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Monday, February 27, 2012

Sleep is for the weak.

Beckett sleeping with Daddy ... for 15 minutes at least.

When Brennan was a baby, our soothe-to-sleep routine was very simple.  He ate, burped, we read a book, and then snuggled.  When he was tiny, we'd rock him to sleep.  But at about 5 months old, he got to a point where he'd wake up the second we put him down in his bed.  I bought all of the books on infant sleep and we tried a million things.  After deciding that "graduated extinction" (read: Cry It Out, in increments) was the way to go for us.  After about 2 nights, he was going down awake and soothing himself to sleep very easily.  Easy peasy.  I thought I had it all figured out.

Mr. Beckett has proven me wrong.

I always said that after being blessed with an amazingly "easy" baby, my second child would give me a run for my money.  Because he was born first, Beckett is technically my second ... and he definitely has me running.

Overall, he's a very mellow kid.  But he's also very stubborn.  A few weeks ago he decided that he didn't want to fall asleep.  And when we could get him to fall asleep he didn't want to stay asleep.  Naps were especially a problem.  If he went to sleep, he would wake up screaming 15-20 minutes later.  By bedtime, he was so overtired that he could barely stay awake to eat.  He'd doze off and be up minutes later screaming.  It took 4 hours to get him into a sound sleep.  And then he'd be up 2 or 3 hours later, screaming again.  This was especially an issue because another little person sleeps just a few feet away from him.  Kiernan is a champion sleeper, but the poor kid could only sleep through so much.

Finding out the problem was easy.  We had straightened out reflux issues.  We knew he wasn't hungry or too full or wet or poopy.  The minute we would walk up next to his crib, he'd stop.  He just wanted someone near him.  Brian joked that we needed a cardboard cutout of one of us to put next to his crib.  I totally looked into it.  Desperation people, desperation.

Totally uninterested in sleep ... unlike his parents.

Needless to say, we were an exhausted clan.  And of course exhausted = cranky.  Oh, the crankiness.  We decided we needed to do something.  I talked to other experienced Moms.  I hauled out all of my parenting books and book on baby sleep and poured over them.  I Googled it all.  Babywise, Ferber, Sears ... they all have ideas on getting your baby to sleep well.  And none of it was new to me.

The idea of rocking my babies peacefully to sleep is a beautiful one.  But the reality of our life is that it's physically impossible.  There are 3 of them and one of me and if I attempted to rock them all to sleep there'd be more crying and less happy awake time with them and my butt would be fused to the rocking chair.  And crying it out seemed impossible to accomplish and unfair to Kiernan.  We needed a concrete plan to stick to.

We decided to resurrect "graduated extinction", but this time needed to use it for naps too.  I really like the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.  I'll be honest, I don't think it's well-written at all.  But the concepts within it work well for our family and make sense to me.

So we separated the boys for nap times and let Mr. Beckett cry a bit.  At bed time, we left them in the same room and poor sweet Kiernan fell asleep despite his brother's screams.  It took a solid week of screaming day and night, but day by day the crying periods were shorter and shorter.  And finally, he started going to sleep beautifully and staying asleep.  Sometimes he falls asleep during a pre-sleep feeding, but when we put him down in his bed he soothes himself right back to sleep.  He wakes up once at night to eat, but it's usually before we go to bed.  So he's more rested, his brothers are more rested, and his parents are more rested.  All in all, I feel successful.

It just goes to show that no two kids are exactly the same.  And it's incredibly humbling as a mom to be reminded of that.  It took a lot of patience, tears, and beer to get through it, but we figured it out.

Post-nursing milk coma.

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