Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sleep trials - part 5

I know I was MIA there for awhile and it was really due to the fact that we were having more sleep issues.

For a couple nights in a row, Reese would fight sleep and then wake up every 2-3 hours and need consoling or to be fed. So I went back to the books and asked for help from FB and close friends.

The two books I had weren't really helping. I don't know if I wasn't reading them close enough (in my sleep deprived state) or if they just didn't speak to what I felt were/are our problems. Once we got her content in the crib, leaving her alone wasn't an issue. So I returned to FB for help, which I later found out J wasn't a fan of.

Anyway, there were some more book recommendations (which of course I ordered), some offerings of advice and just some "go with your gut Mamas." Someone talked about "tanking" her up, meaning ensure she had a full feed. That struck a cord because in the beginning when she'd wake up, we'd nurse for 45-60 minutes at night (20-30 on each side) and then she'd go sleep for 5-8 hours. Lately, we'd only been nursing for 15-20 munutes and on one side, but she was then only sleeping 2-3 hours. So the past few nights before we put her down, we really try to fill her belly, either bottle or breast. Then when she was waking up at 1 or 2, I make sure she eats on both sides, even if it means I am waking her up to finish - which takes a lot (rubbing her head, face, chest, feet, but not in a soothing way, more rapid to wake her up). And thus, she's been sleeping longer stretches.

Some people said, "don't read so many books and switch theories so quick." To which I respond, I'm not "switching theories," I'm finding tips from each one and making our own way. Some books I just don't agree with, or they really didn't talk about what I was seeing. So we continue to look and learn.

Our issue is not eating enough at night (which I think I've remedied or at least am aware of now) and too few naps during the day (which we continue to work on). I make her nap situation as similar as possible to bed, just without the bath, going so far as to swaddle her and nurse her in the dark room. I've also mastered the shush-pat which sounds simple and logical (but is really very scientific). You hold the baby at your shoulder and pat their back almost to the ticking of a click, rather firmly, and make a "shh, shh, shushing" noise past their ear. Theoretically, they can't concentrate on the patting AND the shushing so they stop crying, if they are, and fall asleep. It also supposedly reminds them of the sounds of the womb. You also aren't supposed to move or rock while doing this to 1) get them used to motionless sleep and 2) because motion actually (supposedly) puts them in a lighter form of sleep. That is harder to do than it sounds. I naturally do the "baby sway" when I have her in my arms.

Also, we're working on the motionless sleep idea. So if we come home and she's fallen asleep in the car, we put her in the crib, car seat and all. Or if she falls asleep in the swing, we stop the swing, letting her sleep in it, just not swinging. Daycare is also really helping because its becoming so routine. I think the more we do that, the better.

We've also gotten her feedings more routine, as in every 3 hours instead of 1-4 hours randomly. Something about the routine of it all seemed to work the first day we really tried it. Of course it isn't perfect and some days are a little off, but overall it makes everything better. It really helps with pumping and knowing what to do with her during the course of the day. The routine has continued to improve and she gets hungry right around the time she is due to eat.  Of course if she is screaming early and we rule out wet diaper and sleepiness, she gets food.  I would never deprive her if she is hungry. 

The plan is feed, wake (think of this as play time), then sleep, within every 3 hour period. So instead of feeding her to sleep most of the time, she's fed when she wakes up. Then we play, swing, have tummy time, etc.  About an hour and 15 mins after she's woken up, we start to get ready for nap. That means changing her, swaddling and shush-patting to get her ready for a nap. If ee watch for her signals (rubbing of eyes, yawning, etc), she usually goes down fairly easy and sleeps for 1.5-2.5 hours. She's taking about 2 long naps per day and maybe 1-2 catnaps. AND she goes to bed about 8 or so and lately has been sleeping until 4 or 5 am, sometimes even 7 or 8. Nice long stretch for us to get some decent sleep. We're on 5 nights in a row of this. I keep waiting for the 1 am wake-up to return, but so far we're doing great. She was up at 3:15 this morning, but I know we have to be flexible. Thus is life. Sometimes I eat breakfast at 8 am and sometimes its at 11 am!

I think Reese is much happier to get a full meal every feeding, than just to "snack" all day long. Plus it really helps me keep up my milk and pumping. I know daycare won't have fed her 4 times in the 5 hours she's been there and I was only able to pump twice. And she's sleeping at daycare ("school" as J calls it) very good too. I spoil her it seems when I put her down because they say at school they put her in a sleep sack (its literally a sack with arm holes and zips up to keep her legs/feet warm) and lay her down to sleep in the middle of a busy classroom. I have the shades drawn in her room, the sound machine on, she's swaddled and rocked a bit. Every time I try the sleep sack she won't go to sleep. Don't know if I just happen to have missed her window or what. But it just doesn't work for us.

We continue to work on sleep, but we're doing much better than we were last month!  Little victories!

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