Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleeping Troubles

I have so many blogs to catch up on, like about our big move to our new house, November's 9 month (as of tomorrow!) update, and numerous others that I've had on the back burner, but the one I really (emotionally) NEED to write is this one.

Ever since mid-May, November's sleeping has gotten significantly worse. It all seemed to start when we tried introducing crib sleeping (with the crib in our room) for the first few hours of the night, and for some naps. It seemed to start out ok; we would put her in the crib after her first sleepy time of the night, and take her out after her first waking and let her sleep with us for the rest of the night. She had been sleeping decently before this point, but this arrangement caused her to wake earlier from her first stretch of sleep. It was also harder for me to get to sleep, as well.

After some teething trouble, it was clear we just weren't ready to change things up. But things only seemed to get worse after this. She was waking more and more frequently throughout the night. Was it just from the short week we introduced crib sleeping? Was it the teething that followed? Or the week mommy and baby were sick? Or the days getting longer? Or the move? Was it everything combined?

After the move, mommy and daddy are at the end of our ropes. We feel so under-slept. November wakes so often now, and seems to get worse every week. She often wakes every hour and is rarely able to go back to sleep without being nursed. Luckily, since we are co-sleeping, I turn on my side, pull her close, and nurse tummy to tummy while we both go back to sleep. But even so, hourly interruptions really start to weigh you down! Add to this the fact that she has become ridiculously clingy and fussy during the day.

Without any idea what to do, but still not willing to let her 'cry it out' (not to mention, we have yet to even set the crib up FOR her to cry in, should we get so desperate), I bought 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' by Elizabeth Pantley.
I quickly read it over the past two days, and immediately saw where we could make some big improvements. I learned that November is chronically over-tired, leading to day-time clingy- and fussy-ness. I learned the importance of a daily routine, including a pre-nap and pre-bedtime routine. Previously, we had a short routine of reading books before bed, but Pantley's book taught me that the pre-bedtime routine should start at least an hour before sleepy time and consist of dim lighting, a quiet household, and calm activity like bath, massage, books, and lullaby music. I also learned how many hours of sleep a baby her age should get compared to what she actually has been getting, as well as the importance of naps, and how many/how long they should be. I also learned that she has been going to bed way too late (between 8 and 10), and should be going to bed closer to 6 or 7.

After reading this book, I realize we were pretty far off target, but it really gives me hope that things can and will change after implementing these changes and routines for a few weeks. But this is where the bitterness lies; this is no quick fix. The author in no way beats around the bush with false promises and instead reminds us sleep-deprived parents to be patient; these changes will take time; the learning process is LONG and often repetitive. But if the alternative is letting her 'cry it out' (something we don't intend on doing unless in the most dire of circumstances) then patience and time is the only option. Unfortunately, patience is a virtue that can be so hard to maintain and my patience was definitely tested tonight.

Tonight was the second night of implementing what we learned from 'The No Cry Sleep Solution.' I have to admit, after reading some positive online reviews about how quickly some parents achieved results, I was sucked in and was really hoping for a magic quick fix. But, instead, it seems to be as the author says; a long process that is in no way a straight line from start to finish.

Last night we started our calm pre-bed routine at 6:30, attempted sleep with our very sleepy baby around 7:15 and had her eventually fall asleep just after 8pm. She woke frequently, pretty much every hour or so, and needed nursing almost each time, but ended up sleeping in until 8:20 (and would have slept longer if I didn't have to wake her up to go to grandmas before work!) I was so excited that she at least slept in, getting closer to the 11-12 hours she SHOULD be getting each night.

She took two naps today, not quite long enough for what she SHOULD be getting, but at least she got something. Then tonight we began our pre-bed routine around 6 (bath, coconut oil massage, reading books, then snuggling once she acts sleepy), hoping to get her to sleep even earlier than the night before. Ha! Not so.

She was clearly tired at 7; rubbing her eyes, looking glazed, closing her eyes. But as soon as she would settle, she would fuss, roll, whine, and squirm. Sometimes she would get up and laugh and try to play, only to get that glazed look, lie down, and then start the whole process over again. This went on for over an hour, and I was getting so frustrated. We started our pre-bed routine earlier than the night before, she was clearly super tired, yet she was staying up later! I was getting upset, so I let Spencer finish up while I came to let my emotions free themselves here (writing always makes me feel better and more rational.) Even as I started this post, I could hear her laughing and playing. But as of a few paragraphs ago, Spencer game out of the room with the good news that November was finally asleep (maybe around 8:40.)

It took so much longer tonight, and my patience was thoroughly tested. But this is only the beginning. I'm the perfectionist type that feels like I can fix something and make it perfect instantly. But this isn't about me; this is about November. Yes, her sleep affects mine, but we are doing our best and are taking great steps toward a better night's sleep. This IS going to be a long process, and I need to accept that and try to keep my patience and my hope. There will obviously be ok days, followed by good days, followed by bad days, followed by worse days, followed by good days and back again. But soon there will be more good days than bad. More hours of sleep. More successes. I know this because so many other mothers have gone through the same thing. THIS TOO WILL PASS! And so will this tiny stage where my little, chubby baby loves to snuggle and be carried all day. She will get older. Some day she won't be my tiny baby.

This is an amazing stage in our lives. I must remember that. The good and the bad will pass and I need to cherish this instant, no matter how tired (and hungry) I am.

Oh, and I heartily recommend this book. It was a great read and made so much sense from front to back. It is especially great for breastfeeding and co-sleeping mommies, as the author is one herself (yet she does not enforce either upon her readers.) Fellow moms; what books, habits, or advice do you recommend? What troubles and successes have you experienced with sleepy time?

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