26 October 2012

sleep problems

Shepherd hasn't been sleeping too well. Thus, I haven't been sleeping too well. He has never slept awesome, but I was okay with the things were going for the most part. Recently, I was reading a book a friend of mine gave me as a baby gift called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, specifically a part about colic and sleep. When we were going through that stage, I didn't think that Shepherd was that colicky, mostly because his bouts of crying usually didn't last huge periods of time. I think looking back, though, he was more colicky than I was willing to admit. The only reason that his bouts of crying didn't last forever was because we were constantly trying new things to calm him down whenever he was upset. Also, I didn't want to label him as a colicky baby because I felt like he was perfectly healthy (he didn't seem to have any problems with his stomach, which many people say causes colic), and I was afraid about what that said of me as a mother. I always felt a little responsible for his apparent unhappiness and my inability to resolve it permanently. But I suppose I have a bit of a different perspective now that we're past that stage. When Weissbluth was describing the difference between normal infant fussiness and extreme infant fussiness/colic, I felt like my baby fit comfortably in that category of "colicky" (especially when it comes to the sleep problems). Now that he's a bit happier, I feel a little less responsibility labeling him that way.

I see now, also, that many of Shepherd's sleep behaviors are a direct result of my response to his colicky behavior. As I said, we were constantly trying to calm him, and we were constantly trying to get him to sleep. His fussiness almost always indicated tiredness and overstimulation. One of the things that worked more reliably was nursing. Thus I became the mother that nurses more than anybody I know, and Shep became the baby who would only fall asleep if he nursed down. During the day he would only nap for short periods of time, but at night he seemed to sleep better. It was actually working fairly well to nurse him to sleep and have him in the bed with us. Except for a brief phase when he was waking up like every 45 minutes, it seemed to maximize the amount of sleep he got, and the amount everyone got. He grew out of that phase on his own and went back to how things were before that phase, waking up 3 or 4 times a night and not fully waking, even, to nurse, and then quickly falling back to sleep.

I have no idea why, but the last week or so he's been going through another phase: he refuses to nurse back to sleep easily when he wakes up during the night, and I keep having to switch sides to get him to nurse again. I wish I could understand it. Like the phase he went through before where he was having issues, I'm revisiting the idea of sleep training. To be honest, I've avoided reading much about it because I know I'll feel like I'm doing things wrong if I read too much. I think a lot of the recommendations, with sleep or anything else, depend so much on your individual baby. Even before Shep became colicky, he wasn't really great at sleeping. He's never been one to self-soothe, nor is he usually happy or comfortable by himself for long. I've really struggled to know what will work for him to teach him to sleep better on his own, because I don't think crying it out will teach him anything but resentment for his mother (me), who for some odd and inexplicable reason is suddenly no longer responding to his needs. Based on what I know of him, he would just become increasingly more angry and ragged and he would refuse to be comforted by anything but suckling at the breast. It seems to me that people who've had success with just leaving their baby to cry might have babies who eventually stop crying? Not sure. Other more compassionate methods of sleep training seem to take a lot of time and effort, and I honestly felt like I'd lose more sleep trying to go through that process than just maintaining the status quo. I don't exactly have the most free schedule, either, because while I have a lot of flexibility and free time at work, I still am at least in theory working from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.

The fact that nursing is not working so well to put him to sleep lately has kind of thrown me for a loop, though, since it was the main method. I think he might be ready to start sleeping on his own--as he grows, he's becoming increasingly picky about the environment once he's asleep, and when and where he will fall asleep. I think he is getting a little old for the co-sleeper, so I finally broke down and ordered a crib. (I thought we'd be fine going without before.) I think we're going to try putting him in it once he's asleep and gradually do it more and more until he learns to sleep there on his own.

I'm a little worried it won't go well but this current phase doesn't seem to be letting up and I'm not sure what else to do. This morning, he was getting increasingly agitated and I kept trying to nurse him to sleep, which normally works somewhat well. He wasn't having any of it, so I figured if he was already crying I might try to start the sleep training now for a nap. I finally got him asleep through a combination of distraction, rocking/walking, nursing, and then I extracted myself from his side and left the room and closed the door.

He woke up sobbing not five minutes later.

16 October 2012


At the risk of being prosecuted as a pirate, I'm going to admit that we have been watching Downton Abbey series (season) 3, which is not yet available State-side via PBS. I was going to wait until January like the rest of America, but then somehow things got desperate and the Internet does have its ways of delivering all our favorite British sitcoms.

We just watched episode 5, which is the latest episode aired, and let me just warn you now: if you haven't seen it yet, do not search Google about it because something big happens and the big thing will be spoiled by the stupid bloggers if you go there. Run-on sentence, deep breath.

I'm not generally a TV watcher. We don't own a TV and are growing increasingly apathetic toward the shows we formerly enjoyed. Watching TV and movies is kind of hard with our baby, too. But Downton Abbey is an exception. Ignore the baby's demands for attention, I have eyes only for the computer screen! We watched almost the entire second season in one go, and half of the third in another. It felt disgustingly good. Disgusting because it was excessive and we were putting off necessary things, but good because that show is just quality TV. I don't mean to pepper my response to watching this show with Britishisms; I think it is just happening by itself a bit. Cheerio, moving on.

The point is: we are/I am a little obsessed after watching that last show. It doesn't help that something big happens and then the episode ends without much resolution or aftermath. I wish you all had watched it so we could discuss and commiserate. I guess that's what I get for being a pirate. I feel like a soap opera addict or something. I had dreams about it after watching that episode. Weird, right? Who dreams about people from TV who are not actually real? Me, apparently. Then I couldn't stop thinking about it next day. I haven't thought about it as much since then, but it springs to mind on occasion.

I think some intervention is needed here. Or maybe I just need to watch the next episode. First world problems, right?

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