Light… Somewhere in the Tunnel

We tried something new for the last few nights and it seems to be working for us. I sleep in the office until 12 or 1am and Dr Lady handles the baby during that time, including feeding. Then I get up, pump, and go to bed on baby’s side and am on baby duty until 5-6am, when I get up, pump again, and try to work.

This would work even better if I actually fell asleep when I go to bed. x.x Baby can go 4-5 hours without eating in the first stretch of the night now (or at least for the last five or six days), which means I only miss one feed during that first window. But for some reason, despite being exhausted all day, I wake up right when it’s time to go to bed and then I just lie there for an hour, two, wishing I could fall asleep. I’ve tried a little beer. I’ve tried benadryl. I didn’t even have a second (or third) cup of coffee yesterday. I expect it’s anxiety. :/

Dr Lady’s having the same problem. She *could* go to sleep during that first watch and catch a few hours, but that would require actually falling asleep. Sleep deprivation is stupid and cruel and I want to punch it in the face. :<

The other fun part is I can only sleep for an hour at a time before waking up. So even with this opportunity to (easily!) get a stretch of 3 or 4 hours, I can’t. I imagine this is one of those things that will get better with more practice, but right now it’s frustrating to know I have the time and space to get sleep, to know Dr Lady is handling the fussing, crying baby on her own so I can sleep, but I just. can’t.

Anyway. That will get better if we keep doing this, I’m sure. I’m just not sure how long I want to do this. On the one hand, it’s helping. On the other, it means sleeping on the floor in the office and an extra pumping session. On the other (oh god why do I have three hands??), it’s less time spent cuddling. But, well, sleep first. All things second.

At least Lady Jr’s sleep has stabilized a little. She’s still waking up fussing every 60-75min but she’s going down a little easier and there’ve been a few times where we just waited a minute or two and she put herself back to sleep. Not every time, but sometimes. So we’re playing a sort of wait-and-see game of CIO – if she’s just fussing, we wait. If she starts really crying, we give it a minute or two and then go in and soothe her. I don’t know if this is helping her learn good sleep habits, but it’s helping us, and until we both are in a better place, that’s the important bit.

So. Deep breath. Hopefully this strategy continues to improve the situation. I would love to start working on other pieces of life that need attention (weight, health, exercise, work, general feeling of malaise, friends, cleaning, literally everything else). One thing at a time, though.

Here, you made it this far. Have a picture of a baby who likes to roll onto her stomach, only to cry because now she’s on her stomach. God, I love this baby so much.

march-42

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Sleep: And Now For Something Completely Different.

We’re re-evaluating. Yeah. That’s the word. Certainly not giving up completely. Nope.

It’s funny. I was glancing through old blog posts (’cause baby pics) and saw my own comment about oh no, baby was only sleeping three hours. Then only two. And now I laugh. And laugh. And sob.

Saturday night was pretty rough. 45min here. 30min there. Then the baby decided 5.30am was the time to get up and no amount of cuddling, feeding, sshing could get her back to sleep for more than a minute or two. Sunday was awful. I was a wreck. I drank an entire pot of coffee and didn’t even feel it. I dreaded Sunday night, didn’t want to go to sleep because I’d gotten to the what’s-the-point stage, but I did, and things were a little better. Baby slept 2 hours here and 2 hours there and I didn’t sleep for the full amount of either of those chunks, but apparently two 90min chunks is enough to get by.

Could we have fucked things up by trying to sleep train and then stopping? I don’t know. The problem with sleep training is that you need to be relatively not exhausted to do it properly, but if you need to sleep train then you’re probably already exhausted, and that first night is just going to exhaust you further. Like I said, I’m barely functioning on good days, so…

So we’re not going to continue, not until I can stop freaking out/crying/shutting down at the littlest thing. Instead, we’re going to focus on extending the times between feeds, which is slightly easier. It means we can still ssh and pat and give her the pacifier and hold her to help her fall and stay asleep, just stick to no boob until a certain hour. Easier to remember in the middle of the night when you don’t know what day or year it is. Easier, too, to calm a crying baby than lie there, listening to her cry and cry and cry.

Last night, baby went four hours, twice(!), between feeds. This is the longest she’s done since before the sleep regression. This is great, now we just have to stick with it. For a few nights, now, we’ve been sticking with no less than three hours, except very close to morning, when the last feed might be too disruptive if we pushed it off too long.

I’m giving it three more weeks. In three weeks, baby will be six months. In three weeks, the nights will be less cold and therefore the office – aka her room – will be less cold. In three weeks, she has another doctor appointment and maybe we can make 100% sure nothing else is going on. In three weeks, I’ll either be a broken shell of a human being or this gentler method will have absolutely revolutionized everything – no inbetween.

In three weeks, I should be 100% on board with the sleep training thing instead of the 90% I was. Apparently 90% isn’t good enough. Apparently that 10% of doubt festers and eats at your mind when it’s 9.30pm and the baby’s been crying off and on for 40min. Who knew.

(You did, probably. We were warned, after all.)

(Nevertheless, we persisted)

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Last Night Went Better Than I’d Hoped

I slept in the front office for half the night and left Dr Lady with a bottle and the baby. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t actually sleep and I ended up taking a 1/2 benadryl. I woke up anyway two hours later because apparently that’s just how I work now.

I crept into the bedroom at midnight where there was a sleeping baby and wife and proceeded to stay awake for another hour. The other half of the benadryl helped me get back to sleep. The baby fussed a little at 1am, but paused before picking her up and she calmed down and went back to sleep. When she fussed again at 2am, I fed her because my boobs were hurting.

She didn’t fuss again until 5am, but again fell back asleep before I fed her. Then she fussed at 6am and I fed her and got up.

Now it’s almost 8am and she is still asleep somehow. She’s rolling back and forth though, so she’ll be up very soon. According to Lady, she cried off and on from 9ish until 10, when Lady gave her the bottle and then was out like a light. So:

7.10pm in crib, rolled over and fell asleep
8.30pm woke up and fussed. We went in and soothed her back asleep.
9pm I went to bed.
9-10pm Baby fussed off and on.
10pm Baby ate a bottle.
1am Fuss, back to sleep
2am Fuss, fed.
5am Fuss, back to sleep.
6am Fuss, fed.
8am – awake??

That. Is. Amazing.

The only thing we did differently was keep me faaar away from baby. Like I said, I was in the office for part of the night, and then when I came in, I slept on the other side of the bed. I also washed the sheets yesterday so that they wouldn’t smell like milk.

In conclusion, I don’t think we need to sleep train. At least not now. I think we need to just work on stretching those times between feeds longer and longer until we hit 4 or 5 hours. Honestly, I’m okay with last night – I can go a long time with nights like that – but it’s also the bare minimum I need to function.

I plan on repeating this experiment tonight, of me first sleeping in another room, then staying away from baby when I come in. The other big change is I’m no longer going to side nurse her, which is what I had resorted to when the sleep got real bad. I am 90% certain she now associates just lying on her side with nursing (apparently she tried to eat Lady’s elbow last night), which is no bueno when she now sleeps on her side all the time.

Holy wow what a difference a little sleep makes. Now, hopefully, this is the start of some sort of improvement and not just another random blip.

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Confession

I couldn’t do it last night. I cried off and on all day. I was too exhausted to do anything but lie down during my lunch break, even though I didn’t sleep. I went to bed when the baby went to bed. And when she cried, I held her and cried, too.

I wish I could then say that the Attachment Parenting Fairy came and blessed us with a wonderful, cuddly night. Hahahahah. No. It was worse than usual. Instead of 2ish hours in the beginning, she was up. every. single. hour.

I’m at my wit’s end. I think tonight I’m going to go sleep in the office for part of the night and maybe tomorrow, when I’m not such a mess, we can reevaluate.

Edited: It’s possible we’ve just started Leap 5. She has been a bit clingier/fussier these last few days, but I wasn’t sure if that was because of her shitty sleep. Another tell for this leap is for sleep to get worse, but, well, it didn’t have anywhere to get worse from, so I didn’t even consider it. :/

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Sleep Training: Night 5

Ugh.

We pushed through last night. She went down without a hitch around 7.10pm. She rolled over and we watched her eyes slowly close on the monitor. But we didn’t celebrate. We knew better.

8.50pm she woke up crying. I’d been about to go to sleep. Instead, I poured myself another glass of wine and put headphones in. We started the soothing waves. No pacifier this time. 3min. 5min. 7min. 7min. 8min. I was near my breaking point. She was still crying. I said one more wave. And, as if she was just waiting for it, she fell asleep after another 2min of crying.

Lady and I stared at each other. It had taken 40min, but Lady Jr had fallen asleep. I dream fed her and went to sleep myself.

And then she woke up two hours later. An hour later. And then every hour after that. I got up at 5am to pump and write. She woke one more time at 5.30am and I helped her get back to sleep – then she stayed asleep until 8am.

So: no change. Maybe I should have let her cry when she woke up each time but after the first one I wasn’t awake enough to remember what time it was or how long it had been or if I’d fed her or not.

And now I’m sitting here even more exhausted than usual because at least usually I go to bed before 9pm. The line between functional and not is very very thin for me lately and I’ve been straddling it most days, but something as stupid as getting one less hour of sleep is enough to throw me off. And so I frantically googled for advice, support, anything this morning, but every time I read that someone’s baby “only” slept three hours or omg, maybe you shouldn’t expect baby to sleep for 10 hours at this age, I started crying. I don’t want her to sleep 10 hours. I want her to sleep 3.

Lady urged me to take a nap during my lunch hour today, but I have so much to do. And what’s 40min in the grand scheme of things when really I need a week’s worth of sleep? I need to be stronger. I have to be stronger.

I told myself we’d be done if we couldn’t get through last night, but we did. Now I’m telling myself we’ll be done if nothing improves after two more nights. I can’t think any further out than that. I’ll just keep coping as I was coping until she’s old enough – and it’s warm enough – to move her crib to the office.

Or, according to some wise soul on the internet, most sleep issues resolve around 15 months. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but only 10 more months, right? Right?

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Sleep Training: The Update-ining

TL;DR: Everything is awful. We’re awful. Sleep training is awful. But I think I know what the problem is.

So up until about Saturday, things seemed to be progressing well. Then Lady Jr just cried and cried and cried and started sounding really distressed and it was just me in the house, listening to her cry and listening to the cats cry and so I caved and boobed her to sleep. And since then it’s like we’re back to square one. I know I shouldn’t have caved. I also have newfound respect for every parent who goes through this.

Saturday night she was up every two hours, then every hour after 1am.

Dr Lady came home Sunday and we toughed it out a bit until she accidentally soothed Lady Jr to sleep. Again, Lady Jr was up every two hours, then every hour after midnight.

Monday night, I caved after 30min of crying (with soothing intervals). That night also sucked.

Tuesday night, we talked about committing or not to doing this. Dr Lady reiterated that this isn’t just for us, it’s for Lady Jr, too. If our sleep is shitty, then so is hers. So we re-committed to sleep training and sticking to the schedule. Lady Jr fell asleep after one wave, but woke again around 8pm and cried and cried and cried. I said I’d feed her if she made it to 9pm, because then it would’ve been 2.5 hours since she last ate and also I needed to sleep. She made it to 9pm. I fed her and she instantly fell asleep. The rest of the night was the same: slept until 11, woke again right before 1, then 2, 3, 4, 5…

I feel terrible because we haven’t been able to stick it out. The total crying time hasn’t ever been more than 30min, she just rolls and fusses and spits out her nuk inbetween, so she’s not getting sleep. Apparently the night she self-soothed to sleep without the pacifier was a one-off. I feel terrible because all this crying is getting us nowhere. I feel terrible because I know caving isn’t helping her, it’s only making me feel better for a few minutes.

I used to be the most stubborn, strong-willed person, too. What happened??

Anyway, this is all to say that my updates stopped because, basically, we stopped. And I feel so, so guilty for it. But I also know we need to do this.

So we’re restarting. Re-committing. And this time the pacifier is being taken out of the equation, because I think she (and we) were relying on it for sleep instead of actually learning how to fall asleep. Which she can do! And we’re going to stick to the schedule unless it seems like she’s going to cry herself to hysterics, in which case then we’ll soothe a little sooner. And I’m just going to have to stay up later and handle it.

I also need to stop googling “Ferber support” when it gets rough because you know what pops up? Not support. :/

My stubborn streak is still here somewhere. I just need to find it again. And if we can’t do this right, then we need to not do it at all and just deal with the shitty sleep for a few more months.

So I need to do it right.

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Five Months

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Holy wow we have a five month old. How did that happen?? We’re going to be a big ol’ six monther soon – I better start reading up on introducing solids!

Lady Jr’s current skill set:
– Babbling
– Pterodactyl-esque wheezing (seems intentional, so not worried… yet)
– Can grab anything you put in front of her
– Can (usually) put that thing in her mouth
– Can half hold her weight on her legs for more than a few moments
– Cranes her head to follow people around the room
– ROLLING OMG – she started rolling with her diaper off, but now she can roll even with the cloth diaper on, much to my surprise when I left her for a few minutes to go grab the car and came back and she was upset because she was on her tummy and didn’t know what to do. And then I try to roll her to her back and she rolls right back to her tummy again and keeps crying. It’s kinda (sorta [really]) ridiculous.
– Wide-mouthed smiles at strangers

Last weekend she traveled for the first time out of state and on an airplane. It was an adventure for all involved, but it went surprisingly well. She was a trooper on the flight out and charmed the flight attendant and our seatmate and didn’t even fuss. She slept for most of the flight, too. On the flight back, she was a little more irritated, probably because she missed her morning nap. She still slept for most of it but fussed a little on the descent. Still, I was able to distract her and avoid a full on meltdown. I even got to read a book (one-handed [on my phone]) on the flight!

Lady Jr met her great grandmum and my father’s side of the family. They were pleasant and talked about the baby and not politics, thank god. My favorite part was when we took Lady Jr to the senior living center and all the old ladies fawned over her. As they should.

Less favorite was the weird way people seemed to ignore that babies could, you know, get upset if they missed a nap or didn’t get fed. I know we’re in the baby trenches so we’re particularly keyed into those facts (nay, laws), but even people who’d had kids before seemed to think it’d be perfectly fine if Lady Jr only got 20min car naps. Uh, not so much? And since we would be dealing with the fall out, I pushed back. Still, even trying to make sure she was accommodated, she was a very tired baby by the time we got home. 😦

Anyway, some quick tips re: airline travel –
1) Travel before they can crawl! It’s surprisingly easy and everybody loves babies. On the flight back there were numerous other families with older kids, from toddlers to five year olds, and our baby was by far the quietest. Not bragging – I just know that once a baby starts crawling, they don’t want to sit still, so that could easily be us in the next year.

2) If you’re breastfeeding, bring a big bottle for water and lots of snacks. This should have been a no-brainer, but, well, apparently I have no brain.

3) Bring a blanket for baby because the temp on the airplane can vary dramatically between taxiing and flight.

4) You can also use that blanket for discretely nursing during take off and landing, which will help baby’s eardrums not hurt.

5) Sit near the back of the plane so you are a) near the bathrooms in case of a diaper explosion and b) near the engines for optimum white noise.

6) If you use a carrier, TSA totally lets you keep it on and wear baby through the metal detector. A++

7) They still make you take off your shoes, though. 😦

8) Bring a jacket onto the plane for your lap to better prop up your (hopefully) sleeping baby.

9) One-handed reading devices FTW.

and last but not least

10) Budget extra time for everything. I’m normally paranoid about arriving early to the airport and this time that saved our bacon, because, for the first flight at least, we got there right after they’d started boarding. Dealing with the car, the car seat, TSA, etc, just takes longer with a baby.

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