Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Weakest Link

Let me state upfront that I have no real complaints about sleep. At about 7 weeks old, Gwen suddenly decided that she only needed one night feeding, and since then I've been doing pretty well in the sleep department. I go to bed about 2 hours earlier than I did in my pre-parenting life, the better to be ready for that one nighttime feeding, which makes my evenings really short and my quality time with my husband practically nil, but honestly - I know this phase will pass. It's only another four months before I can reasonably start to train her out of the habit, if she hasn't lost it already.

For extra added irony, the first night that Gwen decided to wake up only once was the first night that Chris was scheduled to take the 'first' feeding. Since the first feeding ended up being the only feeding, I slept for nearly ten hours that night. Good times.

Now that we're all clear that I'm not complaining about sleep, I want to confess my weakest link as Mom. I am not good at putting Gwen back to sleep after her night feeding. To be honest, I'm not that good at putting her to sleep at bedtime either. And if we're going to come clean, well, I'm not so hot at getting her down for a nap.

For her naps, I usually rely on either the swing, the sling, or the stroller to help lull her to sleep. She has *never* napped in her cradle. Bedtime usually comes when she starts yawning, at which point I stuff her full of food then put on the dreamsurf CD and cross my fingers. But after her night feed - I'm completely at a loss.

It's already dark, and quiet, and the soothing sounds of ocean waves fill her room. I don't talk to her or stimulate her in any way, and in fact I try not to make eye contact, even half-closing my eyes when I look at her so she has nothing interesting to look at and hopefully gets the idea that her eyes should be closed too. She is swaddled comfortably, and once she's finished eating she seems content if not always sleepy. I rock her gently in the chair for a while, then put her down in the cradle and exit the room.

Twenty minutes later, guaranteed, she is crying again and I have to start all over. I am often up for an hour or more, sometimes getting so frustrated that I tag Chris and make him get up to walk the floor with her at 5am.

I know she's not hungry anymore, having just fed her for a good 20-30 minutes, so why is she crying? Boredom or loneliness is my best guess, or perhaps frustration at not knowing how to put herself back to sleep. I confess I've had no luck at distinguishing a tired cry, a hungry cry, a pain cry, and so on - feeding her *always* shuts her up, so every cry seems like a hunger cry, though this is likely not the case. I also think she has convinced herself that she needs my boob in her mouth in order to fall asleep. One night before bed she drank a 3-oz serving of formula, then rooted on my chest until I nursed her, at which point she fell asleep on my breast after about 5 sucks. So that's not hunger, she just believes that my breast is the place to fall asleep.

I'd much prefer, obviously, if she started to learn that she can fall asleep without something in her mouth, and so I try to put her down when she's 'sleepy, not asleep'. But after the night feed, even if she is asleep when I put her down, she wakes back up. The fact that she doesn't cry right away fools me every time - I think, "maybe she'll fall asleep on her own" (it has happened, rarely). But no, 20 minutes later I'm up again.

I guess what I need to do is just hang in there for the next few weeks and see what the 12-week/3-month mark brings. Hopefully it will get easier at that point, and in the meantime I'll just keep trying not to instill any bad habits.


Amberism said...

My philosophy now, after Callum, is that Claire IS hungry. She isn't pooping several times a day (once, if I'm lucky) and I know my milk production is sub-par so I think its a safe assumption for our situations. But if she happens to fall asleep on my breast, so be it. Until we hit the point where she starts making her schedule obvious, I care not. My sleep matters A LOT to me right now because I don't get to nap, or even sleep in an hour.

I can't tell her cries apart either, although with Callum I could. Go figure. ~shrug~

Sometimes I KNOW she's tired, because you know, she's yawning (even I'm not completely dense :) ). In those instances I rock her (or go back to bed with her) and let her suck on my finger since she won't take a soother like a good baby. With Callum, though, I'd feed him, put him in the cradle, give him a soother and be done with it (and once he found his fingers, the soother just sort of disappeared so it was never a problem). I was up three times a night with Callum until, oh, 4 or 5 months probably, but he would just go back to sleep after his feed and once on solids, that was it, he slept a solid 12 hours with no drama. Just like that. This dependance I have on the swing with Claire really scares me, I hope it just sorts itself out and she learns to self soothe.

~ramble, ramble~

Anonymous said...

If you are convinced that she's decided she needs your nipple in her mouth to fall asleep, and that's not something you're willing to do every time you ask her to sleep, I think you should try to train her out of that habit.

I know, changing habits is nasty. Gwen won't want to do it, and you wont' want to hear her complain about it. It sucks. So you have to weigh your options.

But if you decide it's worth it, the way to go about it is to break her latch *just* as she falls asleep every time. Then when she's good with that, (so it takes a while... that's ok) you can break the latch before she falls asleep, and then after that allow more time between food/sleep.

I don't think it's a big deal if she naps in one place (or many) and has a night sleep in another. In fact, I kind of think it's a nice separation of night/day for her.

And to end things off and encourage you to figure out what works for you all, I give you a piece of advice that came from your own mouth! "It's not an emergency every time a baby cries."

Best wishes.

Amberism said...

by "our situations", I meant what Steve and I deal with Callum and Claire, not Claire and Gwen, which is what it sounds like...

la la la I do like to take over your comments, don't I?!


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