Today on the blog – in conjunction with Touro Infirmary – we are absolutely thrilled to be opening a dialog about sleep through our “Rest Assured: You Are Not Alone” series. As moms we are all often sleep deprived, and we struggle with making decisions around our children’s sleep habits as well. Should we use a crib or a bassinet? Is co-sleeping safe or not? Should we sleep train? And who IS the expert on sleep training anyway? Will the baby ever sleep more than 2 hours at a time? Why does my toddler have night terrors? When do I move the toddler to a “big kid” bed and oh my word why won’t they stay in the darn thing? Our goal through this series is to create a safe place for all of us to open up about the sleep issues that trouble us and to acknowledge that no matter our struggles or choices, we are never ever alone.
From the beginning…
Even though my boys are already six years old, people still say when they hear I have triplets, “oh, you must not ever sleep!”
Au contraire, my friend. Because I have triplets, I have been sleeping well since they were seven months old.
Not to sound like a broken record, but because there are three of them, we were forced to implement a strict routine from the time they came home from the hospital.
At first, it was easy. We fed them, we changed them, we swaddled them, they slept. Every three hours, the cycle started again. At that point, yes, I was tired. Always.
And then we were able to stretch out the time between feedings. From about two months to five months of age, they’d have a bottle in the evening, we’d put them down to sleep, and then I’d make the mistake of not going to sleep myself. I would reason that surely, they’d wake up in a few hours, what was the point of going to bed at 8:00? But I should have, because that’s when they started sleeping a long stretch, maybe until 1 a.m. After that feeding, they’d give me another couple of three hour stretches, and then it was up for the day. I was back at work, and exhausted.
(I’ll admit here that we cheated a bit, and hired a grad student to be a night nanny a couple of nights a week. She would sit in the nursery and read Nietzsche and do the middle of the night feedings so I could be functional at work, at least two days a week. That was heavenly. For two days a week, I was sort of awake! Ish.)
Time to get hardcore
At five and a half months, they were almost sleeping through the night, if only it weren’t for that pesky 4 a.m. bottle. The thought of having to get up three times in the night was terrifying, so if one woke up for that bottle, they all got woken up for that bottle. I was starting to think that maybe it was just a habit, so I toyed with the idea of only feeding the one that woke up and letting the other two sleep through.
It’s a testament to how exhausted I was that I decided to experiment with this on a business trip to San Antonio. My best friend came with me, along with all three babies. (Worst.idea.ever.)
Actually, I was right. The first night we tried it, Oliver slept all the way through the night! And my definition of “slept through the night” has always been twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. None of this eight or nine hour nonsense. Twelve solid hours.
But then, my friend got strep throat, so I was working during the day, and not getting much sleep in the night (remember, at least two were still waking up to eat) so our experiment went on hold for a while.
At seven months, I decided it was time to try the “cry it out” method. I kind of skimmed through some books, but mostly chatted with other triplet moms online, and went for it.
Of course it was awful. But it wasn’t nearly as awful as I’d thought. Within three nights, all three boys were sleeping through. Twelve hours, thankyouverymuch. And they’ve been great sleepers ever since.
In the meantime…
They slept in cribs until a few months after their third birthday. (Thank you, crib tents! Too bad they’ve been recalled.) When we moved them to toddler beds, we had no problems at all. They were so used to not being able to get out of their cribs, they never got out of their toddler beds. Of course, this had a downside as well. Even though they were potty-trained at the same time, they wouldn’t get out of bed themselves to use the bathroom, so they’d call for us. But better than running around the house at 3 am!
We moved them to bunk beds shortly after they turned 5, and they’re still great sleepers.
Now, let’s not talk about naps….they gave those up before they turned 3. That’s my payback!