September has been a rough month: the girls went from being pretty solid sleepers to, well, the opposite. I felt like they were trying to break me (and a couple times, I think my husband would say they succeeded).
I don’t remember being this tired the first time around, although I’m sure I was – in fact, I had undiagnosed Graves’ Disease, so from months 4-6 I had brutal insomnia most nights and ended up taking long naps in the morning to try to get to a point where I could function. This time, though, the morning naps haven’t happened; the girls’ daytime sleep hasn’t aligned well enough.
Sleep deprivation isn’t a good look on anyone, but I’ve had a couple of weirdly unhinged moments – like once when I got so frustrated I threw my giant feeding cushion across the room, or another time when I ended up lying on my stomach on my bed and kicking my feet like a tantruming toddler. Most of my symptoms have been more prosaic, though – incidents when I’m so tired that I can’t remember a word, or I start a sentence, forget where I’m going, and then think ‘oh eff it, nevermind, I can’t be bothered to formulate that thought after all.’
So we decided to start sleep training. We used Ferber with Theo and it worked so well that we are trying it, with some trepidation, on the girls. They feel too young. It seems too soon. But I am damn near catatonic, so last night I gave Daphne extra squeezes and lots of apologies, put her in bed, and walked away.
And….she just stayed asleep. I’d let her fall asleep on the boob, like an amateur. Fiona, on the other hand, started squawking almost immediately. With Ferber, which is a method of controlled cry-it-out, you go in every few minutes to reassure the baby. But it doesn’t calm them down at all; I just felt crummy for failing to comfort my child, and in the end I ceded as much of it to Ian as I could.
With both girls, their first experience of being left to self-soothe lasted about 25 minutes. The second took about ten. And then I fell asleep feeding Daphne and screwed it up AGAIN. But still. We have begun. We are on our way.
I am a sleep-training evangelist. I know the internet (and the world) is full of people who say ‘oh but I just couldn’t.’ And that makes me angry. I appreciate that sleep training is not for everyone, but it is not something I take lightly. When we did it with Theo, it was by far the hardest thing I had done as a parent, and it was 100% the right thing for all of us. When people say ‘oh, I can’t,’ what they are implying is that they are more sensitive or empathetic or more devoted to their children’s wellbeing than I am. And maybe they are, but if so, it has nothing to do with their willingness to engage in sleep training. I believe in sleep training as one of my core parenting values, because I will parent better if I can formulate complete sentences and deal with frustration without throwing things (even cushions) across the room.
So we’re sleep training now. It was a little sooner than we meant to, but it turns out its time. Wish us luck.