Bella's Sleep Training Story

Monday, February 27, 2012

One of the things that you know you have to face when becoming a mom is that your sleep won’t be the same again.

That’s it, the cold hard fact.

Ask any mom out there, and most probably all of them have at least short episodes of sleepless nights, right after they had a baby.

It is a norm for newborns to wake up at night, either crying or just shifting restlessly, because biologically their bodies are still working on recognizing day and night. Plus, they need all the nutrition they can get, simply to grow. And being newborns, the only source of nutrition is from mommy. However did you know that at an early age of 6 months, if a baby is well –fed and growing optimally, chances are she does not need night time feedings anymore? Did you know that at that point, she needs sleep even more, because apparently sleep is so important for her brain development?

I had my own share of sleepless nights. At first, I was all for it, because I knew my baby needs me for her food. However as she grows up, there was a point when I realized that I took sleep for granted. Both for me, and for my baby.

You see, me and Bella, we co-sleep (which is also a norm for breastfeeding moms). What is more convenient than sleeping beside your baby, and just have to flip your pajamas while your baby feeds and you fall back to sleep? Easy peasy.

Well, let me tell you my friend, easy peasy it may seem, but not until your baby starts to rely on your breasts to fall asleep. It is not easy, when it turns out that your B’s have become your baby’s sleep prop.

Before I write further, let’s talk about the basics of sleeping a bit. The deepest state of sleep often occurs during the early night, somewhere between 10pm – 3am. Towards the early morning, often we move into REM sleep, which is a light sleep state.

Throughout our sleep, we actually do wake up a few times, but for adults, sometimes we do not recognize the occurrence at all, because we have mastered the art of falling back to sleep ON OUR OWN. As for babies, they are still yet to master this skill. Hence, they often rely on sleep props to fall back to sleep whenever the wake up in the middle of the night.

Now you know why your baby still wants the breast/bottle/pacifier, even when you are confident that they went to sleep all tummy happy and full.

So, back to my story.

I was praying hard that Bella would outgrow her night waking; I figured that if I endure it a bit more maybe finally she will learn to sleep on her own. But, it did not happen. Until one point, I find myself turning into this grumpy and tired monster, and my patience was put on the very edge. I managed to contain my frustrations, but God knows what would happen if this continues. I started to become so fatigued during the day, due to my lack of quality sleep. Bella continued to wake up at night, wanting nothing but my Bs, not even a pacifier for a replacement. Worst, she woke up every hour. I repeat, EVERY HOUR. She suckled so much, until I was sore. I pity her too, because she just could not get quality sleep just like me.

One night, ten nights, and finally I was at a desperate point. I just could not let it go on like that, for both of our sakes.

So, I did some homework on sleep solutions. One day, a mom whom I am following in Twitter tweeted about this sleep solution: The Sleepsense Program. It seemed like she was desperate too, and she was so happy about the outcome of the program, her baby was finally sleeping like an angel.

I decided to visit the site and just go through the “free” info, you know, the forums, and whatnot. There was enough information about how the training has to be carried out, so I figured, well maybe I should give it a try.

I waited until my husband was around (God knows how much I needed his support), and gave it a try. Basically, what I did was NOT breastfeed Bella to sleep, the first step of telling her that she does not need me to fall asleep anymore. Oh my dear God, how Bella was so resistant to the change and surprise, she was crying and wailing like mad. I attempted to endure that, with a chest full of guilt, but 45 minutes later, I gave up. And I was crying too. And pondering on how much of a bad mom I am. I surrendered to her cries and breastfeed until she finally fell asleep (and of course, the night waking continued).

Obviously the first attempt failed. We go on status quo for another few weeks, until again, I felt like I should try to purchase the Sleepsense e-book. Yes, I was that desperate. So I purchased the program, and again, we made another attempt. This time I was more determined. Apparently there are more details in the book, from the point of preparation up until naptimes. It was so informative.

The thing with this program is that you need to read from the start. From there you get to prepare yourself mentally and physically, and make your sleep training objectives very clear. In a nutshell it involves you being in control, rather than letting your baby be. Do not take me wrong, this is not the Cry-it-out solution, no, I would never in a hundred years let my baby cry so bad again. But, I gotta admit that it has to involve some crying, after all that is how babies/toddlers communicate. They cry. Plain fact.

The first night of Sleepsense was a bit of a challenge. But to my surprise, it was wayyyy better than my first attempt. Seriously. Yes, Bella did cried, but this time we had the necessary strategies to handle it. I was anxious to get it over with anyway, could not wait until the dawn broke. Bella gave us a few surprises too. Even though she still woke up hourly, but instead of immediately attending to her when she cried, we waited. In less than 10 minutes, she was back to sleep! I was so sceptical she could do that, but she did!

Alhamdulillah, as the nights passed, gradually Bella learned to sleep on her own. In less than 10 days she was already sleeping through the night, and no longer require me to breastfeed her to sleep! I did not apply the leave-baby-in-room method though, I still accompany until she falls asleep every night, but mostly I just lie down quietly and leave her in her crib until she falls asleep on her own. Until now, I can live with that :)

So that was my sleep training story. I may have had some advantages; one is because I already trained Bella with a routine bedtime since she was a baby. We always had bedtime around 8.30 -9 pm every night. Two, I also have established her bedtime routines earlier, like brushing her teeth, washing her feet and reading a book, or watch some YouTube :) Bedtime routines are very important for sleep training, because it gives the baby heads-up on what is going to happen next, which is bedtime. Babies and toddlers always thrive on routines and expectations.

I am very glad that my move to purchase the e-book was all worth it. It is really refreshing to see your baby being able to sleep soundly, and apart from that, you gotta admit that having that extra few hours before your own bedtime to relax and spend time with your spouse, is really rewarding. Plus the quality sleep that you get every night, in order to be a better mommy each time you face the next day.

I would suggest this program for anyone who is willing to try. But my advice would be you just have to be determined and patient. Babies and toddlers are unique creatures, it may work easily for Bella, but I am not sure for others. However, it is not wrong to try, as it counts as part of your effort :) I hope this entry helps some of you who are searching for a sleep solution, maybe not by purchasing the program (I am not really getting any credit anyway, hehe) but at least, I hope it gives you an idea on why your baby is still having trouble with her sleep.

I am one happy mommy. Happy mommy, better mommy! ;)

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