When we announced that we were going to have a baby, many of our friends congratulated us and wished us all the best. There were smiles, questions about names, if we knew the gender (we waited to find out) and what the nursery would look like. Then there were the parents we told about our news. They would hesitate, look off into the distance with a seeming thousand yard stare hardened by numerous battles both won and lost with their own child, congratulate us and then impart an almost universal wisdom: “Enjoy sleep while you can.” (cue thunderclap and ominous music)
Needless to say, they were so very, very right. Our child has given us an almost solid 14 months of interrupted sleep, fussing and night feeding. She averaged about 3-6 wake-ups a night, mostly wanting to nurse or be comforted. To be fair, my wife has shouldered much of this burden and has allowed me to take the lion’s share of sleep in our house. I’m very grateful for this, and I’ve tried to help out whenever possible. I’ve taken my share of turns in the baby’s lair, my friends, and lived to tell the tale. I’ve changed many a diaper in the dark, fixed even more bottles by the light of the moon and have soothed the savage baby. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but you get the idea.
So while we do enjoy our child, we also miss our old pal sleep. We were tired, people we knew were tired of us being tired, and everyone was tired of talking about being tired. We needed help. In my head I saw the day our daughter sleeping through the night as the same one where she could parallel park a car or vote for the next president. Neither of us were willing to wait that long, so we brought in a professional.
A co-worker, who happens to be a parent and veteran of the war on sleep, told me about her experience with hiring a consultant to get her child to snooze through the night. I was intrigued, discussed it with the wife and finally decided it was time to bring in ‘The Wolf’. I kid, her name is Kimberly. You didn’t think someone who deals with sleeping babies would be called ‘The Wolf’, did you?
The first thing we did was fill out a questionnaire detailing things like how much the baby eats, her daily routines and which member of One Direction is her favorite. After that, we had an hour long phone session in which Kimberly gave us a custom made sleep plan. This thing is no joke. It has military like precision in dealing with our fussy child and getting her to go to sleep. This was a bonus, because we needed a plan that gave us some clear cut guidance in what to do when our child would not go to sleep. Forget threatening her with intangible things that she didn’t understand (“No allowance for two weeks once you’re old enough to start earning one!”); this was something that she could get pretty much instantly.
The gist of the training is this: our baby needs to learn how to self soothe. By gauging the level of crying she produces, and for how long, we can determine whether we need to go in and reassure her that we’re still there and she’s safe. With this knowledge, the routine laid out for us, and nearly 24/7 access to Kimberly via phone/text/email for 7 days, we prepared to help our child self soothe and sleep through the night.
Will the baby sleep through the night, or continue waking up? Will the parents go crazy trying to carry out their dastardly plan? Will Batman get there in time to save Commissioner Gordon? What mysteries await our crash survivors inside the hatch? Tune in next week to find out!