03 December 2014

Kicking Some Sleepy Tuchus

I love "talking shop" (ie, parenting) with other moms I know. Google searches for "MY BABY DOESN'T NAP!!!!" is a great way to get every single solution humanly possible, none of which you can verify. Sure, maybe MomofThreeCuties got her kids to sleep in three easy steps, but maybe MomofThreeCuties is also from the south side of Detroit and had five kids taken by the state and her relationship with all of them would make a great episode of Dr. Phil. You n-e-v-e-r know - as Dr. Phil would say: "The only thing you know about her is that she has a computer." Anyway, when I get advice from people in my community, I can feel more confident that I'm seeing the bigger picture. Dr. Sears insists that the cry-it-out method damages the mother-baby relationship, but when a mom of two really excellent girls tells me they cried it out and her relationship with the girls is still strong and I've seen the proof, I can safely conclude that Dr. Sears' advice isn't true of 100% of families. Another mom cited an article that claims that sometimes babies cry to relieve stress and I realized that sometimes Eleanor gets grouchy in the carrier in the moments before she looses the battle with sleep, so 2-3 minutes of grouch in the crib is pretty much the same thing. And when another mom offered that she nursed her kids to sleep for every nap for the first few years, I suddenly realized that there is no reason why I can't nurse Eleanor to sleep on the bed when Abigail is off at preschool. I have no idea why I didn't realize it earlier, but for whatever reason, her comment triggered that realization which has reaped incredible naps.

I often wonder: Do I just suck as a parent, or is it really this hard? And the best part of talking shop with other moms? When I hear a resounding, reassuring, "Yes, it really is just that hard!"

 What?! This face? Hard to parent? Nonsense!

So. I want to be specific in saying that we never let Eleanor cry for anything longer than the time it took to go to the bathroom until she was six-months-old (on Nov 10). At that point, I was getting desperate enough that I did a few cry-it-outs, then felt bad, then felt clueless, which led to the last post.

And these few early days of trying new methods: Progress!

I still wear Eleanor in the carrier (a back carry with the Ergo) for her morning nap. That's what I was doing before and it just works really well for us.

The afternoon nap is the one greatly improved by the "nurse to sleep" advice. When Abigail goes off to preschool, Eleanor is ready for her nap, but - I think because she use to refuse to sleep away from me when she was younger - I just nursed her to sleep on the Boppy pillow while sitting on the couch and crocheted. She'd sleep about 30 minutes. But I tried nursing her down on the bed, then tiptoeing away and she's since taken a two-hour long afternoon nap every day! She's such a different kid during the afternoon!

Same pose, new object to chew. Variety is the spice of life.

Bedtime. We were trying to get Eleanor down in her crib to start the night, so that when we snuck in a few hours later, we could score some baby-free Zzzzs, then I'd get her and keep her with us in bed when she got up around 11-1am for her first night feeding. I'd nurse or walk her down, but as soon as I tried to get her in the crib, she'd wake right up. Most nights it was taking me an hour and a half to nail the put-down, which has been so taxing that in the last few weeks, I'd set her down anyway and she'd wail until either she conked out or Matt or I caved and went in to get her (either way leaving me feel guilty).

So after pouring through the advice you guys offered, Matt and I decided that we would give Eleanor five minutes of crying before retrieving her and attempting bedtime again. In these last few days, I have learned that if Eleanor hasn't fallen asleep after 3 minutes, it's not going to happen on it's own. I have also started to learn based on her body language if the put down attempt will be a 30 second wail or if it will be hopeless. But so far there is no great improvement in actually getting her to sleep.

Clearing up the afternoon nap woe has really helped me see bedtime clearer, and I think two things are standing in our way.
- Eleanor is overly-tired by bedtime. She needs an evening cat nap.
- Bedtime is the only time we don't have a regular routine for Eleanor (Abigail does have one).

The cat nap. I've tried nursing Eleanor down and tried 5 minutes of crying it out for a third nap, but she refuses both ways. I'm going to try to wear her in a carrier today to see if it helps. If I could just get 20-30 minutes out of her, it would push bedtime back a bit, she wouldn't fight it so hard, and then maybe she'd stop getting up at 5:30 in the morning.

Also, we need a predictable routine to help prepare Eleanor mentally. I'm super awesome at keeping a routine in the morning and afternoon, but sometime between lunch and dinner, it all falls apart, and then the witching hour hits, and by bedtime it's like, "JUST GET THE KIDS IN PAJAMAS AND IN BED. I NEED TO BE DONE FOR THE DAY." I actually had to write Abigail's bedtime routine down step-by-step and hang it on her door until it became habit. I guess that's what I need to do with Eleanor.

That and start bundling up the kids and take a witching hour walk. Hey, maybe that'll put Eleanor to sleep.

Don't believe a word she says; all I do is sit her cutely with my crazy hairs and play nicely with this ball.

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