SUCCESS!

Gia has been sleeping so well, even with the sniffles. So here are the final Happy Sleeper Sleep Wave stats:

Night 1:

– 2 waves, 13 minutes of crying total

– longest sleep stretch 4.5 hours

Night 2:

– 3 waves, 25 minutes of crying NOT AT ONCE BUT IN TOTAL (we wouldn’t let her cry that long without comforting her), then we felt so awful so J went in and cuddled her and read her another story, then put her down, then 0 sleep waves and 30 seconds of crying

– longest sleep stretch 5.5 hours

Nights 4, 5 & beyond:

– no sleep waves, no crying
– longest sleep stretch 7.5 & 8 hours

Since then I think we’ve had one night in which she cried a little. She usually fusses and coos for a few minutes, rolls onto her tummy then falls asleep. On three separate occasions she’s slept over eight hours. She is having trouble getting back to sleep after her long stretch. We usually change her diaper and nurse her in bed for awhile. If she cries when we put her back down we don’t really do a sleep wave, just hold her or cuddle her and try again until she drifts back off. This isn’t the method in The Happy Sleeper – they suggest no more than five minutes of nursing, then a sleep wave, but I’m so overjoyed at how far she’s come that I don’t even mind the hour-long 3am session. J thinks we should try to reduce her crying and nursing somehow, so it’s up for debate.

Naps

We’re also working on naps. She naps well with the nanny but not so much on weekends, so this long weekend we’re trying to keep up her three naps a day, at least one of them soothing herself to sleep in the crib or rock n play. Today she took a full 2-hour nap in the nursery, falling asleep on her own with a bottle (the nanny suggested this) and loud sound machine. Side note: Yes, my 20.5-pound baby still naps in the rock n play, she loves it so much so we’re just really careful she doesn’t tip over!

Evaluation of The Happy Sleeper

I’m a big fan. I’m also pleased that we didn’t have any interest in sleep training until after she was six months old; I wouldn’t have started it any sooner than I did even if I’d known there was a middle ground between attachment “nighttime parenting” (meaning, being up with your baby alllll night long evvvvery night) and cry it out. I do NOT feel that this is a cry it out method. Cry it out is letting the baby cry on their own until they stop, or waiting longer and longer periods with no intervention. We were very consistent with five-minute reassuring checks and the two nights she cried a lot we stopped the checks, cuddled her and read her a story or nursed her. And like my friend pointed out, Gia was spending almost every night crying throughout the night anyway, so how is it different to let her cry briefly two nights in a row? In fact, now that she’s falling asleep so easily and enjoying hours on end of delicious sleep, with us right next to her in our bed ready to comfort her as soon as she wakes up, I can’t help feeling that she’s much less confused and distressed. ALSO I’ve noticed a few times that she’s fallen asleep in one position, and when I check on her again she’s in a totally different position, so she’s actually woken up and put herself back to sleep!

I made some comments about this in my password-protected post, but I don’t think many people read it, so I’ll reiterate here. I believe that providing structure and boundaries is one of the most loving things I can do for Gia as a parent. I want her to feel secure knowing what to expect much of the time, so that she can then build independence and be comfortable with flexibility. I can see now that had we continued to be up with her throughout the night for months or years in the future, it would have created a feeling of chaos and confusion in our household, not to mention the resentment Dr. Sears talks about in The Baby Book as an indicator that something has to change (Dr. Sears is NOT necessarily a supporter of The Happy Sleeper, he actually suggests bed sharing and nursing all night, but he also points out that haggard parents are not the best parents). In Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel talks about how much having a child brings up your own issues from childhood, and how to work through some of this so you can be present and supportive as a parent. I want Gia to feel a sense that that world is okay that I have never felt. Not in the global warming or Donald Trump as president sense, because let me be clear, the world is NOT okay, but I want her to inherently know that she is treasured and cared for no matter what. Looking back on my own childhood helps me draw the conclusion that setting healthy boundaries, explaining things to her clearly and respectfully, and not allowing myself to become angry or depressed often will contribute her sense of security and self-esteem.

The Happy Sleeper isn’t a destination or an answer to everything; I’m sure there are many difficult nights in our future! But it sets the nighttime tone and has given us confidence that we can implement a plan when we need to, and that when Gia has trouble sleeping due to teething or illness or travel, we can get back on track fairly easily. I’ve always had trouble sleeping. For some reason I dreaded bedtime as a child, was fearful and woke easily. I remember having a sinking feeling as bedtime approached and feeling like getting in bed was just an inevitable period of anxiety and sleeplessness, and I still struggle with occasional insomnia and night fears. I don’t want to pass this on to her; in fact, I’m trying not to allow my anxiety to pass on to her in many different area. I hope Gia can generally enjoy bedtime and getting a full night’s rest.

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