Sleeping Like A Baby

Har dee har har.

Inspired variously by the fact that Cordelia isn't growing as fast as she should, the knowledge that she isn't getting nearly as much sleep as she needs, and Dooce's post on the topic, Blake and I decided to gird our loins and start putting Cordelia to sleep in her crib, alone, at appropriate times.

We, too, are using Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Mark Weissbluth; it was what got us through teaching Delphine to sleep. The idea is to put Cordelia to sleep, after a nice little routine, at a good early hour. Then we just walk away and let her work it out by herself. Also, we're supposed to put her down to sleep in her crib for two naps a day, when she seems tired.

(Incidentally, don't take this as advice, because it probably won't apply to your child at whatever age she is now. If you want advice you should really go read the book, because I am far from qualified to give advice on this topic.)

Last night was the first night. Cordelia didn't have a nap in the afternoon because she is so abysmal at getting to sleep; the more tired she gets the more worked up she gets, and she won't be soothed unless I catch her by surprise with a nursing. So after unsuccessfully trying, from two in the afternoon until five, to get her to sleep, I decided I would take advantage of her sleep-deprived state and my own determination born of frustration, and get on with teaching her to sleep in the crib.

I changed her into her pyjamas and then nursed her, at which of course she fell asleep, so I carried her into the bedroom and put her in the crib. She immediately detected the fine layer of hot pins we keep always at the ready in the crib, and started screaming. I tried to soothe her by rubbing her back, patting her bum, giving her a soother, but she was having none of it. Finally I just left her and closed the door (after the cats decided they didn't want to stay in the bedroom listening to that racket, thanks). She cried from 6:20 until around 7:10, and then again from eight until, I don't know, 8:30? I wasn't really paying attention. (New Battlestar Galactica.)

At that point (well, during an ad break) I broke down crying at the idea of leaving her in the crib overnight; I am not ready to give up (for life!) the delicious solid warmth of a baby at my side in bed. Blake figures that Cordelia is smart enough to deal with sleeping in the crib from 6:00 until 10:30 and then coming into bed with us. (I'm still not sure if it will work but I really want to try it. I want to have it both ways -- a baby with a proper bedtime and a baby who co-sleeps.)

She started crying again after ten, and since we were going to bed anyway Blake went and picked her up, and once I was ready for bed tucked her in with me.

Today we screwed up the naps royally; she was tired at 9:00 am, as she should be, but we were in the middle of bathing Delphine and getting ready to go out for croissants. We weren't quite ready enough to put her in the stroller to sleep (she sleeps really well in the stroller, even if it's just sitting in the living room), but if we put her in the crib and waited for her to finish her nap we would have been too late. So Blake held her, and she fought sleep for half-an-hour. She slept on his shoulder for a few minutes, maybe twenty, then woke up and didn't fall asleep again.

For the afternoon nap, she normally gets tired at 2:00, but today we all went out to get cat litter and milk at around 1:00, and she fell asleep in the stroller. We were only gone around a half an hour, and she woke up soon after we got home. (Naps are supposed to be in the crib, and at least an hour, according to Weissbluth.)

So tonight, again, she was good and tired. I changed her into her jammies at around 5:45, gave her a little nurse (she didn't fall asleep this time) and put her down at 6:00. Again she screamed frantically, but at 6:09... silence. Nine minutes! She awoke at 7:50 but didn't cry for more than a couple of minutes. It's almost too easy.

I remember this from Delphine, the weird feeling of emptiness that you get when neither of you is holding baby. You can read, because you don't have to keep the lights down! You can play on the computer! You can cook! It's like... why, it's like having no children at all! Bedtime is awesome.

I have some friends with children Delphine's age whose kids stay up until their parents go to bed, and I think they are INSANE. I would easily trade a few nights of screaming, for whole evenings of adult time. Not to mention how badly you are screwing you kid over by depriving them of the hours and hours of sleep they need, that you don't.

Incidentally, lest you think I am a completely callous bitch, I hate the screaming. It sucks, and like I said to Blake, I wish I could somehow be with Cordelia to comfort her, and simultaneously not be with her so she can learn how to sleep by herself. But the dangers of leaving your baby to cry it out are hypothetical, while the dangers of sleep deprivation are well documented, and this is the best way of getting my children to get the amount of sleep they need -- possibly the only way. Weissbluth actually has a whole section about why he thinks it's okay to let your baby cry it out, which I found quite convincing, if hard to remember when the actual crying is taking place and your blood pressure's up and your boobies are leaking all over the place.

Anyway, so far so good. As you can see, when we did this with Delphine Blake actually thought it would be such a big deal that it would need a whole category to itself. You will also see that the category has only one post; it really turned out to be a non-event, and she has been a fantastic sleeper ever since. Here's hoping the same is true of Cordelia.

Oh, I'm sure Baba would like me to mention that Cordelia said her first word: "Baba". I think Russian grandmothers are the smartest grandmothers, picking baby's very first consonant to form their name.