Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sleep is the Answer

As I type this, I'm sitting at my computer holding Lillie, who is wide awake. Her tummy is full. Her bum is dry, and she is currently quiet. But I can tell by the look on her little face that it's simply the quiet before the storm. Why would now be any different? She's cried a good 75% of the day, and I would like to think I know why.

Yep, sleep is the answer.

As I said in my last entry, I've started on the long road to sleep training. There are many people out there who are convinced that "sleep training" means sticking your child in a crib, walking away, and letting her cry. Granted, that is one type of sleep training, it is not the only one.

The first step in training has been getting the girls acclimated to their cribs. Since we brought them home in February, L & D have been sleeping in a Pack n' Play, our beds, on a Boppy, or in our arms. They never spent the night in their cribs. Last week, we started having them spend nights in their room. We spent lots of time putting that nursery together--making it just so; I think it's a good idea to let the girls sleep there. Plus, it's away from the TV, our talking, and the hustle and bustle that adults do. Maybe, just maybe they will get a better kind of sleep there.

And by better, I don't necessarily mean more (even though they could probably use a little more), I mean longer blocks. My girls sleep, but just like the people who take care of them, they don't get quality sleep.  One day I would love for them to be sleeping two, three, (God willing) four hours at a time before they wake up happy and content, not crying and crabby.

The first week of nursery sleeping hasn't gone too badly. It's still a work in progress and takes some sacrifice to have them there, but I do think it is beneficial to them...and eventually to us.

The next step: getting them to sleep on their own. I've read books, articles, blogs, and forums. I've had conversations with myself and with Tim. And even though it's not set in stone just yet, I think our first approach to getting the girls to sleep better is to use Graduated Extinction as described in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth.

For those who don't know, it means I plan to create a bedtime routine for the girls to soothe them, put them in their cribs drowsy yet awake, and then leave the room. If they start crying, I will not go back in the room for x amount of time. After that time has expired, I will go soothe them as I see fit and then leave the room again, allowing for a little more time if they start crying again. I will do this a few times until they fall asleep. I will do a version of the routine for each of their naps during the day as well.

It's going to be hard work. It's going to wear on my nerves like nobody's business, but in the end, I believe it will lead to better sleep for Lillie, for Dani, for me, for Tim, and for the caregivers who stay with us.

As I can't state enough--sleep is the answer.

In the end, I'm hoping they will take three 1.5 to 2 hour naps during the day and sleep at night in 4-5 hour blocks. This means that all of us will be happier, healthier, and far less agitated and sluggish throughout our days.

If you think letting your children cry in their room at night is bad parenting, then I respect that you feel that way. But I believe that being a walking zombie trying to care for two infants is bad parenting, so this is the track for me.

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