even after he became a happy baby, night time was still horrible. My way of getting through it was co-sleeping. I know, I know *gasp* - "that's awful," you may be thinking. How could she do that? Well, I'll tell you what. When you have a child that only sleeps when tummy to tummy with you and no other way, you do crash from lack of sleep. Inevitably you find that you fall asleep with the baby in the bed with you. At first you wake up appalled to find that little innocent being asleep between yourself and your husband, grateful to realize our child is still alive then try to force your eyes to stay open even as baby and spouse still sleep. But eventually, you realize that this is the only way your family sleeps. You constantly hear comments such as, "You're never going to get him out of your bed," and roll your eyes because who has ever heard of a teenager who sleeps in bed with the parents? 

I'm an obsessive type of person, so I did start to google co-sleeping and that's when I first came across Dr. Sears. He is a doctor who actually did research on safe co-sleeping when his family fell into a similar situation. Reading what he had to say did make me feel better. Co-sleeping leads to more peaceful sleep for mama and baby, it decreases the risk of SIDS, long-term emotional health and is safer than crib sleeping. ( Even the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) acknowledges that co-sleeping can be done safely, and of course it is advised that the best way to do so is with a co-sleeper bassinet such as the Arm's Reach cosleeper. 

Beyond the research, guess what. We did sleep peacefully and J continued to thrive. Other infants I knew of were still waking up maybe 3 times a night but J would lay down with me at 7, wake up once around 1 or 2 am, then would sleep til 6 am, have a bottle, then would sleep til 8. I never felt more refreshed and the cuddling was nice. However, once he hit 4 months old, he was much bigger and I was waking up with an elbow in my face and pushed all the way to the end of the bed, and my husband and I didn't have an intimate relationship anymore. I could no longer nap with my son in my bed because I was to fearful of him rolling off without my husband on the other side of the bed. Therefore, we did invest in an Arm's Reach cosleeper mini, which my Lil J would sleep in for my husband but not for me. If my husband put him down, he would sleep til I entered the room, then he would instantly wake up and cry til mama put him in the bed. 

Naptime was an utter debacle. I could rock Lil J to sleep and then had to remain sitting in the uncomfortable old wooden rocking chair for hours or attempt to put J in his swing swaddled up, hoping he wouldn't wake up. Sometimes I would use the Kangaroo wrap & hold with the Moby Wrap so that he remained close to my heart while I could actually get some things done like washing bottles. 

My husband and I finally agreed that we should attempt to wean Lil J from his night time bottle, and then sleep train. Did you know that there are probably 1001, if not more ways to sleep train a child? Some methods promise no crying, most promise limited tears. Really, in all seriousness, you need to know your child and yourself when picking a method. The mister and I both hated the idea of letting J cry, so we knew that a straight up, cry it out, wouldn't work for any of us. There was no way we could handle letting J cry til he just passed out, it seemed far too cruel, plus J was an intense baby who would cry to the point of choking and gagging on his own spittle. We liked the idea of a modified CIO where we could go in at timed intervals and bought a book called "The Sleep Easy Guide." According to this book, we had to introduce some type of lovey and apparently it needed to smell like mama, start a bedtime routine, take away the pacifier unless the little one is able to replace the pacifier himself or herself (to which we decided hell no), take away the swing, car rides, and anything else he used to fall asleep. We gave this method a good solid go, except that we didn't take away the pacifier or the swing, and didn't want to do naps and bedtime at the same time. Unfortunately with J, going into the room at timed intervals only made him cry harder and we had trouble sticking to the alloted time frames. Then finally one night, J slept for 10 hours one night and did so as long as the hubster did bedtime. All it took was me doing it one night and it was all undone. We would attempt this method 2 more times, with the same results. 

The night time and naptime situation gradually became worse, and I cannot help but wonder if it is because we tried to sleep train J before he was ready; most don't recommend doing so til 6 months of age. Night time progressed to J waking up 2 hours after falling asleep, crying for 3 or more, going back to sleep in his swing for 2 hours, again up crying for many hours, and so on and so forth. For naps, I had to put J in his swing and lay in front of it until he fell asleep. If I left his line of vision, he just cried nonstop. Once he was asleep, however, I could disappear. I found myself making excused for his not sleeping each night: wonder weeks, teething, separation anxiety, and the list goes on and on. Both my husband and I were completely exhausted, and argued nonstop when we were together. We were miserable and had to do something about it, but what? 

One day, I happened to come across a woman named Pam Nease on twitter and she told me that she could help me. For her fee as a sleep consultant, I wasn't really sure I wanted or could afford her assistance in this. Plus what would my husband think? Another month went by and finally, beaten down and desperate, we used his Thanksgiving bonus from work to hire Pam after having a free 15 minute phone consultation with her. I don't know that I would consider Pam's sleep sense method to be a cry-it-out method at all. There was crying as J protested us changing things, but never the way he cried with the modified CIO. Not to mention, we were there supporting J in his room the entire time, not just standing outside his door listening to his crying and wringing out hands. The third night, J slept for 11 hours straight and I was floored. From then on, he always slept 11 hours and has taken wonderful predictable naps. 

I think what all of this comes down to is that if you are dealing with an infant or child who is impossible at bedtime and naptime, then you need to know your child in order to find a method that will work; no two children are alike so they all need a plan that is created just for them. Of course, I think that Pam is awesome and recommend her to everyone because thanks to her, we are a very well rested family. I also know that my husband and I intend to hire her right from the beginning with our next child so that we never have to sleep train.  

If you want to know more about her, you can check out her website

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Extremists: AP Parents vs The CIO Camp

"Are You Mom Enough?" This title and extreme picture of a mother nursing her 4 year old on the cover of Time magazine would be the cause of much heated argument between nursing moms and formula feeding moms, AP moms and CIO moms, and just all different groups of moms in the United States. Rather than opening people's eyes to what AP means, it only confirmed the belief in minds of close-minded individuals that all attachment parents are insane. On one facebook post, I remember reading the following response in regard to attachment parenting: "The next generation of over-babied brats." 

You know what I think? Oh goodness, you're it comes...out of the mouth of the oddball. On both sides, there are extremists. There are the parents who say, "My son had lots of health issues and I just let him cry it out. 45 minutes of screaming, then he fell asleep, and he never cried again." *cough* Bullshit *cough* Then there's the parent who says, "I use AP, wear my child everywhere, did baby led weaning, cloth diapered, nursed til he/she was 2, co-slept, never go on dates with my husband, give my child everything he/she needs and don't feel that my husband and I are missing any intimacy even though we never talk and mostly just fight." *rolling my eyes* Can you see how each side is a bit intense...and a tad bit silly?

Let's look at the real definition of attachment parenting according to Dr. Sears:

Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents.  Attachment parenting implies first opening your mind and heart to the individual needs of your baby, and eventually you will develop the wisdom on how to make on-the-spot decisions on what works best for both you and your baby. (

If you really take the time to read the above definition, attachment parenting is about nurturing your child, attending to needs early on, and getting to know your child so that you can do what works best for him or her with on the spot decision making. Some babies fuss to fall asleep as a way to blow off steam at the end of the day, others are highly sensitive and if left to fuss will cry and scream until he or she is hyperventilating. Instead of listening to the unsolicited advice that you inevitably will get from everyone, listen to your heart, because you as a parent knows best. Do you need to pick one side over the other? NO! You don't need to follow every tenet of one philosophy or the other. You can be a middle-of-the-road parent like me who truly makes decision based on knowing your child. And guess'll have a happy, blessed family.