Here is an example of what I've dealt with for the last week while TSA was away on business:
Shnook wakes up, inevitably about 7-14 minutes after I've finally fallen asleep. Once jolted out of my initial delicious slumber, I wait to see if he will go back to sleep on his own (more like pray he will).
Shnook calls out “Mama!”
Mama says nothing. (again the praying thing.)
“Mama, Mama, Mama!”
Reluctantly, I say from the other room: “SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
“Mama, Mama, Mama!”
“Shhhhhh, Shnookie go back to sleep!”
“Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama”
“Go back to sleep Shnook. Lie down and go back to sleep, Mama is right here.”
“Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama.. Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama Mama...MAMA!”
(No joke, this many times. I will add that he has a vocabulary of at least 100 words at this point. P.S. Have you seen the Muppet video of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody?)
“Lie down, baby boy. Go to sleep.”
Sounds are heard. First a sort of 'woosh,' then a 'shoomp'... then... 'thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.' These are the sounds of the Shnook, sliding himself off his bed and padding into my room in his footie pajamas. He doesn't sleep in a crib. Don't get me started.
I see his disheveled, curly-haired outline in the lit doorway.
I scoop him up, bring him back to bed, and get him back to sleep. He wakes up again anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours later, and the entire cycle repeats, until I can't stand it anymore and I end up sleeping in the bed with him. Luckily, he has a full size bed, for this very reason. Or maybe unluckily...
Now, that my child is nearing the eighteen month mark, and is not sleeping through the night again, (which I suppose is better than not sleeping through the night 'still.') when he wakes up at 3, 4, 5am and any combination thereof, I can hear echoes. I hear the words of Dr. Weissbluth, those idiot Babywise people, and all of my friends, relatives and random people in restaurants who told me I had to get him to sleep in a bed on his own before he was one, or else I was in major trouble. The words float through my head like the spirit of Marley in A Christmas Carol, which is great for my insomnia, by the way. So, I turn back to the book of books. Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. By, Dr. Richard Ferber. Yeah, him. Ferber. The Sleep Man. The man whose name has been turned into a verb: Ferberize.
I read this book when a dear friend and sleep consultant for babies told me that she knew it worked and recommended it to her clients if they didn't want to cosleep. Initially, I thought Ferber was the most hardcore of all the books. The term 'Ferberize' just sounds like some kind of electric shock treatment. As it turns out, SYCSP is not that different from the other sleep books and surprisingly, Ferber's tone is much softer than many of the other books I read. (Weissbluth, this means you). Also, many people associate Ferber with the CIO (or Cry It Out) method which is actually not Ferber's technique. However, it very well may become your technique as you try Ferber and it slowly morphs into letting your child cry, and cry and cry (whilst you cry and cry and cry and cry).
Regardless, I used Ferber's method of letting the baby fall asleep on his own (at the beginning of the night) when the Shnook was 6 months old. It was painful, but actually it didn't take too him long to fall asleep most nights in those days, so it wasn't so bad. Then something happened like a month or so later where it just didn't work anymore and I had to start nursing him back to sleep again. My exhaustion level and tolerance for trying new things was flatlined at that point, so for a long time, that was how he went to sleep. (Occasionally, but not every night, he still falls asleep this way).
Then at about eight and a half months, I used Ferber's night feeding reduction program (pg. 143). I did this despite the advice of a nurse midwife who said it's inappropriate to stop night-feedings before 11 or 12 months. Even though her words also haunted me, I was going insane and needed to stop feeding him at night for myself. I was convinced he didn't need to eat at night since he was over 20lbs. It worked. IT WORKED, for about a month and a half. Then he started waking up again when we traveled, or he got sick, or more teeth. I don't even remember the reasons. Regardless, it stopped working, so I started feeding again. I did it again at 11 months, but this time my husband stayed in the room with him so he wouldn't feel alone. This is about the time TSA started sleeping in separate rooms out of necessity (he with the child, me on a piece of foam on the floor in the 2nd bedroom. Interestingly, we never designated this as the Shnook's room since we were superstitious prior to his birth and didn't do any nursery planning, and then were too tired after his birth and wanted him in our room anyway. Perhaps this was our tragic flaw). I hesitate to write all this since, it's all a bit embarrassing, but for the good of all the other parents that are going through this I feel the 'open door' policy is necessary, especially, since we are no longer in this situation (at least for the entire night...every night).
Anyway, to get back to Ferber. Here were some reassuring words:
“Sleep problems are rarely the result of poor parenting.” (page 5) [I mean, duh, but still nice to read]
“Nor (with few exceptions) are they part of a “normal phase” that must be waited (and waited, and waited) out.” “Finally, there is usually nothing physically or mentally wrong with the child himself. Most parents are immensely reassured to know that sleep problems are common in all types of families and social environments, and that most children with such problems respond well to treatment.”
I will say that reading the case studies at this point in my child's life is a lot less stressful than reading them when he was an infant, because even though he is older and still not sleeping as well as I'd like him to sleep, I have much more perspective and my anxiety level seems to have decreased. I wonder if this is a symptom of SO much sleep deprivation that my anxiety threshold has been crossed and stomped upon to the point of numbness.
That would be convienent, actually.