Week 5: This week was tough. With Jordan’s adjusted age now at 40 weeks gestation, she’s a full term newborn and I’m starting at square one. She’s eating faster now, with meals taking 45 minutes-1 hour. Still waking her every 2.5 hours in the day in hopes that she will need less at night. Every now and then I get a longer stretch of 3.5-4 hours at night, but it’s often more frequent that during the day and she usually wakes every 2 hours to eat. It’s exhausting, but she is going back to sleep more readily after eating than what she has been, and making fewer attempts to socialize at 3 AM. At the end of the week, I realize she’s outgrown some clothes that fit fine last week, and I blame this every 2 hours business on a growth spurt. It makes me feel better. Marcus leaves on Christmas night for a week and a half, which leaves me alone with the kids during the day and night for part of this week, but I feel super accomplished when I make it all work together. I’ve been working on getting a routine together so the two of them have staggered naps and mealtimes, with some overlap during the afternoon nap, which means rest for me. They each get one on one time with me. I really feel like we got into a groove with that this week.
Week 6: Marcus is still gone, but Kathy came in for at least part of every weekday except New Years Day. What a blessing! I really feel like my energy came back this week, although it’s not because I’m getting good sleep at night. Usually every 2.5 and some refusal to go back to sleep in the early morning hours 0300-0600. Meals usually lasting 45 minutes. Jordan gets put in her swing a little more at night. I have to let her cry a bit. I decide when I’m going to let it happen and for how long and I watch the clock for 5 minutes. Magically, that’s the amount of time it takes. I don’t want to have to use the swing too much, but if that’s what I’ve got to do to get some rest, then so be it. I’m feeling the end of my maternity leave approaching (10 weeks total) and start to do some more for myself. On Thursday and Friday of this week, I hit the gym during nap time and it feels really good to work out again. I don’t feel overtired or sore at all. On Saturday, I made an executive decision that Jordan may sleep on her belly with the Snuza Hero monitor in place. She slept for a 6 hour stretch at night and I was super excited until I realized that getting somewhat appropriate rest just reminds my body how tired I really am. I’m pretty wiped out.
Don’t worry. Children of the 70s and 80s turned out just fine after sleeping this way. Plus, I have her on an apnea monitor 🙂
Week 7: Marcus is home this week, and Jordan is back to wanting to hang out at night more. She’s waking up less than an hour after she’s put down at night, and it seems to be worse if he’s helping me. Lots of fussing and walking the floor, which doesn’t seem to be helping anything. Every time I think we’re making progress, we seem to go back to the super frequent wake ups. I’m trying to make sure she gets plenty of social time during the day instead of at night. On Monday I have my OB checkup (which clarifies a bit about her birth for me), Tuesday I get a much needed haircut, and Wednesday I have a massage.
A much needed haircut.
It feels pretty awesome to do stuff for myself, but Elijah starts acting up a bit I think because I’m missing out on time with him. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, I make a special effort to spend extra one on one time with him, and it really seems to make a difference in his behavior. On Friday, we all walked to the park together, which was nice. On Saturday night, she gives me 2 separate nearly 4 hour stretches between meals, and I’m pretty stoked. Maybe this is the light at the end of the tunnel 🙂 During one of the stretches, she wakes, but is easily patted back to sleep. This is a very good sign! Hoping for more like this in week 8.
Week 8: For the latter part of week 7, naps were getting worse, I was finding myself having to put Jordan in the swing more often at night, and she was becoming more restless when she was sleeping. On Sunday, I decided that I need to read up and refresh myself on Baby Wise principles following a rather rough transition into bedtime. Things seem to be getting worse, not better, and I’m back to work in 3 weeks. Something needs to change.
I finally had to let her cry in her crib because she was crying in the crib, crying being held, and crying in the swing, even right after she had just been nursed, changed, etc. All her needs had been met and she wasn’t happy. I suspected overtiredness, figured if she’s going to cry while I hold and rock her, she may as well cry in her crib. I trust this as my mommy instinct and go with it. I tuck her in, sing lullabies, say prayers and tell her I love her the way I always do, and then I walk out the door. 15 minutes later, she’s sound asleep. After I put her to bed, I read some very helpful posts from Chronicles of a Baby Wise Mom. I don’t know how this blogger manages to keep up her site like she does with 4 kiddos, but it’s such a blessing that she does! It’s an amazing supplement to the book. I used the principles of this book with E, and I’ve been very happy with the results. I’ll post another time about why and how. I’ve also learned there are a lot of misconceptions regarding this book floating around on the web. What I can tell you is that it sure as heck worked for us, x2!
I realized over the weekend that while I had been making sure to get a full meal in (usually only takes 30 minutes now), wake her for mealtimes during the day, and follow the routine of wake –>eat –>activity –> sleep (putting her down awake, but drowsy), I was missing two important things:
1) I had not been paying close enough attention to her waketimes. I had forgotten what the normal waketime range for her age is supposed to be, and was allowing them to be longer than they should be. According to the author, waketimes should trend toward longer, not shorter, as the day wears on, and this was happening. BUT, I was starting with an hour waketime in the morning and progressing to 2 hours of her final waketime before bed. Way too long.
2) I was not always starting the day at the same time, consistently, every day. I knew this is important, because I remember that once I made morning consistent and figured out naps with Eli, things got a lot better at night. It’s just so hard to stay disciplined. Say your desired waketime is 0730. That means starting at 0730 (margin no more than 0715-0745) every.single.day. Even if last night was rough. Even if your toddler is sick. Even if baby just got up and ate at 0600 and you’d really like to sleep until 0830 or 9. Get up at the desired waketime and make her eat.
So, starting Monday morning, I did these two things and kept a log. I don’t like taking notes, because I can remember when she ate last, but I knew I needed to write down when she was showing the first signs of tiredness. As soon as I got my nerd on with the sleep cycles, woah did it make a difference! For her first morning waketime, she yawns 35-40 minutes after waking. 20 minutes doesn’t seem like much? Well, it made all the difference in my world as soon as I started doing what I realized I should.
I’m lucky because both of my babies yawned when they are tired. When E was little, he was easier to read than J is. He would yawn, and just look so over playtime, it was easy to know when to put him down. Jordan will yawn, then SMILE at me! She wanted to hang out. And so did I. When you’ve spent weeks with a super drowsy, but up frequently, preemie, it’s so refreshing to have some interaction that doesn’t involve the food source you have become. But I was allowing our fun time to creep into her nap time, and a tired baby doesn’t rest well, period. But here’s the thing, while she was happy to hang out, I found she was also happy to be put down for her nap, she fell asleep easily without much assistance, and generally stayed asleep until the next mealtime. This means she’s now waking up more rested, takes a full meal more quickly, and sleeps more soundly at night.
This is the smile she shoots me after yawning while we’re winding down for a nap. It’s a trick! This baby is tired and needs her nap!
I added one more bit that’s not in the book. If I want to continue nursing, I need her to eat before I leave for work. So, I set my alarm for a 0500 scheduled “dreamfeed”, and she goes back to bed, and I leave for work. It’s not as bad as it sounds. When I was in anesthesia school, I had to do it at 0400. When I did this with E, he dropped the middle of the night meal and life was sweet.
Objective data? On Sunday night (remember: this is before I committed to sleep nerdery on Monday), she slept for 3.5 hours after bedtime, then was up every 2 after that. Not fun. On Monday, I saw immediate improvement with naps there was no fussing or crying at all. Monday night, she slept for 4 hours after bed, then 2.5, then 3.25 (I woke her at 0500), then 2.25 (start the day at 0730). So not a lot of objective improvement there, but she was sleeping more soundly during each of those times. On Tuesday, I saw some awesome changes in nighttime sleep. She ate at 1930, bed at 2000, then did not wake until 0100. That’s 5.5 hours –a record for her. Then she ate at 0500 and 0730 (I woke her) Wednesday morning. That means just one wake up for me during normal, workday, nighttime sleep!!! That I can handle, and at this rate, I have hope that she may drop it before I have to go back to work. If not, that’s okay too. Wednesday and Thursday were similar, with a slightly less optimal night on Friday, with 3 wake ups before 0730, but no refusal to sleep was going on. Overall though, I feel we are headed in the right direction.
I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to see my baby happily go down for naps and sleep without any upset periods at night. It’s even more satisfying because I know it’s the result of changes I have made to help make it easier for her to learn to sleep on her own. We all like to help our wee ones, right?
I’m choosing to disclose the nitty gritty because I appreciate it when I get that from other parents. We’ve had a handful of episodes that required short periods of crying before a nap or bedtime, but on those occasions, she slept soundly afterward until I woke her for another meal. Because she eats every 2.5 hous for 30 minutes, I have no doubt that she’s being adequately nourished.
These are not the cheeks and chin of an underfed baby. She also has 4 thigh rolls, which I will not post out of consideration for her teenage self.
For the most part, I’d say 95% of sleep times, there’s just a period of grunting and sighing as she settles into sleep. With her earlier issues of GI distress, reflux, and prematurity resolved, I feel comfortable with the choices I’m making at this point. This may not be the way everyone would choose to do things. I do because it’s what worked for both of my kiddos, with a little variation in the particulars, but the principles have remained true.