Boy was I wrong. Just another testament to the fact that this whole parenting thing is so unpredictable. I can’t believe how different it’s been than I imagined. I ended up turning into the lightest sleeper ever – even if Monkey would sigh, I would wake up! I was so aware of him and his presence, it shocked me. I never could have truly imagined the bond that happens between Mom and baby, until it happened to me. Getting sleep was tough in the beginning, and it was actually Brian that encouraged me to bring Monkey into the bed with us. So, I decided to do my research to make sure I was doing everything as safe as possible, and started bringing him into the bed for part of the night. Things immediately got so much easier.
Month One: For the first month, Monkey spent most of his nights in the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper. He woke up every 2-3 hours to eat (and if he didn’t, I woke him per the pediatrician’s orders). I would feed him sitting up in bed, and then move him back to the co-sleeper. This was difficult because feeding him would loosen his swaddle, and when I put him back down he would startle himself awake more times than not. But, he also needed frequent diaper changes, so this was okay. He did have one or two 4-5 hour stretches during this time, and I remember those being heavenly. Naps were mostly in the Boba wrap, or in the swing.
Months Two – Four: As the first month came to a close, we got the okay from the pediatrician to start allowing Monkey to sleep longer stretches instead of purposely waking him up to feed. This is when things got a bit tough. Monkey seemed to sleep pretty well at the beginning of the night, but after his first feeding, I’d try to put him back in the co-sleeper and he would just squirm like crazy. This is also when his dairy sensitivity really started kicking in. He would toss and turn in pain ALL NIGHT long. It was miserable. He would hardly sleep in the co-sleeper after that first stretch unless my hand was on him all night. And then, I couldn’t really sleep. So, after that first stretch, I started to bring him into bed with me. That, coupled with me cutting out dairy really allowed for all of us to get more sleep. When Monkey squirmed, I could whip out the boob, nurse him and then I’d doze back off to sleep with him. This is when I learned just how in-tune I was to him! He started to sleep so much better! Even though he was still only sleeping 2-3 hours at a time, sometimes less…those small bursts would be much better than when he was squirming all night. So, we ended up spending about 1/2 the night in the co-sleeper and half in bed with me. Cool. Naps were still mostly in the Boba wrap or the swing, but they slowly started moving to our bed, too.
Months Four – Seven: Around the fourth month is when Monkey really started sleeping horribly. He started doing only 1 – 2 hours at a time overnight. For what seemed like FOREVER. He wouldn’t sleep well in the co-sleeper or in the bed. I started bringing him into the bed for the entire night because it was the only way that we’d get any sleep. And when I fed him, at least I’d be half asleep. I also started going to bed at the same time as him many nights…so like 7PM which allowed me to get more sleep. Still very broken, but at least I was getting more. Not going to lie, there were some mornings I woke up crying because I was so tired. Looking back, I should have asked The Husband for more help with bottle feeding. (Note to self…allow The Husband to bottle feed during the nights with the next kid!) But, I thought I could be super mom and declined his offers.
As we neared the seventh month, Monkey was a full-time co-sleeper. He was in the bed for naps, too. He wasn’t crawling, or really scooching around much at all, so I felt okay with leaving him in the bed for naps. He slept the best in the bed. We had a tiny house, so I literally just had to lean over from the couch to make sure he wasn’t moving. We also set up a video monitor. He never moved in his sleep though. (Now it’s a different story.) Monkey began sleeping 2-3 hour stretches – still no 4 or 5 hour stretches, but longer than an hour, so I was happy. Tired, but happy.
Months Seven – Nine: We moved from Portland to Michigan right around the eighth month. Monkey slept with us in all of the hotel beds, but when we got to Michigan I started to accept the fact that he was moving like crazy and honestly not sleeping that well with us…so I decided it might be time to try out the crib. At this point, he was only napping around 30 minutes, which was also a source of frustration. So, when we got to Michigan I started trying naps in the crib. Immediately he began taking (and is still doing) 1-2 hour naps. Sometimes even 3. I couldn’t believe it. I think he was just ready for some independence. This was bittersweet to me because I had really grown to love co-sleeping, but he’s growing up and if he’s not sleeping as well in bed with us, then it’s time to move on.
We decided to start putting him to bed at night in the crib and then move him into the bed after the first feeding. He’d do around 3 hours before waking, I’d feed him and then bring him into bed. Then he’d be up every 2-3 hours after that to feed. When I say ‘up’ I don’t mean completely awake, though, because he’s not truly awake. It’s more of a dream feed for 5-10 minutes, then he goes back to sleep.
Present day: As of today, we are pretty much on the same schedule as the last two months; however, I’m starting to worry about the fact that he never really sleeps longer than three hours at a time. Is this unhealthy? We are currently trying to wean him off at least one of the night feeds to see if he’ll start getting some longer sleep stretches. For the last few nights, I’ve been feeding him before bed, putting him in his crib, and then he sleeps for around three hours. When he wakes up, I feed him again then put him back in the crib. At the next waking, Brian rocks him back to sleep and puts him back in the crib. When he wakes after that, I bring him in bed, feed him, and let him stay. This is working all right, but I’ve noticed two problems with this current situation…
Problem One: Monkey takes FOREVER to get to bed. It’s usually a minimum of 30 minutes AFTER I feed him. Sometimes it goes up to 90 minutes. I usually rock him, but I feel like I’ve tried everything – long gone are the days where he would fall asleep nursing. We start bed-time around 6:00 or 6:30 usually. He’s then asleep by 8 and then up around 6:30 or 7:00. I thought maybe we needed to push his bed time back, so I tried starting bed time around 7:30. Doing this, he was going to bed by 9:00 but still waking up at 6:30 or 7:00. Fail. What can I do to shorten bed-time? It’s getting pretty frustrating/tiring. Over the last week, I’ve implemented a nightly bath routine in hopes of creating some sort-of bed-time cue for Monkey. I didn’t really want to because I’ve heard it can dry out his skin, but I’m not using soap every night. Thoughts?
Problem Two: We’re trying to wean Monkey of those night time feeds, but the problem is…when The Husband rocks him to sleep after his second night waking (I feed him after the first) – he usually only sleeps for an hour…two tops. Then, I feed him. What can we do to stretch this out? The fact that he never sleeps longer than 3 hours makes me a bit nervous. Tips? Suggestions? I’d love to hear your stories!
Overall, I’ve been okay with our sleep situation for the most part (I mean – it’s not like he’s up for hours crying in the middle of the night), but I’m getting to the point that something needs to change. There’s nothing like waking up to that smiling face in the morning – BUT over nine months of perpetually being tired is starting to wear on me. Do I just need to wait it out and figure he’ll start sleeping longer stretches when he’s ready? Do we continue to try to wean him of his night feedings? This parenting thing sure likes to throw you some challenges, huh?July 13, 2012
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