Monday, February 11, 2013

Sleep Shenanigans

Seems there have been quite a few posts in the blogosphere lately on the topic of sleep…it’s comforting that moms seem to have sleep issues across the board & it’s not just an Elena & Me problem. We have our ups & downs…good nights & bad…but I feel like I have a better perspective now for dealing & definitely not being so hard on myself about it helps enormously.

A bit of sleep history...Elena was born & my hazy sleep deprived memory is that she didn’t sleep for 4 weeks & neither did I…oh I know we must have but all I remember is feeling like we’d never sleep again.
About 2 weeks old...see, she did sleep, I guess.
In hindsight I believe that Elena had reflux issues. When reading about babies with this, I see the symptoms Elena had & the best sleep during that time was when she was upright in her bouncy chair or while being held.

Also, when we saw the pediatrician at 4 weeks old, the Dr confirmed Elena had had a broken clavicle from birth. It had healed fine but would definitely have made her very uncomfortable those first weeks. I also took Elena to a chiropractor & she had a slight misalignment he was able to adjust & it did seem to make a difference. And we got a swing where she would sleep quite well.
Then there were her gas issues but getting her a soother, giving her gripe water & me drinking copious amounts of Fennel Tea helped in that department…but she still would NOT sleep in her bassinet but slept well if I was holding her…so that is what I did out of sheer survival & her stretches of sleep became longer & longer. I remember at one point she was sleeping for 10-12 hours or more…oh how blissful that was!!

At about 8-10 weeks I started shifting her from sleeping on me to on the bed…it was challenging. I heated her space with a heating pad, had the fan going for white noise, etc…I was never able to get her to sleep in her crib but had success putting her in my bed & so my decision to co-sleep.

I would nurse her to sleep & she would sleep on me while I watched TV until I was ready to go to bed. She would sleep better if I was close by so I got in the habit of often going to bed with her then reading by flashlight in the bedroom. During this time she would also nap on me in our easy boy as she would sleep longer than if I tried to put her down.

I forget when exactly but between 6 to 9 months, once she was mobile, we hit the challenge of her being safe in my bed without her crawling/falling out. I’m pretty sure it was a post by Gille that inspired me to sidecar the crib to my bed. The crib was convertible anyway from crib to toddler bed to double bed so I removed the one side & pushed it up against my bed, her mattress butted up against mine but slightly lower. This has worked out so well for us!

When Elena was 11 months & the end of my Mat Leave was fast approaching, I knew we had to get a handle on her sleeping on her own & not on me…at naps at the very least since I couldn’t expect my Mom to do this while I was at work.

I would still nurse/rock her to sleep but then I would always transfer her either to the bed, couch or even the floor but at least not on me…she transitioned fairly well. I still remember the day in February 2012 that she slept a first proper nap in bed & feeling so proud of her & me.
Asleep in the easy boy...not on me

Asleep on the floor...not on me

Napping in bed for the 1st time!!

Once we started weaning, she wouldn’t fall asleep while we were in front of the TV like we use to, too stimulating I’m sure. I moved my easy boy into our bedroom & started rocking her to sleep & my Mom would also do this for naps. We had a good long stretch of success with this. Oh sure, we had some bad nights but for the most part we did really well. I’d rock her & in 5-10 minutes she’d be out, I’d put her in bed & have the rest of the evening to myself, life was good.

Phew, that was more than a bit of a history, lol…anyway, then 20 months hit & Elena started to invent new & often creative delay tactics…she would fight it, she would thwart me in every technique I tried…I became more & more frustrated.

Since my confessional post, I started to look at things in a new light. I realized I’d set a standard of Elena falling asleep in 5-10 minutes & when it’d take 40 minutes or an hour I was feeling like a failure. It was Shannon who made me realize that if it takes 40 minutes than it takes 40 minutes, nothing wrong with that.

All of a sudden about 3 weeks ago, rocking wouldn’t work anymore, I’m talking 2 hours or more & Elena would still be wide awake. I tried CIO for 3 nights by putting up a gate in the bedroom door...with zero success & it reinforced in myself why CIO isn't a technique for us. Aside from how gut wrenching it was to hear Elena cry for so long, it was more than just her usual cry…she was seriously upset & hysterical. This is not how I wanted Elena to go to sleep. Ever. Not in such a state of distress. This was not how I wanted to end our day & very limited time together. She has her teenage years to cry herself to sleep, lol! For now, I want her to go to sleep in a state of calm.

For a few nights, I just went to bed but I knew I couldn’t start that again & besides, she would still be awake for hours! My SIL had made a comment that my brother would just tell their boys to stay in bed or there would be trouble & they did…I thought, “Yeah right, not my kid.” But after 3 or 4 nights of going to bed at 7:30pm, me drifting off then waking an hour later & Elena still being awake, me drifting off again & waking around 10pm & Elena still being awake…I was ready to try anything. I was missing my quiet evening me-time…time for myself to unwind & get things done.

So one night, we did our usual routine:

·         Bath (not every night though)

·         Watch “Bear in the Big Blue House” & have yogurt

·         Put on jammies

·         Brush teeth

·         Get into bed

·         Read no less than 3 books

·         Cuddle in the rocking chair

When she hit the point she usually starts fighting & resisting sleep, I put her in her bed, kissed her, told her I loved her, told her it was time to sleep & told her she must stay in bed…& I walked out of the room.

I went into the kitchen & made my lunch for the next day & waited…after a few minutes I went back in, she wasn’t asleep yet but she was in bed. I told her it was time to sleep & to stay in bed. I then went into the living room & waited…she was asleep within an hour.

Now she goes to sleep most every night on her own…some nights she falls asleep sooner than others…some nights I never know what I’ll find when I go to bed, like the night I found her like this:
Or this:
that's her feet sticking out of the crib bars
And my new favourite...things were really quiet the other night & I wishfully thought Elena had fallen asleep quickly...when I checked in on her:
Notice the Crayon Art on the wall behind wasn't there when I put her to bed.
Some nights are better than others…a few she’s actually let me rock her to sleep like old times...she’s sleeping well most nights & it does make me pretty proud that she transitioned to putting herself to sleep without any force or coercion from me. I have had to threaten to put up the gate & have had to follow thru a couple of times as hard as that is on both of us…& I’ve learned that sleep will probably be an ever fluctuating piece of the parenting's not about success or failure though. It's more ebb & flow...good nights & bad...ever changing & tweeking of routines...


  1. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who has had challenges in the sleep department. I'm hoping it gets easier. Love the pictures! Especially the wall art! Oh dear.

  2. Ah yes, sleep! I think you are right, it will always be an ebb and flow - nice way of putting it. I cam to the conclusion that I would follow BB's needs and cues, sometimes he needs me and I am there, but mostly he is OK by himself. I like to think that it is because I have always shown him I am there if he needs so he is secure, but it's probably just the way he is

  3. Let me start off by saying I love all the sleeping pictures of her. So sweet!! I mentioned in Chloe's 18 month post yesterday that she has also started to stall a little bit with bedtime. She'll be in her crib and we'll ask for kisses, and she'll flop herself down, or grab for her sippy as though that will buy her a few extra minutes before we walk out. We are at the point now where we did away with the pacifier this weekend so that's our latest wrench - but it actually went really well. It's ironic how looking back sometimes we don't give our kids enough credit. What we think will be the biggest nightmare turns out to be OK.

  4. Love the innocent expression with the crayon art behind her!

  5. Ah the elusive sleep. You know as I was rocking Tate to sleep tonight, and yes he's 3 1/2, I was thinking I shouldn't be doing that. But he was exhausted as he's skipped napping the past 2 days at school and just laid his head on my chest after having a quick 3 minute meltdown just like last night. We always rock at night before I put him to bed, most usually awake. But the past 2 nights he's fallen asleep within 2-3 minutes from crying and exhaustion. And I felt bad, stupid, silly. And then I decided (a) sleep patterns change and I need to go with what he needs on each individual night and (b) when he's 7 most likely he won't want to sit on my lap for very long at nighttime. I'm going to take it while I can get it. It will all be allright! You and Elena will figure out what works and what doesn't each individual night as well! Sweet dreams! I wish Ottawa were closer to you...we'd love to meet you!! (or is it close to you? We're coming up next Friday, the 22nd!) How do we communicate without me having to put my email address on here for the whole world to see?

  6. It's amazing how we all have different routines and sleep tactics. You do what works for you and your family. Elena looks so peaceful. Glad you captured her down time too. Happy sleep is finally happening and you have some time back.

  7. LOL!! The look on her face in the last picture... "I have NO idea how that got there"

  8. Glad that you are able to figure out a sleep routine. This was a good post for soon-to-be-mom's to realize that it takes a lot of differnt tactics to get down a routine and that it can change so to allow for that. Thanks for sharing.

  9. "I’ve learned that sleep will probably be an ever fluctuating piece of the parenting's not about success or failure though. It's more ebb & flow...good nights & bad...ever changing & tweeking of routines.."

    I think this is the most realistic, reassuring piece of advice anyone could give brand new moms. Or even not-so-new moms...

    Great post--and oh, those photos! Is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby?!

  10. Yes! Sleep has been my big pain and failure-feeling moments lately! Like you said, it is always good to know I am not alone in this journey. It is also great to see others who have made it out the other side (even if it fluctuates!).
    CIO definitely doesn't work for us either. My little guy was hysterical and lost trust in going to sleep without being plastered to me and attached to my boob all.night.long. We're slowly getting better about him not being on my boob, but it will still take time. I don't know what we're going to do when he becomes more mobile, we don't have a crib that can remove the side. Uh, oh. :)


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