Rest Well- Sleep Support From Sleep Consultant Rebecca Michi

The Leakies with Rebecca Michi

We asked sleep consultant Rebecca Michi to come help us all get some more sleep and we asked the Leakies to rate how they were sleeping on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best and to tell us about it. Here are a few of the responses followed by Rebecca’s support.

Rebecca Michi sleep consultant

Brittany: I would say a 4. my 13 mo wakes up every 1-2 hours and wants to nurse like a newborn. We co-sleep and started to transition to his crib. but I’m still not getting sleep he sits up and cries cause he can’t find the boob. He has never slept more then 3 hours. We have been on a bedtime routine for months now started bedtime at 7:30p and nothing seems to work. Read books about sleep did everything and still a short sleeper.

Rebecca: How long do you think he could go between feeds during the night right now? 3 hours? He could probably do without a feed at all during the night, but as he is used to feeding lots his tummy will be hungry if you drop to no feeds or have a long time between those feeds during the night. Get a little nightlight that you need to turn on before you feed at those 3 hour intervals during the night. This is the cue for a feed not just because he woke up. In between those feeds times do whatever you can do to help him back to sleep, rocking, walking, patting, singing, dancing, shushing, anything! If your partner can help in between those feeds it would be very helpful. Maybe you could both take short shifts. If you are trying to get him to sleep as it wasn’t a feed time when he woke and he doesn’t fall asleep, but you get to a feed time, turn that light on and feed him. Don’t worry if he falls asleep feeding. As he gets used to not being fed at every wake up and so often he should begin to increase those periods of sleep. You can continue to work on this until you are comfortable with the amount he’s feeding (or not!).

 

Lauren: I get less then 5 hours of sleep at night. In short 2 hour chunks. My son is 14 months, and barely goes 2h between comfort nursing. I would cosleep, but then he crawls all over me, and pinches and nurses all night long. I can’t take it any more. He hardly eats solids, and barely eats during waking hours. I love the snuggles, but have seriously contemplated bottle feeding my next child just so he/she isn’t so attached at the hip to me. I have never been away from my son for more than 4 hours in his life. It is very tiring, and does affect my relationship with my husband and older daughter (4).

Rebecca: If he’s getting the majority of his calories during the night he will wake often to nurse. Try as best you can get a few more nursing sessions into him during the day. Often people have success feeding before or after their child has napped, the room is dark, their child is relaxed and there are very few distractions around. You can also try offering solid foods little and often throughout the day. You can always add breastmilk to his solid foods.

During the night set your feed times, how long can he go between feeds? 3 hours? Only feed at those times. Have a little nightlight as your cue for feeding (turn it on before you feed) and help him back to sleep any way possible when it’s not a feed time. Don’t worry if he wakes after 2 hours, help as much as you need to, if he hasn’t fallen asleep at 3 hours since the last feed, turn the nightlight on and feed him. Continue through the night. He will have fed less during the night so make sure you are offering more nursing and solid foods the following day. Stick with the 3 hour feedings for 3 nights and then stretch out a little further (3 ½ or 4 hours?). Having your partner help with this would be a huge benefit as it will become more of a challenge before it gets better.

Sleep training 12 weeks 4 month sleep regression

Tearra: My 5 month old was such a good sleeper only waking every 4 hours at night. Untill he reached about 3 months old. For the last 2 months he has been waking every 1 to 2 hours at night wants to be nursed back to bed every time. Will not take a bottle. He sleeps in his own room. He’s my 3rd baby, and I can’t Cosleep. It’s not comfortable to me. I’m so tired. I don’t know what to do. My other little now 2 and 5 never did this and our still great sleepers.

Rebecca: There is a very big shift that happens with sleep at around 12 weeks of age (52 weeks from conception, so it does depend if they were born early of late), children shift from having infant sleep cycles to having adult sleep cycles (they are shorter than ours). From then on they have REM dream sleep and a deep sleep (they didn’t before). They also begin to produce melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone) when they get into a dark dim environment. Going through this shift can make very big changes to the way a child sleeps and as parents we get to help them through that. It’s not unusual that this began around 12 weeks of age.

First off I would take a look at the day routine, whenever I work with a family we always work on the routines first, it can have a huge impact on night sleep. Have a maximum of 2 hours awake and then a nap, have a 10 minute nap routine (really consistent and within your awake time), all throughout the day. Being awake for longer can result in short naps and then overtiredness when going to bed at night, when we are overtired we struggle to fall asleep and remain asleep.

As you are not bed sharing it doesn’t look like you will be over helping (where you are helping too soon), I presume he is wide awake before you are going and helping (this is a good thing to do, we want to make sure he is awake and actually needing help when you go in). Have you tried not feeding? Sending your partner in to help? If feeding is the only way you can get your child to sleep (at the beginning of the night and as back to sleep during the night) you may want to consider some gentle sleep training. My technique, The Michi Method is a very hands on gentle technique. This will gradually and gently teach your child to fall asleep more independently and back asleep more independently, when it isn’t a feed time. He may still need a feed during the night until he is around 12 months old, just not every 2 hours and not as they only way to get back to sleep.

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We’re so excited to be giving away 4 of Rebecca’s books Sleep And Your Child’s Temperament to 4 lucky Leakies! Use the widget below to enter.

Comment here if you have a question you would like Rebecca to answer next time.

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small Rebecca Michi121 Rebecca is a Children’s Sleep Consultant who has been working with families for over 20 years. She is a gentle sleep consultant who doesn’t believe in leaving your child to cry-it-out when teaching them to fall asleep more independently. She is passionate about helping children and their parents build healthy habits so they can finally get some sleep. By transforming drama into dreamland, her mission is to help your children—and you—get a good night’s sleep.
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Sugarbaby’s New Year’s Pro-Breastfeeding Tips and Resolutions for the New Year for the Breastfed Baby

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Sugarbaby
Sugarbaby eats dirt

Sugarbaby eating dirt when she was still a little nursling.

It’s a new year, my 3rd new year to celebrate so I am old hat at ringing in the new year and making resolutions. My mommy says any time is a good time to decide to make changes but lots of people think there is something about the new year that makes it the perfect time to resolve to do things differently. So, to help you get this new year started out right, I’m sharing with you my best resolution tips for breastfed babies.

1) Start sleeping through the night. Your parents, specially mommy, will have more energy to do fun things like build block towers for you to knock over, create Pinterest worth play dates, and make you handmade outfits. Maybe even wash her hair every day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Just kidding, you don’t want to do that! Specially not if you’re still breastfeeding lots. It’s SUPER DUPER important you wake up lots and lots to have mama milks at night and sleep nurse too, check it out here. Did you know that mommies’ bodies make more milk at night? By breastfeeding all the time at night, you help mama make more milkies for you and that’s even better than block towers. Pinterest play dates are over rated anyway and let’s be honest, you’d rather be naked than wear a cute outfit that you’re just going to get snot on anyway.

2) Teeth mostly at night. Those chompers HURT coming in but once you have them and you can eat things like carrots, you’re going to be glad you have them. But getting them is no fun. The best way through that though is to make sure you have undivided parental attention which means, night time. There’s nothing else going on, they’re just trying to sleep and you know how boring that is, which means they have nothing better to do than just hold you while you loudly inform them of your suffering. And that also means it’s good mama milks time which can help you feel a little better. Sometimes. Sometimes everything hurts no matter what but at least you have mommy right there all night long.

3) Build up your immune system. What’s the immune system? I don’t really know but I know my mommy sometimes loves my immune system and sometimes hates it. I’ve learned somethings though, like getting exposed to stuff helps your immune system and though my mommy doesn’t like it when I put stuff in my mouth I find on the ground, she says hopefully it’s just building a strong immune system. So I like to help. By licking shopping cart handles, chewing on tables when we’re out to eat, and finding out what the poles we find on our walks taste like. My mommy doesn’t like it but I’m just helping my immune system. You don’t want a weak one, start tasting the seats the next time you go to the doctor’s office!

4) Be patient while mommy showers, best if you nap during it. Mommy’s get stinky. You don’t want a stinky mommy, this year, help her get clean. Her hair will be so pretty and when you give her snuggles she’ll smell so nice.

Tricked ya!

I understand playing in the water, I love baths and going swimming but I don’t understand mommy’s fascination with dumping water on her head and using soap. Yuck. Worse, she washes away her yummy mama smell! I hate that. So as soon as she gets out of the shower, when I’m done freaking out because I see with my own eyes that she didn’t totally disappear and wash away forever, I have to have mama milks. RIGHT AWAY. Before she is finished drying off, before she gets dressed, and before I forget. You must do this every time, having some bobbies will help her smell much better after a shower. If you can, help her get some mama milk all over by dribbling it on her tummy, spitting up on her clean outfit, or crying as she’s getting dressed so she leaks on her clothes. That will fix it right up, if you do it right, she won’t even smell like she ever even took a shower within an hour.

5) Smile. A smile is like magic. When you smile, people smile back. When you’re really little, smiling is just fun. When you get a little bigger, smiling is a tool. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night crying, when you see a parental unit, smile and even if they aren’t too happy about being woken up (serious question here, why do grown ups actually seem to like sleep? Isn’t that silly?) they can’t help but smile back. When you start being able to climb and you climb something you’re not supposed to (I know, I know, why did they put it there if they didn’t want you to climb it?) charm them as they attempt to redirect you (don’t lose your focus though!) and they’ll start thinking maybe it’s ok for you to climb because you smiled. Then you’ll really know how to use a smile when you do the fun things you’re not supposed to, like rub all the diaper salve all over mommy’s bedspread, or pour shampoo all over the bathroom floor and have all your toys go skating in it, or climb up the counter and use the fluffy flour stuff to make it snow in the kitchen… Fix it all with a smile. When they find you (I find the best time to do this is when they go potty and actually close the door so you can’t keep them company, why don’t grown ups want company when they go poopie?), give them a BIG smile and invite them to join you in the most fun ever! It helps a lot and maybe they’ll let you keep having fun (probably not).

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of "jump out of daddy's arms to get to mommy."

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of “jump out of daddy’s arms to get to mommy.”

6) Think about liking other grown ups. Mommy is your favorite, obviously, she has the mama milks. But you could consider sometimes hanging out with another grown up for a little bit. It could be fun. You could discover something new. You might even like it.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Gotcha again!

You don’t want to do that! She might SHOWER! And it’s important you always keep an eye on the mama milks, silly.

That’s it babies, hope your new year is off to a great start. Share your wisdom here for other Leaky babies, we all have to stick together! Happy New Year!

Happy Breastfeeding,

~ Sugarbaby

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Our night weaning journey, even more questions answered.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here and a second round here.

 

Originally I tried to answer all your questions in one post but it was too darn long, you can find more questions here.  Much too long for sleep deprived people to read any way.  So I broke it into two parts.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.

 

What do you do if baby just screams bloody murder when DF/DH/partner goes in to settle them? Do u finally give in and give em the [email protected]@b?

First I would try to sooth them without the breast but with cuddling with me.  Sometimes I think it works great to have the non-breastfeeding partner to do the soothing when night weaning.  Other times I think the child becomes confused, not only do they not get to breastfeed, they don’t get their mommy.  There is a significant bond between mother and child and that bond still needs to be honored.  Smunchie still wants me at night, even if it’s me without the bobbies.  Honestly, I think being denied access to the mother could be traumatizing if her presence is truly what the child needs.

If that still didn’t work and if the crying crossed the line of what I can comfortably accept as just expressing anger into feeling abandoned or betrayed then I would nurse.  I would do so because I would have to consider that my child is responding this way simply because they are not ready to night wean.  In Dr. Gordon’s plan he warns that there may be a few nights that are really rough but by this point most parents would be doing this they would know the difference between angry cry and totally confused, scared cry.

 

Could you have coped with this method on your own, or do you think it worked so well because you had the help of your husband on the worst nights? (Single mother here, trying to work out how best to go about on my own)

Yes, I do think it would have worked on my own.  There were a few nights that I did it completely on my own because Squiggle Bug needed The Piano Man.  The hardest part for me on my own was staying awake enough to follow through with the plan and not just nurse so I could try to sleep.

 

Do you regret not night weaning sooner? Also, sometimes my 12mo will wake up and be up for 1.5-2 hours at time. Does night weaning help with this problem also?

Part of me wishes we had tried it sooner but only because I was feeling so incredibly burned out as a parent and getting sick of breastfeeding.  Those feeling have completely lifted with the night weaning, not that I always love breastfeeding but I am enjoying it more and can relax to be more in the moment.  However, I’m not convinced that earlier would have been right for Smunchie and would not have ended well.  So I don’t regret the decision to wait until I felt she was ready.  Yes, the night weaning has helped with the extended night waking/play time thing too.

 

Not sure if you could answer this one, but I was wondering what age would a baby/toddler wean himself the night nursing, if the parents are not actively trying to encourage him/her to stop nursing in the night.  I have a 11 months old that wakes up 6-7 times a night, to nurse, If i do not nurse her she is crying in a very panicky/distress way.  We co-sleep and we do get our rest for the time being, but would be nice to have a bit of a perspective.

Usually between 2-4 years old if it’s on their own.

 

I’m curious how you arrange the sleeping surfaces in your bedroom?

I don’t have any pictures of my bedroom or I’d show you.  It’s a tiny room with not a lot of room once the bed is in there.  Our queen-sized bed is against one wall with Smunchie’s pack-n-play directly across from it against the opposite wall about 2 feet from the end of our bed.  That’s usually where she starts out and stays until her morning waking any more but when she was waking she’d end up in bed with me.  Often, even still, The Piano Man ends up in Squiggle Bug’s room sleeping with her as she still wakes during the night.

 

What foods do you offer that you think help with more sleep/less waking?  Sometimes I wonder if dinner wasn’t substantial enough when my 11 mo old wakes in the middle of the night.  Why almond milk? i’m feeling the pressure to start cow’s milk but I, myself, don’t drink cow’s milk so I’m hesitant to offer it.

We go for high calorie, high fat and high protein foods in the evening. Rice and beans are a favorite with some avocado, Greek yogurt, meat (providing Smunchie will eat it, often she won’t), nut butters, cheese, quinoa (she LOVES this), eggs, veggies in a “cream” sauce (we use Greek yogurt for that usually), hummus (I make several varieties including traditional, black bean, white kidney bean, etc.) avocado with anything, and almond milk. As to why almond milk, we’re an omnivore family but Smunchie doesn’t like cow or any other mammal milk but mine but she loves almond milk. I like that it is a good source of protein and is yummy. Since we have no nut allergies in my family I don’t have to worry about giving my kids nuts after 12 months.

We offer a cup of water usually with her meals and she drinks almond milk because she doesn’t like any other milk. Smunchie still nurses often, several times a day. She’ll continue for a long time still, a couple of times a day I’ll offer her a cup of water and in the evening she gets a cup of almond milk as we read stories. But it doesn’t replace me, not by a long shot, she wants to nurse often!

 

What’s your bed time routine for Smunchie?  How do you get her to go down without breastfeeding her to sleep?

Because I have older kids or used to be on-call to attend births I always felt like I had to be sure my babies could go down without the breast.  Here’s what works for us.   Around 7.15-7.30 or even 7.15-8.30 (flexibility is crucial in our family, the reality of having older children with activities) we start getting ready.  A story or two (usually French selections daddy reads) with Smunchie and Squiggle Bug on the couch while Squiggle Bug drinks a cup of milk and Smunchie a cup of almond milk.  Then brushing teeth and getting into pajamas.  After giving good night kisses to the entire family we split up, The Piano Man taking Squiggle Bug and Smunchie is with me.  On night’s that he’s working I work it out on my own.  I nurse Smunchie for a bit while reading to her but I haven’t let her fall asleep consistently on the breast for a long time now so when she’s done she sits up and we read a few more books.  Then I say a little prayer with her, we snuggle, I start singing something and stand up, she hands me everything she wants in bed with her (usually a couple cooks, her lovey and her doll and sometimes random things like shoes), I lay those down and then she reaches for me.  We stand just outside her bed hugging while I continue to sing and then I lay her down.  I stay in the room singing for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I tell her good night and slip out.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.  Thank you for letting me share our journey with you.

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Our night weaning journey, more questions answered

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6night 7 and the one month update.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.

Ah… she sleeps.
Between the Facebook page, comments on the night weaning journey blog posts and emails I received quite a few questions about our night weaning experience.  I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject.  All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way.  I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.  There were several questions so I’ve broken them up into two parts (you can find the second part here) in addition to the first round of questions I answered a month ago.  I hope you find these helpful.

 

When is a good time to start thinking about night weaning and moving baby into their own sleep space? How do you go about it? How do you know if they’re ready?

I really think the answer to this is very unique to each family and each baby.  If by own sleep space you mean their own room I’m really not sure.  We’ve done it different every time but what I have noticed is that when the child is ready they will a) do it on their own and b) it won’t be a struggle.  We’ve had difficult transitions and easy transitions.  Now though it’s kind of easy, nobody in our family is in their own room, everybody shares.  When the transition happens they get to be with a big sister, which they usually think is pretty cool.  At 3 years old Squiggle Bug still comes and finds us though, she’s in our bed more than Smunchie is actually.  She just has a higher need to be close to someone at night.  Sometimes she seeks out a sister but usually she prefers her daddy.  We’ve felt that they are ready when they are sleeping well, enjoy the bedtime routine, like the idea of their own space, and seem to be exerting their independence a little more.

 

How do you night wean when your baby doesn’t take a bottle at all! Only uses norma cups or a straw!

Smunchie doesn’t use a bottle and she doesn’t really care for sippy cups either.  She does, however, love regular cups.  What I do is let her take a drink from the glass of water I have by my bed every night if she seems thirsty when she wakes.  We just sit on the bed together and I help her hold the cup steady while she guides it to her mouth to drink.  It works great for us.  If thirst is what woke her up she will settle quickly after that.

 

What are some cues that your baby maybe ready for night time weaning (currently 9 mos and night nursing 3-4 times)?

Studies have shown that babies under 12 months still need to wake often to eat both for nutrition and for safety in their sleep cycle.  So I don’t look for any signs of readiness before 12 months.  After the one year mark though any combination of these may be signs of readiness to night wean:

  • Seems tired and grumpy during the day.
  • Eats well (solids and breast milk) during the day.
  • Has moved through some of the major milestones such as walking.
  • Does NOT have intense separation anxiety.
  • Is not actively teething or sick.
  • Seems frustrated and restless at night at the breast
  • Wakes to nurse but falls quickly back to sleep without really eating.
  • Shows basic understanding to phrases like “all done.”
  • Shows interest and awareness in bed time routines and day time vs. night time.
  • May play putting toys to bed.
  • Responds to soothing other than breastfeeding (i.e. rocking, singing, back rubs, etc.)

I think night weaning is most successful if the child is truly ready for it, please don’t expect that just because your child is over a year they will be ready to night wean.  If it is a giant struggle or at any time the parents feel this is all wrong and not what they want to be doing then they should stop.  It is possible that a child won’t be ready one month but will be the next.  Remaining flexible is perhaps the most important key to night weaning.  Maybe all of parenting actually.

 

Help! I’m tandem feeding and can’t cope ending 2 children at night. My 21/2 year old is up for 1-4 hours 4 out of 5 nights! How do I night wean her gently?

I recommend Dr. Jay Gordon’s technique or The No Cry Sleep Solution.  I’ve used both and found them to both be helpful.  To help prepare for the transition, work on establishing a home rhythm or routine, particularly for going to bed.  It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, just a regular pattern to your days.  I also highly recommend reading the book Nursie’s When The Sun Shines to read with her.  For gentle night weaning keep it mind that what makes it gentle is you continuing to be available, just not offering the breast.

 

How have you and The Piano Man adjusted to the night weaning? Was it harder or easier (emotionally speaking) than you thought? Would you use that method again?

The first few nights she slept completely through the night I would wake often, like my body was just programmed to wake up several times.  I adjusted pretty quickly though and one reason I think we were ready was that I didn’t get engorged through the process, was able to pump but not overflowing.  The Piano Man did fine though he’s still getting up at least once a night with Squiggle Bug (he’s her night time parent of choice, I suspect because I was often nursing Smunchie when she’d need someone) so we’d still like to get that worked out for his sake.  Emotionally I was very ready though so it wasn’t very hard at all.  I thought it would be and there was a twinge of sadness that this phase is over which makes her seem so much bigger to me now.  But that twinge is nothing compared to the frustration I felt at being so tired that I wasn’t the kind of mother I wanted to be during the day to all of my children.

Yes, I would use this method again.  Simple and easy to follow while still maintaining that night time parenting availability we are committed to.

 

I need to night wean my 18 month old! He is only nursing at night and it’s just to fall back asleep. Less than 5 minutes but can be up to 4x a night! I am due in Nov with #2 and don’t want to nurse the two together. Is that bad…?

Nope, it’s not bad.  If you are comfortable with it, if it’s working for you and your family then no need to change.  There is no rule that says you have to night wean or ruin your child.  If it’s not working for you then work to change it.  Maybe try night weaning sooner rather than later though, just so your son doesn’t blame the baby for the change.  Be prepared too, there could be a regression in other areas after his sibling arrives.  That’s not a bad thing, just part of processing the added element in his environment.  Another idea would be to wait until you’ve actually tried it with both, you may not mind it as much as you think.  It’s important to remember that you won’t be pregnant any more so the frustration and feelings you may be experiencing now could change.  Whatever you decide to do though try to remain flexible and enjoy the journey.  Do what is right for your family.

 

How did you transition Smunchie from your bed to her own? Did you feel like you were missing something? Or was it more of a relief that you got your bed back and sleep? I’m a SAHM with only one 16 month old. I’ve tried putting DD in her own bed which is right next to mine but I find I actually sleep less.

Five for five now, I sleep better when they aren’t in bed with me.  Every body is different and some love sleeping with their babies, others don’t mind and some of us can’t stand it.  I’m the last sort.  I do it because I believe it’s what she needs and there are moments when I love it.  They’re brief moments.  But that’s ok, I don’t mind.  There are plenty of other parenting responsibilities I don’t like either but I’m going to keep doing them for the safety and well being of my child.  I started the transition when she was still an infant by laying her down during naps.  It was no problem to just extend that to night sleeping as well.

 

My DD is 10 weeks old and has slept through the night since 1-2 weeks old. No matter what I did to wake her up at night to eat she would cry and “yell” at me and go right back to sleep refused to nurse for more than a min or two. She still sleeps through the night for a good solid 6 hrs but she sleeps in a cradle next to my bed. What is the best way to transition her to her crib?

Personally, I’d keep her in your room.  In your room in her crib or cradle doesn’t matter.  There are some major changes coming up that will completely change how she sleeps at night and not only will it be easier to meet her needs during those times if she’s still in her room, you’ll be able to do so sooner which will go a long way in helping her feel safe and secure.  Plus, hopefully actually get more sleep.  As to how, we always tried transitioning at nap time first.  Lay her down in her crib after following all the same routine you already do getting ready for naps.  Stay close by so you can comfort her easily if need be.  She may not even notice.

 

Have you noticed an increase in day nursing? We’re 3 weeks into night weaning and it seems like DD can’t get enough during the day.

Yep.  Specially in the morning.  Smunchie now wakes up around 7.30am (except for the last week, she’s started favoring the 6am hour) and cuddles in bed to nurse.  It’s usually a long session.  Then we get up, do our morning thing and within 20 minutes she wants me to sit and nurse her again.  Another long one.  Then breakfast with the family and almost without fail another boob session following the family meal.  After that she doesn’t nurse again for a while, usually around nap time.

 

I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma.  Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone.

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Sleep is the bomb. One month night weaning update.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1 night 2 night 3 night 4 night 5, night 6, and night 7.  I also answered one round of questions about our experience here.

 


It’s been a month since our night weaning journey.  So where are we now?  Zombie parents?  Or happy shiny, awake parents?

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie turned out to be a very good idea for our family.

Night weaning 18 month old Smunchie right before a 2 week road thrip?  Risky.

When we decided to give night weaning a try using Dr. Jay Gordon’s method of night weaning it came out of a desperate necessity to increase the amount of sleep we were getting.  The timing was little more than reaching the end of our rope just as we felt that Smunchie was showing signs of being ready to give up her bobbies at night.  As we began planning to follow Dr. Gordon’s strategy I hoped it would mean that before we left for a 2 week driving vacation across the midwestern United States The Piano Man and I would be able to get enough sleep to not make driving any riskier than it need to be.

It worked, we actually hit the road feeling well rested and Smunchie sleeping anywhere between 8-11 hours each night.

This part of the plan was great, being rested before going on a 2 week cross-country driving trip?  Yes please.

But I was concerned.  I know big changes to a toddler’s routine can throw everything into a tailspin and everything from eating to sleeping could become unpredictable.  Sleeping in a different place most nights, meeting lots of new people, hiking, long days on the road, and all kinds of variables outside our control definitely count as big changes to Smunchie’s routine.  I was concerned that our recent night weaning would become completely undone and we’d be saying “well, she WAS night weaned but now…”

This part of the plan was about as brilliant as those polar bear swims they do in places that freeze in January.  Could be fun and life changing but most likely is just going to kill something you’d actually like to keep on your body.

I had no need to worry though.  Smunchie rolled with the punches and though she developed an amazing ability to transform into one angry flailing octopus any time we headed toward her car seat, sleep was something she approached as a familiar friend.  Hotel room, friends house, sharing a bed with her sisters, on a fold out with The Piano Man and I, in a friend’s Pack-N-Play or even on a palette on the floor she slept.  Which meant we all slept.  Which meant we all actually enjoyed the trip and had more to talk about than “all I really remember is nights of crying and being really tired…”

(Which is why this post is punctuated by random hipstamatic pics from our trip.  That way I can just tell my mom to check the blog to see pics of our trip.  Enjoy!)

Being well rested probably suited the diabolical plans she was concocting to destroy her car seat.  Thankfully, she couldn’t execute them just yet.  I’m hoping the seat has a few more years before she exacts her revenge.  I’m pretty sure I heard her talking in her sleep in the hotel one night, something about “seat… no, no, nooooo!.. go away… poop… chocolate… big sister…”  This could end badly.

We’ve been home for a couple of weeks now and Smunchie is still sleeping through the night without nursing.  She’s recently started having occasional wakings that seem like she’s had a nightmare but a cuddle and gently whispered encouragement and she’s back out in no time.  If she does require something more we’re at a place where we aren’t so drained that we can’t be completely present with her.  The couple of nights she’s had a rough time for some reason I have been able to handle well, more aware.

Some observations since night weaning Smunchie:

  • Random hugs.  Instead of wanting to nurse every time she sees me sometimes she’s satisfied just to get a big squeeze and run off to the really fun stuff in life.
  • When she does want some boob time though it’s a longer, more focused and more real feeling feeding.  And I enjoy it more.
  • It could be coincidence or it could be related but she’s developed a lot more personality and suddenly reached some social milestones almost over night.  I suspect better sleep for her has something to do with this.
  • When she wakes up in the morning she is really, really up.  She’s well rested and ready to get rocking and rolling.  Which is kind of irritating me since she’s decided she’s wide awake at 6am lately.  She’ll play in her bed sometimes but thankfully Lolie is also an early riser so the 2 of them go off to play together in the living room and I snooze for another 45 minutes or so.
  • More often she wants to nurse to sleep at night but then doesn’t ask for it again if she does happen to wake during the night.  I’ve been stopping her with “bobbies all done” when I can tell she’s going to fall asleep and sometimes she complains about that but usually it goes well and she’s clearly ready to go to her bed.
  • I still can’t get over how I feel.  My back pain has diminished to almost none, my fatigue is also mostly gone (except when I stay up too late doing my own thing- such as writing this post, can only blame myself for that!), and my energy level is way up.  It’s great.  With all of this I’m so much more the parent and partner I’ve wanted to be for so long but struggled with just because of sheer exhaustion.
  • I shower more regularly.  Seriously, I really do.  I also actually get dressed, more than the yoga pants t-shirt look.  I’m even wearing jewelry again AND cute shoes.
  • My productivity and my fun-mom-energy has been great.  Not perfect but I never will be, I can live with improved.
  • Patience is a virtue.  And one directly linked to sleep for me.  There’s more to it than that but all my girls have noticed.  I’m more patient with them, with myself and with the thousands of drivers in Houston that oddly enough don’t have working turn signals or at least don’t know how to use them.

Right before we decided to night wean I was struggling often with feeling like I hated breastfeeding.  Me, The Leaky Boob hating breastfeeding?  Yep.  This admission, even just to myself, was a bit horrifying.  However, it was there and I had to examine why.  Within a week of Smunchie being night weaned that feeling was completely gone and though I’ll never completely love breastfeeding (I’ve shared that before) I am enjoying it much more now and am ok with going on for a good while longer.

So all in all this night weaning experience worked very well for us.  I’m glad we waited until we felt the time was right and I’m beyond thrilled Smunchie agreed.  We’re no longer zombie parents, at least not most of the time.  I’m pretty much a happy, shiny awake parent now and it’s been loads of fun.  In the time since we night weaned not only did we travel for 2 week but we raised a whole batch of frog eggs all the way through, made numerous batches of play dough, had loads of living room dance parties, done special outings, seen a couple of movies at the theater, gone on bike rides, played in the sprinkler, spent hours coloring with sidewalk chalk, taught Lolie how to knit, gotten most of us back into knitting (turning fall-ward I think), had more dates with The Piano Man and… probably way TMI… I’ve had a whole lot more sex and it’s the really good kind too.

This sleeping thing?  Yeah, it’s the bomb.

 

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Our Night Weaning Journey,Your Questions Answered

 

This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.

After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it.  You can read about night 1, night 2, night 3, night 4, night 5, night 6, and night 7.

The last two nights Smunchie has slept 11 hours straight.  Yesterday I felt like a new woman.  As we’ve been sharing this journey I’ve been asked several questions so I thought I’d take some time to answer them all at once.  The questions range from the very practical (i.e. what’s your bed time routine) to more about our parenting approach or why we decided to do XYZ.  I am not a doctor or any sort of expert on any of this, all I am doing is sharing our choices as parents and why.  It is up to you to make as informed of a choice as you can for what will work best for your family.  I have included links that I think may be helpful to your research as they were to ours.

Why not put Smunchie in her own room?  Wouldn’t that help, specially if she wakes when you go into the room you share?

With our 3 older girls we did put them in their own room at some point in their first year, usually around 4 months.  However it didn’t really help us get sleep since we had to go to them and they often ended up in our room anyway.  Additionally we are a family of 7 living in a small 3 bedroom house (with one bathroom) and there’s not a room.  Everyone shares sleeping space in our family so it’s really not even an option.

More importantly and why we wouldn’t put her in her own room even if we could is because we don’t want to.  Over the years we’ve changed and learned a lot as parents and we have a better understanding of child development which has led to us making different decisions than we ever expected.  Including decisions related to co-sleeping/bed sharing.  I’ll be honest (always am), I don’t like bed sharing and don’t particularly care for co-sleeping even.  Just another thing in my parenting list I’m not crazy about.  I also don’t like changing diapers and sometimes I hate making meals.  But through research and personal experience The Piano Man and I feel that what our children need is to be with us and us with them, even through the night.  Over the years co-sleeping has started growing on me and I’m starting to enjoy and appreciate the practice more.  The research we’ve done strongly supports co-sleeping and bed sharing.  If you’d like to learn more about the sleep needs of infants and small children, I strongly suggest this very thorough review of co-sleeping by James J. McKenna and Thomas McDade of the University of Notre Dame.  This review may help some to understand better why we choose to co-sleep with our babies.

Wouldn’t it be easier to let her cry it out?

Easier for whom?  Ok, I wasn’t actually asked this question, or at least not so directly, just implied.  I’ve been asked even more direct than that in real life, however so I feel it’s one I should address.  The Piano Man and I feel that cry it out (CIO) or sleep training is not something that would be right for our family.  We tried it, once, 11 years ago, when Earth Baby was about 18 months.  It was traumatic and I believe greatly harmed our relationship, which I share a little bit about in the post I Dream of Sleep.  I know some people swear by it and I have friends that have used this practice and their children seem to have experienced no harm that I can see.  Still, it’s not right for us.  There are concerns about levels of cortisol in a child’s brain when left to cry it out and some associations with attachment disorder related to cry it out methods.  The risk and our own personal experience as well as our philosophy of gentle parenting eliminate CIO entirely as an option for helping us get more sleep.  These concerns have been covered in mainstream news outlets as well as reputable medical journals.  Even without that all it takes is one flashback memory to know I will never do that with my children again.

I don’t understand how you can do this, how can you deny your child her milk and how can she possibly understand?  Why would you ever do that?

It’s so neat to see that people care enough for my family and me to ask even the really hard questions.  I got a few emails and comments on Facebook asking me this and maybe even 1 or 2 on the blog posts, people genuinely concerned that night weaning would be confusing and harmful for Smunchie.  The concern and care is so appreciated and I am touched.  One woman said “…I just feel sad, when I read. I cannot ever imagine denying my babe milk day or night, nor can i think of a reason to try or want to try…I really cannot.”  I shared with her this list of reasons: Because I’ve been so exhausted when I’ve gotten behind the wheel of the car that later I wondered if I shouldn’t have driven. Because I’ve had conversations with my older kids and realized I couldn’t even pay attention long enough to remember what they said. Because my 12 year old some times needs someone to talk to late at night away from her sisters. Because I can’t keep my children prisoners in my house simply because I am lacking the energy to keep up with them and their activities. Because I struggle to get any sleep with a child at the breast and lack of sleep leads to me being irritable and not the kind of parent or partner or really even just the kind of person I want to be. Because with my history of sexual abuse sometimes I start feeling trapped and don’t want to resent my child. Because I have experienced doing things carelessly or dangerously simply because I was too tired to be doing them at all. Because I am educated enough to know that physically she can go 8 hours without additional calories and therefor can experience comfort in other ways. Because I know my child well enough and am and have been tuned in to her needs long enough to be confident enough in my parenting to know she’s ready for this and we have found a way that works for all of us- including her. Because I’m human and know that if things don’t change I will be facing depression stemming from deep fatigue and that is not good for my family. Because I want to remember her toddler time, not just get through it.

I believe Smunchie can understand it because I’m with her and that even more than the breast, I am what she needs. We have each other and she understood before I even did that my breast is not the only way she receives comfort from me. Because she’s not going through this change alone, we are going through it together.  The way we are bringing about this change is mindful of her needs, attentive to her cues, gentle in approach and flexible to modifications.  Together we learn to give and find balance.  And no, I don’t think my 18 month old who can understand sharing a toy with her sister or a bite of her apple with me is too young to understand accepting comfort measures other than what she prefers.

Extended sleep deprivation is dangerous.  There comes a point when one must calculate the risks and I am certain that it was becoming increasingly dangerous for us to continue to try and operate at such a level of fatigue.  I feared for the safety of my children.

How old is Smunchie?  Why now?  Why not younger/older?

Smunchie is 18 months old, born December 28, 2009.

This is going to sound so unscientific: because now felt right.  Unscientific but important.  More and more we were seeing Smunchie seek other forms of comfort besides the breast and respond well to them.  She was also having fits at night that the breast wouldn’t sooth.  We observed that after certain foods offered at dinner she would sleep better with less wakings.  It seemed that she was not in the middle of any major milestone and would have a bit before something new would develop.  And I could tell my fatigue was becoming crippling at best, dangerous at worst with depression seeping into my daily life as a result of my exhaustion even when I forced myself to bed early.  Knowing that physically she could go longer stretches without requiring additional calories as well as being aware that often her suckling at night was not giving her calories, just comfort, I felt confident she could transition to  going without the breast at night.

While I have longed for a good night’s sleep for a very long time, doing so before now would not have been the right time for Smunchie and our family.  I believe she wasn’t ready until now.  In fact, I have found that research supports that before at least 1 year babies are not ready to go the night without waking and there are actually advantages to them waking frequently at night including a lower risk of SIDS.  As much as I would have loved to sleep more before now I do not believe that Smunchie was physically, developmentally and emotionally ready to do so.  If we had waited I’m afraid I would have begun to resent her and we didn’t want to continue the pattern we had begun to establish in our fatigue of not being the kind of parents, partners or people we want to be.

Why use Dr. Gordon’s method and not something else?

Since CIO wasn’t an option for our family there really wasn’t a lot left.  We like the No-Cry Sleep Solution but I was too tired to implement it well or even read the book again.  We did use the No-Cry method with Squiggle Bug and liked it at the time.  I think we would have liked it now too but we were looking for something more simple.  Back with The Storyteller we tried The Baby Whisperer and at the time we kind of liked it.  It was hard though and a little too close to CIO for us so we modified it greatly.  When I read Dr. Gordon’s Sleep, Changing Patterns In The Family Bed I felt that it not only fit our parenting desires but was also something we could manage and The Piano Man agreed.  Simple and compassionate.  I don’t care how great a method is, if it’s too complicated to implement when you’re exhausted then it’s probably not going to work.  I love that Dr. Gordon’s suggestions are not according to some arbitrary age that a child should be sleeping through the night and instead he encourages parents to do what works for their family.  He just shares the tools that can work when and if the family wants to use them.

How have you functioned on so little sleep for so long?  Why do you stay up late?

The sleep patterns of our little ones tend to change every few months so it’s not been the entire time that we’ve been waking every 2 hours or so, just since 12 months and she’s now 18 months so it’s been a 6 month stretch this time.  Before that it was more like 3-4 hours, there was a period with more like 5-6 and other times that it was every 2.  I’ve always been able to function pretty well on less sleep.  My natural rhythm is, unfortunately, out of synch with most of the world so I’ve adapted to a middle ground.  I become very alert around 9pm so going to bed early is very difficult, instead I just tend to do with less sleep.  And I like coffee, a lot.  I also take vitamins and try to stay very well hydrated and avoid processed foods.  Between my performance background in music and theater and my midwifery training (moms tend to labor at night) I’ve gotten pretty good at making just a few hours of sleep work for me.  The 8-midnight is my time to get work done, work for TLB, work for my other job and release my creative side.  This is important to my mental and emotional health, when I have neglected this I become depressed and bitter.  I have to have balance of all the various sides of myself which is why I find it important to Nurture the Nurturer.

However, if I go very long periods without decent sleep I can certainly feel it’s effect.  Less than 5 hours for more than a few days and I feel nauseated, grumpy, struggle with memory and I notice the very mild heart condition I have starts making me feel uncomfortable.  When that happens I try to find some way to get more sleep such as The Piano Man taking the girls out or putting a movie on and me sleeping on the couch.  About twice a week I go to bed “early”, between 9.30 and 11pm.

What’s your bedtime routine with Smunchie?  Does she nurse to sleep?

Around 7.15-7.30 or even 7.15-8.30 (flexibility is crucial in our family, the reality of having older children with activities) we start getting ready.  A story or two (usually French selections daddy reads) with Smunchie and Squiggle Bug on the couch while Squiggle Bug drinks a cup of milk and Smunchie a cup of almond milk.  Then brushing teeth and getting into pajamas.  After giving good night kisses to the entire family we split up, The Piano Man taking Squiggle Bug and Smunchie is with me.  On night’s that he’s working I work it out on my own.  I nurse Smunchie for a bit while reading to her but I haven’t let her fall asleep consistently on the breast for a long time now so when she’s done she sits up and we read a few more books.  Then I say a little prayer with her, we snuggle, I start singing something and stand up, she hands me everything she wants in bed with her (usually a couple cooks, her lovey and her doll and sometimes random things like shoes), I lay those down and then she reaches for me.  We stand just outside her bed hugging then give kisses and say night-night while I continue to sing and lay her down.  I stay in the room but out of sight singing or mm-hmming for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I slip out.  She doesn’t usually cry or fuss at all but if she does I go to her, pat or rub her back and stay close by.  Every great once in a while she will nurse to sleep if we’ve been out too late or if she just can’t seep to settle but it is, by now, the exception.

How did you get Smunchie to take a lovey object?

I planned for it before she was even born.  While I was still pregnant I slept with the little blanket we picked to be her special object so it would smell like me.  From birth it’s just been “around.” Once it was safe for it to join her in her bed we would lay her down with it.  It just stuck.

I was asked a few other questions including some regarding how I fixed her lazy toddler latch and using the phrase “bobbies all done” and her accepting that.  There is a future article planned on breastfeeding a toddler some where I share more about these and other tips related to breastfeeding an older baby or toddler.

We’re not experts, just figuring it out as we go along like most parents.  Along the way we’ve adapted and changed as we have adjusted to the different personalities and needs of our different children and shifting family dynamic.  Identifying what is important to us we make it work with flexibility.  What works for us may not work for you and what’s important to us may not be important to you.  Hopefully with parents sharing their stories and experiences along the way combined with taking responsibility to research and surround ourselves with knowledgable doctors and experts as well as those willing to help and support us in our goals/desires you and I can make the best decisions we can at the time with the information and resources available.  Thanks for letting us share our journey with you.

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Do you have other questions for us about the night weaning process?  Or something else?  Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll try to get to those as well.  No question but have some thoughts on what you read here?  You comments are most welcomed, I look forward to reading your opinions and experiences as well.

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Changing Our Sleep Patterns- Night 7 and My Dream Came True

I didn’t need to dream of sleep last night.

According to Dr. Gordon’s plan, night 7 introduces the last phase of his plan to help families change the sleep patterns in their family bed.  It’s not a lot different, just reducing some of the comfort measures but still being close, touching and verbally comforting them.  I figured it would be another unpredictable night.

I was right.  But not how I expected.

Official anylasis?  The best night ever.  For Smunchie and I any way.  Check out the timeline.

Timeline-ish.

8.15pm- Smunchie goes to bed.  We had several friends over for our twice a month dinner and discussion so things were super busy right up until bed time.  She settled well though and went down with no trouble.

11.14pmish- I went to bed.  Smunchie stirred a bit and that was it.

2.40amish- Squiggle Bug came into our room and got upset for some reason (I’m not sure) and The Piano Man went and slept with her on the couch when she refused to go back to the room she shares with a big sister.  Smunchie did not wake even with all the noise.

7.09am- I hear some fussing at the end of the bed and look to see then looked at the clock.  Smunchie stood up and started talking to me, I went and got her and realized I was leaking, it seems sleeps does these boobs some good.  Back in bed together she was so very cuddly and happy to help me with the leaky boobies situation.  It was a long nursing session, a far cry from the 2-3 min. quick sips she had been doing.  Happy and content after a good 25 minutes we looked at books together in the morning sunlight.  It felt good, so good.

In case it doesn’t jump out at you, Smunchie slept from 8.15pmish to 7.09amish.  Eleven hours.  Today I’m smiling easily, busy, productive, enjoying my children, excited about some up coming plans I had been dreading because I didn’t have the energy, playing with my kids, caught a frog with them after checking out the 7 frogs we found swimming in our kiddie pool this morning (and the string of frog eggs too), planning to make some yummy and healthy treats for all of us, looking forward to cooking with my kids and having dinner with some friends tonight.  Smunchie is also energetic, super happy and into everything today.  She and I are feeling pretty good.

The Piano Man is tired.  Squiggle Bug’s sleep issues have been long and on-going and her daddy is always her person of choice when she’s struggling.  We’ve tried to get her to sleep through the night several times but it always ends up short lived.  Hopefully with Smunchie getting more sleep we can work on a gentle approach for our more high needs sleep fighter and The Piano Man will be able to feel more rested as well.  I imagine my energetic and enthusiastic self is very annoying to his sleep deprived self.

I don’t know if this change is going to stick or if tonight will be a totally different animal. Anything is possible but even if it is a more difficult night I feel like I can handle it just because I’m feeling so much better.  My gratitude to Dr. Gordon for such a simple, easy to follow plan to help a family in need of more sleep to find it without compromising the family sleep arrangements.  This was a good fit for us.

To read about this whole process, you can follow our progress using Dr. Gordon’s method and read about night 1, night 2, night 3, night 4, night 5, and night 6.

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Changing Our Sleep Patterns- Night 6, I Think We’re Getting There

“Daddy, can I help you make the muffins?”

The Piano Man is the baker of the house.  He has quite a few apprentices.  I am not one of them though I do make bread.  His most faithful helper is 3 year old Squiggle Bug.

“Yes, you can help.”

“Ok.  I will take a lick and you will make the muffins.”

The start of our morning after Night 6.  (If you haven’t been following our journey through night weaning using Dr. Gordon’s method it starts here and you can read night 1night 2night 3night 4, and night 5.)

It’s kind of like that in other areas too.  Figuring out the parent-child relationship.  Somethings are obvious such as changing diapers, feeding, and keeping them safe.  Some are less so like making muffins, playing dress up together and how you’ll be interacting at the park.  The dynamic is constantly changing too, one day they become aware of muffin making, the next they want to help by licking the spoon and the next they’re kicking you out of the kitchen and making the muffins themselves.

Official analysis of Night 6?  I can really see how it’s working.  Much closer to a full night’s sleep today than we were a week ago for sure.  We’re really doing this.  We might also need a new mattress.  I could have had 9 full uninterrupted hours of sleep last night and the only reason I didn’t was because of me.

Timeline-ish

8 or 8.30ish- Smunchie to bed.  A shorter going to bed routine than we normally have, she was super ready for bed.

midnightish- The Piano Man and I go to bed.  Late again!  I haven’t grown out of my teen late night habits still.  Having been in the performing arts for so long old habits die hard.

4ish-  In pain, I was tossing and turning trying to get comfortable.  For the last 3 nights my back has been bothering me.  I can’t think of anything I did (other than a few injuries years ago including a bad car accident and a bad stage fighting accident) but I suspect it’s a combination of odd sleeping positions when I fall asleep comforting Smunchie and just that I’m actually sleeping longer stretches and our mattress is old.  We probably need a new mattress.  As I sat up in bed trying to stretch my back and rub out the knots I couldn’t believe that I was awake all by myself.  Smunchie was still in her bed at the end of our bed snoozing yet I was up missing out on sleep.

5ish- Squiggle Bug came in looking for daddy.  I’m not her go-to-person most of the time, something that is bittersweet for me.  I love how deeply connected she is with The Piano Man but I’m also kind of jealous.  She didn’t want me so she and The Piano Man left to go to her bed.  I was rejected to the bed to be alone.  Kind of unusual.

5.30ish- Smunchie wakes.  I get her and she holds on tight.  We lay down and The Piano Man joined us again.  This time she ends up going to him when I answer her request for to nurse with our standard “bobbies all done.”  In just a few minutes she is calmed by him patting her back and soothing her with “mm-hmm” again.  She takes over his side of the bed and he goes back to Squiggle Bug’s bed to sleep.

6ish- Smunchie wakes again and I’m very tempted to nurse since we’re so close to 7.  The Piano Man comes to help again and somehow I end up on the other side of the bed.  Together we patted and rubbed her back, spoke softly to her and helped her settle.  We all 3 end up in bed together.

7.30ish- I wake up to Smunchie sitting next to me playing with stuff she found on the bedside table, talking gibberish punctuated with little sighs and giggles.  The sweetness gets to me, I kiss her back and she turns to give me a body slam hug.  I’m surprised that for the second day in a row she doesn’t ask for bobbies first thing, instead she finishes hugging me (um, I can’t breath, could you get off my face please?), climbs over me and on top of daddy.  Our day has started with hugs, cuddles and playing before finally moving on to bobbies and muffins.

As I write this Squiggle Bug and Smunchie are rocking out to some Bernstein, happy and energetic and very inviting.  I’m think I’m going to go join them, I even have enough energy to do more than a couple slow turns with fake enthusiasm and am ready to bust some moves.  My back is feeling better this morning and I’m ready to join the living room dance party.

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Changing Our Sleep Patterns- The 4th Night and Big Change

Oh my goodness, what a night.

Sometimes my goals in parenting are very clear if a little complex and lofty.  Other times they are a little vague and simple.  It’s the simple set that I think is probably the most true, the most realistic and the one we’re mostly likely to see come to fruition.  That set can be summed up in one short sentence: don’t screw them up too much.  Along this parenting journey we occasionally are given glimmers of hope that it may be an attainable goal.  I’ve been hoping that night weaning isn’t going to screw Smunchie up too much.

We have now made it through the fourth night, a night of major change.

Official analysis?  Nothing could have prepared us for this night.  It was a shock to the system.

I had been dreading this night in particular once we decided to go with this plan and we had considered drawing the process out a little more.  After reviewing what was supposed to happen with the second set of 3 nights we decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to make such a huge transition on a Saturday night because The Piano Man has to get up early for work and sleep deprivation and playing the piano don’t mix so well.  The transition had to start Friday night.  We read the section pertaining to the second set of 3 nights from Dr. Gordon’s article and found much support in this:

“Yes, for the past many months we have enjoyed voting “1 to 2″ — non-democratically — in favor of . . . the baby. ‘Anyone want to get up all night, feed and walk the baby and be really tired all day and the next day too?’ Well, the vote is 1 to 2 in favor of the baby.”
Now, what we’re saying is, we will sometimes be voting two to one in favor of the baby’s family. This “baby’s family” concept may be abhorrent to he who considers himself the King of England, or Emperor of the Whole World, but our knowing he has that feeling of power allows us to confidently demote the dictator to a majority-respecting member of the family. His family.

It is time for Smunchie to be a majority-respecting member of the family.  Her family.

We reviewed The Plan.

Bed Time. Our bed time routine works really well for us so it would remain the same.  It’s flexible but within some parameters that help our little ones shift gears.  Us too, actually.

Wakings. From now on between midnight and 7am there are no feedings.  We decided we’d both participate in comforting her and if need be I’d leave and go to the couch.  When she asked for bobbies I’d simply say “bobbies all done” then we’d rub her back, cuddle, hold her, etc.  I was really concerned this wouldn’t go well and thought this plan sounded weak.  Still, I wasn’t sure what else we could do that wouldn’t end up traumatizing all of us.

Bed. Again we decided the goal was sleep, not getting her to sleep in her own bed.  We’d save that transition for another time.  She starts out in her bed already and then joins us and the last few nights she’s been transitioning back to her bed just fine.  We’d keep her in bed with us.

The reality

The evening was dedicated to a rambunctious game of Pictionary with the whole family.  The 3 big girls are now old enough to really get and play the game and with a parent on each team and the 2 younger ones on laps we drew and laughed our way into the night.  We had a blast eating brownies and guessing each other’s scribbles.

Timeline-ish

8.30ish- Smunchie was in bed around 8, was awakened around 8.45 thanks to the loud bigger people playing on the other side of the house.  That early I nursed her back to sleep and she was out again in no time.  Even with all our noise she didn’t wake again for a long while.

11.30ish- The Piano Man and I headed to bed.  Anxious about the night ahead we thought maybe we’d try a dream feed when we went to bed.  Scooping her up it felt good to hold my sleeping little girl.  Not wanting to nurse laying down in bed, I sat on the end of the bed.  Her eyes fluttered and she murmured “bobbies” which made both The Piano Man and me smile and I got her latched.  She nursed so well.  With a kiss on her head I put her back in her space and crawled into bed, hoping for at least 2 hours before the drama started.

3ish- This is just a guess.  We know it was after 1.30am because The Piano Man looked at the clock when he went to the bathroom (and came right back, no napping on the toilet this time).  Sometime after 1.30 but well before 6, Smunchie woke up.  I laid there waiting for The Piano Man to get her thinking we had decided he would try to get her to calm down without me first.  Apparently, I imagined that because he doesn’t remember us ever talking about it.  Turned out well though, he didn’t get her, I did and we stood hugging for a little bit before I brought her into our bed.  Those standing cuddles were something special, her arms tight around my neck, her body pressing against mine with all her might.  Something told me that it wasn’t the bobbies she was needing right then, it was just to be close to me.  For the first time in a while I breathed in her scent and buried my nose in her neck in the middle of the night.  I have not been enjoying her at night for so long now because of the depth of my fatigue.  This brief moment standing together in the dark was one of the connections Smunchie and I have.  And we can have them during the day too.  I laid down with her, making sure she had her lovey and Ciel.  The familiar request was made but this time I responded with “bobbies all done” and cuddled and kissed her.  This wasn’t the response she wanted at all, of course but instead of starting to cry she whimpered “bobbies” again.  She didn’t pull at my shirt, she reached for my neck and held on tight.  Rolling over on my back I cuddled her on my chest, her head pressed against my cheek.  We stayed that way until she threw herself off me and asked again for the bobbies.  I responded the same and offered the sippy cup of water we keep by the bed.  This time she started to cry.  I tried to rub her tummy and pat her but she pushed my hand away.  Thirsty myself I reached for my glass of water and took a drink.  Smunchie sat up and signed please, stopping her crying.  With my hand steadying the glass, she directed it to her lips and took a drink.  She drank and drank, gulping down water pausing twice to take a breath.  Thirsty girl!  When she was done she asked me for bobbies again and was met with the same response.  Again she whimpered then turned and flopped down on her belly, drawing her lovey and doll close, and began to make little complaining talking sounds.  Grumbles really.  Laying down I began to rub her back.  A few minutes later she heaved a sigh and fell quiet.  Shortly after I could identify the long breaths of sleep.  This whole thing took maybe 10 minutes.  I waited for her to wake again and demand the bobbies. Would it be 5 minutes?  Twenty?  An hour?  I expected it so much I had difficulty falling back asleep.  Eventually, watching her rhythmic breathing next to me, I surrendered to sleep.

6ish- I tossed and turned, struggling to get comfortable for hours and finally decided to move the still sleeping Smunchie back to her bed.  It went without a hitch.

7.30ish- “Bobbies?”  I sat up and looked at the end of my bed where I could see a wisp of blond hair and two bright blue eyes peeking over the side of the pack-n-play.  The eyes smiled then vanished.  Going to her bed I saw Smunchie gathering her lovey and baby doll, stand up and hold her arms out to me: “mama!”  In my arms she patted my chest and said “bobbies?” again.  Snuggles and milk, we woke up slowly enjoying each other’s company.

Today I feel more rested.  My back hurts from sleeping in a strange position but I feel a lot better than I have been feeling.  For the first time I feel I can see that Smunchie too feels better.  Though she’s been a cheerful, easy going baby, this morning she hasn’t seemed nearly as tired and has more energy.  I think she has needed more sleep too.

We will be more than fine with night weaning.  It meant a lot to me that just a cuddle without the bobbies could be such a comfort for her.  She didn’t just love me for the bobbies, she loved me for me.  Being close can happen without the bobbies and we can still rest in peace and security of the love we have for each other and the love of our family.  I know tonight could be a total disaster but with this in my heart, my body more rested, my mind more clear and the knowledge that Smunchie is ready to be a majority-respecting member of the family I’m not dreading it.  We’ll be fine.

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If I Don’t Remember It, It Didn’t Happen, Right?

The Piano Man responds to my post about night #3 of night weaning where I shared that we think he fell asleep on the toilet.

So, being the genius parents we are, did we go to bed before midnight last night? No. We pushed the envelope even further, staying up past 1:00 am. When I say “we” I really mean Jessica, as I was dozing on the couch from about 11:45 on. And when I mean “dozing”, Jessica informed me this morning that I was snoring with my half a glass of red wine in one hand and the book I was valiantly trying to read in the other.

Jessica here: In defense of my stupidity, I was having a work Skype conversation with the other coast, I wasn’t just being a rebellious kid staying up late.  Mostly not anyway.  Sorry, back to The Piano Man.

With a crick in my neck and realizing it was 1:20 or so, I decided not to fight sleep anymore and go to bed without Jessica. This is unusual for us, romantic saps that we are; usually we synchronize our bed time. But every once in a while we break the pattern out of necessity. Much to my surprise, by the time I was ready to climb into bed, Jessica was right there with me.

Apparently, last night marked the point where I crossed over from our zombie state (awake but extremely tired) to something I don’t have a name for: mostly asleep with moments awake. Apparently you can’t dance just above the sleep line forever. I was pulled under.

The consequence: when Jessica wanted to review the details of last night, I couldn’t remember much of anything. It may well be that I fell asleep on the toilet. Terribly embarrassing, but at least I can honestly claim that I don’t remember. And this isn’t like “the Hangover” movie. This was honest-to-goodness fatigue-induced stupor. Usually I get embarrassed just at dozing on the couch, because it reminds me of how my Dad’s sleep switch would click over every night at 9:00, even if we were watching a captivating movie. But I have no recollection of spending countless minutes on the potty, so I don’t think it really happened. Whatever helps me sleep at night, right?

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