Friday, April 20, 2012

The Weekend of Scary, Scary Night Weaning (Or Is It "Sleep Training?")

Everything I read about "sleep training" seems to be about teaching a baby to go to sleep on her own, but that's not our issue at all.

Calliope goes to sleep beautifully. She is eager to snuggle down in her crib and pop her thumb into her mouth.

Of course, tonight I tarried in the bedroom to fold the clean laundry (it's so much better to wake up Saturday morning with everything tidy) and this, apparently, sent the memo that it was Time to Prepare For Imminent Mobility in the crib.

She thrashed and "swam" furiously but with great joy, squealing and hooting, while I folded clothes and pretended to ignore her antics.

Still, when I was finished and left the room, she didn't protest, it just took a little longer for her to wind down.

Three nights ago, I nervously reduced her night nursing duration to just one minute. True to form, and contrary to my dire predictions, she fussed for only a few seconds and then collapsed her sleepy body against mine while I carried her to the crib.

I was thinking that maybe I would reduce her to thirty seconds of nursing tonight, Friday night, but had also toyed with the idea of just going cold turkey and cutting off the feedings entirely. But then chickened out in my mind. I just wasn't ready.

Well, last night Calliope woke up early. Her one minute nursing was at 3 am instead of around 5 am. Fair enough. I nursed her (briefly) and slid her gently back into the crib.

And then, last night (aka this morning) she woke up for a second feeding at 5:15 am.

And I had a crisis of faith.

If I nursed her again, I was moving backwards. Two night feedings.

And yet, it was a Thursday night. The worst night to start "sleep training." I was planning to wait for the weekend, preferably one where I wasn't already struggling to recover from a cold.


Nursing her twice in one night!

What would it mean for the weaning/training process?

Luckily, I had gone to bed, well, not early, but not as late as it could've been.

And so, I bit.

I didn't get up.

I let her fuss. She went from mild protesting to a more vigorous crying.

After three minutes, per the Go.ogle summary of the Fer.ber Method, I got out of bed and picked her up and whisper-sang our good night song in her ear while she fussed, and put her back on her crib.

She screamed.

I climbed back into bed.

She wailed.

Although we share a room, my bedroom is large, maybe 10 feet by 16 feet, and we are more or less in opposite corners of the room, so she can't see me all that well -- the head of the crib and the covers on my bed keep my face hidden. But she no doubt knows that I am there.

Curse or blessing?

Her screams tapered back down to cries.

After five minutes, as per Fer.ber, I climbed back out of bed and went to her crib. I patted her diapered tush gently and murmured gently to her for a few minutes before returning to bed.

Her cries amplified to screams again.


I decided not to get up again.

Her cries quieted to whimpers, with gradually longer quiet periods, complete with the smacking sound that means her thumb had found her mouth. There were several periods of several minutes of quiet before she started up again.

I decided that since I was awake, I might as well exercise. And then the crying ramped up again.

So I got her from bed at 5:50 and gratefully snuggled her into my arms to nurse. She wearily collapsed against me and suckled peacefully.

Afterwards, I put her back in her crib, where she rested her head peacefully on the sheet and quietly sucked her thumb as I snuck out of the room.

I grabbed the video monitor and went to the living room to do my exercise DVD.

Moments after starting, I heard her babbling on the monitor.

I let her babble and then fuss for about twenty minutes before I went to check on her.

As soon as she saw me, her face lit up in an enormous grin.

I don't know about other babies, but with Calliope, a joyous baby is not a baby who is going back to sleep.

So I lifted her out of the crib for the last time, changed her diaper, dressed her, and brought her into the living room. Naturally, she wasn't interested in the boring old Exersaucer.

No, she wanted to sit on the floor and stare at the TV screen.

Oh, my child who isn't supposed to watch TV.

Even an exercise video is captivating.

And despite getting up nearly two hours early, she napped at the regular time today (she won't go to sleep early when the other baby is here because she apparently is too worried about missing out on the fun -- she keeps peering through the crib slats to ensure that Eleanor is in the portable crib, also taking a nap) and didn't take an unduly long nap in the morning or afternoon.

And was in great spirits when I met them at the playground after work for a playdate with some other local moms (and a dad).

Anyway, now I've pulled the plug.

I can't go back.

I've started this thing.

Night weaning... with a side of Cry It Out (CIO).

I'm nervous.

I don't know if I should sleep in the living room so she can't see me (but I don't really want to because my bed is so much comfortable than the pull out couch, and it's also a much shorter walk to Calliope.) And maybe my being there in the room is a reassurance to her, given that's what she's used to?

I don't know if I should go to her when she cries?

It seems like it made her a lot more upset last night.

Maybe I go to her but don't pick her up?

I don't know if I should only go once, and that's it?

Ignoring seems so harsh... but maybe less upsetting?

I don't even know if this is the right thing to do. But I'm tired of feeling like I'm dragging through life.

And as lovely as it sounds, I greatly dislike nursing in bed. Even when I'm not trying to sleep. It feels like I'm being gnawed on by a small, furry, extremely active animal.

Like a gopher.

Not in a good way.

So I don't know exactly what I'm afraid of.

Facing my demons? Or just worsening fatigue? Or the vague idea that I'm making a big mistake, and am Royally Screwing Up.

But I know, at least, you readers will be awfully glad to stop reading about my obsession with Calliope's sleep.

So [assuming this works] that's something.

The plan is no feedings until 6 am. Once we've mastered that, we can move the feeding back to our more normal 6:45 am time.

Please, if you have advice, share it. I feel like a total amateur over here.


  1. It's funny that you're asking for advice since I've learned so much from you!! When I cut Elena's night feed, we stopped cold turkey. We co-sleep tho so I was there to comfort her thru the screaming phase which only lasted 2-3 nights. Now she sleeps thru the night. Sometimes she'll wake & fuss but I "ignore" her & she settles on her own, sometimes cuddled into my side, sometimes curled up by herself.

    I hope things go well for you & Calliope.

  2. Hi!
    Have you tried just offering her water instead of a feed when she wakes during the night? We did that when our baby was around Calliope's age and she soon learned that it wasn't worth waking up for! And yes, a joyful baby here also doesn't go back to sleep :)
    Cheers, Pip