Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sleep Training Sucks, But It Works

Okay, blog friends, we are going on Night 11 and things are smoothing out. Thanks for all of your encouragement to see it through. Tonight we had 5-6 minutes of mild fussing, with both boys asleep within 20 minutes. The boys are even settling very easily, with no crying, after both of their night feedings. They're getting up later (7:15am), smiling and ready for the day. And hey, there are smiling, relatively well-rested parents there to greet them.

Sleep training is the right choice for our family.

But what the heck. All the books (and even our pediatrician!) assured me it would take 3-5 nights of crying to get to zero...and that at the most we could expect 20-30 minutes. Ha! Meet my twin screamers! At Night 8, we were at 33 minutes of crying, which was a huge improvement but still a lot to take, so I broke down and talked to a sleep consultant. Part of me felt lame for needing help with something so basic, but why? I help people all the time so I should ask for it when I need it.

It was money well spent. When you're sleep deprived and have new-parent guilt to boot, you need someone to spell things out for you. Turns out I may have a couple of "spirited" children on my hands. I don't feel totally comfortable with labels, but the consultant did offer a range of expectations that seemed more realistic for my guys - including an adjustment period of 10-14 days for major changes (like sleep training). I no longer feel like it's all my fault that the boys never fell asleep on their own when I put them down "awake but drowsy."

She also helped me formulate a plan moving forward, including how to get the boys to fall asleep in their bed for naps. Currently I'm walking or nursing them to sleep for every nap. Yes, that means 2-4 times per day, I pack them up in car seats, schlep down 2 flights of stairs (oh yes, and carry them back up 2-4 times), and prowl the neighborhood, hunting for the Sand Man. Okay that makes me sound a little "Night of the Living Dead," but I do get a bit zombie-like on limited sleep and this strict fitness regimen the boys have me on. They are quite the taskmasters :o)

On the bright side, I'm back in pre-pregnancy jeans and becoming a real fixture in the community.

I'm sleeping again! I can see a bright side!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sleep Training Sucks

It's 8:20pm. Mr Awesome is asleep. The boys are asleep. I am eating fried chicken and blogging in the darkened living room.


Sleeping training is eating my soul.

We're on Night 6 and it feels like Sixth Circle of Hell. Because I dread the crying, the resurfacing of my own abandonment issues every time I walk out of the room and their smiling faces follow me, only to fall into confused and angry tears moments later. I abhor the sound of my precious babies wailing into the dark air and nothing answering them. I see their arms reaching out, finding no one, and I crumble.

When they finally settle and fall asleep, I feel only marginally better. I remind myself of how they scream and cry and thrash about in our arms, the car seat, the bouncy chair, wherever and whenever they are trying to go to sleep. I remember the hours I have sat, bleary-eyed and nipples stinging, between two suckling, slumbering babies, fearful to move them, desperate for rest myself. I know they are not calling out for mom and dad. They are crying for sleep, and learning how to get there.

But when all has gone quiet and I see their relaxed little bodies on the video monitor, still I wait in tense anticipation. The crying could happen again at any moment. Any moment.

And I need every single moment that I get at night to recharge. I look forward to it as much as dread it. I miss them as much as I feel relief that I am not going to see them for 8 hours (barring an emergency, of course).

An ugly little voice fills my head when difficult parenting moments come my way:

If I only had one child...

...I'd co-sleep and we'd all actually sleep.
...I'd breastfeed on demand and never ever look at a clock.
...he'd nap in the front pack whenever he got tired.
...I'd always know what to do, never feel overwhelmed, and we'd all live happily ever after with our pet unicorn, Vestibule. Oh, and there would be no such thing as armpit hair. Because what the hell is that for.

People who judge my choice to sleep train (um, myself, I'm talking about myself, because I judge myself about it every single nap and bedtime and the verdict is always Guilt, Shame, and More Guilt) don't know what it's like to have two. They don't know what it's like to be faced with a stark and terrible reality: I have limits. There is a limit to what I can give.

Because I'm only a human.

It feels woefully inadequate to be only a human when you have twin infants to care for and you care about them so damn much that your little Grinchy heart has grown ten times bigger than can manifest in physical action.

Sometimes I wish I was two mothers.

Sigh. I know it doesn't matter how many mothers I am or how many kids I have. People have to meet their own challenges in this life, and even a whole pod of mothers can't protect you from the frustration and struggles of growing. A mother can only guide you, with love and wisdom, toward growth and away from habits that cripple you.

God, give me strength to give them what they need, even when it doesn't feel good.