Monday, February 13, 2012

Who needs sleep anyway? Oh right, I do...

I am working my way through a stage with Reagan that I would like to call "broken sleep".  I call it that because it's not that Reagan is hard to put down at night, or that she doesn't spend most of the night actually sleeping. The problem at our house is that she doesn't like to STAY ASLEEP.
Before Christmas vacation (read: when the bags under my eyes were not this particular shade of purple) Reagan was a great sleeper.  She napped like a pro, went down without a fuss, and only woke once to eat around 4:30 am and then right back to sleep she went, until I woke her at 7 am to get ready for the day.  When she was very little she got swaddled at night and then when the winter weather turned cooler, we switched from the swaddle blanket to a sleep sack.  It didn't seem to matter to her, she did fine with both.  We occasionally had a bad night where she would get up several times, but they were few and far between.  And she was always great about going back to sleep quickly after a few pats on the butt or a couple minutes snuggled with me in the rocking chair.  She even slept completely through the night a couple of times.  It was great.  I had been back to work for a couple months and things were going ok.  I didn't know how good I had it.

Catching up on Zzzz's during the weekend
Flash forward 8 weeks till now:  that dang kid wakes up every few hours ALL NIGHT LONG.  At first I thought it was a fluke because we had traveled to PA for the holiday and I figured the new place and time change had thrown her off her grove.  I got up with her several times a night while staying at my mom's, she was sleeping in a bassinet beside my bed so I didn't have much choice when she started fussing.  I would feed her once or twice a night and rock her back to sleep a couple more or at least put her nuk back in.  The third, fourth or fifth time I was getting up to get her I would finally give in and let her sleep with me. Luckily, during the time off I was also able to nap or sleep in a little bit in the morning with her.  I was thankful to have the help of family, and thought she would settle into her old routine when we came back to Oklahoma.  Silly Mommy, the worst was yet to come. 

When we got back to Oklahoma I tried to get her to return to her old schedule.  She wasn't having any part of it.  Growth spurt perhaps?  I tried to feed her more during the day and we introduced cereal to try and help.  I even started giving her a bottle of formula as her last feeding of the day because I realized my milk supply was very low after 8 pm.  AH HA!  This must be the problem, she is hungry!  So hoping that a full formula bottle would fill her up and last longer in her belly we tried it.  It worked for two nights, then she was back to getting up and crying throughout the night.

It's all a big crap shoot, but I think she cried sometimes because she had spit out her nuk and wanted it.  Most of my trips to her crib side all I had to do was put it back in her mouth, give her a couple pats on the bottom and she went right back to sleep.  Sometimes I think she woke because she was hungry and I would nurse her.  Sometimes I think she cried because she woke up alone in a big crib and wanted to know where I was.  Sometimes I think she woke up because her teeth hurt.  Sometimes I think she woke up because she felt it was her job to test the limits of my sanity. 
I sought advice, and I got lots.  Someone suggested returning to the swaddle.  So I purchased two new swaddle blankets (forget trying to just wrap her in a blanket - kids get out of those too darn easy!  You have to get the velcro blankets!).  She had outgrown the newborn size and needed the large.  I found one on amazon and one at the local consignment shop.  AH HA!  I had figured it out!  It worked for 3 nights, and then the monitor was lighting up 3-5 times between 1-5 am.  At this point it had been WEEKS of no rest.  Chet had moved to hoots shift (11pm-7 am) so I had night duty alone.  As a full-time working mom, this became very hard, very fast.  I was up for work around 6:15 am every morning and with broken sleep I was starting to feel the effects.  Sleep deprivation is no joke, it is not fun and I was beyond miserable for a long time.  I was crabby, achy, and deperate.  I hadn't sleep for more than 4 consecutive hours in weeks.  It had gotten to the point that I actually dreaded bed time.  Not because she was hard to put down, but because I knew it was only a matter of a few short hours before I would start the treks to her nursery.  I was praying for some relief, but there were far more terrible nights than good ones.

Then I realized she was rolling onto her belly when she woke up, and this made a little fussiness go to big whooping screams.  Because she was swaddled, she couldn't figure out how to roll back over in the crib.  So I went back to putting her to bed in the sleep sak.  Second verse, same as the first.  Next I tried giving her the meal of vegetables later in the evening, more like 8 pm instead of 6 pm, with the hope that it would hold her over longer.  One of night of success then back to waking several times.  Noise machine was implemented, no effect.  Mommy begged, no effect. 

She sleeps like a rock when held!
Now I began reading about the cry it out theory (CIO) and another friend shared that she had found luck with this after a similar problem with her son.  The idea is that you let them cry themselves back to sleep, because this is how they learn to self soothe.  I had been inadvertently teaching her that if she cried I came running (or by this point dragging).  I started giving her 10 minutes to cry on her own before I went in there.  And sure enough, she quieted down and went back to sleep after a few minutes.  Sadly this only lasted for about 45 minutes or an hour and then back to fussing.  If it was before 3 am, I let her CIO.  Really it was more like whine it out before she fell back asleep.  This is particularly hard for a new mom.  As the minutes ticked by I was starting at the dark ceiling listening to her on the monitor thinking of the horrible things that could be wrong with her.  What if she was chocking?  What if she thought I abandoned her?  What if she was bleeding and I didn't go check on her?  What if a spider was in the bed?  What if she rolled and now feel asleep on her face?  This part sucks, and those are some of the longest minutes of your life.  My mom told me the story of when she did this with me and she was gripping the mattress so she would not go check on me.  Maybe this wakefulness is genetic?  Good grief, it's karma that is waking my daughter!  And now I can hear Justin Timberlake singing "What goes around, goes around, comes all the way back around...".

If she cried after 3 am I would go nurse her then tuck her back in.  I knew I had to give this some time before it hopefully worked completely, but even though I wasn't going to the nursery I was still waking up several times each night to listen to her on the monitor.  Lets just say my mood hadn't completely recovered.  During one week of particularly bad nights I began showering every other day (to get 10 more minutes of sleep) and started doing lots of other funny stuff.  Like wearing two different socks to work.  One day I discovered at 5 pm when I went home I had been wearing my underwear inside out and backwards all day.  I knew something wasn't right but I was just too tired to care.  I pony tailed my hair and started drinking coffee in the morning.  I had to get through it somehow! If you asked me how I was during this time I answered "tired".

I read the Baby Whisper's chapter on sleeping.  Well I tried to read the chapter but every time I sat down with my kindle, I drifted off to sleep. Her advice for Reagan (who is just a couple weeks shy of 6 months) is that she does not need to eat during the night and I should be feeding her more during the day.  This is a great idea, but apparently no one told Reagan.  How do you get an infant to eat more?  How do you convince her not to wake and eat?  How can I know this is true for my child?  She sure acts hungry and eats plenty when I feed her between 3-5 am so I  have a hard time believing she doesn't need something to eat if it has been 6 hours since her last bottle.  In the meantime in order to survive, I napped on my lunch break on the floor of the mommy room.  I lost my train of thought in the middle of a sentence a few times a day.   I swear I could fall asleep with my eyes open while sitting at my desk.  It was not fun.   I was not in a "happy" place.  One weekend, while trying to put some things away in a closet I accidentally knocked down my tennis racket case which hit me right below the eye leaving a cut and bruise.  I had plenty of time to get out of the way but I just didn't have the energy to react in time.  I constantly misplaced stuff and I only wanted to veg in front of the TV when I got home from work.  I couldn't recall details about previous conversations and I made dumb mistakes at work.  I limited my weekend activities so I could nap when Reagan napped.  I took every opportunity to sleep, but I wasn't even close to catching up. 

More recently, a friend recommended a sleep sling by Fisher price.  At $50 it was not something I could really afford at the time because it was something she would outgrow in another month or so.  I should have listened to Chrissy Tina who told me to register for this in the beginning, but I already had a pack and play and thought they were sorta the same thing.  Then a miracle happened, I found a facebook page that sells local stuff for cheap.  While checking out the page, I discovered a local mom had posted the sling for only $20!  I quickly messaged her and picked up the swing (which appears brand new) on friday.  That was three sleeps ago.  On Friday Chet stayed home so I wouldn't lose my ever lovin' mind, and took baby duty that night.  She made a few peeps during the night but not much and didn't wake up to eat till 4 am.  I slept like a rock the entire time and it was amazing.  I fed her and she went right back to sleep.  She seemed to love the swing and even when I put her down in it while she was still awake, she feel asleep quickly.  Saturday and Sunday she sleep soundly til 5 am!   (insert upbeat music and birds happily chirping.  Kinda like when Belle sings in Beauty and the beast)

The only down side has been that my body is so accustomed to being awake from 2-5 that I have been tossing and turning during those hours.  I keep waking up for no reason, looking at the clock and falling back asleep only to dream about the Kardashians and other craziness.  But I am confident that if she keeps sleeping soundly, I will adjust back to normal sleep!  Here is to hoping that this phase has finally ended.  So if you are a new parent, save yourself some trouble and go ahead and buy a swaddle me blanket and Fisher Price sleeper.  Then you won't put the car keys in the fridge or leave half of your breast pump supplies on the counter when you leave in the morning.

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