Thursday, October 07, 2010

The sleep post

Six months ago, I had hoped that a post about Noah's sleep would be different than the one I'm about to write. I'll always remember his early days and the (what seems now to have been teasing!) way in which he would really sleep for - really, I believe - 20 hours a day. I remember telling Anna that Noah, after Blake and all his sleep antics, just made me realize that a baby being a "good" or "bad" sleeper depended on the baby and his/her temperament, as opposed to anything that a mother or parent could actually do.

There was a time back around the weeks of the 19th and 26th of July when I actually had thought of drafting a post that would have proclaimed "Noah sleeps through the night!" He did, in these weeks, occasionally go from when we put him down at about 7:00 or 7:30 pm until 5:00 am, which in most every book you read about children's sleep is considered "through the night" (despite the fact that 5:00 am is actually one of the most God-awful times of day to be waking up). I was feeling so happy, so pleased to be on the brink of not having to deal with the emotionally torturous business of "crying it out", but also amazed that I hadn't had to do anything in particular to get this result. Not every night was good, but the signs were there that Noah was going to be sleeping through consistently, with little fuss and effort on our part.

He's 6 months today - in that he arrived 26 weeks ago - and, well, he ain't sleeping through the night! He's not even coming close! In fact, he's worse than Blake was at this age, I think! Aaah, where did it all go wrong?! Here is my analysis:

- At about 3 and a half months, just about the time where he might have contentedly slept through the night, Noah started to roll over. This was ok in the daytime, but in the night it seemed to elicit a Whoa, what's going on and where is the ceiling and why is my face all squashed into the mattress?! kind of response that needed a parental intervention. Enter Mommy stage right, and oh, well, I might as well feed him while I'm at it.

- Sometime soon after or alongside this milestone, maybe around 3.5 or 4 months, he got a cold. As I know, colds often accompany teething, so the issue was, of course, that perhaps if he was teething, then surely it was painful. He's waking because he's in pain. And he can't breathe because of the cold. Enter Mommy stage right. If he's in pain from teething, maybe milk will make him feel better.

- To do or not to do the dream feed, that is the question. The "dream feed", where you very gently take the baby from the cot in order to feed them at around 10:30 or 11:00 pm, just before you go to sleep yourself. Always an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, he's sleeping sooo peacefully, and has been for the last 3 hours, that it's hard to imagine that he could possibly wake up anytime soon, so why in the world would I think of disturbing him and possibly waking him up with a feed that he doesn't want or need. On the other hand, if we don't give him a dream feed, he'll wake up 5 minutes after my head hits the pillow and need feeding. Plus, if he has the feed, this could just be the night that he then sleeps for the next 5-6, maybe even 8 hours! We do the dream feed.

- He's awake - the dream feed didn't work! Damn the dream feed, not doing that again. So now what's the issue?! Maybe his stomach hurts because I didn't burp him after the dream feed. But I wasn't going to burp him when he was asleep, was I? Oh well, why don't I just feed him a bit more and he'll go back to sleep, and now he'll be full and he'll definitely not need a feed in the next 5-6, maybe even 8 hours.

- He's awake. But he's on his stomach so he probably feels like stuck like a bug on his back. Or is it that his teeth hurt? Maybe he needs Calpol (infant painkiller). Maybe we should have put that in his bottle. In the dream feed. Or maybe we just shouldn't have done the dream feed.

- In the meantime, is it cold in here? I think it feels cold. Maybe we need to get our boiler serviced and see if we can get some better temperature controls in all the rooms. Since he's cold, I'll just bring him in our bed and that way he'll feel all nice and cozy. Ooh, he likes that. Despite my lying on about 2 inches of our queen-sized bed and getting pins and needles all up and down my body, I do get a few hours of sleep which is bliss. Or at least it seems like bliss at the time, but not so much when I have strange pains all around my shoulders and neck for most of the morning after we wake up.

- Sometime around the 4 months age, because he really could probably go through the night, we contemplate - or we tell ourselves that we contemplate - controlled crying. But we can't really do it because what if Noah's crying wakes Blake up? That would be Bad. So Mommy enters stage right to deal with nighttime crying, usually resolved by a quick feed. Mommy can then exit stage right to go back to bed.

- What about the pacifier? Maybe that should go now, early, before he gets too dependent on it. Besides, he's pretty good about finding his thumb to suck. Why doesn't he find his thumb in the night?! Here, Noah, here's your thumb! No, you don't want it? Yes, it is Mommy's understudy. You don't want it? Ok, maybe that means you're hungry. Or maybe if you just come in our bed our breathing will help calm you down and you'll sleep. And Mommy will enjoy her sliver of mattress because despite the fact that you're only as long as a pillow is wide, you take up a lot of room in the bed.

- So now we're into about the 5 month range, and then of course the s word starts to come up - that's right, solids. Of course he's waking, he's hungry, because he's ready for solids! Now we need to break the habit of bringing him into the bed, before he gets too used to that.

Enter Mommy stage right. Mommy exits stage right. And again, several hours later, Mommy enters stage right. And again, exits stage right.

Daddy mentions the baby whisperer and wonders if we should use her. Mommy thinks that surely we can handle it on our own this time. Surely?

- What's that smell?! Oh no, he's done a poo. Well, of course he's not going to want to sleep with a big smelly nappy. But it's so much effort to change him and I'd need the light on - and that would surely wake him up - so I'll just bring him in our bed. It's nice and cozy there and our duvet is nice and thick so that will hide the smell. Oh no, we were supposed to be breaking this habit! Oh well, tomorrow night I won't bring him in.


- Suddenly, he's 6 months old. How did that happen?! He still has no teeth. He still doesn't really seem to like being on his tummy in his cot. Fortunately he doesn't wake Blake up very often (although Blake does still sometimes like waking up at 5:17 am). And he's waking every 2 hours! Teething, hunger, colds, temperature, habit, diaper absorbency....goodness knows how much any of these, or all of these, have to do with the waking. I'm as confused as I was the first time around with Blake!


As in acting, however, it's all about waiting for the next big break. A good night's sleep could be just a few hours away. It could be, it really could be... let me just refer to my script again...yes, got it - stage right is definitely my entrance.

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