Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

Since the day Ella was born she's basically always been rocked to sleep. 
Every nap time. Every bed time. Every day.
I'm guilty of this with all my kiddos. I have a hard time just laying them down when they're awake, even though I know you're 'supposed' to. I listen to the experts, hear that babies should learn to soothe themselves to sleep and you should lay them in their cribs before they even act sleepy, then I immediately go and either nurse or rock them to sleep. I can't help it. I'm always astounded when I'm at a friend's house and they just lay their baby down. In their crib. Just like that. Lay them down and leave. It's shocking. (Consequently this loving need to rock my babies to sleep usually ends at around the 9 month age when I'm so sleep deprived and in full blown crazy mom mode from them not being able to put themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night.) But I digress..

So we've always rocked Ella to sleep. It isn't usually that big of a deal. We wait until she's acting super sleepy, rock with her a few minutes (or more), wait a few more minutes until that magic moment when she's good and sleeping heavy, but not too long where she's had enough of a 5 minutes nap and wakes up good to go, then lay her down and all is well. Easy Peasy. At least it used to be that way. This summer Ella started being a real pain (for lack of better description) to put to sleep. She started staying up until 10:00 or 10:30 (past our own bed times!) not falling asleep easily, then when she finally did, would wake up and scream when we tried to lay her in her crib which would result in either more rocking or just giving up and bringing her to our bed. That meant that JJ and I had virtually no time to spend together after the kids went to bed. Neither of us could just relax in the evening and there was no time to get anything extra done without kids around. It got to be frustrating and stressful and one day last August while I was talking to a friend about it she casually asked "What would happen if you just laid her down?" 

What would happen?


What would happen is... I... I... I don't know. We'd never been able to just let Ella cry it out because of her reflux. She would get SUCH a gassy tummy and it sounded so painful and awful that it would have just been cruel to let her cry for any reason. But she'd mostly grown out of that now. So what would happen? There had been a few instances when I was rocking Ella at nap time and Hudson would start to cry downstairs so I would lay her down prematurely and she did actually put herself to sleep, but only a few times. I always meant to do it more often. Just lay her down. But I always had a reason not to. 'I think she's getting a cold so I'll just rock her to sleep one more time today.' 'We have plans tonight so I really want her to take a good nap.' 'Hudson's sleeping and I don't want her to cry and wake him up.' 'I just don't have the energy to listen to her cry today. Maybe tomorrow.' And on and on. Day after day after day. 

But that afternoon at nap time after my friend left, I decided to take her advice. I read Ella some books, sang her a few songs, rocked a few minutes, and laid her down. And what happened? She fell asleep! But she had done that before. The real test would be at bed time. I dreaded it. I knew it would be awful. But that night we did the same thing. We read, we sang, we rocked, we laid her down. And she was not happy. She screamed and cried. We checked on her. She taught herself to soil her diaper on command. We brought her back down stairs to change her. And back up again. We sang her a few more songs and laid her down. She screamed some more. But I think it actually only went on for about 20 minutes. The next night it was 10. And the next night? We didn't hear a peep after we laid her down.


It took three nights to overcome something we had struggled with for three years?

She got to the point where she actually LOVED going to bed. Sometimes she would ask to go to bed as early as 7:00. The extra 3 hours we had in the evening were so refreshing and we were able to get so much accomplished! You would think my house would be spotless, my garden weeded, and my blog less neglected, but I'm sure I've been doing something useful with my time.. I think. 

This is how good Ella got at putting herself to sleep. 
She slept about 30 minutes standing up on a metal folding chair like this.
It also possibly could have been something to do with the fact we found out she had strep throat the next day..
I wish I could say she's kept this whole 'awesome sleeper thing' up over the last few months, but the truth is we've let it slip a little. In fact, as I write this it is 9:30 at night and she is laying on the couch watching babies on her tablet. But in my defense we had an exhaustingly long day and nap time was completely torturous for Ella and Hudson (and mom) today and I'm pretty sure I have PTSD from it all, so we're just gonna let it slide for tonight. We might have to have another sleep-training session soon. And maybe one in the middle of the night too so she would actually stay in her own bed all night? But her bedroom is so close to the boys' I don't want her to wake them up.... ;)

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