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February 08, 2006

"Cry it out"

I always thought I was against the bedtime sleep method of "crying it out" for kids who've lived in orphanages since they've had enough crying it out to last a lifetime. But after five months of sleeping with Gwen, I'm ready to try anything new. Also, everyone I know who's done this has been successful. EVERYONE. Everyone gets a good night sleep and is so much happier. Lately, I've been having fantasies about being one of those people!

Gwenonbed_1 As you might remember, Gwen doesn't have a front on her crib anymore. She climbed out of it almost immediately after we brought her home (at age 15 months) so we had to drop the mattress all the way down to the floor to keep her in. Then she would only sleep if I layed down with her next to the crib. Finally I put a mattress for me there and, ultimately, we took the front panel off the crib completely.

Today, I put it back on. And I moved the twin bed back to its original place in the nursery. While I did this, I felt so guilty since my sweet Gwenny was playing at my feet oblivious to the fact that in a few hours, she was going to be dropped into this white cage and left all alone in her room for 11 hours. I really was dreading sunset!

Gwen's pretty easy to get off to sleep but she doesn't stay asleep. She wakes up several times per night and Mommy is the only person who can make her happy -- and the only way Mommy can make her happy is to lay down with her.


But, lately, that's not been enough. She's insisted on climbing off the bed and banging on the closed door of her room and screaming. It's like she's half asleep because she can't be reasoned with at all. I can't touch or comfort her or carry her back to bed.  It's just horrible. Monday, it lasted for 90 minutes and I thought I was going to lose my mind. Tuesday, it happened again and I actually had to leave her in her room - screaming and banging on the door - while I went back to my room and tried to compose myself.

Those were very bad nights! But even a good night isn't much better. Gwen is hard to sleep with. She makes all sorts of noises and she throws herself around. I can't tell you how many times she's headbutted me or kicked me in the face. I've learned to sleep with both hands guarding my face! I've learned to survive on as little as 3 hours of sleep per night. I can't even remember when I got more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep. I don't sleep with my husband anymore. And there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

So, tonight was our first night of letting Gwen cry it out in her crib and put herself to sleep. We went upstairs at 8:30 and read to her for 15 minutes. She cried the whole time. Then we kissed her goodnight and turned off her light and closed her door.

At the 8 minute mark, she was still screaming at the top of her little lungs.
At 13 minutes, she was silent. That was an hour ago and all seems to be well. We'll see what the evening brings.

(Update) First night results:

It's 7:14 AM and Gwen's still asleep in her crib. She didn't make a peep all night long! She only cried for about 13 minutes after we left her room last night at 8:45. All night, I kept waking up and checking the monitor to make sure it was really working and I'm going to be pretty happy when she finally wakes up because, frankly, my arms ache for her right now! She was such a little trooper last night and I hope we have a good experience tonight too.

ONE MONTH UPDATE: We're nearly a month into this new bedtime process and Gwen is doing great!

She eagerly runs to the stairs when it's time to go up and have Mommy and Daddy read to her (something we do for 20 minutes each night before she goes to sleep).

Daddy gets three or four books and Mommy puts Gwen in her crib.  Then she grabs her froggy and her Lovey and puts her head on her pillow while Mommy and Daddy sit on the floor next to the crib and read her stories. Twenty minutes later, we say night-night and she gives us kisses through the slats of the crib (if she's not already asleep). Sometimes she whimpers just a little bit but the instant her light is out and her door is closed, she's quiet and, presumably, off to sleep!

She sleeps straight through the night and wakes up about 11 hours later.

I can't tell you how much this has changed our life! Were it not for this, I'm sure there's no way I'd be able to be of sound enough mind to consider adopting another child! My husband and I get to sleep in the same bed, I get to sleep all night long without a toddler crawling up on my face, and Gwen gets such good rest at night that she tends to not need as much of a nap during the day (which is fine). Everyone is so much happier!  Ah.... life is good!

Here's a little video (17 seconds long) of what it's like when we Kiss Gwen goodnight and leave her in her room now.

Isn't that wonderful!?


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