Fly Your Freak Flag, Er, I Mean White Flag (from the Momplex Blog archives)

This one’s dedicated to all you folks out there with babies who don’t sleep well. You deserve untold rewards!

We gave up on sleep training. It was a bust. I’m sorry to any poor souls out there who stumbled across my blog while Googling phrases like “four-month-old will only nap on me” or “infant insanely tired but won’t sleep.” I’ve been there. I’m still there. If you read my previous blog entries and landed on today’s entry in hopes of finding the Amen Hallelujah entry that details how we turned an erratic 4-month old into a sleep champ through the power of sleep training, well, go cut yourself a big slice of chocolate cake and grab a tissue. We are among those purportedly rare souls for whom sleep training didn’t work…yet.

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, we didn’t opt to sleep train because we’re concerned about sleeping through the night. It’s seriously not important to me that our little guy sleep through the night at this young age. Nor do I gather that it’s particularly natural for him to do so before six or even nine months. It’s that he has an impractical need to be held in order to nap. I don’t mean I get to sit in a chair and rock him either. I mean he has to be slung in a sling, nursed off and on, swayed, shimmied, and consoled through waking after waking after waking. And I must be standing up to make it work. Did I mention he’s fat? I’m old. I have another child. I’m not Wonder Woman. Nap training of some sort is imperative. And yes, I’ve tried:

– swaddling
– white noise
– room darkening shades
– putting him down only after he’s dead asleep
– putting him down before he’s dead asleep
– swings
– carseat, in the car or in the crib or wherever in the hell you suggest I put it
– patting and shushing
– blah, blah, blah
– reading every book ever written about helping kid’s sleep, including: Elizabeth Pantwad’s stupid No-Cry Sleep Solution, Dr. Sears’ ridiculous tome on helping kids sleep by doing all sorts of over-involved crap that actually keeps my kids awake, reverend Ezzo’s weird treatise on parent-directed everything, that Baby Whisperer’s obnoxious instructions to all us “luvs” who just don’t understand babies, Dr. Weissbluth’s beautiful magnum opus on all the science behind the sleep, Dr. Ferber’s diatribe that started the sleep-training revolution — etc., etc., ad nauseum.

We tried. We failed. The “training” started off bad, with lots of crying before scant napping. I figured that was par for the course. But as the week progressed, the crying increased and the napping decreased, right down to NO naps for a whole day, until we reached a crescendo of crying and sleeplessness that broke the spirits of every person under our roof. By Day Seven, we were ALL sleep-deprived, pissed off, and ruined down to the cores of our souls by the disappointment of Science Failed. The baby was waking more throughout the night, crying more, and causing our preschooler to wake a couple of times a night and cry, too. WHeeeeeeEEEeeee! Four hours of broken sleep a night makes Mommy a dull girl.

Clearly, he wasn’t ready. My back pain be damned, the darling is again napping in the sling, at least for another three or four weeks. Then we’ll try anew. He’s got to find a way to nap without being in a bag! And the sleep consultant I contacted agreed that we were smart to back off and try again when he’s matured a bit more. Yes, I called a freaking sleep consultant. S-freaking-Oh-S.

I also contacted our local sleep clinic and children’s hospital, as well as the children’s hospitals in Milwaukee and Chicago, and our own pediatrician whose child didn’t sleep more than an hour at a stretch until after nine months, and only when swaddled at that.

Um, yeah. It was a kind of crazy day, that crescendo day. Anyway, all agree his brain just ain’t ready. In a way, that was reassuring. In another way, I’m still wearing my baby all day long. And it sort of makes me want to cry and be held in a bag on my own mommy for a few days. (Whaddya say, Mom?)

My new plan of action is to train him in a way that dovetails with the way sleep naturally develops for babies: nighttime sleep gets in shape first, followed by the morning nap, followed by the afternoon nap, and sometimes, a late-day blip nap. So, we’ve got him sleeping in his crib for night, sometimes quietly but mostly with some crying still. I’m now concentrating my efforts on the morning nap, which he does, so help me, take in the crib. Once that lengthens more than 40 (I so want to include the f-word here) minutes, I’ll aim for getting the afternoon nap in the crib. Seriously, folks, if you’ve never had a kid that is adverse to sleeping, you don’t know how rocket-science-like this stuff can get. If you have had such a kid, God bless you. It ain’t easy.

My husband leaves for a three-week training in a few days. Wish us all luck…and sanity.


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