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Thread: Please help me beat sleep school

  1. #1

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    Default Please help me beat sleep school

    Forgive the rant... I need to get this all out.

    I'm sinking. Really really sleep deprived and I think heading for PND. Seeing a counsellor and have a GP appt on Mon to try and hold my brain together but ultimately, they can't give me sleep which is what I desperately need.

    The past few weeks I've been gradually falling apart to the point where I cracked, and called every resource I could think of for help. Including the two public sleep schools I have available to me. The MCHN from the QEC was just plain judgemental, single-minded and insensitive. She made it pretty clear that unless I'm letting my baby cry, shoving food into him by the spoonful and putting him into a strict routine then I'm just creating my own problems. Even told me that much of my difficulty was caused by not having DS in his own room. When I questioned this and said that I thought SIDS guidelines now recommend room-sharing, she said "well, I don't think there's any real research behind that. They probably just say it to make parents feel better." Yup, that's right lady. The SIDS people are in the habit of humouring people. Statistics and research about what keeps babies safe... nah, they don't need that rubbish. The entire phonecall was appalling and left me seething and demoralised. Needless to say, I won't be going there under any circumstances.

    I did however get put on the wait-list for the other sleep school and am booked for a residential stay in April. They don't give advice or do intake over the phone so I'm not really sure what I'm on for. They said 'we don't do CC'... but neither do QEC officially. You're just meant to stay by the cot and watch your baby howl instead?

    I think I'm strong enough and sure enough about my own beliefs and values to take what help I can from them, and leave whatever doesn't sit right. I think. But come April... well, if things continue as they are, I'm worried I will be even more broken and in spite of my fears about their methods, I have decided to remain on their list as I may need some serious, intensive support by then. I may be at the point where I'm so desperate that I'm willing to push DS a bit furthur than I otherwise might...



    But really, I don't want to even find out. I don't want to leave my girl for 4 days. I don't want to have to defend my ethics and fight for my DS, or worse, end up bending my ethics out of desperation. I want to help DS find a gentle way to sleep before then. And I'm trying. Really, really trying. But so far, it's not working.

    Basically, I just can't physically feed him to sleep all the time any more. He's having 5 or 6 cat-naps a day and each time I have to get him to sleep I have to leave DD on her own while I do it (as he won't fall asleep while feeding on the couch, or if he does, he doesn't transfer to bed). He also feeds 1-3 hourly all night - sometimes big 'real' feeds, but mostly just a few sucks to get himself back to sleep. I'm very very underweight, my skin is breaking out, my mouth is full of ulcers... it's taking everything out of me. And I can't rock him. He's 9.4 kgs already and if it does work, it takes so long that I'm in pain by the time he falls asleep. Again, he won't fall asleep in my arms in the loungeroom so I'm away from DD again for ages.

    I know some of you may have read my thread about cat-napping and ultimately I decided to just let go of the cat-napping and roll with whatever. And I did. And I'm trying to be ok with just the short sleeps in the hope that one day he'll start napping longer. But if I just let him go without sleep, he ends up MISERABLE and so do DD and I. He needs sleep. I need him to sleep. DD needs her Mummy semi-sane and her brother not screaming.

    So I need to help DS get to sleep without rocking or feeding. ATM, this is the plan:
    Lie down with him in our bed.
    Let him play and muck around.
    If he starts getting upset, try whatever I can to calm him down without picking him up.
    If he calms down, back off again and allow him as much space as I can to find sleep himself.
    If he continues to be upset, pick him up and help him calm down... then start again.

    Once he can do this, do the same but with him in the cot that is pulled up against the bed while lying beside it.
    Then move the cot away a bit.
    Then start gradually moving away myself.

    Does that sound like a reasonable, gentle, workable plan? Can you add anything? I've even made sure we have matching sheets so the cot looks and feels as much like the bed as possible.

    This was working. He'd play for a while, then start to get upset, but after a couple of times picking him up and giving him a cuddle, I'd put him down calm, he'd start to grizzle, then I'd just help him roll onto his side with his arm around his teddy and my face close to his and he'd calm, then drop off. THEN, miracle of miracles, he had longer naps.

    Now... well he just howls. Plays for a few minutes and then cracks it. Tonight he calmed the first time I picked him up, but then when I put him down his gorgeous little face just crumpled and he was inconsolable. Ended up having to take him outside for a while to stop him sobbing and then he eventually fell asleep in my arms.

    This is not 'gentle' if he's going to get so distressed. If he's going to come to fear the bed and the cot. But I'm fast running out of ideas and seriously questioning my judgement.

    I don't know. Any thoughts? Ideas? Experiences? I really, really want to make progress on this before April so I have hope. So I'm less 'broken' and can maybe avoid going to sleep school.

    ETA. I'm only doing the above 'plan' when DH is around to look after DD... so I guess I'm not really being consistent with cues, but it's the best I can do.

  2. #2

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    I can only offer my understanding. DS was very similar, he would catnap and the only way I ever got him to have a decent sleep was if I slept with him which, as you mentioned, isn't an option for you. He was so heavy by this age and stopped feeding to sleep that I had to rock him which would still involve lot's of crying.

    At 11 months I went to sleep school. You are right, often they say they don't CC but that is because they practice comfort crying (I'm sure you google it you will find the techniques).

    wish I had the magic cure but he still wakes once or twice at nearly 4 yrs old.

  3. #3

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    My little one is about the same age as your DS. I (in theory) agree with the no cry policy and so far I have managed to pretty much achieve this. Some of the things I have taken on board however are these.
    I let him catnap only if he's had a "biggish" sleep during the day.
    I distract him if he wants fed more often than three hourly.
    If he has a sleep I reward him with LOADS of cuddles and I always greet him when he wakes with smiles and cuddles and lots of positive words. I do this even if he's only had a 40 min sleep.
    I am no expert but I think food and sleep are related. I think if they sip and snack on food they do the same with sleep and sort of get out of sync with what we need to survive as parents.
    I would have a go perhaps for just 24 hours (or just in the day) to try and stretch the times between feeds if you possibly can. I would also try and stretch him between sleeps. Try and get him to "skip" one snack and one sleep so he eats a bit more then possibly sleeps a bit more.
    I'm not saying stick to a routine but more try and distract him enough that he re-sets his eat sleep pattern.
    Perhaps have a really "wild" exciting play time when he's threatening to nod off into a catnap. Then try and settle him with quiet play for a sleep perhaps 1/2 hour later......
    Some stuff that's helped me is knowing babies sleep in approximately 40-45 minute cycles so they need to be able to roll from one of these to the next without our constant help in order to sleep for more than a catnap. I also know my little one sleeps better if he's had some hind milk.....he needs to have a decent feed.....and has had an active play (tummy time, swimming, being "danced about" by me) . I find my bloke has less good sleep days when he's been in the pram and less active.
    The other good thing I found out was the "eat sleep play" pattern which meant I was using active then calming play before he tried to sleep.
    I am sorry if this is alla bit disjointed but perhaps you'll find something useful.
    Good luck to you, I personally would be terrified if I had to go to one of those sleep school places..........

  4. #4

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    Hugs lovely. Like kelebek, all I can do is offer understanding and support. DD2 was a shocking sleeper and with DD1 still tiny I had to just let her survive on cat naps or sleeping on me because I just couldn't devote the hour + I needed each and every time she needed a sleep during the day. Up until 5 months when I stopped breastfeeding she would feed for up to 45 minutes a feed, with maybe only 30 minutes between feeds so the only way I could survive was to co-sleep with her. As soon as she woke I could throw her on the boob and try to hopefully snooze off again while she was feeding. Not ideal, but it gave me a little sleep at night so I was better equipped to battle the days. I did try on a couple of occasions to let her cry it out - purely because I felt so torn between either abandoning one of my daughters or the other - but the only thing that achieved was that we were all hysterical.

    Your plan sounds like a lovely, gentle way to try and get him to sleep to me, but if he's not responding to it anymore then I'm not sure what to suggest. Normally I would say can you put him in a sling or carrier, but given his weight that might be out of the question for you for any real length of time.

    Sorry your CHN is being very unhelpful. I really don't understand how there seem to be so many in the community who are so completely unsupportive of mums.

  5. #5

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    You need a two pronged plan: firstly to prioritize your sleep and secondly to get ds in a better pattern.

    So for your sleep, can you make Dh get up with the kids in the morning so you have an hour to sleep, or have a weekend catch up? Does dd go to any child care so you can sleep with the baby?

    For ds, I think your plan sounds great. Perhaps he is sick or teething so needs extra comfort just this week? I would keep trying to just lie down with him, and see how you get on.

    I know what you mean about leaving older child. Ds now mainly naps in the pram because I can't leave dd for too long unattended. Is that an option? I know lots of kids who only sleep in the pram in the day. One mum I know would just strap bub in and he'd nod off before she'd left the house because it was such a strong sleep cue.

    Teaching babies to solo sleep can be tough for both mum and baby...you're building a beautiful relationship with your son by attending to his needs, but you need to look after you too. That's why I think you could address your sleep as the first priority before trying to 'fix' the baby.

    Big

  6. #6

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    The woman from QEC sounds ridiculous

    No help on the day sleeps here, we are managing on two now one in morning, in car/stroller when out and about and one in the arvo when all three of us sleep together.

    The only thing I can suggest which works at night for us is bum jiggling, so I kneel next to the bed with my hand under his bum and just jiggle and shush - this means I am not on the bed with him but doesn't hurt my back at all and is reasonably comfortable, he gets a some movement but doesn't require me rocking or holding him. This seems to work pretty well as I can feel him relax and when he does seems like as long as I don't stop everything at once, so I remove my hand and then keep shushing a bit and then disappear. This also works ok on him in the cot as I can fit my arm through the bars, so he will often resettle just with having my hand under his bum and a quick jiggle.

    Having said all that I haven't managed to get him to sleep tonight yet!

    Some people have said that sleep school can just work as a 'reset' for just you and the baby so because they make sure you get some sleep the first night it breaks the cycle and then things improve anyway without really having to follow alot of the methods they use. I think also in another thread someone talked about getting someone to come to your house to help with the sleep, I have no personal experience but maybe they would be happy to work more with your parenting style than a sleep school and you wouldn't be away from DD, and if you get something working in your own home is probably a good thing too.

    The only other thing I was going to say is, is there any possibility that he has any other intolerances apart from the dairy? I just always remember someone saying that sometimes babies eat more/want to suck more when their stomach is hurting because they think it will help but actually just makes things worse.

  7. #7

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    What worked for us, after 2 years of waking at least every 2 hours at night and crap day sleeps. Was eliminating food additives from mine and DSs diets. He now only wakes once at night maybe twice but is so much easier to get back to sleep. So much better than between 6 and 12 wakes each night! Only needs a feed on one wake up and will usually find me and just needs to know I'm there (we co-sleep) and he goes off to sleep on his own.

    I hope you find something that works for you soon. The sleep deprivation nearly killed me, I really know how you feel

  8. #8

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    Will he sleep in a sling? That's one way to help him and see to your DD at the same time. Or the pram?
    I know lots of people - that nurse included - will disagree with me, but I don't think you can teach a baby to sleep alone. You can help them along if they're ready for it, but if not you're left with either finding a way to get by in the mean time or forcing them.

    What help do you have to call on? Can you get day care or babysitter to help with DD? A cleaner to keep the pressure off you at home? Do you get sleep on the weekends at least?
    I really do wish I could guarantee you some sleep some how

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by willow5 View Post
    What worked for us, after 2 years of waking at least every 2 hours at night and crap day sleeps. Was eliminating food additives from mine and DSs diets. He now only wakes once at night maybe twice but is so much easier to get back to sleep. So much better than between 6 and 12 wakes each night! Only needs a feed on one wake up and will usually find me and just needs to know I'm there (we co-sleep) and he goes off to sleep on his own.

    I hope you find something that works for you soon. The sleep deprivation nearly killed me, I really know how you feel
    Sorry to hijack, but I have to ask, how long did it take to see results? I've started the same thing with my DS a couple of weeks ago, but this last week I've been bad with my diet so I need to restart it all.

    OP, I so feel for you. I have no advice, just plenty of hugs because my 12month old DS is also super wakeful at night. He has woken every 1-2 hours for six months, and in the last couple of weeks his day sleeps have been catnaps and i cant resettle him.
    your definitely not alone, I hope you find something that works soon!

  10. #10

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    Hi Shan23, It took about 2 weeks but kept improving there after. I first only eliminated from DSs diet and saw some improvement, but when I eliminated my diet too it was like magic!

    Here are the links to the 2 other threads we were talking about it if you want to have a read. You can post in there too to avoid the hijack I PMed a couple of the other posters in there a link to a site I found helpful if you'd like it too just PM me

    http://www.bellybelly.com.au/forums/...-sleep-175659/

    http://www.bellybelly.com.au/forums/...enough-175516/

  11. #11

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    I don't know if this is a feasible solution but maybe getting a specific consultant in to help you. Someone that understands and supports gentle parenting that can basically give you an answer in alignment with your beliefs? I havent used any but I believe they come to you too.

    (only one i know of in Melb is pinky McKay)


    Sent from my smart phone using Tapatalk.(Occasional fat fingers syndrome might occur)

  12. #12

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    Sorry I can't hellp much with what to do, but I can tell you that I went to the QE sleep centre, and I ended up leaving early because I couldn't deal with listening to DS crying his little heart out. (His crying triggered my PTSD - which when I tried to explain this to the counsellor, she told me that while I had PTSD 10 years ago, that didn't mean I had it now, plus I top scored the depression (edinburgh test) - so I left early, totally disgusted with their 'prescription help'. Plus they did not listen to what I had to say about DS, being a one shot baby. I've only ever had one shot at putting him to bed and if I missed that he'd be overtired.

    But they did watch DS eat, and they said that if he wasn't getting enough food, then that would cause him to be restless.

    hang in there

  13. #13

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    I just wanted to give you a great big hug and say you've done really well to work out a plan to help your DS sleep and to help YOU sleep too!

    What your little ones need is a mum who can be there for them to the best of her ability, a well mum, and a happy mum. If your plan involves your DS getting distressed (and you are comfortable with that), and you see results from it, then I think the pay off of sleep for you will be worth it, IMO.

    I know this may sound crazy, but the only think I can suggest is that you do a role play with a teddy bear and explain that teddy is going to sleep and mum is just here and teddy is going to have a nice sleep in the bed without rocking. Then teddy goes to sleep etc. Then teddy wakes up a gets a big cuddle and everyone cheers. I really think they pick up a lot even at this young age...

  14. #14

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    Hi there,
    I went to sleep school with DS1 (can't remember the name of it, but i don't think it was the one you mentioned). It was the best thing we did. There was lots of support for the mums, meals cooked, no cleaning and just time to focus on helping bubs to sleep. It was a week of headspace. We learnt a lot about baby sleep patterns, recognising the early tired cues (and not the later signs,)the feed, play, sleep cycle etc. Our first son would often get overtired or over stimulated and then became impossible to get off to sleep. He also had reflux and would cat nap for 20 mins during the day and would then be cranky and tired, b/c he couldn't roll into the next sleep cycle. OMG - I know the sleep deprivation and exhaustion that you're going through right now.
    The staff (most of them) were very supportive and instead of holding him and rocking him off to sleep in my arms (he was pretty heavy bub), we would pat his bottom and shush him in his cot and would stay with him the whole time. If he got really upset, the staff said to pick him up and reassure him and then try putting him into the cot again etc. It was pretty much what I felt best. I know that there was a baby section and a toddler section to the sleep school and they may have used different strategies with different aged kids (?)
    The first night, I think they just observed what was happening with the baby and then the second day was education and we each wrote up the goals that we wanted to achieve, so it was very personal and tailored to each parent & child. My son slept for 5 or 6 hours straight that week (for the first time), as I started to re-settle him, rather than offer a feed everytime he woke up and he stopped waking up at night, so frequently. He still had trouble rolling into the next sleep cycle during the day and they reassured me that kids with reflux tended to do this and that he'd eventually outgrow these cat naps (which he did). So, the night sleeps improved and the day sleeps were still hard work.
    We found that with DS2, we used a lot of the techniques we'd learnt from sleep school and it was such an easier experience, such as putting him to sleep when he was tired, but still awake etc, recognising the early tired cues was also a big help.
    If at the end of the day, you don't like the centre or feel it's not for you, you can just leave. I think there's a bit of a stigma attached to attending one, as another friend who struggled with all three of her babies told me that she would have felt like a 'failed parent' for attending one, but for us, it was such a turning point.
    Hope things improve for you, whatever you decide to do

  15. #15

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    Did you call the sleep school at kooweerup santosha?

  16. #16

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    Thanks so much for all your replies. I've read them all and taken on quite a few good ideas. I really want to put the time in to respond properly but DD is really sick and I'm tapping away on the iPad in her room between coughing fits and tears.

    In short, 3/4 sleeps today he went down with no tears and one nap slept 1.5 hours!! That and having spent a bit of time gardening (which I find really therapeutic) and I'm still knackered but feeling more positive.

    Will try and pop in soon post snot-apocalypse. oxoxoxo

  17. #17

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    Oh no, hope she's doing better soon!
    That's great you found a bit of time to do something for yourself!

  18. #18

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    Hi Santosha,

    I've posted previously in your threads because my bub is similar age and around Christmas time I was also tearing my hair out over her sleeps. Whatever method we used to get her to sleep- walking, rocking, patting, feeding etc- when we stopped doing it she'd usually wake up soon after. She wasn't getting the sleep she needed and I was exhausted. My understanding is that babies are more likely to stay asleep if they continue to sleep the way they fell asleep. So if baby falls asleep in your arms and later stirs and sees you are not there, they wake fully. If they fell asleep in their cot and stir and see their cot again they learn to settle themselves back to sleep. With my DD i decided to set up some sleep 'cues'- dummy, sleeping bag, cuddle and song in a darkened room (ours)- then put her in her cot and walk away. Then i'd wait outside the door to see how she went. If she 'grizzled', i'd give her a bit longer to self-settle. If she cried, i'd go in after 1- 2 minutes and pat her bottom, make soothing 'shhh shhh' sounds, help her hold her dummy in place (shee seemed to like this and would hold my hand and babble and eventually close her eyes while i did this) or let her hold my finger. (I tended not to pick her up because i've been told sometimes they find it more upsetting to be picked up and put down again than if you settle them in the cot. Having said that, I do lean over the cot and sort of cuddle her in the cot ITMS and i do pick her up if i feel something is wrong or nothing else is working. eg some days I realise i've made a mistake and she is not ready for sleep because she needs a top up of milk or is trying to poo and i will get her up and try again later). After a couple of minutes of 'settling/soothing', i would leave the room again and wait outside the door for another 1- 2 minutes. I've been told that staying in the room to settle for a really long time is not as effective as going in and out. I found this to be true for me. It gave me brief breaks from settling her and so I coped with it better and she was not left to cry for long. I felt it also made it clearer to her that it was sleep time in her cot. After a couple of visits DD seemed to work out what she had to do because she would see me and roll onto her side to be patted and calm down. She started falling asleep while i patted her, and then, after a few days, I could put her down and walk out and she would put herself to sleep. Her sleeps also got longer and although sometimes she only does 45 minutes, she started doing 1.5- 2hr sleeps and sometimes even longer. My mental health got much better with it. (Unfortunately we are battling a bit again because she has been constipated and miserable since starting solids and that has messed up her sleep a bit but at least i know now that if she doesn't sleep it isn't because she doesn't know how to. That helps me to know when something else is wrong and i can try to help her with that. Eg she's still hungry so i top her up with milk).

    I'm sorry you got an unhelpful response from QEC staff member. I've heard good stories about friends' experiences at sleep school (both public and private sleep schools) but there will always be some for whom it isn't helpful or a particular staff member you don't like. I hope you can find better sleep ASAP but if you do go to sleep school i hope it's a really positive experience and that the staff member you spoke to was one of those random 'there's one in every organisation unhelpful people' rather than the rule.

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