April 29, 2012

How To: Sleep Train (Ferber Method)

It's amazing how different it is pre-baby and post-baby when it comes to parenting. Before I had Noelle I never imagined I would be one to sleep train my baby or ever let her cry it out. I was so against the notion of letting her cry and was confident that I would raise my child attachment-parenting style. I figured she would sleep best this way and bond with me best this way. I never ever wanted my baby to cry. I basically was going to feed her when she wanted and let her sleep when she wanted, and hold her all the time. Things change A LOT after you have a baby! I would have never in a million years guess that I would have a colic baby with acid reflux, especially after taking care of so many angel babies who sleep and eat when they are suppose to. She was/is a HARD baby. It's difficult to hold a baby that cries all the time. It's hard to keep your composure. It's hard not to start resenting everything. After Noelle was born, we would do anything to get her to stop crying and sleep. Hence where the intense bouncing on the yoga ball came in. This was the only way peanut would fall asleep! So here we are, sleep training her to get her over her current sleep habits (the bouncing, the rocking, the unnecessary feedings) and start learning how to fall asleep on her own.

I thought sleep training and crying it out was so evil pre-baby, and now I see it really can work for some babies and families. Every situation is different, and you can never know what you will do until you actually have that screaming baby in your tired arms. I used to read Dr. Sears a lot BEFORE I had Noelle and was convinced by those baby books that letting your baby cry it out would damage them emotionally, cause them stress and ultimately make them afraid, alone, anxiety ridden and resent you. But guess what? It's not evil. Does Noelle hate me now? No. In fact she wakes up so refreshed from all this new sleep she's getting that she greets me with the largest smile and reaches up for me. She is crying, not because I abandoned her, but because she doesn't know what to do. She's confused by us trying to break these sleep habits and her only way to communicate her frustration is by crying. It's okay. We make sure she's not hurt, not wet, not hungry, and burp her before we set her in there. We check on her. We reassure her that we are here, and haven't disappeared. Do I think leaving her in her crib to cry herself to sleep has caused her emotional damage? No. I do feel bad. But Dr. Ferber said it best, "What happens when you take your children to the doctor for an immunization shot? They cry. So does that mean you don't let them get shots? Of course not. What I believe is no different."

Joey and I finally took it to the next level and started to actively sleep train her with a self-modified version of the Ferber Method. It was hard, painful and at moments we did feel cruel, but in the end, it was so worth it and we learned so much from the experience. I finally understood that her sleep habits were causing her to sleep worse, and less which in turn made us sleep worse and less. Her sleep habits included all these soothing techniques that WE did for her, so she would only associate sleep with us being there. We finally broke this and are now having her adjust to new sleep associations (a special blankie that she only gets in the crib and her pacifier) and new sleep habits (going to bed awake, being alone when she falls asleep, finding ways to soothe herself).  I'm happy to tell you that we are another sleep training success story! Her new sleep habits are producing better and more sleep for everyone and resulting in her drinking more regularly!


Below is my journal that I used to document our sleep training process and progress, mostly for my records and then for other parents who would like to see how it worked for us. Go ahead and read if you want, or happily skip it, since it's not the most fun or interesting read. ;) But it's here, and I'm so happy that we did it, even though we were hesitant and worried. Noelle is better now for it, and so are we. :)

--- --- --- ---

Day 1: Horrid and traumatic. Noelle screamed for 45 minutes at nap time before passing out for 2 hours but woke up happy and refreshed. Night time was worse. Cried for an hour before falling asleep for an hour and a half. Woke up screaming wondering why the heck no one was bouncing her on the yoga ball, and continued screaming for roughly an hour before falling back asleep. (I'd go in periodically to check on her and reassure her that I was still there, but swear that my presence made her angrier.) Woke up after an hour. This procedure went on the whole night. It was exhausting.

Day 2: After she got up at 5:00 am and cried until 6:00 am without any trace of luring herself back to sleep, we began the day. At 8:00 I put her down for a nap. She only cried for a minute before passing out. She slept for 2 hours. Poor thing was exhausted. She then slept again at 12:00 pm for another 2 hours! As soon as I saw signs of her being tired I put her into the crib right away, and she cried for not even a minute before falling asleep. I wasn't planning on putting her down for a late nap, thinking it would be too close to bedtime, but at 4:00 pm she was a beast! She started fussing, rubbing her eyes, and crying so in the crib she went. And she didn't cry at all, and slept for an hour! This is the most she has EVER napped, not to mention, the FIRST time she napped without being bounced first! Because we let her nap late, we didn't start her bedtime routine until 7:30 pm. Big mistake. It didn't matter what time she napped, we should have started her routine at 6:30 pm, because she was overtired at this point and screamed during her bath and throughout her whole bedtime routine. She fell asleep instantly with just a whimper, but woke up an hour later screaming. We let her cry for about 30 minutes before she fell asleep until 3 am. AMAZING. We fed her a small bottle and then she cried for another 30 minutes before sleeping until (drum roll please) 8:30 am!

Day 3: We regressed a little bit today but that was to be expected. In the morning Joey felt bad because she had a little cold so he wanted to bounce her to sleep for her morning nap. He's such a sucker! He claimed that he missed bouncing her and that he wanted to just bounce her until she was drowsy, then set her in the crib awake. I was fine with that, as long as he put her in the crib awake. After 20 minutes went by, I knew something was up. I go upstairs to find this:

Seriously! He is wrapped around her finger! For her afternoon nap, there wasn't one. She screamed and screamed with no sign of letting up so we finally let her stay up. However, it all worked out because she went down at 8:00 after crying for 30 minutes, woke up at 9:00 for a few minutes, then slept until 3 am! After a brief feeding, she slept until 7:45 am!

Day 4: Baby girl was an angel today. She slept briefly when we went to Target in the morning, then went down for a nap at 12:00 pm. I put her in fully awake, and she played with her feet and her new "crib only" stuffed animal before she realized she was alone then cried. She cried for 30 minutes but then slept for 3 hours!! Bedtime was similar, we did her routine and she went into the crib easily. She played for a few minutes before it dawned on her that it was bedtime, she protested by crying, but this time she only cried for 20 minutes! She then slept till 2:30 am, had a small bottle, then cried for only 5 minutes before soothing herself by sucking on her blanket (we know because we purchased a video monitor). She was asleep in 20 minutes and slept until 6:30 am.

What the baby monitor looks like. We LOVE it.

Day 5: After being up rather early today, I put Noelle down at 8:00 am, thinking it would take her 20-30 minutes of crying before she would fall asleep. However she surprised me and cried for 5 minutes then soothed herself to sleep and slept for 2 hours! She has become so much more routine it's amazing. By 12:00 pm she fell asleep completely by herself with no tears...I was in awe. Bedtime went the best it's ever gone; 5 minutes of playing in her crib, 5 minutes of soft crying and she was asleep!

Following days: Each day after has been more or less the same. We are currently on Day 10 and the only reason why I'm still counting is because it's still a work in progress. She sleeps SO much better, it's AMAZING, however she still doesn't sleep through the night. I'm not worried though because some babies take 2 full weeks (or longer) to finally adjust to the new routine. The results so far have been amazing though; lots of new sleep, two naps a day, better appetite, better bottle feedings, finally can soothe herself, doesn't freak out when put into crib and left alone.

--- --- --- ---

I completely, whole heartedly believe in sleep training and credit it with our new found sanity. I'm not saying it will work for every baby, and I know that many babies don't even need this, but mine did, and it worked! :)

I swear by:

April 21, 2012

Mom & Baby; Born to Shop

Recently Noelle and I have been doing a little (or a lot of) shopping. It seems as if our days are full of shopping since there is little to do at her age. She happily gets strapped to my chest and we walk up and down the aisles. In doing so we have found many fun things for the house! I had to share some of the fun things that we've purchased lately that has made our house much more homey!

Noelle's new bench/toy chest!

Noelle's first step stool! She won't be using this for quite some time, but it has really come in handy as a little night stand during her night feedings!

I found these cute "Dance" and "Ballerina" baskets...had to get them!

Joey and I finally got her curtains! The blinds just weren't enough to keep her room dark for naps!

Here is my DIY frame...
I accidentally got a 5x7 frame, although wanted to frame a 4x6, so I had to make my own matte.

Then I dug out my good ol' scrapbooking goodies...

I found some embellishments I wanted to use...

and volia!

Here are all the new frames I got!

Our loft now! All clear of Joey's drums and decorated with some family photos!

Joey's new little utensil holder I got for his desk. I filled it with all pictures of him and his little princess.

Mail holder - love this quote!

Candle holder in the kitchen! So appropriate. 

I decluttered the fridge pictures by getting magnetic frames.

Here is a picture of our living room "before" we got new end tables. As you can see we were using stereo speakers!

Our new end tables!

New matching TV stand!

We had to get these end tables because of the baskets - they are perfect for holding all Noelle's toys!

This is what it looked like before we got the end tables for toy storage...

Now this is how we hold all of Noelle's toys! Much better!

Noelle's new shadow box in her room with her first hat and hospital bracelet! 

We are still in the process of getting new lamps and finding a console table to replace the table in the dining room right now. We want to turn the dining room into Noelle's playroom since we don't use the table for eating anyways. (We use it as the laundry folding table.) 

We're keeping our eyes open for more home goods!
More later.

April 19, 2012

Vomit, Sweat & Tears

So far this month (Noelle is currently 5.5 months old) has proved far more difficult than the last...
Noelle has regressed in her sleeping habits and is now getting up every 2 hours all night long, and getting up angry. To further the nightmare, she is at a stage where she no longer can be soothed and comforted by being swaddled, which was always the solution to most fussy issues we had before. The only thing that consoles her is getting a bottle, although she is not hungry, will only sip on the bottle, then spit it all up before returning to sleep. Here's the next kicker: She only remains asleep in our arms. The second we return her to the crib, the screaming continues.

She looks so innocent, who would believe us if we told them she cried for 2 hours before this picture was taken?

So basically, the low down: Wake up. Scream. Get bottle. Drink 1 ounce. Vomit. Pass out in our arms. Put in crib. Scream again. 

It has been taking us an hour to get her to return to sleep, and the only way is to let her fall into a deep sleep in our arms, then very, very carefully place her in her crib. Joey and I leave her bedroom a couple times a night in complete exhaustion, sweat and irritation. It would be less terrible if she at least made up for it by sleeping soundly during the day, but she no longer feels the need to nap! Of course she is exhausted from her sleepless night, so the days are filled with screaming when she is overtired! According to the book, The Sleep Book for Tired Parents, a baby her age is suppose to get about 14-15 hours of sleep a day (4-5 hours during the day, 10 at night). Hah! Noelle is no where near getting that much sleep in a 24 hour span. She is getting roughly 10 hours of sleep in a 24 hour day. I find myself trying so incredibly hard to get her to nap, and usually give up and let her fall asleep in the car, or let her sleep with me in our bed.

We obviously cannot live this way! I type this as I sit here in my living room downstairs with the echos of Noelle's screaming bouncing off the walls from upstairs. We have reached the point where we need to take an active approach at teaching her how to soothe herself, how to fall asleep on her own, and learn that crying is not going to solve anything. 

I was initially really against the Ferber method developed by Dr. Richard Ferber, which is what it's called to gradually let your baby "cry it out" in steps. I figured that we could deal with the constant wake ups, feedings and crying because I didn't want Noelle to ever feel neglected. We had been living with it for some time, but it's finally reached a point where we are too sleep deprived and Noelle isn't getting enough sleep either. We either are going to have to share a family bed or we need to sleep train Noelle.

In our bed. One of the only places she sleeps. Not our idea of fun.

So sleep train it is. We've heard wonderful, although hard, stories about it and know many, many friends and family who had to do it as well. I've been reading some fabulous books on sleep issues and how to go about training your child to fall asleep alone and how to fall back asleep when awaken.

Basically for anyone who doesn't know, on the first day of sleep training you let your baby cry for a limited amount of time before you go check on them to let them know that you are there and haven't deserted them. You do this only with pats and rubs from the crib, then you leave again. Then you let them cry even longer before you check on them. Each time you have to check on them, you leave for a longer amount of time before the next check. You do this until they finally go to sleep, which could take any amount of time, since all babies are different. Some babies cry for 2 hours the first night, then only 1 the next, then 45 mins, so forth. Some babies longer, some shorter. I'm betting ours will be longer!

So here goes. 

WISH US LUCK! We need it!!

April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend!

This past weekend we were really busy with fun activities with our friends and family! Starting the festivities was our friend Willow's first birthday party on Friday afternoon! Noelle and Willow weren't much for socializing with each other, but we had a great time seeing them and celebrating Willow turning one.

Diana, Noelle, Dawn & Willow!

Dawn with the birthday girl!

After Willow's party we went over to our friend Courtney's house for some dinner, beers and a chance for the kids to play. Our friends Gaotah and Annie were over as well as Annie's sweet nieces Emily (4) and Brianna (8). Courtney's son Tyler (3) loved Noelle. He was nurturing towards her all night and wanted to help take care of her. So cute.

Emily and Tyler!

Gaotah showing Noelle how to drive a van. :)

Courtney, Emily and Brianna having a dance party!

Saturday morning, Noelle and I went to visit Annie and her family so that Noelle could meet Alex, Annie's newest nephew who is almost 8.5 months old! Again, Noelle wasn't much for socializing with the other baby, but did have a good time being passed around by the adults.

Emily, Alex, Brianna & Noelle.

After her visit to Annie's, Noelle and Joey went to dye Easter eggs at Grandma Ethel's! I got to stay home and do some much needed to be done homework while Joey and Noelle spent the afternoon together.

Noelle at Easter Egg dying!

Eggs made by Ava. :)

Our Saturday didn't stop there! As a family we went over to Joey's brother Cory's house for dinner with their family and Noelle had a great time seeing her older cousins Ellie and Ava who she just LOVES.

Noelle loves Ellie!

Sunday was the big day, Easter! Noelle spent her first Easter at Grandma Ethel's. This was a special day for us since last year Joey and I first announced our big news that we were expecting to the family and friends on Easter day last year, and now this year, our little bunny is here! :)

Easter morning with my little bunny!

All dressed up for Easter dinner!

Noelle is now on "the door" at Grandma Ethel's!

Hope every one had a great Easter weekend, we did! More later.
The Wagners

April 6, 2012

5 Months!

Holy moly! Noelle is 5 months! The last month was really an eventful one for us as parents...our little baby started doing all sorts of things that made us feel like she wasn't quite so little anymore!

Physically: The kid is becoming a moose! She's starting to develop rolls on her thighs and a double chin! In the last month she has gained 3 pounds! It's so cute and sweet, sometimes I'm tempted to eat her! I love a chubby baby! Her eyes also changed from dark blue to hazel! It's amazing to look at Noelle's face and see Joey's eyes looking back at me! Also, her hair is finally growing back in. The last couple months she lost a lot of the hair that she was born with and had a pretty bad receding hair line. (Joey called her Pierre Marc Bouchard.) Finally it's growing back! She's also teething so we can't wait to see some little chompers come in, since they are all giving us a horrible night's rest! Her new thing is blowing raspberries all day long...her drool bubbles soak up all her clothes and there's a nice wet ring around every single top she wears.

Developmentally: She can grasp now really well, holding on to her bottle, picking up things and shoving them into her mouth, etc. It's so weird to think only a couple months ago I would place toys in her hand and they would just fall out of them and now she can grab toys by herself and pass them from hand to hand. Like I mentioned before, she's teething, so she likes to put everything in her mouth and chew! She also rolled for the very first time this past month! She went from her back to her stomach. She doesn't seem to like it since she doesn't know how to roll back so she gets frustrated when she's "stuck." Another new thing she discovered are her feet. It wasn't until a couple weeks ago that she realized she even had them, and now she is starting to grab her toes...I'm just waiting for her to shove those in her mouth too!

"Huh, that's weird. Mommy and I are in this book!"

Other firsts: Noelle laughed out loud for the first time! She had giggled here and there but this was the first time she belly laughed!

On the day she laughed for the first time.

She also ate solids for the first time! We started off with the basic rice cereal, which she thought was pretty bad, judging from the look on her face as well as her spitting it all back out. She however really likes sweet potatoes! It's fun to watch her open her mouth for more. We tried apples and pears but I'm guessing they are too tart for her because she makes a sour look on her face and spits it all out. We unfortunately had a really bad episode with bananas, causing her tummy to gurgle all night - for days! I had no idea that when a food has a bad reaction that it can affect the baby for even a week before it all gets out of their system! Apparently the ABC's are to be avoided when first starting babies on food...apples, bananas, and carrots. I had no idea!

"What is this poison?"

She also is strolling around the whole house in her walker! She used to just kind of sit in it and move around in a small circle, whereas now she can push herself from the kitchen to the living room, and back. I even bring the walker upstairs. We've had to install a gate at the top of the stairs so she doesn't roll down them like I did when I was her age!

Now that it's nicer out, we finally get out of the house and go for more walks and also go to the park although she doesn't do much there except stare at the other kids or watch the ducks. 

Noelle also stayed over night at Grandma Sue's for the very first time over Joey's birthday weekend. It was the first time that she didn't sleep in her own crib and also the first time she went a night without her parents! It went kind of how we expected...she cried majority of the night, woke up more than usual at night and was fussy. However she was fine in the morning and realized everything was okay when I came back to pick her up the next day. In some ways it was harder for us than it was for her. We were nervous beforehand, worried during, and felt guilt after! But those are pretty normal feelings and we're glad we got through it because it was really fun to get away for a night and spend it as a couple, and not as parents.

Other things that happened in the last month:

  • Noelle and I went out to Eden Prairie to see a group of my Saint Mary's friends who were/are in the same graduate program as I am in. 
  • As a family we went out with our friends The Kostichkas with their 3 boys to Axel's Bonfire!

Weston LOVED Noelle!
  • We continued to attend ECFE class on Thursdays where we have made some awesome friends for both mommy and baby.
With Nicole and Harrison at ECFE.

With all the other sweethearts at ECFE!

Best friends.
  • As a family we went to the local "Make-A-Plate" event.
  • I started two more graduate classes for the spring semester!
  • Noelle saw the Easter Bunny!
  • Noelle and I went to Larkin's dress rehearsal to watch her cousins' dance.
With Ellie!

Things to look forward to this following month: 

  • Our friend Willow's 1st Birthday Party!
  • Noelle's First Easter!
Noelle's first Easter basket!
  • Frankie Jo, my friend Gia's two month old baby is going to start coming over to our house Tuesdays and Thursdays while her parents are at work! This new transition starts for us next week! Tuesday I will have both Harrison and Frankie Jo over...I'm a little anxious but also very excited for Noelle to have another friend to play with.
  • Our friend Damien's 3rd Birthday Party! 
  • Joey and I are invited to Chino Latino for a group of my girlfriends' joint birthday party later in the month!
  • Noelle, myself AND Joey start our new ECFE class on Saturdays for the next 2 months!

Here's to another month, where there were some downs (N had a lot of tummy and sleep issues this month) but many, many ups. We are blessed and happy as ever in our lives as parents and a family!
More updates soon on all our fun things planned this busy month!
The Wagners

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