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. 🙂

 

I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Goldfish

It’s been a rough few days of little sleep and LOTS of whining (from both mama and son). And so, today, on my day off, I figured that I would let the house go a bit, and rest while Potamus rests. I haven’t done that since maternity leave, and by God I deserve a mid-day sleep.

But karma had other plans.

I had nestled into our comfy (and empty) king-sized bed. I had let my mind wander, and get drowsy, and didn’t pick up my cell phone at all. I got up to pee once (or three times, whatever), but felt relaxed and hopeful, for at least an hour long nap. But then, I heard crying. I tried to ignore it. The whimpering got louder. I prayed he would go back to sleep, that it was just some rustlings on his way back to dreamland. Alas, after ten minutes I realized he meant business. I had let my guard down, had almost been asleep, and now, wide awake with a messy house and a fussy toddler.

At daycare Potamus naps from 11-1, sometimes 1:30. With grandma, yesterday, he napped from 8-9:30 and from 2-4:30. Today, for me, he napped from 11-12.

I feel like crying.

And, to top it all off, all he will eat is graham and fishy crackers.

Montessori Floor Bed Update

Potamus has been sleeping in his floor bed for approximately two weeks. This means that mama monk-monk has been sleeping in Potamus’ floor bed for approximately 1.5 weeks. There are better nights than others, like two nights ago where he slept for 5 hours in a row there (but this was AFTER a 2 hour struggle of crying and moping around carrying his tambourine and banging it on the floor). Last night was rough, to say the least, with an almost 3 hour crying/whining jag from 3-5:45am. Sigh. Sometimes I end up sleeping next to him for blocks of time, and other times I’m able to creep away unnoticed and curl up in our luxurious king-size memory foam heaven. Because, lemme tell ya, a twin mattress from your parents’ old bunk bed, placed on hardwood floor, is…less than comfy.

But these moments, where he’s in dreamland by himself, or curled up next to me, seem SO worth it (the next day, because in the moment where he’s thrashing around crying, I do tend to want to pull my hair out).

230243_945446930003_2047058007_n

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…

Sleeping Babies

Sigh. My sweet little baby is growing up so fast, and while I am nostalgic about it, I am also happy that I have been sticking to my beliefs about all things sleep related. Since Potamus was born we have done a modified bed-share/co-sleep arrangement, based on all of our needs and wishes at night. During the day, Potamus was held or carried in a sling or ergo pack while napping. My goal was to have him learn and really believe that sleep was a safe experience to enter and exit, that Mama and Daddy would be there when he drifted off and would be there when he woke up. I’ve ignored the somewhat flak I recieved about ‘spoiling’ my baby and that if he gets used to being held for naps that he would ALWAYS have to be held for naps. I mostly ignored these well-meaning advices, as I was certain inside my gut that Potamus would not be going to college still napping in my arms (as he’s projected to be 6’5, that might be challenging even if he WANTED to be held. Ha!)

The past week or so, Potamus has been spending most of the night in his co-sleeper, but yesterday I thought I would try putting him down for a nap in our bed. There he was, tired,, nursing himself to sleep and I gave him his snuggly blanket and once he was asleep, I crept away. 2 plus hours later he woke up quietly and was smiley when I went to check on him. I relished the sweet time he was sleeping by himself (i was hosting some ladies over for afternoon treats and makeovers), but it struck me how quickly he has gone from needing to be re-assured to sleep and how he is now slowly becoming Mr. Independent. The safety we have fostered is, in my belief, part of the reason why.

So I tried this morning, a new experiment, where he was allowed to “play” quietly in the co-sleeper at 4:30 this morning since he was awake and I didn’t really want to get up (and Boof certainly wasn’t wanting to hang out, either)…and then around 5:15 I hear him quiet down, and I open my eyes and there he is…he rolled onto his side, facing away from us, holding his lovey and was out like a light. He put himself back to sleep. No crying it out traumatized battle for us. Just sweet peaceful sleep.