The time has come. Allika turns 6 months old tomorrow. That means two things. One- she can start eating solids, and I can slowly relinquish my position as her portable dairy. While it has been a fulfilling, oxytocin-abundant, warm and cuddly six months, I can’t help but celebrate this milestone in our lives. It means that in a few weeks I can finally step out for more than a couple of hours without having to constantly worry about getting back in time to feed her. Though Allika won’t actually be a Gerber baby like her brother (since I will make her food at home), I think it’s an apt name for this phase in her life.
And, two- since we have reason to believe (she only wakes up once at night for some comfort sucking, and doesn’t actually drink milk) that she can now go about 10 hours without food, we can start training her to sleep through the night. Sleep “through” the night!! Only mothers (and some fathers) will understand this feeling. Nothing is more exhausting than months of forced and sustained sleep deprivation!
I recently met a young man, who thought it was really “cool” that I got to stay home all day with “nothing to do.” I could stay up as late and wake up as I pleased, and have a lot of time on my hands. Clearly, he knew nothing about having children, or being a stay-at-home mom. I tried to explain that having two kids leaves you little time to even comb your hair! But he went on about how he too barely got any sleep, since he would stay up watching movies, facebooking and such. He commented on how we both had so much time to “have fun.” I forgave him, albeit a bit slowly…he will have kids one day, and then he will know, I thought.
So, going back to my point, we have decided to use the Ferber method on Allika. We started using it four days ago actually, and it’s working great so far. For the uninitiated, the Ferber method is a way of gradually training your baby to fall asleep by herself, and not need you each time she wakes up to fall back to sleep. It has many critics- mostly people who have not invested the time to actually read what Dr. Ferber says, but assume that it is highly traumatic since it involves letting your baby cry herself to sleep.
I have found, on the contrary, that it is a great way to teach her that you’re around but won’t be around every single second while she sleeps. Yes, there is crying, but it is not unchecked crying. And it really didn’t last very long for us. Allika goes down at 8pm, and falls asleep in about 10 minutes by herself. The first 2 days involved a little bit of crying, but the last two days, she barely even complained…just put herself right to sleep! And she’s going back to sleep by herself when she wakes up. It’s amazing! Dr. Ferber, we bow to thee!
Meanwhile, Allika remains highly untraumatized by all these changes in her life. She wakes up happy and remains happy through the day, crawls a wee bit, tries to sit up and falls, and fights her brother valiantly for every single toy he holds!
This is a new phase for all of us, this Ferber-Gerber. Hopefully, it will give Chandu and me some time to actually talk to each other at the end of the day, listen to music, unwind and maybe have a glass of umm…grape juice, the fermented kind!