May 17, 2009

Sleeping, crying, and having your own room

Preface: This is a pretty exhaustive post about Eliot's sleep activities the past 48 hours. Sorry for the detail. I think this post turned into a sort of journal today.

This past week was really hard for me (Natalie). Eliot was going to sleep around 7 or 8 pm, and waking at around 2 am, and 5 am, and then 7 am or so, up for the day. Waking up twice in the night is not bad for a four month old. The bad part was that from 2 am to 5 am, I was rocking him a lot because he was wiggling, whining, etc in his hammock cradle next to us (this is what his hammock looks like). And then from 5 am to 7 am, I might get 30-60 mins of sleep as I struggle to make him stay asleep. The other issue was that he would regularly wake up 30 minutes after we put him down, and used to be easy to rock back to sleep, but this was getting more difficult.

So Friday night, Brady was on duty for the first feeding, with a bottle, and I slept downstairs in the guest room. Around 4:30 am, I moved upstairs to be there for the next feeding. Eliot was already awake, and Dad was changing him as I arrived, so I nursed him, put him in the hammock, and then got a little bit of sleep until 7 am when he woke up, and we nursed again and got ready for the day. I felt much better having gotten around 6 hours of sleep, even if it was interrupted at 1:30 am when I could hear Eliot wake up and wail for 30 minutes or so.

The next night, Saturday (last night), we decided to make some dramatic changes. Eliot is almost four months old. And we decided to move him to his own room, into his regular crib, and if, when we put him down for bed he cried, we decided to let him cry. We also decided to, for awhile, start putting him to sleep at 6 pm instead of 7 pm, and see if that helped. There is a book whose suggestions we are following for the next few weeks to see if we can improve things.

And, all in all, we felt like it was a success last night. At first he cried and we went in to soothe him after 10 minutes, and he calmed down. Then he cried again, and Brady went after about 15 minutes, and he did not calm down. Eventually, Brady put him back in the crib and whispered sweet nothings in his ear and left. He still cried. We waited, and waited, and peeked in to make sure he hadn't gotten trapped against the crib rails or anything (he hadn't), so we waited some more, mostly outside on the patio so the crying was not so loud, and then, after 45 minutes... silence. I slept downstairs so that I would be nearby in case he woke up a lot last night, so I wouldn't have to climb the stairs a lot. But he didn't wake up very much. He woke up at his normal times -- 1 am, 5:30 am, and then 7:30. After the 1 am feeding, he was sort of asleep, but not entirely, and I put him back in his crib, and he made a few little noises for like 2 minutes, then no noise. After the 5:30 feeding, he made quite a bit of noise for 30 minutes, but it wasn't crying. It wasn't happy noise either. It was just kind of occasional little yells.

Today, we were attempting to use the same principles for nap time. We had been relying on his swing for naps, but we were starting to not want to use this crutch anymore, and some doctors think swing sleep is not quality sleep. Also, we are attempting to now give him naps three times a day, instead of just two. This will be hard, because it means less time that we can be out doing things, but soon he should be down to just two naps, maybe in a month or two. So, today, around 9 am, I put him down for a nap, and he cried and cried for 20 minutes. Then he fell asleep for 40 minutes. Then he woke up again and cried, and cried, for 30 more minutes, until we eventually decided nap time was a bust. I picked him up and nursed him, and then we put him in the Ergo carrier, hopped on the bus, and went to buy a new bike! (More on that later this week when we're able to bring the bike home). Eliot fell asleep in the Ergo, making me glad we took the bus instead of driving because putting him in the car seat would have woken him up. We got home, played with him for a little bit, then I nursed him and put him down to nap, and he was asleep for 30 minutes. Then he wailed. I went in and put his pacifier back in his mouth, and rubbed his chest a bit, and he calmed down. Then I left, and he wailed for 30 more minutes before finally falling asleep, which was around 30 minutes ago. It's 4:15 now. We'll see how long he sleeps. I don't want to wake him up, but also we want to put him to bed at 6 pm, so hopefully he'll wake up soon....

It seems to be pretty typical for him to wake up at the 30 minute mark. Sometimes it's 20 minutes, sometimes 35 minutes or so, but we are guessing it is happening when he switches from one type of REM sleep to another. It startles him awake, and then he cries because, well, he's a baby. He would like us to bounce him back to sleep. And we were doing this for several months, but we're ready now for him to start falling back to sleep on his own because lately, sometimes when we try to get him to sleep again, it doesn't work so well and he cries bloody murder anyway. Plus, it's exhausting and takes so much energy.

I am glad we have moved him to his own room now. I feel like we have our room back. His room is nice and cozy, and very dark thanks to the black-out curtain liners I bought, and has a white noise machine that we always turn on when he sleeps, a rocking chair, a bookshelf with his books on it, and a little lamp. We need to find things to put on the walls now. The walls are blue (like colonial blue), but bare. And since I know that, usually, he is waking up twice a night, I can handle walking up and down the stairs twice a night. And if on some nights that gets to be too much, I'll just sleep in the room next to his (the office/guest room).

...(later that day)...

He woke up at 4:21. And he woke up relatively happy and rested. He wasn't screaming, he was just kind of goo-gooing occasionally, telling us he was awake and ready to go to the park! Brady took him and the dogs to the park. Then we changed him, and Brady started reading a story to him (a great story in Spanish that Brady's sister bought called Mi Madre Es Fantastica, about how this kid's mom is not afraid of monsters or bugs, and can fix cars and washing machines, and reads lots of books and knows lots of stuff. Luvvit). Anyway, Eliot got tired on page two and started crying. So mom started nursing him, while dad finished reading the story just so Eliot could hear the Spanish words, if not see the pages too. We nursed for awhile, then I got him dressed and swaddled for bed, then we nursed some more (we keep daytime nursing sessions shorter, but before bed I let him nurse for up to 45 minutes or so), and finally at 6:30 Brady bounced him to bed. He slept for 30 minutes, and then started crying on and off for 15 minutes. Then he slept for 20 minutes, and then began crying agagin. Brady went in to do a quick check, and he was physically fine, so we let him keep crying. He stopped after 10 minutes, at 8:10 pm, and it's now 9 pm, so I think he's finally totally done with the crying and is fully asleep, which is also where I'm headed.

1 comment:

amy said...

Wow! That is a great story and you are both awesome parents. Eliot is blessed to have parents so caring ang loving and clear about little growth steps. The first time I let matthew cry himself to sleep, I about had a break down listening to him cry. So I set the timer for 30 minutes and went to do laundry. It worked! Isn't is amazing, they really do survive. I can picture Eliot in his room. It is such a lovely color blue. Mamie