Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Soothing ladder"

We are attempting pre-sleep training. I'm not sure what you're supposed to call it. Cosleeping had been going great then last week a switch flipped and after a couple nights of broken sleep we realized that Adrian was having trouble sleeping because she needed more space to roll around and our presence had stopped being soothing and started being exciting. I immediately ordered two sleep training books recommended by friends and we decided to start with the "soothing ladder" method from The Happy Sleeper. We kind of dove into it and amazingly we were able to transition her into her crib in the nursery for the first time ever, which I honestly wasn't sure was possible. That's not to say it hasn't been bumpy. The theory is that at this age you only let them cry for a minute, so if she cries you go in and soothe her in the least intrusive way possible (i.e. stand there, if that doesn't work give her a paci, if that doesn't work, talk to her, then rub her back, pick her up if all else fails). Sometimes by some magic stroke of timing she's in exactly the right place for a nap and she just takes her lovey and rolls over and goes to sleep on her own with zero fuss. More often, we go through the soothing ladder a few times (or for an hour). Sometimes I have to go in there so many times that I'm about to decide I misread her cues and she isn't sleepy and she is never going to go to sleep again probably. That's often when she finally falls asleep.

In order for it to work I have to adopt this sort of zen mindset, where I just accept the fact that I will be walking in and out of her room every few minutes, possibly forever. I have to ignore the pressure I feel from the work that piles up while I do this during daytime naps and focus on radiating calm. I'm usually the opposite of a "woo" person, but I put so much focus into projecting calm and the sense that I have all the time in the world for this and I swear it helps. I spend a lot of time standing in the hallway, staring at the timer on my phone and trying to decide whether the noise she is making counts as "crying" (which you are supposed to intervene with) vs. "fussing" (which you are supposed to allow them to do). But it feels worth it because when she does go down she sleeps well, and she's learning to string together her sleep cycles on her own, which is pretty sweet to see.

This week I'm camping out in the nursery at night because the idea of her being in her own room that long is too much for me, so I get to see when she starts to wake up at night and then (like magic!) quietly fusses about for a few seconds before drifting back off. I just can't believe she's capable of this. Watching a baby develop new skills is just amazing, I can't get over it.

You guys, baby sleep is such a crazy thing. I knew that this was going to be one of the big challenges, but it's still mind blowing to me how much time and thought and energy you put into it. I'm trying to change my mindset, because I'm so type A and I like consistency and planning, so I'd been feeling really guilty about "failing" at baby sleep. Like, I purchased this super expensive bassinet and only used it for two months. We ended up cosleeping when that wasn't our plan. But I'm trying to flip that and tell myself  that we're doing a great job reading and responding to her cues. The SNOO was a huge blessing during the first few months, when she was so tiny and we needed to feel that she was safe above all else. And she was sleeping 6 - 7 hour stretches in it! And then when she started to resist the bassinet but she would fall asleep instantly with me, we transitioned to cosleeping and it was best for all of us. And when she started to struggle with sleeping in our bed, we noticed and now we're showing her that she can self soothe and sleep alone. There will probably be a hundred other transitions with her sleeping, and I need to get over the fact that things aren't going according to "plan" because there is no plan with a baby.

Also, I've lost the ability/time to actually edit posts, so all this baby stuff just gets written out in a 15 minute burst and then slapped up here as is. It kind of kills me, I just do not have the mental capacity for any fine tuning right now. The hardest part is keeping posts to a reasonable length, instead of spilling out a million tiny details and sidebars that are currently occupying my brain. Also, not using emojis, because I definitely would add the sideways laugh/cry face here, which is slightly different from the straight on laugh/cry face because it would subtly indicate that my current mindset is not just funny/sad but also that it's slightly crazy. Okay, that's enough, I'm out.


  1. If you want to be a millionaire create anything and tag the words sleep and baby to it and market on amazon. I can't tell you how many baby sleep things I have bought out of pure delusion between my three kids. Not sure any thing worked or not but they are all still alive and I am alive with the help of coffee.

  2. you're doing a great job! I remember being deep in the stage of obsessing over my kids sleep. the second time around was a little better but still all consuming. to give you a little glimpse of the other side, at 8 months both of our kids just flipped switches and started sleeping through the night and pretty much never looked back. they are 5 and 2 now and champion sleepers. downside is that now I can't blame the baby, if I am tired it is my own damn fault. :)

  3. I so hear you on adopting the zen mindset. It really does help. So does repeating "I can do this for a long time, I have nowhere else to be." I'm not a patient person and that has really helped me. Also knowing that we can do whatever we want if it's working, and then we can do something else if it stops working. We've sleep trained her three times so far and she's ten months old today. Any time there's a leap, a tooth, a weekend away, oh yeah and we moved--we just hit the reset button. It's comforting to know you can just do this anytime you need to. xo

  4. I've been reading your blog for so many years and was thrilled when you posted that you were pregnant, as I was at about the same point in my pregnancy as you. The blog posts about motherhood and baby stuff are such a gift for someone who doesn't always feel like I have a lot of mama friends because they make me feel a little less alone in the sideways laugh/cry emoji emotional state that I'm also in right now. My daughter is a couple of weeks older than yours so we're in about the same place, developmentally. I'm blathering, but just wanted to say hi and thank you for sharing so much about your experience of motherhood from right in the eye of the storm, so to speak. (Also, I'm in AVM on Facebook and always appreciate your thoughtful posts and comments there, too!)

  5. Thank you for your honest mama posts! I've been reading your blog forevvvver, but not sure I've ever commented before. I have a 6 year old who co-slept with me until she was about 3 or so, and that worked fine for us and everyone got the sleep they needed. But now we have a 6 month old and the situation is SO different. He's such a different baby, and I've been REALLY struggling with sleep. He doesn't sleep well in bed with me, and so I have him in a crib in our room, but he is still waking every 1-2 hours (and has been since birth) and I have to get up and feed him and/or rock him back to sleep each time. As you can imagine I'm beyond tired. I totally bought The Happy Sleeper after reading your post and just cracked it open! I know it will take some work to create and implement a plan-- I hope I can be as strong as you! Thanks again!

  6. Commiseration, girl. It feels like every day, my husband and I try to figure out a plan for sleeping and yet our baby has a mind of his own :/ lol. I like your zen approach, I’m going to use that when I feel like I’m losing it!


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