Monday, April 03, 2006

catching zzzzzzzzzz's

Jeeeeeeezzzz...did you all read Dooce the last few days? And the comments? Holy crow. I have nothing crafty to show as the last several days have been all about MD appointments and broken car stuff, so maybe I'll talk about my daughter and sleep.

There are almost 500 comments as of right now (1:30 pm, Monday) on Heather's post about how they got their daughter to sleep through the night and how the process pushed her over the edge to the psych hospital admission...many of you have read back and know about that, I assume. I refuse to leave a comment and get into the fray of nastiness that's been going on since about comment #400. If you don't have anything better to do, go read some of the comments - but take several deep, cleansing breaths first because it'll probably rile you up.

I don't know how to make a baby sleep more or better. I breastfed Daughter from birth on-demand, I think, though I don't have the definitions of BF methods memorized. She was underweight at birth so I did have to be sure she was fed approximately every 2-2.5 hours during the day (yessiree, all we did was breastfeed in those days), but the doctor said I could let her sleep as long as possible at night. Here is what I did in the pm:

Daughter stayed up with us till about 10 each night, at which time I would change her diaper, wrap her up tightly, and lay her in the crib. She would generally sleep from 2.5 - 4 hours right off the bat, but would then wake for a change & feed. The poor kid had horrible reflux for the first couple months, so I'd feed her and then have to keep her body upright for at least 20 minutes. Usually during this time we'd fall asleep on the couch together and sleep for another 3 hours or so. When I woke up I'd carefully lay her back in the crib. Sometimes she'd sleep a few more hours, but usually she'd wake up within 1 hour for another feeding. At that time she would nap 3X each day, usually for 2-3 hours each time.

By 8 weeks she started lengthening the time she'd stay in the crib initially - I made it a point to ALWAYS start out by laying her in the crib so she would learn that was where she would sleep. As she gained weight she'd go longer during the night till we finally got to one middle-of-the-night feeding. Sometimes she'd wake up and cry a little bit, and we'd lay in bed holding our breath...but she managed to get herself back to sleep most of the time. One of us always crept in to check, though, as we were terrified of sids. We never had to let her "cry it out" or anything, which I guess was lucky, though Hub and I agreed if it came to that, we'd start between 3 and 4 months of age and no sooner (even the books we read advocated waiting until that point).

We'll see how it goes with the second one, but it seems that maintaining consistency with Daughter (always starting in the crib, keeping the lights off during night feedings, speaking quietly if at all, making diaper changes quick and uneventful, holding her till she fell back to sleep) helped a lot. There were a few nights when she cried a bit when put down, but by 10 weeks she could pretty much be put down awake and she'd go to sleep on her own, sleeping for about 8 hours, then 10, and now anywhere from 10-12. She still takes 2 naps per day.

The thing is, it's so irritating to a new mom when all people want to know is, "does she sleep?" Man, I swear. It's the RARE baby that sleeps anywhere near through the night from birth. By the time Daughter was 7 or 8 weeks, people - including, surprisingly, my own mother - were recommending books and methods to get Daughter to sleep more during the night. The thing was, I had accepted the fact that she would sleep through the night when she was ready, and I could only help her learn by doing the things mentioned above. Now, here is a disclaimer: I was not going back to work outside my home, so I didn't feel the push to get her to sleep through right away. Obviously, I needed and craved and desired more sleep for myself, but I leapt out of bed at Daughter's cries, and would have continued to do so for a longer time if I'd had to.

I will say that I would not continue to do this beyond 10-12 months, when weaning would take place. A baby of that age does not need to be fed during the night and is looking for comfort and attention. I'd certainly be trying to teach the child to comfort him/herself at that point. Mama does need her sleep and will be more effective at doing her job if she gets it. Also, it's just healthier for a child to have a night of uninterrupted sleep. However, this is MY point of view only (which is why I'm babbling about it here as opposed to in someone else's comments), and I feel terrible for the moms out there who are struggling with sleep issues right now. I don't know what advice to give so I cannot and will not give any. This is just a post about my experience with one child (and I'm sure I will be screwed when the second one comes as s/he will probably wake up 50 times each night and want to breastfeed till college).

But I am curious. Comment, if you wish, about what worked for you and your children. It's an interesting issue as every baby is different and every family is different.


Ramona said...

I always breastfed on demand. With my first child, I allowed him to breastfeed at night until he was about 12 months. I paid for that because he was up every night. With my second child I did not feed her during the night after 6 months. She has slept throught the night since that time.

Karen said...

Every child is so different. I think it's impossible to say that one method is "the best". I don't understand why it has to be a knock-down drag-out with some people. Ya know?

HangerMom said...

I've always been a fan of maintaining a schedule within reason. But I breastfed my first till she was over a year old and I'm still breastfeeding my second. I did night feedings for them, but both stopped wanting them by the time they were four months old or so, so I've been very lucky!

Jenn said...

Praise you for getting her to sleep in the crib first! I worked at a preschool last year and one of my babies would not go to sleep unless she was being held. It was not pleasant!

Teresa said...

I never would allow lil bit to sleep in my bed either, always her own bed. she started sleeping throught the night at three months. Then at six months a series of events happened that changed that.
1) I got an alergic reation to off bug spray, and had to take her off the breast for a week for steriods.

2) I made the decision after this week to put her back on breast exlusivly to build back up my supply, she ended up waking up at night because she was still hungry, even though she got cereal

3) somehow in this process she quit sucking her thumb, and that is how she would confort her self in the middle of the night

4) I went back to work when she was almost 7 months, and she REFUSED to take formula AT ALL. After that one week of pumping and dumping, I had a phobia of the pump. When I finally did pump, no one would give her it, and it would rot in the fridge (they gave her juice instead) Therfore, I could not bring myself to let her "cry it out" because some days she went six hours without breastmilk, and I thought she needed another feeding

so, yeah.. she is almost a year, and just now sleeps through most nights