if you have been following my blog for a while (at least since Wilf's birth) you may know that Wilf is a sleep hater. He will fight it with every bone in his body.
I last wrote about our sleep issues here and just reading though that post again brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of that dark place we were at when that post was written, how utterly exhausted we had become, there were so many tears, deep sighs and tense words spoken. It also brought a lump to my through just reading all your kind comments. I am constantly amazed at how supportive this blogging community is.
I suppose the best place to start it an update from where we left of. As a recap after a year of waking every 45mins Tom and I had given all we could. We desperately believed in gentle parenting and sheer stubborness made me brush away any suggestions that any sleep encouragment would involves tears. At that time I took a break from home, Wilf and I headed back to my hometown to give Tom and I some space and for my siblings to amuse Wilf whilst I tried not to have a breakdown.
I did kinda have a breakdown, I cried and cried and then I realised that running away from our terrible sleep rut/nightmare we found ourselves in was not helping anyone. I returned home with an open mind to tackle this together and even to look at 'sleep training' options.
Tom and I agreed that leaving him to cry himself to sleep would never be for us (although I only have empathy for anyone having to use this method, I understand just how awful sleep deprivation is!). Instead we tried soothing him in his cot (he cried and cried and stood up in his cot and tried to reach out to us, it broke our hearts) we tried it for three days and it did not work for us. We tried gradually retreating and this did work a little better for us, although it took a good few weeks to see any results. Still him going to sleep in the first place was only one part of the battle, the main issue being him waking up every 45 minute sleep cycle and being unable to put himself back down.
Eventually over the Christmas holidays (Tom had two weeks off) we decided to crack it once and for all, we did his routine (boob, bath, book, bed) and then Tom would sooth him and leave the room. He would cry, not out of fear this time but annoyance, he wanted us with him. Part of me screamed 'why not? we can just got to bed at 7pm for the next few years can't we? if it means him not shedding a tear?' The other part of me knew we had to do something, for our own mental health and that of our relationship which we agreed might not last another year under such strain.
So we left him for 5 minutes on the dot. Went back in, soothed his tears, tucked him back in and repeated, if it got to round three we would stop completely. We never left him for longer than 5 minutes and we never left the room with him in distress. It was a gradual process although funny this made me feel more secure in that it was the right one for us. After two weeks we started seeing stretches of two and three hour sleep cycles! That may still sound awful for some but for us it was like seeing the world again out of this utter sleep deprived haze!
We realised a little after this that Wilf was not a fan (nor never had been) of the cot. We moved him onto the double mattress that had been beside his cot in the spare room ever since we had tried to move him there and failed. He would now sleep until around 10pm when he would wake and one of us would sooth him or if unsuccessful get it and sleep on that mattress until the next wake up when we would swap!
At twenty months Wilf now wakes maybe four times a night and will sleep for two/three hour stretches on his own. For us this is a huge achievement but of course we are quite far away from the holy grail that is 'sleeping through the night'! We'll get there eventually of course. Our next step is moving him into his own bed which I am going to fill you in on over the next few days. Wish us luck!