Sleep Training–Some Background
The twins have been sleeping in their cribs since the day they came home from the hospital at 5 days old. We have always done our best to keep them in the cribs for nap time as well as night time. Of course this wasn’t always possible and I have no idea how many times we let them nap on us or nap on the double breastfeeding pillow, but every night, without fail, they slept in their cribs.
All sleep books were considered and we looked into every method. The ‘put them to sleep drowsy but awake’, stand or sit by them and pat their backs (Ha! My babies would writhe away and scream in anger that YOU.ARE.NOT.PICKING.ME.UP!), etc, etc. Nothing worked. And we took the “you should never let a small baby cry” very seriously. In hindsight, maybe too seriously. As twins with both moms home, in a small one bedroom apartment, sleeping in cribs right beside us–they NEVER had to cry for more than a minute or two. They demanded. We responded. Fast. For four months +.
We tried everything possible to get them to sleep and over time we found the only thing that worked for us was to become human bouncy balls, rockers, swayers, soothers, shushers and pray-ers. We dreaded night time. Getting them to sleep for night time could take up to 2 hours. For nap time, it was easily an hour and that’s 3 naps a day! So you do the math: we were spending up to 5 hours a day just trying to get them to sleep.
It was never easy. The baby had to fall asleep completely in our arms and then we had to try to get that baby from our arms into the crib without waking up. That rarely worked and we would try multiple times before maybe, finally our efforts were met with success. I became someone who pleaded with the baby and prayed to Gods I don’t even really believe in.
Whoop Whoop was the worst. Plus, he was colicky. Chicken and I would employ a ‘take turns’ approach, because one can only bounce on a yoga ball for so long without going bat shit crazy.
Grunter was better, but only marginally. However, we could usually get him to sleep first and then concentrate on W2. Over time, Grunter learned to sleep through W2’s crying. And let me tell you, that boy could cry and cry and cry. There were nights he would cry for up to 2 hours, while he was being ‘soothed’ and bounced in our arms.
We had decided to try the Ferber sleep method first (and hopefully last) when we got back from Argentina (at 4.5 months). This is a method where you put the baby down drowsy but awake and go in to check and comfort the baby in increments of 5-10-15 minutes, etc.
We couldn’t even take that and did it in increments of 3-6-9. All it did was piss them off that we weren’t picking them up (you are supposed to comfort them in the crib quickly and walk away) and they kept crying. All we got out of it was knowing we had 3-6-9-12 minutes to get things done–like prepare dinner.
After 30 minutes of non-stop crying you are supposed to go in and do whatever it takes to get the baby to sleep. So, you guessed it, it was back to rocking/swaying/bouncing, etc. The only difference was that it was faster this time around as they had exhausted themselves from crying so long. It felt HORRIBLE and many times I cried right along with them. I hated it. We tried this method almost 2 weeks.
Most sleep training (CIO-cry it out) suggests that you not start before four months of age as a baby is not able to self soothe before this point. For us, that meant five months. I have no shame in saying that we were counting the days down until we could do this.
It just so happened that on their five month birthday (June 21), Chicken had to be out of town and I was left on my own for my first ever overnight.
Faced with trying to rock/bounce/sway two babies at the same time, I decided it was time to do the Weissbluth CIO that very evening. I soothed them as best as I could and then went to take a shower.
Yes. You read that right. They had been fed. They were clean. They were dry. And they were safe in their cribs. I closed the door, turned on the water and took the longest shower I’d had since before they were born. I couldn’t hear a thing and I was OK with that. They were OK, too.
I still ended up going back in to comfort them once I got out of the shower, but they fell asleep much quicker than ever before.
The next night, when Chicken came home, I told her in no uncertain terms that for our sanity, we had to start CIO. She had been very resistant and I wouldn’t take no for an answer. She agreed quite quickly when I told her of my partial success the night before and that very evening we started CIO.
I want to stress that our version of CIO was NOT to get them to sleep through the night. They were still too small weight-wise to do that and we had no problem with their 10pm and 2am feeds.
We were simply looking for a method to get them to sleep, learn self soothing techniques and become better sleepers in the long run.
We were also looking to save our sanity and our marriage!
Next UP: Sleep Training 101 Notes