It's a vicious cycle that most new parents know well. Baby doesn't get a good night of sleep (for whatever reason be it teething or upset stomach or too excited developing a new skill or fill in the blank with just about any reason you can possibly think of), so baby is tired and cranky which leads him to not not go down for a nap or to take a super short one, which leads him to be more tired and more cranky which leads him to not go down or sleep well during the next nap, which leads to even more overtiredness and crankiness which leads to fighting bedtime and waking up throughout the night which leads to.... you see where I'm going here? AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH F#$#@%#@$@&^!*@&#^$*&^!*@&#!!!!!!!
This has been going on for the past 3 nights/days. I am so so so tired. Like, reminiscent of the first few weeks of motherhood tired. To make matters worse I was so tired and cranky yesterday that I broke down and had a tall iced coffee from Starbucks at 4pm. Whoops. Of course I was tossing and turning not able to fall asleep til like 3am. That's what happens when you average one cup of coffee every 6 months for the past year and a half. It hits you hard!
For several days now (or weeks? i've lost track of time...), Kenzo will fall asleep while nursing, I'll transfer him to his crib, and he'll wake up crying about 20-30 minutes later. This happsn for most naps during the day, and also every bedtime. I always give it a few minutes because very very rarely he'll settle himself down. But usually it escalates to the point of hysterical screaming/crying and I go rescue him until I can go lie down to go to sleep together. Last night we were so frustrated we decided to try the "Cry It Out" method. We let him scream for 5 minutes (ok, I caved at 3 minutes) and I went in there to just reassure him that I'm here, quietly. That didn't do a damn thing to calm him down. He doesn't seem in pain, he's not tugging at his ears or curling his legs up or anything. But it is literally dinosaur blood curdling screaching. Like, I worry he's going to damage his vocal cords! No joke!! So finally I picked him up and like a light switch all the screaming and huffing and puffing stopped. Amazeballs. WTF dude!!! Is he faking? Manipulating? Experiencing honest to goodness traumatizing levels of separation anxiety??? Being haunted by some super evil poltergeist when I'm not in the room???!!! I put him back down, with a pacifier, and he started screaming immediately. I left the room, gave it 5 minutes, went back in. Same old same old. Finally gave up and went back to the old routine - all 3 of us just went to bed together. Hmph.
I think he finally passed out around midnight last night, and woke up twice in the night. This morning he woke up at like 6:30am flipping around, cooing, crying, kicking me in the boob. I laid there with him for almost an hour thinking he would fall back asleep. Instead he finally started crying, so we got up. I was holding him in my lap and he just passed out, drool and all! Poor guy is so tired!!! Mommy too....
The "cry it out" method is very controversial. Some people say "If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't". And, you know, it really doesn't feel right, letting your child scream and cry and sound so terribly sad!! But what also doesn't feel right is knowing my 7 month old baby can't go to sleep or fall back asleep by himself. We're not going to be able to drop everything and go to sleep with him every damn time. If I knew this was a phase that would end organically in a month or two, I'd just deal with it, and try to enjoy the extra cuddle time. But I worry that as long as we let him call the shots it's going to be worse and worse and before we know it we're going to have a kindergartner who is still sleeping with us and is crying and having tantrums every day when we drop him off at school.
OMG TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!! WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
Mommy's 1st Night Out
It's been almost a year and a half since I went OUT out, and even longer since I had a proper girls night out. When one of my Bay Ridge Baby Mamas started planning a ladies' night out a while back, I initially excluded myself from the plans. I felt guilty to ask my husband for a night out. Not to mention the fact that Kenzo doesn't go to bed until around 10 or 11pm, at which time he nurses. A few days before the event I got a change of heart and decided I deserved this. I took out a few bottles which we hadn't tried since the one time 4 months ago when Kenzo refused all of them. I filled them up with water and let him try them, and you know what, he actually took some sips!! So, I decided I could pump and daddy could feed him from a bottle if need be.
Friday morning, this mama got pumped for her big night out :)
After a miserably hot day home with the little one, I finally pulled myself together and daddy got home just in time for me to take off. He's used to getting Kenzo ready for bed and I didn't feel the need to write him a list of instructions or anything. My only instruction was regarding the milk I had pumped... I pumped 4 ounces which was in the fridge ready to go. I had another 4 ounces frozen from 3 months ago. I told him to call or e-mail me if he was going to give him milk because I had to calculate so as not to have too much to drink. They say you need 2 hours to process 1 drink. Oh man, so much to think about, no more carefree getting trashed with the girls out on the town!!
A quick photo to capture this landmark occasion, an air kiss to baby and hubby (since I had lipstick on, is this a first since Kenzo's birth?!?!), and I was out the door.
I thought I would be anxious or sad or guilty or all kinds of bad feelings, but you know what?? It felt great!!! I did feel a bit naked without baby or stroller or diaper bag or anything. And my ears felt awkward wearing dangly earrings for the first time in 6+ months. Other than that, it was exhilarating!!! And hot. I met some of the girls from nearby to walk together the 16 blocks to the bar where we'd meet everyone else. It was 8:30pm but still over 90 degrees and sooooooooo humid. YUCK!
We tried to keep baby talk to a minimum, but of course the random discussion about babies eating their own poop came up here and there! haha!! I had a yummy hard cider on ice and then we moved on to another bar where I was on the fence about whether or not to have another drink. Then I got a text from hubby saying Kenzo's getting his bottle of milk. Hmmm I guess that made my decision for me. I cut myself off and switched to ice water instead which was equally yummy since I had been sweltering all day with no AC and somehow both of the bars we went to were pretty tepid and failed to cease my "glow".
Around 11:30pm we were on the move. I decided to go ahead and call it a night. A bunch of the other moms continued on to another bar and then dancing I believe. I don't regret my decision to go home because it was a rough night after I got home - Kenzo woke up screaming soon after I got home, so I nursed him and we co-slept as he was waking up every couple of hours. Possibly due to the heat (no AC remember?), or teething, or who knows what. But today I'm hot and tired and BEYOND THRILLED that I am not at all hungover. I can't even imagine that. Yuck. That said, I can't wait for the next ladies night and I will prepare for it better by stocking up the freezer with breast milk. YEEHAW!!!
Daddy reported that he had a good night with Kenzo. He started crawling!! WHAT!?!!? And he drank nearly the whole 4 ounces of milk from the bottle! What a good boy :)
My night out was a success and has me feeling like maybe we are ready to look into getting a babysitter for an occasional date night, or doing a babysitting co-op with some mommy friends... Maybe soon...
Co-Sleeping for Sanity's Sake
What happened to my perfect little sleeper? He was "sleeping through the night" (6-ish hours) from about 8 weeks, and by 10 weeks he was sleeping 8-10 hours a night - straight - without waking up - without a peep - without even wetting his diaper! He went down for his naps awake and fell asleep quietly while sucking his thumb. Fast forward to 5.5 months when he started protesting naps with loud consolable hysterical screams until I would finally give up and forgo that nap. I started having to nurse him to sleep for every nap and nighttime sleep. Not a habit I wanted to get into, especially when he was so wonderfully self-soothing before! But alas, what was I to do? Now, at 6 months and some change, all of a sudden he is no longer sleeping through the night. For the past week he's been waking up every couple of hours. Seriously??? WTF DUDE!!!
This happened to one of my mama friends and turns out she was pregnant - something about the hormones and change in her breast milk effected her baby's sleep and hunger. But we've ruled this out (thank god!!), so then what is it? He's not in pain, he doesn't wake up screaming, but he wakes up sort of crying and I don't want hubby to be woken up and I don't want to fully wake up either, so for the past week we've pretty much resorted to the family bed. Kenzo wakes up and cries, he gets a boob, mommy and baby pass out within a few minutes. Repeat every couple of hours. Is this a short phase he's passing through? Some kind of "wonder week" or teething issue? Or has he mastered the skill of manipulation and has mom wrapped around his teeny tiny finger? Co-sleeping definitely lessens my quality of sleep to some degree because I can't flop about into any position - I keep him kinda close to me with my arm around him (protecting from hubby) and I feel like I'm not getting as deep a sleep as I should because I'm so aware of him being there. Hubby loves it though. Argh... the joys of parenthood continue!
Oh my god oh my god oh my god what is UP with my child recently?!?!?!?! This dude will just not sleep. He's obviously tired: rubbing his red-rimmed eyes, yawning, fussy. But the second I put him down in his crib it's hysterical crying and screaming. I give him a minute to find his thumb and sooth himself (or a few minutes if I've lost it and need some time to deal with my frustration - as we were directed to do by the nurse who made us sign a waiver saying she told us about "shaken baby syndrome" before being discharged with him after his birth). But it's like all of a sudden he forgot about his thumb, which he used to love and it would calm him down in all of 2 seconds!! My sweet little baby who used to go down for a nap all smiley is now a ferocious best determined to NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!!
It started when we went down to visit my family in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, but has been getting progressively worse. And recently the sleep strike has extended into the night. Last night he woke me up 3 times because he had flipped to his tummy and couldn't flip back, twice because he had gotten his feet stuck between the rails of the crib, and another 2-3 times because he was kicking the side of the crib so hard I was scared he might bust the rail off and fall onto the floor (is this one of those unwarranted mom worries, or can it really happen??)!! Finally I couldn't take it and just brought him into bed with me. Daddy is out of town, so there was plenty of space thank goodness.
Aghhhh this has got to be some sort of phase he's transitioning through, right? Teething perhaps? But he doesn't seem to be in pain - it seems to be completely emotional. I guess he's getting to that magical point around 6 months where he's developing object permanence and self-awareness and... MANIPULATION!!! I don't want to create a habit where I break down and nurse him back to sleep every time. But I don't want to cause him (and me) undue trauma by just letting him scream his little head off. Meanwhile, I just can't get the title of that one hilariously inappropriate children's book read by Samuel L. Jackson out of my head: "Go the F*K to Sleep!!!"
Advice? Support?? Valium???
Before I get to the system we're currently using to schedule our little one's sleep, let me give a quick review of his sleeping patterns from the start.
For the first week of life, little Kenzo was zonked out big time! I got yelled at by the nurse our first and only night in the hospital for letting him go 5 hours without feeding. Whoops! I haven't slept in 50+ hours and just pushed an 8 pound baby out of my hoohah - sorry if I wasn't exactly watching the clock. And it seems he was just as tired as I was! The whole first week I had to wake him up to feed, every 2.5 hours (4 hours at night - had to set my alarm clock!) as advised by the nurses. This was hard to do cuz he was so darn sleepy. Tricks included stripping him down to his diapers and tickling his feet and ears, but he still managed to pass out mid feed almost every time. I was worried maybe he wasn't drinking enough and the doc at his 4 day checkup freaked us out because he had lost 10% of his body weight, which is NORMAL by the way, but had us come back 2 days later for a weigh... by which time he'd already gained back the 10%! He would continue on this dramatic weight gain trajectory for the next couple of months! I'm very thankful I didn't panic and start supplementing with formula, because that could have decreased my milk supply and led us down a slippery slope of losing my milk supply completely.
Anyway, back from that tangent - After the first week, he got adjusted to my 2.5 hour schedule and I no longer was the one waking him up but vice versa. Every 2.5 hours around the clock. And this is including feeding, burping, and bouncing (not rocking - we only have a birth/exercise ball, not a rocking chair) him back to sleep. So, by the time he's back in bed we only slept about 1-1.5 hours. This went on until about the 5th week. EXHAUSTING!!!
After we were done hosting both sets of grandparents, yes in our tiny one bedroom apartment!, he was almost 7 weeks old and I decided it was time to figure out a better schedule that we could both thrive on. At that time, I was just letting him pass out whenever, but it was usually in your arms or on your lap, and the second you tried to transfer him to the crib he would wake up crying. He was also quite fussy - looking back on it he was just overly tired, poor guy!! My sister had given me a book/theory that had worked well for her: "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman. From what I've seen on the baby blogs and forums, this theory is a bit controversial, some say leading to dehydration and other issues, but I think those issues only arise when you are too strict with the schedule, whereas they repeatedly remind you that you need to be flexible as growth spurts and other times will require changes in the schedule.
The basic theory of Babywise is that the baby should be on a "eat, play, sleep" schedule, with that exact order being key. They recommend it from birth, so I wasn't sure how it would work starting from 7 weeks but they explain in the book how to adjust the schedule as the baby gets older so I just started with the suggested schedule for a 2 month old. It seemed counter intuitive to me since Kenzo is usually in a milk coma after feeding and seems the perfect time to put him down, but I decided to give it a go anyway. They do say you should put the baby down drowsy but not asleep, so they can learn how to self sooth and put themselves to sleep. I can't bare to start this part of the plan yet, I think he's too young for that. Maybe around 4 months we'll give the whole "cry it out" thing a go.
With this Babywise schedule, we basically give him a 12-hour day period and 12-hour night period. During the day time, we stick to a 3 hour cycle: 1.5 hours for eating and then playing, and 1.5 hour nap, and repeat. During the 12 hour night period, there is no "play" time. If he wakes up and seems hungry, I feed him. But quite often it's something else, like he needs a burp, needs spit-up wiped off his face, or just can't go back to sleep by himself, so I bounce him and put him back to bed.
He adjusted to the day time schedule pretty much immediately. I couldn't believe how his fussiness disappeared and he was just so much happier, as was I! I know he had been getting enough food all along, but definitely had been sleep deprived. His night time sleeping got better progressively from this point as well, though that could be a coincidence as he's getting older and more mature, but who knows. Right away he started having longer and longer periods of night time sleep. Now at 10 weeks he sleeps between 6-8 hours straight (technically "sleeping through the night", though for me 9-10 hours would be more like it!!), wakes up for a feed, and then from there doesn't do as well - only 1-3 hours at a time, with lots of grunts and groans, until the "day" period starts.
Here's our typical day:
10 AM - wake and feed
10:30 - 11:30 AM - awake time
11:30 AM - 1 PM - nap time
1 PM - wake and feed
1:30 - 3 PM - awake time
3 - 4:30 PM - nap time
4:30 PM - wake and feed
4:30 - 6 PM - awake time
6 - 7:30 PM - nap time
7:30 PM - wake and feed
7:30 - 9:45 PM - awake time (daddy time!)
9:45 PM - final feed
10 PM - bed time
5 AM - feed
7 AM - feed
8:30 AM - feed
All in all Kenzo gets about 8 feeds and 14-15 hours of sleep. His awake time is spent on the play mat, in the bouncy chair, tummy time, playing with mommy or daddy, listening to music or his Japanese books on CD, taking a bath, etc. When I need to run an errand or take a walk, I do that during his
So, Babywise really changed our lives! I get about 8-9 cumulative hours of sleep during his nighttime period, and no longer feel exhausted or have to nap during the day. Kenzo rarely fusses anymore, but I'm much more capable of realizing and solving the problem when there is one, whereas before the schedule I would have just shoved my boob at him guessing that he was hungry. #Momfail haha! Just so you know, I am not affiliated with the book or the authors, just found that it worked for me and it may be worth a try for some of you out there struggling with your little ones. I know there are TONS of books and different theories out there, and some will work better for you than others. So keep on reading and giving them a try til you find the right one for you and your family!! If you do want to give this one a try, it's super cheap on Amazon:
One of the perks of living in a tiny one bedroom apartment in New York City is that you are saved from the hassle of making such decisions as what color to paint the nursery, where to put your super comfy glider, and which high-tech video baby monitor to go with. You can skip over these issues because you don't have a spare room to turn into a nursery, you have no space for a glider, and you don't need a monitor as you can hear your wee little one from every corner of your pad.
Luckily our bedroom did have room enough for Kenzo's crib to squeeze in next to our queen sized bed and still leave enough space for getting in and out. Just enough. Having baby in the room has its advantages and disadvantages. When he cries, its just a hop out of bed before I can scoop him up and console him. When he squeals and shouts, I can just glance over to see if he's awake and needs help to settle, or if he's just having a dream and should be left alone. What I didn't count on is that our little Kenzo would grunt away for hours on end, night after night. My goodness!! I wear earplugs and use a sound machine, and he still wakes us up with his orchestra of noises!! Occasionally he gets banished to his bassinet stroller in the living room, but he's only 6 pounds (2-3 months?) from maxing out on that weight limit... so we're debating what to do.
During his first few weeks, we often brought him into our bed. His father and I both loved to lay Kenzo on our chests where he would doze off ever so peacefully, and quietly!! My mother said babies sleep best on their stomach, and it's too bad the whole SIDS thing led to the "back to sleep" trend. Of course saving babies is not the too bad part, but it is a shame that many babies have issues sleeping on their backs. All that spit up and tummy troubles I suppose.
My husband was all for co-sleeping with our baby. In many parts of the world this is common place and no one would question it. But here, it's quite controversial. Honestly, if I was alone I would totally do it. I'm a very light sleeper and the times we have done it I was so completely aware of his being there and was so protective of him. That said, I definitely didn't sleep all too well. So there's that. My husband on the other hand is a deeeeeeeeeep sleeper. DEEP! The big fear about co-sleeping is smothering - by one of the parents or by blankets. And this definitely happens. We had a close call one night and quickly agreed we wouldn't be bringing baby into our bed (for sleep anyway) again.
Perhaps we'll move his crib to the kitchen, but that would require disassembling and reassembling the crib - good luck with that dad! It would also mean having to be super quiet if we're still awake when the baby is sleeping, and also not being able to use the kitchen when he's sleeping. This is especially difficult as his father gets home from work rather late quite often. So, we're crossing our fingers that our little man grows out of his grunting and groaning, which are perhaps related to some kind of reflux due to an immature digestive tract. Fingers crossed!!
We are planning to move to a bigger place before baby #2 is in the picture, which is several years off, trust me!! I can't even imagine staying in this sized apartment with 2 kids. But then I think back to my days teaching in Japan. I was in a class of junior high school kids and we were talking about the layout of their bedrooms. In the US, this would be a normal discussion with kids talking about their beds and TVs and all that stuff. But I remember several kids being like, ummmm, I don't have a bedroom. Nothing shameful - completely normal. Co-sleeping or at least room sharing over there is pretty common place. One mom I used to tutor told me she shared her futon bed with her two children and I remember being so shocked. But as she explained how it was so much easier and they all slept better, it made sense. I would have LOVED that when I was a kid. Instead, my mother would watch "Poltergeist" with me on TV and then scoot me off to my own bedroom where I would hide under the covers in fear! Hmmm. In fact, I'm still rather afraid of the dark. Maybe sharing a room with two boys is quite good for me after all!
So, do you co-sleep? Share a room with your tot? Have an amazing celebrity-style nursery for us to drool over? Got advice for silencing a grunty baby?? Please comment below!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)