Monday, September 27, 2010

Still Sleepless?

Lacking sleep at night, poor baby would be
so exhausted during the day that she'd collapse onto
my tummy and knock out instantly.

And... there I go again.... AWOL for almost two whole months!

Although there are a lot of reasons for this (and some lame excuses too), the main one is that I've really been soooooo tired! *Yawn*

Yes, the Ramadhan and Raya frenzy did play a part in the exhaustion, but the truth is, I just havent been getting enough sleep since Ms Zara Aaliyah (The Boss) decided at 5.5months to stop sleeping so beautifully through the night.

Smart-a** Mummy and Abah thought we had moved past those pesky sleep issues when The Boss turned two months old. I had learnt from a dear friend that 4-5oz of either breastmilk or formula presented in a bottle could miraculously knock out a baby until 6, maybe even 7am, if you were lucky. We got even luckier: for 3.5 blissful months, The Boss slept from 10am right through to 8.30am every night! Needless to say, Mummy and Abah were very happy (thanks Yan!), and even managed to get some quality time together after 10pm *wink wink*

And then... as all things are with The Boss, everything went to sh*t and she decided to shake us out of our complacent reverie, waking up not once or twice but sometimes four to five times a night!

Now I know some parents out there are suffering far worse than I am (one poor lady shared with me on Facebook that she endured sleepless nights for TWO years... as a working mum too!) - so to these seasoned sleep"less"ers, my complaint is really peanuts. 

But as new parents experiencing real sleep issues for the first time, we really went bonkers. After a couple of weeks of sleeplessness, and seeing my husband conduct his morning show in what looked like a drunken stupor, I knew something had to be done... and fast!  

So I rushed out to the bookstore and invested in a few books on sleeping to see what the experts were recommending. From the feedback I received, Gina Ford sounded great, but when I read her solutions, I knew instantly that I (like many Asian parents) would not have the stomach to pull off most of her sleeping methods, particularly "Crying Down", which made me want to cry instead.

Jo Ryan of "Baby Bliss" fame also recommended a few ideas, which we tried but didnt seem to work for us. Internet searches revealed few practical solutions, with many other mothers offering sympathy and recommending just waiting it out patiently.

Finally, I read feverishly through my "What to Expect in The First Year" handbook (God's Gift to all new parents!) and chanced upon a name I had also seen mentioned in several other books (including Ford's and Ryan's). That magic word was "Ferber".

I had originally skimmed over that word in my previous research because at first glance, I didnt feel I could deal with crying of any sort (and Ferberization does involve quite a bit of crying, though not as much as the "Crying Down" method). But as I continued to read up on what it entailed, it began to look more and more do-able.

So the hubby and I set aside a week to begin sleep-training The Boss, with the agreement that since he had to work, I would be the one responsible for comforting Zara through the night.

That was over a month ago. And for the last two weeks, Zara has slept comfortably from 10am until 6am, when she takes a feed and continues her sleep with us in our bed, sometimes until 9 or 10am. 

There have been stops and starts though, such as when we had to move back to my in-laws for Raya, and when we went for a short holiday to Penang, which upset Zara's sleep routine a little and resulted in her waking up once or twice.

But overall, The Boss has finally learnt:

1) that a diaper change, a 5oz bottle and a dark room means that it's sleepy time
2) how to fall asleep on her own,
3) how to return to sleep after waking in the middle of the night, 
4) not to expect milk, patting, rocking or lullabies if she wakes in the middle of the night,
5) that Mummy will only pick her up for a feed at around 6am (and she is like clockwork, most of the time)
6) and... how to sleep in any cot anywhere, as long as the sleepy time routine stays the same.

Yes, Zara does still have her moments every now and then, where she'll wake at about 4 or 5am and cry for an hour (or two), so we revert back to Ferber and the next night she's usually ok again.

On the whole though, the experience has shown results, and as evidenced by my return to blogging, I am no longer fearful of bedtime because I know I will get at least 5 hours of solid sleep (yay!).

So here's hoping that Zara's good sleep continues, and that Mummy will finally be able to rest well enough to be able to stay awake and blog!

UPDATED @ 11:15pm, 27 September 2010:
Since posting this piece, I found an article on the net that is serious food for thought. The Ferber method may not be for everybody and it has its fair share of supporters and critics, so if you're planning to try any form of sleep-training, please make sure you read this opinion first.

I wish I had read this sooner; it may have greatly altered my approach to Zara's sleep issues, which I plan to start addressing a little differently from tonight onwards. Good luck to sleepless mothers everywhere!

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