A week ago, things started changing in our house. You might have guessed I was recently spending many a sleepless night and that my nerves were frazzled. I was running on empty and felt stretched in all directions. I wasn’t coping.
Robin has always been a good sleeper at night. Sure, she woke up to breastfeed a couple of times a night, however, she never ever cried. She would wake up, I would feed her and we would both go back to sleep. More often than not, she’d remain in our bed for the rest of the night after her first feed.
Maia still wakes up at night sometimes, mostly to inform me that she’d be going to the bathroom and then again to let me know she loves me before going back to bed. I was ok with all this.
Then things changed.
Robin was very ill and spent a whole week sleeping on my chest. We started weaning her off the breast for reasons I’ve already explained. She cut three teeth. She started crawling. My friend Clare also pointed out that at 45 weeks, her brain is developing at a fast rate. She’s been dealing with a lot and her sleep has suffered. So has mine.
So we decided it was time to teach our baby how to put herself to sleep without the comfort of my arms. We read up on the subject, asked our friends on Facebook and Twitter and realised there was only one way to do it. We’d have to let her cry it out. I’ve known about this method, also called the Ferber method, since I was pregnant with Maia and I was sure I’d never use it. Hearing my girls so much as whimper makes me jump into action. I cannot stand the sound of them complaining, let alone crying alone in a room. So it was tough, very very tough, but it worked!
Apart from teaching her to sleep in her bed at bedtime, we also decided to introduce two naps a day. She never slept more than 30 minutes at a stretch during the day and then it would be either in her father’s arms or in her sling while I cuddled her. Before we introduced these two daily naps (again using the Ferber method the first couple of times), I would spend the whole day carrying her around or, more recently, watching her like a hawk as she charged around the flat. I never had time to do the housework or to cook. Or write. Or sit down. Or just breathe. I was exhausted and frustrated and it was showing, especially in the way I snapped at everyone brave enough to interact with me. Now I can even spend some quality time with Maia while she naps.
I don’t know why it took me so long to put some structure into Robin’s day. I guess breastfeeding her made me lazy that way. It was convenient carrying her around with me all the time and not having to worry about her schedule too. She always tagged along and our days were always planned around Maia’s commitments and it suited us fine until recently. However, I am now calmer and feel more in control. She is also happier because she is no longer sleep-deprived all the time.
Next, I’d like to tackle Maia’s bedtime routine…now that is something I dread!