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Need some encouragement from the AP crowd

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  • Need some encouragement from the AP crowd

    Hello everyone. This is my very first post on the API website and what surprise that it comes under the "sleep" forum! I've been told by my LLL leader that sleep is probably THE most talked about subject in Attachment Parenting. While I have gone to LLL meetings for encouragement, the meetings are not well attended. I've come to a place where I need more encouragement (and possibly hear some success stories) than my LLL meeting can provide.

    I am mom to a beautiful 9-month old boy named Benjamin. I also have a 3.5 year old adopted son, Gabriel. I am practicing attachment parenting with Ben. Gabe came to us at 7.5 months of age and his sleep patterns were already established, and quite good. So, my question/concern is in regards to the 9-month old, Ben.

    In a nutshell, Ben's napping is pretty horrible. I continue to try and affirm myself that "this too shall pass" but it's very much on my mind. The more I read, the worse it is. Everything you read talks about a 9-month old needing at least 2 solid naps a day, not in motion (i.e, not in the car, which is where he's started taking at least the morning nap the last 2 weeks or so). Ben co-sleeps with us at night and his night sleeping is pretty bad as well. He's up about 4 times a night on average. I keep reading that one of the keys to good night sleeping is good napping. I feel like I'm in a catch-22. I have been refusing any form of "cry-it-out" or sleep training up to now, but when it gets to the point where he won't sleep for a nap even if I lay with him, I start to get insecure and desperate. His top teeth are starting to come in, and he's also just hinging on learning to pull himself up to a stand. I know I've read in countless Sears books that developmental milestones can do a number on sleeping in general - I just have a hard time buying it.

    My husband has been super supportive, but even just recently when I mentioned about needing to go lay with Ben for a nap he said "You're going to have to break him of that eventually." After a long discussion, I found that he really didn't mean that, but he's just frustrated at the level of sacrifice this takes. I had enough confidence to get him to a place where he felt better, but in turn depleted my own reserves.

    Does this get better for real? Everything you read has you believing that the only way this gets better is if you train them and train them early. The literature is all about how you're enabling them if you continue certain attachment type sleep associations (like nursing to sleep and for comfort). You're one of the "lucky" ones if you child just gives it up on their own and you make it worse for everyone the longer you wait. When Ben gets to the point where he won't lay down for a nap for longer than 20 minutes and then wakes 4 or 5 times in the night just to comfort nurse, I start to lose confidence in what I'm doing.

    I need some support, some stories, some reassurance that others have and are going through the same exact thing and that it really does get better. And, that I'm not doing my son a disservice by not training him so he'll take better naps. He's very obviously tired, but just won't settle down at naptime, even if I try to lay him down earlier or later. He can't stop moving his legs and twitching about. And, I've had him to the pediatrician a number of times thinking something physical might be causing it. As of yet (2 specialists later) we can't find anything physical causing it, so I have to believe it's just him. Please tell me I'm doing okay .. and if I'm not, what should I be doing instead.

    Fretfully yours,
    ~Becky Stoltzfus

  • #2
    You are doing okay! Probably better than okay.

    But it does sound like you are frustrated by the amount of time/energy that is going into nap and nighttime parenting. Which is okay too!

    So here's a bit from my experience. My 2 children, with a complete lack of any deliberate sleep training on my part, have changed their sleep needs and habits more times than I can count. And they are both completely different. Which means that it does get better....and then it gets worse (sick, teething, or nothing you can diagnose).....and then it gets miraculously perfect....and then you break down and declare to your husband that you are nightweaning immediately and he's on duty...and then you cave within 5 minutes and go back to all-night nursing and are weirdly happy about it. Or maybe that's just me :-)

    Sometimes I don't sleep great, sometimes I have a hard time settling down to get to sleep, sometimes (always) I don't like to sleep alone. But I'm an adult and can deal with it anyway. My child CANNOT, without my help. Really believing this helps me get through the frustrating and exhausting patches. Right now, my 4 year old has spent about 2 months in her own room (at her request, moved out of the family bed). BUT, she still requires someone laying down with her while she falls asleep. I started thinking, she's 4, she should be able to do this herself, how fantastic would it be to kiss her good night and leave the room!!! But she's scared. And she's told me so. And she NEEDS me. So for now, we go slow, and stay with her until she falls asleep. But look how far she's come from a co-sleeping infant!

    Now, having said that, I do also believe that there is room to gently push things along to maintain your own sanity. I got to a really frustrated point with night nursing my now 2 year old (see above) and made a few really simple adjustments that worked wonders. I got super serious about un-latching her when she got sleepy/slowed down. That required me to not fall asleep immediately myself, which seemed more difficult for a night or two, but totally paid off. The key here is to define your goal, make it a realistic expectation (keep in mind your child's very real needs too), and then make a few changes (gentle ones) and give them time to take effect. She no longer requires nursing to sleep - my husband can lay down with her half the time. She doesn't wake up to nurse again until about an hour or two before we get up in the morning. And she's still beside me in bed the whole time. Unless she's sick or teething or there's a full moon (or who knows!) and then we're back to 5-6 times a night. But only for a few nights, and just when I think I'll have to take drastic measures, it's all good again!