When I graduated high school, a group of friends and I went camping alongside the sand dunes at Honeyman State Park. We went skinny dipping, we played drinking games, we flirted—and, gathered around a campfire, we burned the spiral notebooks and three-punch paper we had filled with notes on biology, history and literature.
As remnants of high school went up in smoke, I felt ready for a new chapter to begin.
I’m considering doing the same with our giant stability ball—because that’s apparently what I do when sleep training works.
You see, Eric and I have bounced Kiwi to sleep on that thing for nearly every nap and bedtime, plus the uncountable times she woke up when she was supposed to be sleeping, for the last six months. We have bought multiple balls to use when we travel because the one time we forgot, I injured my foot bouncing so much on my parents’ hardwood floor. (For real.) The faint squeak-squeak of our utter reliance on the ball was as consistent as the white noise we use to help Kiwi, a horrible sleeper, drift off. Who knows how many times I cried on that ball, doing my best to sob silently and avoid dripping tears on my baby’s head.
But now—but now—Kiwi has been putting herself to sleep.
No ball. No bouncing. Just her and my new favorite person, Richard Ferber.
Starting sleep training
We—really, I—reached my breaking point with the sleep situation last week. “We’re sleep training Kiwi,” I announced. We’d gotten the go-ahead from her pediatrician, we’d researched our options, we’d set up a plan. From using cry it out with Peeper, I know the good things that happen when sleep training works.
We used the Ferber method—basically, laying your child down drowsy but asleep so she can learn to self-soothe, checking on and reassuring her periodically at increasingly longer intervals.
Hearing Kiwi cry at all was horrible. Leaving her to fuss went against every mothering instinct I had. The first night of Ferber training I cracked a beer, played downstairs with Peeper and put Eric in charge of patting, soothing and singing to her every few minutes.
But then I got the text: “She’s asleep.”
Kiwi managed to fall asleep on her own in less than a half-hour. The next night, it took her about 15 minutes of occasional fussing. And she’s even falling asleep by herself for naps. When sleep training works, it’s beautiful. And it’s such a relief.
No going back
People, I have bounced all the bounces. I will not go back. I want to burn that ball.
I will probably become more reasonable in my anti-stability ball stance once I get a little more sleep, which is happening (!!!) because of Kiwi’s independence and new status as an expert self-soother. After all, thanks to those hours and hours of bouncing, my butt has never looked better. So it’s not all bad.
But Kiwi’s new ability to put herself to sleep is a game-changer.
I already feel like more of a whole person. I have begun thinking of all the things I want to do once my energy stores are a bit more replenished. My wrists, shoulders and legs don’t hurt as much. And Kiwi is better rested since she’s not waking constantly.
I am so damn proud of this little munchkin.
Thank you, Kiwi, for picking up this skill so quickly.
Now I’m off to ride the elliptical for a while. Wouldn’t want to lose this butt quite yet.