When you’re a new parent, all everyone asks about is sleep. Are you getting sleep at night? Is she sleeping through the night? What they never talk about is sleep training. It’s like the secret sauce when it comes to competitive parenting; you don’t reveal your method, and you certainly don’t admit that you did it the Dr. Ferber way.
They’ve even come up with the most evil-sounding way to talk about it… Ferberizing your baby. Without knowing much about it, I decided early on I was not going to let Maddie cry it out (CIO) in any way. Lucky for us, she was a pretty good sleeper. She figured out the day/night thing within the first couple of weeks. Then she started sleeping through the night. Well, if you go by the technical definition of “4-5 hours” and factor in the fact that breastfed babies need to eat every 3-4 hours, that is. And that’s exactly how you know your baby isn’t really sleeping through the night… when you have to disclaim it with “technically…”.
But anyways, so her sleep was choppy but I didn’t mind it. I convinced myself that I’d rather wake up 2x a night to nurse than to set an alarm and pump. But then somehow after 4 months the number of night-wakings started to creep up. Two turned into three which quickly jumped to 5 or 6. I immediately made an appointment with her doc. Something must be wrong! Ear infection! Teething! Maybe it was the avocado she ate!
“No, I think it’s just her. She doesn’t know how to fall back sleep on her own. Have you started sleep training yet?”
The doc’s answer was like a slap in the face. I could hear Dr. Sears’ voice in the back of my head, “beware of sleep trainers!” My baby is fine! She’s a good sleeper! What do you mean I need to sleep train her, and what do you mean I should do the Ferber method? After being reassured that Maddie would not be left screaming all night with feelings of abandonment, I decided to at least look into the Ferber method of graduated intervals. Four nights. I can do four nights.
That night, determined to succeed, we put Maddie down for her first 3 minutes. When the timer hit 2:45 I rushed in to soothe her. Resisting every temptation to pick her up, I rubbed her back and talked softly to her without success for a minute (since you have to keep the soothing brief) and sat outside (with hubby holding me back) while her cries escalated. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my LIFE. Finally after the fourth interval she abruptly stopped and knocked out. For 7.5 hours. I fed her at 4am and she slept another 3. I was elated with the results, but not without the heaviest guilt at the bottom of my heart. I decided I would give the method 2 more nights. If it didn’t work, we would be back to our attachment parenting, co-sleeping ways. Last night I went through her bedtime routine s-l-o-w-l-y, reluctant to put her down. I kissed her sweet head, put her down gently and held back my own tears as I dragged myself out of the room. I turned on the monitor and got ready to turn the volume down as low as possible. But there was barely any sound. She let out about 2 minutes worth of half-efforted wah’s and then drifted off to sleep.
Thank goodness. And thank you Dr. Ferber.
Note: Last night was our second night so I am in no way claiming that she was magically sleep trained in two days. Her night waking has dramatically improved though, so for now I feel a little bit better about keeping it up another two nights. Also, if you are thinking of trying the same please clear it with your doctor first to rule out any other problems, ear infections, need for night feeding, etc.