Sleep training hell

2 nights of sleep training is enough to make anyone consider a Michael Jackson-style dangle or to jump out the window themselves. Our little precious had taken to the very naughty habit of waking all night. We think it was in an attempt to replace her dummy that had fallen out for the millionth time. At least that’s what we were doing to help her fall back asleep – plug her with that amazing silicone soother. After much reading and consulting with my bestie back in Vancouver (thanks Lis!), we decided to start dog sleep training. I strongly dislike the name “sleep training.” Let’s call it “putting yourself to sleep encouragement (PYSE).” Phil and I have been dead set against the cry it out methods, however, some crying seems inevitable. If you have a magic trick, please let us know. We read all the books – The No-Cry Sleep Solution (thanks Marci!), Dr. Sears, Attachment Parenting. We landed on The Baby Whisperer and thought it was the best option between crying it out and being a dummy inserter until she’s 18.

Night 1: Phil endured 2.5 hours of picking up our sweet little girl and letting her know that we’re right here and putting her back into her bed. I honestly don’t know how he managed to keep at it not knowing if it would ever work. Finally, she passed out most likely out of sheer exhaustion. Phil pretty much had a nervous breakdown, which left me worrying about both of them that night. To listen to your baby cry is what I imagine being tortured would be like. And my superhero husband would not let me interject and help him. But she slept for 6.5 hours straight without anything to help her! And only fed once that night. So we were left with enough ammunition (jeez – lots of army type references) to soldier on with the PYSE.

Day 1: Oh yes, don’t forget about naps. Those are almost worst because you will never get a 6.5 hour stretch out of a nap after all your hard labour. She is a catnapper, which means we did this 5 times yesterday. It took between 10-30  minutes to get her down each time to literally see her smiling face 35 minutes later. Thankfully she’s still smiling at us; otherwise, I would assume we have done irreparable damage to her psychological well being. I joke, but we have seriously questioned whether this is the right thing to do.

Night 2: She was asleep by 6pm after 35 minutes of Phil reassuring her it was alright to go to sleep without her dummy or feeding. I actually went out for a run during that time and cleared my head in preparation for the week ahead while Phil is at work. Throughout the night, she woke up 3 times to feed, but fell back asleep in her cot. However, I had to keep getting up to adjust her, since she is still rolling over and making all sorts of noise.

Day 2: Well, the day has just started. She is currently asleep and having her longest unassisted nap ever – over 1.5 hours so far – after taking 30 minutes to get her down.

Being a parent involves so many difficult decisions and choices, but I think this has been our most challenging. We so want to be loving and caring and snuggly with her and this feels so much the opposite. I guess being a parent doesn’t always mean doing the easy thing, but doing what you know will be best for everyone in the family in the long term. I shared this mostly because I want to remember what we went through and also to get your encouragement back. Right now we need a little support, so I am asking directly for that help. I wish our parents were here to give us a big hug and maybe an hours reprieve. Luckily, my dad will be here on Wednesday! Thank God! Sorry Dad for starting PYSE right before you get here, and I’m so glad you’re coming!

I hope 2 weeks from now I can look back on this and say, “That was definitely worth it.” I’m a little terrified that our new routine will put an end to my enjoyable days out of the house, since the best place for her to learn to sleep is in her cot and there is no consistency in her nap times. I have a debate in my head that I can’t seem to figure out which is the best way to go. I have made some really great friends and really love being out with Keira and she loves seeing the other babies and having a change of scenery. I don’t have the answer to this one yet.

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9 thoughts on “Sleep training hell

  1. This brought back so many memories. We actually did the crying out method because one of the girls was a big, big challenge sleep wise and we were beyond exhausted. It was super super hard, but it worked – at least that we could get 6 hours straight. With twins it was super hard, because one would wake, then the other and so forth. The biggest advice I have is : Try not to analyze things too much ( it will drive you crazy); all children are unique ( having identical twins – they were completely different in their sleeping patterns) and ” this too shall pass ( end) ” . Once they hit 6 months old, things go into somewhat of a rhythm. That being said, Gaby did not sleep through the night until she was 7 years ( sorry – that is scary I know!). She had night terrors etc – so it was a unique situation and it will not happen to you 3! Love you ALL SO MUCH. Say hi to my bro! XO

    • I seriously don’t know how you managed Aunty Jo! It always reminds me that we can get through this phase. Thanks so much!! And the running is definitely helping with my mental health. I made it out the door this morning! Love you too!! Maybe we can set up a Facetime while my dad is here with you and Gaby! xxxooo

  2. Oh Tara, I can definitely relate. Sleep training is definitely the hardest thing you go through in that first year. It’s easy and normal to feel terrible, to doubt yourself and to give up and convince yourself maybe you were just meant to wake up multiple times through the night FOREVER.

    But it does end! For some sooner than later. For cassia we let her cry it out (we tried other ‘no cry’ techniques first but going in and not picking her up, or picking her up and putting her down seemed to prolong the agony – and I imagined her hating us just a little more every time we went in). It took about a week but the worst was over in the first three days. Grayson took much longer. Perhaps slightly less committed to it than we were to cassia, he took nearly 2 months. In fact he didn’t properly sleep through the night till recently (he’s just over 2 years old). But it’s worth it in the long run. Once you get that taste of what you were like when you weren’t sleep deprived and bleary eyes and constantly waking to the sound of a baby, it’s amazing!! Your energy, outlook and marriage will improve (and you’ll realize the ridiculous and insidious toll sleep deprivation has taken on your life). Eventually you might even forget enough to want to have another 😉

    Good luck to you and Phil. You’re doing an amazing amazing job. I’m rooting for you! Here if you have any questions (though through my study of pediatrics, I have yet to find the parent manual…)

    • Wow Francine! That is so helpful to know! I sincerely hope that Keira takes less than 2 years. It’s day 3 now and it’s already getting much easier – although I’m hesitant to say that because I’ve heard of regressions happening. It’s always amazing to hear that a doctor doesn’t think you’re crazy and has done this before! It would be great if we could meet up when we’re home this summer! I can’t believe how big your little people are! Your little family is absolutely adorable. I don’t know how you managed to get all the things done that you did when you were on maternity leave. Any tips? Isn’t it weird to think that we weren’t that much older than Cassia when we met? Big hug! xx

  3. We kind of got lucky there and have a ‘good sleeper’.

    Curious: Are you worried about giving her a pacifier? I’ve heard there can be issues, Amanda doesn’t have an issue at this point. We have pacifiers in her bed but we don’t let her have them around the house… Just in the crib, in the bed and in the car seat…

    We take them away when she’s away from those environments because it means she vocalizes more and that seems to do the job…

    Good luck Phil and Tara!

    • Thanks Gary!! We are definitely not against the soother. In fact, I wish it worked. Keira has never been able to keep it in her mouth, which left us constantly replacing it. We tried different kinds and pretty much anything to get it to work, but we are finally giving up. I’m hoping that this is less stressful now then waiting until she is older. But who really knows with this parenting thing?! Count yourself lucky that you have a good sleeper. Let’s get our girls together when we’re back in BC this summer!

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