Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Dreaded Sleep Training

Back when T was C's age I vacillated between feeling wretched and defiant that we did Cry It Out (CIO). At this point in time there is no way we will do CIO with C. Did I have some crisis of conscience and see the error of my ways? Nope. This isn't going to turn into some indictment of CIO, I am more convinced than ever that we used the right method for T. 

Can I tell you how annoying I find it when people say that every kid is different? Totally drives me bonkers. Except it turns out that every kid actually is different. Parenting is all about rolling with the punches. I would never do CIO with C because he doesn't need it. T needed it. I will not force the same parenting methods down both kid's throats. They are individuals and need to be treated as such.

C isn't sleeping through the night anymore. I'm more tired than I was when he was new, but dude was an extraordinary newborn. I can't complain about him going to bed around 8 and waking up between 4 and 5 to be fed. He's 5 months old and he's been getting up once in the night since we returned from the holidays. According to the wise internet this is totally normal. He isn't eating as well during the day because life is so exciting. If I try and nurse him anywhere that isn't a dark room with no one else in it he keeps breaking off to grin at whoever is around. Stands to reason he wakes up hungry.

The sleep training crisis was much more straightforward with T. That child simply wouldn't sleep. We did CIO because there was no other option. All three of us were sleep deprived and miserable. Before he was born I was sure (of so many things that didn't happen) that we would have a family bed. I couldn't wait to cuddle up to my sweet baby and my husband and have a peaceful night of sleep. Not only would T not sleep in bed with us, he wouldn't sleep in his crib, he wouldn't sleep if we were holding him and trying to soothe him, he wouldn't sleep if we drove him around in the car. He screamed and cried for hours on end. That first night we did CIO and he wept for 2.5 hours it was so awful. Listening to him was so painful my skin hurt. But that sensation wasn't new, it had been happening for months. The difference was he was a floor away and he wasn't screaming in my ear. Which made it both better and much, much worse. T had no idea how to sleep and we needed to teach him. And he got it, he became both a champion sleeper and napper. Until his brother was born, but that is a story for another day. So yes, there was a simple answer for T's problems, but let's get real, that simple answer was incredibly hard to execute. 

T needed a rigid schedule. The bedtime routine started at 7pm, nap at 9am, and at 1pm. If we deviated from those times at all we would pay the price for days on end. C doesn't even have a morning naptime. He catches a cat nap here and there, but we have too much going on in the mornings and he doesn't make a fuss. If we don't get him down to bed at the exact same time it doesn't make any difference to him. After being a slave to T's needs it's rather amazing. But the times C is hard to soothe, when he wakes 3 times a night instead of once, if he cries for an hour from 10pm to 11pm I feel completely helpless and lost. There isn't a "right" answer that I can believe in. I'm still trying to figure out what he needs in those difficult moments.

I'm grateful to C for so many things. His existence has soothed the pain of the miscarriage. That pain will never fully go away, but it is now a dull ache. I remember and mourn the loss, but I celebrate the life of my sweet baby. I'm also grateful that he is so different than T. My eldest is a rascal, he's a clever kid ready to have fun, and play with words, and work an angle to get what he wants. Watching his little brain synthesize all the information that is thrown at him blows my mind. Even when he was 5 months old there was a mischievousness in his smile. C really looks at you and thinks about it and then rewards you with a smile. He makes you feel like you've earned something grand when he smiles at you. He is full of sweetness. With all their differences it is easy for me to remember that I must be a different mom to both of them. I must pay attention to what they need and not just give them the same thing out of some sense of "fairness". T needed CIO. C needs, well I'm not quite sure what he needs, but I know it isn't CIO. And when he does have rough nights I'm trying hard to figure out what I can do to help. 
There will be a potty training post soon. I'm thinking of calling it "Adventures in Excrement". Pretty catchy, right? 

Notice his footie pjs are on backwards. That will be covered in the post.

Thanks for the amazing overalls, Chris! Z loves them! 

Yeah, he's a big 5 month old. He can sit when carefully propped up. 

Until big brother comes along.


  1. A prof of mine was big on birth order theory. Using his rules, C is a second born, and the big thing about second borns is that--life is no big thing. They just roll with it, and when everyone else is hysterical, they look, shrug, and move along. Now first borns......well, that's another comment.

    1. J-Z and I are first borns. We know.

  2. I see the same thing with my kids. S needs a strict schedule, we did CIO with him, and he craves structure. We never sleep trained E (she figured it out herself) and she's totally a "go with the flow" type of kid. I think Jayotte's prof is totally correct with the birth-order thing.