14 February 2010

Baby Sleep 5

Yay for progress! Jackson's sleeping habits have improved leaps and bounds over the last 2 weeks. Most recently, he is getting at least one 3 to 4 hours block of sleep, but we seem to have a rough night every 4 or 5 days. However, the rough nights right now are still much better than the good nights at the beginning of the No Cry process.

Jackson's bedtime is now 6:15 to 6:30, and he wakes up anywhere from 6 to 7:30 in the morning. That may sound early, but his big brother is awake by 6 nearly every morning, regardless of bedtime. On average, Jackson cries about 4 times before we head to bed, wakes up 2-3 times overnight. He wants to eat once before we go to bed, and once in the middle of the night. When he wakes up, he is quite easy to settle; sometimes, just a bit of singing settles him, and if that isn't enough, bouncing his mattress or rubbing his tummy does the trick.

The goal is to teach the baby to settle back to sleep with progressively less help from us, but we still pick him up and rock him to sleep when he needs it. A week ago, as Jackson learned to calm down without being picked up, his night wakings dropped off sharply. Now that he can be calmed without being touched, he will cry out once or twice but fall back to sleep before we even get to his door.

It is difficult to write about this part of the process because the difficult nights are discouraging, while the good nights are still far from our goal of uninterrupted sleep from 9p to 6a. That goal won't be reached until there are no more night feedings. Jason easily weaned from night feedings at 9 months, so we have another 3.5 months to go if we do the same with Jackson.

Accepting night wakings, described as nighttime parenting in The Baby Book, comes to us "easily" at this stage of parenting.  "Easily" means that at least one of us has the emotional and physical energy to deal with nighttime problems as they arise.  At this point, we take the wakings in 2 hour shifts.  If the first waking is 10:30p, one of us will take all the wakings between 10:30p and 12:30a.  The other person's shift will begin with the first waking after 12:30a.  The 2 hour stretch without baby-responsibility helps us avoid the zombie feeling during the day, and when we get to add a 3 hours stretch of baby-sleep to that, we approach a normal night's rest.

Positive affirmations make a huge difference in my attitude when the reduced sleep leaves me with a reduced mental capacity.  The biggest support to our continued No Cry Sleep efforts continues to be our toddler who sleeps 11 hours most nights without a peep.  I may not remember the details of teaching him to sleep, but I remember the frustration, I remember wanting to give up, and now I see him as a great example of the No Cry Sleep Solution.

04 February 2010

Baby Sleep 4

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy sleeping next to my baby?  When Jason was tiny, Dave and I were paranoid something would go wrong.  We'd wake up at every little grunt or movement.  By the time Jackson was born, I was much more confident, and I had read a lot more about sharing sleep (lots of great information is available from Mothering Magazine).  It no longer took brain power to account for him when I moved around at night- it became very natural.  I also loved having that extra time with my second born- sleep time was quality time.  I don't have all day to just stare at Jackson as I often did with his older brother.  However, he is now 5 months old, very grabby, and getting more mobile every day.  Not such fun at night.

Those first few nights without Jackson in the bed with us, I had a very difficult time getting to sleep, even when Dave was dealing with the constant wakings.  I ended up sleeping with a teddy bear, and it helped a lot.  Dave offered to cuddle, but he isn't so short and squishy as our baby. 

The past four days of Jackson sleep have been incredibly tiring, but it got better every night.  I came down with a cold on Monday, and if it weren't for the support of my amazing, loving husband, I would have given up on getting Jackson to sleep in the crib.  It was well worth working through, though.  Each night, there were progressively longer periods of sleep:  0:45, 1:15, and 1:45 hours from Sunday through Wednesday.  However, there was still a lot of waking up after 5 or 10 minutes until last night, when there were multiple, hour-long stretches of sleep.

The main thing we are doing differently, nearly a week into the process, is trying to calm him in the crib without picking him up.  It doesn't work every time, and we don't try for more than a minute, but I think it helps Jackson learn how to calm down without being bounced.  Now he is calming and settling in the crib much more easily.

We are now ready to move forward in the process: The steps won't change, but where we followed Steps 1 and 2 until Jackson was completely asleep and limp-limbed, we will now try putting him down just after he's fallen asleep.  This means it will take a little longer for Step 3, and there will be times where he will completely wake up, and we'll have to start over at Step 1. 

Going through this process, especially the second time around, doesn't seem like such a big deal until I sit down to write about it.  The biggest problem is our lack of sleep, but Jason sleeps so well, it is easy to keep going because we know where we are headed:  2 to 3 hours between the boys going to sleep and our bedtime.  I am willing to trade a month (or more) of sleep to get to that point without having to leave my baby crying all alone.