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sleeping, or not, actually

February 3, 2012

I should have known I was jinxing myself by proclaiming to the internet that Lil slept 12 hours at night early on in the game.

IMG_5657{Lilly, swaddled & sleeping in the bassinet in her first weeks of life}

Since Thanksgiving, she’s been waking at least once per night… How does she go from sleeping through the night at 2 weeks to waking 1-2 times per night at 5 months, a trend that she’s continued through today? That’s messed up.

(Feel free to laugh at us, those of you who haven’t slept since your little ones were born. I do feel a little silly complaining since I’m probably still getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep/night.)

IMG_9048{Lilly, 5 months, as long as the bassinet and slightly over the weight limit}

Lilly grew out of the bedside cradle around 4-5 months. I spent the following month and a half in denial, and she continued to get closer and closer to busting out the bottom of the cradle. It just seemed really sad to me to move her to her room… our whole family was sleeping in one room, and now she’d be so far away from us! (Okay, only like 5 steps away; our house isn’t that big.) She was/is still so little! What if she needs her mama!?!

But, we moved her. After a week of rough sleeping (like 5 wakings/night), I finally recognized that something needed to change. Sigh. It was a big step for me.

A few weeks ago, we started laying her in there at nap times, and, amazingly, she’d just talk for a minute or two and then she’d fall asleep. Nap time started off short – just 15-20 min – but has since increased to an hour or two, twice per day! {insert the I’m an awesome parent dance here}

Nighttime, though, oh nighttime! It took a bit more to get her to go down for the evening… And we still haven’t seemed to perfect our strategy.  {insert failed parent sadface here}

We have an early bedtime (6:30-7pm) and a routine: dinner, then bath/change into pjs and read a story or two with dad, then I feed her and she usually falls asleep only to wake up as I’m putting her down in the crib. It’s always that last inch that does it. Drop side cribs, why must you be banned!?! I bet you’d be excellent for my baby… I could just gently slide her into bed…

For a minute, we went Montessori up in here and put her little crib mattress on the floor.  Then I could nurse her to sleep and get up and leave without waking her.  Or, let’s be honest, more often than not, I’d fall asleep on the crib mattress on the floor.  Super-comfortable (NOT!).  That attempt was successful for a night or two, the downside being that we had to be super-careful not to let the dogs in her room or they’d think they got a new bed, and that the floor is kind of a chilly, drafty place to sleep.

We had a few great nights where I’d nurse her and then put her to bed sleepy, but awake.  She’d talk for a minute and then drift off to dreamland.  Amazing.  We can’t figure out what (if anything) we did to deserve that, but that’s what we’re shooting for.Snuggles

{I think this may be foreshadowing for the years to come…}

And this is all great, except she now consistently wakes up at 11 pm, wanting to be fed.  I was fairly confident that she was hungry – she’d cut back on daytime feedings and seemed distracted by the world around her when eating.  And I’m A-okay with feeding the baby when she wants to be fed, but by 11, I’d like to be in bed, too, and our parenting style is best described as “lazy”.  To repeat the whole nursing/trying to put her in her crib without her waking up routine was not working for me, and I’m fairly confident that it didn’t work for Jason either (he’d get up and rock her, she’d fall asleep on him, he’d return her to her crib, she’d wake up, and so on).  So Lil and I sleep in the guest bed and Jason sleeps in the master bedroom, or vice versa (3 in the bed = no one sleeps).  It was sort of like a giant bedtime switch up every night.

Yesterday, though, the doctor informed me that my baby was playing me.  He suggests that she’s not hungry in the middle of the night, that she should be able to make it through the night.  Yep, you read that right, 6 MONTHS OLD AND SHE’S ALREADY SMARTER THAN ME.  I am doomed.


We managed to have her fall asleep in her crib last night, and she SLEPT IN HER CRIB ALL NIGHT.  (She woke at 1am, I fed her for just a short time and put her back in her crib.)  Did Jason or I sleep?  NO.  We kept waking, waiting for her to wake crying and fighting the urge to run into her room and check on her.


Also, confession time: the upside of all of these sleep troubles is most certainly the cuddle time. There is usually a short time after she falls asleep in which I just lay next to her and cuddle, curving myself around her warm little body. I surf the internet (read your blogs!) on my iPhone or just lay next to her and contemplate whether I should go downstairs for some alone time or whether I should stay there and enjoy cuddling my baby while she’ll still let me. She is so sweet and little and warm and cuddly. Can she please stay like that forever?  And last night I missed the cuddle time!  So much.Cuddles

{FYI: I am not the only one who enjoys Lilly cuddle time}

Anyways.  All of this super-long post is just to say that we have no clue what we’re doing.

I’m opposed to letting her cry, even for a few minutes.  We thought we’d try one night, and after only 3 minutes, the two of us were so stressed out, Lilly was so stressed out, and it just wasn’t working for us.  She cries, we comfort her, end of story.

I question whether babies really need to sleep in their cribs, away from their parents.  Babies stay with their parents at night in many cultures around the world, why is there such pressure for American babies to be all by themselves?

On the other hand, I am hopeful that if she does learn to sleep in her crib, it will mean more sleep and better moods for the three of us and time for Jason and I to reconnect while she’s snoozing.  Fingers crossed.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2012 12:02 am

    I think you’ll be fine! The best advice I received about parenting was pertaining to advice ppl give you–“Use 1/3 of experts advice, 1/3 of relatives/friends advice, 1/3 of your own experience”. Do what makes you and your baby at ease. You both will adjust before long 🙂

  2. February 4, 2012 12:04 am

    I just have to say this is a really great post. Just the right amount of humor to keep baby sleep really interesting! I hope you guys hit your stride! If she’s still falling asleep before you go to actually put her in bed, could you try moving her bedtime earlier? Also not sure if this would work for you, but with Matthew he had two different cries – the “there’s something wrong” cry and the “I’m getting pent-up energy out before I fall asleep” cry. We may have lucked out with that – if we let him cry, he was asleep within 5 minutes 90% of the time, whereas if I’d gotten him up he’d have just been up for longer.

    Anyway, I totally feel you on how hard it is when they first go to their own room. That was such a sad night for me, even though like you said – 5 feet away! But they seem so small in that big room. I’m a bit scared off of purposeful co-sleeping not because of safety risks (which I think are nonexistent as long as you’re sober and not obese) but because I’ve seen it backfire so many times on my list serve, where co-sleeping was so amazing until it *really* wasn’t and it was an impossible habit to break. My dad as a pediatrician says that most parents he knows who co-sleep end up having a really rough time when they eventually need to break the habit. Anyway that’s not to say don’t do it if it’s what works, just to say what I’ve seen out there.

    Very sweet post. Hope you’re getting some sleep!

  3. February 4, 2012 1:12 am

    You’re steps ahead of me! Though we’ve gotten past the 11pm feedings, Summer still sleeps in her mini pack n play next to my bed. Until she outgrows the few wake up moments where I pop the pacifier back in her mouth and she falls back asleep, she’s staying put. And even then I’m sure I’ll have another reason why she needs to stay next to me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it! And I hear ya on the cry it out method…tried it once and no freaking way. I won’t do it.

  4. February 4, 2012 2:24 am

    From everything I’ve heard is that sleep patterns change over time but maybe your little one needs to be tired, not asleep, when you tuck her in? Then she gets into habits of putting herself to sleep? Just a thought.

    Also, don’t put yourself down by saying you have a ‘failed parent’ face – you’re loving her and caring for her – that means you’re winning a a parent!

  5. February 4, 2012 11:11 am

    You’ll get tons of different advice! Here is what my daughter does: Her baby is 3 1/2 months old and she puts him down for the night while he’s still awake sometime between 8 and 9 pm. Learning to go to sleep on their own is so important. She turns on his monkey (I think he has a heartbeat or something) and she says she can hear him talk to it for a few minutes and then he goes to sleep on his own, No crying. Once in awhile he’ll wake and she just plugs in his soother and he goes back to sleep. 🙂 Good luck! I know another young couple who let the baby sleep with them. Now they have two kids, one is 5 the other is 3 and both kids will not sleep alone. One parent sleeps with each. ;(

  6. Mom permalink
    February 4, 2012 11:51 am

    I guess the best thing you could ask yourself is…are your decisions based on what is going to be best for Lilly going forward or what might ease your mind the most now. FYI. you were in our room until 4 mos and then in your own room in a crib and I think you turned out pretty darn good and not clingy or afraid to leave our side.

  7. Amy permalink
    February 4, 2012 2:21 pm

    You know us, we’re big “parent through the night” people up in here. Our n=3, but in this very small study, it made a big difference.

    It is weak, weak consolation to be sure, but in our case sleep seems to begin consolidating around 15-18 months.

    We’re about four years too late for the real solution to our problem: a king sized bed. It’s not too late for you!

  8. February 5, 2012 4:09 pm

    Probably not what you want to hear – no magic solution but you and she will eventually work out what works for your family…at least occasionally. Then, just when you think you have it sussed, it will all change again.

    We definitely aimed for the “putting them in the cot/crib will still awake …. but not always possible.

    I feel for you …there is NOTHING like the sleep deprivation of new parents – it is tiredness of an entirely new magnitude.

    The first time my eldest slight more than 7 hours, and when I woke MYSELF at 6am I sobbed with relief!

    You will get there, and you are both doing a super job too. It’s only practical to have at least one human in the house who has had SOME sleep in the night, and eventually you will all manage to sleep AT THE SAME TIME …. eventually! At least you now have the internet and ipad for company 🙂

    PS had a wander with my camera around the regenerated docks area of Belfast – all gearing up to commemorate the Titanic centennial – you would love it. Come back!

  9. Elizabeth permalink
    February 7, 2012 5:54 pm

    JP, if your college self could see you now . . .

  10. February 7, 2012 8:34 pm

    You guys are doing such a good job, Jen! Hang in there! I agree with others on the idea of putting her to bed while sleepy but not asleep. Having Ike learn how to put himself to sleep was one of the best things we ever did. We did our sleep training around four months and I was a medium cry-it-out person. I would put him down, turn on the microwave timer for three minutes and stress eat while I watched the clock tick. In most cases he didn’t last longer than 2 minutes, and soon after the crying stopped altogether. We did offer him a pacifier for the times he hit three minutes. It is SO hard though! We followed The Baby Sleep Solution book, and I definitely recommend it.

    And, I must say your mom offered the most wise advice…I always have to ask myself, am I doing what is easy/comfortable for me right now, or am I doing what is best for Ike in the long term. The hardest route is usually the best route to take…go figure, right?!

  11. February 7, 2012 11:31 pm

    Completely agree with Erin and I too loved your mom’s advice. Sometimes I look to older generations of mommies who did fantastic jobs and I remember: We don’t need to reinvent the wheel! And the other thing to remember is that the hardest route is usually the best… but in the end, it’s the easiest. One of the best things I ever did with Matthew is when he was about 7-10 months old, if he took his bib off during a meal, I said “Matthew, if you take your bib off again we will be all done.” And then if he took it off again I ended the entire meal, cleaned it up, and tried again a bit later (just to make sure he got enough food). It took a LOT of ending meals, cleaning, and starting again but I now have a toddler who knows that if he throws his food, or spits it out, or plays with it, he gets just one warning and then the meal is over if he continues it. He doesn’t continue it unless he’s trying to tell me he’s full! A very easy, clean eater!

  12. February 9, 2012 10:46 am

    Unfortunately Jen, I’m never one for sleep advice. Isaac slept in our bed until the night we came home with Ezra and while we had a great run of 4 months or so with Ezra sleeping in his bassinet, that dang 4 month wakeful hit in full force again [google 4 month wakeful if you’re unfamiliar]. He also went from sleeping atleast 5 hours, to crying instantly. I’m very anti-cry it out, but even we attempted it because I wanted to avoid having a two year old in our bed. We’re still putting him down for naps, but ultimately, I’m at peace with our decision to have him in bed with us, just like I was with Isaac. I’m a working Mom, who doesn’t get to see enough of my children. Bedsharing allows me to nurse on demand through out the night, keeping my supply high enough and gives me the closeness to my baby that I need . . . oh and Ezra sleeps well too. 🙂 It was a hard transition to get Isaac out, but I think it was worth it.

  13. February 16, 2012 2:58 pm

    My baby is 5.5 months and sleeps next to me every single night. We talk about moving her to the crib. Between being concerned for her and her waking up it is just isn’t going to happen for 2 working parents. I have have never heard anyone say they wish they hadn’t let their baby stay with them as long as they did. It is always, I wish I had let the baby stay longer. They aren’t babies forever.

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