Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Sleep Training Story (Part 1)

I am still getting questions about Emmett and his sleeping schedule. I have had mom's ask, "how do you get your baby to sleep... for 12 hours/take consistent the carseat/in the pack n play/in his own room/how do you get him to sleep NOT on you, etc?" Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by this because I'm a brand new mom. I have no idea what I'm doing. I go with my gut, the advice from friends and family, and some books I read 100% of the time. I'm not some self proclaimed hippy that's going to tell you you're damaging your baby if they are ever upset around you and cry, but I'm also not exactly "to the book of rigorous schedules and planning" for your baby. What I am going to share is solely our personal experience with sleep training. All babies are different so I don't know if this will work for you. I don't even know if everything I did with Emmett is going to work for our baby girl. But I've finally decided to do this post because, you are all so sweet and have asked me to. I'll split it into two posts because I feel like there is a lot to this and also certain misconceptions of sleep training your baby, and that's what I'll discuss here. In post 2 I'll go over my exact experience from the first day to now. These posts are for those that have specifically asked me these questions and asked for my schedule. So here we go :)

Firstly, I do not believe there is only one way to do anything when it comes to parenting, especially when it comes to babies and their sleep. 

Like I've mentioned in posts before, we were co-sleepers. It worked for us when we were in "survival mode".
I believe that you can make being a new mom as complicated/overwhelming as you want. Having a baby is a total life adjustment, and just meeting your babies essential needs can sometimes become overwhelming. So for things like sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, prepping their baby food, whatever... My approach has always been I'll give anything a try, as long as its safe and good. If it starts creating too much unnecessary work, stress, and cost I'll try to find another way. I'm already stressed out about EVERYTHING! Haha! I also strongly believe that babies are their happiest when mom/family are happy. Learning to control the controllable is huge during these life changes, and sometimes it can be just as hard to decipher what a "controllable" really is. If you're constantly sleep deprived, doing WAY too much laundry, and killing yourself over making your baby's purees... You might want to self evaluate. Is it really worth your sanity, happiness, and time? Can you fix the situation in which you're constantly feeling overwhelmed? Babies can feed off of our energy.

A lot of time our "wanting" to fix things, is outweighed by the amount of effort and work it might initially take to change. I understand that some babies and mom's may have health issues which don't allow them the luxury to try a different approach, but in that case do the best you can, remember to be easy on yourself, and try your best to find the positive :)

So, back to baby sleep, if you search "how should a baby sleep" on google, you will get a million different opinions. Some people swear by co-sleeping until adolescence, some have never had their babies in bed with them, and then there is everyone in between that stays more quiet about their experience. I think we should all be able to share our experiences without criticism, because it can become so helpful. I saw a post on social media from a friend, she retweeted some youtube, basically saying how a sleep trained baby wasn't "normal"... What is "normal" anyway? Find me two babies that are exactly alike in every single way and then we can talk about this co-called "normal". I think this is all such a sad mentality. 

Personally, being a brand new mom and a soon to be mom of two, it's an incredible blessing, but with that comes overwhelming emotions and insecurities. Am I doing this right? Why is my baby still crying? How can I better help my baby while maintaining my sanity? Babies can't speak and sometimes we have no idea how to make it better. Posting/re-posting things that shine a big spotlight on how "different" isn't "normal" is wrong to me. I totally understand that sleep training isn't necessarily for everyone's life and that is perfectly ok too. Different is different, so just do whatever is conducive to your lifestyle. Do what makes you, your baby, and your family happy, and feel GREAT about it! :)

The most asked question I've received is:
*Why did you choose to sleep train?*
Here is your rather long and detailed answer:

 It all started when Emmett was about 2 months old. Up until then we co-slept because it was easier for us. Specifically for me, feeding him every two hours was taking a toll on my body during my recovery and it became easier for me to just roll over and feed him. But around 2 month, is when Emmett starting falling out of his "newborn sleepy stage"... You know, the stage where they literally sleep everywhere all the time. I hear some babies can go up to 4 months until their sleep schedule changes ("the sleep regression" everyone talks about), well Emmett only lasted about 2 months. So, at this point in time I was exhausting myself co-sleeping. I've actually had so many mom's email me saying the same thing. The timing of when their baby's sleep pattern changes varies, but the mom's would say that they started to co-sleep because it became so convenient yet, it became impossible to break their baby from it.

(This was one of his roughest days we had, so I decided that very next day to sleep

During this time, Emmett would wake up more to movement, coughing, or sneezing. My nights became as sleepless as his naps. It was an awful combination. He was sleeping good most days but it became really tough on me. I knew there had to be another way for us. Yes, co-sleeping was easy and I had read articles as to why it was great but at the same time I was wearing thin. All of the new mom's I knew still co-slept, so I didn't personally know anyone who had a baby fully sleep trained. I even had one of these mom's tell me it makes you "super mom" if you can be a mom and run on no sleep. It was so hard for me to wrap my head around that mentality, because not only had this mom never even tried sleep training. But I knew deep down this was a "controllable" for us. I felt like my lack of sleep was becoming selfish because I liked that Emmett needed me to sleep. It wasn't just about the convenience of co-sleeping anymore. I had this overwhelming guilt every single time I had to put him down with me because he could NOT do it by himself. I had heard the stories of how hard of a habit it is to break and I kept telling myself that "he" just wasn't ready yet. But it broke my heart when I couldn't even put him to sleep in my own home while we had company over. I literally had to leave the room to go take a nap with him because there is no way he would be able to do it by himself. One of the most essential skills in life, he wasn't able to do because I had not taught him. That broke my heart more than knowing he wouldn't sleep on me as much. Honestly, Emmett's lack of sleep for about a week straight made me cranky, unproductive, and extremely tired.

-The doctor gave me the green light. Fortunately, Emmett was healthy, thriving, and didn't have any medical conditions or concerns, so his doctor said that he was completely capable to go through the night with NO night time feedings. He said that for babies like Emmett, you can usually try to sleep train them at around 10 lbs. In that case, we really could have tried it at 2 weeks lol. But I wouldn't have even proceeded with sleep training if I didn't get the "go ahead" from his pediatrician.
-Emmett would ONLY fall asleep on my breast. I kept hearing the term "cluster feeding" everywhere and how it was "normal." So I had convinced myself that his constant 30 minute feedings were "normal." I breastfed for about 5 months, sleep trained him at 2 months, and since the day I sleep trained him HAD NO MORE CLUSTER FEEDING ISSUES. None. So I'm spectacle on this whole "cluster feeding" term, but I would have had no idea, if I didn't go with my instinct to sleep train.
-Wyatt and I wanted our marital bed back. Of course, our lives were changed once we became parents and sharing a bed with our newborn was fun in the beginning, but it was also easy for us to see how your kids can take priority over your marriage. I know some people disagree with this but I always try my best to put my marriage first, then Emmett because when we serve each other Emmett's needs are always met. I mean Wy's my #1 guy forever! I totally get that some couples can swing sharing a bed with their baby/kid, which is totally fine! More power to you! But I love our 10-12 hours through the night together.
-Wyatt could not put Emmett down to sleep at all. I value their relationship and I want Emmett to trust Wyatt in every single way, especially when it came to doing something as fundamental as sleep. We share all other baby responsibilities why should I single out sleep/naps as "just mine". Wyatt loves to be involved, and we both wanted him to be able to help with this. I did have someone tell me that co-sleeping helps the baby and dad bond... But not necessarily for us. We use our bed to sleep, not to chat and play with our baby (turns out babies can't really hold conversations in 
-I wanted to try sleep training before Emmett started teething. It's hard for babies to sleep when they are in so much pain. Emmett is no different. But I did want him to have the skills to fall asleep on his own when he started to feel this pain. Emmett just had his first two teeth break through a month ago, is teething again, and has been teething for months. Yes, his naps became more inconsistent during rough patches of his teeth actually coming in, but his night time sleep was the exact same. Since the weeks we had him sleep trained him, he sleeps 12 hours though the night. I can't imagine doing sleepless nights and days while he's in pain. It would be torture for the both of us.
-I wanted to try sleep training before he knew we were kicking him out of our bed. The older he gets the more aware he becomes. That's just what happens when they get older. If he doesn't remember a time with all of us cuddled up together in bed, its going to save us both the heartache.
-Lastly, the biggest reason. I was becoming unpleasant. Emmett and I had a really hard almost two weeks straight. He was "cluster feeding", only wanted to sleep on me, and was crying in the carseat. It was taking a toll on me and my functionality.

One of the biggest misconceptions of sleep training is: 
It's not "normal" for your baby to sleep through the night

I'm only speaking from my experience with Emmett... And yes he sleeps 12 hours through the night. But it doesn't mean that he is completely knocked out those 12 hours. Sometimes he talks a little,  he rustles around, and he tosses and turns. Just like we do during the night. The difference is he knows how to put himself back to sleep, so he doesn't spend the entire night trying to figure it out. Or doesn't need me or Wyatt to do it with him/for him. That was something he wasn't able to do while we were co-sleeping. Yeah, I'd get lucky with a nap here and there, where he'd magically fall asleep by himself because he was so exhausted. Or it'd be a really lucky day if he slept in the carseat during those awful weeks, but 98% of the time I had to go down with him for every single nap, because he could NOT do it by himself. Instead of it "warming up my mama heart...Like aww he needs me to sleep. ALL. THE. TIME." It broke my heart that he couldn't physically do it by himself. 

(Right after waking up from a nap)

In part 2, I'll go over step by step what I did and how it worked and the freedom it's given our whole family.


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