Saturday, November 10, 2007
Every book I've read on the subject of sleep training makes it sound like babies want to sleep, and it will be natural once you help them out. It seems like mothers of successful sleepers feel the same way, and some of them imply that Amaya is manipulating me because she doesn't sleep. So, I finally decided to bite the bullet and this week I've been sleep training, using the famous "cry it out" method, which is a complicated structure of routines, sleep inducing activities, scheduled cycles and feedings, limit setting, and eliminating dependence on sleep associations. Now, I've been studying faithfully all books on this subject for some time now, so I'm pretty familiar with every possible method. I still optimistically believe in "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", but due to my own parent-centered schedule and other factors, I don't have the time to invest in it (which sounds like months to years). Besides, Amaya will be in my mother's arms next Thursday for 5 days (4 nights), and I know full well that she will be implementing her own version of cry it out.
I settled on the method detailed in Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, written by Ferber, a sleep specialist at the pediatric sleep center.
We've had a lot of established, tried and true routines and cycles for a while now, so really the only change in our routine is the limit setting at night, and elimination of sleep associations. I've had way too many people convince me that crying it out is a pretty quick process, and babies adjust to it naturally. Even my friend, Rachel, who I just verbally laid out the process for sleep training 3 days ago, implemented the whole thing in a 2 nights and her baby is sleeping soundly.
As you may have guessed by now, Amaya is not.
In fact, we've done some major back paddling. Amaya has been enduring (read 'rejecting') sleep training for 5 days now. She has taken 1 (40 minute) nap in that time (she cried over an hour for each of the other nap times), and cries for hours each night. I have not given in at all, meaning, I haven't helped her to sleep any of those times, but she wakes up multiple times and just yells and cries, especially at 2 am and 5:30 am, which is when she decides she is done for the night. Yelling and crying might be bearable, but she couples this with jumping wildly up and down in her crib, and 4 times now we've come into the room (when we decide to end the nap without her taking it) and her mouth has been bleeding, with stains smeared on her stuffed animal, pillow, sheet, and shirt. She also sports a bruise on the bottom of her chin.
The other terrible part of the whole situation is her extreme neediness during these days. Many parents I've talked to report that their children are so happy to have slept on their own and show no ill-effects during the day. She will hardly even go to any other person (even Jake) and with me she cries and cuddles, which would be cute, but severely interferes with her normally bubbly personality. She has decided that the only things she wants to do are read books and watch movies. When she wants to read a book she cries while she runs over to the bookcase, cries while she runs back, and begs to come back up on my lap. When the book is over, she wants to read it again. In fact, she becomes so upset that the book is over and that she might have to separate from me to get another one that she thrashes around and flips the pages until I start reading again. I think I've read "Mommy Loves Me" about 30 times in a row more than once now. The wants me to hold her so she can fall asleep, so she gets very upset when I put her down. I think she believes I'm performing some ancient Chinese torture techniques. Sleep deprivation. She has developed a feeling of terror towards the bedroom, and any time I walk by or come close to the bedroom (or say 'nap' or 'sleep' or 'night'), she goes into fits. She won't relax during our nightly baby massage, diaper change, bottle feeding, because she knows what is next. When I go into the bedroom for any reason she immediately wants down and runs crying to the front door, like she wants to get as far away from her bed as possible.
Ferber actually has a lot to say about children with real fear, physical reactions, etc. He suggests first that it is a parenting problem, so I've tried to look at our situation using his suggestions and case studies. But the more I read it, the more I realize that Amaya may be one of the ones that he refers to as "real sleep problems", meaning that the anxiety associated with sleeping and separation are more clinical cases. This makes me feel even worse, because am I really going to take Amaya to one of these sleep centers and sleep specialists? It seems kind of crazy.
I'm not sure which of us is going to break first.
Scribbled by Mariko at 11:38 AM