Anyone who has read my previous posts (anyone? anyone? Oh, well) may possibly have realised already that my reaction to any mention of CIO does not involve brandishing a cross to banish the eeeeevil far from me while simultaneously using my spare hand to stick pins in Richard Ferber’s effigy. While I have minimal patience for the enthusiasts who claim that CIO is The Way, The Truth and The Light when it comes to bringing up children (because there’s extremely little that I do feel that way about when it comes to bringing up children – I’m a horses-for-courses type), I have read enough personal stories to convince me that it’s frequently a valid option and, in some cases, can even be the best thing for a child and/or his family as a whole.
However, I haven’t done it with Jamie. Not because I think it’s the road to perdition, but because so far, despite Jamie having been a pretty poor sleeper since birth, I never felt we’d quite reached the point where we had to. We’ve got by with other methods – co-sleeping, carrying him around, nursing him to sleep before putting him in the cot, and sometimes dealing with an overtired child who just wouldn’t take a nap. It hasn’t been ideal, and has often been somewhat stressful, but never to the point where I felt that things were unmanageable and that sleep training was the better option.
We have now, it appears, reached that point. Jamie has been napping poorly for the past few weeks, and Barry has been struggling to deal with an overtired child who won’t let him take enough of a break to get anything else done, including eating. Lying with him on the bed and feeding him his bottle normally works, but not now. Nor does cuddling or patting or any other soothing. If he goes to sleep at all, he wakes up after about twenty minutes, still tired and upset.
Yesterday, driven to utter distraction by a wailing, desperately overtired child who just would not go to sleep despite clearly being in dire need of a nap and having a shattered father who was in dire need of a break, Barry finally, after an entire day of this, plonked him in his cot and walked out of the room, leaving him crying. He came back to check on him every five minutes, in accordance with the brief summary I’d given him of sleep training when I mentioned it as a possible option we might need ultimately to pursue, but left him in his cot. Jamie, who had been upset and overtired all afternoon, was asleep twenty minutes later.
He only slept for another twenty minutes, unfortunately, and he remained clearly fidgety and overtired when he woke up, but I was home by then to take him off Barry’s hands. A couple of hours later Barry’s teeth had unclenched and the manic twitch in his face had faded, but his insistence that things could not possibly go on the way they had been going was undimmed, and matched by mine. I am a firm believer in meeting my child’s needs, and that includes his need for sleep. I’m also a firm believer in meeting my husband’s needs, including his need for sanity.
So, the current plan is for Barry to do the same at Jamie’s naptimes today. We haven’t quite got as far as discussing what happens at bedtime (bedtime is less of a problem as I can still get him to sleep by nursing him, and since he was so exhausted last night I just went ahead and did that), but I think it’s going to be best if we do the CIO there as well – he’ll learn more quickly if he gets more practice, and it’s not fair for all of this to fall on Barry. My main concern about that is the risk of the crying running into antisocial hours – we live in a semidetached house, and our bedroom is against the neighbouring wall. I’m really hoping it won’t become that bad – the fact that it only took him twenty minutes to fall asleep this time is very promising, based on all the CIO stories I’ve read, and I’m hoping that that wasn’t just a fluke. But since it has to be done, ’twere best ’twere done quickly.
So, wish us and the neighbours luck. Oh, and feel free to post any dissenting opinions, should you feel so moved. If they include offers to come round and take a screaming child off my husband’s hands on a daily basis for however many months or years it would take for his sleep to improve of its own accord, I’ll be happy to take them seriously.