That’s no boob. It’s a sleep association.
–probably not Obi-wan Kenobi
A week ago I happened upon the page of Little Sleepers, Big Dreamers, a local child sleep consultant. I had no idea such a thing existed, but apparently there are experts on sleep just as there are experts on lactation. (If you read our breastfeeding odyssey, you’ll know that the LC’s at Fire Monkey’s birth hospital literally saved our nursing relationship.) After two months of waking 2-3 times a night, I already knew that I was not going to “get used to it.” I have never needed prodigious amounts of sleep (I survived most of college on 6.5 hours a night), but the quality of sleep does seem to matter and the night wakings were taking their toll. Sure, I could function but I was grumpy and not really able to be the kind of parent and wife I wanted to be. We also suspected that poor sleep was keeping Science Guy’s health issues from improving (and was the cause of at least one mistake in lab.)
Kristi was offering a free sleep chat to discuss individual sleep issues, and the two other moms who posted had kids who were quite a bit older than Fire Monkey. The thought of sleepwalking through the next two or three years was supremely unappealing, so I scheduled an individual phone consult with Kristi. My main goals were to help Fire Monkey learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own, sleep through the night (or at least not demand my mammary glands as pacifiers) and nap more consistently during the day. (Sleep Wars Episodes II and III details how we gradually reached the point of doing absolutely none of these things.) I had actually read The Sleepeasy Solution, which advocates a “least-cry” aka check and console method, the week before and thought it seemed very sensible and doable. Welp, we tried it for half a night and then I lost my nerve because I didn’t know what to do next and because I didn’t feel mentally prepared to be completely exhausted the next day which was Sunday and the one day that week I could take him to my parents and get a little break. Having someone sit down and walk me through a plan tailored to meet our family’s specific needs was extremely helpful.
On Tuesday we went for a belated 6-month checkup and got the doctor’s okay to wean overnight. I was nervous about dropping the night feedings, but when I saw that after two months of night feeds Fire Monkey was still the same percentile weightwise, I realized he wasn’t really getting any extra nutrition in those feeds. We decided to start the sleep learning plan that night after the doctor’s visit.
Turns out that was a great plan, because he also got his vaccinations that day and proceeded to conk out the entire night, so I was able to get a small respite before embarking on a day of nap resistance. He turned out to be surprisingly receptive to the new schedule and even went down for one of his naps without crying. Things were looking brighter than they had in months!
…to be continued…