Up until recently, I thought we had dodged a bullet. Nearly nine months into parenthood, and we'd never had problems getting Mason down at bedtime. I attributed our good fortune to starting a bedtime routine with him on our very first night home from the hospital, and consistently maintaining it all of these months, and putting him down awake, but drowsy, so he learned to put himself to sleep early on.
I should have known our time was coming!
For the past month or so, Mason has shown signs of separation anxiety. He's awoken a couple of nights, needing nothing other than our company. One Sunday night, near the end of nursing, he grew agitated and stressed. He screamed relentlessly as we put him in his nightie (my pet name for his sleep sack) and kissed him goodnight. Brad and I looked at each other in alarm. He had never acted this way! We laid him down and walked out, thinking he'd settle down pretty quickly.
Well, he didn't. And it took us hours to get Mason down that night. We soothed him every ten minutes or so, but that just didn't seem to work.
The next night, Monday, Mason behaved the same way at the end of nursing. He knew it was time for night-night and that we were going to leave him in the dark. He's a smart little guy! We sensed a new stage starting, and decided to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later.
We agreed that 40 minutes of crying, instead of the previous night's 10, would be our limit, and watched Mason on the monitor to make sure that he was safe. It was an excruciating wait and watch, but after 25 minutes, he quieted down, rolled onto his tummy, and fell asleep.
On Tuesday, he only cried for five minutes. On Wednesday, he cried for 30 seconds. On Thursday, he didn't cry at all.
And so, we bit the bullet, and our boy cried it out. We all survived. And thankfully, it worked!