Posted in All, My Story

Adventures in Sleep Training – Day one (and a half)

Today is day one of sleep training. We’ve hired a sleep consultant cuz I’m a mediocre parent at best and I need some outside help. Surprisingly not as expensive as I expected. We had a consult with her last week and then set up a sleep plan and basically a daily routine for us. Dave is off work for the next two days so we decided tonight is the night to begin.

I’ve basically spent the last five days worrying, since we decided Monday was the day. I’ve been super anxious about starting the sleep training. I’m not great at waiting. Gives me too much time to think. So instead of being negative about it all the time I just went over the reasons were doing this to myself and whoever would listen to me. By the time it came down to it I was feeling pretty good about it instead of feeling like it wasn’t going to work and it was hopeless.

So, as per the consultant’s program I started by bathing both babies and getting them into sleep sacks. I fed them both and then read them a story. Brought them into their room where we’d set up a second crib and blacked out the window with tin foil. Put them in their cribs, sang them a song, turned on the white noise machine and then closed the door. And now I offer you a play by play of the evening.

5:45pm – Did the first five minute check. They were both screaming too loud to hear me. But I said my “key phrase” either way and left them to their tears.

5:50pm – This time they were a bit more settled but started losing it again after I went in to do the check. I feel like an asshole.

5:55pm – Screaming still. I feel like a horrible person at this point, it sounds like I’m hurting them. I’d forgotten to replace their soothers in the first two check-in’s so I did it this time. Birdy went right down. Moose’s fell out of his mouth right away but I was told I can only put it in once so they learn their own methods of falling asleep.

6:00pm – Birdy was still out. I broke the rules and gave Moose a soother again. I held it in his mouth for a sec and let his head fall before I moved my hand away. He was out after that.

6:05pm – I didn’t do this check because they were both out. Holy shit, did it work? Are they sleep trained now? Do I have to keep doing this? I want to go have a much needed shower but I feel like it’s jinxing it and they’ll be screaming by the time I’m out.

6:40pm – Birdy started crying. Not sure how long she’s been up, but shes pissed now. She woke Moose up. He’s not crying yet but he’s definitely awake. Started the timer… Five minutes…

6:45pm – Birdy is pissed but sounds like she’s losing steam. Moose was quiet until I went in and talked to them. Now he’s screaming too.

7:28pm – They’re still super angry, in spite of my five minute checks. How long is this supposed to go on before I just go get them? They’re not slotted for food until midnight. Will they cry that long? I feel fucking awful. Like I’m suffocating them or something. I have to keep in mind why I’m doing this. This is for them, and for us. The babies need routine and structure. They’ve been super cranky lately, and not napping properly. They do better when they know what’s coming. Plus Dave and I need some mommy and daddy time. We miss each other even when we see each other all the time.

7:33pm – It’s been almost an hour. It almost seems like they settle and then I stir them back up by checking on them. Or one will be starting to chill out then I wake them up by talking to the other one. This feels like abuse. This isn’t abuse, right? Still haven’t cried but I feel sick to my stomach. I poured a glass of wine but I have a headache so I don’t really feel like drinking. Emotionally I feel like drinking but not physically. I’m a bad fucking mom. I shouldn’t be doing this to them. There has to be another way. I’m told there isn’t though, need to stick it out.

7:46pm – Dave to the rescue. I was holding it together before Dave came in but I started crying when he came home from work. He’s gonna take over the checks. It’s been over an hour and Moose is still losing it. Birdy found her soother and is just kinda chillin’ and playing with it.

7:56pm – Birdy has definitely chilled out but is still crying on and off. Moose is losing it. He’s the snuggly one out of the two. Birdy is more independent. I figured she’d be pissed for longer cuz she’s really Right as Dave went in to do the check, they both quieted up. So we skipped this check. As I was writing this, Moose started crying again. So we started the timer again. Then he stopped. So we stopped. I hate this. He’s going on and off. And we have to restart the timer everytime he stops.

8:15pm – Moose seems to have chilled out (not sleeping yet, but not screaming) but Birdy has woken up and is back at it. Again I’m wondering how helpful it is for us to be checking if we stir up the calm one whenever we check. But it’s not like we can just bail on the kids for the night. I just want them to sleep. It’s been an hour and a half. Fuck. I feel sick.

8:30pm – Babies are calm.

8:37pm – Birdy is pissed.

8:41pn – Birdy is down. Both babies are sleeping. Time for my shower?

9:30pm – Watching TV with Dave. Decided not to shower cuz it’ll wake up the kids. They’ve been asleep for 40 mins. Made bottles.

10:53pm – Still good…. Time to pump and then go to bed.

12:16am – The young man is up. Birdy is still out. Dave’s gonna feed him then change him, as opposite to our usual feed then change. Gonna get Birdy up in 15 minutes.

1:05am – We fed and changed the kids, and put them back in their cribs around 12:55am. Birdy didn’t fuss, she just kinda rolled around for ten minutes. Moose fussed a bit and made some noise but didn’t really cry. Then by 1 he was out. Gonna enjoy some much needed and well deserved sleep in our bed alone.

5:42am – Birdy’s awake, just kind of cooing and wiggling. We’re not supposed to go get them, even if it’s 5:59am. They kinda cried on and off so we were able to keep resetting the timer and get them at 6am proper.

6:15am – We changed them, took them out of sleep sacks and fed them. Now to keep them awake until 8:30. They’re super tired, Moose is still pretty disoriented and Birdy is bleary-eyed but pretty into in the exersaucer. We’ll see when they start getting angry and sleepy.

7:25am – Kids are mad cuz they’re tired and want to go back to sleep. Birdy’s eyes are literally closing but they can’t nap until at least 8. Gotta find ways to keep them awake and happy.

7:42am – We’ve been playing with them and holding them and trying really hard to not let them fall asleep. We had a little Rob Zombie dance party in the kitchen, now we’re gnawing on chew toys. The whining has started for sure. Dave finds this harder than letting them cry in the crib. I disagreed, up until the crying started.

8:05am – Kids went down easy. We changed them, put them in their sleep sacks, turned the light off and I sang them their song (Somewhere Over the Rainbow.) I didn’t even need to do that, or even say the key phrase as we left but I did anyways. Consistency is key, I’m told. I’m training myself here too.

One thing I can say for sure is that I can already see it working, and I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hesitant to get excited about progress cuz I was told the first night might be easy but the following night or two will be hell. Either way – at least I can see things happening. For weeks we’ve had to fight them to go to sleep. Now we just spent half an hour fighting them to stay awake. What a switcheroo. Now, I nap. Dave and I have a call with our consultant at 9:15.

9:40am – Had our call with the consultant, and the kids are still sleeping. Apparently we have to wake them by 11 if they even sleep that long. I doubt it… Either way, back to sleep for me until they do wake up. Mama’s tired as hell. And this is the first time I’ve had a nap alone in my own bed in months.

9:44am – I jinxed it. Birdy’s up. But she’s really happy!

12:08pm – That was a fairly successful block. I even had to get Moose up, he kept sleeping after we got his sister. We fed them, got them in the jolly jumpers, then just played for a while. Like last time, they got fussy and sleepy around an hour before nap time. So we had to keep them distracted and entertained as they got increasingly pissed off. At 11:55 we read two little board books, then we changed them and put them in their sleep sacks. Put them in their cribs, turned on the Dohm (the sound machine) and sang them SOTR. Birdy cried for three or four minutes but she hasn’t started again since I stopped the timer. Fingers crossed. I’m going back down for a nap. ‘Sleep when they sleep,’ they all told me. Deal. Besides, Dave needs some quality time with the XBOX.

12:41pm – Moose woke up. Then just as the timer was about to beep, he found his soother and put it in his mouth. Now he’s quiet. So… Timer stopped but still ready.

1:53pm – Birdy woke up. Of course it’s the birdy.  The moose would sleep for hours if we let him. He’s usually a good sleeper once he’s asleep. Time to warm up the food…

1:54pm – False alarm! Food will be ready anyways.

2:33pm – Moose woke up first. Go figure, I guess I jinxed that too. We’d just been discussing if we should go wake them so we can keep bedtime to 530, then… Surprise! A waking baby. We decided (and had it confirmed by our consultant) that we’d put them down for their catnap around 4 and have them up for 5, so we can have them in bed for good at 630 or 7. So now we’re gonna go for a walk for their catnap. Might as well work off some of the anxiety eating I’ve been doing over the past 24 hours.

4:33pm – Hey fancy that, it’s been exactly two hours. We took the kiddos for the walk, Moose lasted about five minutes and Birdy took another five after that. I needed a shower desperately so I broke off from Dave to head back home and do that real quick. We’ll let them sleep until about 4:45 then wake them up again. Gonna wait until bedtime to feed them cuz it would only be like an hour later and they wait that long all the time. If they’re getting really hungry we can start our routine earlier.

6:41pm – At 6:10 we ran the bath and got the kids started on their bedtime routine. Wasn’t a full bath, just kinda rinsed them. Splashed some water, wet their heads… You know. A rinse. Got them fed, read a couple board books… Brushed their gums with their fancy brushes (just fits on our fingers. There’s toothpaste that goes with it but them not having teeth, it seems like overkill. Got the door closed at 6:40 and Moose immediately started crying. So the timer is on. Birdy is wiggling like crazy but not crying, so that’s promising. I guess we’ll see how this goes.

6:58pm – The emotions start right away, no valiant strength that fades or anything. Just straight to feeling like a horrible mother. I’ve done two checks so far and my heart is already breaking. I’m talking about it with Dave and he keeps telling me it’s ok, and to remember why we’re doing this. I reminded him that I’m just talking it out because it hurts. Moose is doing his cry where part of it is just “mamamamamama.” I don’t think he knows he’s saying mama but I do and that is even more heart wrenching. Gotta stay strong. The whole day went well, now comes the hard part.

7:06pm – As I put my phone down after writing the last bit, my alarm went off to go check on them. At the same time I heard the crying stop. I checked on the monitor and they’re both out. Holy shit. Did it really only take two or three checks? I’m sure we’re not out of the woods for the evening but still… That’s a good start.

Dave and I were talking earlier about how nice today has been, playing with the babies and enjoying them instead of being exhausted and overwhelmed by them and leaving them to play on their own. Just another reason to be sleep training.  Better quality of life all around! I feel like this will make me a much better parent in the long run. Like, incomparably better. I have time and the headspace to care more about my parenting, and also to take care of myself.

7:51pm – Both kids woke up but didn’t make it the full five minutes before they looked passed out again on the monitor. Within a couple more minutes they both started again. Now here comes the fun part. Last night it took two hours for this part to end.

8:03pm – I did the last check-in with the kids, and they seemed to stop crying. I’m headed to get DQ as a morale booster, Dave is in charge. I bet they’re still sleeping when I’m back.

10:08pm – Birdy woke up. They did good, stayed sleeping until now. I was right, they did really well.

10:38pm – She’s woken up twice now and we’ve only had to do one check on her. She’s asleep again for now. I think she’s hungry. I guess it’ll be a long hour and a half until food time.

12:39am – Moose woke up, and woke us up. Dave still had to go get Birdy. They’re so tired, they’re doing that adorable “I’m too tired to hold my head up” crash on our shoulders. Too cute. Must keep them awake. Fed them, doing a change, and back to bed. We’ve stayed up so late these last couple nights, I’m a wreck right now. Can barely keep my eyes open.

I decided to do a really in-depth list of updates. Maybe it would have helped me to know what things were really going to look like before I started. Maybe not. I dunno. I was really overwhelmed with the idea of sleep training, it seemed like such a daunting task. When the consultant was going over the twelve step bed time routine I asked if we could shorten it. Dave laughed at me, which made me feel really silly, and he and the consultant assured me it wasn’t as intense as I thought. Most of the stuff I was already doing. Bath time, dress them and put them in sleep sacks, feed them, read a story, put them in the cribs, sing a song, turn on the sound machine, say the ‘key phrase’ and then lights out and leave. We were already doing more than half of these things before. Wasn’t much of a change. Anyways… Maybe it’ll help, and maybe it’ll just be a record to remind me on the hard days that this can be done, and why it’s being done.

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