Yup. That’s right. Last night, for the first time in his 264-day life, Theodore Harry Reid slept through the night. Eleven hours straight. No. I am not kidding. Adam and I woke up at three a.m. in shock. Yes, I thought he might be dead and had several strong urges to go check on him. And no – I did not really sleep well and reap the benefits of this miraculous development. But it was new. If it continues (knock on wood), I will. I will finally sleep more than four hours in a row. I see the light at the end of the sleep-deprivation tunnel.
So how did we get here?
Well, I’m happy to say it involved very little crying and very little stressing! I don’t know if it was the method itself or if Theo was just ready.
After several of you commented on my recent post about not sleeping, I decided to finally suck it up and order Ferber’s book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. It’s funny, this is the one sleep book I hadn’t read. I just felt I knew what it entailed and I didn’t think it was for us. Ferber suggests you let your child cry in timed intervals during which you check on them to let them know you are there and then leave them to fall asleep on their own. I never thought this would work with Theo because every time one of us would go to him in the night and it didn’t involve me picking up and nursing him, he would go ballistic and get WAY more upset. For this reason, I actually thought it would be better for us to just let him cry it out on his own. I thought overall he’d go to sleep quicker and get less worked up.
However – as I was skimming Ferber’s book, I came across chapter 6: Feedings During the Night: Another Major Cause of Trouble. Since Theo was born, every time he’d cry out in the night, I would go to him and nurse him. Yes, I would let him complain a little bit to see if he’d go back to sleep on his own, but he rarely did – his crying would most often escalate and then I’d go nurse him and he’d relax and go right back to sleep. For the first six months, I was hesitant to stop nursing him because I was a little concerned about his weight and I didn’t want to take these additional feedings away from him. He was constantly falling under the fifth percentile for weight and he was still eating only breast milk. I figured he was really hungry and he needed the calories. Over the last two months, since he started eating solids (man this kid can EAT!!), I stopped worrying about his need for the sustenance and determined he was mostly nursing for comfort. For this reason, I became more ready and willing to tackle our sleep trouble.
So, the night after we got home from our Thanksgiving holiday, we started following the advice in chapter 6 of Ferber’s book. I felt good about it – instead of just cutting Theo’s nighttime nursings out cold turkey, this was a method of slowly weaning him off of them. It was a more gentle approach that seemed tailored to our needs. And ten nights later, we have success!
Here’s what we did:
First, we were to identify the average window of time between Theo’s typical night nursings. If there is a range (there always was with us… he was never totally consistent), we were to go with the shortest span. For us, he would often wake up around nine, when I put him to bed at six-thirty. So two and a half hours was what I started with. The first night, we upped that span by thirty minutes and determined that Theo was only allowed to nurse every three hours that first night. When he woke up before three hours, we were to do the timed check-ins, letting him cry until the three hours were up. At that point, I could nurse him. He surprised us that first night, sleeping seven hours in a row for his first stretch. But after his first nursing, he woke up again after less than two hours. We let him cry for three minutes, then Adam went to check on him. When he didn’t get picked up, he was PISSED and screamed louder. Adam then left and came back to bed and we prepared to wait out another five minutes of crying. He stopped after two and went back to sleep for another two hours. We were shocked.
The next night our three-hour span increased by thirty minutes to three and a half hours. It was another smoother-than-expected night. He only woke up twice. Every subsequent night, we increased the window of time between nursings by thirty minutes. There were only a handful of times that Theo woke up before it was time – therefore, there was very little crying. The times he did wake up earlier, his crying never lasted more than five minutes! Amazing.
Last night, we were prepared to go seven and a half hours. I put him to bed at six-thirty. We went to bed at ten-thirty. Low and behold, we wake up at three a.m. and not a peep. After a little chit chatting with Adam and about a half hour of me silently worrying something was terribly wrong, I fell back to sleep and woke up to his crying at five-thirty this morning. ELEVEN HOURS! Unbelievable.
So there you have it. Of course, this is just one night and with babies you can’t get too comfortable before everything changes. And he doesn’t even have any teeth yet and I’ve heard that can throw everything off and we’re going on vacation on Saturday and I’ve heard that can throw everything off… but man. I am STOKED! I feel VICTORIOUS! And the timing couldn’t be better. On Saturday, we are leaving for St. John, were we will be spending six nights and seven days in paradise. And If Theo is sleeping through the night, I might just die of bliss.
So thank you everyone – for your advice and support. And if any of you mommies out there are having similar trouble, I highly recommend trying this approach and I’d be happy to talk to you more about it.
Now I’m signing off and I will not be writing next week because I will be soaking up every ounce of paradise possible and I will not be bringing my computer. Though I do plan on taking lots of photos – which I will definitely share with you when we return.
Oh… and the next project is getting him to sleep later than five-thirty a.m. Am I being greedy? Baby steps.