Sunday, September 9, 2012

And how are we doing now? - Sleeping Edition

The night I posted the following post, Will got up twice to eat (did NOT sleep thru the night). Not in months has that happened! The net day, h was a fussy mess of non-nappingness! I suppose that's the curse of blogging!

Finally, my birth story is posted. On to our current day-to-day!

Will is about 3.5 months old now. I'm an absentminded mom, apparently, because I keep forgetting his age in weeks. Fifteen? Sixteen? Thereabout. Anyway, I'll be filling you in on our experience so far with a BABY!

Today - how are we sleeping?

(If you don't feel like reading the humdrum details of Will's waking and non-waking hours - written partly just for my memory - scroll down for a couple recent photos!)

I've been blessed with an excellent sleeper. At first I attributed this to doing a bit of early sleep training, but then (a few weeks ago) Will went through a napping strike that totally confounded me and made me realize that NOPE, I just have a good sleeper. I will always have great appreciation and respect for those who don't.

I realized immediately - the night we came back from the birth center - that cosleeping wouldn't work for us. Brian and I were both terrified to have him in the bed with us. After that night, we realized roomsharing wouldn't work either. Brian was fine with it, but I wasn't. For one thing, when Will needed to nurse, I required an elaborate setup of chairs, pillows, water bottle, phone, ointment, and light. Brian would have been able to sleep through none of that. The second obstacle was that I was never quite sure - once I was done feeding Will and he was back in his cradle - whether Will would stay asleep or require further soothing. Every peep and squeak made my eyes fly open and my body tense up - will he sleep? will he wake? will I have to get out of bed and start all over? So for the first week or so, I slept on the couch with Will either in my arms or beside me in his cradle or bassinet. I was able to doze more readily if I knew I wouldn't wake Brian.

After I moved back into our room, Will slept outside our bedroom in his pack and play. I gradually grew more comfortable with separating myself from him, and I transitioned him to the nursery when he was around two weeks old. At that point, he was waking up twice a night, and I left the living room lamp on so I could run upstairs to feed him. It didn't take long - maybe three weeks - for Will to work himself down to one night feeding around 3 AM, giving me at least a good five-hour stretch of sleep every night. So going up to the nursery didn't get old.

(I never did bring him into bed with me. Still, almost every single night I woke in a panic, thinking I'd lost him in the sheets.)

It was around this point that I also started letting him - GASP - sleep on his stomach. He had excellent neck strength very early on; one day, while letting him nap diaperless on his tummy to air out a diaper rash, I witnessed him turning his head from side to side. I also noticed he napped longer on his tummy than he would on his back (and he had hated being swaddled after about four days). I knew that Back to Sleep had been a huge push in SIDS prevention, but I also believe sleep is so incredibly important and if a certain position helped him sleep better and longer, that was a positive thing. Eventually I concluded that the benefits for Will outweighed what risk might have existed. It also helped that an overwhelming number of moms I talked to admitted that their kids had slept on their stomachs too. "We would have NEVER put a baby on his back to sleep," said a mom who had raised her kids in the 80s. My mom had said the same thing.

Around four weeks, he slept through the night for the first time - from 8:30 to 5:30. Between five and six weeks, that became the norm. Since then, he sleeps about 10-11 hours a night. If he wakes up on the short side of that, sometimes I can get him to go back down for another 2-hour stretch. Right now, bedtime is 8:00 PM and he wakes around 6:30. It's really nice! I cannot stress how thankful I am. (So please, God, don't change it?)

Naps are a bit more tricky. By this I mean, he gets tired after being awake for about two hours, but when I put him down it's always a mystery how long he'll sleep. Today he took a four-hour nap - though that used to be the norm from 4-12 weeks, now it's unheard of. Many days it's only 45 minutes to an hour that he'll nap. I've just decided I'll work my butt off as soon as he goes down to sleep, because I don't know when he'll wake up. As long as he's not fussy, he can stay awake, as far as I'm concerned. So sometimes he gets three or four naps a day. It's probably a stage and maybe today's long nap is signaling the end of it.

(I kind of miss him when he sleeps, so the shorter naps don't really bother me unless I've GOT to work.)

As I mentioned before, I did do a bit of sleep training with him very early on, as soon as I felt able to discern his needs from his wants (and sleep is definitely a need for babies!). I'm glad I did it then, because I think letting an older baby fuss or cry for any length of time would be harder - they're more attached and aware and I imagine he would have been more conscious of what was happening. I had read that putting a baby down when drowsy would be better than rocking him to sleep every time, so I did that whenever I had the opportunity. At first he always fussed a bit, but over several nights he gradually worked himself down from 8-10 minutes of fussing, to 3-4, to a few squawks, and then nothing. The payoff of that is that now I can lay him down wide awake (when he's tired) and he'll drift off to sleep on his own. If he's unusually fussy one night or one naptime, I know he's not himself and I'll soothe him.

Overall, Will is an extremely easygoing and happy little guy. There are times when I'll realize a couple days have gone by and he hasn't cried (he does this talking/fussing thing when he gets tired, which is really cute but I'm sure would devolve into crying if I didn't put him to bed). We have so much fun together.

Propped up by rolled blankets in his jumper, Will can do what he loves most - stand - without me holding him.

This is his perfect pout. 

-Maeg

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