The Ferber Nightmare

For the past three nights we have been trying the Dr. Ferber method for getting Leah to bed. For those of you who don’t have any idea what the hell I am talking about, the Ferber Method is putting your baby down in the crib drowsy, but still awake. If the child cries you go in and reassure her after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, and so on.

The first night went pretty well. For the first 15 minutes or so, Leah did not cry at all. She just sat in the crib talking to herself and playing with her little stuffed animals. Then she began to fuss a bit, but nothing too hysterical. I waited until she was really crying to go in and reassure her. I hugged and kissed her and told her that I love her, but that it was time to go to sleep. She continued to fuss off and on for only about 40 minutes before falling asleep. When I went in to check on her I found half of her crib toys, her mirror, and her Nuk on the floor! She also had her pants down around her knees. I wonder if she thought that throwing things out and taking off her clothes would get me to come in. She is pretty darn smart!

The second night was also not too bad. Again she lasted only an hour, but this time she cried the whole time, and it was a very angry cry at that. When I went to go check in on her, she would scream when she saw me. Even though she was more mad than anything, it broke my heart. After an hour of crying she quieted down and we assumed that she had gone to sleep. Dave went in to check on her and found her laying there awake. After he left the room she would let out one pathetic little wail every few minutes. It was so sad and pitiful, but eventually she went to sleep.

Last night she regressed. She wailed for an hour and a half before finally going to sleep a little after 9 o’clock. We sat in our bedroom and just listened to her screams feeling like the worst parents in the world. We went to bed once she was asleep, only to be awakened at 11:15. We waited 5 minutes to see if she could soothe herself, and then I went in. I hugged her and layed her down and rubbed her back. She was back to sleep in 2 minutes. Then she woke again at 12:30…she cried for 10 minutes before Dave went in and that made her scream even more, especially when he left again. I went in a little while later and layed her down again. I went to rub her head and she grabbed ahold of my hand and wrapped herself around it. She immediately went to sleep once she had the physical contact with me. It took me 20 minutes to slowly remove my hand and try to replace it with a little stuffed animal. It didn’t work. She woke up and cried as I was leaving the room and continued to cry until 2 o’clock in the morning.

I feel very uncertain today about whether or not this is going to work. I absolutely hate listening to my baby cry and not going in to comfort her. As hard as it is, though, I feel that I am giving her something very valuable if she can learn how to comfort herself and get some good sleep at night.

I can’t even say that it’s all bad. The good things are that I am no longer getting so frustrated at night. Before I would rock/cuddle her and sometimes it would take up to 4 hours to get her to go to sleep. She would thrash and change positions and try to get down. Dave and I would end up snapping at each other and there was just so much tension. Now, although listening to my baby cry is certainly not ideal, I am able to stay calm and when I go in I just talk to her in a soft voice, tell her that I love her and dole out kisses and hugs.

On the down side, she seems to associate me saying “I love you” with being put down in her crib…even when I say it during the day she lets out a wail!

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