The Sleep Situation

>Sleep is obviously rough with a baby. That was never something unexpected about having a child. In fact, thats pretty much the first and most annoying thing people tell you when they find out you’re pregnant – “OH! You’ll never sleep again!!”. Everyone knows that babies wake up a lot during the night, but what’s considered normal?

Our night times are still pretty rough right now. Maybe it’s because I’m doing it by myself, but it seems like we are up a LOT. Surprisingly, I manage to get by pretty easily during the day (after an average of 5 hour or less a night) and I function pretty well when I’m sleep deprived. It seems like every time we get a routine down something happens and we have to start all over again.

The first week or so went pretty well. While Mr P was home he would watch Jacob (usually downstairs) from 9 to 12 or 12:30 (thank goodness Jacob took a bottle easily and didn’t have any nipple confusion) so I could get some uninterrupted sleep and then for the rest of the night I would take care of him. Mr P wouldn’t bring Jacob upstairs until he was ready for bed at midnight and I would take him back downstairs early in the morning, usually around 5. This plan worked out fairly well, but alas, Mr P had to return to his job and what little routine we had was completely interrupted.

After he left I tried to get into a routine for just the two of us. The first few nights I made the mistake of waiting to go upstairs until Jacob had fallen asleep. By the time I got him upstairs he was wide awake and wouldn’t go back to sleep for a while – which meant that I wasn’t crawling into bed until 11 or so. He was sleeping an average of 2 hours at a time (which I thought was pretty good!). After I figured out that going upstairs earlier worked out better for both of us, Jacob started sleeping from 9 or 9:30 to midnight pretty regularly. I was unbelievably excited the first time I got to sleep 3 1/2 hours. In the early morning he was still sleeping 2 hours in a row, which was fine!

This continued for about a week and then things completely changed. He started to fuss a LOT during the early mornings and during the daytime. He wasn’t happy unless I was holding him upright and patting his back to get out those yucky, wet burps. He was constantly getting the hiccups and would cry out during his feedings. His choking problem seemed to get worse, too. At one point he’d choked to the point of being blue 4 times within 14 hours. Our pediatrician watched him take a bottle and was seeing signs of Acid Reflux. The more she explained the symptoms the more I realized that this was probably why he was so fussy. He definitely seemed in pain during and after his feedings and this was REALLY disrupting our sleep pattern. He would get up, eat and then fall asleep. I’d lay him back down in his bassinet and within 10 minutes he’s be screaming like he was dying. So I’d pick him up, he’d eat a little bit more and the cycle would repeat. There were several nights that we were awake for at least 2 hours in the mornings trying to go back to sleep. The days of 3 1/2 hours in a row seemed to completely disappeared.

The nights before we discovered his reflux were the hardest I’d ever been through. I wanted to much so comfort him and make him happy but it seemed impossible with the way he was crying, not eating and barely sleeping. There were a number of times that we just cried together because I didn’t know what to do to make him feel better.

Now that we’ve started to manage the reflux we are starting to get down a pattern. I’ve decided to work from the beginning of the night to the end. If I can master the first chunk of sleep and the first feeding for a few days, then I start to worry about getting the next period of sleep and the feeding after that into a pattern. I figure working from the beginning to the end is the best way to approach it. That way if the beginning of the night goes well, but the morning is rough I still feel successful. It’s completely a mind over matter approach, if only for myself.

We go upstairs about 7:45 or 8. Every other night he gets a bath, we read a story and he eats for the last time. He generally starts to fall asleep in my arms and when he’s drowsy I will put him in his crib with his Soothing Sounds Giraffe on the relax setting. This is generally around 9. He will sleep to 11:45 or 12 almost every night and then wake up for a feeding. He will usually eat for 20 minutes or so and then unlatch and fall back asleep. I’ll put him down and turn on his giraffe and hop back into bed. He wakes up between 1:30 and 2 and this is when things start to get rough. He usually is WIDE AWAKE at this point in time. He gets a fresh diaper and gets fed again, but from that point on he seems to only sleep in spurts of about an hour, maybe 90 minutes.

I end up caving at some point in the early morning and either let him sleep on my chest or in the middle of the bed next to me while I lay on my side. I actually half sleep when he’s in bed with me, but I almost ALWAYS wake up feeling refreshed with him cuddled up next to me. He seems to sleep better that way too.

So going forward I’m going to slowly take out the time that he sleeps with me, one period of sleep at a time. I’ve already taken out one of those periods and it seems to have helped to slowly wean him off of sleeping with Mama. As much as I love having my little boy sleeping on me, it’s definitely not allowing me to get great sleep. I’m hoping that as I continue my own little method of “sleep training” that he will begin to sleep longer periods of time on his own and by the time I’ve made it through a whole night he will only be getting up once or twice (instead of 4 or 5 times)… well, a girl can dream (or try) right?

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