Eliza used to be a good sleeper. From around 10 weeks old she slept 12 hours a night with no wakings.
I was rapt, and couldn't belive how lucky I got. Sure, her day sleeps were crappy, relying on wrapping, white noise, music and a dummy just to get 40 minutes of silence, but I could hack that when I was getting 12 hours of peace of an evening.
Then she woke up one night at four months, and has woken at least once a night ever since. I am over it. So I went from having good sleeps at night and shit day sleeps, to just shit sleeps. She was cranky. I was cranky. Something had to change.
It started with the dummy. I read that sucking to sleep can mean it takes longer to go to sleep, as they are concentrating so hard on keeping the dummy in their mouth. The husband wanted to slowly take it away from her. I tried that for a day and decided it was too hard, so we went cold turkey. We had tried the reduction method previously and it seemed to confuse her, and she would turn into demon baby, so she would get it back. This time I hid them so that it was harder to give them back and give in again. The first sleep of the day was hell. The second slightly better. By the evening we had moved on.
Oddly, once we took away the dummy, we didn't need the white noise nearly as much. It now only is used in the car when driving and she won't settle. Whilst driving in peak hour Christmas traffic recently my mum said how it makes no difference. Eliza was screaming her little lungs out in the back seat with nothing we did helping. I turned on the music and within 30 seconds she was asleep. Doesn't work my toosh!
We also started her on a set routine. Previously we had tried Tissie Hall's routines and they hadn't really worked for us, so we called it quits. This time it did work. We started with the closest routine to her age group that hadn't introduced solids as she hadn't started yet. It basically meant that she had set nap times, a set bedtime, and it gave me some guidelines on when to complete tasks like feeds, walks and baths. Some days I was quite strict with it, other days I used the day time routine quite losely, especially if we had to go out. It worked well, she seemed to appreciate the routine and I liked knowing what was coming up.
But things weren't improving on the night front. At best she would wake up 3 times a night, around 10pm, 1am and 4am. At worst she would wake up at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, midnight, 1am and 4am and then start the day at 6am. There were more bad nights than good. Each time we would have to go and pat her back to sleep, except for the 1am waking where she was given a bottle.
I can't remember what spurred my googling, but one random Tuesday I found myself googling private sleep schools. Our MCHN had suggested a few weeks earlier we go to Tweddle for a long stay program, however the wait is astronomically long, meaning we could be waiting 6+ months to be seen. So I went looking for private sleep schools.
I found one that sounded up our alley and rang to enquire about the cost. I was at the point where I was willing to sell my left kidney if need be, and it turned out I didn't need to. As Eliza is covered by our Private Health Insurance her stay was free of charge to us, and all that was payable was a small daily boarding fee to cover my meals. I spoke to a lovely nurse who assured me that I was doing the right thing by making an enquiry and that it sounded like I did need some help. She offered us a place for two days time, providing I could get a doctors referral for Eliza.
Um, what? The public system has a 6 month wait list, but these people could see me within 2 days? Why had no-one told me about this earlier???
So we packed our little car with everything needed for a weeks 'holiday' and off we tripped. Once admitted we were shown to our rooms. I knew I was going into a private hospital, but I really didn't expect to be given a single room with ensuite. Each room is set up like a hotel actually, and was very comfortable. Eliza had her own room across the hall, which only had a cot and chair in it, however what else does one need? Each room has an in fared video monitor in it so that the nurses can see into any room at any given stage, and a sound monitor which is fixed to a wall of speakers near the nurses station. There was a communal kitchen where all meals were delivered to, along with the usual tea/coffee/bottle making facilities.
We were assigned a nurse each shift who would sit with me for each settling period of Eliza's sleeps. Providing they can, they like to give the parents the first night off so that they can get a decants night sleep.The first night she cried and the nurses settled her. Their strategy was to go in when she made noise, give her a sleep message, and then leave, returning every 10 minutes or so to give her the same message. She was not a fan of this and got crankier and crankier each time they entered the room. After an hour they patted her to sleep. The second, third and fourth nights she became the perfect sleeping baby who went to sleep and stayed asleep overnight. It wasn't until the fifth night she woke up during the night, giving us the opportunity to put our plan into motion.
I was never a fan of Controlled Crying, however desperate times call for desperate measures. When she woke we went in and gave her a sleep message and left. She screamed an angry scream for over an hour before going to sleep. If she had ever changed to an emotional cry we would have gone into her, however I learnt the difference between her screams a long time ago and knew she was just angry that we weren't coming into her and doing things her way.
The nurses were lovely when I broke down several times, and assured me I was doing the right thing. As they put it, she has had 8 months of calling the shots, and this is all new to her. It is time for her to learn who is the boss. Hopefully she wouldn't take too long to work out who was boss.
And that is how I won the war. Most days. If I had my time again I would have gone to sleep school much earlier, as it was very beneficial. I highly recommend it if you are having problems with sleep.