I’m about 47 pages into Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth because, well, I’m desperate. Several nights in the past few weeks I have been up every two hours with Avery. It’s getting out of control and has been going on way too long. Even Eirinn, who was a horrible sleeper herself, was a better sleeper by 8 months than Avery is. She was only up once or twice by now. Not Avery. If she’s up only once or twice I’d consider it a vacation.
So I’m reading this book, and even though I’m only on the second chapter I’ve had several Ah-ha! moments (thank you, Oprah).
First of all, two naps a day at 8 months is a must. One long nap midday does not have the same rejuvenating effects as a morning nap and an afternoon nap. Sleep begets sleep and sleeplessness begets sleeplessness. Therefore, having two good naps during the day should make the night sleeping better.
Second, sleep while being rocked, or held, or in a car seat, or in a stroller, is not the same as sleep in a crib. The motion and noise makes for a lighter, less effective sleep than the quiet, still sleep had in a bed.
Third, by the time you can see that your child is tired, it’s past the optimal time to put them to bed. The signs we typically associate with being ready for bed – crabbiness, eye-rubbing, yawning – are all, in fact, signs of being overtired. Signs we should actually be looking for are calmness, quietness, and that glassy stare. Those indicate that it is the perfect time to lay them down.
The problem I have, and I’m surprised it isn’t a problem for more people, is that allowing her to simply “cry it out” at night and during her night wakings, is impractical and impossible. Eirinn sleeps directly across the hall from Avery. A few seconds of squawking doesn’t wake her up, but letting Avery cry for 15 or 20 minutes (or longer) several times a night would, surely. That’s not fair. Not fair to Eirinn to have her precious sleep interrupted, and not fair to AH because he needs his sleep to function at work. I have yet to find a book or article or message board addressing this. Maybe The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley would help for this situation, but it wasn’t available at the library.
What I’m hoping is that if I improve her naps, it will in the very least improve her night sleep. Sleep begets sleep, right? And teaching her that she can put herself to sleep during the day might, hopefully, teach her that she can put herself to sleep when she wakes up at night. Hopefully.
My other problem is that I have gotten myself into the bad habit of nursing her to sleep, both initially and when she wakes up in the night. It’s the calmest, fastest, easiest, quietest way for her to fall asleep. I’ve tried two or three times to not feed her when she wakes up, but she’s stubborn like her mom and, lucky for her, her mom is lazy at 3:30 in the morning. Imagine that. So I’ve caved every time and eventually nursed her, feeling like I’ve just wasted a half an hour of perfectly good, and rare, sleep for no reason because I gave in anyway.
From the time I was pregnant, I’ve always said that I would breastfeed for nine months. I breastfed Eirinn for six months and I kind of wanted to go longer for financial (way cheaper to just produce the milk yourself), logistical (way easier than making a bottle), health (obviously better for the baby), and competitive reasons. Had to out-do myself, if no one else. We’re coming up on nine months and I think that it will force the sleep to improve. I refuse to make bottles in the night; I never made a single bottle for Eirinn. When I was done breastfeeding, she was done with night feeding. I need for this to happen now with Avery. It’s sad, as I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding this time; much more than with Eirinn, but it will be for the best for all of us. I hope.
Starting yesterday, I’ve done a soft Cry It Out for Avery’s naps. I let her cry for 15 minutes, go in and soothe her, let her cry for 15, etc. First nap she cried for an hour. Second nap she cried for just over a half an hour. Third was twenty minutes. The naps themselves have been short, between a half an hour and an hour, but it’s a start. She’s learning, I think.
So the plan of attack is this:
Two naps a day, no excuses
Cry to sleep until she learns to fall asleep on her own with no fuss
Wean her to formula in the next month
STOP THE NIGHT FEEDINGS
Hopefully all of this leads to better sleep for the both of us. I think this is all I can do. God gave me lemons for sleepers. I’ve just got to somehow find the lemonade recipe that works. I cannot wait to get there because, God knows, lemonade is my favourite.
Last night’s sleep was the worst I’ve ever had. Ever. Avery fell asleep at 8, I put her in bed at 9 (she takes a while to get into a deep enough sleep for me to put her down) and she was up at 9:45, 11:30, 12:30, 1:15 (and was up until 2:45), and 5:30. I’m not sure how I’m going to function, but it has to be done. I predict I’m going to be about an 11 on the grumpy scale today.