The babies’ sleep regression lasted a little less than three weeks. It was the same kind of regression they had earlier this year (the 4 month sleep regression that hit them around 5.5 months; this 9 month regression hit around 10 months). As far as these things go, it probably wasn’t too awful–an hour to an hour and a half awake in the middle of the night, waking anywhere from 3 to 430. (I hear that a lot of babies wake up every hour or every two hours! I can’t imagine how difficult that is!) We would give them an ounce or more of food as demanded, and after a few days of this, we just brought them downstairs to sit and play quietly in dim light. No point in trying to stand around their room for an hour, and they were not about to play nicely in their cribs–no way, they were to be held, or they were to play.
This would have been easy to alternate between the two of us grownups if there were one baby. But we have two babies who both needed hugging and cuddling, and who both wanted bottles, so we needed two sets of arms to help them. Which meant both of us being awake for half the night (since we are night owls and were going to bed at 12 or 1am) and being super tired all the time. It really hit me after the first week. I felt like a zombie, desperate to get some rest. (But not, apparently, desperate enough to actually go to bed at a decent time. Night owl all the way!)
We/they eventually had a few days of better sleep and so we thought, phew, we’re in the clear. But then for close to a week, there were more wakings again. Not as long, thank goodness, but still being wide awake. We think there was some teething going on–their top teeth are erupting–and maybe some growing. Occasionally only one would be awake; sometimes the other would sleep through, and sometimes the other would wake up and realize he was hungry and wanted to play also.
During this little mini sleep thing, we noticed that they were protesting their room. They would wake up crying, and we would hold them, and if we headed toward the door and set foot over the threshold out of their room–the crying stopped like magic. Step back inside their room, waaaaah. Aha, babies, you won’t outsmart me! 3am is not playtime! Back to sleep you will go! They also did a lot more crying when we put them down for naps, even when they were clearly extremely exhausted and needing to sleep, just lots more crying and protesting that really wasn’t indicative of a problem.
So we began to do a very basic sleep training. Just a 5 minute wait period. We would hug and kiss them, put them down in the crib, give them a pacifier and a lovey, say I love you, and walk out. We would watch the clock and after 5 minutes go back in and lay them back down again without saying much, and leave again. Usually after another 2-3 minutes they would quiet down and go back to sleep. I don’t think I ever needed to go in a second time.
I didn’t keep track of what day we started this, or track the length of the cryings and waiting times. But in less than a week, they didn’t even cry for a full five minutes. And now, after maybe 2ish? less than that? weeks, they cry for less than a minute when we put them down or leave after a waking.
It’s not fun to hear the crying, but it doesn’t break my heart or anything. I know that they need to sleep, that they aren’t hungry or in pain. They just want to be awake and play, even if their little bodies say otherwise. I’m not torturing them, I’m not with-holding affection. They get plenty of snuggles and love from us during their awake hours. We are teaching them some boundaries and how to self-soothe. They need to be able to go to sleep on their own. (Well, I guess you could say that *we* need them to be able to go to sleep on their own. And that’s fair. Mama needs her space. Parents are people too.)
So we are fortunately that this sleep training ‘lite’ is working for us–the babies can help themselves, they can get to sleep and go back to sleep, which means they’re getting good rest and that the parents will be more rested too.
Well…eventually. I guess. We have still not recovered from the regression sleep debt, and the babies still have a wake up or two, short ones, overnight or too early in the morning, and we’re still going to bed too late. Now I’m having trouble going back to sleep after some of these wakings, which means that even when I have the chance to get extra sleep, my mind won’t let me. Torture!