You know all about our sleep woes so I shall not dwell too long on them. As mentioned, we did consider sleep training but we were never convinced enough to actually carry out the plans. It’s not that we believed sleep training to be bad, on the contrary, I think sleep training can be useful for babies with certain temperaments (and definitely useful for desperate, chronically sleep-deprived parents!).
I thought it would be interesting to hear the story of someone who had sleep-trained. So here is Rachel from The Pleasure Monger, who has kindly agreed to tell us her journey of helping her baby to be a better sleeper.
We are in the third quarter of 2013, and I kid you not when I say that I did not sleep in the first half of this year. You see, my daughter Faith, did not sleep either.
As with most newborns, she wasn’t a good sleeper in the first eight weeks after birth. She woke up every one or two hours and only fell asleep on us. Being fed on demand also meant that she nursed pretty often. I was knackered and shell-shocked from the demands of motherhood but adrenaline (and a healthy dose of mom-nesia) saw me through the first two months. Thankfully, Faith grew into longer stretches of shuteye towards the end of 2012; she went down for five or six hours straight and was considered to be sleeping through the night. But just as I slowly eased into motherhood, everything changed when she turned twelve weeks old.
Faith went through a sleep regression. She woke up every two to three hours and would only fall AND stay asleep on me. It escalated to the point where Faith was waking ten times a night, and I thought I was going to die from sheer exhaustion. I was mostly in a daze, snapped at everyone who so much as batted an eyelid, cried at the smallest setbacks, and felt nauseous all the time. It didn’t help that I was mostly solo-parenting as my husband had and still has an insane work schedule.
I was extremely resentful of the fact that he had a life, albeit a busy one, away from a baby who didn’t sleep; our marriage suffered…because I felt so awful that I wanted to make him feel bad too.
That’s not all.
I am ashamed to say this but I became a negligent mother; I shouted at and shook my daughter a few times when I felt like I couldn’t go on. There were moments when I felt like disappearing from the face of the earth, because I couldn’t bear the guilt of hating the very being I love, if that even makes sense. I was never diagnosed but it doesn’t take a genius to know that I was suffering from post-partum blues. I no longer knew who I was, and I was no good to anyone.
Prior to hitting rock bottom, I did whatever it took to get Faith to sleep. Nurse, rock, cradle, co-sleep, rinse and repeat. Sleep-training was not in my plan because I wanted her to naturally grow into good sleep. I didn’t want to put her through anything that might upset her either. But half a year of sleepless nights did me in; I was depressed and angry, and hurt my family in more ways than one. I knew I had to do something, because what used to work for our family, no longer did…and I am glad we put our foot down on this, because Faith has been sleeping through since we switched gears.
It didn’t start out well though, as I ignored well-meaning advice from mothers who have sleep-trained their children; I tried to fiddle with Faith’s afternoon nap and it was an absolute disaster as naps are apparently more challenging to tweak. I ditched that not-so-clever plan of mine after realising she was rather resistant and worked only on nighttime sleep thereafter.
To be continued…