Sleep training-ish

It’s no secret that sleep has been lacking in our household. Ever since Mabel was 4 month old, she’s had multiple erratic wakings each night. Resulting in two very sleep deprived moms. It didn’t help that she was battling multiple colds back to back from Christmas until the end of Feb. 

This past weekend was the first weekend in 2017 where NO ONE in our house was sick! Hoping it stays that way.

So now that Mabel’s finally not sick, I thought it’d be a good time to try some gentle sleep training methods. Specifically the No Cry Sleep method. It’s more of a long term gradual program to get your baby used to sleeping in their crib and to slowly get them sleeping for longer stretches. You do a sleep log in the first night and then aren’t supposed to do another one for at least 10 days. It’s a gentle, laid back method so it’s a lot of “2 steps forward, 1 step back” in the beginning. But after 22 days, I am happy to report that Mabel’s sleep is way more consistent now. Still have a ways to go, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Our method while she was sick and not sleeping well was for us to take turns cosleeping with Mabel in the bed we have in her room. She’d start the night in her crib, but once she woke up, we would bring her into bed with one of us and then take turns pulling “Mabel duty.” My wife and I decided we wanted to sleep in the same bed again. And get Mabel used to sleeping on her own. 

Her bedtime routine at the moment:

  • 5:30: dinner, which usually lasts until 6 or so
  • 6:30: bath time. We don’t wash her every night, but she sits in warm water and plays with her bath toys every night
  • Post bath: naked baby time until we put on her night diaper and pjs
  • 7:00: bedtime bottle in her dim room with just a lamp on and her sound machine on. Once she finishes the bottle, we read a couple of books. When she starts yawning, the lamp goes out and we rock until she falls asleep. She’s usually out by 7:30-7:45.

The Plan (first phase):

Part 1: Mabel protested being in her crib a lot. So the plan was to let her fall asleep in my arms and then transfer her to her crib for each waking. This was exhausting. A lot of the time, it took 5 or 6 tries before she stopped fighting it and stayed asleep in her crib. Sometimes she would be fine in her crib for about 15 min and then would cry and scream. And there have definitely been nights when I gave up after a couple tries just to make sure we all got much needed sleep.

Part 2: Mabel was getting a bottle for every waking. I wanted to start slowly taking some feedings away. So the plan was to try to soothe her by rocking, walking, snuggles first, then if she can’t be comforted, we’d feed her. This is still a work in progress. But there is usually at least 1 waking a night where I can rock her and she’ll fall back asleep without eating. If she’s really upset and won’t fall back asleep, I give her a bottle. 

Night 1 log: Mabel woke up 8 times!! The longest stretch of sleep she had was an hour and a half. No wonder we’re so freakin exhausted. 

Night 10 log: let me just start by saying we had a fantastic Night 9. She woke up 4 times and I was excited about officially logging her progress on Night 10. Well of course, Night 10 was horrendous. She was up 7 times. Slight improvement over 8, but, eh, not really. 

I didn’t actually do a Day 20 log but I’m hoping to do one in the next few days. But I am so happy to see her progress this week. After the horrible Day 10, she suddenly started waking up just 3 times a night. I know, I know. That’s still not great. BUT, those 3 times are consistent. She’s been waking up at 10pm, midnight, and 3am, waking up for the day around 7:30am. And last night she woke up TWICE at 10pm and 3:30am! Too early to celebrate though, we’ll see tonight if that’s the new normal or just a one-off.

After months of erratic wakings and never knowing how long she was going to sleep, this feels wonderful! And she’s spending most of the night in her crib. She’ll still protest her crib, usually at the 3am waking. But I’m ok with that. Big improvement. 

Now that she has consistent wake up times, we can start working on Phase 2 of The Plan (assuming she continues being consistent.)

Phase 2: 

Part 1: This part is scary, but we’re going to now try to put Mabel in her crib when she’s really drowsy but not quite asleep. I know she’s going to protest this and it’ll take many tries and many nights before she’s ok with this. If she is ever ok with it! This is a very stubborn girl. 

Part 2: Slowly keep phasing out the night feedings. We’re gonna continue to comfort her first and only offer a bottle if she keeps insisting on it. When given a bottle, I’ll listen for when her sucking slows down and I’ll gently pull the bottle out of her mouth. If she protests, I’ll put the bottle back, but repeat the process so she gets used to having the bottle out of her mouth before she actually falls back asleep.

Fingers crossed this progress continues. It’s a long road, but I feel comfortable with this method. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m hopeful we’ll have a better sleeper on our hands soon! 

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Getting my groove back

I feel like there have been a few definite phases to first-time parenting. I’m sure they’re different for everyone, but here are the phases I’ve gone through. 

SURVIVAL MODE

  • The first 3-4 months of your baby’s life, this phase is hard. Really hard. A total shock to your system to witness the reality of having a teeny tiny human totally dependent on you and adjusting to life outside the womb. 
  • Everything non-baby related gets pushed to the back burner: household chores, work, your marriage and social life. 
  • While this phase is hard, it’s also magical to just focus on your baby and get to know him/her. You become a family.
  • Some of the best weeks of my life were during this phase – being unaware of the outside world and just curled up with my baby and wife.

REINTRODUCTION TO WORK 

  • You struggle with balancing work and family life for the first time. And feel like you’re failing at both. 
  • Sometimes fantasize about winning the lottery and not having to work. 
  • Feel completely out of the loop in terms of current affairs and pop culture because of the Survival Mode you just went through. 
  • Struggle to find appropriate work clothes that fit your slowly shrinking body. Maybe wear the same two pairs of pants (i.e. The only pants that still fit) for the first few weeks. 
  • Often realize after you’ve left the house that you haven’t brushed your teeth or your hair.
  • Forget your pump parts a couple times and then fork over money to make sure you have multiples of everything.
  • It takes a while before you find your footing and get a rhythm to your day, but it does happen. 

REINTRODUCTION TO YOUR PARTNER/ FRIENDS/ OUTSIDE WORLD

  • This phase started when Mabel was about 7 months old. At some point I realized I wanted to hang out with someone and not just talk about the baby.
  • You feel naughty and guilty asking your partner to take on parenting duties while you go have a drink. 
  • While you’re out, you’re always looking at the clock thinking, “she’s getting a bath right now. She’s being read a book right now…”
  • Try as you might to stay up, you can’t make it past 10pm anymore.
  • You never stop loving your spouse, but around this point, you suddenly look up and realize, “oh, there you are. I remember you.”
  • You start making more time for your partner – nice dinners after the baby goes to sleep, laughs during the baby’s naps, etc
  • You still put your needs last and sometimes leave the house without an umbrella (when it’s raining), without brushing your hair, with two different socks on….

REINTRODUCTION TO YOURSELF 

  • Just entering this phase, but I suddenly feel the need to get my shit together and take better care of myself
  • Let’s start with my DAMN BRA – I have no idea what size I wear now. My ribs are definitely wider than they were pre-pregnancy, so my old bras aren’t comfortable anymore. But my boobs shrunk back down after I stopped breastfeeding, so my maternity/nursing bras are way too big. And I’ve just been fumbling around wearing ill fitting bras for months and putting it on the back burner. Time to get remeasured and wear a fucking comfortable bra again!
  • I’m going through a style identity crisis. I’ve just been wearing whatever is comfortable and has the fewest food/spit up spots on it. I work in San Francisco – a pretty stylish city, but my office is very casual – jeans and such – and I’ve totally taken advantage of that. I need to up my style game. I haven’t bought any new clothes in a very long time and I really want to get out of my rut.
  • Am trying to find a way to start running again. Was training for a 5k when we got pregnant and I really loved it. My goal is to run along the embarcadero in SF once or twice a week after work. 

Maybe it’s the appearance of spring after a very rainy and cloudy winter, but we’re feeling hopeful in this household. Still sleep deprived, but we’re doing something right, as we have one hilarious, happy, thriving daughter. Money is still super tight, but we have food on the table every day and our bills get paid. Ready for spring and summer!

9 months in

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted on here. I have to revert to bullet points for this one. Excuse my laziness.

  • Our first real health scare: Mabel had a febrile (fever) seizure at the end of January. Poor S was home alone with her – I was setting up a work event. It happened suddenly while S and Mabel were lounging in bed that morning. Mabel was unresponsive for a few minutes after the seizure and her temp suddenly spiked super high. S did everything right and called 911 and undressed Mabel and put her in the empty bathtub. The cold surface worked and by the time the paramedics arrived Mabel was responsive and babbling again. I rushed to meet them at the hospital and they explained febrile seizures and said she was totally fine. Once a baby has one – which is just caused by a sudden temp rise – her chances of having another one are slightly higher than the average baby. Most kids outgrow these seizures by age 3 or 4. We are just super careful about keeping tabs on her temperature and made sure M, her nanny, knows what to do in the event of another one. As long as they don’t last more than 2 min, we have no need to worry about brain damage. Scary, for sure, but somewhat common. 
  • Mabel is a physical force! This child learned to crawl right after she turned 6 months, learned how to pull herself up to standing a week later, and is now cruising along all our furniture and pushing her walker all throughout the house. She’s gonna be walking on her own literally any day now. She’s progressing a little too quickly for my taste! I just want her to slow down just a tad and stay my little baby a bit longer.
  • Mabel now says mama or mommom when she wants us. She also calls her nanny and the cats mama. So basically everyone she loves is mama, which seems about right 🙂
  • This kid has had a cold for pretty much all of 2017. Our whole household has, in fact. I’m home sick from work today. S was home part of last week. And poor Mabel has had a runny nose for most of Feb. and recently developed a cough. She has her 9 month appt this afternoon, but her doctor has said we just need to wait it out and keep her comfortable. We keep the head of her crib slightly elevated, her nursery humidifier on 24/7, and her nose frida is used every damn day. So ready for our family to all finally feel better. 
  • Sleep. Sleep is still elusive. I know some of it is because Mabel’s been sick and uncomfortable lately. Some of it is because she seems to be teething (she sprouted 2 teeth at 5 months and nothing since) – lots of drool and lots of biting. Some of it is because of all the new skills she’s learning, like walking. And some of it is straight up baby FOMO. Right now she’s waking up like 6-8 times a night. And slowly killing us. We’re following the No Cry Sleep method right now. Slowly but surely over the past 10 days her sleep has gotten ever so slightly better. Fingers crossed it continues down this path. 

Basically, besides our lack of sleep, life is pretty good right now. Can’t believe we’re starting to plan her 1 year birthday party! Where has the time gone???