Tag Archives: sleep training

The ‘Dreaded’ Sleep Training and How We Did It

29 Dec

merry christmas and happy new year!

unlike last year’s christmas, which we spent at mt. sinai hospital getting phototherapy treatment for miss ej, this year’s christmas was… just perfect!

we spent christmas day at my in-laws with 10+ relatives, eating loads of food and drinking merrily. miss ej usually finds difficulty adjusting to a new environment/house. the last time we went to my in-laws, miss ej cried for hours, non-stop. surprisingly, this time around, she was an angel. she spent hours chasing after their 2 cats, which are the apples of my father-in-law’s eyes. she even tried to use one of the cats as a pillow, putting her head down on the cat’s prone body. she must have ran/walked around the house at least 20 times.

i’m allergic to cats and i was worried that miss ej would be too, but she wasn’t and she loved them! i’m worried that when she grows up, she will ask to own a cat one day. i was also worried for her sleep because she usually needs our bed in order to fall asleep and she has a hard time falling asleep when there are a lot of people or noise. so, i didn’t even bother to try putting her to sleep, even when she showed signs of fatigue. however, her dad, without even consulting me, took miss ej to her grandfather’s bed and tried to put her to sleep. eventually, i lied down with them, not believing that she would actually fall asleep. however, to my surprise, 15 minutes later, miss ej was deep asleep. it was unbelievable! 🙂

we came home really late and although miss ej awoke from her deep sleep, she didn’t shed a single tear, said goodbye to her grandparents and then sat in her carseat quietly, all the way home. i ended up falling asleep because she was so quiet.

speaking of sleep, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and i decided to ‘try’ sleep training miss ej. as i have mentioned in a previous post, miss ej has been co-sleeping with us ever since she was 4-5 months old. now that she’s a year old, we knew sleep training her wouldn’t be so easy, so we decided to try it out during my husband’s 1 week vacation, which is this week. we were dreading the day. ideally, we wanted to start from monday, but things got busy that we forgot. then, wednesday came along and i felt the pressure… i felt like it was going to be now or never. when i discussed my concerns to mr. jq, he felt the same way and all of a sudden, we were extremely fearful and anxious. ok, we were scared to our wit’s end!

we must have discussed a million pros and cons. the good outweighing the bad. the bad outweighing the good. we thought about every possible scenario and examples of other kids. i purposely didn’t go to google search because i knew it will only make me more confused. finally, the decision was made. thank god for my husband who possesses the ability to make a decision (more often good than bad). so we decided to start sleep training and we chose the most debatable ‘cry it out’ (CIO) method, which is also known for its cruelty.

for those who do not know CIO, this is the method we used;

1. bed time routine – bath, read a book, pray together, hug, kiss and say good night and we love you.

2. put the baby in the crib and leave the room. the baby will cry – miss ej cried hard (as hard as she could).

3. you let your baby cry (it out) for about 5 minutes – miss ej wailed.

4. after 5 minutes, go to your baby, say comforting words (without making it sound sad or guilty) and without picking up the baby – miss ej wanted to be picked up and she cried so much that she was shaking a bit. it was incredibly hard to witness and i also cried a bit. i know i wasn’t supposed to show any sadness or guilt, but i ended up putting my face against her crib so that she can touch my face with her fingers. she poked and stroked my face, begging me to hold her. i told her i was sorry and i love her but it’s her bed time and she needs to go to sleep. i repeated those words many times before leaving the room. it was the toughest thing i ever had to do.

5. leave after a couple of minutes. the baby will continue to cry or cry harder because you left again – i stayed with her for about 3 minutes and then left the room. yes, she screamed and cried the whole time.

6. this time, go to your baby after 10 minutes and repeat stage 4 (for each subsequent time, add 10 mins and stay with your baby a little less each time) – i didn’t have nerve to go through it again, so this time, my husband went and did what he had to do. i don’t honestly know what he actually did and i didn’t want to know. mr. jq stayed with her for a minute or so. he left fairly quick and she continued to cry hard.

we repeated stage 6 once. we waited about 2 minutes and we noticed that miss ej’s cries became weaker and in 5 minutes or so it died down. i urged my husband to go in and check but he waited until 20 minutes were up and went to see miss ej. apparently, she was trembling a little and sniffling as she was falling asleep. all in all, she was asleep.

sleep training day 1 was successful and it surpassed my expectations by far. i was thinking it would take hours and i would experience continual wake up cries, but it only took less than 30 minutes and she got up only twice, once at 4 am and once around 7 am. at 4 am, she was standing up in her crib, so i held her for a couple of seconds and put her back in her crib. she didn’t cry or get up. she went to sleep right away. at 7 am, my husband simply looked at her as she was lying down and was still sleeping. at 8:30 am, miss ej got up, cried for us and we all got up and had breakfast.

my husband’s and my biggest fear with this method was the damage it might cause (if any) to a baby. would she feel abandoned? will she develop some kind of phobia? will she hate us? will she develop high blood pressure for crying so hard? would it affect her heart as her heart rate will increase for a long period of time?

maybe it did cause some of these things. we don’t know as we have no way of gauging it, but we decided to observe miss ej carefully the next day, which was today. she seemed fine and we didn’t notice any changes. it felt like it never happened so we were relieved.

today was sleep training day 2. i’m happy to say it went well, even better than yesterday.

today, we only got to stage 5, i mentioned above. she was asleep in 10 minutes. i never thought she would do so well. my husband said to me, “why didn’t we do this before?”

hopefully, we will only get to stage 1 tomorrow.

and i really hope and wish that she or we (me and my husband) will not regress (especially, when she gets sick or is teething).

i also hope that this post doesn’t come across as i’m bragging or i’ve experienced a complete success. i know that there are many more trials and difficulties ahead for us. every baby is different and every parent is different. there are different ways to sleep with or without your baby. i’m simply writing about what we (my husband and i) decided to do. we decided on co-sleeping until age 1, then tried the CIO method after the 1st birthday. personally, i’m happy with our decision and if i ever have a second baby, i would choose this option again.

i’m a proponent of co-sleeping. i still am, even more so now because i feel that co-sleeping allowed her to feel secure enough to sleep on her own, when the timing was right. i feel like for miss ej, age 1 was the correct time because i sensed that she understood a lot of things like cause and effect, the meaning of ‘no’ and good and bad (up to a certain point).

mind you, we tried a couple of times previously and it was not successful. perhaps, the timing wasn’t right or it was because we didn’t follow the ‘correct’ method (we never left the room, when we tried previously) or maybe it’s a combination of both. i don’t know.

what i know is that the decision to not co-sleep when the baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler, is up to the parent (and the child) and the timing depends on the child. in another words, there is no correct way and it’s really dependent on you and your child. i’ve said that i will choose this method again with my second child, but who knows, it might be out the window with my second.

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My Current Parenting Struggles – Top 5

19 Dec

motherhood is a wonderful experience, but it is also an experience that brings numerous struggles. i often say, “one thing after another”. you think you’ve overcome one thing, then there is another one awaiting.

the first 3 months were the toughest time for me. my girl wanted to be held, nursed and wanted to sleep in a particular way. until this day, i am in awe of those moms who are able to nurse their baby in public (with a cover over their shoulder). it was very difficult to nurse my daughter away from home, because she didn’t like to be covered and wanted my full attention while nursing. for some reason, whenever i looked away, she immediately stopped suckling and cried.

now that she is one year old, i no longer have theses struggles that i mentioned above. however, i must have traded those struggles for others and here are my top 5;

1. weaning the pacifier

when my girl was born, i made up my mind that i would not let my baby use a pacifier. however, my girl loved to suckle. before introducing her to a pacifier, she wanted to be nursed continuously. she obviously had a need to suckle and it seemed like her suckling needs were much greater than most babies. so i gave in and it made my life much easier. however, she became very dependent on her pacifier and it was in her mouth all the time! when she was awake, asleep and even when she ate. she would take a spoonful of her food, then suck on her pacifier. this repeated throughout the entire meal. i tried to take it away but she screamed and cried until she got it back. she even has a name for it; it’s “mamamamama”. she says this word a lot more than umma (mom in korean) and abba (dad in korean). not only that, her pacifier is in most of her pictures. you can’t hardly see her lips in any of her pictures.

i researched “how to wean pacifier” and read many mom’s blogs talking about their success stories of weaning the pacifier. many used a “cold-turkey” method and surprisingly, it often led to successful results! well, not for me. i tried. i tried to get her to use it only during her naps and sleep time. i almost succeeded… until, she got sick and it went back to square one!

none of the kids in her class use pacifiers. often times, the kids in her class pop my girl’s pacifier out of her mouth. i think it’s because they find it very interesting that my girl has it in her mouth all the time. most kids are usually limited in their pacifier usage… their pacifiers are kept inside their crib to be used only for nap and sleep time. today, a mom glanced at my girl and said to her baby daughter, “you only use your pacifier in your crib, right?”.

2. co-sleeping vs sleep training

some of my friends know that i am a proponent of co-sleeping. i believe that co-sleep allows a child to feel safe and secure and in turn, enhances their self-esteem (i hope). my husband and i decided to co-sleep and placed her crib right beside our bed.

i’ve tried different sleep training methods early on, until my girl was about 5 months old. it worked well until she started to have teething pain during the night. around 6th month, she was up 4-5 times throughout the night and i ended up bringing her into our bed. she was much happier and slept better (even with the teething pain).

when we started to co-sleep, we were all happy. the baby slept well and i slept well.

then… my girl started to crawl and walk. she crawled up to our bed, crawled over us and ended up sleeping in our bed. this repeated and eventually, the 3 of us slept together in a cramped queen size bed.

one night, i got up from my sleep because i was certain that my nose was broken. i heard a crack and tears were rolling down uncontrollably. i woke up my husband and said, i think my nose is broken. thank god, it wasn’t, but all this happened because my girl dropped her head on top of my nose while sleeping. incidents like this happened quite a bit.

so, i began to think… perhaps, she is too old to co-sleep and it’s time to sleep train. OMG…

i heard that the older they are, the harder it is to sleep train. i don’t know where to start…

one day, we put up the side of her crib which was down, previously. so, she was trapped inside her crib for the first time. we were still in the same room, right beside her. she cried and cried, wanting to come out of her crib. we ignored but still kept our eyes on her. maybe 5 minutes passed. her cries got stronger, became more like wailing. she became more and more angry and then… she threw up.

we had to change her crib sheets, wash and change her. she ended up sleeping with us in our bed, once again… she won.

me and my husband have no idea how to resolve this issue. we do not even know where to start. it’s scary to even think about it.

i think our only choice at this point is to put her crib in her room and try the cry it out method. we are thinking about setting aside 4-5 days during the holidays to try it out. i wonder how many times she will throw up…

3. how to parent a spirited child

while i was pregnant, i’ve looked at many different parenting books. one of them was called how to raise your spirited child. the author of this book defined a spirited child as a child who is sensitive, intense, perceptive, persistent and energetic. miss ej is definitely all of these. she has always been very sensitive, even as a newborn. she liked or disliked certain houses, she didn’t like certain soap that i used and until today, she favours certain people. some people, she refuses to even look at, but to some people/strangers, she will not hesitate to go hug or play with them. when she’s angry, i can’t get mad at her because that will make her more angry and her anger becomes uncontrollable. when she’s upset, i need to talk to her gently and give her hugs and kisses. this is the only way she will compromise or even consider listening to me. don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t cry or get angry very often. it takes a lot to get her upset.

the scary part is that when i was growing up, i behaved somewhat similar to miss ej. i wasn’t as strong and energetic as her, but i was a sensitive, persistent child. thus, i understand her to a certain degree and i know it’s important to work with her rather than just correct her.

i would love to read more about raising this type of child or even to learn from a professional. i don’t believe that miss ej has an issue and i know that spirited children are smart, loving children who have a special place in this world, accomplishing great things. i just want to help her and direct her to become all that she can be.

4. sleeping habits

miss ej slept through the night from her 2nd month, sleeping 9-10 hours straight, every night. i stopped night feeding from her 2nd month and never had to be up to feed her in middle of the night. it was a little different when she started to teeth but all in all, she’s been a good sleeper. on average, she has slept 10-11 hours a night and took 2-3 hours of naps.

ever since she turned 1 year old and started to walk on her own… everything changed. she no longer wants to take naps and getting her to fall asleep has been soooooo painful! i said to my husband, this is worse than labour and giving birth (and i had 26 hours of labour!)

she fights her sleep so much that it takes 2-3 hours of fussing and crying before she actually falls asleep. we even tried letting her play longer, thinking that she might not be tired, but it got her more tired, over-stimulated and then more fussing and crying. before she falls asleep, she has to have 2-3 crying sessions, 1-2 laughing sessions and 6-7 walking around the house sessions.

we take her to our bed several times. she gets up and gets out of the bed an equal amount of times. then, when she’s ready to go to sleep, she crawls over us several times, rubs her face (more like drops her head on top of my face) several times and kicks my face a few times… then, ends with a final cry.

it is the most frustrating thing, ever!

5. extreme attachement

i usually spend a whole day with miss ej, everyday. it’s natural that she’s attached to me. however, she has a hard time playing by herself or being alone for even 5 minutes. even when she plays, she has to make sure that i’m attached to her (physically). she make sures that i’m holding her hand or my leg is touching her back or leg or any part of her body. she cries when i go to the kitchen or go to the bathroom. she’s always been this way and i thought she would eventually grow out of it, but it hasn’t happened yet. the worst is when she refuses to stay/play with anyone else but me, not even her dad. i often take a shower when my husband comes home so that he can watch miss ej. at times, my husband had to stay in the bathroom with miss ej while i take a shower because miss ej didn’t want to be away from me, not for a second.

my daughter has numerous characteristics that are amazing. she is a healthy, happy, good hearted and affectionate child who loves to play with other kids (sharing toys and taking turns). she possesses many good characteristics (although kids’ personalities change many times) and she is a joy to be around. so, i hope people don’t misunderstand that my struggles are not due to her inadequacy, but they are struggles that most parents go through around her age.

i am writing this post, not just to complain, but i write because the struggles are part of parenting and i want to be able to look back and remember everything – the good parts as well as the bad.