Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.
Sleeping away from home is never easy when you’re little. During our trip to the Sunshine Coast I had to work out new ways to help Anakin nap. We rented a portacot, but as per usual he refused to sleep in it and it became a bit of fencing instead to help keep him in bed. We all slept in the same bed as usual, but before we turned in and during nap time I had to build a kind of cocoon to keep him for rolling out. (Which he did the first night. Ops.)
I would stay in the room with him for his nap until he fell sleep, often trying to get some sleep myself (and failing) from having to get up at 4.30 every day. And from part boredom and absolute infatuation with watching him sleep I started taking photos of him every day, either with my phone or with my camera. In case you’re wondering, yes, he did sleep in the same pi’s most days.
I don’t know about you, but jet lag really does my head in. I’ve never been one of those people who bounce back within a couple of days. It takes me at least a week when heading to Europe and closer to two when heading back to Australia. Needless to say I was dreading what jet lag would do to a 19 month old toddler. Here’s how that went down.
Before we left I did as much research as I could about how to deal with kids and jet lag. There isn’t all that much tangible information out there, but I found a few things here and there that gave me a few ideas to try. At least I was preparing myself for a potential chaos. Right? umm… yes.
Australia to Norway
From Australia to Norway the time difference currently sits at 8 hours. I had read that young children could take as many days to adjust as there is hours in difference between home and the destination. I tried my best to be aware of Australian time as much as I could during the first days to better understand how Anakin was experiencing his days.
Of course, all routines went out the window the first day never to return. Yes, i cried on the inside. Coping with new sleeping spaces and bright summer nights was hard. The first few nights Anakin would wake up around 3-4 am. I was prepared for this and knew he was probably hungry, so we got up and had a bite to eat. I kept him up for a little bit (1-2 hours) playing very quietly before going back to bed to have a bit more sleep. This worked surprisingly well.
Local meal times
Once we got to Norway we immediately switched to local meal times. We obviously adjusted a bit the first few days by offering bigger snacks between, but made sure dinner happened as close to local dinner time as possible. This definitely helped us adjust faster. Anakin is used to eating at the same times every day so his body clock needed to work out this new schedule in a bigger way than we did.
New sleep spaces
Our bedtime in Australia had a very specific routine. Once we got to Norway this vanished and Anakin was faced with new sleeping spaces all the time. This was less than ideal and had a huge impact on him. I thought it was hard myself, and I’m supposed to be an “adaptable” adult, for him it was terrible. We tried as best we could to replicate as much as possible of our old routines, like bath before bed and bedtime breastfeeding, but the shit still hit the fan in a big way most nights in the first week. It was impossible to get him down in a portacot so we started co-sleeping full-time. This helped make Anakin feel safe when he woke up at night and found me next to him. Naps were equally impossible and would only occur in a car or in the stroller. Needless to say there was a lot of walking.
Milk supply and comfort
The first days in Norway Anakin would feed a lot during the night and not much during the day. This was partly due to his days being upside down still, but also because my milk supply needed time to adjust. Anakin would seek out the breast for comfort the whole trip and would feed more frequently than he did before we left. We also started doing the feeding lying down at nighttime, which he, for better and worse, loves. It was a big adjustment for me to go back to night feeds and I can honestly say it was the trip that nearly broke my will to continue breastfeeding.
It’s a huge adjustment for a small child to travel far and be exposed to all new things and people. We were more or less constantly on the go and Anakin was surrounded by new people wanting to engage him all the time. The first few days he rejected both me and my partner except at nighttime, everything was exciting and it was all systems go constantly. By the end of the 5th day he had reached a peak and had a massive three-hour meltdown at bedtime. It wasn’t pretty and I’ve never seen anything like it. After this Anakin became very clingy and would stay close to me most of the time.
Norway to Australia
I was really nervous about how coming back would play out. We landed in Melbourne at 1am and Anakin had slept quite a bit on the last stretch here. By the time we went to bed at home it was 4am and I was only expecting a couple of hours of sleep. Everything I had been told and had read said it would take longer to adjust coming home than it did going over.
The first morning we slept from 4am to 12.30. Anakin fell asleep without trouble next to me and happily snoozed for hours. There were no naps that day and we kept bedtime to the same time as usual. At 7pm he was asleep again and slept for just over 2 hours before waking up as I went to bed. After being awake for an hour, but staying in bed the whole time, he fell back asleep and slept all the way until 12.30 the next day again, as did I. I can honestly say he’s never slept for that long in his entire life.
After the initial sleepathon was over we started to see the other side of the jet lag. Anakin would go to sleep at his normal time, but wake again 1-2 hours later. He would then stay awake anything from 1-4 hours. We didn’t get him out of bed, but stayed there with him until he fell back asleep. This continued for over a week.
Night feedings and wake up times
Anakin started feeding at night again, and would wake up around 4am for a feed. He’d then go back to sleep. For the first few days he would sleep until 8.30-9, then it became 7.30-8, then 6.30-7, and now, almost 4 weeks later he still wakes at 4 demanding boob, which he does not get, and then sleeps on and off until 5.30 when he decides it’s time to start the day. Our hopes of maybe getting a somewhat normal start time of 6.30 has vanished. After Anakin started demanding boob every hour from 4, I decided it was time to stop his night feed as it did not look as if he would stop on his own. We’re still working on getting rid of the 4am wake up, but with no luck so far.
Naps coming back was a big issue I wanted resolved quickly. Anakin does not sleep well in the pram and will only do short naps if you keep him on the move constantly. And I do mean constantly. No stopping for anything and no going indoors anywhere as this will wake him up. I tried co-sleeping for naps, but that simply did not work. I then decided to give the cot a go again, making sure to wind him down with a bit of a feed beforehand. I discovered that his baby call has music it plays for about 10 minutes before stopping. I put this on and laid next to his cot holding his hand. Surprisingly this worked from the first day and is still the way we do nap times now. I guess the boy deserves credit for being more adaptable than I thought!
Coming back definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared. And co-sleeping full-time is something I really enjoy doing. Anakin goes to sleep content, generally stays asleep, except his 4am boob alarm, and wakes up happier than ever. The difference in him is quite noticeable. I also sleep better knowing that he is right there, there is no baby call to listen to and no need to get out of bed. Besides, I love getting night hugs and feeling his warm body next to me. We have been bedsharing part-time for a while, but I much prefer it the way it is now.
(All images are Instagrams @didajenta)
Last Sunday we turned the clock back an hour. I’m sure everyone who doesn’t have kids thought “Oh wonderful, another hour of sleep” just like I used to. And I’m sure most people with kids though “Oh great, now they’ll just wake up even earlier”. I know I did.
Que Mister 4.30. For a week now.
I’ve been bringing him into bed (which is now relocated permanently to the floor for the safety of His Highness) and a couple of mornings he would fall back asleep after a bit of fidgeting with my face. Maintaining body contact at all times it of utter importance. Those were the few, lucky ones, but most mornings it goes something like this:
Put Anakin in bed with us. I get back up to turn off the night light and he screams because I dare leave his side for a second. Lie back down, resume body contact. Fidget with mamma’s face. Poke her in the eye. Roll onto mamma’s face, roll off her face. Roll onto mamma’s head, roll off her head. Poke her in the eye, poke her in the nose. Pull mamma’s hair, hit her in the head, scratch her face, poke her in the mouth. Roll onto her face, roll off her face. Roll onto her face, roll of her face. Hit her in the head. Kick her in the head. Kick her in the face. Kick pappa in the face. Poke mamma in the eye, find the other eye and poke that too. Pull mamma’s lips, poke her in the nose. Start whingeing. Roll, squirm, roll, kick, find a face to kick, find a face to roll onto. Lie sideways on mamma while pulling her hair. Roll off, turn around and kick her in the face. Turn around again and kick pappa in the face. Repeat for up to 40 minutes. Cry. Cry some more. Cry, hit and kick until mamma gives up and turns the light on. Get excited about “pippin” (boob), crawl towards pippin while mamma tries to put her robe on. Cry because pippin is taking too long. Finally pippin. Fidget and cuddle mamma while eating. Roll onto pappa for a cuddle, back to pippin. Roll around in bed, touch all the no-no’s, roll around some more before more pippin. See cat, chase cat, back to bed, see pippin, more pippin. Roll onto pappa, roll onto mamma, some more pippin and we’re finally up.
Do your kids react to time changes or do they sleep as normal if the changes are small? Have you ever had a kid with jet lag? If so, I’d love to hear how you dealt with it. We’re flying to Norway in a couple of months and I’m dreading the flight and the jet lag already. Any tips?
I can’t feel my face. No, wait, I can and it hurts. Perhaps it’s my brain I can’t feel. No, that hurts too.
7 times between 11 and 5.40 this morning my son had me in his room tending to his needs, trying to put him back to sleep. A few cuddles, a dummy, whatever it took. I can’t do the math on this, but just look at those numbers and you know I didn’t get much sleep last night at all. And when I made it back to bed in the intervals the snoring next to me would start. Funny how that works… So much for going to bed around 10 and thinking today would be better than yesterday, at least when it came to having slept. When I finally did get to go back to bed this morning, his crying and other voices from downstairs kept me awake for a bit longer. And then… I was awoken by the sound of a ball being thrown repeatedly towards what I can only guess was the door downstairs. Oh what a joyous night and morning.
I need coffee. Make it strong and pour it straight in the eyes, thanks! I’ve got work to do and in less than an hour that little voice will sound over the monitor again beckoning me to his side.
Good Friday, everyone! We’re entering day 4 of a ten day 30+ heatwave here in Melbourne. Stay cool!
I love summer, I really do. I’m far more a summery person. Swimming, ice cream, BBQ’s, yes, please! Winter, not so much. But when it creeps over 30 for several days I’m just not that happy. Today is supposed to hit over 35 degrees. When the iphone says 35 it means it will hit at least 37. What utter BS.
After a few days of hot weather our house has already soaked up the heat and it takes no time at all before it gets stuffy and sweaty. There hasn’t been a proper cool change for days, not one that has had any effect at least.
So last night, not surprisingly, Anakin just had enough. He kept waking up all night, sticky and uncomfortable. And who can blame him?
I forgot how much it messes with my brain when I don’t get much sleep. I’m a zombie. Dizzy, out of balance and generally not ready for today at all. It’s so much harder to be a cool, chilled out mummy when it’s just too hot to think straight.
Hello 35+ degree day! I have very low expectations of you!
(If you’re tired of reading about sleep and sleep issues you should probably just skip past this.)
You know the one thing that keeps confusing me about my kid? Sleep. And the one thing that keeps changing? Sleep. I’m so tired of trying to work out sleep issues. I’m tired of reading about sleep, I’m tired of boring you by talking about it, yet I am desperate to work out a better routine for us.
We’ve recently tried to transition Anakin to one nap a day. For a while there I thought we may be getting somewhere, but it’s dawning on me that what we’re doing may well be a recipe for disaster.
Our issue wasn’t that Anakin didn’t want to take his second nap. Most of the time he would. Our issue was that he then wouldn’t be ready for bed by his bedtime. He usually goes 3 -3,5 hours max in the morning and then he seems to want around 4- 4,5 hours wake time before next nap. So we figured hey, why don’t we try the whole one nap a day thing, everyone else is doing it.
But the thing is our young Jedi wakes up at 6 and is usually well and ready for a nap by 9-9.15. Put him down in time and he sleeps for 1,5 hours on his own. Push him too far and he’s harder to get down and wakes after 45 minutes needing a lot of help to go back under, if he goes back under. But get him up from his second nap any later than 2.30 in the afternoon and our bedtime falls to pieces. But an awake time of over 7 hours is brutal and he usually has a minor mid-afternoon meltdown around 2-3 o’clock when he would normally be ready for another nap.
So what has been happening lately? Anakin wakes from his nap usually around 11-11.30. Then goes all the way until 6.30 when he is so tired he falls asleep on the boob way before he’s really done and way before we get the rest of our bedtime routine done. He then passes out in bed for about 45 minutes to an hour before waking up again needing help to get back under. More often than not he’ll wake at least once overnight (now that we’re past the last night waking hell) and need some assistance.
I’ve tried to push him longer in the mornings, but it often ends with a less desirable result. If I manage to work his nap time so that he sleeps until 1, he’s usually happy as larry and we all get to the end happier. But how to get him all the way to 11 before putting him down without torturing us all? Or perhaps it’s a question of having to push back his bedtime by an hour? (Personally I prefer 7 as a bedtime. Not sure why, I just do.)
If you’ve made it this far in this post, and you’ve been there, done that, perhaps you’ll have some words of wisdom to share? If not, then well, there’s my whinge about our nap situation and I’ll catch you later with (hopefully) something more interesting to share.
Ever since my night out our nights have become… hell. Pure, utter hell. I would rather go back to three overnight feeds than have to deal with separation anxiety.
It all seems to have coincided with another wonder week period. All of the sudden my angel has become impossible to put to bed and impossible to get back to sleep when he wakes up during the night. And he always wakes up during the night, at least once, perhaps even twice or three times.
My record for the shortest time spent holding him or holding his hand through the cot bars before he went back to sleep is 40 minutes. My record for longest time spent doing the same is just over 2 hours. And for 14 nights straight I have endured as best I can. Cue a case of slight madness setting in and absolutely no work done on my postgrad.
Feeding him no longer has any impact. Leaving him until he falls asleep is not an option as there is an insane amount of crying involved as soon as he’s out of my arms. I’m lucky if I can convince him to stay in the cot while I lie next to it with my hands through the bars. (And as I’ve written about before, we do not and will not use the method of “controlled crying”.) Co-sleeping has never looked so attractive, but alas Anakin will not have a bar of that either.
It finally looked as if it was starting to settle and then… 35 and 40 degree days, and similar nights, hit.
I know, babies are unpredictable. They continuously change. As soon as you think you’ve figured them out something different happens. But who are these freak babies I keep hearing about that just sleep through teeth, wonder weeks and everything else their young lives throw at them? They must exist, unless of course there is a horde of lying parents floating around? Next time, I’m ordering one of those babies. A sleeper. You can order them in advance, right? Prepay for certain qualities in your unborn child?
Did your kid ever suffer from nighttime separation anxiety? And if so, how did you overcome it?
I can’t believe it’s Friday again and I have yet to finish either of the three posts I have in draft. It seems I can hardly keep my eyes open these days let alone finish anything.
Remember how I used to complain about never getting any sleep? And then I stopped complaining for a while? Well, for a short time there I was in sleep heaven. Or as close to it as I can imagine getting while caring for the young and restless. Anakin slept through the night several times, and at worst he would wake up once. Ah… those were the days.
Then we hit this massive patch of colds and teeth. And more teeth. And more colds. And nights went back to being what they used to be, torturous and sleepless. The only light at the end of this tunnel seems to be that at least one of the front teeth cut through yesterday and the last bit of the last cold seems to be fading. These upper teeth are killers. I haven’t had to deal with this amount of screaming from discomfort at night before. The other night i spent a good hour holding Anakin to get him back to sleep only to have him wake up with a scream every time he dozed off. I know he can’t help it, but it’s rough when every effort to help fails miserably.
So our days are as off as our nights. He’s cranky, I’m cranky, and frankly, these teeth can bite me. Figuratively speaking of course. There’s enough of the proper biting already. Damn those small pearly whites are sharp!
The other reason that has kept me from sitting down to share things is far better. One of my best friends has come to visit from Norway and I have been busy taking as much of him in as I can. 3.5 years of not seeing each other is a long time and we have much to catch up on.
In short, that’s what’s been happening in our world as of late. Here’s to hoping things will pick up soon and I can find the time to tell you about all the other exciting things we have in the works, like making animal costumes for a dress up wedding, deciding Anakin’s birthday “cake” (think edible sculpture), our alternative christmas tree (also edible) and much, much more.
Happy Friday! May your weekend be full of restful sleeps and bright, sunny (but not too warm) days. Until next time!
It’s ok to cry because you’re tired.
It’s ok to cry because you’re in pain.
It’s ok to cry because you’ve just had enough.
It’s ok, mummy wants to cry too.
It doesn’t matter that I haven’t eaten,
it doesn’t matter that I’m all worn out.
I’ll keep picking you up to hold you, baby,
because I’m not ok with leaving you to cry alone.
Hush hush now, go to sleep,
Mummy loves you.
I’ll see you when you wake up.
(It’s been a long, hard day. I think it’s about this mummy forgets all that needs to be done and sits down with a glass of wine. Until next time, wish us a peaceful night.)
I’ve never been a fan of Mondays. I’m not one of those “new week, new opportunities” kind of people. I never have been. I’m more of the type that gets up on a Monday morning only to step in cat vomit or, like today, be sprayed in baby snot. Mondays hate me as much as I hate them. It’s a mutual kind of thing.
But back to the baby snot party. (If you were hoping I wouldn’t go there, I’m sorry.) Anakin was sick for about a week and then got a lot better. I say a lot because everything improved. He slept through the night for the first time and he was just simply ruling at life as a little guy of 10 months. Life, however, thought this was too good to keep up. Life likes to be challenging, it’s what it does. It wants you to grow. So what does life do? It throws some more bugs in Anakin’s face making young Anakin sick again. This time the face-full-of-snot kind of sick as opposed to the cough-out-a-lung kind of sick he just had. (Or… the culprit could possibly be that third tooth trying to rear its pearly head. Who knows.) And what does the weather do? It gets real stinking hot again. So out goes the good sleeps and in comes the sweaty, miniature human snot machine, and this time he’s found the spray function. Enter snot covered sleepy mummy on a Monday morning. Actually, let’s just make that snot covered mummy all Monday.
I think life and babies are in cahoots on some of their cruel jokes. Every time I think I’ve worked it out and that I’m ruling at being a mum in every possible way, nighttime, naps, feeds, routines and whatnot, they whammy me right in the sucker. How dare I get too cocky, right? I really wish they’d give it a break though. Only a few weeks out from starting my research Master again and I’ve got my whole hand on the panic button. The mere thought of juggling that and full-time mothering is enough the threaten a panic attack. Oh, and did I mention that I’m applying to upgrade to a PhD due to the mere size of my project? I can feel my knees shaking already. Thankfully my brain is still so lost in baby space it can’t fully grasp the abyss it’s facing.
I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine definitely had its excellent moments. Here’s to hoping the week picks up from its dreary Monday face.
Now please excuse me, I have to put my snot machine to bed and bake some spelt bread. Until next time.
This week saw the first really hot days of summer here in Melbourne. It’s not too bad if you’re outside in the shade or somewhere that stays cool indoors, but second floor bedrooms quickly become boiler rooms on 30 degree days.
For some reason there isn’t an air conditioner in Anakin’s bedroom. Our bedroom has one and the office has one, his being the only upstairs room without ac. Usually this isn’t a problem because his room is on the shady side of the house, but then again he hasn’t been sleeping in his own room during summer before. When he was born and we had ridiculous temperatures he was still sleeping with us.
Needless to say this has created a couple of impossible afternoon nap scenarios. Even with a fan blasting away in there all day, it was still stinking hot. Anakin sleeps in a Peke Moe (a sleep sack that covers his hands). It’s the only way we got him out of the swaddle a couple of months back. But even in just a nappy and his Peke Moe, he was rather hot and bothered, and frankly, who can blame him.
So… today I had a minor mummy meltdown after the nap battle had raged for 1,5 hours and I had used up everything in my get-Anakin-to-sleep arsenal. It wasn’t fun and it made me feel pretty shit. The worst thing about it was that once I screwed my head back on, put Anakin in his pram, took a walk and finally got him to sleep, I crashed emotionally. Having a minor meltdown is bad enough, but then crashing afterwards because you had one is just another punch in the gut. And you’re the one punching yourself. So I spent a good hour dragging my feet, kicking myself, feeling like the worst mummy in the whole world, waiting for him to wake up so I could make up for it. Nothing bad happened during my meltdown, but my frustration got the better of me and I made him cry. It didn’t help that I didn’t get much sleep last night and hadn’t had a break all day either, but that shouldn’t excuse anything.
When Anakin woke up though he couldn’t have cared less what happened before he went to sleep. He was all smiles and kisses as per usual. He loves me all the same, meltdown or not. Thank goodness for the loving hearts of babies. As for me, I made sure to shower him a bit extra in kisses before bedtime, and, as always, tell him how much I love him before he went to sleep. I can’t say it will never happen again, but I sure hope it doesn’t for a very long time. I may have to face the fact that I am merely human despite my every effort to be as perfect a mummy as I possibly can be.
This too shall pass… I hate that phrase right about now. I want to punch This too shall pass in the face, throw it to the ground and stomp on it repeatedly until it begs for mercy.
I’m not an idiot, I know that This too shall pass. But that doesn’t make Right now any easier or bearable, so please, just don’t go there.
I jinxed the great sleeps. Remind me to just shut up when good things happen because obviously karma has it in for me and wants to kick my butt. Since Monday our nights have gone to… well, for a lack of a better word, they’ve gone to shits. We’ve hit a new growth spurt. Hooray. For the first time I have a clingy baby who just doesn’t want me to put him down unless I stay right there with him. He whinges, he cries, he sometimes screams bloody murder. I’ve had to put him in the Baby Bjørn to make my lunch, I’ve resorted to fancy trickery to manage to have a shower. I sing, I dance, I bounce and I silently scream THIS TOO SHALL PASS, THIS TOO SHALL PASS until my face turns blue. At night I simply just hang on until morning knowing that everything will appear better in daylight while Anakin does his own reenactments of The Exorcist, or some sort of possessed baby breakdance, in his cot in-between short spurts of crying, eating and sleeping.
Oh Great Anakin, ruler of my world, please show mercy for me, your poor mother. Forgive me for being so foolish as to think that I had conquered the night, that I once again could return to the land of those who feel human and sometimes even rested.
Please, please, please… JUST GO THE F**K TO SLEEP!
I’ve been a bit distracted lately. Nap times have become even more chaotic. Not because of wee man, but because I have been throwing too many balls into the air and naively tried to catch them all. My newest distraction is sewing some summer clothes for Anakin. Don’t mistake me for one of those sewing geniuses, I’m far from one, but I have a knack for figuring things out and then somehow getting it done (sooner or later). The only problem is that when I get it in my head that I’d like to try something, for example to sew a vest or a romper, or whatever it may be, I simply can’t stop thinking about it. My brain keeps working, deconstructing, reconstructing, until I’ve worked out a way to do it. It’s both a blessing and a curse. A curse because I will wake up at night thinking about bias tape and not be able to go back to sleep, a blessing because I do this with everything I’m passionate about and sometimes it leads to great eureka moments. Like a few weeks ago when just before I was about to fall asleep I suddenly realised how to solve a big problem I’ve been struggling with for one of my new artworks for months.
But recently it’s been about sewing. And I was pretty stoked when I tried sewing a lined vest for Anakin and it not only looked great, but fit on the first try. (I don’t have a good photo of that yet. It was covered in his lunch pretty fast. But I’ll get one as soon as I clean it.) My problem is just having time to sit down and do it. And when I don’t I get somewhat edgy. My brain needs to release what it’s been working on to move on. So, that’s my excuse for not blogging much of late.
Now, to the Big Sleep! Yes! We’ve had big sleeps! Since following our initial 10 day plan things have just kept getting better. Even with sprouting a tooth, and another one on the way, and learning to crawl, the sleeps keep improving. Sure, we have a few nights where there is more waking than usual, but for the most part nights have been pure bliss. Our two wake ups, one feed have even become one wake up, one feed on some nights. Last night Anakin slept from 7pm until 4.30am before waking. The night before he slept from 7 until 2.30. And not only does he stay asleep for longer, but the falling asleep is so much easier. He usually just konks out on his own hugging his frog and sucking his dummy. My brain is actually starting to feel like it’s recovering from this 9.5 month bender. I’m so happy I’m giddy. What really needs improving now is my own ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. I keep waking up worried something’s happened because he’s sleeping so well. It’s moronic, I know, but I can’t stop my mummy brain from worrying until I get used to the new and improved way. Speaking of mummy brain, I have to share this epic fail moment that happened over the weekend.
It was Saturday night and I was pretty tired. Steinar had just poured us a glass of wine and I’d gotten a bag of chocolates out that my mum sent from Norway. It was one of those bags with different pieces of chocolates in it labelled “favourite bites”. I reached for the bottle of sparkling mineral water to refill my glass while thinking about how they choose which kinds of chocolates that go in this so called favourite collection. As I start pouring the sparkling water into my glass I realise that I’m pouring it into my red wine and not the empty glass sitting next to it. Epic Fail Moment. I don’t mind a bit of sparkling Shiraz, but not when it’s homemade like this. It was good for a laugh though. Have you had any epic mummy (or daddy) brain fail moments?
Oh yes, as I mentioned, Anakin has figured out how to crawl. It’s more of a commando slither, but he gets around. And our house is far from baby proof, that’s for sure. I’m trying without luck to grow eyes in the back of my head, but I may just have to succumb to having to do a big clean up. I’d hate for him to get hurt and I’d hate for some our things to fall into those little grabby fingers (and slobbery mouth).
So that’s what’s been happening in our world. I’ve got tons of images to edit and post so I’ll hopefully get onto that as well soon.
It’s been 10 days since we started our no-cry sleep plan. There have been some tears. Mostly mine. We haven’t done all the logs Elizabeth Pantley suggests, but we’ve kept (sort of) track of how things have progressed.
Firstly, we ended up changing one vital thing within the first three days. We were able to get Anakin to go without a feed until midnight so we decided that we would really focus on that and deal with the rest of the night later. Steinar would do the resettling from after bedtime until 12 and then I would take over until after his breakfast feed.
Anakin woke up at his usual 9.30 for the first few nights. A dummy and a quick pat would send him off to sleep land again. The next waking would then happen about an hour or so later and would take a bit more effort, but he would still go back to sleep fairly easily. He would then usually wake once more before 12, again requiring a bit more to go back to sleep. After a few days he started sleeping from his second wake up until between 12.30 and 1.30 before waking again for his first feed. After feeding he would only sleep for maybe 2 hours in the beginning, and from 4.30 onwards I had to stay in his room to keep him asleep which meant little to no sleep for me. I let him snooze on me a couple of times to get him to sleep a bit longer. Whatever it takes, right? With every feed I would follow the gentle removal plan and it got gradually easier to get him to drift off without needing the nipple. If I was lucky I got him to sleep on and off until about 6.30 when I would hand him over to Steinar and go back to bed until after Anakin’s morning nap.
Then things got complicated. Steinar threw out his back which has made him incapable of lifting or really doing anything Anakin related. Needless to say this has meant that it’s all on me 24 hours a day and to be quite honest it has threatened to bring me to my knees more than once. I have shed a few tears and carried on with my business. And I’ve been a total asshole (again) a few times. But despite being absolutely exhausted and run off my feet there has been some excellent progress. The past few days Anakin has started sleeping for longer stretches. He has usually woken up briefly once before midnight, he has resettled himself a few times and after feeding he has slept for over 3 hours before waking again. The past two nights we’ve had two wakings and one feed in total. Our day starts at 5.30, but all things considered this is pretty good. Especially for my own sanity. Last night he fed early, at midnight, but then slept until his breakfast feed. This has never happened before. We’re also getting some longer naps, sometimes as long as 2 hours (with a little helping hand.)
I admit there has been a lot of smiling on the outside and screaming on the inside, and I have shut down and locked out everything that isn’t vital to save energy or keep from exploding in the process. I’m still averaging 4 hours of sleep per night due to my insomnia and being on constant Anakin call (he tends to wake up when I go to bed), but I’m seeing a sliver lining here.
It’s too early to celebrate, but I believe if we just keep it up this may last. Until the next growth spurt or teething or whatnot. I can happily live with one overnight feed. And once we get Steinar on the mend I may also get some much needed rest and sleep back.
The only thing I can say that is still pretty difficult is Anakin’s need of a dummy to go to sleep, especially for naps. He used to be able to put himself to sleep, but now he often needs a dummy and a hand to hold. Even if he goes off to sleep on his own at night he’ll still need it to go back under. I admit I’ve wanted to glue it to his face more than once. But… we’ll deal with the dummy issue later. It would be greedy to want it all at once, right? All I want now is to have two more hands on deck again before I hit that wall I can see coming. I may occasionally be SuperMom, but with no rest I’m no delightful SuperLover or SuperAnythingThatIsn’tAnakin.
Here’s to hoping a good thing will only get better. No matter what, it’s worth a few of my tears to save him having to cry a river of his at night. A gentle touch goes a long way.
It’s been one of those weeks. The greater the high, the longer the fall, right? (I don’t know how that saying goes, but it sounds good enough to me.) From Saturday to where we were yesterday was a long way down. In some ways I think Saturday’s happy events is what kept me from falling flat on my face this week. No… It wasn’t a good week for sleep in our household. But, it’s Friday and things are looking up! I love Fridays! (And it helps that I had some sleep. I said some, not a whole lot, but some will do fine for now.)
We’ve come up with a 10 day plan for dealing with night wakings and hopefully by the end of it we’ll see some improvements. If things stay the way they were last night it’ll be an easy ride. If they go back to what they were on Monday and Tuesday night we’re in for 10 days of hell. And let me just say this; when I don’t sleep, I become quite the asshole. Oh yes, it’s true. I’m still capable of being a loving mother (though it takes a lot more effort on my behalf), but as for loving partner? Heh. Nah. Just plain asshole. Sorry, babe. I haven’t really slept much in over 9 months, but I’ve managed to not be a total asshole all the time. I hope. Just hang in there, I’ll return from the land of the tortured and dying eventually.
So, a 10 day plan. It’s a gentle plan. We’ve looked at Pantley’s No-cry sleep solution and we’ve come up with something we’re willing to see through. It’s flexible, it doesn’t involve any tears and I’m fairly sure it’s something all three of us can live with. First off, we’ll do our best to stretch the times between feeds by resettling. He’ll resettle alright most of the time, he just won’t stay asleep for very long without boob. Not that he sleeps for very long with boob either. But that’ll change. If it becomes clear that resettling isn’t working I’ll feed him, but for shorter times and I’ll try to remove the nipple before he falls asleep to work towards breaking the sucking to sleep association. We’re aiming towards going back to two overnight feeds first, then moving on to one. We’re also working with very specific bedtime and nap times, and routines for both day and night. Our bedtime routine is the same as it’s been for ages, just with a few tweaks. It usually works really well. If it doesn’t a hand on the tummy seems to do wonders these days. We’re also introducing a sleep time lovey, mr Frog (Frosken). After 10 days we’ll re-evaluate and see if we need to change something and if things have improved. Hopefully they have. It’ll take time and consistency. And a whole lot of patience and chocolate.
Shit, I forgot to say that we have already started. We’re going until next Sunday.
As for our little Sith lord? He’s still ridiculously cute, pointing away and trying out new things. Still a mighty bookworm. He still amazes me every day. And he still makes me burst into a million bubbles.
I was planning on raving about what a good night we had when this mornings nap time just fell on my head like a big, rotten watermelon. I know, I know…I can’t have it all. (Don’t say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I HATE that expression, it makes no damn sense. Why would I even want cake if i couldn’t eat it?!?)
Anyways, I won’t bore you with the details of everything. I’ll just say that Anakin was his excellent self overnight, like he usually is when he’s not doing some reenactment of Chuckie. He slept from 7-12, then until 2.15 and then it was Hello Day at 5.40 am this morning. Not too shabby. I, on the other hand, did not sleep well. I am developing some serious sleep issues from this long term sleep deprivation ordeal.
Anyways, I’m getting off track here. My coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.
I’ve been doing some reading on this whole wonder weeks thing to try and get my head around it a bit better. And while doing so I came across this (now abandoned it seems) blog that explains it beautifully. (barefootmothering.blogspot.com.au) Here’s an excerpt from the Barefoot Mother’s blog on wonder weeks:
The Wonder of Growth Spurts
[…] Babies go through 8 neurological growth spurts in the first 14 months, and research detailed in “The Wonder Weeks” by Vanderijt and Plooij can even tell you within a few weeks, when these spurts will happen, the new skills baby is learning, and how it may affect them. It also tells you how to help baby to develop the new skills. The spurts in the first year occur at around 5,8,12, 15, 23, 34, 42 and 51 weeks.
Before any of these growth spurts a sudden change in the nervous system occurs bringing a completely new type of perception about the world, and baby has to develop a completely new set of skills to deal with the new perception. During these times babies are understandably confused and need extra attention, and reassurance. Babies cry more, feed more and need you more during a spurt, but rather than see these as difficult fussy times, you can see these as exciting times of growth. There are new skills that you can help her to explore and develop. After all, how would you feel if you suddenly found the world had extra dimensions you never knew about, or you could see things you never saw before, or realised that you were actually completely dependent and defenceless? […]
Around week 26 baby starts to understand relationships. Suddenly he starts to realise distance between objects, or between people. This is quite terrifying. Until now he had no understanding that he is very small in a very large world, and has no way to get to something outside his cot, or on a shelf, or to get to mum if she isn’t beside him. Suddenly he realises that mum can leave and there is nothing he can do about it. Understandably this is very disconcerting and baby can become extremely clingy. As he starts to lean about distances and relationships he begins to understand the concepts of inside, outside, on top, above, next to, underneath and in between. Isn’t it amazing?
Another change in brainwaves happens around 37 weeks, which sees baby starting to understand about categories, e.g. big dogs and small dogs are all dogs, rice and apples are both food. Horses in the field, and horses in a book, and toy horses are all horses, even though one is alive, one is a picture and one is made of clay or plastic. Understanding categories affects every sense. It allows her to start to learn about emotions. Her thinking now starts to become more like an adults, and as such we can start to understand each other better.
The next spurt is around 46 weeks when baby truely starts to put things all together. He now looks at how things go together before attempting them. He may start to look at his shape sorter and try to work out the correct shape for the hole, instead of randomly trying slots. For the first time he may try constructing things and linking things, like aiming a ball before throwing, or building a tower with blocks. He may start to brush his hair or try to undress or dress himself, or point to things so that you can name them for him to build his vocabulary.
Just after his first birthday (around 55 weeks) another big change in understanding occurs. It allows baby to build on the idea of sequences of behaviours and understand how they fit together to meet a goal. She can now start to understand what it means to go shopping, or do the laundry or phone someone. You might go to different shops or phone different people, or use the phone in different rooms, but it meets the same goal. This can start the process of imaginative play with her toys. She can now start to consciously develop her own programs and make decisions, like deciding to have one bite of lunch and then a drink, or start with the drink before eating. She can decide whether to use the spoon or feel the food on her hands. Bet you never really thought about lunch as a decision making exercise before 🙂
It’s an amazing journey from a newborn to a decision making toddler, but the leaps are hard for baby and caregiver. When baby first starts to perceive these new things it’s like his world has turned upside down. The things he understood yesterday, no longer fit the world any more – they don’t explain what he is sensing. This can start a couple of weeks before the actual spurt. Once the neurological change has occurred, it can then take another couple of weeks for baby to make sense of the change and create a new mental picture of the world. This means that your baby could be unsettled for a few weeks around each growth spurt. Then length of time depends on the temperament of the baby and how easily he adjusts to the change.
During these few weeks baby can have trouble sleeping, be shy, need to be kept busy and demand attention. He can lose his appetite, become less vocal, and clingy to mum. If breastfeeding he may want to comfort feed a lot as that can meet a lot of the needs to help him sleep and keep him close to mum and allow him to have her attention.
This is understandably hard on mum (or other caregiver). Mums complain of being exhausted, feeling trapped, and annoyed, whilst at the same time being concerned that baby is ill, or not herself. It’s hard when you are going through these times, but at least if you understand why your baby is feeling lost, it is a little easier to deal with. It is easier to just hold them and show them that you will not leave. It is easier to deal with the night waking, and the clinging behaviour.
So remember folks, when your baby seems to start a sleep regression, or act fussy – maybe they are actually growing. Maybe it is a wonderful sign. Hold them closer. This is not a sign of a sleep problem, or need for training. Have some empathy for what is going on, and shape your play around the growth. If baby is learning about categories, tell them about different things that fit in the same category. If baby is learning about fitting things together, build lots of towers. If baby wants to be fed again, for the 3rd time in an hour, just try to relax. Your baby is growing. He is developing, and growth can be scarey, but you can help. You can create a safe space where he can figure out his world, and know that in a couple more weeks you will understand each other more fully.
Love in the time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (quoted from The Wonder Weeks)
You can find the whole post here: http://barefootmothering.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/growth-spurts.html
It all sounds rather wonderful and terrifying, doesn’t it? It’s fascinating. I can’t really find the commitment to reading the whole book, although I’m sure it’s great, so I’ve done the next best thing in these iPhone times, I’ve bought the Wonder weeks app. It feels better to have some idea of what’s happening and why things may be a bit tricky these days.
I was reminded yesterday of how quickly Anakin is growing up. After a nap time battle it was time to eat and he fell asleep on me like he used to when he was a baby. I cherished every second of those 45 minutes (until I had to wake him up so to not mess up the rest of the day too bad). I think I may have burst a bit with love while holding him, maybe even a bit more than I usually do. I hope he knows how much I worship his every sound, every move, his everything.
It’s a little bit broken I sit down to write this today. My eyes are bloodshot and my head is throbbing, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, dragged for miles and then dumped in some remote location to die. I should probably just go to bed, but the baby monitor is humming with a rather cranky baby on the other side of it, so there’s just no point just yet.
You may have guessed it already, our nights have gone from bad to horrid. I’m reaching the end of my tether and, quite possibly, my sanity. We tried one night of me going in to nurse around 10, which I had already planned on doing if he woke up because he didn’t feed much before bed. From then until 2am my partner would go in and settle. It took him ages and multiple times in there to get Anakin back to sleep. And once he did he would sleep for maybe 20 minutes before waking back up. From 2am onwards was my turn and I fed him twice before breakfast. The idea was to at least skip one feeding. Last night was all on me and the ball started rolling at 9.30. I had thought we might have been in for a better night because bedtime was very good and he settled himself to sleep as he would normally do. Oh what a mistake to even think such things. I tried to settle him for about 20 minutes before giving up and feeding him. Our feeds overnight looked like this: 10pm, 12.30am, 2.50am, 5.30am and 7am. Before the second one I tried giving him some baby panadol in case it was teething pain, but that didn’t help at all.
I can’t remember when it was, but I went in there at one point and laid in a ball on the floor shushing for a bit. Then I tried patting him, but that only sent him into hyper drive… serious hyper drive. He was kicking and laughing and acting crazy. When I removed my hand he screamed bloody murder. I tried rocking and giving him some water. And I know you’ve already guessed that none of it worked. So I fed him again. I went back to bed still wearing my robe and my pj’s. There was no point in even getting undressed.
By the time morning rolled around I felt sick. I could hardly hold Anakin when I went to hand him over to my partner who got an undeserved cold serving of Crazy Sleep Deprived Mama before I went back to bed where I passed out until he had to go to work.
I’ve even looked for help in a forum today, and I am not the forum type. It gave me everything from good, helpful advice and support to rolling eyes and the “oh you bloody idiot” type answers. Apparently some mothers think I’m stupid for not knowing that this is completely normal and think it’s a waste of space to even have such questions asked. But it led me to conclude that my initial thoughts may have been right, teething and a big developmental leap.
Which leaves me where? Exactly where I started, just broken. I’m not sure what to do, but maybe I’ll try camping out for a night and see if that helps. I’ve ordered Pantley’s No cry sleep solution, but as long as we’re in wonder week territory I may hold off on starting anything new. And if it goes on for a lot longer I’m considering sending us off to a sleep school that does not use controlled crying. I will get into why later, but I will not leave my son to cry.
Everyone says “This too shall pass”. I know that, but I still have to find a way to survive the here and now. And when you feel like you’ve been shot in the face and you still have to care for your little one all day and night there is little solace in those words. It’s not his fault he’s going through a rough time and I want nothing more than to help him, I just want to survive the process and be the best mother I can be, not some crazy, half dead zombie.
If someone had asked me if I thought that Anakin would still be feeding several times overnight when he was 8 months old, the answer would have been no. I had this idea that up until 6 months it would all be up in the air, but after that some things would change and get a lot easier, particularly nights. And extreme sleep deprivation would stop driving me bat sh** crazy.
Ehm… fat chance, you naive first time mama.
Yes, we had a particularly bad night again. We’re apparently in wonder weeks territory, or so they say “the people in the know”. Hooray!! And why not just label it wonder months, as it always lasts a month with one particularly bad week somewhere in the middle. Oh and if you add teething, well, you’re apparently screwed for a long time.
Everyone seems to have opinions about night feedings. “You should stop feeding him at night.” “It’s just a habit.” “He doesn’t need it anymore.” “Maybe you’re not making enough milk for him.” “He needs to learn that days are for eating, not nights.” Ok, so I agree that he needs to eat during the day. Obviously. But I can tell the difference between the wake ups that are driven by habit and the ones that are driven by hunger or some other discomfort. And I wish everyone would stop acting like it’s not normal for an 8 months old to still feed at night, because as far as I know, it is. I don’t mind helpful suggestions, but I do mind being made to feel like I’m an idiot for feeding my son when he seems hungry. Or being made to constantly doubt myself and my body’s ability to provide for him. (YES, he has enough wet nappies!) If I thought there was any way he wasn’t getting what he needs I would be the first one to say “Hey, let’s try something else! This isn’t working!”
Every time I figure enough is enough, let’s get down to business and do something about it, he has a few good nights. Anakin can sleep well and only wake up for one feed, it’s not like he’s incapable. And I am willing to live with one feed for a while. But as soon as I start thinking “Yes, this is it!”, he throws me back into the fire. Which leads me to believe that maybe something else is going on as well. He’s learning a lot of new things, and I’m sure there are some teeth on the way. Or maybe I’m just being naive again.
To be honest, some of it is laziness on my part, some of it is out of consideration for my partner, because if we had to get down to it, he would have to step in the game. I smell like food, it’s a lot harder for me to resettle him than it is for the one who has no milky boobs. I do try to if I think there’s a chance. But I don’t pick him up and walk around for 30 minutes hoping that he’ll fall back asleep if he’s wide awake and cranky. No, I cave and I feed him because I know that even if that takes me 20 minutes he will go back to sleep once he’s done. And then I can go back to bed and hopefully get some Z’s too.
But lately the game has changed. He wakes up a lot more often. Every 1,5-2 hours or so. And I’m finding it really hard to go to sleep because I know that he’ll wake up any minute so anything and everything gets me on edge and keeps me from falling back asleep. Cats, snoring, lights, it’s too warm, it’s too cold, my back hurts, my head hurts… I am so tired I can’t think straight.
Last night was so bad that I considered giving up breastfeeding altogether. That would seem like the easy way out, right? But I can’t bring myself to do that knowing that breast milk is better for him. And it’s not like he’ll take formula anyway. We tried that when the maternal child health nurse thought he wasn’t gaining enough. Which turned out to be much ado about nothing by the way, and a couple of weeks of torture and doubt for me until we’d seen doctor and another nurse who assured us everything was fine. They can’t all be chubba bubbas.
I thought about trying a bottle of water, but the only time Anakin will take a bottle is if it has breast milk in it. So express, you say? Yeah, well, it’s not that easy. Expressing enough for one feed would take me a week. My boobies just don’t like the pump much. So, here we are. At a stand still. And I’m betting that he’ll be better tonight because I’ve threatened to make it a shift night between me and my partner. You’ll only get mummy every 4 hours! But I know if we did this, I still wouldn’t sleep. So we’d have two exhausted parents instead of just one. And if there’s one thing that’s keeping me sane these days, it’s the couple of hours I get in bed in the morning when my partner takes Anakin after his breakfast feed. Without that, I’m no mummy of the year to be around and I’m even less of a loving partner, that’s for sure. And I may just be lacking a bit on the loving partner front already these days. I’m too tired!
So where does that leave me? Still going bat sh** crazy, I suppose. Still waiting for that miracle change… Still complaining and still doing the same shit every night. Well, at least I seem to have hope, right? And as much as he can be a sith lord by night, he’s an angel by day. Most of the time.
Remember how I said we were in putting baby to bed heaven for a long time? Well, a couple of weeks ago that changed overnight.
Anakin is one of those babies that makes good progress in something, then takes three big steps backwards for a while. Maybe all babies are like that, I don’t know. Anyway, after we came back from our Sydney adventure I had three blissful nights of only having to feed him once. I thought I was in heaven for a bit, and I even started to feel human again. Getting more than 2 hours of sleep in a go makes a huge difference. Then all of a sudden… WHAM! Come bedtime he simply refused to sleep. It would take us up to 2,5 hours to get him down. It took every trick in the book and then some. And when we finally got him to sleep he’d stay down for an hour or two before wanting his first night feed. Then a couple of days later he refused to go down for his second nap of the day, and the day after he refused every sleep. And so it went for 10 days, 10 horrible, horrible days.
One night I was so exhausted that after the battles had raged for 2 hours I got him out of bed, put him on his play mat and just laid next to him crying my eyes out. This, for some reason, made him stop and I was able to get him to sleep once I wiped my eyes and took him back upstairs.
Then suddenly after 10 days he was back to normal. Oh joy!! For a bit. Then Captain Ridiculous introduced himself. He’d wake up and start the day at 5.30, then 5 the next day, then 4.50. I took solace in that he at least only fed once overnight again… until a couple of days ago when he decided that two times is way better than one again.
And last night Captain Ridiculous trumped himself. He woke for a feed at 11.15, then woke again at 2. I fed him and put him back to bed assuming that he’d fall asleep again like he always does. Nah, not a chance. He played for a bit before starting his engines (a whinge that soon becomes a cry). I offered him some more food thinking he might still be hungry, but no. I put him back to bed. The same thing happened. After 20 minutes of me hiding next to his bed patting him he finally fell asleep. At 3.45. I went back to bed desperate for sleep. Then Steinar woke up sick. When I finally fell back asleep it was past 4 am. It felt like I had only just closed my eyes when Captain Ridiculous woke up again at 4.30. This time there was no hope left. Hello day! Steinar got him up while I got a bit more sleep. At 7.15 Anakin was awake after his first nap of day and ready to continue. Needless to say we were not.
Oh Captain, my Captain… I love you, but you’re driving me mad.
Alright, before anyone thinks my life as a mum is The Sound of Music, let me just stop you right there. It’s not. I hate musicals. Too much singing and dancing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother. Most of the time. I think my son is absolutely divine, I love him more than I can ever possibly explain. I adore our little family and I have a fantastic partner of 7.5 years (who probably doesn’t get credit for being great half of the time). And I’m going through a very sentimental stage at the moment, the “my baby’s growing up so fast” one, so I understand if things read a bit like the sound of music right now.
But it’s not all glamorous or always hunky dory. Most days I look like I’ve just walked through a wind tunnel. I haven’t had a haircut in ages. It takes me half a day to get in the shower. I wear my pj’s for most of the day. I haven’t finished an artwork in a year (YIKES!!). I used to consider myself quite intelligent and good at what I do. Since I became pregnant my brain has not been at its sharpest. Today I found myself washing dishes from the dishwasher that were already clean. At one point in my pregnancy I couldn’t remember how many days were in a year. I guessed 252, convinced it had to have 52 in it and there was no way there were over 300. I was stumped when Steinar told me it had 365 days. Whenever I attempt to do any form of research my brain refuses to compute what I am doing. Everything baby sticks, everything else does not. My website, the one thing out there that informs the world of my work, isn’t even up and running at the moment. I just haven’t had the time to get it back up. (Shame..shame..shame!!)
All of a sudden I look like the cliché mum, vomit stains all over, hair in every direction and like I have no time to tend to myself, which I don’t. I think I used to look at least half decent. These days I leave the house not noticing that my crotch is full of regurgitated food and that I look more like a middle aged scarecrow than an early thirties mum. There is usually no time to put the yummy in my mummy, and it sometimes makes me feel pretty shit.
I haven’t waxed my legs since… i don’t even remember. I wear clothes for their practical function for breastfeeding, not for their style or great look. (I miss my wardrobe so much!) Because I share my body with my baby all day I have (a lot of) days where I am probably the least pleasant partner to be around because I just want to be left alone. I miss me time. I also miss us time.
I’d love to have more time to read… something other than “Where is the green sheep?”. I’d love to have a day where I didn’t have to be on a schedule and always three steps ahead of what needs to be done.
I’m tired. Pretty much all the time. And let’s not forget to complain about how I haven’t had a good nights sleep in… forever. I don’t even know what that means anymore.
There. I just had to get that out. Now I can go back to being sentimental, doting and in love with my son. Because some days it really is like the sound of music. (Yes, even with the singing and the dancing.)
“Are you getting any sleep?” “Is he a good sleeper?” “Is he sleeping through yet?” “Does he nap well?”
Sleep, or lack thereof, is apparently a hot topic when it comes to parenting. Didn’t take long to figure that one out. It’s frequently talked about and debated, and features in most peoples first questions to new parents. When we first had Anakin nothing could have prepared me for the months of sleep deprivation I had ahead of me. I didn’t sleep well during most of my pregnancy, but at least I had time to stay in bed. Neither did I know that you had to teach a baby to sleep, or at least we had to teach this one to.
I didn’t know much about baby sleep cycles, cat napping or anything of the sorts in the beginning. Babies slept a lot, that was all I knew. And he did, at first. But he would sleep mostly in our arms and we were only too happy to hold him for as long as we could. If we were downstairs in our house it was out of the question to put him down anywhere we couldn’t see him, particularly upstairs. It took many weeks before I even managed to sleep with the lights off. It was a bad case of first time parent paranoia. I would sleep in my pj’s (because he just woke so often) and with my glasses on the mattress above my pillow to make it easy for me to see him whenever I woke up, if I ever had time to fall asleep. The bedside table was too far away, I guess. I did everything a new, paranoid, doting parent would, I checked his breathing regularly, I held him at every chance I had and I probably tortured myself needlessly. I was horrible at taking care of myself.
It got to a point where I dreaded nights so bad they made me cry. Steinar slept in another room for a bit to make sure he wasn’t completely beat for work and I would sit in my chair in the bedroom pretty much all night holding Anakin, nursing, rocking, crying, doing whatever I could to get the little man to sleep. And he would, but as soon as I put him down in his cot he would wake back up. For a while I averaged about 4 hours sleep per 24, broken up into small catnaps here and there and I was going bat crazy.
Anakin was a big catnapper. Unless we held him or let him sleep on us he would do a 20 minute sleep at most during daytime. And 20 minutes is just not enough for a tiny baby. I tried to educate myself as best I could on sleep and routines, and we ended up going to a settling session with the amazing Helen Stevens (Safe Sleep Space). But as much as I loved the session, the issue with Anakin wasn’t the settling during the day, it was his inability to fall asleep and to transition between sleep cycles. He’s never been much of a crier in general, and resettling someone for more sleep who is happy as larry to be awake is a tough nut to crack.
As for getting him to fall asleep it turned out we were just keeping him up far too long. I didn’t recognise his tired signs for a long time. By the time he yawned or started to cry he was way past his window of going down easily. Our household was a bit chaotic in the start and I think it was too easy to think he could manage more awake time than he could simply because there were people there who wanted to see him all the time.
Once things calmed down his sleep started changing. As opposed to taking forever to get to sleep at night (due to being overstimulated and overtired) he started to fall asleep faster and on his own. We stuck to our bedtime routine and put him down while still awake and it worked a charm. Naps were still a struggle, but I was able to help him transition between cycles if I was already in the room when he stirred and acted immediately. This involved good timing, a lot of crawling around out of sight, stroking his head and giving him a dummy, then waiting for him to go back to sleep before exiting the room. And on a good day he’d do one 1,5 hour nap and then 45 minute naps for the rest. Fair enough.
At around 4 months we moved Anakin to his own room. He started waking every time we went to bed and would wake 8-10 times overnight for a feed or his dummy, and I was getting to the end of my tether. Anakin loves his room and sleeps very well on his own. And for a couple of months we were in putting baby to bed heaven. He would have his bath, his bedtime feed, a cuddle and then we could simply wrap him, put him in his bed with his white noise cd on and leave. And he’d mostly stay asleep until my night shift started.
But that’s a whole other story.