Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Sleep Journey: Part Two

In my previous post, I detailed how much infant sleep sucks. And continues to suck as that infant becomes a toddler.  I should add here that there's actually a name for the sleep "training" method that I chose to use: Wait it Out. Basically, I acknowledge that infants are designed to wake frequently, be attended to and sleep near their parents, and even breastfeed beyond infancy. So basically, my kid who doesn't sleep is normal. Your magical sleeping unicorn baby, however wonderful, is not.

Now back to the journey.

Turning point: We decided to start trying for Baby #2 when CG was about 17 or 18 months old.  The urgency to get her in her own room began, because I knew that a) I would be needing more sleep, being pregnant and all, and b) there’s no way I was sharing my bedroom with a toddler AND a newborn.  Between the two they’d be up all night!  

So we started talking up the crib.  We had been playing in her bedroom all along, and I got really soft sheets and a nice blanket for the bed.  I occasionally placed her in the crib for a few minutes to play, and immediately removed her.  I kept saying that soon, I would start having her sleep there.  

I did start with naps, because she was just fighting me and refusing naps in the master bedroom  when she knew that Daddy was in the room (3rd shift, sleeping during the day).  One day I had just had it with the rocking and nursing and playing routine, that I said "Forget it! You're going in your crib!" That went great.  Seriously. Curled herself up and went to sleep, like that was what she was waiting for all along.

Once summer started and I became a stay at home mom, I really got the ball rolling.  Every night, she would start the night in her crib, and at first waking she would sleep with me in the big bed, or in her small crib in my room.  Hubby was still on 3rd shift, so I had the bed to myself anyway.  It was tough getting a routine down, because once I became pregnant, my milk started to try up, and nursing really hurt.  So there was a lot of fighting, and resisting.  I would nurse, then lay her down, then rub her back, then try and leave the room.  She would cry for 2 minutes, I would go back and start over.  It didn't really help that there was no room for a rocking chair in the nursery, so I was sitting with her on the floor.  Sometimes the bedtime routine would go on for an hour before she finally fell asleep, either in my arms, or with me rubbing her back.  Plus, sleeping in bed with me was all fine and dandy when Paul was working, but on the weekends she still expected it, and there was just not enough room in our queen bed for the three of us.

Then a couple of things happened: First, the doctor told us that Clara had seasonal allergies, and to start her on a daily dose of Children’s Zyrtec.  Next, CG discovered the basket of old bottles in her closet and decided she really liked them.  So we started offering a bottle of milk (cows, since my freezer stash was long gone) at bedtime. Thirdly, and most importantly, she started becoming more interested in TV, specifically Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Did you know that there is an entire episode of this wonderful show dedicated to morning and nighttime routines?!  I remember the date of the episode vividly, because until very recently it was saved on the DVR.  We watched that episode every night after bath, and while enjoying a bottle of non-momma milk.  The first time we did that, she went to bed so easily and slept so soundly that I panicked at 4am thinking that something was wrong with the monitor!!  The next day I went out and bought a proper video monitor to avoid a repeat of that situation.  

There were still occasional wake ups in the middle of the night.  But those were handled quickly with a cuddle, a nurse, some back rubbing, or occasionally a bottle refill (yup, putting baby to bed with a bottle is also on that list of no-nos from the beginning).  But more often than not, the only thing interrupting my sleep was me.  CG would whimper or whine in her sleep, and I would stare at the monitor trying to decide if she needed me or not.  By the time I decided she was going to stay asleep, I was wide awake.  I got a lot of reading done during that time.  

There have been some setbacks.  Vacation was a big one.  Now that she was sleeping in her own dark, quiet room and her own big crib with a nice mattress, it was extremely hard to convince her to sleep in a pack n play with a cardboard mattress, right next to mommy and daddy.  She still fell asleep well at bedtime, but woke super frequently.  She didn't want to go back in the crib, but she also tossed and turned if I brought her to the big bed.  She required LOTS of milk refills, and I could just sense the cavities growing (nope, wouldn't accept water in the bottle, and has really started to refuse nursing).  And naps.  Don’t even talk to me about naps.  Pretty much an hour or more of playtime in the crib before she would go down, and if I came into the room and tried to nap myself, there’s no way she was sleeping.   Plus she developed this annoying habit of pooping during that playtime, but doesn't have the words yet to inform me of that fact.  So I had to listen to the monitor and decide if it was time for me to intervene, or if she would play herself to sleep.  

But now we’re back from vacation.  First night back, she was asleep as soon as her head hit the mattress, and stayed that way until 7:45am.  Then, she played in her crib for awhile before LAYING DOWN AND GOING BACK TO SLEEP!  I think I can now safely say that I have a toddler who loves sleep.  

See you at 4am when I eat my words.  

Our Sleep Journey: Part 1

*Disclaimer: I understand that some infants magically sleep through the night at a very early age.  Maybe they were born that way, or maybe you found success with scheduling or cry-it-out.  You may even follow that dubious method advocated by several pediatricians. Clara was absolutely not born that way, and I am very against scheduled feedings or allowing a small infant to cry when she has a need that I can meet.  I could write a post on that. But those who agree with me would say Amen, and those that don't would think I'm judging them. I'm not.

Before my baby was born, I had beautiful visions of laying in bed, gazing lovingly at my newborn baby sleeping in the Arms Reach attached to my bedside.  I knew that room sharing was best, but that baby should have her own surface on which to be placed on her back.  I also knew that scheduling feedings or letting a baby cry herself to sleep was a surefire way to sabotage breastfeeding and attachment.  Lastly, I knew that newborns sleep A LOT, so even though she would wake frequently, I could still nap in between and allow my body to recover from delivery.  

After my baby was born, the picture looked a little more like this: baby only sleeps curled up on someone’s chest.  Since babies are supposed to be placed to sleep on their back (instant crying), and are supposed to sleep on their own surface, this meant in my and my husband’s minds that one of us needed to sit awake and hold the baby for all of her sleeps.  Cue over-exhausted momma, over-exhausted daddy who’s doing all he can, but still has to go back to working third shift a week after getting home from the hospital.  You can also imagine that both momma and daddy caught themselves falling asleep with the baby in our arms while watching endless movies on Netflix.  Not exactly safe infant sleep.  

So step one was allowing myself to bring the baby to bed and have her sleep on my chest.  I had the Arms Reach to act as a bed rail, I used a firm pillow, and never brought the covers up past my waist.  I wish someone had told me that this was acceptable a month ago, and maybe I wouldn't have developed PPD from not enough sleep and too much panic and anxiety.  We had to lie to our pediatrician about how baby slept, because instead of actual useful advice, all he told us was that she HAD to be sleeping on her own and that we were to simply lay her down awake and let her cry.  Sorry.  Not sorry.  Not gonna happen.  

 The plus side of only-sleeping-on-mommy's-chest is that it's easy to get baby to sleep pretty much anywhere.  Like on the beach, with built in white noise.

Slowly, we tried different strategies to get CG to sleep on her own.  The swing worked for awhile, and eventually a tight swaddle helped her to stay in the Arms Reach for at least a few hours.  Eventually, we got her weaned off of the Halo Sleep Sack, and she was sleeping in the cosleeper all by herself, except for the 4-10 times she was waking to nurse. But I was ok with that, because I had to work all day, and night time was our bonding time.  Around 12 months, this bonding time was getting just a little old.  I missed uninterrupted sleep.  I was toying with the idea of moving her to her own room (one floor down from master bedroom), but was not at all interested in climbing those stairs 5 times a night.  So we gradually moved the cosleeper, now converted to a crib, further and further from my bed.  We bought a pretty curtain and created a sleep nook in a corner of our room to at least give hubbby and I some night time privacy.  

But still she woke.