I know you are all on the edges of your seats. Well, Arwen and Emily are for sure. And Shannon and Jen! So I’ll cut to the chase: I jinxed it. But only a little. Things are worse than they were when I started writing, but not as bad as they were when they were bad. Case in point: It is currently 8:22 pm and I am NOT desperately trying to get ready for bed so as to be ready when Her Highness wakes up in ten minutes.
Incidentally, if you are not interested in an incredibly detailed account of sleep training, you might want to read something else for a while, because this is turning out to be, well, incredibly detailed. There’s going to be a Part 3, for example.
When we last left off, Nora was refusing to sleep anywhere by my arms, preferably with a breast in her mouth, for all but about forty-five minutes in the early evening, a situation which was slowly driving me insane. And then one Monday morning about three weeks ago, I was forced to let her cry it out for her nap. Yes, forced. I had to go to the bathroom, and I needed to… take my time, as it were. By the time I got out, her cries were already petering out, so I stayed the heck out of her room and she was asleep twenty minutes after I put her down. A miracle! And then she slept for two hours! So for her afternoon nap, I let her cry once again, and she was asleep in only fifteen minutes. “At this rate, we’ll be done by tomorrow night!” I thought. I thought this because I was delusional.
I can’t remember how that night went. Badly, probably. But I think she must have GONE to sleep all right, because the following night I tried letting her cry it out again. Her naps that day were both in the car, so I was working on the assumption that CIO had gone swimmingly for naps the previous day, so it would probably work for bedtime as well.
Yeah. It didn’t. We let her cry for close to an hour while I sat and fretted and worried and hated every second of it, wondering if it was the right thing to do. Andrew finally went in there to pick her up and soothe her, and I got ready for bed figuring I was in for another night in the chair. That was the low point, actually, because I sort of sprung the CIO on Andrew out of the blue so he was not mentally prepared for the ordeal, and we ended up having a quiet but testy fight when he handed her to me. We made up, but I still spent most of the night in the rocking chair feeling very very sorry for myself.
Because of some scheduling, I was not actually home for either of the next two bedtimes, which were a Wednesday and a Thursday, but Andrew got them both to sleep using his Ninja parenting skills. I can’t recall how the rest of the Wednesday night went, but I do remember that our plan was to start sending Andrew in there at night since nursing her back to sleep wasn’t working anyway, we might as well try to night wean.
Here’s the thing. I was so anxious about the upcoming sleep training, I was sick to my stomach. I hadn’t been so anxious since my thesis proposal (I was oddly less anxious for my defense). Not only was I nauseated, I was also bouncing off the walls with nervous chatter about how anxious I was until Andrew asked me to stop talking to him about it because it was making HIM anxious. Thus I spent quite a long time on the phone with my mother, and she talked me off the ledge. She also gave me a technique. She told me to try patting her and saying “Shhhhhhh,” without picking her up. “If she’s too upset to let you pat her, don’t worry about it. Just keep shushing her. Move a kitchen chair in there so you can sit next to her bed,” she said. So I passed that tip onto Andrew and went to my meeting.
Now. We planned to start this night-weaning process the following night – a Friday. I was going to go ahead and nurse her as much as she wanted and sleep in the chair one last night on Thursday. Naturally, Nora changed things up on me. She didn’t wake up until 3am-ish, but then, bucking a month’s worth of habit, refused to go back to sleep while nursing. At a loss, I finally put her back to bed and started patting and shushing. I’ll be honest, I sincerely doubted it would work, but it was 4:15 am, so I figured I’d try until 5:00 and then hand off the duties to Andrew.
Dudes. She was asleep by 4:55.
I wouldn’t have believed it had I not witnessed it. She screamed and cried and hollered. She wept. She wailed. She was upset, is what I’m saying. But then she rolled over onto her belly, screamed some more, and then even more, and then the screams started to die down. And then she STOPPED SCREAMING. She gave some shuddery little sighs, and she went to sleep. I was in shock. But I was in shock while on my way back to bed. Woohoo!
Thus endeth the second installment of How We Got Nora To Sleep In Her Own Bed And Take Regular Naps. Stay tuned for Part 3 in which I describe a week’s worth of getting to play the husband’s role during the night wakings. (Hint: It was awesome.)