Friday, July 13, 2012
The "Sleep Coaching" Saga
I relied on the wise words of Shana del Castillo (Gentle Sleep Coach) during this crazy endeavor. Full disclosure, I received a free sleep consultation in exchange for a service review. However, my opinions (good, bad, or indifferent) are all my own.
For 10 long months, our son slept in the same room with us. "That is not that big of a deal," you might say.
Well you just hold your horses...for a large part of those 10 months, he was in our bed. And let me just tell you, he is a very inconsiderate bedfellow.
For awhile, this was what you call a symbiotic relationship. Baby was happy to be close by, and mama was happy to avoid running across the house 800 times a night. Daddy was snoring throughout the process, so he was a happy camper too.
But as they say, "All good things must come to an end." Co-sleeping started to become less symbiotic and more..shall we say..parasitic?
Regardless of my bedtime attire, my son would somehow manage to latch onto my boob, mission impossible style. He would then proceed to nurse, and nurse, and nurse. The majority of the time he wasn't even eating, just using me as a living, breathing pacifier. This in turn, would keep me from achieving any quality sleep.
On top of treating me like an all-night nursing buffet, the baby would thrash around, talk in his sleep, and jockey for real estate in the bed. My husband and I would end up desperately clinging to the bedsheets, in an effort to keep from plunging off the bed and to our deaths.
Ok, Ok. "To our deaths" might be a little dramatic. But when you are mule kicked off the bed by a 10 month old, in the dead of night, it feels a little like death.
All three of us were worse for wear. It was clear that the time for change had come. My husband and I floundered a bit on our own. We tried various techniques, to little avail. Neither of us had the stomach for straight "cry-it-out" methods, but we were fresh out of ideas and losing precious sleep and patience by the minute. We knew it was time to call in a "professional."
Through phone calls, emails, questionnaires, and a thorough consultation, Shana helped us identify some of the weakness in our typical sleep routine. We were able to establish an earlier bedtime, a more concrete routine, and a multi-faceted plan of action.
I'd be lying if I said there was no crying involved. On his part and on mine.
At first, we both struggled with the transition from co-sleeping. At night, in my bed, I missed him terribly. I hated feeling like he might wake up scared and alone. I felt like a bad mom.
He certainly didn't like the change at first either. Sleeping in the crib was new. There was no easy access to a boob. There was no bedfellow to smack or roll on. In a nutshell, he pretty much freaking hated it.
He took no issue with letting me know it. For the first night or two, he would squeal and cry and carry on. All the while, I was sitting right by him; comforting him, yet still remaining firm on our new boundaries. There were soooo many times when I wanted to give up. It would have been so much easier to. But I would keep reminding myself that we both DESERVED a good night's rest. Unfortunately, co-sleeping wasn't providing that for us anymore. So we persevered, and I am happy to say, that my son now sleeps from 6pm-6 am almost every night. Obviously, he is not immune to occasional wakings due to teething, or sickness, or pending developmental milestones. But his sleep habits are a bizillion times better.
This was certainly not an overnight process. Cry-it-out sure would have worked a hell of a lot faster. I'm too big of a softie though, and I would not have had the stomach to just close the door and listen to him scream. Some of you might disagree, but to me, the ability to "coach" my son through this transition is what differentiates this approach from cry-it-out.
And now? I wouldn't change it for the world. I love having the "marital" bed back. The charts are in...and our spooning has increased exponentially. Not to mention the extra shut-eye everyone is now enjoying!