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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adventures in Ferberization

Did you ever read the book Bridget Jones' Diary? In it, she mentions how the "smug marrieds" look down on the singletons who show up to a dinner party unaccompanied. Well I think there is something similar that exists amongst new parents. I will call them the "smug sleepers".

You know who you are. Your child never had any problems sleeping ever. In fact, the moment they got home from the hospital, the baby slept through the night for a solid 8 hours and they had to wake the baby up to feed. Their darling infants never went through a phase of waking every 1-2 hours, never required HOURS of rocking and never had you wishing that you had the David Blaine-esque power to levitate a sleeping child into a crib and then levitate yourself out of the room without making your old wooden floors creak. They are the ones whose smirking look at your tired, dark-circled eyes and dependence on caffeine make you want to bop them upside the head like little bunny Foofoo.

I was once one of those smug non-parent pediatricians who told parents that their 6 month old should be sleeping through the night without problems. I was one of those pregnant women who never thought that I would even think about co-sleeping. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. It is a miracle that I didn't have more parents rolling their eyes at me. To paraphrase Malcolm X, I believe sleep in little ones during the first 6-12 months is "by any means necessary".

I believe most sleep deprived parents have to become physically exhausted to the point of delirium and then we break down, run to the nearest library or bookstore and start devouring books on sleep. My husband and I reached that point when the Kid was about 7 months. We were getting about 4 hours of sleep a night, taking about 45-60 minutes to rock her to sleep and getting up at least twice a night. We would eventually break down and bring her into our bed halfway through the night only to endure a battle to keep her from punching us like black and blue in our sleep (the Kid is a restless sleeper to put it mildly) like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. We chose to use the book by Richard Ferber, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. It is probably the most well known book on children's sleep habits, but by no means the only one. There are many more out there. In reality, it was the first one I saw at the library.

Long story short, it worked after 3 nights of following the sleep suggestions to the letter. There was no more carrying her for an hour, no more rocking to sleep, no more pacifier, no more pugilistic sessions in the bed. It was like the scales had fallen off my eyes and I was a new person. The sky looked bluer, the grass looked greener and the sun shone a little brighter (I exaggerate a little). Seriously though, it was like that cranky baby and crankier mommy never existed. It was as if all of the sleep difficulty was the Kid's way of telling us, "Hey! Help me help you get some sleep!".

We have had a few hiccups along the way where we had to "re-Ferberize" the Kid. We had to back off a little when she had a bad cold and then when she got gastroenteritis. But now, she sleeps through the night (90% of the time) for 11-12 hours. Life is good again. I can watch E! News without risking the innocence of my child. Kidding, kidding...

For more on kids and sleep, check out the Ask Moxie blog. I can't even begin to do justice to the subject like she does.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

no seriously, the sun does shine brighter when you are well rested! Now that we're sleeping, I can barely remember how bad it really was (and it was BAD). Thankfully this worked like a charm for us, it just getting to rock bottom for it to make sense!

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