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When we called Sheyne, H was about eight months old and still not sleeping through the night regularly. She was also only having two forty minute sleeps through the day. I would spend a long time with her getting her to sleep (twenty minutes to over an hour!), singing lullabies and stroking her. This might then be repeated two or three times through the night. We were going crazy with exhaustion. H might sleep through the night twice a week, but we could never fathom when or why.
My husband and I are both "softies" and we were both terrified of controlled crying -we had tried it a little bit in desperation, but found her cries just so terrible (surely nobody else's baby cries like this!), that we gave up. (For this reason we didn't want to try some other organisations, because we had heard they were very tough with the controlled crying, and also you had to leave home to stay with them).
I was so sick of advice - everyone had a different, often contradictory suggestion. We had tried all sorts of things to no real benefit.
When we heard about Sheyne, and that she would come to us, we were very keen. She told us a bit about what she does, and recommended the five day stay. Our greatest fear was "crying management", and of course that Sheyne would be living with us, seeing every fault in our parenting! I was also worried about Sheyne putting H to bed for the first few sleeps and how H would react. We decided it was worth it, and said "please help!" We were lucky she managed to fit us in earlier than expected, and arrived when H was about nine months old.
The only thing we had to do before Sheyne arrived (at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning!) was make sure H did not sleep again after 6:30 a.m. This was hard for us though, after a broken night's sleep, when we would usually all crash in our bed after the morning breastfeed to grab another precious hour's sleep or so. Sheyne was very good with H, she let H warm up to her gradually, playing games etc. We started to discuss the day's routine straight away.
Many things surprised us. Firstly, H's routine was to change quite radically, and was different to most of my other friend's babies. This new pattern was given fine adjustments over the five days as we got to understand H's sleep needs.
The new routine was very strict! - and this was going to be a major adjustment for me. I had tended to try to fit in day sleeps a bit with what we were doing that day. Often they were in the pram or car. Sheyne explained that we have a body clock for sleep and that we all need to have the same timing every day for best sleeping. I had to stay near home all morning! And I wasn't allowed to let H drift off to sleep in the car or pram at any other times. At first it felt very restrictive, but later I got used to planning my day differently - it was worth it!
The new sleep management included other changes to her bedroom, wrapping her again, having set active and passive times, and learning a consistent language or "cues" for waking, sleeping, etc. It was reassuring to know that it wasn't just one thing that needed to change to solve H's sleep problems.
Sheyne did all the settling for the first two days. (I did my first settling on Tues night). I did find this a bit hard, especially for the first night sleep, when H was starting to get wise to the bed-time routine. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised during the first day when H, although she had to go to sleep without anyone staying there to help her, fell asleep after only a few minutes. She slept for one hour and fifteen minutes at lunch time, so we didn't need to "resettle" then either - what a relief! In fact, for the whole five days we never had to "resettle" H - what a miracle!
That first night I lay awake most of the night dreading the resettling. I was so tired I was almost hallucinating. I was sure I heard H crying and crying and was that Sheyne was doing resettling. I couldn't believe it, in the morning, when Sheyne told me that H never woke up! She did not wake at night again for the whole week! The rest of the time got easier, with a few tough moments.
To be honest, the only thing that was really hard was when H first went to bed at night (7:00 p.m.). This was the time she chose to cry the most, not having mummy stay and sing lullabies. The first two nights were hardest, and then they got easier. We went in to H at short intervals - it was much better than "controlled crying" which has long intervals between visits. It was consistent, which was reassuring for H after a little while. And most importantly, Sheyne taught us to listen for different types of cries. We did not go in if H was starting "settling crying" - something we did not know before. Previously we would have gone in and made the situation worse. So, although the evenings were the toughest part of the new sleep management, the crying management only lasted twenty to forty minutes, and then our baby was asleep.
Our 7:00 p.m. going to bed was always the toughest, and as Sheyne told us it would take three weeks for H to fully adjust her body clock to the new routine. Also as Sheyne predicted, it took about three months for this time of night to change from grizzling time to a happy chatty time in bed. Sheyne correctly advised that it would also take us about three months to recover from our broken sleep patterns!
Was it weird having Sheyne in our house 24/7? A little, especially as we didn't have an extra bedroom and put her up in the dining room with a curtain for privacy! But all in all in was very reassuring, and I could grill her all day long for advice.
H's sleep pattern was totally changed from this time onwards. Her midday sleeps got longer - now she sleeps for two to two and a half hours on most days. The morning and afternoon "bridging" sleeps when she was younger worked really well. It was easy when the time came to drop one, then the other, because the main sleep time did not have to change.
We managed to keep up the routine and be strong about certain rules. As H got older, we relaxed or changed some rules, but important parts of the sleeping management stayed the same. Have we had any glitches? Yes - there were some periods when we started to get night waking again, etc. This was usually during or after sickness or teething. However, we were always able to get back on track by adhering strictly to the whole sleep routine.
We had a major glitch just recently - we think it was a combination of sickness, daylight saving, H testing our boundaries in new ways, and us breaking one too many rules, that undid us. We had two short phone consultations with Sheyne (I was a bit scared I'd be in trouble!) and after two days of applying the advice we are fine again. It was good to get a refresher in what we'd learned over a year ago, and to know what "rules" could be relaxed and what were imperative to stick to, now that H is older.
H is now two, and going really well with her sleeping. Sleep time is positive and loving and we get plenty of closeness without actually staying with H to help her to get to sleep. She is happier and we are much happier!
So, what will we do next time? (Baby No.2 is due next April).
I don't know what we would have done without Sheyne. I needed Sheyne to come and teach me in person what to do. She definitely has a gift for judging babies' individual sleep needs and understanding their cries etc. I know for sure I couldn't have got H sleeping better by reading a book or any other advice. I am sure that by today we would have given up, H would be sleeping in our bed, still waking in the night to be comforted, and none of us would be getting enough sleep.
Was it worth the money? Are you kidding? Getting my sleep back is better than taking a week's luxury vacation! Not to mention the reduction in stress and emotion.
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