So as you may or may not know, I’ve been going through sleep hell for the past several weeks. Let me preface this by saying that CJ used to be the King of All Sleepers. He started sleeping through the night at around 8 weeks old, and consistently slept all night for several months. This was amazing timing, since I went back to work when he was 11 weeks old and really needed to get some quality sleep. I was ever so grateful for this fortunate turn of events.
But I got cocky. Whenever people would ask whether or not he slept all night, I would reply smugly, “of COURSE he sleeps all night, he’s such a great little sleeper!” Other new moms would complain about their lack of sleep, and I would smile to myself, inwardly gloating that MY child slept all night with no sleep training. I was proud of my good sleeper, as if his penchant for 9 hours of sleep had ANYTHING AT ALL to do with me.
Well, fast forward to the end of March/beginning of April. The gods decided that the time for my comeuppance was at hand. BAM. Sleep issues. It started with waking up an hour or two earlier than normal. Not too bad, except that last sleep cycle was interrupted and left me a bit tired the next day. Then CJ started waking up two or three hours after I put him down. And again one or two hours before waking up. He eventually evened out to waking up once around 2 or 3 a.m. I could live with that, but yet again the deepest part of my sleep was being continually interrupted. I was EXHAUSTED. Still am. My body and brain can not sustain this continuous level of sleep deprivation. Something had to give.
So one desperate Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, after putting CJ down around 8:15 and hearing him wake up promptly at midnight, I decided that I had had all I could take, and I couldn’t take any more. CJ was going to cry it out that night. I went in and calmed him down, not picking him up, and then left the room. He screamed again. I returned after five minutes and patted him down again. Left the room, he screamed. Seven minutes later, I went back in. Repeat. He cried for another seven minutes, then rolled over and went to sleep. And slept until 8:00 the next morning. It was glorious. I felt like a brand new woman. It was also short-lived, because CJ was back to his old disjointed sleep pattern the next night. But that one full night of sleep gave me enough hope to get through the hard nights.
The thing is, I can’t stay up to let him cry it out during the week because it’s just easier to put him in bed with us when he cries. He typically will go right back to sleep, but I have to sleep (or attempt to sleep) sitting halfway up propped on various pillows because God forbid I attempt to move the child off me and onto the bed. He will promptly wake up and the cycle will begin anew. And during the week, in my just-woken-from-sleep stupor, I have to do what will get us all back to sleep fastest because 5:30 a.m. comes awful early and I have to be somewhat bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for work. On the weekends, I feel like I am afforded a little more flexibility to sleep-train without it affecting my job performance or reaction time in Atlanta traffic. I know it’s inconsistent, but I do what I have to do.
CJ cried it out last week during the week. He was fighting sleep, flopping around like a rejected House of Pain song. I had spent nearly an hour trying to put him down, and I had reached my limit. It again took about 30 minutes. But he slept all night. I tell you, the worst part of CIO is the sleep sniffles for the first 20 minutes or so after he falls asleep. After that, glorious steady breathing and sleep. And tonight, at my parents’ house, in a pack and play, he cried for 5 minutes, and then I successfully patted him to sleep for the first time EVER. That was two hours ago and he is still asleep. I’m so proud of him for being able to fall asleep without being rocked or nursed that I could just burst out into song. Hopefully this will become a trend, or at least give me the encouragement to be consistent with sleep training so I don’t give him mixed signals. I just want us all to sleep better so we can all be happier.
When I first became a mother, I told myself that I could never, EVER let my child cry himself to sleep. Cruel, heinous, and selfish, I said. Well, obviously I have since changed my tune. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I, my friends, was desperate. Am desperate. I need to sleep. And you know what? After CJ cries it out and falls asleep, the next morning he is still thrilled to see me when he wakes up. He hugs me just the same, and gives me sweet kisses just like he always does. He’s well rested, I’m well rested, and we’re ready to face the day with smiles on our faces.
Moms who are going through sleep hell and are doing CIO, it may be hard at first, but it gets easier, it gets shorter, and hopefully it will become unnecessary. Good luck!