The Battle for Bedtime

You have never been a good sleeper, my child.  Always afraid you might miss something, you would do your best to keep those pretty hazel eyes wide open as long as you possibly could. As a babe your naps were so short I was often overwhelmed at the lack of nap time I could use to try to accomplish tasks.  It seemed like as soon as I barely laid you down in your crib I would take a breath and start a task and you would be awake.  If you slept for forty-five minutes at a time, I was ecstatic and was unsure of what to do with myself.

As bedtime would roll around, I would be exhausted and you would be seemingly full of energy.  I tried every trick I could think of to help get you relax and fall asleep but the length of time until your eyes would close only seemed to grow longer.  We walked miles through the house while I patted and sang.  When I wouldn’t walk anymore I would place you in the swing and hope the rocking motion would lull you to sleep.  That worked a few weeks until you figured out if you kicked your feet and leaned forward you could stay awake.

I would nurse you until fell into slumber only to have you awaken when I would remove you from my body and place you in your crib.  We would then start the process again.  When you were older and my milk had dried up I would hold you while you had your bottle, then walk, then lay you down, then pat you, then walk some more and sing, and try the process again.  I would grow so frustrated at the process of putting you to bed.  It would take an hour, sometimes two and by the time you were finally asleep I would be so exhausted that I would fall asleep soon after, missing out on any evening adult time.

Your father in frustration asked why other people children would go to bed at seven while we were lucky for ours to even act remotely tired by nine.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I was frustrated also, as I was the one in battle with you trying to make an unwearied boy fall asleep.  I cursed the mothers with the easy children and almost lost my cool when a friend, also a first time mother, dared to ask me how old you were when I first “let you sleep through the night.”  After texting her a horrible response with lots of cursing and accusatory tones, I deleted my frustrations and responded with “We still don’t sleep through the night.”  You must have been about 10 months old at the time.

It wasn’t until past your first birthday I stopped fighting and getting frustrated at the battle for bedtime. I finally realized you were just a high energy child who had to find a release for any pent up energy still stored in your body before your little eyes would close and your body would be still.  I would lay with you and let you wiggle next to me until you wiggled all the energy out and finally would fall asleep.  I learned to get rambunctious with you in play and to make sure you were allotted plenty of outdoor play or inside physical, rough and tumble, run around the house, screaming, bouncing, crazy play after dinner to make sure we could work out as much energy as possible to make those bedtime wiggles lessen ever so slightly.  The less I fought you and just resigned to the fact that you would never be an early to bed child, the easier it became and as you’ve grown the battle for bedtime has become easier.  You still have nights where the wiggles seem to never end and I fall asleep with you as I wait for your eyes to close and your body to still, but now it seems less like a battle and I even get in a few hours of adult time regularly in the evenings.

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All Hail, Another Round of Babies is Coming Forth!

It seems like babies come forth in little swarms and another round of babies are about to make their presence known in this world.  To celebrate I’m passing on a few healthful hints to new mommies (or reminders to veterans if it’s been a while.)

In General

If you are not part of some type of online mommy support network, join one! (This is where I give a shout out to all my NHCM’s!  I love you all!) You make tons of new friends and there is always someone up at 2am, or 3am or 4am when you are in desperate need of some help or a pick me up that will respond to your desperate plea for help.

About Sleeping

-They say to sleep when baby sleeps… YES, do this! Don’t clean or organize or do anything else! SLEEP. (I am still a big fan of this rule and love taking weekend naps with my toddler.)

-Cry it Out is not for everyone.  A lot of people will tell you to let your baby cry themselves to sleep or “self-soothe”.  I am NOT a fan of this method. I just cannot do it and you don’t have to either.  Sarah Ockwell-Smith has a great article about it Here: Self Settling-What really happens when you teach a baby to self soothe to sleep. –

About Breastfeeding and Pumping

-Breastfeeding isn’t easy, try not to get frustrated (which can be so very hard).  Keep Trying and Ask for Help if you need it!  Lactation consultants are great! Also Le Leche League International- is a great resource

-Breastfeeding is messy keep a burp rag nearby.

-There are many different tools that can help make nursing easier, like nipple shields and fenugreek. . . try them if you’re having trouble.  Using tools to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals does not make you defective.

-Pumping sucks, but you should do it if you can, build a stock before you go back to work, it’s amazing how quickly it can deplete.

-Watch the video that comes with your pump. Sometimes it takes two or three or four or five times to figure it out. (Like,oh duh, the dial turns up higher than the stupid little picture above it.)

-Pumping can be messy, keep a burp rag nearby.

-Use your friends who have or do Breastfeed and pump as a resource. They are an invaluable resource!

About Diapers

-They say you will change 8-12 diapers a day in the beginning. I swear it was more and I think sometimes I’m still changing 8 a day.

-Diapers are labeled all sorts of different fancy ways: swaddlers, snug and dry, cruisers etc… I haven’t found much of a difference except the color change indicator is way cool! Most brands seem to be about the same quality. (I didn’t choose to cloth diaper, but to all the moms who do I just want to let you know I think you’re awesome)

-For kicks and giggles put a diaper through the washing machine to see how much they can really hold (Oops, did I really do that? Why Yes. . . Yes, I did).

Cheers and Congratulations!

My Take On Cry It Out

When people talk about how their “such and such” month old baby sleeps through the night I used to get a little hot and bothered. The ears of the little, green, monster would pop up on my shoulder and I would clench my teeth while silently thinking “Eff you and your baby who sleeps.” I happen to have an almost 2 year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night on a regular basis. I remember a friend texting me when my babe was about 9 months old and hers was a few months old asking me “When did you letbaby sleep through the night?” I almost lost it. How could she ask me a question like that? Did she not see my FB posts at two in the morning because I was up yet again? Did she not remember that I had complained repeatedly about my baby who rarely napped for longer than 30 minutes and didn’t sleep long stretches at night either? I typed back a very long and mean text back and then deleted it because the rational me kicked in and said, you should never say anything in anger, if you can help it (especially not in writing).

After finding a good mommy support group of other mothers and having the discussion on sleeping or non-sleeping babies I soon discovered I was not alone.  I discovered that there are many other mothers out there who are going through exactly what I was. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, my non-sleeping baby was normal, AND there are other mothers out there who could relate and sympathize with me. (My family doctor also admitted to me that her own son was a non-sleeper during one of my appointments.) Just the gain of this knowledge lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. When you reach out and connect with other people and find out you are not alone your spirit lifts, you gain a little more confidence and you realize you can tackle your problems in a whole new light. (I highly suggest all first time Mom’s find a support group, either one that meets in person or online, and use them!)

Now, with non-sleeping babies comes a slew of advice from other parents on how to get your baby to sleep through the night and the big ones that comes up is “Let the baby cry it out”. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of loud noises and my initial instincts when I’m subjected to loud noises is to make them stop. For me the baby crying feel into this category. It went against my every instinct to let my baby cry while I did nothing.  It felt so incredibly wrong.  Then I read this article http://sarahockwell-smith.com/2014/06/30/self-settling-what-really-happens-when-you-teach-a-baby-to-self-soothe-to-sleep/by SarahOckwell-Smith and I was glad I went with my instincts.

I just couldn’t do cry it out, so I struggled and learned and struggled and learned some more.   For me the biggest challenge was getting the babe to go to sleep. (Although he would wake several times during the night, a quick change of diaper with some patting or cuddling or a bottle with some paddling or cuddling would usually do the trick. On the rare occasion a mid-night episode lasted longer than a few minutes  I figured out fairly quickly it was usually related to illness and I would just suck it up and be up with him.) Back to putting the babe to bed…  I tried a routine.  Bath, then books, nursing or bottle and bed.  He would seem like he was falling asleep while sucking away at the bottle, then BAM, bottle done, AWAKE.  I tried patting him.  I tried rocking him.  I tried walking and singing and bouncing.  I tried combinations of all the above…Sometimes one of these methods would work (after I tried and tried for 30-60 minutes).  Sometimes my methods would fail and I would give up and let him play for a while longer until he tired himself out a little more.  Somewhere along the way I got the idea to just try to tire him out before bedtime with physical play.  I let him play outside every day I can weather permitting.  This seemed to help.  I also tried signing with him when he was a little older giving him a warning before bed time.  I would sign and tell him “after we read these books it will be time for a bottle and to go to bed.”  This seemed to help too.  I figured out he was easily stimulated so it was best to stick to routine and also to limit things like the TV being on.  (Note I say the TV being on.  It doesn’t seem to matter if he is actually watching the TV.  Just it being on seems to rev him up a little, so no TV exposure before bed for him seemed to work better.)  Sometimes using a drop of lavender behind his ears (we do this when treating ear infections) seemed to help him sleep better so I started incorporating a little lavender into our routine. All of the things combined really helped me.  I started to relax and enjoy putting him to bed instead of dreading it.  I realized that being able to cuddle my baby to sleep would only last a short time and I was bound and determined that I was going to enjoy it and not be counting my minutes until freedom.  My change in attitude seemed to help too.  So if you struggle at all with putting your baby to bed, know this: You are not alone and it will get better!

Peace and Blessings and Good Night!