The first thing I did was ask Aaron to remove completely, one side of the crib and place it right next to my side of the bed. We rolled a blanket in the wood between the crib and our bed to cushion it as well as have a continuation of softness. (We had done this right after we brought J home but at the time, given my post-partum physical aches and the many night feedings and my own visits to the restroom, I found it challenging to get in and out of the bed). Now, instead of placing J in our midst, he continued sleeping in his own crib but attached to our bed and right next to me. This worked.
The second thing I did after listening to that random woman’s advice was start feeding J solids as dinner. At first we liquified his rice cereal and fed it to him through a bottle. Because we didn’t know any different and didn’t really do our research into special nipples, we just made the hole of one of his Size 1 nipple bigger and fed him rice cereal mixed with formula through a bottle. This continued until the day before (7/28) when for some reason the nipple got clogged and leaked on his chin as he was drinking it while putting him to bed. Exasperated at a hungry baby crying and seeing no other option, I brought him out into the living room, placed him on his bouncer (in which he sits for his solids), and fed him his solids through a spoon after having made a fresh batch of rice cereal with thicker consistency. This worked too.
Everything isn’t as straight forward as I write. Sleeping in a bed-attached-crib is a brilliant idea. Baby loves it!! He gets to smell mom and dad right next to him, he is instantaneously soothed the minute there is a peep from him because I am right there to calm him, he is close to his parents, and he still gets to have his own space. However, it isn’t all that great for me, sleepwise. I am very easily awoken by his every peep which means that even if he is simply sighing in sleep or making a casual grunt, I get woken up. I am always conscious of wanting to comfort him lest his fussiness becomes aggravated and wakes up Aaron. Sometimes I still get hit in the face (partly my fault because as soon as he makes a sound, I bring him closer to me and we sleep breathing on each other) which I don’t mind but it still keeps me awake.
Despite this though, I love this arrangement too. I get to snuggle up to my baby while putting him to sleep for naps and even bedtime. I get to breathe him, his excitement when I go to wake him up by laying next to him, I get to lovingly caress his hair and face as I comfort him, I get to see a child who sleeps calmly and securely knowing that his parents are right there next to him and will always be there to comfort him. Twice since this arrangement, we’ve both napped together and frankly, those have been the best naps I’ve had in the longest of times. While I look forward to the day he sleeps by himself in his crib in his room, for now, despite its challenges such as his waking up at 5:30 a.m., I want to savor my time with my baby like this. Such a wonderful stage.
Sleep training – I am really opposed to the phrase sleep “training”. These are babies we’re talking about. A part of me does understand just how important it is for babies to be able to fall asleep on their own but then I wonder if this training is more for the sanity of parents than for babies’ independence or sleep habits. Sure one can argue that training is for the benefit of the child and such but I still think that a sleep trained baby is more for a parent’s own comfort and I am not opposed to it of course…just want to call a spade a spade. Since Baby J was born, I have truly understood how and why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. I used to enjoy my 9-10 hours of sleep. Now I consider myself lucky if I get 4-5 hours of continuous sleep time.
So, is Baby J sleep trained? Yes and No. For now, because of eating solids or because it is just time to do so, he does sleep longer. He frequently wakes up 2-3 hours after first going to sleep and cries (and will cry for a very long time if we let him. We once let him cry for 30 minutes hoping he would stop but he just kept going), occasionally he self soothes but that doesn’t always happen. Then, he sleeps for maybe another 4 or 5 hours, fusses (needs to be comforted), and sleeps for another 2-3 hours, and wakes up for a feed (if it is anytime after 4:00 a.m., I nurse him). Sometimes he’ll fall back asleep, till 6:30 am if we’re lucky. Very, very rarely, he’ll sleep in, past 7:00 a.m. and once till 7:45 a.m. (but that just screws up his nap schedules so I actually prefer that he wake up at 7:00 a.m.). Anyway, my point is, if you ignore the wakings right after going to bed and the fussiness, he can potentially sleep for 7-8 hours. By definition, he is now sleeping through the night (which by definition is 5 hours) although it just doesn’t feel that way when on most days I wake up extremely groggy and zombie like. Sigh!
All in all, Baby J has been doing well. As soon he started solids and started sleeping longer, I almost stopped his night feedings. We went from feeding every two hours as a newborn to every 3-3.5 hours to a sleep regression (4th month) that had him wake up every hour to 45 minutes to two hours again and feeding almost all those times to starting solids and then waking 4-5 hours. Once we broke the wakings at 3:30 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. or anytime after that, he would wake up every two hours by clockwork.
Starting on August 6, he started waking up around 1:00 a.m. every night and fussing for two hours straight. Since he was right next to me, I tried soothing him, singing to him, kissing him, caressing his hair, shusshing him…all to no avail. He never even opened his eyes but kept moaning. I then realized that he was perhaps hungry or he just needed to do that for whatever reason because he wouldn’t even take any soothing so I stopped doing anything. The 2 hours of fussiness continued every night and would break our sleep. Aaron and I were both even more sleep deprived than before because we couldn’t really soothe. So we finally made the decision to move J to his own room (our den) on Sunday, August 10.
We began to do this in stages. First, we put the crib’s side back on and placed the crib one foot away from our bed. His night activity continued and he fussed for his usual 2 hours or maybe it was a little less than that. Last night, we moved the crib all the way to the back wall in our room, about 4 feet away. He fussed for about half an hour and went back to sleep. When he finally had a decisively loud fuss, it was 6:00 a.m. I knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep if I picked him up at that time but it was Sunday and I just missed holding him. So I picked him up, nursed him and placed him right in our midst where we all slept peacefully on and off until 8:15 a.m.
Tonight, Baby J is sleeping in his own room. More about this in my next post.