Night Night, Nellie

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about sleep. I’ve been blogging about Nellie’s sleep patterns on and off since she was born. Most recently, I guest blogged somewhere else about sleep.

I’ve learned to never, under any circumstance, announce that my baby is finally sleeping through the night. Through experience, I have gained the knowledge that as soon as I open my mouth to announce that Nellie is consistently sleeping 9 hours at a time, her habits will change and she will be awake and screaming every 4 hours. Instead, I have begun calling Nellie’s sleep patterns “sleep phases”. As in, “Nellie’s going through a really wonderful ‘sleep phase’ right now”.

Nellie is almost 9 months old and about a month ago, I had to make a decision. My mother in law keeps Nellie a few days during the week when my husband works, and he keeps her the other half of the week when he’s off. Daytime sleep hasn’t really ever been an issue when Josh watches her but when my MIL would watch her, she would get – if we were all lucky – two hours of daytime sleep.
Which is, obviously, not nearly enough.
The problem was that Nellie had begun getting used to being rocked to sleep. Which there’s nothing wrong with, of course, but it began to be an issue when my MIL would lay her down in her crib.. She would instantly wake up and begin screaming bloody murder. Of course, this made my MIL distraught and she would have such a hard time calming her down she would just give in and hold her while Nellie slept.. For up to 2 hours at a time on some occasions. Nellie wasn’t getting enough sleep, my mother in law couldn’t get anything done, so I realized that it was time to change Nellie’s habits. It was time to teach her to put herself to sleep.

I began by changing our bedtime routine first. Nellie has always gone down easier at night than she does at naps. So we had our dinner, had our bath, changed to jammies and instead of me and Josh camping out on the couch and feeding her while we watched Weeds, holding her until she fell asleep and then sneaking her into her crib, I took her immediately into her nursery after her bath with her bedtime bottle and fed her in the dark. It was quiet, the fan was running, and we’d rock. Once she finished her bottle I gave her the pacifier and her stuffed fox, cuddled with her and sang her a song. I kissed her, turned on her Sleep Sheep and laid her down. She immediately started fussing and crying a little. I told her goodnight, I loved her..

And then I left the room.

Her crying escalated to crying harder, and then screaming. I’m not a CIO’er, but I knew that she had to learn to go to sleep when she was put down. I waited exactly 5 minutes. I returned to her room and soothed her without picking her up. I rubbed her back, spoke to her softly, and told her I loved her. Once she had calmed down I turned around, and left the room again.
She began crying again and I waited another 5 minutes. Most “interval soothing” methods involve going in at 5, 10, 15 minute intervals but I couldn’t make it 10 minutes. After the 2nd 5 minutes were up I went back and repeated what I had done the first time; soothing and comforting without picking up. I left the room and she cried again. We repeated this for about an hour before she finally went to sleep.

It was really hard to hear her cry like that but I never stayed away for more than 5 minutes. The first night was the worst and from then on, she protested less and less. She still fights and has crying fits sometimes, but it’s mostly for naps and the crying is worse when she’s overtired. More often than not if we get her in her crib before she starts rubbing her eyes, she will roll around for a bit and then go to sleep with no problems. Bedtime is way easier; she almost never puts up a fight during bedtime anymore. Last night, we had our routine and once she was done with her bottle I handed her Fox. She wrapped her arm around him, buried her face into his fur and turned toward me for our few minutes of rocking and cuddling. I put her down in her crib after a few minutes, she rolled around until she got comfortable and didn’t make a peep.

She will occasionally still wake in the middle of the night and need to be held/snuggled/be given a little bit of bottle but it’s probably twice a week or so that it happens.

I realize that my method isn’t for everyone, and that there’s no guarantee that it will work. It worked for us and it was what I was comfortable with. I didn’t feel like I was “abandoning her” or anything like that. To me, the key was consistency. I had to stick to my guns and be consistent with her. I know that children thrive on routines (to an extent) and while we have a very loose nap and bedtime schedule, we try and stick to our bedtime routine of dinner, bath, jammies, bottle. It seems to help her know what to expect, and we are all getting pretty good sleep around here!

Daddy Win

So let me refresh your memory about what it takes to get Nellie to nap.

1. She must be swaddled.
2. She must be relatively full.
3. She must have a pacifier in her mouth.
4. She must be held/rocked until she falls asleep.

If all four of those criteria are met, then and only then will you have a prayer of transferring her to her crib. However, you then have to go through this ritual:

1. Wait until she has fallen asleep on you.
2. Slowly take the pacifier out of her mouth. If she remains asleep, great. If not, pop it back in there – QUICKLY – before she throws a fit.
3. If she stays asleep, you then must let her sleep on you for at least 10 minutes – usually more like 15 – to make sure that she stays asleep sans paci.
4. THEN, you have to transfer her from her laying position to one where she is resting against your chest. This makes it easier to just lean her over the crib and deposit her onto the mattress with minimal jostling.
5. Creep into her room, do the baby transfer like I described, hold your breath, and hope it takes.
If she wakes up, you have to go back to step 1 and repeat until it takes.

This makes for a very difficult and LONG naptime/bedtime routine.

Well, daddy was on baby duty yesterday and texted me at one point and announced that she napped.

FOR THREE HOURS. Cue me “WTF”ing. I asked him what he did, and he sheepishly replied that he let her sleep in the bed with him.
Surely not. No. It can NOT be that easy.

Ever the skeptic, I tried my old nap methods until I was finally ready to try daddy’s. I just couldn’t believe it would be THAT easy. Today when I got home from work, I let her stay up for a little bit until I decided it was time for an evening nap. I swaddled her, lay her on the bed and popped a paci in her mouth. I snuggled up next to her, and patted her when she fussed a little bit. She kept fussing and I thought that it was because she had a paci that wasn’t her favorite, so I slid off the bed and went to retrieve her normal one. I was hunting for a few moments when I realized she hadn’t started screeching when I left. Curious, I tiptoed back into the bedroom and do you know what I saw?

A sleeping baby.

SHE GOT HERSELF TO SLEEP. I didn’t have to rock her, and I didn’t even lay next to her that long.

WHAT THE HELL!!! I was amazed. I am not amazed that Josh figured it out, but I am amazed and baffled at the difference just a simple switch of location made. I mean.. How is our bed so different than her crib? I just don’t get it. I would understand if she fussed when we got out of bed with her, and quieted down upon our return but no.. She’s perfectly content lying there alone, as long as it’s on our bed.

This child never ceases to amaze and mystify me. Also, my hubby is a rock star for figuring out a nap solution!

That is.. Until Nellie decides to throw us for yet another loop and change her ways, which is pretty much what happens every three weeks or so.

Doctor’s Appointment and the Science of Sleep

Nellie had her 1 month visit today. At birth my little lady weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Today, she tipped the scales at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces. HOLY HELL. I have a chunky lady on my hands! She doesn’t look overly chubby though, because she’s very long – 22 inches. The doctor said she was in the 80-something percentile for her height! My girl is growing like a weed!

We didn’t get any shots today… That comes with our 2 month visit. I am not particularly looking forward to seeing her cry but vaccinations are not open for debate. She is getting them. Not only do I want to protect her from harmful diseases but I will not expose other innocent children by not vaccinating her. The vaccination debate is one I won’t get into here, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So we’ve had three consistent good nights. I had a epiphany Friday night after daddy left for work. Around 8 PM I turned the lights off (save for the glow of the computer), swaddled Nellie (which she loudly protested. She hates the actual act of being swaddled. Once she’s in she’s okay.) and fed her. I burped her frequently and when she began falling asleep at the bottle, I took her in for a diaper change. That woke her up enough and she ate 4 ounces. I laid her down in her cradle……………………………..
And she slept.

For three hours.

I repeated the process when she woke again to eat. I was sure not to interact with her overly; I barely talked to her except to offer some soothing “shhh” noises when she’d cry. I kept the eye contact to a minimum. It was strictly business. I repeated my process – feed while swaddled, burp often, change mid-feed, burp again and put her down to sleep. And what do you know? 3 more hours. AMAZING. I have repeated this process for the past three nights and it has worked like a charm. I can tell within seconds of laying her down if it’s going to “take” or not. And usually if it doesn’t she has a gas bubble, which we get rid of and she’ll eat a bit more before passing out. I am just beyond thrilled and hope that we can keep up this routine. I know that with children in general and especially newborns routines are subject to change, but I’ll take it for now.
Midway through Saturday evening, I had to move her cradle. Before it was on the wall by the foot of our bed – a good 8 feet away from where I was sleeping. I couldn’t stand it. After sleeping with her on my chest for the past 2 weeks and being able to feel her/hear her so well I could not stand her being so far away. During one feeding I set her down in the Boppy to hang for a minute while I dragged the cradle and jammed it between my side of the bed and the dresser. When I laid her back down to sleep and could reach out and touch her if I wanted, I was instantly comforted. I can no longer open 4 of the drawers in my dresser, but it’s worth it to have my sweet girl so close. I understand why people co-sleep. I am still not going to do it, but I completely and utterly understand why people do it. Falling asleep with my daughter on my chest is the most comforting and peaceful feeling I’ve ever had in my life.
I had almost an entire day to myself Saturday. Gran watched Nellie while I went to a coaching session with my chorus. Our regional competition is coming up and I wanted to be there. It was amazing getting back into my beloved barbershop. I also practiced with my quartet; we are going to be singing during the quartet competition portion for evaluation only with the hopes of actually competing next year. We actually have a radio interview a week from today where we’re going to plug the competition, basically and sing a song. I’m so excited! We’ve also got a TV spot coming up. I’ve never been on television before!

Nellie had her first restaurant outing today. We had all intentions on going to Mellow Mushroom as they were offering free pizza as part of their 8th birthday celebration.. But the wait was 35 minutes and I didn’t know how well Nellie would tolerate that. We ended up eating at my old place of employment – Chili’s. She did fantastically, only crying for a brief period of time which a tiny bit of bottle helped. She was awesome.

She’s always awesome.