Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How I won the war. Sort of.

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.

As our days had ran out, we went nervously home. I won't lie and say things have been easy, they haven't always been. There have been nights where Eliza tried to revert back to her old ways, but the majority of nights she has slept through. We still give her a bottle just before we go to bed, but most nights she will sleep from 7pm through to 6-7am. Her day sleeps are a still bit of a mystery, some days she will sleep for an hour and a half each sleep, some times only one sleep will be 40 minutes, the other an hour and a half. I can hack that though.

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.
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  1. We did sleep school at 8 months and it was fantastic. I was barely coping with the waking every 40 minutes and the hours if settling. Glad it's helped you too!

  2. April, as you know I went through the same issue with Bubby. I was going CRAZY. Not a fan of controlled crying either but Bubby was controlling me with his crying and screaming. Like you I found it heartbreaking and incredibly stressful. It has so far worked well for us too. It's only been three nights of sleeping through of 9-10 hours so it's early days yet. I will never again criticise mums who did CC and CIO. Until you've walked a mile in their shoes and all that... Well done, you. It's damn HARD listening to your child cry and scream like someone's carving them for dinner. Bubby would get really really angry when nobody would come to him and even angrier when you do come.

  3. A great post April and I am glad things have improved somewhat for you. Back when Sophie was going through her unsettled months, I was desperate for herlp but was told places like 'Ngala' (a sleep/settling school in Perth) had HUGE waiting lists. Will definitely keep private sleep schools in mind should we ever need one. It's so hard functioning on broken sleep, even harder still when you don't know how to fix things or make them better. I'm glad you found some help - stick to what you're doing, it sounds like you're on the right track x

  4. Ohh April, long time reader... 1st time commenting...

    I have a 4 month old who sleeps oh... about 1.5 hrs straight per night. The remainder of the night is spent on my breast or me rocking her back and forth :S

    I am living overseas atm where they dont have sleep schools and the like, so im kinda on my own with this one. When you mention sleep message - what exactly is that?

    I think im heading towards crying it out - both her and me hahaaaah! No really....

  5. Oh Sammy, I do feel for you! I spent many nights rocking, feeding, shhhing and doing just about everything else in between.

    Our sleep message goes something along the lines of "It's night time Eliza, time for sleep. Goodnight, we love you". No matter what time of day it is, it is always night time in the message. We always tell her the same thing, put her in the same grobag (I have multiple of the same bag now) and give her her bunny.

    Hang in there mate. I know that there are phone consultants who will help too, I saw them mentioned when I was looking at sleep schools. Hang in there mate

  6. So happy to hear you are getting sleep now! Was this Masada? I have two friends who went there and raved about it. I even got the application form at one stage and then W decided to be an angel once I filled it in! Hope it continues to be good nights ahead xx

  7. Nope, we went to Northpark Private. I hope it continues. The last few nights have been tough on her as she has been sick, but she's pulled through.

    How typical that W decided to be an angel when you filled in the forms! Kids crack me up!


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