The thing is, I hate it. I hate it the very most when I finally am on the ropes, tapping out, screaming “UNCLE”, waving a white flag, surrendering and have no plan for what to do next. Especially at 3:00 AM. The early AM hours bring out a special intense version of me-as-a-knuckle-head, just wondering if there’s someone who will please be in charge of this family just until 7 AM when I can resume my regularly scheduled duties. Sheppard and Smith are not particularly bad sleepers. It’s just that they’re not all that predictable. Some nights, they’ll wake up twice, I’ll nurse them, and they’re down for the count. Then some nights, they’re wanting to get up every 1 1/2 hours, bright-eyed and ready to party. I do love a good party. But I do not love the party that happens when I put them back in their cribs and they rebel-yell for two or more hours. No, that is not my kind of party. And that is exactly the party we had on Wednesday night, which was following a similar Tuesday night party and by Thursday morning I was having a baby-party hangover in the worst way.
So. I finally reached out to Natalie Diaz, a parenting professional, whom I had met in the nursing lounge/sex shop of the Brooklyn Baby Expo. Natalie runs Twiniversity which is a website I joined early on in my pregnancy so I could get an eyeful of what parents of twins talk about. Now, if you know me and let’s face it you do know me I’m an open book, or at least an open website – anyway, asking for help is not my strong suit. But I emailed Natalie and asked a dumb question which she used her super decoder ring to reply thusly:
I know what you are going through and you are a trooper woman, you will be totally fine! You’ve been through this before and this is just twice as hard, but no different.If you want, you can give me a call today and I can walk you through what to do tonight if you like. I’ve coached 100′s of parents on how to get their monkeys to sleep.I’m here for ya woman! Use me!
And this is the moment that love bloomed. She wasn’t promising results for a fee, advice for a dime, or support for some cash. Nope. This here other mother of twins was simply offering help to a stranger. And. Then I took what felt like my first breath of the day. To have someone just tell me I’m doing it wrong or I’m doing it right or even that I’m in the ballpark of hope, that’s all I needed. We talked.
Natalie presented a plan for me. It is a simple plan, one that she’s seen work, and then told me to run it by my pediatrician. I was a little “Meh” on calling the doc, but Nat emphasized that I should do that. She told me that in the wee hours of the morning, as the babies are crying, I’m going to wonder if what I’m doing is ok. And if the doc has told me that medically it’s ok, that’s going to stop me from second-guessing myself. She was, of course, absolutely correct. I called my doc who didn’t even skip a beat before she said to go for it, it is 100% fine. The babies are ok to go.
So what’s the plan? Cutting out the night feeding. My boys are asleep in their crib every night by 7. They wake up to be fed usually around 11. Then maybe 1 or 2, and then again around 5. Nat advised me to cut out the feedings after 11/11:30, letting them sleep until 7 am. So at 11pm, Anson goes in, changes their diapers, then hands them off to me for a “dream feed”. She said that it’s better if we wake them than to wait for them to cry – further enforcing that crying doesn’t get them picked up/nursed at bedtime. So I give them a big feed, trying to keep them as asleep as possible, hand them back to Anson, who puts them in their safe little cozy cribs, and that’s it for the night. No more feeds, pick ups, pats, songs, rocks, fretting or hand-wringing, you dig? I do. I dig.
And the thing that surprised me the most – Natalie assures me that the babes can smell me – smell my milk. And that me sleeping in the room with them is probably keeping them up when they wake up at night. So another part of this plan is me getting out of dodge while we re-program our little bots. So I’m on the couch for the next little bit.
And last night was our maiden voyage. I have to admit that I felt tremendous guilt, knowing they would wake, and probably cry their little strong hearts out for a long time . But even knowing that, I allowed myself a little bit of pleasure knowing I’d be on the couch where I could not hear them, and sleeping the longest stretch I have been allowed to sleep in five months. I did of course stupidly wake up a few times and turn on the monitor – just to hear a report – and did hear some rather emphatic wailing a few times. Tonight, I am giving the monitor to Anson to hide from me. No sense. I am dumb.
Natalie said her hope for me is that they will be sleeping through the night by Monday. That is quite a hope, is it not? And I can do this hard time with that hope. I know the babies probably think I suck the most right now. But when they’re getting a nice stretch of uninterrupted sleep, I have a feeling they’re going to be happier, I’m going to be happier, and that makes for a happy family.
I’ll let you know how it goes – until then – please let me know how and when and what kind of results you’ve gotten with sleep training techniques. I love hearing that I’m not alone in these here woods.
[Reminder: This is obviously a hot-button issue. So many great parents, so many great parenting philosophies and beliefs. I honestly enjoy reading about other people's experiences and opinions, and appreciate each one that takes the time to leave a comment. Just remember to be respectful of each other. Play nice. Feel free do disagree with me, or anyone here - but do it in a way that is constructive. Name-calling and other nastiness doesn't have a place here. Thanks!]