So the time has come, unplanned and crept up to me silently and slowly.
Zayan is no longer breastfeeding. *thunder and lightning* cue sad music*
(Dunno why thunder and lightning but figured there needs to be some dramatic BADABOOSH sound to go with the announcement)
You see when Zayan was 6 months old and I started working, I started giving him formula feed cos
1. I didnt have much milk to pump. Paling2 2-3 oz per session. If at work, with the fantabolous medela pump that costs 1k, I can pump up to 10 oz though. However, things can get busy at work and I didnt get to pump all the time.
2. I couldnt muster the energy to pump all the time between work, jaga zayan, housechores and plain relaxing.
This itself brought an array of emotions to me. It was like letting go of him and I wasn’t ready to but I had no choice. I remember thinking its such a slippery slope giving him formula feed cos that would cut down my milk production and make it worse. Anyway, it was all good cos Zayan still breastfed at night. So after a long day at work, I could cuddle up with him and nurse him to sleep. *happy times*
He just couldnt sleep and stay asleep without me nursing him (or rocking him. He has his days). So my evening from 8 pm onwards were just feeding him and putting him to sleep, 1 hr later same thing, 2 hrs later same thing. and it won’t stop until I finally give in until I sleep with him. So the common scene is M finding me asleep with zayan and I haven’t had my dinner/we’re about to watch a movie on tv/I said I’ll be back but instead fell asleep.
Don’t even get me started on the battles we have had – him screaming before going to sleep and clearly tired but fighting it hard! There were many times when my patience were severely tested and mesti beristgihfar jadinya and take a time out. At those times I would put him down crying and M would take over the battle. And here’s a secret: when we’re too tired to fight with him, we give in and hold him whilst he sleeps. And yes we’ve held him for an hour or two before he wakes up again.
Anyway, don’t start lecturing me on how my actions have put us to this situation in the first place. I’m sure it is but I’m sure it’s his temperament too. And don’t say I didn’t try. I have tried countless times to get him to sleep by himself. One time I let him cry to sleep, he cried for 1 hr 15 mins, slept for 15 mins and then cried again. Broke my heart and I knew I didnt want to put him through that again.
So I have been obsessed OBSESSED with his sleep. Reading every literature I could find on ways to get him to sleep and stay asleep. I learnt that all of us have sleep cycles, which lasts around 1.5 to 2 hrs. As adults, we’ve learnt to connect our sleep cycles so we don’t properly wake up or we don’t even realise we woke up before going to the next cycle. Babies gradually learn this connection but others, especially those who are used to having associations to fall asleep to, takes longer to learm this. So in Zayan’s case, his associations are nursing and rocking.
It seemed that lotsa of people out there are obsessed with baby’s sleep too. Ada tia Ferber’s method, whatever method lah. Anyway as I’m not keen on letting baby cry it out, I bought this book called the ‘No cry sleep solution’ which advised on bed routine and generally just weaning down baby’s sleep associations (Zayan’s associations are being rocked and nursed). So I stuck to a bed routine at more or less the same time everyday – bath, bottle/breast and then dudui. The battles to sleep decreased as he knew when sleeptime is coming and begins rubbing his eyes during bathtime.
And I still rocked him and nursed him. But making sure I stop nursing before he falls asleep. Often he wakes up and cry and we do it all over again. Sometimes he’ll just roll over and go to sleep. Sometimes makin tia panjang nursing time nya second time round. Essentially we weren’t getting anywhere. It didnt help that I was having more on call and night shifts. Which is a nightmare to M. He would wake up every 2 hours and sometimes Zayan would cry inconsolably.
To be honest, there are many moments where I felt I just wanna break down and cry from the fatigue and sleep deprivation of it all. M can put him to sleep but it’s far easier and faster for me to do it. I was talking to my friend who is in the same position as me and she admitted to how close she is to feeling depressed about it. Come night time, there is a feeling of dread and depression.
So *sigh* I finally gave in. I put him to sleep a week ago in his cot awake but drowsy, falling asleep. And of course, he cried. A lot. It wasn’t up to 1 hour like before, probably half an hour max at one time, and it worsened whenever i was in the room. It’s hard, I’ll admit it. And in the beginning, I still wasnt sure if I was doing the right thing. A mother’s instinct is to soothe, comfort and pick up her child when he’s crying and calling out to her. And I was just going against all these instincts. He slept 6 hours that night on his own.
The next night, he slept 10 hours and cried on and off for 10-15 mins. and the night after, he slept 9 hours and only waking up to cry for a minute or two. I didn’t think he could improve that much so quickly and thought this must be a fluke!! I kept waking up and waiting to hear him cry for a feed but he just sleeps through the night. In fact when he starts crying, I’ll go and get ready a bottle and by the time I have a bottle ready, tidur tia sudah balik.
The only “issue” is that he wakes up at 4-5 am crying and that’s when I feed him. Unfortunately, he doesnt wanna go to sleep after that. Macam ehhhh, awalnya kan bangun ani. Suruh mamanya bangun sembahyang subuh kali. I have read that a baby’s lightest sleep would be after 4 am. I’m still not sure how to solve this problem but I’m ever so thankful he is sleeping more by himself now.
In fact last weekend, M and I were both on night shifts and my sis in laws came over to look after him, he woke up only once at 5 am for a bottle feed. Yay!
Anyway now that he sleeps through the night and hence no more feeding from me, I tried to feed him in the early morning. He has decided to just bite HARD each time I feed him. Bites and pulls. Eeks. Yes, if you can imagine the pain, take it as 10 times worse. So I don’t feed him anymore, which is a bit sad. It’s like I’m redundant now. And that I’m letting him go. My baby’s getting more independent now! *EMO*
I know there are a lot of people against this crying it out method and others who think ‘ehh just let him cry, ampaikan saja tia, karang kebiasahan’. For me, I think it’s up to the parents to decide and feel what’s best for the baby. I initially wanted to check on him every 5-10 minutes but in that first night, I’ve learnt that he cries (screams!) even more when he sees me. And when I hear him tebangun and cry and wait for 1-2 minutes, he just settles himself to sleep now. Once I happened to be in the room, he saw me and tarus full on tantrum crying (antak2 tangan, high pitched cries) and then I left the room, tidur tia within 1 minute.
I have exhausted all other ways to help him to sleep. Any suggestions made (that is not the above method), I’ve done it. I guess it helped me to know that I’ve tried all others for months and I need something to make things lil bit easier for me. Now that I have a well rested night and more time to do other stuff (housechores, put my feet up), I devote my time in the day to baby. I know that I can do everything else in the evening when he’s asleep. And when he wakes up, he smiles and laughs and he hasn’t changed one bit (neither clingy or separation anxious – no more than usual anyway!) so insyaAllah there will be no psychological effects as predicted by Anti-CryingItOut team.
For me, so long that your baby gets the attention and kisses and hugs they deserve, they will grow up emotionally stable insyaAllah. And a happy, well rested mummy leads to a happier baby!