Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Dilemma

I have always been quite decisive when it comes to major life decisions. It is in the day to day minutiae where I struggle to make my mind up. Stripy or spotty socks, toast or porridge, book or TV (not that I have time for either these days).

My dilemma is this. Should I sleep train Sebby or wait for him to learn to sleep on his own. Now I realise this is not a major life decision but it sure as hell feels like it. But I can't make my mind up whether or not it's worth it.

To give you a little context, we've had almost a year of broken sleep. The longest unbroken stretch I have had was 6 hours on my birthday back in April when I was sick and really needed it. Oh how I remember that day fondly...

He will not / cannot self settle even when fall down tired so until recently we had somehow found ourselves in the position of having to bounce him on a Swiss ball. I know it sounds ridiculous but apparently its more common than it sounds. 

When I discovered that bouncing our 2 month old insomniac baby sent him to sleep when nothing else would, I thought I had cracked it. Nine months and 7 kilos later and I don't feel quite so pleased with myself anymore. The Swiss ball has become the 4th member of our family. It comes on holiday with us, enjoys weekends away and features in many of our family photos. 

Alas, in the last few weeks Sebby has been falling asleep on the boob but generally wakes up 40 minutes later, looking for more. He usually goes back off within a few minutes but on a typical night he will wake up between 3 and 6 times every night. This means I sleep in chunks of (at most) 2-3 hours.You may know from a recent post that we are accidental cosleepers. I believe that we all get more sleep this way and my gut tells me this is how it should be but we would like the marital bed back at some point.

Now back to the dilemma. I have read all the literature about sleep, routines, cosleeping etc etc. I can recite Gina, Baby Whisperer, Tizzy, Ferber, No Cry Sleep Solution, Dr Sears. All very different. Our parenting philosophy is more baby led than hard ass "the baby must learn", but I admit to trying most of the approaches. Although we buckled after 25 mins of Cry It Out and swore never again.

You will only understand how hard it is listening to your own baby cry if you indeed have your own baby. When I heard babies cry before, it was an annoyance and a little sad. With your own, your heart aches, your gut churns, your breasts lactate (no? Just me?) and you cry. A lot. It goes against every instinct in your body. So full blown cry it out 'solutions' are off the table. I know it works for some people but it's not for us.

The most sensible approach I have read recently, and one that addresses our particular situation is Jay Gordon in this article http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html. Dr Gordon is an advocate of cosleeping and breastfeeding for as long as possible but he suggests that sometimes sleep patterns do need to change and offers a gentle, phased approach to retraining babies. The basic premise is to choose a 7 hour period (say 11pm to 6am) and to gradually withdraw feeds during that time, maintaining your usual routine outside of those times. If baby cries at 10.59 feed him. Whether or or not it works, I don't know. But I like the approach. 

Actually writing this post has given me some clarity. So thank you for listening. We will do nothing until we move into our new house at Christmas. We will then reassess and make a decision. But if and when we do some sleep training, it will be a gentle technique. 

What I'm really hoping for is that Sebby will soon have a bit more understanding and we can reason with him a little. Maybe I'm dreaming?? Nah, I'd have to be asleep for that, which ain't looking likely anytime soon.

1 comment:

  1. I think that's one of those decisions where you just have to trust your gut and go with what seems right, but for what it's worth, if you're about to move house, waiting until after the move sounds like a good plan given that that might throw a spanner in the works if you start before.