Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I've learned about sleeping.


This is a sad post. I used to have a good friend, but I have lost touch with that good friend. Michael knows my pain. We both miss our friend, Sleep. Pre-Bria, I was a champion sleeper. Never had a problem sleeping. Heck, I didn't have a problem NOT sleeping. I could stay up to ungodly hours and manage to make it through the next day without missing a beat.

Then Brianna came.
All of a sudden sleep was no where to be found. I went from well-rested to sleep-deprived in a single day. It's rough, and you don't really know what it's like until you've had a baby. Fortunately for us, Sleep is coming around again. We are starting to reacquaint ourselves... or maybe our bodies are just getting used to the lack of Sleep? A lady at work has four little ones -- and she jokes that she hasn't slept in 9 years. My mom says that you don't really ever get sleep again, once you have a baby. Even when they're 18, 19, 20, and beyond. A mom's worrying never stops.

But, I have good news for all of you new parentals, like me, this too shall get better. Brianna is 8 months old (WOW!), and she has started to sleep through the night. The last time we went to the doctor he asked us if we still got up in the middle of the night when she cried. "Yes", we said. "To feed her?", doc asked. "...Yes..." we said. Well, doc gave us some great advice that day. "Do you get up in the middle of the night to eat?" he asked us. All of a sudden it hit me. He is giving us permission to stop. He is giving us permission to SLEEP. ...I just hope Bria adapts to this idea...

We tried it that night. She cried. We stayed in bed. She went back to sleep.

That's me, smiling. With a smiling camel.

I was always one that was really nervous about letting her cry it out. I mean, the JUDGEMENT! Moms today are so judgemental. And then there's all the books, and doctors, and what the doctors say in the books. Letting babies cry for more than 10 minutes will give them a complex/scar them for life/make them less likely to trust/delinquents/starved for attention/paranoid/turn purple/act like monkeys/etc. I mean, the PRESSURE not to make mistakes!

But here's the thing. Brianna needs her sleep. She NEEDED to sleep through the night. Not only did she fall right back to sleep that first night, ever since then she has been sleeping through the night too! And she seems like a better eater too! Instead of flip flopping back and forth from bottle to solids, she really has taken a liking to solid food. She eats more, gets full faster, and we. all. sleep. more.

And by "we all" I mean Brianna, Michael, and me. Hellelujiah. We are still light sleepers, and I'm sure M and I could both use a few sleeping-in mornings, but I think we're happy we've just made it this far!

So... here are some things I've learned about sleeping since Brianna has been born:

-Watch them sleep a little bit each night. Even if it's via monitor, just take some time to watch. So still. So serene. So beautiful. I love it. And I intend to continue this motherly tradition, until she moves out of my house at the ripe old age of 30 (wait, what?)... I don't care if it's creepy. I'm gonna be that mom that peeks into her room at night to see her in Dreamland every night. Yep.

-Dads, ya gatta help moms sleep. Especially in the beginning when you don't know what to do and the baby only wants her. You gatta step in and take one for the team, even if baby is wailing for an hour straight. Do it.

-Moms, let that baby sleep in the nursery EVERY. NIGHT. that you're in the hospital! Please! Get them used to sleeping/napping on their own, in a bassinet right off the bat.

-Expecting moms... REGISTER FOR EVERYTHING. Sure you've got a bassinet on your list, but register for a Rock N Play, some sort of co-sleeper aid, crib wedges, a Pack N Play, comfy recliner, etc. Because its very likely your little one will be picky when it comes to sleep. B only slept ON ME for the first 1.5 months, so our recliner was a God-send.

Rock n Play. B didn't like hers but I know a lot of
moms who swore by it.

-Start bedtime routines the first night you're at home; even if you don't always use soap, get the child in the warm water. We started giving B her nightly baths that first night and although she didn't like it for a while, she did get accustomed to it. Now she not only knows the drill, she loves it: eat, bath, play in the bath, dry off, diaper & lotion (massage), get dressed, and finally to bed.

B playing with glow sticks in the bath.

Our duckling, after the bath!

-Speaking of lotion... the night Brianna first slept through the night (I'm talking 1 or less wakeful periods) I used Johnson & Johnson Lavender Bedtime lotion. It smells AMAZING and I really do believe it did the trick. I was breastfeeding at the time so I put it on myself (neck, arms, the "ladies") and then while she was feeding, I massaged a little bit into her temples and on her arms.

-Moms and dads, create a weekend schedule. M and I recently agreed that he would get up Saturday mornings and I will get up Sunday mornings. That way each of us has at least 1 day to sleep in.

-Another reason it was important to let her sleep through the night? Cuddling. Time spent alone with hubs. It's amazing how much I missed that time in bed with him. Talking, cuddling, smooching, laughing, tickling, watching TV, reading, whatever. SO SO happy to get that back.

-Register/invest in a video monitor. I love mine. Although B has been sleeping in her crib for months now, I still get paranoid and need to make sure she's ok. We keep our monitor nearby all the time.

Pic from the monitor.
She is holding onto her favorite toy: a super soft lamb.

-Don't be afraid of letting them sleep on their tummies. Of course I waited until she could move her head well enough, but then I tried it out. Instantly conked out. And she still sleeps that way. But please have a video monitor if you do this. As a new mom I would have been stressed out of my mind leaving her to sleep on her tummy without a video monitor.

-Unless she's hysterical, don't rush in when she wakes up. Just like us, B needs a few minutes to get started. If I rush in, loud and rarin' to go she gets this frumy, confused look on her face and I can just picture her telling me to buzz off. So when I see that she is awake on the monitor, I give it a few minutes.

Good morning sunshine!

She's trying to give me her pacifier. Ha!

-Not every baby is a swaddle baby. Ours surely wasn't. But don't take my word for it: Research. See what works for others, try it with your babes, and then use it/tweak it/abandon it (Note: What doesn't work today might work tomorrow). We used the swaddle sacks for a while, but even got rid of those. B just never did take to having her arms strapped down.

-Sleep leads to more sleep (although this wasn't always the case). It's so important for B to get daily naps, and we have definitely carved out a schedule for her. Unfortunately, that is how it is right now. In the beginning it didn't matter much, because all she did was eat and sleep so as long as she did those two things we were golden (plus a poop and spit up now and again). It took a while to get her on this schedule and although it's our saving grace, it's also our crutch. If she skips 1 nap, the rest of her day is off, and quite possibly her night, which then leads to a bad day the next day. Bottom line: if nothing is working, establish a routine and stick with it (Note: establishment might take a few days). I'm looking forward to a less-strict life routine, but until then this is how it is.

-On that note, make sure you can hire a dependable babysitter who will stick to your sleep schedule. Nothing is worse than going out on a date, only to stay up all night to help get a cranky baby back on track because the sitter couldn't just put her down to sleep.

-Trust that it'll get better! I remember those early days when B slept for 30 minutes and only in my arms. It was bad. BAD. But we got out of those woods and she is a champ now! Good luck!

2 or 3 weeks old -- sleeping on me!

Want more sleep solutions? Here's an article, just for you: GO!

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