With the exception of a rare night here and there, I have not gotten any more than three hours sleep at a time for the last 120 days. This is having a cumulative effect and I’m reaching the point where it needs to get better. Not sleeping enough bums me out. I overeat. I feel overwhelmed, anxious and incapable. I start to see my children more as a constant responsibility than as the treasures they are.
Last night, on Willow’s four-month birthday, Mark and I watched the Sleepeasy Solution, a DVD that had come highly recommended by several friends. The methods seemed simple enough, but it’s still an emotional process to not respond to your child immediately. I was crying watching some of the parents watch their kids cry, even as I knew why they were doing it and even as I saw them later say it was worth it. Mark laughed at the thought of me crying. So guess who will be on duty when Willow is crying?
We want to try this method, but even that seems overwhelming right now because we have so much to work on. This includes:
1. Getting her out of swaddles
2. Reducing the 4-6 nightly feeds
3. Getting her from the swing to sleeping on a firm surface. I wouldn’t mind delaying this one, except that we’ll soon spend a month traveling and won’t have a swing on hand then.
Last night I ditched the swaddle and tracked her sleep and her feeds. She woke up four times between 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. By 5:30, I just took her into bed with me and lost track.
For the next two nights, I’ll continue tracking and putting her down without a swaddle. Then on Friday night, we want to start implementing the plan, so that Mark can be in charge of any non-feed wakeup.
The DVD suggests setting an alarm and waking the child up to feed one hour before the usual time. This ensures the child is full, so any subsequent wakeups shouldn’t be due to hunger. They also suggest reducing the length of the feed by two minutes per night, until that feed has been weaned. They say that by five months, babies don’t need any night feeds.
An example is provided for a baby with two nightly wakeups. That seems clear enough. But what about when you have 4-6 nightly wakeups? Do you try to wean down to two? Do you stop the extra two to four cold turkey? I don’t really know and am spending my free time researching these questions and stressing out about them.
Willow is 16 pounds, twice her birth weight, with plenty of rolls of fat. She doesn’t NEED this many feedings at night. She doesn’t need them more than I need the sleep. She should be capable of transferring these feedings to the day. But still, I’m full of doubts, insecurities, worries.
I know this is a contentious issue, with people holding strong views on either side. It’s an issue we pretty much escaped with River. Since he always slept well at night, we never had to decide whether or not to let him cry. All we did was gradually move him further away from me, so that he didn’t smell the milk. He gradually needed less. It was natural and easy.
This time it’s different. I have met her needs on demand for four months. I want to continue to meet her feeding needs. But I want to shift those from the night to the day. I don’t think it’s going to be easy.