Monday, May 6, 2013

Sleep Training

Our doctor encourages parents to sleep train their children around three-months of age. For those of you not familiar with sleep training, it's when you basically lock your kid in their room at night and let them cry it out when they wake up at three in the morning (while you lay in bed feeling like the worst parent in the world and begging the gods of sleep to quickly descend upon your baby's crib). The basic instructions of sleep training are this:
Step 1: Have a nightly routine with your child. i.e. Give them a bath at 7PM, read them a book at 7:30PM, sing them a song at 7:45PM and then put them into bed.
Step 2: Once in bed, leave the room.
Step 3: Don't return to the room until the morning.

We were told that it takes three nights to sleep train your child and to expect them to wake up twice and to cry for about twenty to thirty minutes. We've been pushing off sleep training because it goes against every fiber in my mother-in-law's body. To her, the second a baby cries is a half second after you should have been shoving a nipple/bottle in the baby's mouth. Since my mother-in-law arrived we've talked a great deal about sleep training. When she came with me to the doctor's office I asked our doctor if it would be okay to wait until my mother-in-law left. She said that it would definitely be to late since Shayna would be six and a half months by then (NOTE: I've surveyed a few friends who don't use our doctor and they sleep trained their kids around six months so I'm sure it would have been fine).

To me it doesn't make sense not to sleep train your kid as soon as possible. It's never gonna be easy to let them cry for an extended period of time so why not just get it over with? About a week ago my mother-in-law said to Huyen that we should try to sleep train Shayna. I thought Huyen must have been mistranslating but she assured me she still understands Vietnamese.

This past Wednesday we agreed to give it a try. I emailed our downstairs neighbor and gave them a head's up and offered them a box of earplugs. They declined the earplugs and wished us luck. Believe me, I knew we were gonna need it!  That night we tucked in Shayna at 8PM and had a quick conversation if we should sleep in our bed or in the living room. You see, we only have a one bedroom so we share a room with Shayna. We decided we would stay in the same room but just remain silent when Shayna woke up. Sure enough, seven hours later Shayna woke up at 3AM.  I'm a light sleeper and heard her first little movements. After a couple minutes her whimpers started to build into cries. When they got a little louder, Huyen woke up and I whispered to her that Shayna had been awake for about ten minutes. Right around this time I heard some rustling from the living room and thought to myself that trouble was brewing. A minute later Huyen's mom started to call out from the living room, "Huyen, Shayna's crying." We tried to ignore her -- hoping that she would remember we were sleep training -- but that didn't exactly work. Moments later there was a knock on our door: "Huyen, Shayna's crying." And so much for night one of sleep training. I got out of bed, picked Shayna up and brought her to Huyen for a late night snack. The next morning my mother-in-law said that Huyen hadn't reminded her that we were sleep training that night.

On Thursday, we decided to try it again with a few changes. We put Shayna in bed at 8PM and then ourselves in bed at 10PM. However we decided to sleep in the living room. We put my mother-in-law on the couch and we slept on her Japanese-style floor futon. At about 10:05 I realized that Shayna's crying was nothing compared to my mother-in-law's snoring! For such a tiny, fit woman she sure can make a lot of sounds in her sleep. After finally falling asleep I woke up at around 2:30AM to Shayna's whimpers. Soon Huyen and my mother-in-law were up too and we all laid there as Shayna cried for about twenty minutes. There were a few times it seemed like she was done crying and then after a few silent moments she would cry again with vengeance. At one point she was silent for about fifteen seconds and then let out a series of powerful sneezes. Following that she let out one more cry and then fell asleep until 6:30 in the morning...when my mother-in-law went into the room and took her out of bed!  Despite feeling like a horrible parent, it was a successful night. Shayna slept 10 hours!

On Friday we followed the same routine...including my mother-in-law's snoring. I woke up at 4AM and whispered to Huyen, "Have you heard anything?" She said she hadn't...or at least that's what I think she mumbled. Although it could have been, "Why are you waking me up at 4AM when my daughter is sleeping?"  Well, Shayna ended up sleeping straight through the night until 6:30AM. I can't tell you how proud we were of her. I mean, she's half Asian so she's obviously pretty smart. It only took her a night of sleep training to learn to sleep through the night...

...or at least that's what we thought. On Saturday night we followed the same routine. However this time Shayna woke up at 3:30 and cried for about thirty minutes. Her cries were much louder this time and sounded like she was saying, "Me! Me!" ("Mom! Mom!" in Vietnamese). After about fifteen minutes my mother-in-law started saying, "You should go pick her up." However, we hung strong and after her last cry she slept until 6:45 in the morning.

Last night we slept in the living room again. Our schedule was off a little and we ended up putting Shayna down around 8:45PM. We thought for sure she would wake up during the night because she had taken a very long nap during the day. However, she proved us wrong -- she woke up at 6:45AM!

So let's call it official -- today, on Shayna's four month birthday, she can sleep through the night!!!

Yeah, I know by typing this we're totally screwed.