Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sleepy Lady Shuffle

Sleep is something that seems to cause huge rifts and wars when it comes to parenting. Both between parents (cry-it-out, not to cry-it-out... To nurse to sleep, not to nurse to sleep... Sleep in the crib, sleep in the parents bed, etc.) as well as between parents and child ("Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase baby. Please go to sleep. Please. Mommy is dying. Please sweet heart!"). It's something we've struggled with some, but something I definitely have no regrets on.

I'm anti-CIO (cry-it-out). No apologies. I'm sorry, but leaving my baby alone in a room to cry themselves to sleep to "teach" themselves to sleep? Not buying it. Let me interject here to say that I DO believe that there are two different types of cry-ers though. Moxie discusses how her two children are completely different when it comes to falling asleep, and how one of them is a "Stress Intensifier" (or something like that) and one is a "Stress-reliever". Basically one of them cries for 2 minutes to release stress, rolls over and goes to sleep. While the other one, if left alone to cry, becomes more and more stressed as they continue crying. Keevia, without a doubt, is in the first category. Even now I have to distract her when she starts crying, or it will intensify and escalate until she forgets why she's crying. I do believe that it's the parents responsibility to teach their children to fall asleep, but I think it needs to be in a safe, healthy environment. If it were me, and someone locked me in a room, where I couldn't get out, couldn't have anyone answer me, and I as scared... I'd go crazy crying. That's not something I want my daughter to experience.

Also, let me state that I think in-arms crying has its place. We've HAD to do it on some nights when she was so over-tired that there was no other option. It is excruciatingly difficult for the parent, but over-all it sometimes works for the child. It's not something I would want to do on a regular basis, and if I find we're doing it for more than 3 nights in a row (and something medical isn't going on), I know it's time to re-vamp our sleep schedule.

I also think that a lot of Moms fall victim to sleep training when their kid is going through a developmental stage. I know when Keevia was 4 months old, she was waking up ALMOST EXACTLY at 4 am in the morning and being awake for an hour to two hours. It was EXHAUSTING. I was at my wits end. I googled "Four Month old wakening" or something like that, and came to Ask Moxie's post about sleep regressions. CHANGED MY LIFE. Go read it. Right now (well, after you've read mine). It was so true to point, and as I read the comments, I actually cried. Most Moms seek out sleep-training at four months and nine months... the two most common sleep regressions! Keevia's sleep was greatly effected both times (and I'm dreading the 18 month regression!). I think that sleep regressions are VASTLY unknown and VASTLY under-rated. Once we got through the week-two weeks, she went back to her normal sleep habits without issue.

So how have we done it? Let me start off by saying its not perfect. We've had some issues. In fact, right now, we're in a kind of transition phase that isn't much fun. But we just grow around them. Instead of freaking out because her routine is changing, I try to be as go-with-the-flow as I can.

When Keevia was born, I always (read: mostly) tried to start her out in either her Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper or her Baby Trend Gabrielle Pack n Play beside the bed. As soon as she woke up the first time, I pulled her in bed with me. In the very early weeks, SOMETIMES I would sit up in bed and nurse her sitting up... then attempt to lay her back down. Most of the time though, I just pulled out the boob and nursed her as we both drifted off to sleep. Now, let me break in here to say that I never had a baby who freaked out if she fell asleep nursing and dropped the boob. She also took a pacifier (MAM brand) from the very first week or so.

As she got older, she slept longer and longer stretches in her baby bed. Around 9 months, we moved her from her baby bed in our room to her crib in her room. It was seamless. I'd napped her in there for a week or so, and she had no problems. She would sleep through the night (STTN) occasionally, and occasionally still come in bed with us around 4-6 am. She actually slept BETTER in there because it was quieter.

This had been our routine for around 4-5 months. Until teething hit.

Oh teething. How I hate thee.

Now? We have a routine, and one that, for me, is inconvenient at times... but its obviously what my babe needs.

Around the beginning of December, Keevs got a sinus infection. She had to sleep with me on and off some. During this time, she was also extrodinarily fussy from teething. She would no longer rock and nurse to sleep in my arms in the living room. Out of desperation one night, I carried her in the guest room. I nursed her, and then when she started picking at my face, I rolled with my back to her. Within minutes she had soothed herself to sleep.

This has became our routine. Every night we do the bath, story, snuggle time... then she'll start going "Nigh nigh" which means she wants to go lay down. She's been known to go to the door of our bedroom and call my name as well :)

The only problem is that she's not doing well in her crib at all. Over the last three weeks, she's spent one night in there (for the majority of the night). I sleep better when she sleeps in the crib, but she obviously needs me (emotionally if nothing else!).

It IS frustrating. I'm exhausted, and sometimes her soothing to sleep takes upwards of 45 minutes to an hour. I always think of all the housework I could be doing if she were already asleep, or if she would go to sleep faster. I've really been struggling to find the balance recently, and learn to relax in our snuggle time.

I think it's a transition to learning to fall asleep on her own, but we're obviously not to that step right now. I randomly try to lay her drowsy but awake in her crib, but I'm always met with screams... so I pick her back up. And then we go lay down.

I've enjoyed the snuggles we've shared, as my very active 14 month old is NOT very interested in snuggling during the day... but I've missed snuggling with my hubby. I know she won't be in our bed forever, so I take it night by night. Last night she slept in her crib from 10-5... tonight? She's in my bed right now, we'll see if she gets moved!

I think sleep is such a big issue because we all need it. As parents, we get so deprived of it that we can't think clearly. I have a daughter who requires me to put her to sleep every night. That gets tiring.... but she won't be little forever. It's a mantra I chant to myself, and with every day I know it's true. My baby is fading, and a strong-willed toddler is taking her place. If clinging to me at night is how she's holding on to her babyhood, then I'm okay with it for now!

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