Sleep Training The Second Time Around

I mentioned in my last post that Emmy’s sleep has improved a ton, but it wasn’t by chance. I decided after Thanksgiving that the best gift I could give myself (and Emmy, too) for Christmas was the gift of sleep, so in early December, right after Emmy turned six months old, I decided to sleep train her. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo since I wound up eventually sleep training Jackson as well (you can read about that here), but it didn’t make it any easier emotionally. Listening to your baby cry sucks, plain and simple. There’s no sugar coating it. That said, I would do it again in a heartbeat because it has done wonders for Emmy’s quality of sleep, and my sanity. I know sleep training is a very polarizing topic and many people are firmly against it. I never thought I would resort to it myself before I had Jackson, to be honest. Having gone through it twice now though, I’ve seen firsthand how it can be beneficial to both babies and parents (assuming a baby is ready). I’m certainly no expert on this, but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone else struggling with infant sleep issues.

So what did I do exactly? First, I moved Emmy out of the bassinet in our room to a crib in the guest room (We’re still planning on eventually having Emmy share a room with Jackson, but until sleep is a bit more coordinated, we’re going to keep them separate). I think having more space to stretch out and less noise helped a lot. Second, I let Emmy learn to soothe herself. There are lots of different sleep training approaches, but I opted to use one of the gentler ones called The Ferber Method. If you’re not familiar, it involves putting babies down to sleep and letting them cry for various intervals before going in to provide comfort. I just don’t have it in me to do straight cry it out. I think I started by going in after three minutes, then five, then ten, etc. This is the method I used with Jackson and it was very effective with him, so I was hoping it would work equally well with Emmy. Emmy was definitely tougher, but overall she adapted much better and more quickly than I expected. I went into it with the mindset that I’d try things out, but if Emmy was overly resistant (i.e. didn’t go to sleep after an hour), I would stop and try at a later time. I don’t believe in letting babies cry for hours on end. The first night she cried off and on for forty minutes before falling asleep initially. The next night was about twenty. The third was ten. And now she cries minimally every night, usually not more than a minute or two, although it can be up to ten minutes. 

Emmy still typically wakes up crying once overnight and I choose to nurse her when she does. She usually goes right back to sleep without crying. To me this is totally manageable and beats waking up every two hours! Doing this is against most sleep training recommendations, but I’m more comfortable continuing to nurse once overnight at this age, and I think it’s totally normal for young babies to still need some comforting. If you provide it, I don’t think it means you’re creating terrible sleepers! Emmy overall sleeps great at night now, so so much better than she had been, and she’s a happier baby come the morning as a result. That’s really all I can ask for.

If you’re desperate for sleep and considering sleep training but you’re not sure if you can go through with it, I hope this offers some encouragement. It may not be as difficult as you think. I was dreading it both times, but was pleasantly surprised in each case. You may actually wind up wishing you’d done it sooner!

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Emmy Update: 7 Months

It has been a bit since I last posted–four months and four days to be exact!–but who’s counting? Life with two young kids is awesome, but it doesn’t allow for much down time. Pretty much the only opportunity I have during the day to crack open the computer for more than a minute or two is when the kids are napping, and I’ve been choosing to use that time to sleep myself. If I have to choose between sleep and pretty much anything else, I’ll almost always pick sleep. What can I say? I like my rest! Now that Emmy is on a better nighttime sleep schedule and I actually have my evenings back, I’m hoping to carve out more time to get back to things I’ve been neglecting, like this blog. Continue reading “Emmy Update: 7 Months”

Surviving the First 3 Months With a Colicky Baby (and Toddler!)

Well, I survived the first few months as a mother of two! As of last week Emmy is officially three months old. In some ways it feels like the time has flown by, but in others, it feels like an eternity. I haven’t posted anything in ages because, in all honesty, I could hardly keep my head above water, but things are finally getting a little more manageable and I wanted to recap how the past three months have been.

Continue reading “Surviving the First 3 Months With a Colicky Baby (and Toddler!)”

Jackson Update: 20 Months

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The last Jackson update I did was when he was ten months old and still technically a baby, so a current one is long overdue. I certainly can’t call him a baby anymore now that I have a full-fledged toddler on my hands who will be TWO in just a few months. Excuse me while I go cry a million tears into my coffee…. Jackson has changed so, so much even since he was 16 months or so, and it seems like he masters something new almost every week now. It’s amazing to watch and also a bit bittersweet since he’s growing up so fast (a little too fast in my opinion!). I’m trying to stay focused on the moment, even the seemingly mundane ones, because I know how fast he’ll be onto the next phase.  Continue reading “Jackson Update: 20 Months”

One of Those Days

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Hello and happy Friday! I hope you have some fun weekend plans in store. Weather permitting, we’re going to a party on Saturday with a group of friends I’ve known forever and I’m really looking forward to it.

But backing up for a second, I want to talk about Wednesday. This past Wednesday I took Jackson for his first swim lesson at our local YMCA. (Quick sidebar, I’m no longer at my former job, which is why I was able to do this during the week. It’s kind of a long story and one for another post!) We have him in daycare twice a week and I wanted to find at least one activity to take him to on the days it’s just the two of us. I figured swim lessons would be great because he generally loves the water and enjoys being around other kids. This week was the first class, and I fully expected it to go well. I imagined Jackson having a ball and not wanting the class to end. Man, I could not have been more wrong! I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a complete and total disaster.

First, the main parking lot close to the entrance was completely full, so I had to go around the corner to an underground parking garage where they provide additional parking. That was also completely full. I finally found a spot on the other side of the building, a good 10-15 minutes later. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you’re toting a toddler and all of your swim gear in frigid temperatures and you have to walk a distance to get inside, it’s majorly annoying.

After the unexpected delay finding parking I was going to be late for the class, so I rushed with Jackson into the locker room. As soon as I set foot inside, he started wailing. Not just crying but full-on bawling with real tears and sobs. He is typically so joyful and happy and I still have no idea what set him off. I took him into the changing room to get him into his swimsuit and tried to calm him down, to no avail. I thought maybe once we got out of the locker room and into the pool he’d be distracted and would stop crying. Nope. The class started and we did intros, as best we could over Jackson’s screaming anyway, and I tried to get through the first exercise. When the crying continued without any sign of letting up, I just decided to throw in the towel and leave. He was obviously miserable and the crying was too disruptive to the other families.

So I dragged Jackson back to the locker room, still screaming, to get dressed to go home. Of course it’s freezing and winter and I was parked far away so I couldn’t just throw a shirt on him and call it a day. I spent another 15 minutes getting both of us out of our bathing suits (and his wet diaper) and into warm, dry clothes, hats, coats, etc. all while he continued screaming. I swear the staff must have thought I was torturing him! By the time I was finally ready to go, the class had ended and the other moms were starting to come into the locker room. I was on the brink of a meltdown myself at this point and on the verge of tears. As soon as we got outside Jackson stopped crying, of course, and he was mostly back to normal by the time we got home.  

The whole experience was unexpectedly negative and it left me feeling frustrated, guilty and defeated. But I reminded myself that some days are going to be like this. You can’t win ‘em all and that’s okay. I can’t let this one experience scare me off of trying other things. Although part of me never wants to go to swim lessons again and I’m kind of dreading it, I’m going to take Jackson again next week. Maybe he was having an off day this time or maybe he’s just not ready. We’ll see.

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this it’s because I feel like we rarely see the full picture of parenting on social media. Usually it’s all smiles and rainbows and perfection (I’m guilty of this too), but days like this happen too, and I think it’s important to share that side as well. On that note, have you had a similar experience to this? Or do you have any words of wisdom to share about how to make next week’s lesson go a little more smoothly? I’d love to know!