Archives for category: 6-12 Months

SUCCESS!

Gia has been sleeping so well, even with the sniffles. So here are the final Happy Sleeper Sleep Wave stats:

Night 1:

– 2 waves, 13 minutes of crying total

– longest sleep stretch 4.5 hours

Night 2:

– 3 waves, 25 minutes of crying NOT AT ONCE BUT IN TOTAL (we wouldn’t let her cry that long without comforting her), then we felt so awful so J went in and cuddled her and read her another story, then put her down, then 0 sleep waves and 30 seconds of crying

– longest sleep stretch 5.5 hours

Nights 4, 5 & beyond:

– no sleep waves, no crying
– longest sleep stretch 7.5 & 8 hours

Since then I think we’ve had one night in which she cried a little. She usually fusses and coos for a few minutes, rolls onto her tummy then falls asleep. On three separate occasions she’s slept over eight hours. She is having trouble getting back to sleep after her long stretch. We usually change her diaper and nurse her in bed for awhile. If she cries when we put her back down we don’t really do a sleep wave, just hold her or cuddle her and try again until she drifts back off. This isn’t the method in The Happy Sleeper – they suggest no more than five minutes of nursing, then a sleep wave, but I’m so overjoyed at how far she’s come that I don’t even mind the hour-long 3am session. J thinks we should try to reduce her crying and nursing somehow, so it’s up for debate.

Naps

We’re also working on naps. She naps well with the nanny but not so much on weekends, so this long weekend we’re trying to keep up her three naps a day, at least one of them soothing herself to sleep in the crib or rock n play. Today she took a full 2-hour nap in the nursery, falling asleep on her own with a bottle (the nanny suggested this) and loud sound machine. Side note: Yes, my 20.5-pound baby still naps in the rock n play, she loves it so much so we’re just really careful she doesn’t tip over!

Evaluation of The Happy Sleeper

I’m a big fan. I’m also pleased that we didn’t have any interest in sleep training until after she was six months old; I wouldn’t have started it any sooner than I did even if I’d known there was a middle ground between attachment “nighttime parenting” (meaning, being up with your baby alllll night long evvvvery night) and cry it out. I do NOT feel that this is a cry it out method. Cry it out is letting the baby cry on their own until they stop, or waiting longer and longer periods with no intervention. We were very consistent with five-minute reassuring checks and the two nights she cried a lot we stopped the checks, cuddled her and read her a story or nursed her. And like my friend pointed out, Gia was spending almost every night crying throughout the night anyway, so how is it different to let her cry briefly two nights in a row? In fact, now that she’s falling asleep so easily and enjoying hours on end of delicious sleep, with us right next to her in our bed ready to comfort her as soon as she wakes up, I can’t help feeling that she’s much less confused and distressed. ALSO I’ve noticed a few times that she’s fallen asleep in one position, and when I check on her again she’s in a totally different position, so she’s actually woken up and put herself back to sleep!

I made some comments about this in my password-protected post, but I don’t think many people read it, so I’ll reiterate here. I believe that providing structure and boundaries is one of the most loving things I can do for Gia as a parent. I want her to feel secure knowing what to expect much of the time, so that she can then build independence and be comfortable with flexibility. I can see now that had we continued to be up with her throughout the night for months or years in the future, it would have created a feeling of chaos and confusion in our household, not to mention the resentment Dr. Sears talks about in The Baby Book as an indicator that something has to change (Dr. Sears is NOT necessarily a supporter of The Happy Sleeper, he actually suggests bed sharing and nursing all night, but he also points out that haggard parents are not the best parents). In Parenting from the Inside Out, Daniel Siegel talks about how much having a child brings up your own issues from childhood, and how to work through some of this so you can be present and supportive as a parent. I want Gia to feel a sense that that world is okay that I have never felt. Not in the global warming or Donald Trump as president sense, because let me be clear, the world is NOT okay, but I want her to inherently know that she is treasured and cared for no matter what. Looking back on my own childhood helps me draw the conclusion that setting healthy boundaries, explaining things to her clearly and respectfully, and not allowing myself to become angry or depressed often will contribute her sense of security and self-esteem.

The Happy Sleeper isn’t a destination or an answer to everything; I’m sure there are many difficult nights in our future! But it sets the nighttime tone and has given us confidence that we can implement a plan when we need to, and that when Gia has trouble sleeping due to teething or illness or travel, we can get back on track fairly easily. I’ve always had trouble sleeping. For some reason I dreaded bedtime as a child, was fearful and woke easily. I remember having a sinking feeling as bedtime approached and feeling like getting in bed was just an inevitable period of anxiety and sleeplessness, and I still struggle with occasional insomnia and night fears. I don’t want to pass this on to her; in fact, I’m trying not to allow my anxiety to pass on to her in many different area. I hope Gia can generally enjoy bedtime and getting a full night’s rest.

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Saturday night: 

Who do I believe: myself, my partner, my baby, my own mom, my sisters who both have toddlers, the moms in my Mommy & Me group, other friends who have babies, the breast feeding community (book: Sweet Sleep), attachment parenting sleep styles (which means I have a baby barnacle attached to my nipples all night and barely sleep but is the path of least resistance) or the sleep training community (now my soul is dying)?

We nurse to sleep. Move Gia to her crib. Put her back all night long. End up bed sharing in the wee hours of the morning. Come up with a sleep plan we don’t follow because it doesn’t really work (The No Cry Sleep Solution, although I greatly respect this book and wish it would work better for us but Gia is just too persistent). Every night Gia’s sleep gets worse. I think I can’t take it anymore, only to be hit with a night worse than the one before. A typical night is bedtime routine at 6:30, nurse to sleep, put her down slightly awake at 7, she falls asleep, then is awake at 10, 11:30, 1:30, 3 – 4:30am, crying and laughing, then my alarm goes off at 6. I’m in a haze and my relationship isn’t fun anymore and I survive at work on coffee and have severe anxiety as nighttime approaches again. When she goes to sleep I lie in the dark listening for her first cry. I inevitably get confused, wishy-washy about our plan, passive-aggressive, and sometimes just plain aggressive in the middle of the night. I end up crying and nursing her in the bed, then getting ready for work in a bleary haze.

I know this is “normal.” I also know that the women in my group are NOT experiencing this. They’re still struggling with a few nights a week of difficulty getting the baby down or an extra night waking, but it’s nowhere near what we’re going through.

Did I hurt Gia with my “attachment parenting”? In my conviction to be there for her physically and emotionally, did I make her too needy? I’m terrified of this. I was such a sensitive kid, still am, and have so many serious attachment issues. Too many to even describe. Let’s just say I’m deeply insecure in my relationships. I have confidence in many areas of life, but on a personal level I’m impressionable, need a lot of reassurance, and also can be chaotic, both nasty and needy at the same time. I wanted to just love Gia and give myself to her completely so she never experienced this, but I’m slowly realizing that as far as sleep goes, both napping and nighttime, I haven’t given her enough autonomy and consistency to build her own confidence.

Yesterday I randomly texted a friend of mind who is also a psychologist. She’s someone I really look up to and trust. I don’t know her that well, but I know she’s happily married, is in recovery and therefore vulnerable but strong, and wouldn’t be okay with a harsh cry it out method. I thought she bed-shared because I’d seen pics of her and her sweet baby boy in bed together a few months ago. I asked her about it and explained what we’re going through, expecting her to reassure me that bed sharing is necessary and normal in our situation. But no, she said her boy has been sleeping in his own room for weeks thanks to a book called The Happy Sleeper and something called The Sleep Wave.

I literally grabbed the diaper bag and Gia and walked out of the house, drove to The Pump Station and bought this book. This morning I spent two hours reading it, taking notes and creating a plan, then the rest of the day reviewing things with J. We have to be on the exact same page or it won’t work. Already there are a lot of barriers – she wants to do bottles at night but I can’t produce enough milk for that. We can’t decide whether we’re ready to move Gia into her own room. Anyway, we came to some compromises and agreed on a plan.

Even bedtime, which is usually the only thing that works, has become a struggle. Gia cries after her bath and won’t settle down, a time that used to be fun and sweet for all of us. The Sleep Wave requires the same early bedtime we’ve been doing, but instead of nursing to sleep tonight, I nursed her and then we read to her. Then J took her to her crib and I made myself scarce. (This is because Gia is obsessed with breast feeding.) We let her cry for five minute increments. Every five minutes J went in and said the same loving confident mantra to her: “Time for sleep Gia, we love you, we’ll be right outside.” It took two cycles and then she went to sleep.

I can’t tell you what it does to me to hear her cry. I was in the kitchen crying myself. The distress and sadness I feel chips away at my soul. I swore I’d never ever do it. Gia needs help though. She’s just not sleeping. The past few nights she’s slept a total of like seven hours every 24 hours, no exaggeration. Even though she’s always in “bed” for 12 hours, she’s awake for most of it, then takes 30 minute naps during the day. The Happy Sleeper states that babies her age are ready to find their own soothing techniques. I know all there is to know about positive and negative sleep associations, ideal hours of sleep, nap schedules, nighttime routines, early bedtimes etc. I was beginning to want to throw it all away and just accept bedsharing for the next year or so, but even that stopped working for us. I was in a state of complete panic. I cried this morning when I woke up. I cried on the phone with my mother. I cried in front of Gia. 

Sunday night:

I woke up at 5am this morning confused. Then elated. It felt like Christmas morning but better.

After the sleep wave was over, J and I watched The Martian, ate frozen pizza, drank wine, I took a Xanax (not kidding), had ice cream, then fell into a deep sleep. 

I couldn’t wait to see my baby. I took her into the nursery where I’d been sleeping by myself and we had a sweet cuddly nurse. 

She was happy today and napped okay. Not great. Tonight’s sleep wave was harder than last night’s. I’m going to try to sleep now myself. Wish us all luck, and you other sleepless mammas out there, I’m sending you compassion and strength.

 

 

Big news story for a six-month-old baby – Gia’s sleep has been awful. Occasionally she’ll sleep five hours at a time, but for the most part, since November, she’s had trouble falling asleep, wakes up every hour or two, nurses for an hour, or is awake crying or wanting to play in the middle of the night. It’s driving me bonkers, but by the light of day I realize that this is so normal for a baby and what did I expect?! She slept pretty well as a newborn, usually only nursed twice (except for cluster feeding nights) and had a long stretch of about six hours every night, so we’ve been a little shocked with this transition. First I thought it was the four month sleep regression, then the holidays and traveling, then leap 5… Well now there’s nothing to blame it on. 

Part of the problem is comparing her to the other babies in my Mommy & Me group. Apparently most of them sleep “through the night” now and are night weaned. Seriously?? I cannot imagine Gia not nursing at least twice in the nighttime. I would literally have to watch her scream and sob for two hours if I didn’t nurse her. I’ve tried to detach her often as soon as she’s done to cut back, but with Gia, if she wants to nurse, she’s going to nurse. Do I have horrible boundaries? Am I “spoiling” her? It’s confusing. I chose a lot of attachment-style parenting because it just makes sense to me – babies are so little and helpless. If I don’t feed her or change her diaper or comfort her, she can’t do it for herself. I want to be there for her. Our society and my bank account require that I keep working, but she’s just not ready for a strict schedule or to sleep in a room by herself. 

I read The No Cry Sleep Solution and made a sleep plan for her a few weeks ago. We’ve stuck to the early and very organized bedtime routine and she usually goes down right at seven now. The issue is how to get her to stay sleep and sleep in her crib. 

I could analyze Gia’s sleep forever and I won’t bore you. But after going over and over all the suggestions and stories of other babies, it’s been comforting for me to see other bloggers here struggling with sleep and trying to sleep train in a gentle manner. I appreciate the honesty and the very real accounts of what other babies do at 3am! I need to turn here for support.