Thursday, 4 June 2015

Ch-ch-ch-changes Part 2 (Sleep!)

Last time I talked about how Elliott's eating has changed, and this post will be all about sleep!

Elliott was a great sleeper for the first six months. I always felt so spoiled that he would sleep 3-4 hour stretches right from the first week. That meant I got up once or twice to nurse him and he rose for the day around 7 am. I really couldn't complain!

Then... Teething. And he forgot how to sleep. I thought it was a stage, but even as his teething got better his sleep did not. We went through different phases of bad sleep. Sometimes he woke up at 2, then again at 4 and would be up for a full hour (wide awake!) Other times he would wake up only 2 hours after we put him down, and then every 1-2 hours until 7 am. I would almost always nurse him each time because I was so exhausted, and sitting down to nurse him was way easier than walking around, bouncing and patting and trying to soothe him without breastfeeding. It was pure survival folks.
We attempted to wean him from almost all his night feelings around 10-11 months old. I felt like he sill needed to nurse once in the night because his eating was so poor and he really wasn't getting a ton of calories in the day. It took 2 weeks of both Chris and I getting up and soothing him by walking/bouncing/patting, but he did eventually start sleeping more and only waking once or twice. I would only nurse him if it had been at least 5 hours since his last meal, and only once per night. It seemed to be working well for us until his sleep once again took a turn for the worse right around 12 months old. This time it was BAD. He would sometimes sleep for 2-3 hours when we first put him down between 9-9:30, but then would wake up every 40-90 mins after that and it took me, on average, 30 minutes to get him settled back in his crib. It was a horrible grumpy time for both of us. 

Throughout our whole sleep journey I feel like we tried so many different things that I really have no clue what worked and what didn't. We tried a bedtime snack of oatmeal cereal so he had a full tummy. We gave him magnesium before bed (as per our Naturopath's suggestion) We tweaked the temperature in the house a million and one times. Tried with the humidifier, without. With a vaporizer, without. Sound machine. Space heater. Got a plug in thermostat for the space heater so we could control the heat in his room. 19 degrees. 20. 21. 22. Extra blanket. Onesie under the sleeper. Only the sleeper. Thick sleep sack. Light sleep sack. Door open. Door closed. Dream feeding before bed. Lavender essential oil on his crib sheets. On his feet. In his bath. All three... Massage before bed. Bath before bed. Bath and massage and oil. And then every combination of everything I just listed. It was beyond exhausting, both physically and mentally. I developed a serious case of sleep anxiety. I was obsessed with finding the right piece of the puzzle that we were obviously missing, but suggestions form others would often cause me to break out in tears. Trust me when I say that I've already thought of that, tried it, then tried it again a month later. I thought about his sleep all day long and as bedtime approached I got more and more anxious. After he went down for the night I would stay as quiet as possible, turning down the tv for commercials (why are they so much louder than the show?) and I even stopped using my electric toothbrush in case he woke up in those two minutes- the quicker I got to him to pat him on the back, the more likely he would settle back down without me having to pick him up.

Then I opened the Dayhome and had to adjust to getting up at a certain time, and no longer had the option of napping during the day, I just about broke. I would cry every night as Chris prayed over us for sleep. I had trouble keeping up with daily tasks, and overreacted over just about everything that went wrong. I felt depressed, anxious and beyond frustrated. I knew it was time to reconsider sleep training him- something I felt so insistent I wasn't going to ever do. (Which is a whole other blog I am not going to write! ;) )The thought of letting him cry himself to sleep broke my heart, even though the method we chose was a "gentle" method where you stay in the room with him. The truth was though, that at this point I was listening to him cry all.the.time. anyways, because he was so overtired and cranky all the time. He really was just as miserable as I was.

The first night was hard, but not nearly as hard as I expected. He was asleep in 45 minutes, with Chris and I taking shifts in his room. Within a week it was down to ten minutes or less, and after 10 days we stopped staying in his room. It's been just over a month and now it takes between 1-4 minutes of a whiney cry, and we've even had a couple nights of zero crying. At first he would still wake up in the middle of the night a couple times, but would cry for 3-4 minutes and fall back asleep on his own. At this point it is rare for him to wake up before 5, when he will usually still fall back asleep until closer to 6. We didn't follow the method for naps right away because that felt too stressful (and impossible) for me - I couldn't sit beside his crib, leaving the dayhome kids downstairs by themselves! The thought of leaving him completely seemed stressful until one day while Chris was home alone with him he tried it out, and surprise! It worked just fine. So now, (for less than a week) he has been falling asleep on his own for naps as well, and after only a couple days he is down to 3-5 minutes of crying. I can't even explain to you how this changes my day and how much easier

If you had told me two months ago that I could lay him in his crib, walk out the door and he would be asleep in less than 5 minutes I would probably think you were insane. It feels SO good. The best part of all this is that we have a real bedtime routine now, that we all enjoy. Jammies, brushing teeth (which he squeals with delight over!) and reading books in the rocking chair. It's such a sweet, special time with him- especially when he leans up and gives kisses!

Between this, and how well he has been eating lately, life is so good!! Our nightly prayers over him are full of praise!






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Thanks for stopping by :)
~M



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