Friday, November 9, 2012

Let's talk about sleep, baby...

What a great song, am I right? No?
I started this post a month ago, when my mom, pediatrician, and others were "shocked" that my breastfed 4 month old was still waking at night to eat (1-2 times). As a new mom whose support system is mostly made up of "old school" moms and discussion boards on the internet (How did they do it when there were no smartphones!?), I thought I had spoiled my baby beyond repair. As a high school teacher, you can easily picture past students who were "spoiled" and it was terrifying to think of my 4 month old grow into one of these 16 year old pains (which, I'm sure to some extent, they all do eventually).

Proactively, I bought Elizabeth Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night" on my Kindle. I need to stop buying books that have worksheets in them on my Kindle. It is ridiculous how many times I have to turn on my computer to read these books because apparently, I am not just a visual learner, but a tactile one. I chose this book because of Dr. Sears' recommendation of it. I think I made it to chapter 2 when my son hit the 19 week sleep regression.
To anyone who is listening to people tell you that you are spoiling a baby that is waking 2, 3, even 4 times a night, stop it. Sleep regressions are the worst! My little guy was waking EVERY HOUR. For 2 weeks. There was no way I was going to try anything in that book when I was this impatient and cranky from no sleep. Fear of another bought of mastitis made me nap when he did, which was usually for about 15 minutes and in my arms. He had reverted to an infant and I couldn't take it.

So, despite my decision to not give my son solids until 6 months, we started rice cereal at 5 months, because "your milk is not enough, real food will help him sleep through the night." Laughable. My son was so gassy from the cereal that he was now not sleeping AND he was in pain. After switching to oatmeal, we still did not notice a change in his sleep, only a reduction in gassiness. About 2 weeks later, when we had finally introduced green peas, he was suddenly sleeping for a stretch of 5-6 hours. And I was still waking up. And staying up! My body had been programmed to wake up and I was still not sleeping. After about 3 days of this, though, I started getting real sleep.
Now our problem is that he is constipated and sometimes cannot sleep from discomfort... if it isn't one thing, it's another... ah, the life of a mother!! I love every sleep-deprived, coffee chugging, zombie-shuffling minute of it!!
Today (we are 1 week away from 6 months!) I still have not made any progress with any goals I have developed from reading the book. I would like to break him of swaddling and have him fall asleep without nursing, but the two are interconnected since he needs to be able to soothe himself if he's not nursing and he can't if his hands are tied down. HOWEVER, with doing nothing but encouraging more naps, he has been putting himself back to sleep at night! And there are night wakings where I don't even have to pick him up, just pat his chest and he falls back asleep. So, I am holding on to the idea that things will get better on their own, just more slowly than if I start doing some of the techniques in Pantley's book.
I guess I wrote this post because there seem to be a lot of us who do not want our children to be in discomfort or cry unnecessarily (attachment parenting), but we do not have a support system of people who understand this. My friend who has a one month old just told me that after reading posts online, she felt like she was spoiling her daughter for letting her sleep in her arms. I told her about the "Happiest Baby on the Block" theory that the first 3 months of a baby's life is actually the fourth trimester and that there is no way she could spoil that sweet little girl. She agreed, and said something I think we can all relate to, "I would rather unspoil her later than have her cry now."

What are your sleep concerns? Are you one of the lucky parents I was hunting down in grocery lines that had never heard of or experienced a sleep regression? How is the time change working out for you and your little one?

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