Monday, October 31, 2011

Operation Easy Baby Sleep

I know I know... my entire last post was also around baby sleep. But I have an almost 5 month old, sleep is my current obsession!

So the dreaded sleep regression has passed. Sam and I have also re-worked his 'schedule' since his old one (a nap in between every feeding) was seeming like it wasn't working as well. He now takes a 2 hour nap twice a day. He's been napping (tightly swaddled) in his swing. And sleeping (tightly swaddled) in his crib. This was all working great (and maybe 4 days out of 7 is still working great). I was putting him down in his swing drowsy, leaving him for a few minutes, then going in and rocking him the rest of the way to sleep. I was afraid this was messing up any chance of him falling asleep on his own, but on the contrary, it taught him HOW to go to sleep on his own. So he would be given a kiss, and placed all swaddled up into his swing. Within a few minutes he would be asleep and I would go get him 2 hours later. At night he wasn't quite nursing all the way to sleep anymore, he would wake up as I re swaddled him, but would go quietly into his crib and fall asleep on his own. Awesome right? Why change?

He's getting too big for his velcro swaddle blanket. Not too big as in he doesn't fit (I just bought a bigger size). But too big as in too old. He can roll from back to belly now, and although he doesn't even TRY to roll when he's swaddled, I'm still nervous that he'll manage to flip over and not have his hands to help get his face out of the mattress. He's also a lot stronger, so when he moves through sleep cycles and wiggles, he manages to wriggle those little arms up and out of the blanket, and in the process, wakes himself up. He ends up very grumpy that he is now awake and his arms are waving around. So a lot of nights I'm up and down a couple times to re wrap him. Very frustrating. So I know it's time to sleep 'like a big boy' with those arms out and free.

I tried 2 nights of leaving one arm out. Why I chose to do this during the week, and not the weekend when I can have James' help at night, is beyond me. The first night wasn't horrible. He woke up twice just needing me to pop in his binky and hold his arm down for a moment. He then woke up to eat, and went back down til morning. Not horrible. Not ideal, but not horrible. The next night? Absolute disaster. He woke up and it after an hour, or was it 2? It's blurry... we'll just say, after a LONG time of shushing him from outside his crib, rocking him to sleep only to have him wake up and cry the second I laid him down, walking around and around and around the nursery, he finally fell asleep after nursing for a few minutes (clearly wasn't hungry, but used nursing to settle enough to sleep) slept for maybe 2 or 3 hours, and woke again. This time I just gave up and reswaddled him after he ate.

Was this the worst night we could have possibly had? No. Really, he has spoiled us so much his first 4.5 months of life, that getting up any more than 1 time feels like a 'bad' night. Should I complain? No. No I really shouldn't. But after this night I did do a little re-evaluation of my plan for swaddle free sleeping. In doing research, I found that most people recommend starting with naps to wean off the swaddle. Hmmm and here I was still wrapping him up tight and depositing him in his swing. A bit of nighttime sleep sabotage I think. So I came up with a new plan. First, get him to nap in his crib. Second, get him to nap without being swaddled. LAST, get him to sleep at night without the swaddle. With this excellent plan in place, and feeling excited that a better sleep plan was in our future, I promptly forgot all about it, found a tighter way to swaddle, and enjoyed the weekend. My logic? I needed a few days to regroup and get myself good and rested before starting this journey. It worked, Sam slept pretty good in the new, tighter swaddle. When he did have a couple issues, I had James to help. So I was able to get in some good rest.

Now here we are. Monday morning! Sam slept great last night. In bed at 8:30, woke at 4:15to nurse, put him in his crib slightly awake around 4:45, didn't hear from him again til 7:30. So we are both rested and ready to start this!

Nap #1: 0930. Swaddled tightly, laid in crib awake with intentions of going in and rocking the rest of the way to sleep, as was done to help him fall asleep in his swing. Not needed! Feel asleep on his own! Currently 1036 and still sleeping! *knock on wood*

My goal is 4 days in a row of good naps in his crib. Then 4 days in a row of good naps without a swaddle for naps. Then we're on to nighttime.

Oh! I hear him... gotta go help him stay asleep!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Growing Boy = Tired Mama!

Today is October 1st. In less than a week Sam will be 4 months old. Whaaaat?! This is ridiculous... where the heck did summer go? Where the heck did my tiny baby go? He's trying really hard to sit up on his own, rolling from his tummy to his back, scooting around on his tummy, standing up and playing in his exersaucer, 'talking' up a storm, giggling, reaching for things, and I think soon we'll be seeing at least 2 little teeth poke on through!! He's growing so fast!

Let's talk a little about baby growth spurts. When a baby has a growth spurt, they want to eat constantly (for a breastfed baby, this helps in upping the mama's milk supply to fulfill the bigger baby's new nutritional needs) Babies tend to have growth spurts at 3 & 6 weeks, and 3 & 6 months. Sam's 3 & 6 week growth spurts were kinda rough, but not too bad. They only lasted a day or 2 and I just cancelled any and all plans we had and nursed constantly. So I said, "Bring it on 3 month growth spurt! I know how to handle these things" HA! This thing didn't last a day or 2, this thing didn't only consist of nursing 24/7, followed by a few days with an incredibly sleepy baby. OH NO, this growth spurt was brand new territory!! Perhaps it would have been a bit easier to handle if it weren't for a little something called the "4 Month Sleep Regression"...

What is the "4 Month Sleep Regression" you ask? Well, it's when babies start sleeping more 'adult-like' as in going through all the same sleep cycles that we do. The difference is, babies (well most of them anyway) have trouble transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. Whereas an adult would hardly recognize the transition as they flip over, fix the covers, or smooth a pillow, a baby suddenly finds themselves awake when all they really want to do is sleep.

I like to think I was pretty well educated on pregnancy, child birth, newborn babyhood, and babyhood in general, even before I found out I was pregnant with Sam. When I did find out I was pregnant, I like to think I became even more educated, and besides for a few first time mom nerves, I felt pretty confident that I knew basically what to expect. And, so far, I was right. I'm not saying it was any easier since I knew what was going on, but it was helpful to have an idea ahead of time about what was to come.

Enter 4 month sleep regression....

I had NEVER heard of this thing before! So when my perfectly behaved little baby suddenly stopped wanting to take his (normally very structured, and led by him, not me) naps, at first I just chalked it up to him being older and more alert. I just made sure he got SOME sleep during the day, but still felt okay about it, as he was still sleeping great at night. Better and better each night in fact! He was always in his crib, fast asleep at 9, and was steadily increasing the amount of time he would sleep before waking up to eat. Then he would always go back to sleep after eating, and sleep until 7 or 8 in the morning. One night, a glorious thing happened. Sam was asleep at 9. James and I went to sleep between 10 and 11... and then were woken by Sam talking through the monitor at.... dun dun dun... 7 am!!!!! It was amazing! I didn't rememeber the last time I had had a full night's sleep! Certainly not when I was pregnant! This behavior kept up! I was full of energy! I was ridiculously productive! Everything was wonderful! Then James went to Florida for a week for some training. One night Sam was up to eat at 5, then back to sleep. No biggie, not a full night, but pretty darn close! The next night, ate at 4. Okay why are we going backwards? Next night, up at 3 and had a little trouble going back to sleep after eating. The next night, up at 2:30, lots of trouble going back to sleep. Next night, up at 2, 5, and 6:30. Ummm, what the heck? We proceeded in this pattern for a while, then James came back and we had a night or two of only waking once, around 4. Then back to up twice. Then up at 1:30, 3, 5, 5:45, 6:30... these nights were coupled with days of a cranky cranky boy fighting sleep like it was his job. I visited my old friend google, and this is when I discovered this lovely '4 Month Sleep Regression' Maybe I felt better knowing it had a name? I don't know, I was too tired!!

I got the book "The No Cry Sleep Solution" on my Nook. I am very opposed to the "Crying It Out Method" I fully understand taking a break from your crying baby because you might be getting frustrated, but I do not believe in leaving your baby to cry in his or her bed until he or she basically passes out from sheer exhaustion. Does it work for some people? Sure. Just doesn't work for our family.

So anyway... "The No Cry Sleep Solution". It sounded like a good plan. I would need to start with keeping a sleep log. Then use the tools in the book to tailor make a plan for us. My plan was to start with naps, I knew if I could get him to get enough sleep during the day, he would sleep better at night. I read the book in one day, planning to begin the next day. And what happened the next day you might ask?

Sam slept.

Here I was with a notebook and a plan, and the little stinker takes a 2 hour nap, plus 3 45 minute naps. That night he goes down at 9, wakes at 3:30, eats, back down by 4, and up for the day at 7. Did he know I just spent some time figuring out a plan and thought, "Meh... I'll just do it myself. Thanks anyway Mom." or was it just coincidence? Did I care either way? NOPE!

Now we're on the right track, we still have some nights where he's up more than once, but usually he just needs to be re-swaddled (yes... my 4 month old refuses to sleep without being swaddled... I'm just rolling with it, he'll sleep in freedom eventually) Once a night he does need to eat, but any other time he gets up, he goes back down pretty easily. Naps are hit or miss day to day, but lately there have more hit than miss days as I play around with a nap routine. Hopefully as this growth spurt (both physically and developmentally) slows down a bit, we'll settle back into a day to day routine. Probably just in time for the 6 month growth spurt ;) At least this time I'll know a little more what to expect!!

The 30 Day Shred I posted about last time? Postponed until I can get Sam's napping under control. I'm actually hoping to start up again on Monday :) Hopefully anyway

It's funny to me the things I find interesting enough to blog about these days... hehe Oh how my life has changed... but I'm loving it :)

Now... some more pictures of the cutest baby in the world...