Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The search continues...

Well, as soon as I thought things were improving, they went downhill fast.  We were back to 20 minute naps, multiple wake ups at night and a cranky pants baby.  To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.  As I researched sleep, the one consistent thing I was finding (because every expert has different advice) was that adequate daytime sleep was really important for the brain development of baby.  So along with dealing with the fussiness, I was also dealing with some massive mom guilt that my kid was going to flunk out of school because I couldn't figure out how to get her to nap.  Awesome.

The only option we had left was to let her cry it out.  Whole new world of mom guilt.  Seriously, so freaking hard, but we really felt like we had no other option.  I've never been one of the people that believes letting your baby cry it out is mean and cruel and will turn them into serial killers.  It makes sense to me that we have to teach babies lots of things, and teaching them to sleep is probably one of those things.  When I was pregnant, I fully expected to someday pursue this form of sleep training.  However, at 3am, when E is crying, and I'm watching the monitor obsessively, its hard to remember that I believe that and a lot easier to convince myself I'm doing permanent damage.

I made an appointment with the pediatrician, because if I was going to continue on this course, I wanted some reassurance that there wasn't an underlying problem like an ear infection, and I wanted to ask if it was a good plan if/when she was teething, because she was starting to exhibit a lot of the signs of teething.  Thankfully, baby girl is healthy, but the doctor does think she is teething.  She supports cry it out, but also let me know that if E wakes up after 4am (which she does pretty much every night now) that I should go ahead and feed her.  Keep in mind that whenever I've talked about E sleeping through the night and especially during that 2-3 week period that she was sleeping through every night, she was going 9 and 10 hour between feeds, so to hear that my new normal is 6 hours is a little rough, but adjusting my attitude to expect to wake up and feed her at that time instead of going to bed thinking she should be sleeping until 7am and getting frustrated when she wakes up at 4:30am has really helped.

The pediatrician also said that if she's going down for bed by 7pm and getting up for the day around 7:20, she's getting enough sleep (even with lots of wake ups), and she may just never be a big napper.  On one hand this is really frustrating, because with her naps being so unpredictable, it's hard to have any kind of schedule.  Also, she gets very fussy as the day progresses, which means it's not only hard to get things done during the day, but also, when she goes down for the night, I want to crash as well.  On the other hand, now that I've pretty much accepted that no amount of me setting a routine is going to change how long she naps, I feel like I can be more flexible with our schedule.  Silver lining?

As for crying it out, I know it works for a lot of families, but at this moment, we're not really following it.  I still sometimes allow E to fuss for awhile before I go into her, but it's based more on how she's crying, when she's doing it, etc.  Sometimes she wakes up fussing and I know if I leave her she'll go back to sleep.  Sometimes she wakes up royally mad and I know that leaving her to cry will not do any of us any good.  Honestly, I just wasn't strong enough for it.  Having the doctor tell me she was getting enough sleep as is and knowing she's teething crumbled the last of my resolve.

So we still do a bedtime between 6:30 and 7pm, and she often wakes up several times before her 10pm feeding. After her 10pm feeding, she's great about sleeping until somewhere between 4 and 6am.  Feeds again, and back down until 7:20ish.  If she starts to have a lot of wake ups between 10pm and 4am, we may revisit sleep training.  During the day, she naps between 3 and 6 times for a total daytime sleep amount anywhere between 50 minutes and 3.5 hours (usually around 2 hours- the 3.5 hours has only happened twice in the past month, but ohhhh those were glorious days).

Is it ideal?  No.  Did I hope/ expect she'd be a better sleeper by now?  Yes.  Her dislike of naps would make me question if she was my kid but I still vividly remember pushing her out of my lady bits.  It is what it is, it's only a season, and it's where we stand right now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In search of sleep

Well friends, as I stated in my last post, the sleep issue is a big deal in our house right now, and my kiddo's lack of routine/ napping is high on the list of Things That Make Me Want to Gouge My Eyes Out.  Seriously.  There has been crying, from her and from me, frantic downloading and reading of books, desperate calls to my SIL and prayer.

Lets start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start:)  E hasn't been a great napper since she left the sleepy newborn stage (never thought I'd refer to that time as sleepy, but looking back, yup, it was).  We had so much going on, and planned on moving soon, so I had no real desire to push anything on her.  Plus, she was doing really well at going straight to sleep at 10pm, and was sleeping through the night often enough that I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that lovely stretch.

Shortly before we moved we realized she was starting to get fussy before going down at 10, so we moved her bedtime up to 8pm.  We also moved her into our room while we painted her room, and she went back to getting up 3-4 times a night.  She just needed her paci, but mama has to be semi awake to give it to her.  Bleh.  Once we moved her back into her room, she would sleep through the night better, but then began the fighting of bedtime.  I'm talking all ready for bed at 8pm, practically asleep, but the second her head hit the mattress, screams.  For an hour and a half.  If I held her or not.  Do you have any idea what this mama is like after her baby screams inconsolable screams for an hour and a half?  I'm a crazy person.

I thought it must be because she wasn't napping well during the day so I really tried to get her on a routine.  Our pediatrician told us she should be napping for 90 minutes twice a day- first nap 11-12:30, second nap 3-4:30, bedtime at 8pm, wake at 7:20ish for the day.  So this is what we tried.  This led to her cat napping anytime I wasn't 100% focused on her (brushing my teeth, making coffee etc) and fighting "naptime"  Sleeping a total of about 40min to an hour total during the day.  And still the horrible struggle with bedtime (she wasn't actually going to sleep for the night until 9, 9:30, sometimes even 10pm).  I knew she needed more sleep than that, as she'd wake up in a great mood in the morning, but as the day went on, she'd get more and more fussy.  She was waking up from her naps crying and still tired- rubbing her eyes, etc, but refusing to go back to sleep.

I tried putting her to bed awake, drowsy, and totally asleep.  I tried feeding her right when she would wake up, I tried feeding her right before she should be going to sleep.  I tried keeping her to a set naptime routine, with a wind down time.  Tried keeping the room a little warmer, tried what I felt was just right, tried it being a bit cooler.  Tried letting her nap in bed with me.  Tried blackout curtains, music, lovey, absolutely anything I could think of.  I even gave up coffee for a week, wondering if the caffeine was the culprit.  Ughhh, that was a long week.  I tried letting her cry it out with checking on her, which resulted in her starting to cry again before I would even leave the room, so then I tried letting her cry with me just watching her on the monitor.  She would cry until it was time for me to go in and feed her again.  The only thing that would get a decent nap out of her was physically holding her in my arms.  Even then, she'd wake up after 20-30 minutes and need me to soothe her a bit to go back to sleep.  Nothing seemed to make a difference.  Needed a new game plan.  ASAP.

I downloaded Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and called my SIL for advice.  We moved her bedtime from 8 to between 6:30 and 7pm, and started shooting for 3 naps a day, with the first one being about and hour to an hour and a half after she woke for the day.  She started waking a bit earlier for the day, around 6:30, but I really didn't mind- totally worth it for her to be getting better sleep since she now wasn't fighting bedtime as she had before.  Her naps went from 20-30 minutes here and there to 45 minutes in the morning and 30 min for the other naps, and again, bedtime was much smoother.

However, after a night when we got home late and thus she went to bed late, the next morning we were both wiped and so when she woke up at 6am, I just fed her and brought her back to bed with me.  She slept until 7:30, and then I fed her again at 8:30, and she went to sleep at 9 and slept for a full hour!  Do what?  Sure enough, tried it again the next few days and yup, letting her go back to sleep after she woke at 6am meant another hour and a half of sleep for both of us, AND a better morning nap.  Sign me up.

So where we stand now is waking for a feeding around 6 am, going back to sleep and waking for the day around 7:30, nap around 9am (usually her longest of the day), nap around noon, and last nap of the day around 3:30 or 4pm.  Bedtime around 6:30 with a dream feed at 10pm.  I'm still hoping her naps will get longer, and honestly it doesn't take much for our whole days schedule to get off, depending on how long she sleeps during each nap.  Sometimes it means 4 shorter naps in the day.  I've read that right around now is about the time she could be transitioning to just two naps in a day, and perhaps if her naps were longer she could do that, but once she wakes from a nap I can MAYBE get her to go back to sleep for another 10 minutes, but that's about it, so I'm not sure how to get her naps to be longer.

I've been tracking her sleep times and over the last two weeks her total daytime sleep has been increasing gradually.  Saturday she slept for 2 hours during her first nap, 45 minutes for her second nap, and an hour for her third nap!!!!!  That's the first two hour nap I can remember her taking in months.  AND she didn't fuss at all when I put her down.  Miraculous.  However, Sunday we were out and about, and Monday I had MOPS, so I'm not sure if that's why, but the last few days she's back to her old tricks- 20 and 30 min naps and up multiple times at night.

It's a balancing act of putting her down to nap when she's sleepy but not overtired, and making sure that she's got enough time between when she goes down and when she needs to eat next to allow for a long nap if she so desires.  I'd love for her to be on the Eat Play Sleep routine, but right now it's more of and Eat Play Sleep Play routine because her nap time length is so unpredictable.  All naps are in her crib, and we do white noise, paci, lovey, and she gets laid on her side (9/10 times she ends up on her tummy).  I can't honestly say this is working, because of the last few days, but you know me, I feel better just having a plan.  And bedtime is still going better.  I think we're planning to start solids tomorrow in hopes that it will help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Emersyn: 5 Months

Dear Emersyn,

This has been a busy month (aren't they all?)!  You started this month off with your very first cold, and mama got out the NoseFrida for the first time- you were not a fan, but it definitely did the job.  Even with a cold, you still managed to be a smiley, happy girl.  Oh how I love you.

This month brought our first family vacation.  It was mama and daddy's 5 year anniversary, and we all headed to Maine.  It was your first time on a plane, and your first time at the ocean.  We were way more excited than you, but you did love being outside haha.

You can now roll over from back to belly on both sides, but still show no interest in rolling from your belly to your back.  I suspect you could actually do it (you kind of half do it when we're doing tummy time), and just don't want to- you love being on your belly.

Laughs are now in full force, as is the babbling and motorboating.  So stinkin' cute.  This month you've really found your feet, which seem to be extra interesting to you.  You try very hard to get them to your mouth, but your belly is usually in the way.  You sat up on your own for the first time this month, but you're still pretty wobbly.

Also new this month is the amount you are interacting with us, and your attempts at mimicking our actions.  Before, we would do things around and to you, hoping for a response, and now, you seem to play more with us.  Once of my favorites, is that I often nuzzle your neck and give you kisses, and you now like to snuggle into my neck, and give awesome, open mouth, slobbery kisses.  You also really love to try to grasp our faces with your hands.  Your daddy's beard, especially, seems to fascinate you.

You still eat every 2.5-4 hours during the day, and you're exclusively breastfed.  We plan to do baby led weaning starting next month.  I really think you could make it to 4 hours (or at least 3.5) between feeds, but I'm not in any big hurry to change your schedule, and this actually gives me a little more flexibility.  If we need to go somewhere I can feed you before so we don't usually have to nurse in public.  You eat 6-7 times a day this way (including a dream feed at 10pm) and you're gaining weight (16 lbs 3 oz), so no need to fix what's not broken.  Right now I'm just trying to concentrate on your sleep schedule, which definitely needs work.

You're wearing 6-9 month onesies. You can still fit in 3 month shirts and dresses, but pants are strictly 9 month- your legs are deliciously chunky, and you're pretty tall!  Your diapers (bumgenius 4.0) are still on the medium setting, and you have 3 sets of buttons showing.

We've instituted a new schedule in the last couple of weeks, and your sleep time is gradually improving.  It's really a separate post all its own, but you now go to bed between 6:30/7pm, wake at 6am to eat, and go back to sleep until about 7:30.  You nap 3 times a day, around 9am, noon, and 4pm- anywhere from 30 min to an hour each nap, which is great, since your nap time in a day used to be between 40 min and an hour total.  I'd say your total sleep time now is about 14ish hours, whereas up until this new schedule your total sleep time was about 11ish hour, and you were a grouchy baby.  Mama wasn't doing too hot either, dealing with the fussy.  We're hoping it just keeps improving!

 Honestly, this month has probably been our hardest since you were a newborn, because the sleep issue is a big deal.  On the other hand, it's also been the most fun, in terms of your level of interaction, your learning of new skills, and your love of cuddling with us.  Feeling you bury your head in my neck, or seeing you smile and babble at me is just an amazing feeling.  We love you so very, very much, baby girl.

I'll love you forever,