Teaching them to sleep

Teaching them to sleep

When our little girl Thea (Tay-a) was born, my mother came up to stay with us for a few days.  She stayed in the nursery with Thea while my husband and I slept across the hall in our room.  When the baby would wake up, my mom would come and wake me up to feed her.  Then, once the babe was fed, my mother would take her, and I’d go back to bed.

And then the day came when my mother left.  We had had no breakdowns or times where I or my husband, Andrew, didn’t have an idea of what to do, so when she left, I felt fairly confident about taking care of a newborn (although I cried pretty fierce the night before my mom left!  Seriously the hardest part of becoming a mom myself.)

Little did I know, sleep was about to become a sneaky little enemy.  I wanted Thea in our room.  I did NOT want her sleeping alone in her room.  So we brought in some blankets and made a little make-shift bed on the floor (since we didn’t have any extra money for a bassinet).  And that first night, Thea didn’t sleep very well.  I would put her down to sleep, and she’d sleep for only like 10 minutes and then she would squirm and squirm and squirm like she was in pain, which she was.  She had terrible gas pain for several weeks.

This led to Thea and I being snuggle-bed-buddies.  Which led to Thea always needing to be held or snuggled to sleep, whether for a nap or bedtime.  Which I loved and hated.  My life revolved around getting her to sleep and keeping her asleep.

About 3-4 months in, I started to realize that Thea didn’t seem to be getting very deep or good sleep.  She’d sleep all night with me, but would wake up and still need a nap.  But then, she would wake up screaming from her naps when I would try to put her down after falling asleep in my arms, which I figured after awhile was because she really did want to keep sleeping, but didn’t know what to do about it.  All in all, I just kept having the feeling like I needed to help her sleep on her own.

So, finally, now that she is 5 months old, I throw in the towel.  I thought I knew best.  I didn’t want Thea to have to cry herself to sleep.  I hated the idea of that.  I have tried a bunch of different scaffolded, progressive attempts to help her get to the point where she can sleep on her own, but to no real, lasting progress.

As she fell asleep again in the crook of my arm on our bed one night, I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me know what to do, and if crying-it-out was the only way to do it, to help me realize it.

At church the next day, I was talking with a friend in the ward, and what do you know, the conversation led to her totally empathizing with my situation.  Nodding, she said, “We did the exact same thing with our first.”  So she told me what she did about it.  At 9 months, my friend called her uncle, “who happened to be the sleep specialist at Stanford,” she said.  The Ferber Method.  That was his suggestion.

“It was so hard!” she said, “but it worked.”

Her suggestions to me:

  • Be 100% dedicated to see it through.
  • Your husband has to be onboard.
  • Get a movie or a TV series and headphones if you can’t handle the crying.

But I felt like my prayer had been answered as clear as day, so we looked up the method online and set out to give it a go.

I’ll document our experience with it, so stay tuned.



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