Let's dive into our hardest season in parenting. I'm only nine years, three kids in, but I feel like I already have emotional battle scars a mile deep...
It was about four years ago now, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My perfectly adjusted infant went from darling to SATAN overnight, inconsolably crying, awake at all hours and just bloody miserable to be around. Long story short, he was diagnosed with a cow's milk protein allergy. Doctor’s appointments and dietary adjustments worked their magic on his irritability, but his sleep issues were what nightmares are made of. I was up with him every hour, every night for months on end. Sleep deprivation hit hard and fast. I had to do something, STAT! Now, what I'm about to tell you is not for everyone, but it was right for me, at just the right time. I elected to sleep train, and it saved my life in this phase of motherhood.
From what I had read, there was going to be a lot of pushback during this process. Having not slept in months, I already was a complete basket case and I knew I'd have to call in backups. My up-for-anything Aunt drove in from clear across the state. Night one, I fed my son his hippy dippy Swiss made formula, cozied him up in his fluffiest jams, set him in his crib and bounced on out of that warzone. "Wahhhh, wahhhh, wahhhhhhhh", it went on and on, and at 23 minutes in, I lunged towards his bedroom door. My aunt (who is basically half my height) met me with a ninja-like block. She reminded me she didn't travel all that way for me to crumble like a croissant within the first half hour. I retreated- sweating, stressing, breaking. It went on for 47 minutes total. It destroyed me, made me question every fiber of my maternal being. But he was asleep, and that's where I longed to be too. So off I went to bed...TO WAKE 8 HOURS LATER WITH MY FIRST FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP IN WHAT FELT LIKE 10 DOG YEARS! The next few nights, I did the same song and dance, literally, in preparing Hank for bedtime and like every fairy tale- the end was magical- he cried for less and less time when I laid him down and by the fourth night, fell asleep as soon as his head hit the dino crib sheets! He has been sleeping through the night seamlessly ever since, and so have I. So, this method may not work for everyone, but it saved this Mama's whole life so I'mma tell a friend to tell a friend!
A little recap for those who are dying a slow death from lack of sleep like I was. The basics of extinction (such a harsh word, I know, but my kid lived to tell) are pretty cut and dry. You feed, cuddle, sing to/ read, (whatever you people do with your kids), and then you put the lil' sucker in the crib, shut the lights off, close the door and skiddaddle the heck out of there until morning. Kid cries? You cry (silently or out loud, but away from kid). Kid screams? Plug your ears! Get the best nanny cam and watch the kid in utter panic mode from the pantry you're chugging vino out of. It's going to be okay. 'Cause guess what? Your baby just slept through the night and your life is yours again! CHEERS TO THAT!