Letting Sleeping Babies Lie...

This past week I realized something had to be done about the sleeping schedule.  I had pulled out my sleeping books.  I misplaced two and read part of one (I have no EARTHLY idea where they could be and this is annoying me more than a little). And so we start with the sleep training.  As a matter of record, I do not like the word “training”.  I didn’t much like the methods either (as a person that was completely clueless as to what it entailed).  But what is it that they say about desperate circumstances?  I knew my baby girl needed to get better sleep.  So, I dove in.  Here’s an account of the last 48 hours.

Friday night:

  1. 7:30 p.m. start nighttime routine: book reading, nursing, praying, lullaby
  2. 8:15 p.m. fall promptly asleep (both the baby and ME!)
  3. 12:15 a.m. frog princess wakes up crying (she’s not a crier so this is a little unnerving and it’s been happening quite a lot in the last month).  I nurse her and then some stuff happens but there’s no way that I actually remember what that was (when I said an account of the last 48 hours you didn’t really think you were going to get a play-by-play did you? If you did, shame on you! Go Read Now, Where Was I? for an explanation)
  4. 1:15 a.m. frog princess goes to sleep in what has now become the “family” bed out of a weird necessity for us to sleep a little so that we can function at work
  5. 6:30 a.m. guess who is up?
  6. 10 ish: we go for a walk
  7. 11 ish: I attempt to put her down for her nap. She cries.  By now I have read a little of the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child but not enough to implement things.  I feel helpless and ridiculous because I have no idea how to go about getting her to nap these days without it being a big production.  I put her down in her crib.  She cries incessantly.  When I go to check on her, she’s all pooped.  I now feel like royal crap.  I take her out and she gets a warm bath after which she nurses and falls asleep.  I have enough time to do a few things and write Confessions of a Mediocre Mom
  8. 1 ish (I’m making the time up now): she wakes up.  We hang out and have a good time
  9. 3 ish: we head out for an early dinner and a stroll around a community festival
  10. 5 ish: she falls asleep in the car while we go pick up Chico Mendes from the groomer.

We get home and I attempt to devour the chapters written for ME in the book.  I get the gist. It makes sense.  Here’s what I learned:

  1. Around 9 months children’s sleep habits change a bit
  2. Working parents at times keep their kids up later than they should because they are trying to spend time with them (I make a mental note because at around 9 months, I pushed back her bedtime purely by accident and this is probably why)
  3. Some children her age are down to one nap but not all (there are figures in the book that I am too lazy to go find at the moment)
  4. Nap schedule should be as follows: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (I make another mental note because my munchkin has never been a long napper but notice that these times coincide a bit with when I like to put her down (10 and 2)
  5. There’s talks about putting the child to sleep @ 6.  I realize this guy’s wife is probably a SAHM.  While I have nothing against that, I don’t like the fact that people discount the practicality of some things, like bedtime for those of us who have to trek 40-60 minutes home

Based on these facts, my game plan was simple:

  1. Get the frog princess to bed closer to 7 (or maybe 6:45 p.m.) to see what happened
  2. Make sure that I watched for cues to put her down for nap time
  3. Pray a lot because there might be crying involved
  4. HONOR MY CHILD’S SLEEP.  That was a big one.  It is difficult but everything else changed in my life when I had her so this was something that was part of the deal. We need to be home for naptime even though it may not be convenient.  This also means that I will have to make sure she goes to bed when she is supposed to and not when I am feeling like I’ve spent sufficient time with her in the evenings.  I could do this, right?

Saturday Evening:

Start bedtime routine @ 7.  Realize kind of immediately that I should’ve started a little earlier.  Frog princess attempts to engage her dad in play time, as he is getting ready for the UM game.  We go through our routine.  She is sleepy and dozing in and out.  I set her down in her crib.  She cries.  But, only for about 10-15 minutes.  Now it may seem like a lot to some of you but there have been times that I have set her down (because of my own exhaustion) and this child can go the distance.  Then, suddenly, she is asleep.  I am giddy!

I stare at the monitor wondering if she has managed to sneak out of the crib and make her way somewhere else, perhaps the community concert that I can hear going on down the street (we’ve had issues with monitor placement).  I sit down to work on a few things.  I work for one hour, two hours, three hours.  Not a peep from my frog princess!  I go to sleep around 1 a.m. after the dog ran away (long story short, at that hour I was perfectly willing to let him since he decided to make a run for it into the night when there could be alligators, bigger dogs and all kinds of things out in the darkness).  The man comes home and tells me he found the dog (I’m not impressed).  I slumber through until I am wide awake @ 6:30 a.m.!

Now start the fun thoughts.  I hadn’t actually physically walked into her room for fear that she would wake.  My mind started playing all kinds of tricks on me about what could’ve happened to her (the monitor was in the living room so I couldn’t see her).  At 6:34 I can’t take it anymore.  I sneak in to her room and feel her back (to make sure she’s breathing.  Please tell me I’m not the only nut who does this?).  At that very moment, the light in the closet, which we have left on because the bulb in the nightlight died, decides to make all kinds of icky noises and she wakes.

I am secretly grateful because I have rock hard boobs from going almost 12 hours without nursing.  We nurse, she plays.  We are up for around 2 hours without a problem.  At 8:54, she crawls to me and I pick her up.  Normally, she’ll sit on my lap and engage in whatever it is that I am doing.  This time, she turns her body to me and whines a bit.  I take this as my cue.  We go into the bedroom (where daddy is still sleeping). I nurse her in bed and she falls asleep.

My frog princess slept for 1 ½ hours with daddy!  She woke up refreshed and did not sleep in the car on our way to church.  We came back home and I attempted a nap again.  This is where it all derailed.

The book talks about method A and method B for naptime.  It goes through the logistics of it in that nap time is guided by a different part of the brain than nighttime sleep thus it is okay for there to be two methods (so I can do my holding, nursing, etc during naptime as opposed to just setting her in the crib and letting her cry it out).  Except that my brain must have been in a fog from all the sleep I got the night before (I couldn’t remember the last time I slept for 6 hours straight!).  I didn’t remember that I was supposed to do my “usual” as I had that morning.  I set her down and she starts to cry.  I let her cry for a bit and then daddy went in for her.

Well, she had all kinds of fun stuff waiting for us in her diaper.  Didn’t this happen yesterday?  I felt like THE worst mom EVER! I should have known! L

The man cleans her up and then we give her a bath.  I nurse and she falls asleep. I hold her and cry a little at my ineptitude (I am also still sticking by the fact that this is occurring because I got sleep and this has me slightly hormonal).  She sleeps for an hour.

This evening, I get going on the routine @ 6:40 p.m. She is asleep by 7.  I go to put her down and she opens her eyes in the process of me getting up. I tell her I love her.  I kiss her.  I pray to the sleepy sleepy god.  I set her down.  She flips on her stomach and then sits (a move that she has indeed perfected.  If this were an Olympic event, she’d take gold because this can happen in 1.9 seconds!).  She cries a little.  Not the “how could you imprison me when you say you love me” cry but the “I’m sleepy and maybe didn’t want to be put down cry”.  I tell her it’s time to sleep and then run.  I close the door behind me and by the time I get to the living room to watch the spectacle and disaster something weird happens.  Nothing.  My frog princess is not crying.  I see her trying to find a comfy spot and holding on to the blanky I put in with her.  She falls asleep.  And now I get to watch her from a birds’ eye view as The Man put the camera high so that we could see the entire crib.

Currently, the monitor is behind me.  I still jump when I hear rustling.  But she sleeps.  And I am grateful to have been given back the expectation of a baby who sleeps well and a little time for myself. As I say this from my soapbox a little voice in the back of my head whispers "watch her wake up as soon as you hit "Publish" on the blog!" Oh well, we will soon find out (well, I will.  I may not share it with you later).

I called mami and told her.  Then I told her that all the things you read you have to take with a grain of salt.  You are the leading expert in your child.  I sometimes need to be reminded of that.  Today was a slight emotional roller coaster because of the feelings of guilt due to the poopy diaper.  But tonight I remember that I know my child best. That I am the one that has to instill a schedule that is best for her even when it may not be convenient for others or myself.  This is part of mamihood.  Learning to listen and not listen.  Learning to take advice and to leave it.  Tonight I learned a little more about myself as a mother and nurturer.  I do not subscribe to just one type of thinking.  I do not limit my thoughts to one way of looking at things.  Because doing so will limit my child’s experiences in how she relates to the world and how the world relates to her.

Tomorrow she will have 2 naps.  Tomorrow night, we will go to sleep on schedule.  I will cherish the time I have with her and make the most out of the hours and days that I get to hold her in my arms.  She will be my priority during those times because at this point at least (and strictly from a sleeping point of view) we have to be on her schedule for her own good.

Now if you will excuse me, I believe I have a hot date with my mattress…

(If you’d like to see more parenting books, please click on the Book Mami logo in the side bar)