Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sleep to Dream

Oh Penny, what are those dark circles under your eyes?

Get ready for a lengthy post detailing our current sleep saga.
I wish I could say that the sleep situation has improved around here. It has not. I have actually been collecting data to determine if there is a consistent pattern of waking and the only thing I have discovered is that we get "good" sleep (e.g. at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep) every other night. I'm not sure why we can't have more than one good night in a row. I have tried to account for all of the variables: the number of naps during the day, the room temperature, the sleep sack, the routine, the "time of bed." I have tried baby tylenol, baby motrin, baby orajel, and some homeopathic teething tablets. Sometimes these things appear to work and sometimes they don't. And I don't care for the idea of drugging my baby if it isn't necessary and if it isn't going to work anyway.

Penny: My tooth is pointy. Want to feel it?

We are still waiting for the second tooth to pop through. I can see where Penny's gum is all swollen, so I assume it is bugging her. She seems fine during the day, although she has gotten a bit crabbier in recent days. The night brings out the demon child.

I have completely flip-flopped on the "crying it out" thing, because most nights I can't bear the crying. My instincts tell me to go in and comfort her, and ignoring her while she sobs goes against my instincts. Not to mention, she has THROWN UP TWICE after crying longer than 10 minutes. I know, I know. I'm totally being played. I'm annoyed about being manipulated by an almost 9 month old. But each night, when she wakes up crying, I can't help but think: "What if she's really in pain? She needs me!"

Penny: Mmm, teether.

Meanwhile, I've been asking other people for advice and have discovered that there are strong feelings on both sides of the crying issue. Of course! Because nothing is simple! At work the other day, I was eating lunch with a couple of women and I asked them what their philosophies were. On my right was a staunch proponent of crying it out. On my left was a staunch proponent of the family bed. Here's how our conversation went:

Right: You aren't hurting her. Crying is how she will learn to go to sleep on her own.
Left: If she cries and you don't comfort her, you are breaking her trust.
Me: .... (eyes bugging out of head)
Right: You need to sleep too. Your health is at stake as well as hers.
Left: She can learn to sleep without having to cry. She needs to be close to you right now.
Me: ... (silent scream)

So here's what I've been doing. When she cries in the middle of the night, she usually goes back to sleep after a little nursing and a little rocking. The practical side of my brain tells me that she doesn't really need to eat in the middle of the night and I am preventing her from learning how to fall back to sleep on her own. But the squishy maternal part of my brain tells me that I'm still bonding with her, that it's my job to comfort her, and (since I'm paranoid about my milk supply,) that feeding her once at night is good for my supply.

Penny: My Little Pony Hair? Also good.

A couple of weeks ago, I completely caved and let her sleep in our bed with us, starting around 1AM. At 6, I woke up, moved too quickly, and tweaked my back as a result of sleeping on one side, curled around my baby for 5 hours. A visit to the doc and a couple of X-rays later, I found out I have an anomaly in my spine. Something that looks to be *ahem* an extra vertebra *ahem* I didn't know I had. So now I have a minor back injury. And the family bed is RIGHT OUT. At least, at night it's out.

Here's what happened the other night:
Penny woke up crying at 2AM. I waited a few minutes to see if she would fall back to sleep. She did not. I went in to feed her, and she fell asleep within 10 minutes. After that, every time I put her in her crib, she would scream. I would pick her back up and rock her, she would fall asleep, and then scream as soon as her back touched the crib. So after repeating this three times (and by now it was 3AM), I gave up and let her cry. She cried for 20 minutes, and then fell asleep. Then she woke up 2 hours later. Screaming! Actually, we both might have been screaming.

If there's one thing I've learned from what little of those SuperNanny911Shows I've seen, the worst possible thing I can do as a parent is to be inconsistent. And that's exactly what I'm doing! So I need to work on a game plan. I think we might have to go back to the sleep training once that other tooth rears its sharp little head. But it's going to be rough for all of us.

What are we going to do today, Penny? The same thing we do every day. Try to take over the world!

I know two babies who sleep for 12(!) consecutive hours. And these babies are teething too! They have caught the vision, so I know it is possible. I also wonder if things will get easier once Penny is better at moving around on her own. If she can get into positions that are more comfortable for her (as opposed to sleeping on her back all night), she might be able to sleep easier? ?? Her apparent lack of desire to move her body (other than sitting or reaching or dominating the world from her exersaucer) is the subject for another melodramatic post.

Advice? Anyone? She has a 9-month appointment coming up, so it might be time to talk to the doctor. And she's probably going to tell me I need to relax and that every baby is different. Great.

1 comment:

Sheree, J, + j said...

Sorry to hear about your back pain, and extra vertebrae (vestigial snake DNA?)
I will weigh in on the side of nurture more, cry less. Well, I'm really on the side of all babes are different, and you've gotta do what works best for yours.

So, first the good news. I am the proud parent of 1-a good sleeper (He lies down voluntarily, nestles in, and goes to sleep. Once or twice a week, he gets up and loudly requests an extra hug or rocking. Most nights, he wakes once at 2am, but just wants to be tucked back in to sleep (soothing ritual?) 2-a totally weaned child!!!

You decide which side of your brain wins. If the squishy side wins, consider my methods. I had good luck with night weaning outlined in this lengthy post--about 1/2 way down, paragraph starts with "At 12 months":

and transitioning to his own space here: