Strong doctors, weak parents...
She almost fell out of her cot…and that was the last straw..
My strong professional core has not been compromised yet. Having experienced all sorts of compromising situations throughout my career, and keeping my code of conduct intact, I thought that parenthood would be a walk in the park! Boy was I wrong!
As a doctor, I don’t often negotiate with my patients. I consult, diagnose, examine, and prescribe treatment. If they don’t like what I have advised, they can choose not to adhere with their treatment. There is no negotiation.
On the flipside, I practice my negotiating skills as a parent on a daily basis. The most popular times these so-called skills are used are mealtimes and bedtimes. As I have decided to sleep train Sophia, it becomes apparent that even though she doesn’t speak, she is better at negotiating her sleep then I EVER will be.
Having researched the Ferber Method while sleep training Alyvia, I was most comfortable with this method and thought I would see how well this worked with her sister. Although this method worked for us when we began sleep training Alyvia at 6 months, recurrent illnesses resulted in us losing our pattern with her and she ended up sleeping with us a lot last winter. I then returned to work and we never returned to the sleep training. Now, it’s almost impossible to get her to sleep on her own all night.
We vowed we wouldn’t make the same mistake with Sophia and so we decided to start when she was 7.5 months. She was still not able to stand up or sit up on her own so I thought it was the ideal time.
We managed one night and failed.
Sophia sleeps in the Chicco Next2Me bedside crib, which has all of the sides upright currently to set a boundary between her and me. We moved it into the second bedroom and last weekend, began at 7pm after I had fed her. I put her down drowsy and then spoke to her in a soothing voice and told her that it was bedtime and she needed to go to sleep. I left the room and the crying began almost instantly. I set the stopwatch on my phone for 2 minutes and after what felt like days, went in again after this time to soothe and reassure her. I met a red faced, snotty, angry little girl. She was crying hysterically and grabbing my hand not wanting to let go. This was heartbreaking to say the least and I felt myself starting to give in. Still I tried to persevere and soothed her again and left the room. This time I increased the time interval between leaving and returning to the room by another 2 minutes. She cried continuously the entire length of time.
Each time I returned to the room, she was even more distraught. CD was beginning to talk me out of it by this point. His arguments were that our daughters were different. They couldn’t be sleep trained and that this was going to scar them emotionally. I thanked him for the support and continued. This time I left it 10 minutes before I went back in.
Alyvia was of course confused with all this crying and commotion but was happy not to have to go to sleep at her usual time that evening. CD put his jacket on and said that he couldn’t take it anymore and that if I was going to do this, he would have to leave the house for good. He did not have the tolerance that I did. He simply could not hear her crying anymore. With each sentence, I was getting weaker and weaker. I had about 1 minute left before I went in and imagined her red face and pleading gestures to pick her up. I told CD to go in this time before he left as I just couldn’t look at her like that. As he walked in, he gasped and shouted. Sophia was standing up holding onto the sides of the Chicco. If we had waited any longer, she would have fallen out and seriously hurt herself. He grabbed her and brought her into the front room. She was still crying hysterically and he gave her to me. She grabbed onto me with her tiny hands and dug her nails into my clothes. If she could speak, she would say don’t leave me alone again mummy please. My heart broke. I hugged her, cried with her and kissed her until she stopped crying. We couldn’t work out how she managed to stand up, she can barely sit up from a lying position! She somehow managed to sit up, hold onto the sides for support and stand up! She clearly wasn't steady in that position and even the slightest leaning to one side would have resulted in her falling out. Having imagined her doing exactly that, CD then declared that his children would not be subjected to sleep training anymore and that he wanted them all to sleep with him forever. He would wake up himself in the night to put them back to sleep. ‘Yeah right!’ I thought but didn’t argue with him. I was overcome with so much guilt and emotion.
I went to out the girls to sleep and held Sophia in my arms almost all night. CD couldn’t sleep that night and explained that he couldn’t remove the image of Sophia on the floor crying from his mind.
Sophia and Alyvia are both sleeping with us now and we have dismissed the idea of sleep training the girls ourselves anymore. We simply aren’t strong enough emotionally.
So there you have it…my experiences of sleep training using the Ferber Method. I haven’t researched any other methods but at this point am feeling so distressed about how Sophia had handled it that I don’t feel right about any of it anymore.
I am frustrated that I allowed other mother’s accounts of having the perfect sleeping children sway me into thinking that that’s what I should achieve. We are all different, all want the best for our families and should respect each other's opinions. There is no correct way to do things and there isn’t a ONE WAY ONLY to do things either.
We are all on this long train journey of parenthood together.
Happy sleeping everyone!