Monday, January 9, 2012

A Week in Hell

I have decided that we can immediately cease torturing terrorists and prisoners of war with traditional methods like water boarding. Instead, we can employ them to sleep train infants using the Cry It Out (CIO) method.

Prior to having children, I felt that CIO was inhumane. One week into the process, I still feel that way. Except, I don't know if it is worse on Lincoln or myself. He and I could easily get into a pissing match over who is suffering more! But then, I also feel conflicted....

I have suffered from chronic insomnia since I was 10 years old. It would be nightmarish for me to envision passing along bad sleep habits to my son. Sleep is vitally crucial to not only physical health, but mental health as well. Mom after mom after mom has told me that CIO is vital to teaching a baby to self soothe and become a strong sleeper. My pediatrician also recommends it.

On the other hand, I was reading a study on trauma and it said that even though you don't have memories from infancy, any time something traumatic happens (such as being left to cry with little to no interaction, especially if you're scared) the information is stored in your middle brain (amygdala.) This is important because scientists believe the information stored in the amygdala is what forms your personality. I don't think CIO will turn Lincoln into a future serial killer but I want him to feel safe, secure and loved.

I will be the first to admit, I have a mess on my hands. My mom seems to think I created the nightmare myself, but that is because she is a conspiracy theorist who doesn't believe in Lincoln's diagnosis of reflux disease (even as someone who suffers from it herself...but that's a whole 'nother Oprah!) Let me explain....

Lincoln never screamed his head off in pain from having reflux. We discovered he had it because he would barf and barf and barf some more. We're not talking a little but at a time, either. He has needing to eat constantly because he couldn't hold down enough food. We have tried various medicines and dosages, but part of the alternative treatment plan is that he needs to be burped for a minimum of twenty minutes and he has to sleep elevated.

The elevated sleeping is where we have encountered trouble. For the past couple of months he has slept in a bassinet that essentially leaves him in a sitting position. He has been an excellent sleeper since 6 weeks but started reverting to early infant cycles, waking every 1.5-2 hours. At first I thought it was a growth spurt but then I determined he was not able to sleep comfortably in his special bassinet. Additionally, babies need to sleep in cribs so they can wriggle and move as part of their motor development, something that can't happen when you're being squished to sleep.

Also, we are travelling later this month and I don't want to torture our lovely hosts with a baby who won't sleep because he doesn't have his bassinet, etc. I decided to transition him to a pack 'n' play for nighttime and his crib during the day. Thus far, he has decided his crib is entirely off limits. He cried for close to 70 minutes one day, which lead me to caving and picking him up so my neighbor wouldn't call CPS. There also seems to be a problem with the ducting going into his room so it is exceptionally cold. I need to have the landlord send someone to fix it but I haven't been too worried since sleeping in the pack 'n' play is priority for our trip.

I am torn about whether we have made any progress. I started with a wedge under him for elevation, but he would wind up sideways or upside down, which is not helpful. I took the wedge out but now he seems to cough on bile almost every night and sometimes it wakes him up. While he will sleep in there, he absolutely will NOT nap in there. And the longest he will sleep is four hours. So much for sleeping through the night at 6 months! I am not sure if the fact that he is breastfed is part of the problem, since he burns off the milk fast. I don't feel I am producing enough but formula is out. Rice cereal before bed hasn't helped. His frequent wakings have led me to put him in his swing at about 4 a.m. so I can get a solid two hour stretch of rest before conquering my day. This is a bad habit made worse by the fact that he is outgrowing the swing.

When we return from California he will be 6 months old and he will be sleeping in his crib, come hell or high water. The time is now. I do not want to "ruin" him and I need some more sleep for myself, even if it means a long trek to the nursery for frequent feedings.

I'm very frustrated. Please send encouragement.


  1. We found that Lucy won't sleep where she's not used to sleeping, such as in her pack n play. When we go somewhere or to visit our parents, she screams worse than she does at home. But, eventually she goes to sleep.

    We are big believers in crying it out. Lucy fell right to sleep after day 2 of it. Now, she's back to fussing again when we put her down but, we know she's dry, not hungry, been loved, etc., and she has to learn to self soothe. If she is gassy or something like that, we can tell her cry has changed and then we'll get her up. But, that's the only reason. Her fussing varies as well. For example, last week, she'd cry for 30+ min before falling asleep. Today, she fussed for maybe 2 min before she was out. It's definitely harder on the parents, but for us, it's worked.

  2. I would recommend you pick up a copy of "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber (the 2006 edition, not the 1985 edition). I found it very helpful when my son was 5 months old and his sleeping disintegrated. Some parts will be relevant to you, some won't; it covers all ages of children. It was very useful to me to get a better understanding of different types of sleep (deep, light, REM, non-REM) and daily cycles of sleep, and especially the idea of "sleep associations". The author is a clinician and researcher. Another book I liked was "The No-Cry Sleep Solution, gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night" by Elizabeth Pantley. I interpreted her method as similar but slower (more gradual) than Richard Ferber's. Neither one is really CIO, but both work to teach your baby "good" sleep associations and teach you to avoid giving him "poor" sleep associations. For instance, I would sit / crouch / bend over my baby's crib to have my arms around him, soothing him while he was going to sleep, but he would be in the crib, with the light off and the rest of the room the way it would be all night, NOT with my baby in my lap until he went to sleep, since he's not going to be in that position when he wakes up.
    Obviously, every baby and family is different, but learning about teaching good sleep habits for my first baby also helped with my second baby: I now have a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old who are very good sleepers whenever they are at home, and most of the time when we're travelling.

  3. Also, I applaud your efforts in sleep training now. It sounds like you are doing your best, doing some research, and not being swayed by what other people say without thinking it through yourself.
    Be prepared for some regression while you are away from home, but if you start on a good track, keep to it as much as you can while you're away, and get back to it when you return,you'll be in much better shape than just leaving it for "later".

  4. I'm so sorry you and Lincoln are having such a rough time! Praying that he is able to transition quickly, and you are able to find peace with whatever method you chose to use. Helping our babies learn how to sleep through the night is so hard, especially on the mommas that love them SO much!

  5. I'm sorry the sleep training hasn't been going well thus far. =( Stick with it, it truly is trial & error. Poor you & poor Lincoln 70 mins. is ROUGH. The longest Carter ever cried was the first nap in the morning the day we started & that was only for 45. That seemed like hell enough to me. He barely fusses for 5 now before he passes out. We do a modified CIO where we check on him every 5 then 7 then 10 mins, but he rarely ever makes it that far anymore. You guys will find what works best for you & for Lincoln. Good luck Momma!

  6. I hope this helps, but you are not alone. Every single mom has struggled with their child's sleep. It sounds like Lincoln (and subsequently you) have a little extra difficulty with the reflux and needing to sleep elevated. When Ryguy came home, he had a stuffy nose. We started him sleeping on the Boppy to be elevated a bit, and getting him to sleep flat was a huge challenge. I wish I had some solid advice for you, but honestly I think my brain partially shut off to protect me from remembering so that we might possibly reproduce again :) I will say that as long as you are doing what you know is best for you both, even if its hard for one or both of you, everything will settle and you both will get some sleep.
    Excited to see you soon!

  7. You will be OK and you won't ruin him. I thought that was a funny choice of words, but I think every mom kind of has that in the back of her mind. Check out that book Baby Wise and get your routine going. For example, I would grab the same things each time it was time for bed or hum a little song. It gets him used to the idea of going to bed. Also, they encourage the cry it out thing, but they say that if they cry for 15 minutes, to go in and settle them down and try again. Hope that helps!

  8. Hang in there Case...Austin suffers from Reflux as well and he's been on Zantac for a long time..He did the wedge too...I found him sideways and upside down as well...I'm with you on the lack of sleep issue..I'm going to call you and tell you about the 100% natural goodies I've found that actually helps :)