It’s been about a month since I got my bed, sleep, and sanity back. Life has improved GREATLY. We are all less tired, less stressed, and better rested. We are all enjoying our personal space and Caleb is getting re-accustomed to his own room again.
So let me tell you a little story.
Before Caleb was born, Jerry and I stressed the importance of keeping the baby out of our bed at all costs. He slept in a Rock and Play beside our bed for the first nine weeks or so, and then he moved to his crib. It was an almost seamless transition. Life was good and Caleb slept from 7 PM to 7 AM in his crib every night with little to no fuss. Around 11 months or so, Caleb began to struggle with sleep. One innocent night of letting him in our bed so we could all catch some sleep turned into six months of sleep TORTURE, my friends.
You all think I’m being a little overdramatic, right? I probably am, but I’m one of those people that really needs their sleep. If I don’t get sufficient sleep, I can be pretty irritable, which is why the newborn phase was such a struggle for me.
Anyway, Caleb would scream and scream if we tried to put him back into his crib and he would go on for hours if we let him, so he moved into our room… again. We were not at all happy about it, but we were all exhausted and stressed so we relented in order to get some much needed sleep. Jerry and I both work and going without sleep isn’t really an option. We brought a Pack and Play into our room and while some nights he would sleep in there (with a huge soft pillow and blanket), he almost always ended up in our bed at some point in the night.
For such a tiny human, he somehow always managed to take up a huge portion of our king size bed, one or both of us adults falling off the edge while our prince snoozed away smack dab in the middle. He’d rotate in the night, feet, elbows, and knees in our faces. No matter how many times we readjusted our little darling, he always ended up being all up in our business again.
It wasn’t good, my friends. It wasn’t good.
His doctor, physical therapist, coworkers, and many well-meaning friends insisted time and again that Crying it Out WOULD work. They promised that if we just let him cry, eventually he would go to sleep in his crib just fine. We made several half-assed attempts after much research on my part, but we would eventually find the clock ticking past midnight and our baby still screaming after two hours. Back into our room we would go since we were all exhausted: Caleb from the screaming and us from the listening to the screaming.
About a month ago, we agreed that enough was enough. Our tiny tot was the ruler of the house, sending either Jerry or me out to the couch to sleep on many occasions since we often grew frustrated from the face kicks and punches from our loving son. So yeah, the working parent would often be half sleeping on the couch while Caleb the King was snoozing away in our king size bed with the other parent getting kicked nonstop. Do you see something wrong with this picture? I most definitely do.
We were firm in our resolution to really give this Crying it Out thing an honest go. We agreed that we would not give in. The first night was, of course, the hardest. Caleb cried for about two hours. The method we followed advises you to return to the room but to NOT pick them up as it will teach them that crying will get them what they want. We were able to pat his belly and reassure him, but nothing else.
The method advises you to return to the room after five minutes to give reassurance, then again ten minutes after that visit, then again 15 minutes after that visit, and so on until the baby finally falls asleep. You need to extend the time intervals between each visit so that they get used to being alone for longer periods of time.
So off we went, trekking back to his room every so often to give the reassuring pat. We’d often find our baby standing up in his crib, screaming and looking completely miserable. It was basically heartbreaking, but we tried to keep ourselves occupied with TV or books so that we wouldn’t go rushing in there rescuing him like we always did before. There were nights where we’d go in there and find him curled around his stuffed bear and it shattered our hearts, but again, we knew it was for the best and kept working at it.
We endured two hours of crying the first night. The next night it was 90 minutes. The next night it was 60 minutes. The next night it was 30 minutes. The next two nights were both 15 minutes. Then it went down to about two minutes. Now? Caleb goes down without a fuss for the most part. Say WHAT?!
During the first couple weeks of sleep training, Caleb would start to get really upset anytime we went into his room at all, even if it was just for clothes or diapers. Now, he’s used to it. Prior to the sleep training, we did play in his room to try and get him comfortable in there, but as you can see, it didn’t really help much. We have an incredibly stubborn and strong-willed child though, so this technique might work for other kids even though it didn’t work well for Caleb.
I will note that there were a couple of setbacks during the process, where he’d go down fine and cry for only two minutes for an entire week, and then randomly cry for an hour one night, but those were just exceptions. The important thing is that we persisted. He has NOT spent a single night in our bed since we started the process and he likely never will again. Some nights he will still occasionally wake up fussing in the middle of the night, but he generally falls back asleep after a minute or two. We do have a video monitor and are able to check him out if needed, so I would recommend one of those for other nervous parents.
We were the naysayers for so long, telling everyone that this method would not work for our stubborn child because this kid would seriously cry for hours if we let him. We knew that enough was enough though, and after several conversations with the pediatrician in which we were reassured this would not traumatize him in any way, and that getting him into his crib was for the best, we finally did it. We have been amazed at how well it truly worked after not believing it for so long.
I’m very close with several of my coworkers who are seasoned mothers themselves so when they “scolded” me for letting my son be the boss, I accepted it and knew that they were right. We WERE letting him be the boss… a one year old! Kind of ridiculous, huh? I remember strolling into work after the first couple of nights and beaming with pride as I told the ladies that we were finally doing it right and they were so proud. My boss even told me I looked much better rested. I FELT much better rested.
I am so glad that the biggest sleep troubles are all behind us now and that we endured Crying it Out and lived to tell the tale. Honestly, it was very difficult, especially at first, but we know we made the right decision. My son is happy, well-rested, and is NOT holding any grudges against us, as I thought he might and even spoke to the pediatrician about. I don’t have problems with people who choose to co-sleep, but it’s just not for us. We all need a little personal space and time, and Caleb needs to have his own room and haven, as do we. Caleb has even weaned himself off of his bedtime milk over the last few days, and we’ll tackle the binky next. For now, he still needs that small bit of comfort. I’m just so happy that he’s sleeping in his own room again. I never thought we’d see the day!
Yes, you guys, it kind of sucked… but it totally worked.
Please note: this was our own unique experience and we spoke to Caleb’s pediatrician prior to going this route. If you’re thinking of trying the Cry it Out Method, do research and talk to your child’s pediatrician first. They can let you know if they’re at an appropriate age (it’s not recommended until a certain age) and give you advice that will work best for your child and your particular situation. Good luck! I will be with you in spirit! 🙂