Ahh sleep. That which teases me but never sticks around for long. Baby's sleep habits have been rough. In the hospital, we figured out that somebody didn't like being put on his back, which is kinda funny in hindsight since the nurses put him in a shirt that said "this side up" on his tummy. We had this plan when we got home to have him sleep in the pack n play next to our bed to make night feedings easier and just because I believe that's where baby should be in those early days, if not weeks (not in the pack n play but near the parents). I remember my parents doing that with my 2 youngest siblings (co-sleeping then room-sharing) so I guess that's the style of parenting I'm used to. Also, we just didn't have the space growing up for the baby to have his/her own room. Well, then I go and have a big baby who really messes me up, so rolling (literally) out of bed and walking down the hall multiple times per night was just not physically possible for me. Of course everybody warns against co-sleeping because of the risk of SIDS, so we really wanted to try the pack n play first before co-sleeping. No go-he was not having any of that. He would only sleep on us! He also hated the swaddle. Eventually I was able to put him in the bed next to me, no covers even though it was winter and on a towel to create a smoother, flatter surface than the sheets. He would mostly sleep on his side facing me. I was able to nurse fairly easily this way, which was great because sitting upright on a tempurpedic mattress that conforms to every contour of your injured bottom was not fun. I was also able to soothe him back to sleep by stroking his head. Sometimes we would both fall asleep while nursing. The first night though, I did not sleep at all. I watched him all night. I could sleep the next day. How could anyone not want to experience such sweet moments with their new baby?? Nursing, soothing, snuggling, watching him sleep, listening to him breathe--I loved it!
We continued co-sleeping for a few days or a couple weeks, I honestly don't remember, until I did some reading online and found that babies who don't want to sleep on their backs might have reflux and that sleeping on an incline might help. I looked into the options and decided that a sleep wedge sounded dangerous. I settled on the Fisher Price rock n play-it was angled but snug so baby couldn't roll. We started putting him in that during the day because we had to put him down somewhere! Then we set it up next to my side of the bed. We would wait until he fell asleep and gently put him in. If he awoke, we would pick him up, soothe him back to sleep, and put him down again. Eventually, I could just rock the sleeper to soothe him back to sleep--many times I would wake up as soon as he started to stir so I could rock him before he even woke up. Other times I would have to lean right over him and sing Twinkle, Twinkle. The rocker worked! We even had a few 6 and 8 hour stretches of sleep!
Until at about 4 months, he got too big for it. He was able to squirm more and tried to push out with his legs. Time to try the crib. We started with the same method we had used for the rocker--put him down after he fell asleep, pick up and soothe upon wake up. He would not stay asleep for very long. I think the longest was almost 2 hours. Too many wake-ups, none of us were getting sleep. We decided to try CIO and Ferber, even though those methods made me cringe and just didn't seem right to me. My baby can cry--for 2 hours at the same or greater level of intensity. Also, he started to hate bedtine, including his bedtime nursing. He would prantically panic, looking frantically around the room and whining and trying to avoid nursing because he knew he would fall asleep. This negative sleep association began to spill over into daytime nursings as well. Nursing makes him sleepy, so he started to dislike it because he thought it was going to lead to me leaving him in the crib. At this point, he had been mostly napping on me on the boppy after feedings. Well, we finally realized that the "conventional" methods were not going to work, so baby came to bed with us to try to erase those bad memories and negative associations. It took a while. One day I googled "how to get baby to sleep in the crib" and Dr. Sears' website came up at the top. I read through and came across the section on High Needs Babies. He pretty much described my baby. I read his book on Attachment Parenting, which I realized I was already doing, and am currently reading The Fussy Baby Book. (I will do a separate post on high needs babies.) I've also read The No Cry Sleep Solution, but feel like I've already done some of what's in there. Basically what I realized was that the conventional methods were not going to work on my baby because he was and is different than "normal" babies. During this time, we were getting ready to move into a new house, so we decided baby would just stay in bed with us until we got settled in the new house.
So where are we now? We're in the new house, but not fully unpacked and settled yet. It seems the move may have messed with baby a bit. For a couple of weeks, he was waking up frequently (every 1-2 hours). Blagh. He's gotten better the last few days. Last night was a breakthrough! We've been putting him to bed anywhere between 7 and 8, depending on how tired he looks. Last night he didn't seem tired at 6:30, but he whined for the boob then conked out. I took him up to bed and he didn't wake up until 10:30! His next wake-ups were at 2:30, 4:30, and finally 7. 3 times! That was so great! I am still nursing at night even though doc said to stop. For a while we were able to soothe him back to sleep without nursing, but for some reason DH stopped getting up to "help" me (I put help in quotes because since when did night parenting become my responsibility for him to just occasionally help with?) and baby wouldn't respond to anything besides nursing. So basically, I've been extremely sleep-deprived the last few weeks. Hopefully last night was just a preview of things to come. We'll start the pack n play soon too because baby is a squirmy little flopper! Although, I will miss waking up to his toothy grin right next to me. :(
I would like to note that I have never forced a schedule on baby--I've pretty much just followed his cues. Early on he didn't really have a schedule because, well, newborns just sleep a lot. Bedtime was about 9 or 9:30 early on, basically when we went to bed, so bedtimes consisted of a lot if pacing and swinging and rocking because he didn't necessarily want to sleep when we did. As the number of naps decreased, his bedtime shifted to earlier times between 7 and 8. Last night he was ready to nurse and sleep at 6:30. We'll see how tonight goes! Wish me luck!
Any sleep advice for me? Especially non-conventional advice that doesn't involve ignoring my baby?