Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sleep Training

I hadn’t planned on sleep training. Until I became so exhausted and sleep deprived
and sucked out I had to consider my options. Also, my return to the stage was upon
me. Acting is a night job, and at 12 months, despite my efforts, the Guppins was still
dependent on my boobs to fall asleep.

The very loving, very experienced Nanny who interviewed us ended our meeting
with this:

“Sleep train her. Or I won’t be working for you”

I was told 12 months is a good time to do it. Two Canadians wrote a book about
timing… though I didn’t read it. Too sleep deprived to concentrate. But I did learn
I was in a good “window”, whereas ten months would have been a terrible time. At
ten months, babies start doing that separation anxiety thing. If you’re considering,
it might be less painful in the long run to muscle through that phase. The Guppins
was not big on sleeping in the first place, but without my boob in her mouth it just
was never going to happen. And she wouldn’t take a bottle (yet). Months preceding
I followed the approach in The Sleepeasy Solution (thanks to Sleepwalking Mama).
I carefully timed the seconds from when she was just about to fall asleep, and pull
my nipple out… or something like that… it’s a bit complicated and you have to read
the book. It’s a way to prep your baby to “fall asleep on their own”. Ultimately, this
failed… though I do one hundred per cent believe it did prep my girl for the coming

I called the Sleep Doula.

Yes it is possible to work with a Sleep Doula through text messaging. The Doula took
in a lot of very detailed information about our family and our eating and sleeping
habits, and came up with a plan that involved my hanging a curtain between my bed
and the Guppins crib (the crib was new. We’d been co-sleeping up to this point.)
After a long telephone conversation with the doula during which I took copious
notes, I chose the night. I gently warned my daughter things were going to be
different. I turned off the light, cringed on the other side of the curtain, clutched onto
my iphone, watched the stopwatch (highly recommend this… it’s a sanity saver…
every second feels like an hour when your baby is hollering), and started talking,
sushing, non-stop. I did a lot of talking and shushing through that curtain, gentle but
firm, always meeting my baby’s vocal energy. I was right there with my voice when
she cried. She was never alone.


Over, and over, and over. And then came the texting.

Miraculously… silence. A sleeping baby. My boobies safe on MY side of the curtain.
I couldn’t believe it. I had expected hours of agonizing horror and, frankly, to give
up and pay the $50/ hour 4 hour minimum fee to have the Sleep Doula come to
my home. But it only took fifteen minutes. The next night: seven. Then: none.
Tracey warns about “bursts” (there will be nights when you need to talk and shush),
especially with any change in routine. In other words, stay home for a while. Don’t
travel. Be there. Every night. The next step was to have our now familiar nanny or
a babysitter be part of the bedtime routine, sit on the bed with me in the dark and
learn how to sush through a curtain, in case they needed to. I think the proximity,
and the invisibility, is an ingenious way of comforting your child, yet showing you
are not physically available.

And then came training my overly sensitive Sir Dick. He was terrified, but when
he saw the results of the talking and sushing through the curtain, he became
comfortable with it. In fact, he was amazed. Although eventually he screwed it up
and rocked her to sleep. But we’d start over. We’d get it back.

So: preparation, research, mindfulness, and serious courage. I remember getting
advice from other mothers about sleep training. Oh there where all kinds of
confident and supportive analogies. But every time the same thing:

“How did you feel while you were doing it?”
“Actually…” (a pause here) “My partner was the one who actually DID it, but I did
the research and I can tell you all about it”.
“Oh. Where were you?”
“I left the house”. “I was in a sound proof room” “I was heavily medicated and
wearing earplugs”.

I do not judge you Mamas. Had I a partner capable, he would have done it. As it was,
he was on the opposite side of the city, in his own house, watching television. With
the phone off. Not unlike when I gave birth.

One final word of advice that I received from the Doula: Give your kid some credit.
Along with yourself. If it’s not for you, you’ll find another way. They do, eventually,
grow up. (and go to sleep).

-Drama Mama

Bed Timing : The When To Guide to Helping Your Child To Sleep
The Sleepeasy Solution
The Sleep Doula

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