Monday, August 25, 2008

THE WOMAN WHO CRIED TOOTH

Yup that's me. Just to confirm with you all: there is no tooth. if any of you are like my mother, then you may, as she did, be thinking "I knew it! Teeth do not appear on top first!". Thank you mom.

Now on to another timely topic:

Sleep.

(We could talk about the lack of mine, but I won't go there today.)

Let me just say at the outset that Sacha is pretty much a super-duper baby. (The B.aby W.hisperer may like to label him as an "angel baby", but let's refrain from labels.) If he weren't so happy and smiley this sleep issue would definitely be way worse. I am lucky, and I know that. (Sacha is not this happy because of anything specific I have done, I am pretty certain of that.)

After his stay in the NICU, it became apparent that Sacha was a baby who liked to sleep. By 3 weeks of age he was down to waking once in the night. And he went down for naps with minimal fuss: I would swaddle him, turn on the mobile and he would already be yawning (very Pavlovian!).

As he started growing and becoming more interested in the world, he of course had less sleep time and more periods of awake time. Still, it was easy to get him to take his naps. And he often napped for at least 2 hours at lest twice a day. Sacha would go down easily at night and still only wake his once for a feeding.

Then something happened... And I don't know what. In the past 6 weeks or so Sacha has steadily decreased his frequency and quantity of naps. I am lucky if he sleeps a full hour nap. Luckier even if I can get him to do that three times a day. Twice last week he took 4 45-minute naps. And each nap is a fight now. While it is very much easier to get him down to sleep at night (possibly because this is my husband's activity), Sacha still wakes up at least once a night, and on a couple of occasions in the past few weeks it has even been twice in the night. I go to bed each night with a bit of dread, as I don't know what each night will bring.

Of course I am looking for advice/explanations/comments of understanding.

So, just to give you the whole picture, let me just tell you what I do do when it comes to sleep.

I wait until he is tired. Which is a hard one with such a smiley guy! But he is good at giving me signals. He rubs his eyes and I watch for yawns. (And even after he starts yawning and rubbing he is still playful and happy!)

I always swaddle Sacha. Even at nearly 5 months, and even though he is very big, he really likes it. I think it signals to him that he is going to go to his crib to sleep. Though, sometimes he giggles while I am swaddling- like he thinks it's a game- no so conducive to sleep!

During the day I walk and or rock him sometimes. It really depends more on how I'm feeling. I always turn his mobile on to his "sleepy" music. If I put him in his crib awake he almost always is asleep by the end of the 15 minutes it takes to play through the mobile. Sometimes he cries when I leave him like this. On those occasions he always breaks out of his swaddle. And he falls asleep on his side.

While I feel bad about somewhat letting him "cry it out", I know from experience that it will last less than 15 minutes. During those time I usually go to my computer and try to distract myself by emailing and what not.

No matter what I do, he is usually awake within an hour. Happy and ready to play! Sometimes he is still yawning and/or eye rubbing, but he refuses to go back to sleep. Other times I leave him in his crib to play for a bit (mostly when I have a bit of work to get done or I am exhausted and need a few more minutes to myself).

At night we have a very strict routine: bath, naked time, massage, nurse and then sleep. Often Sacha falls asleep nursing, and on the rest of the occasions my husband walks, jiggles and shushes him to sleep. When he wakes during the night he will often fall asleep while nursing. But if he doesn't- it's an uphill battle to get him back to sleep.Sacha is wide awake and smiling- we swaddle, we jiggle, we shush, sometimes I even try nursing again. These are times that I think that I must be living hell on earth. Why, oh why does this happen? It's especially scary now that this has started happening sometimes twice in a night.

Most people say that he seems ok because the lack of sleep doesn't seem to be affecting him. "He's so happy!" they say, "If he needed more sleep he would be crankier."

My actual issue here is two-fold.

One- if Sacha is not napping there is no way I can get some rest myself. Nor is there any way that I can get a nice chunk of work done without feeling like I am leaving him for too long on his own. (To remind you, I am self-employed and work from home. When in Canada mothers usually get one full year mat leave, the conditions of my self-employment have meant that I was working less than 48 hours after Sacha was born.)

The second issue is a bit bigger: Don't babies need sleep in order to process all that they are learning and to grow? This really really is worrying me.

I know I am not alone. I have been reading so many post lately of other mothers dealing with the same issues. But it's so hard. I have no idea if there is anything I can do, and if so what it is!

On thing is almost for certain: it is not a tooth.

8 comments:

MrsSpock said...

As soon as my son hit 3 months a couple weeks ago, he quit sleeping through the night. He was waking up a couple times a night hungry and playful. I increased the amount he was eating during the day, and when he woke up, we stuck to our routine of not stimulating him, playing his bedtime music, and rocking him. His naps have also really decreased during the day, and he will now only take one longer nap around noon, and, if I'm lucky, a short one in late afternoon.

All the old timers have been telling me it's a growth spurt/ big leap in neurological development. Right before this started happening, he learned to roll over, blow raspberries, and is working on sitting up now. It seems he is waking up at night and practicing his skills. When it's supposed to end? I haven't a clue...

Nic said...

Is it possible that he's ready to go down to two naps? You could try it for a few days maybe and see what happens - I think the rule is that they should be up two hours in the morning, then have their first nap, up for three then their second, up for four and then bedtime. Is it possible that he's just going down for the second nap too early, and so isn't really ready to sleep?

sky girl said...

I don't know Ms. C but I wonder if you should get him into more of a schedule. Get him used to going down twice a day for naps at 10am and 3pm or something like that. Rather than waiting until he yawns. I read once that when they start showing signs of tiredness that it's too late.

I know it's hard. Chicka was almost 6 months before I could get into any sort of napping rhythm. Then she did 2 naps a day but once she hit a year or so she went down to 1 nap a day. It's just all she needed. As much as I would have liked a baby who slept more it just wasn't meant to be but I will say that getting her into a routine was very helpful.

I used to let her sleep until whenever and take all my cues from her. Once we started getting up at a semi regular time, napping and bedtime followed.

Mind you, she's 16 months and I still can't get her to go to sleep without me or Daddy cuddling and rocking.

It's the middle of the night that's a killer isn't it? We still have occasional bad nights (like last night) and they are hellish.

This phase will pass. I promise.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm a lurker and hope this comment doesn't therefore classfy as assvice! I have 2 kids. My oldest sounds a lot like your Sacha. She was a pretty good sleeper at night but she was a lousy nap-per during the day. From about 2 or 3 months she slept for 45 minutes twice a day. That's it. She went to one 45 minute nap a day when she hit about 9 months and then stopped napping at all at 2 years. I don't think it has done her any harm - she's now 5 and v bright and happy and she still sleeps great at night.... But I do think that it wasn't so good for us! We used to wait for her signals of tiredness too and never let her cry it out ever. Whenmy son was born 18 months later the only thing I wanted to improve was the napping. We got him into a real routine and put him down at those times regardless of how tired he seemed (this was from about 3 months). We also let him cry it out. He was a way way better napper than his sister and still slept ok at night, though not quite as well. (He still gave up all daytime naps as soon as he turned 2 though). Of course I can't say whether it would have made any difference if I'd treated child #1 as I treated child #2 but I think it would have improved my sanity to have been able just to put her in her room for a decent length of time. So that would be my only advice, trying to get into a naptime routine, regardless of the signs (twice a day is probably fine at this age). Hope it works!!

megan said...

Auden is down to two naps a day as well. His first is in the morning and the second in the afteroon. Usually the morning nap is shorter than the afternoon nap.

I get him to sleep during the day the same way I put him to sleep at night....and it's definitely not a method endorsed by any sleep experts, that's for sure! I swaddle him (he too gets giddy sometimes at the sight of his swaddle blanket) and nurse him to sleep. If he wakes up and it hasn't been a decent amount of time (less than 45 minutes to an hour depending on the nap) I'll go up and nurse him back to sleep.

I know that nursing to sleep is verboten in many circles of parenting theories but I figure if it gets him to sleep, it gets him to sleep.

I always thought that babies just kept getting better and better at sleep as they got older. I've found this is not the case. Almost everyone I know with a wee one have had more sleep problems around the 3-4-5 month stages.

Sadly I don't have any answers for you, but I wish I did. Good luck, Ms. C. I hope the wee one at least gives up the middle of the night waking soon!

sariel & shlomit said...

Oh my dear Ms. C.
I have NO IDEA what to tell you -- but thankfully plenty of other women have been there.
I love your posts and I love hearing all this stuff and I'm glad you're not so sleep deprived you can't write?!! I feel for you, girl.
And if you want a bit of a distraction for a moment, go check out my blog.
Til then, lots of love.
MUAH!
peace
shlomit

serenity said...

I got nothing for you. Because as you know, Baby O is an abysmal napper, and I rarely get anything more than an hour maybe twice, three times a day.

The sleeping through the night thing - Baby O is going through it as well. Some days he does great. Others, not so much.

Long way of saying I have no assvice for you. But you're definitely not alone.

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