Thursday, August 10

sleeping baby: realistic goal or should I just give up trying?

I freakin' love sleep. I'm so serious. I used to love me some good long sleep after a day's hard work, be it actual work or a great night partying. I used to be a great sleep-in person but sometime in my twenties, I began to appreciate the early morning hours. Mostly the serenity it offers to those who enjoy first glimpse at the still sleeping world and how wonderfully shiny and innoncent it appears as the sun starts to shine. Almost anything seems possible first thing in the morning. So of course, as any parent reading this knows, my serenity, albeit made of pixie-dust magic and flimsy innocence, has been shattered by the thing that drives me: Bumper.

I miss sleep so much.

Yeah, yeah, I know: cry me a river. Every parent who has a blog has written this post and ranted this rant. But it's my turn now and let me be. I've hinted around in my past posts that Bumper is not the greatest sleeper but I've never dedicated many words to describe her actual lack of sleeping skills. Since I've actually decided to do something more then whine and bitch about it and I'm actually going to tackle it head on with actual... ummmm what's the word I'm looking for... tactics, I thought a sleep related post was in order. So on with the post.

As I had originally expected before I left on my recent trip North, I was going to have a lot of time to contemplate the mysteries of life at my in-laws. When we stay at their place, I spend my nursing time up in the guest room (formerly known as the room my husband grew up in but now has been all dolled up as a guest room complete with queen size bed... yummy says the girl who sleeps in a double). A lot of chickens died in that room but I'm not sure if that story fits in this post or not. We'll see. But I must get back on track, back on track.

Okay, so I nursed in the guest room, as not to make my FIL blush like a schoolgirl and stammer like a thing that stammers (too tired lazy to think of simile) which made for a lot of alone time. I find that Bumper likes to nurse more frequently when in strange situations. It makes sense to me: familiar booby in unfamiliar places would make me feel safe. Now regarding the cloistered nursing, don't gross out my FIL. He actually has never said anything but I can read his uncomfortableness (is that word? if not, it is now). In the beginning, during the marathon feeds, I would nurse in front of the telly with the family around because I WAS NOT trucking upstairs every hour. But now that it's every few hours, I can deal. Plus she never used to struggle and aerobicize like she does now. I flash everyone, even with the little nursing tent. I really don't care if I'm with another mom but pfeh... it's different for me in some situations. Anyhooo....

Here I was, staring out the window, over the 95 acres of farmland my husband called home. No internet. No telly. No company. Yup. A lot of time to think. And read (time permitting and only when Bumper would drift off). So I delved into a book I read about over at Mom-101 praying that maybe, just maybe it would work for me or maybe help me solve my ongoing sleep issue. I've read the first three chapters and I'm thinking we can apply some of the solutions with some hard work on both our parts (hello... yes husband, that's a direct message to you) but something that has me fascinated is that the things I thought I had done "wrong"*** in the past regarding her sleeping, seemed to be confirmed by this book.

I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Calling these things I've done "wrong" sounds too harsh but the word lazy sounds... well it sounds... bad and it's not like we didn't want to do all the best for her but I think after reading some of this stuff, I can confirm key things that I did "wrong" and that these habits are going to be hard to correct.

Sheeshhh... wrong sounds so negative but bear with me.

The first bad habit developed because we never put her down. I mean NEVER. Because every time we tried, she would cry. And we were both wimps and hated to hear her cry and we would immediately pick her up.

Now, that's all fine and dandy in the first weeks (I mean look at her! She is four days old in this picture and who could put that cuteness down? I mean look at her! Ackkk.....splooch... oh sorry, that was my heart exploding AGAIN), but we never stopped. And then one day I couldn't get to her while she was crying and she actually stopped on her own. Only then did I began to trust my instincts when deciphering her cries. But that only kicked in recently and now she is very resistent to being put down in her crib (translate: it never happens). She wants to be picked up and she will not fall to sleep in her crib. She MUST fall asleep in (usually) my arms and then gingerly be placed in the crib to slumber for a few hours. And this is where the second bad habit has formed: the mid-sleep wake up that has morphed into co-sleeping (ouch says double-bed girl). Okay.... it's not the worst thing. It's safe but I've got to say, for a wee lass, she sure does take up a lot of room.

I'm a firm believer that she is capable of making it through the night without waking for at least 8 or more hours. This is because she actually did do it for a period of time. From 11 weeks until 16 weeks she mostly slept 6 to 7 hours straight each night. Then it started to slip. It started to fall away in half-hour chunks of sleep - disappearing each night for no apparent reason. At first we blamed teething and growth spurts but it's now been reduced to three, maybe four hours max, before it turns into a co-sleep or an all night struggle.

Gah.... I'm blathering.

Long of the short: I have started to employ some tactics that I hope will aid in helping Bumper develop some good sleep habits.

First goal: Foster good napping habits. For a while I could set a clock to her naps: 9am and 1pm, usually 1.5 - 2 hours each. They became so routine that for a while, I took them for granted. But I'll admit, after a while, I wasn't always doing my best to help her go to sleep and sometimes I planned outings that interferred with naps too many days in a row. I know I can't stop being part of society because of naps but I have to respect her need for consistent, peaceful sleep. So I've made a little pledge and I'm quickly getting her back on track. I'm already seeing improvements in this arena.

Second goal: Not napping on my lap. I've been a total enabler in this department because the few times I dare to move her proved unsuccessful and nap time was completely ruined. But I have to admit she is getting too big, even with her nursing pillow and she needs more comfortable sleep. I have no idea how I'm going to do this. Extinction method? Ouch. But I'm at the end of my rope people. She dangles off the pillow in both directions and she doesn't look comfortable, not one bit.

So bottom line, Bumper has horrific sleep habits because I didn't establish good habits for her. It's all my fault. Ack! Did I just type that? OMG! It's already started! The blaming mom has STARTED! I thought I had a few years to go before this began. I used to have a therapist that blamed everything, I MEAN EVERYTHING, on my Mom. It got so much, that I actually told her to chill. I had to take responsibility for some of the fuck-ups and poor decisions. Yeah, I found a new therapist after a while.

Regarding co-sleeping, I don't totally mind it but I'm not getting great sleep. She takes up a lot of room and when she's teething (most days) she snores like a fat man with a drinking problem.

So I hope by (somehow) achieving these two goals, I might see positive results with her sleep longevity (please, pah-leeeese, let there be results).

I don't want to be opening up any debates of Weissbluth vs Sears vs Ferber stuff. I'm going to try anything. Hell, if someone comments and tells me that a non-stop loop of a certain verse from a Bjork song lulls their child to sleep, I'm gonna try it folks. I'm desperate. It might drive the cats insane, but I'll try it folks.

In researching a link for the extinction method, I came across an older Sweet Juniper post (before my blogging days) and it made me feel better after reading. I think I might put together a guide to my fav sleeping (or lack there of) posts and publish it as a "don't give up just yet" guide for other parents. Look for it in coming weeks.

Or maybe I should just give up on trying with the sleep thing. She will sleep by the time she's a teenager and that is only a dozen years away. Hell, I can sleep when I'm dead (An interesting movie by the way. I sat behind Malcolm McDowell when I saw it and he's so evil in this flick I wanted to swat him on the back of the head. But I didn't. I sniffed it instead. He smells good.).

Peace out folks. Wish me luck.

no sleep for the wicked momma

*** you can totally refer to those as my Britney air-quotes because y'all, I don't know the right time to use that kinda punct'uation.


bubandpie said...

I am devoted to Dr. Weissbluth, but I don't think you've done anything "wrong." You've done what was working for awhile, and now it isn't working any longer. That's all. My policy with sleep training was to do it a bit at a time, whenever I reached my breaking point. As long as I was semi-functioning, I'd keep getting up two, three, four times a night. But then one day I'd discover that I was just boiling with rage ALL THE TIME, that I can't do this ANY MORE - then I knew it was time to make a change.

The idea I found myself helpful from Weissbluth is that you can do almost anything so long as you do it consistently. Figure out what the new rules are going to look like, and then stick to them so she can figure them out too.

ninepounddictator said...

oh my god I miss sleep so much. I could cry thinking about a good night's sleep. My daughter is now three...For me, it hasn't gotten easier. (But for most others it has!) I swear, I came home the other night at 12:30 a.m. exhausted, and my brother was babysitting and their was my daughter, wide awake, watching television. 12:30!!!!

kittenpie said...

I was at the end of the rope a few times myself during the Sleep Wars, and ready to give up my thinking that I didn't want to cry it out. It DOES get better - promise. A few things that got us there:

-We used to always put her to sleep and then put her in her crib, once we started cribbing her (wrong by the books) and then usually at the middle of the night waking we'd take her back to bed with us if we were too tired to do the long sleep-inducing fandango. But we started letting her stay in there for a little while when she woke, and she got used to being in her crib alone and it was okay.
-We started hanging out in her room with her in her crib sometimes in the day, too, further to making it a nice place to be. she had a little music box on the side, too.
-Then we'd read/rock/dance her until drowsy, but not quite asleep. We would still take her to bed after night wakings, though.
-Eventually, she got comfy going into bed tired but awake and as she got older, the night wakings stopped, so she stopped coming into our bed at all.
-I'd say by a few months past a year, she never came back except twice when sick and I wanted to monitor her fever/cough.

It's not really a system, but somehow it worked. Next hurdle - a bed next year!

Mrs. Chicky said...

I also kneel at the altar of Weissbluth. It worked for us, for whatever that's worth. But it was tough as hell to get our child to start sleeping like a normal human being. I kind of remember copious amounts of wine, but honestly I forget. :)

Lisa b said...

I just want to tell you that it is NOT all your fault and that you did not do it all wrong.
Some babies are better sleepers than others. Lots of my friends had easy sleepers the first time and kept giving me advice. Now they have babies like mine who are really giving them a hard time and realise that kids have different temperments.
I think this is one of the hardest aspects of parenthood.
Try your ideas. Don't give up hope and GOOD LUCK

Bri said...

You haven't done anything wrong, there's no right or wrong, just different techniques that work for different babies. I used to think that I held Samantha too much too, as in all the time. Up until 4 months her morning naps were in my arms on the couch, her evening naps were in my arms until about 6 mths. I got brave and put her in her crib for morning naps when she was 4mths, but at night she was in her crib since 3mths. Doesn't mean she still slept thru the night. Anywayyyy, at about 8 mths I started doing 3 things that may have helped, I give her bath right before her bedtime bottle, she doesn't sleep with a night light and she doesn't sleep with socks (the third may just be my own neurotic thing), but I think the bath and no night light helps. But eventually Bumper will sleep well, who knows I may have just jinxed myself writing this extremely long comment!

penelopeto said...

bumper sounds just like bumblebee - and you sound just like me. i was queen of the lap nap and bumblebee never went to bed asleep.
we have never let bumblebee cry, period. not for any reason. we're not into that, but we are into the path of least resistance with a baby. we always just did what worked, whether that was a lap nap, co-sleeping, no sleeping or whatever. the payoff? bumblebee now sleeps.

2 naps a day and bed by 8. every night, unless we are in unfamiliar territory or she's not feeling great. she evened herself out, we took her cues, worked it into a predictable event and it's all good.

she still wakes up during the night, and i still nurse her back to sleep. i am pretty much a one-trick pony there, but again, it works, so who cares? we still co-sleep, tho we are thinking about starting the transition to her own room.

the best advice i ever got was to just trust myself. what you are doing is not wrong. i bet you have a happy, smart, well-adjusted, amazing little baby girl. i'm sure you do. so you must be doing something right.

Mother Bumper said...

You are all making me feel so much better.

B&P: dead on as usual and the others back it up - consistent rituals seem to be the key.

I lub you all guys :S - that's my attempt at a crazy face that conveys love

Husband is surprized that no one has asked about my obvious personal space violation on Malcolm McDowell... I've actually done this to a few celebs (not that I've run into many) but for some reason I can't help but sniff them (and it's hard for me to verbalize why I do that... maybe there's a post in there)... anyhoo....

Thanks for the love.

MrsFortune said...

I should get out of YOUR head? (You posted that on my blog). Um, beep beep, back that truck up, woman. You get out of mine. I'm so interested to hear how this goes! And kudos to you on reading that book, I swear it's so poorly organized I can't keep it straight. But one thing that has worked for me is how he says you have to be consistent in your mode of getting them to sleep - not that it's bad for her to sleep in your arms but if you're going to do it that way do it all the time. I'm so all over the board with J's sleep schedule it's pathetic, but even Weissbluth says until 4 months it's okay. I've got two weeks left. I'm not looking forward to it! (And my word verification is "tozdrpex" which oddly sounds like it does have something to do with baby sleep).

sunshine scribe said...

I am the wrong person to give advice. My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 18 months old. But he had a bad run of ear infections so it wasn't entirely about sleep "habits".

Sleep training didn't work for us. It works really well for some babies but not mine. Crying it out was a disaster. But I have friends who did it marvellously.

You haven't done anything wrong. You've read your baby and found what she likes and what's worked so far and now you have to hunt for what works at this stage. I have a sense that you'll find it. I hope some of the other moms are more helpful than I am 'cause all I got is ... trust your instincts.

julia said...

I have no suggestions because I? had to buy a new house in order to get The Boo to sleep in her own crib, in her own room. And she was 16 months old when that happened.

Now we have added The Bug to the mix and I'm hoping I don't foster the same crappy sleep habits that I did with The Boo. I think I'll bookmark this entry and refer back to it periodically.

crazymumma said...

I am the Worst person in the world to comment on bad sleepers. I did it ALL wrong, esp for my younger girl. Oh well, it has only been Nine Years of Not One Solid Night of Sleep....

Do what works.....Anne

Jezer said...

You're not alone. And now I know that neither am I!

I'm thinking about going the route that kittenpie describes. We'll see what works.

Good luck, Mother o' the Bump. You can do it.

Her Bad Mother said...

What's been said already - consistency consistency consistency.

We've always had trouble with daytime, usually (with some ghastly exceptions) done well at night. What has been key - rituals, and persistence. Which has meant, for us, a willingness to make the rules work for us. We've done a sort of CIO, which I posted about, that involved paying close attention to her cries to determine which were sleepy cries and which were mad cries and discomfort cries, etc, etc, and being willing to let her work through the firt two types.

But we also nursed her down, for a long time, and now that we've weaned we still offer a bottle (books say not to do this, but it's worked for us.)

Experiment, and find out what works for her and for you. I really don't belive in following any book to the letter, because no one strategy is going to work the same way for every child. (We followed Weissbluth a bit, but certain elements just didn't work for us. For example, she's always been accepting of the stroller as a good nap zone, so it's always been my last resort - going for a walk. He says that this is bad sleep, but it has worked for her.)

Anyhoooo. Don't blame yourself. You've been getting to know her. ANd because you do know her, you'll be well-armed to figure out next steps.

Follow your instincts and your heart, and listen critically to advice, and you'll all be fine.

something blue said...

Guilty, guilty, guilty. We've held both our babies until they fall asleep.

Now with our toddler we read and turn the light out but still have to stay beside her until she falls asleep. Needless to say on most nights I fall asleep first.

Luckily they both usually sleep the night through but from pure exhaustion. They are anti-nap children.

I feel your pain woman.

deb said...

dude. check it. I spent a month, A WHOLE MONTH, obsessing (surprise) over his sleep routine. by that, I mean that I painstakingly recorded every minute of his sleep, and I watched the clock, and I lived in a sleep-deprived hell of my own make, wherein I listened to him cry much, much more than I ever would have thought I would have to, in order to get the damn sleep habits in place.

but it worked. my husband thought I was CRAZY, and I am so he was right, and he was always angry and on the verge of going in and grabbing the baby and walking with him, but I wouldn't stand for it. I was SO EFFING DETERMINED to get it to work, b/c I cannot stay sane without sleep (I'm not kidding - I have a mild form of bipolar and if I don't get at least a minimal amount of sleep, I start to spin like a clown on a unicycle). so I insisted, and stood my ground, and I died some inside while I spent that month listening to my son cry so hard and so much, but. it worked.

I have the dreary, crayola-marker excel spreadsheets to prove it. complete with smears from when I would cry while I was filling it out.

my husband is still in awe of me for this reason.

p.s. now that the kid sleeps through the night (for the most part; teething still interrupts, but we deal), I stay up too late blogging, and.

yeah. I'm an idiot.

xoxoxo and thanks for always having posts that cause me to completely spill my guts. I heart you, MB.