Recently, I have been through bedtime hell and back. In fact, last week, I went through Bedtime Hell so often that I should have gotten some kind of punch card from the Bedtime Devil himself.
Ryan's always been a decent night time sleeper. He's never napped much during the day (20 minutes here and 20 mintues there) but the trade-off was that he would sleep all night long with the exception of one middle of the night feeding.
Each night, I would let Ryan fall asleep in my arms while I zoned out on the couch. After he fell asleep, I'd lay him in his crib. He'd stay asleep until about 2-3am. When he woke up, I'd feed him a bottle in my bed and we would both drift back to sleep. Except for waking up and dragging my butt out of bed to make a bottle, it was easy.
BUT. Something happened last week. It was horrible. My decent sleeper turning into a big pile of angry baby. Suddenly, everytime I would lay him in his crib his eyes would POP open and he'd start to scream. I'd sway him around the room until his breathing was heavy and lay him back down. If he happened to stay asleep, he'd only stay asleep for about 20-30 minutes before he was screaming again. I was spending three to four hours each night rushing in to soothe him back to sleep. This was not working. After seven days of that crap, I became desperate.
I've always been 120% AGAINST sleep training. I always thought the cry-it-out method was cruel. Basically, you're teaching your baby that you will not respond to his cries until he eventually gives up. Right? It sounded barbaric to me! BUT our usual routine was no longer working. I started to dread evenings. I was so frustrated. So upset. So tired. I was nodding off on the bus. I was losing it at work. I was having to force myself to stay awake while driving. So not good.
From friendly parenting advice over Facebook, I was encouraged to try the cry-it-out method. I had doubts and major reservations. But...I had to try something! I rolled up my sleeves and was determined to give it a try. Why not. Heck, my baby was just going to wake up and cry all night anyway. The least I could do was let him learn how to fall asleep.
That first night, I did our normal bedtime routine: PJ's, swaddle blanket, bottle, and cuddles. Then I laid him in his crib. Oh man did he cry. And scream. He cried and cried and screamed and screamed. He was NOT happy with me. Every so often I went in to make sure he was safe and pat his tummy. Then I would leave again. After 30 minutes, I stopped feeling bad about the crying. He wasn't hurt or hungry. He was just tired. After about an hour, the crying quieted and finally stopped. He was asleep. And he STAYED asleep all night long! When I woke up at 5:30 that morning, I rushed to his room first thing to make sure he was still alive. There he was, sleeping so peacefully and deeply. Was this actually going to work?
The next night, he fell asleep after only 10 minutes of crying. But then Jacob threw a wrench in our plans. At 11:00pm, Jacob started to scream. This led to Ryan screaming. For a good 10 minutes, it was a symphany of angry children cries. My heart and my head both started to ache. I soon discovered that Jacob was having a night terror. For 45 minutes, he kicked and screamed and cried and yelled unintelligible things. At one point he was yelling, "No daddy! I don't want the gun! No!" What the heck?! Scary. My soothing just made it worse and he would cry for me and kick me at the same time. There was nothing I could do but watch him panic and kick and cry and scream. It was horrible. Finally, at long last, he drifted back to sleep but I was still shaken up and Ryan was still screaming. Eventually we all drifted back to sleep: Jacob in my bed, Ryan in his crib, and me on the couch. Not a pleasant evening.
But tonight made up for EVERYTHING! Ryan and I went through his bedtime routine then I placed him gingerly in his crib. He looked up at me with his sweet eyes and I gave him two kisses on the forehead. I tiptoed out of his room and closed the door. Not a sound followed. Silence. Blissfull silence. I snuck into his room five mintues later and found him turned over on his side already sleeping peacefully!
You guys....this actually might be working! I'm hesitant to hold my breath, BUT....OMG. He's a totally different baby!