312 days – that’s how long I’ve gone without a full night’s sleep. Until Tuesday when a miracle happened and my sleep thief slept all the way through the night. I was so happy and proud, I could have burst. Ryan proclaimed that he really did love his son more than anything. If he didn’t have to go to work, I think we’d have cracked open a bottle of champers!
Admittedly, it wasn’t a total surprise, but it did happen sooner than we both expected. After a particularly rough night’s sleep staying over at a friend’s house with him at the weekend, Ryan and I finally agreed that we would try and crack Ralphie’s rude night awakenings. And so, on Sunday night, ‘Operation sleep’ began.
The premise was simple. Stick to our usual bedtime routine and any time Ralphie would wake up in the night, one of us would go in, lie him back down again, give him his dummy and stroke his head. No talking, no cuddles – nada! We’d start off by leaving him to ‘cry it out’ (oh I hate that phrase!) for five minutes, and then we’d stretch it out to ten.
It all started off really rather badly! Usually, bedtime is pretty straightforward. We have a manic half hour or so before bed of playing, belly laughs and generally going rather mad, then it’s bathtime, a quick massage with Kokoso Baby coconut oil (I need to write a separate piece about this, because it is doing wonders for Ralphie’s eczema), pjs, teeth, a milk feed, a cuddle, and bed. Or so we hoped!
Maybe we changed too much too soon. I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding Ralphie since day dot, but I’ve been wanting to start weaning him off for a little while; I start back at work soon, plus Ryan and I are dreaming of one night away at a spa before I start the old 9-5!
We’ve been getting Ralphie to try follow-on formula milk from a beaker for the last week or so. We’ve worked out that it goes down better if I’m not the one giving it to him. On Sunday, we thought we’d bite the bullet and let Ryan give the night feed. It was a disaster: tears, milk everywhere. I was sat outside the door feeling like the world’s worst mum.
But we persevered. I knew Ralphie was full. He’d had milk from me at 5.30pm followed by a full meal. Ryan did his best to settle him, but it was close to an hour (and a lot of tears later) before our baby finally relented and went to sleep.
At 10.30pm, I popped in and gave Ralphie a dream feed. I’ve never done this before, but I thought my boobs would pop if I didn’t. He went back down no trouble and I crossed my fingers for a restful night.
1.30am – Ralphie’s cries interrupted my slumber. As planned, I held out five minutes before going in and settling him. Except because I didn’t get him out, cuddle and feed him, I didn’t settle him at all. He was furious! The plan was not to stay in there for more than a minute, so I left and he bawled. Ryan then went back down five minutes later and did the same thing. Followed by me, followed by him, and finally…sleep.
Then it happened all over again at 3.40am. Again, we took it in turns, going in to settle him every five minutes. This quickly stretched to ten/twelve minutes as we were so damn knackered. After just over an hour and 20 minutes, Ralphie finally succumbed to sleep. When the alarm clock went off at 6.30am we could have cried!
Monday night, we were tired but committed. Ralphie took more milk from the beaker this time. Tired and much more settled, he went to sleep without any fuss. So far so good.
Again, I popped in later to give him a dream feed. No trouble. We went to bed and then…nothing. We didn’t hear a peep from him all night! It was a MIRACLE!
You should have seen us all in the morning. It was like Christmas had come early. We didn’t stop smiling.
Of course, the big question is, was it a one off?
No! Every night since has been the same – better even, because I’ve slept more soundly too. He’s been going to bed without any trouble, a quick dream feed at 10.30pm and then all the way through until just before 7am (bar one minor wobble last night when he cried for a few minutes – no idea what happened there!). Unbelievable. I still can’t get my head around the fact that we’ve cracked it. And it only took one night. We’ve not dared to say it aloud, but I know Ryan’s thinking it too. Why on earth didn’t we do this sooner?
To mark this huge milestone and to celebrate all that is great about sleep, I’ve teamed up with some amazing small businesses to bring you the ultimate bedtime giveaway. There are some fantastic prizes up for grabs. Check back tomorrow to find out more.