Well, I know you’re all just itching to know how it went! And if you’re not, I suggest you stop reading, because it’s about to get very boring for you. I’m afraid I need to keep a record for myself, and here’s as good a place as any.
So, last night, knowing that my husband was working late, Evie was in a miserable grump, and I was far too tired to spend all evening traipsing up and down the stairs to pace and rock my little chunk to sleep, I decided to get started with the “controlled crying” sleep training for poor, unsuspecting Henry.
The method I went with involved going through our usual bedtime routine – warm bath, before changing into PJs, zipping into the sleep sack, then nursing while singing rock-a-bye baby, and finally a kiss goodnight and into his crib – before leaving him to self-settle. The second I walked away, of course, he flipped over onto his tummy, spat out the dummy / binky, and started yelling.
Next step? Wait 5 minutes. Do. Not. Cave.
So I turned up the TV, and sat and watched Caillou with Evie until the timer went off. (You know you’re desperate, when you will willingly sit through an episode of Caillou…)
5 minutes of Caillou, and I was almost relieved to have to head up to Henry for a 2 minute reassurance – roll him onto his back, pop the dummy back in, stroke his hair and then….walk away. No matter what. Sob!
Time to set the timer for 10 minutes this time. Caillou wasn’t loud enough any more, so I needed to do something super noisy – load and turn on the dishwasher, put the laundry in the dryer and hit the start button, put a load of diapers in the washing machine and…yep, that drowned it out nicely! And all the lights in Redmond just dimmed a little.
Finally it was time to go and face the music again. Poor Henry. He was so unbelievably cross – I think he just couldn’t quite believe this had happened! He was red in the face, tears and snot streaming, and had cried so much he was sick. This sounds a lot worse than it is – if I’m honest, Henry is sick when he sits up. He’s sick when he giggles. He’s sick if you give him a cuddle. But that didn’t stop my mummy instincts from jumping into gear, my gut from wrenching, and the tears from pricking my eyes. Poor lamb – how could I be so cruel? Maybe I should just pick him up…
But I was strong – you’d be so proud of me! I turned him over again, mopped up the milky puke, stroked his hair, told him I loved him, but that it was time to sleep, and backed out of the room again. To a soundtrack of outraged screams, of course.
Timer set for 10 minutes once more, so I took the chance to get Evie into her pyjamas, and start talking about the books she would like to read. This helped the minutes pass quickly before it was time to head back and see just how much my son hated me by now. But, you guys, it was amazing. As soon as I opened the door, he stopped crying. Within seconds of flipping him over and replacing the dummy, his eyelids were drooping, and by the time I had kissed his head and told him how very much I love him, he was fast asleep.
He stayed that way until 2.15am. 7 hours and 15 minutes without a peep. A. May. Zing.
(This is a lot more than I can say for his big sister, incidentally. Sigh.).
I’ll admit that I did feed him at 2.15. I just felt sure he would be hungry by then, and I didn’t want to confuse things by trying to force a hungry baby to sleep. But he nursed well, and went straight back to sleep again. Out like a light. I’m sure it was the right thing to do, for now.
The only hiccup came when he woke at 5.15 am. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do? Was this him up for the day? Is it mean of me to try to follow the controlled crying regime now, even though it’s only an hour before we usually get up anyway? I don’t know. I still don’t know. In sleepy confusion, I quickly got online and asked a few friends (conveniently in the UK, and so in a helpful time zone!), and their opinions differed. The support was fantastic, but the advice was conflicting. Gah! As it was, I did let him cry it out, popping in every 10 minutes to reassure him. It took nearly 40 minutes, and then he fell asleep. For all of 10 minutes. We were up for the day by 6 am.
But that’s OK. That’s OK if he only wakes once in the night. It’s when I’ve already been up half a dozen times, that the 6am (well, 5am, I guess) wake up call makes me shouty.
So, all in all, I’d call the first night a success. It sucked to hear him cry, and it broke my heart to see my happy little soldier so very distraught, but it was only really for 20 minutes, and then we all got a much better nights sleep. Followed by a 2 and a half hour morning nap at 8.30 am. A far cry from his usual half hour cat-napping.
We’ll see how Night 2 goes. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it – in fact, I already have a sense of dread just thinking about it – but I keep reminding myself just how hard the past 6 months have been, and how much better it could be.
And as for Henry – I think he forgives me:
Keep everything crossed that very soon, these bleary-eyed, foggy-headed days will be behind us, and I won’t be completely grey-haired by Christmas!