Two weeks ago Gia stopped going to sleep as easily. With the time change, her bedroom was light at 7 pm when she usually goes down, but it wasn’t just that. She wasn’t calming down while nursing and when I put her in her crib, when normally she would roll over and close her eyes, she was popping up, wide awake and crying. A few times that week it took an hour or more to get her to sleep, and several times in the middle of the night it took the same to get her back to sleep. When I opened the Wonder Weeks app, a storm cloud loomed over her little head. 

J and I discussed her baby craziness a few days later and decided we just wanted to support and comfort her, rather than take a hard line. We let her sleep in bed with us after her first waking a few times.  At the same time, she started crawling on all fours and pulling herself to standing. She wants to stand and “walk” holding our hands all the time! She also claps and says “uh-oh” and “up”, although I’m sure she doesn’t know what they mean. We weren’t about to do sleep waves while she was standing in the crib, peering over the top screaming. I suppose you could, but it didn’t feel the same now that she can pull herself up. 

It’s been pretty rough.  I did have a couple of freak-outs at 3am. One night I removed myself and slept in the nursery because I couldn’t be the best mother in that moment. I had to listen to her cry in J’s arms for awhile, but she’d already nursed for 45 minutes and I knew she was okay. She had trouble sleeping for two weeks and is just starting to get back on track. We changed her bedtime routine to 7 and bedtime to 7:30, and I started doing a dream feed so I could skip a night waking. (Why didn’t I start this earlier, it’s great! She’s so mellow and goes right back to sleep and sometimes I get to sleep six hours straight.) 

The best thing I did during this sleep regression was take two warm baths with Gia. One night when J was away on business and Gia seemed really amped up I drew a bath and pulled her in with me. We hadn’t done this since she was just a few months old. We lay there playing and nursing for a long time and she went right to sleep that night. It was nice so we tried it again a few nights ago. 

 
During the day though, this sassy little girl is pretty hilarious. She cracks up at the silliest things, lies on her back staring at books like she’s reading them, andslurps down the broth at the end of her soup bowl. I feel a lot less anxious about taking care of her, aside from her weekend naps which really stress me out (she naps perfectly for the nanny but with us will only nap in stroller or ergo). She’s very interactive. She’s started a music class on Fridays and we start swim lessons this Saturday.

  
  
  

First, a quick update. Work is Hell. There is a lot of drama and I’m struggling to be professional and take the high road. I have had to stick up for myself both privately and in meetings. It’s so disheartening that as a licensed psychologist, I have had to do this. I look forward to the days when I am full-time private practice! Because of the stress of work, I haven’t had as much time or headspace for other things like talking to my family and getting household paperwork done; I feel depleted all week long. Thank goodness I’m pretty good at separating work and home, so that the second I see Gia’s eyes light up, realizing I’m home, I can be present with her. 

I’m feeling much more confident about parenting. Our sleep and mealtime routine works well and it’s so nice to have some adult time in the evenings to watch TV and just hang out. We miss Gia during this time, so I’m glad that we still co-sleep with her crib in our room, and see her for night feeds. It’s worth it to be tired, as long as I’m not as tired as I was before we implemented her sleeping in her crib! 

When Gia was a newborn I struggled with a lot of anxiety; having a tiny human relying on me all the time was a shock to my 36-year-old, previously free-spirited system. Then between four and six months, before we helped her learn how to sleep by herself, I felt desperate and I have to admit, a few times wondered if I had gotten in over my head with having a child; the burden of not sleeping and working so hard was heavy.

Sometime in the past few weeks things have shifted. I’ve found myself incredibly excited to see her every morning, night and all weekend long. I adore spending time with her. She is hilarious – if I look at her out of the corner of my eye, or play a trick like sneaking up behind her, she laughs so hard. She eats pretty much anything we put in front of her – broccoli rabe in olive oil, chickpea, spinach soup and tomato soup, sesame tempeh with rice noodles. It’s amazing. Watching her explore her meal is awesome. For playtime, she’s obsessed with standing up. If you sit on the floor she will crawl over and reach for your hands, then pull herself up to standing and look around, grinning, to see who is watching. She says “Uh oh” clear as day; I’m not sure she understands what it means, but she loves saying it! She is so much fun and her schedule is under control enough that I no longer feel anxiety about the rest of it. How I will get her dressed, myself dressed, the car pulled into the driveway, the stroller into the car and the baby into the car no longer bothers me. Knowing I’ll be woken out of a deep sleep to nurse her in the wee hours of the morning no longer bothers me. I’m really proud of our family (the cats helped to, cuddling in the nursery every night during bedtime routine) for pulling ourselves together and making our home a comfortable place for Gia to sleep, learn and laugh.

Homemade vegetable soup:

 
 One hand! 
 Butterfly rocker at a play cafe: 

My older sister is about to have her second baby, and J’s brother and sister-in-law are due in July; Gia will have five first cousins! I am so excited to see what my little niece is going to be like. 

The last post was published by accident with my stupid sore thumbs! Here it is corrected:

    
There’s so much I want to say… But it’s hard with no laptop and sore thumbs. I’m so in love with my baby. She’s developing so much and it’s amazing watching it every day. She’s so funny and sweet. When she laughs or burries her face in my neck I just melt. It’s hard to have such a huge responsibility when I’ve been free to do whatever I want for so many years, but this is exactly why I did it – to have this parent-child love in my life. Taking care of her is getting easier and I’m more confident so some of the intense anxiety I had is dissipated.

Gia update:

She’s crawling a lot now and loves to be supported while standing up but since she can’t pull herself up yet we don’t let her do it for too long. She’s eating mostly adult food as she started rejecting the baby food a couple of weeks ago. She loves vegetable soup so I’ve been making her lots of it – it’s just fresh organic vegetables cut into small pieces in broth (low salt) with beans. She’s obsessed! She also loves lentil curry with coconut milk (one of J’s specialities but made without salt) and scrambled eggs (also without salt). We give her some blueberries, mango and strawberries a few times a week but really she just wants soup!
Gia weighs 21.5 pounds. It’s difficult having to constantly lift up a baby the size of a person who normally would be able to walk around on her own. Hence the sore thumbs. I have an orthopedic appointment on Friday. I do want a cortisone shot, except that I had one in my left wrist a few years ago and it hurt so badly I cried the whole motorcycle ride home (back when J drove me around on her bike which was super hot) and it atrophied and I lost some muscle tone. But I never had pain there again! 

 Doing some yoga with the nanny: 
 Standing: 
 Breast feeding in The Gap (her favorite way to nap on weekends – in the Ergo, not in The Gap): 

Just being adorable:  

 Eating breakfast: 

J and I are reassessing our relationship now that we’re getting more used to parenting. It’s been a difficult adjustment for us and since we didn’t get a chance to get married prior to her birth, it feels like the stakes are high. Our relationship has such a strong base and we’re both fully committed. We’ve set aside one night a week to talk and connect and weekend nights have been more fun now that Gia’s bedtime is under control; we can have some beers and watch a movie together, which feels so exciting after months of having to go to bed with Gia!
That’s it for now. No organized monthly updates here, but I’m trying to keep up with you all!

Gia has had at least three colds in her short life, all lasting around a month. Right now she’s had one for two weeks accompanied by a bad hacking cough which keeps her from sleeping. For several nights now she’s been back in bed with me nursing all night. She still goes down at 7pm, and we haven’t had to do any sleep waves since the first week of sleep training. Since getting sick she at least was making it until 11 or midnight, but last night she was awake at 9:15 pm, right as I was drifting off to sleep! She nursed pretty much all night. Then tonight we found a tooth cutting through her top gums! No wonder she nursed all night last night, and anytime I took my nipple out of her mouth (sorry kid, sometimes I have to go to the bathroom for ten seconds) she screamed bloody murder.

 
My whole body hurts from side-lying all night – back, hips, shoulders. I know it’s because the poor girl is sick and teething, but it’s really getting to me again. J suggested I call in sick this morning but I had a busy schedule and dragged myself in. I have faith that her sleep will go back to one night waking soon though, since the nights she feels okay she still sleeps 8-9 hour steer his, then another 3-hour stretch. I’m just trying to hang tight.  

at the doctor… again

 

I do feel good overall though. There is so much stress at work and I miss my family, but I’m also feeling lighter in a lot of ways.  Our routine with Gia is comfortable and I think we’ve gained a lot of confidence in parenting both separately and as a couple. Gia is just adorable and I love her so much. She’s smart and notices everything. She laughs like crazy. She eats leafy green vegetables like a champ. She crawls and knocks over blocks. Taking care of her (except at night) is just so fun and amazing!

Gia was seven months last Friday. It was also the day our angel baby was due. In some ways, it feels like Gia is her and they are the same.

 

eating Korean food – she went after those chopsticks, even greens with spicy sauce!


 

roasted asparagus

 
  
 

natural history museum – first dinosaur!

 
 

I took a very traditional workshop on First Foods at The Pump Station which outlines a plan for how to introduce one food at a time, which foods to introduce only after one year, and how to ensure your baby doesn’t get addicted to carbs (lots of veggies, no pouches, applesauce or puffs). My Mommy & Me instructor encourages BLW and says she wishes she’d done it with her two children ten years ago though. I created a control-freak plan and printed it out for the refrigerator, but we ended up trying a combination of baby-led weaning and purée. Gia spits up more when we don’t purée her food, so I’m making those most of the time. I’ve given her pieces of fresh veggies to suck on and pieces of vegan muffin, veggie wrap and some soup and salad at restaurants, and all has been okay. We’ve also tried egg yolk scrambled with finely chopped spinach and avocado which was a huge hit. We do need purees at the ready during weekdays for quick meals and the nanny, and since Gia is 20.5 pounds she seems hungry a lot. I’m using a book called Sage Spoonfulls for ideas about which veggies to combine and how to cook them. I add a dash of olive oil – I want her to love vegetables! Here are some combos I’ve made:

Sweet potatoes & broccoli

Yams, carrots and zucchini

Red potatoes and English peas

Red & blue potatoes, parsnip & zucchini 

Oatmeal and blueberries

 

This bamboo steamer is awesome for making baby food!

  

   
 


She is just so adorable when she likes something! Some days she gobbles up a whole plate and other days she won’t touch the same food. We let her eat with her hands which basically means paint the dining room table and her face!
 


  
She also likes mango and apple purée chilled in the silicone feeder: 

On another note, I’m not pumping enough milk to keep up with her. It sucks. My freezer stash is quickly diminishing and instead of the three or four ounces I used to get each session, I now get 1.5 between BOTH SIDES. I pump before and after work with her nursing on the other side and get more, but I have to pump like its my job in order to make enough for her. My only breast freeding goals were to let her wean herself (probably when she’s five God help me) and to not use formula, since I’ve always had plenty of milk, but at this point I think we’ll need to supplement soon. I wish my body responded better to the pump. I drink lactation tea all day at work and guzzle water. I also eat oatmeal with flax for breakfast and eat two lactation cookies a day. I’d lost some weight from eating really healthy and my nanny said I shouldn’t do that yet and maybe it was reducing my supply (she breast fed three children for at least two years each) so I’ve started eating more too. The problem is really that I don’t get a letdown easily without Gia, not even with the button on the pump. Who’s had to supplement? Has anyone had to do this when returning to work?

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.

I’m happy for anyone in the blogging community or who reads my blog to read this, it’s just better not out in the open 🙂

Email me santosha1203@gmail.com

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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.