I want to kiss our pediatrician

a backyard

 

This summer has been ROUGH in the sleep department. Partly the sunshine streaming in the window until well past 9pm, partly an attachment toddler who wants his mama thisclose to him all.the.time when he’s sleeping, has led to a spiral of sleep deprivation that was just not working anymore. Potamus needed a good 2.5-3 hours of me laying in his bed with him before he would fall asleep. We’d start bedtime routine around 7, and it’d be close to 10 every.damn.night before he’d fall asleep. We tried mixing it up, doing really active things before bedtime routine started (running, wrestling, playing hard). We tried quiet activities before bedtime routine (reading stories, turning off all electronics, warm showers). NOTHING worked. Not only did it take that long to fall asleep, he’d only stay asleep about 1-2 hours at most, and then want Mama. Which meant, in my exhaustion, he was coming into bed with me before I had really even gotten any sleep for the night. 

Now, I’m not opposed to co-sleeping…when it’s working. But his restlessness would continue, even after he was snuggled in bed with me. He’d kick his legs and twiddle my neck, digging his fingernails into my chin…all night long. I would wake up crabby and exhausted and frustrated that it wasn’t going well. 

So I made an appointment with our pediatrician. I thought maybe it was growing pains? Or after a quick google search I saw things like Restless Leg Syndrome, or iron deficiency, or all sorts of other ailments. But I love our pediatrician and figured he’d be able to help. 

His diagnosis: poor sleep hygiene. 

What I love about this guy, is that he has a way of saying things in the kindest, gentlest way, while also sharing about his life. He said that the only way to get Potamus to sleep differently was going to be making the behaviors go extinct, which means, not reinforcing them, which means…not laying next to him for 3 hours to get to sleep. But then he told me that it’s not something I HAVE to do, but told me how to do it, if I wanted to do it, in a way that I would feel good about. And then he divulged that his family co-sleeps, and his son is almost 10 and ‘really small and immature for his size, and he comes into our bed every night to snuggle. he just needs to sleep next to a human being for awhile to feel safe.’ 

Yeah,  my pediatrician co-sleeps his older elementary school age son. So he’s not just telling me to leave a 3 week old in a crib to cry it out. I felt hopeful. He said it’d be hard, but it’d work. 

And so that’s what were doing. We read stories, and snuggle, and I give unlimited hugs. I’m still in his bed until he falls asleep, but I’m no longer laying next to him. And until 2am (ideally around 5 would be best), if he wakes up crying, I go in there and snuggle him, and put him back in his bed, and wait until he falls asleep. The first two nights were brutal. It took him awhile to fall asleep, and then he was restless for a good hour in the middle of the night (aka midnight). He’d fall asleep, but as soon as I’d creep out he’d wake back up. He’d want 4 more hugs and then he’d go back to sleep. 

My goal is not to eliminate co-sleeping for good, just alter it a bit so we’re all getting sleep. Because work starts back for me in 2 weeks, and he can’t be going to bed at 10pm and getting up at 6. He’ll be a crabby zombie. 

We’re at 4 nights this week, and last night he fell asleep ‘on his own’ (with me there) relatively easily. And at midnight he woke up crying, but in the time it took me to pee, he had soothed himself back asleep. I went in there and checked on him…zonked out. He came into our bed around 3am. Already he’s getting more sleep in a row than before, AND when he does sleep next to me there is snuggling, but no twiddling, kicking, tossing and turning. He reaches out to touch me, then curls into himself and passes out. Exactly what I hoped for in our sleep relationship. I like having his little warm body next to mine, but I also like sleep. 

I’m so thankful that I have a compassionate pediatrician who listens to my life and helps create a plan for making it fit into our lifestyle. I feel like I’m able to do a modified ‘cry it out’ (without any crying?) that suits my attachment parenting needs, without going to an extreme that doesn’t feel congruent with my values as a mom. 

So here’s to a few more hours of blissful sleep…for all of us. 🙂

 

Independence Day for Mama

popsicles for Independence Day @ school

popsicles for Independence Day @ school

In the past 2.5 years, Potamus has slept through the night only a handful of times (with the caveat that he ALWAYS sleeps through the night when he’s co-sleeping in our bed, which has resulted in us just co-sleeping every night for the past I-don’t-know-how-long). It’s hard being the kind of authentic mom I want to be, making choices like co-sleeping that feel good but are also draining on me as an introvert. I want a full night’s sleep. Okay, I’d settle for not getting up 5 times a night (like I did the other night).

People around me have helpful* advice like having him cry it out over a period of 3 days (to 3 weeks!) in order to ‘break’ him of his co-sleeping habit. I cringe at the thought. While this has clearly worked for other people’s kids, and they don’t seem worse for the wear, I just don’t want to go that route. So here I am, like last year’s “I AM SO DONE WITH BREASTFEEDING!” post (where I stuck it out for another 6 months until he weaned on his own) wanting my little guy to freaking sleep on his own for more than 30 minutes-2 hours. Ya know?

So last weekend we went and spent a few nights at my parent’s house in Eastern Washington. And one of the nights he slept shittily. And the next night I woke up at 7 and puttered out of the bedroom with Potamus still snuggled in. And he slept for a good 2.5 hours more. And when he woke up I played to his current obsession with praise, and told a little white parenting lie, by exclaiming proudly:

“YOU DID IT! Buddy you slept all by yourself, I am so proud of you! You’re such a big boy!”

He had a big smile on his face, when he said “I did it!” I wish I had taken a picture of his smile paired with his little blonde bedhead. So freaking adorable.

This week, since that, has been up and down. But I am proud to say, that he has slept through the night TWICE! When he cries out for ‘mama’ in the middle of the night, I go in, and snuggle down with him until he falls back asleep. Every day he’s made it until about 6 am. And last night he slept from 8:30-6 am, and then came into our bed and slept until 8:30. He gets so excited that he “did it!” all by himself, that I’m hoping we’re on a trend toward more independence as a mom. While I cherish the snuggles, like this morning, I also loved sleeping a few hours in a row in a bed all by myself.

Happy Independence Day ya’ll! Stay safe!

Cry it Out

When I was going through my worst bout of post-partum depression, I met with my midwife. She was kind enough to disclose that she, herself, had suffered from post-partum depression that had been made worse by her son’s terrible sleeping habits. She had pushed off the idea of sleep-training until he was 11 months old and then she had gotten into such a state of sleep deprivation, that she did 2 nights of ‘cry it out’ with her son, a total of 20 minutes each night and BOOM he was, overall, a good sleeper after that.

I thought it would never happen to me. Potamus is always held or rocked or comforted back to sleep by patting or bouncing on the exercise ball or nursing. But there has been quite a few nights lately, where he is “awake” in the middle of the night for 3-4 hours, refusing to be bounced, not interested in nursing for very long, but CLEARLY tired. While he motors around the house he rubs his eyes, whines, cries, and rubs his eyes some more.

Last night I had enough.

I have had one five hour stretch of sleep in the last 9 months, and that happened 3 days ago. The rest of the time has been spending my nights with 2-2.5 stretches at a time, because Potamus was reverse cycling. The last few days, he has been up every hour all night long. He is tired. I am tired. But I don’t want to stop bed-sharing just yet, and crying it out doesn’t seem all that conducive when the crying person is in bed with you (let alone, crying it out has triggered ideas  of abandoning babies in nurseries while they wait to be put up for adoption and are only left to be cared for by nurses).

But, at 3am this morning, I had had enough. He was clearly tired. Boof was tired, and has been pulling long hours sitting in the living room in the middle of the night so that I can try and sleep. And so, I let him lay there between us. And I patted his back. And he cried. And wailed. And cried. And I thought I was going to die, or punch the wall, or tear my hair out. Most others talk about crying-it-out in similar ways, but their babies are in cribs in other rooms and they can go to the farthest reach of the house and get away from it.

It was the longest 15 minutes. And then he was quiet, with eyes half-open, and then he rolled onto his side and snuggled up to me.

And four hours later he woke up, hungry.

I don’t know if I will keep doing it, but it seemed to work. We all got more sleep. I didn’t abandon my baby or my instincts of bed-sharing, and being right there to comfort him. And I am thankful for the midwife’s story, which somehow gave me permission last night, to be the best mom I could…and let my baby sleep.

 

But I admit, after he fell asleep, a few tears of my own were shed. I guess I had my own cry it out night…