Monday, February 25, 2008

Ferberizing (or getting past new mom guilt)

For the past year, I have lived in almost a constant state of sleep deprivation. Sometimes the world is a blur to me, and I'll lay on the floor of Maya's playmat almost nodding off. Luckily, at that point Maya likes to crawl on top of me and wake me up!

Sure, there are times when I get a decent night's sleep. That would be the month of September when Maya started to sleep through the night. However, those times were short and over quickly. By October, she had developed a bad case of separation anxiety. She would cry when a stranger smiled and would try and talk to her. She would cry when an unfamiliar stuffed animal was held up to her. She would cry when Grandma wanted to give her a hug. Basically she would cry whenever her mama wasn't holding her.

In a way, I was very happy about this new development. Finally, validation that she loved me... that she needed me and no one else! The back draw was that my newly found great sleeper started waking up 3-4 times a night, and often 7-8 times a night!

Mo and I discussed sleep training her, but balked everytime we heard her crying. This was back when Mo used to put her to sleep too. Finally after 5 weeks of sleep deprivation, Mo became desperate. Her pediatrician advised us to "do ourselves a favor" and let her cry a little. Mo was happy to comply. The first night, we let her cry for 15 minutes when we put her to bed, and she only woke up once more falling asleep after only 12 minutes.

The next night, she cried for 10 minutes before Mo proclaimed that he couldn't do it! "If we have to hold her or let her sleep in our bed, we'll do it!" And so he went in and held her for the next hour. He started off sharing the bedtime ritual with me on the weekdays, and also relieving me of some of the wake ups on the weekend. (Can you read into this that I did 90% of the rocking to sleep?)

The following weeks Mo became busier and busier with work, so I started putting her to bed more and more on my own and holding her when she woke up. The bottle which used to help soothe her during some of the wake-ups started to get turned away. She clearly wasn't hungry, she just wanted to be rocked. By mid-December I was doing 100% of the soothing.

Enter mid-February and Maya's 1 year pediatrician appointment. I was still rocking her to sleep every night... and that I was becoming increasingly unhappy about the situation.  I resented the fact that Mo didn't have to chore (yes, chore... I'm a mean mama) of holding our cutie until she fell asleep 4-5 times a day.  My sleep deprivation and his stress at work resulted in more than a few fights.  I also envied all my friends with babies who had a continuous night's sleep, but mostly... I was terrified that Maya would grow into a 2 or 3 year old that wanted to be rocked to sleep. Already at 1, Maya was showing her strong personality and I was sure that she would be a nightmare to sleep train in another year. When our doctor asked us how Maya gets to sleep every night, I admitted that I rocked her to sleep. Our pedi immediately said "Yes, you have to stop doing that. She needs to learn how to sleep on her own." I inwardly sighed with relief and looked over at Mo. He agreed (with a bit of reluctance) that it was time.

In the end though, it was my decision to stop rocking Maya to sleep. I worried about her ability to sleep on her own in the future. I must admit that my mother rocked me to sleep, and it turned into a nightmare for her. At 6-7 years old, I needed her to sleep beside me 99% of the time, and I only started growing out of it at 8 years old. Even now, I sometimes have trouble falling asleep and was bothered by insomnia at least 2-4 times a month. (Insomniacs, here's a tip! Have a baby, it'll cure you of your sleep issues with constant sleep deprivation!)

We decided to use the Ferber method because it seemed more gentle to both parents and baby. Today is day 3 and so far so good. *knocks on wood* The first night, Maya feel asleep about 20 minutes. And the 2nd, she feel asleep about 12 minutes. Today during both her naps, she was asleep in 2 minutes and 5 minutes respectively.

I hear that the 3rd and 4th nights are the worst, so I'm not holding my breath that it'll keep being this "easy". I put easy in quotes because while it doesn't sound like a long time listening to her cry. When it's your baby, and you're fighting past your mother guilt to not go in and soothe her, it doesn't just feel like time is standing still. It feels like time is running backwards in the wrong direction!

But seeing that Maya is fast asleep now, and wakes up the same happy baby she always has been... ferberizing is working for us! I'm so happy we're on the road to a Maya who knows how to sleep on her own. Because I know this sounds selfish, but life will be so much easier! Mo won't be stressed out anymore when I go to pottery class on Saturday mornings (she would either cry in his arms before her nap, or not take one at all). And I miss going out for a nice adult meal without Maya. I am looking forward to being able to leave her with Grandma or a friend to babysit. Mo and I have only had three romantic meals, just the two of us without Maya... and these were all pre-separation anxiety. (Thank you Jen for being such an excellent friend to babysit for us!)

Maya's doctor advised us that the first few nights would be hard, but "once she starts sleeping on her own, you'll kick yourself for not doing it sooner." Give me a few more days, but I suspect that she is right!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...