Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sleep training: why alcoholic beverages were invented

For a long time, Terza was a great sleeper. I was loathe to even admit what a great sleeper  she was because I didn't want to jinx myself. But at the same time, I figure I should savor these positive developments because they do tend to be few and far between. I knew I should have trusted my first instinct and never expressed gratitude and appreciation for small favors. Because as soon as I took Terza to her four month checkup and told the doctor, "She's a great sleeper!" she ceased being one. In fact, she became an abysmal sleeper, just awful.

At first, I thought she was teething. Or had an ear infection. Or was experiencing some thrilling milestone. But the doctor took a look at her and said that none of that stuff was happening. And every night, her wakings got more frequent  -- at first, she was just weirdly waking once or twice more than she normally did, and within a few days, she was waking every hour. It was, like so much in parenting, a little problem that grew into a big problem fast. I went from nursing the baby two or three times a night to nursing her constantly, taking her in bed and keeping her attached to the boob. And even THAT didn't work. Which is when I realized the time had come for sleep training. Thankfully, I've already done this with two children so I'm an expert, right?

Wrong. Because I've basically blocked out everything that occurred over a year ago out, to save my sanity. All I remember is that the first night we sleep trained Primo, he cried for an hour and that the first night we sleep trained Seconda she cried for five minutes. I figured Terza would have to fall in between the two. I called my best friend, Miriam, who had her first daughter nine months ago and read no less than five different books cover to cover about sleep training and I told her to give me the bullet points. Just the facts, please. So desperate was I to wrestle the chaos of Terza's sleep into some sort of order, I decided in the middle of my conversation with Miriam, to start immediately.

"Hold on," I told her, "I'm going to put the baby down right now and start sleep training. Right now."

So Miriam listened to Terza scream for forty minutes and told me exactlywhat to do. That, as they say, is what friends are for.

By the time David got home from work, I'd already gotten three check-and-console cry-it-out sessions under my belt.

"This shit is on like Donkey Kong," I told him.

And that night, probably exhausted from her daytime crying fits, she slept better. A lot better. It helped that I absented myself from the process by sleeping in Primo's bunk bed, while he slept with at his greg grandmother's house. I woke after six hours to a sharp pain in my breasts. I'd take the engorgement for sleep any day.

Its been two weeks and all I can say is, its no magic bullet. That sounds a rather drastic metaphor. Its no panacea. The baby will go down without a tear for three days in a row than cry for an hour at night for a week then cry for every nap for a day then not cry at all again. There's no rhyme or reason to it. But its better than nothing. And also, all I got. Isn't that just the story of parenting?