Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The doughnut shop is now open

Okay, last time, I promise. I'm gonna talk about sleep again. We had a little breakthrough this week. I should say, I figured out a few things, just by taking a step out from all up in Zephyr's Kool-Aid, so to speak. Get this: if I leave him alone after he wakes up in the first half hour of his nap, HE FALLS BACK TO SLEEP ON HIS OWN. I know, right? If I just leave him the fuck alone, he sorts that shit out all by himself. My coddling and doting was just reinforcing his awakeness, and he seriously only fusses for like a minute or two (I timed it) and then quiets back down to sleep. And then he sleeps for two and half more hours. Brilliant. I suppose it's kinda like moms rushing to their kid's scraped knee is what really makes the kid cry, not the scrape.

We had his 4-month checkup on Friday, and he's still in the 95th centile for weight (at 18 lbs., slightly less than I thought) and 97th centile for length (at 26"). Dr. Martin is really laid back and thinks Zephyr is doing great, told us to ignore the books that say the babies are supposed to sleep through the night at his age. Of course, I can't. I decide she's just trying to make us feel better and take matters into my own hands.

So, last night I decide we're gonna try our hand at sleep training. I'm drunk on power, having discovered the secret to getting Zeph down for solid naps (and seriously, getting two 3-hour breaks a day is delicious), I think we can totally do this. I formulate a plan: when he starts crying, give him five minutes, then gently soothe him back to sleep by patting his back but not picking him up or feeding him. That's what the No Cry Sleep Solution book (err, the summary of it that I read online) said to do. So we give it a go.

We go through the bedtime ritual: rub him down with calendula cream and get him into a dry dipe and jimjams. Upstairs to the bedroom, snuggle in bed to read I'll See You in the Morning and then into his swaddle he goes. Then we lay down for a nurse, and I tuck him into the Arm's Reach sidecar co-sleeper thing, kiss his little head and say good night. Fifteen minutes later, he starts fussing. "Just let him fuss for a minute," I reinforce the plan to Scott. He stops fussing, and we clink our wine glasses and high five each other and enjoy an hour or two of grown-up time.

Scott and I settle into bed at around 11:00pm, and after a couple hours of blissful slumber, Zephyr starts fussing. I decide to firmly ride it out for five minutes, instead of just reactively bringing him to my breast like normal. His fussing escalates into full-blown crying. I pat his back, "it's okay, Zephyr, go back to sleep." No dice. I look at the clock. 12:50am. The crying isn't slowing down, and now Scott and I are both completely frazzled. Zephyr is starting to totally unravel. I try patting his back again, with no results. I look at the clock again. 1:11am. Sigh. This feels mean and neglectful and exactly like the cry-it-out method (which I'm pretty sure has never been attempted in a cosleeping situation), I'm at my wit's end and scoop up my baby to soothe him and fret for being such a disastrous mother, planting apologetic kisses all over his tiny, tear-damp head. He starts mouthing on my shoulder before I even get him to my breast, and then nurses frantically back to sleep. It takes me probably two hours to get back to sleep after the ordeal.

At 5:00am, same story. This time I figure out that four hours is about as long as he ever really goes between meals (and I already feel like a failure for having caved at the first attempt), but not before he cries for five loud minutes. I nurse him to sleep again and finally get back to sleep myself after Scott's alarm goes off at 6:00.

This afternoon, I read the Going Through the Night Without Being Fed section of Penelope Leach's Your Baby & Child and realize that I hadn't been doing anything wrong at all until I decided that we were going to try to fuck with Zephyr's sleep habits. The kid needs to eat a couple times at night, and this is completely normal! I feel renewed as a mother, have reinstilled faith in my pediatrician (whom I already trust and should've just listened to in the first place). One neat trick that Leach offers, though, is to wake the baby to nurse when I go to bed instead of waiting for him to wake up at the four-hour mark. I can reset his tummy-clock myself to get a full four hours of sleep for myself. Now that's sleep training I can get with.

In other news, today Zephyr had his first poop in FIVE DAYS. I know it's normal and common for babies to go several days between poops at this age (particularly breastfed babies), but holy shit, it totally freaked me and Scott out! And then when he finally did poop, it went all the way up his shoulder blades and required a full bath. But lemme tell ya, he's been a much more pleasant kid since. Tummy time was thus extended with comfort and ease, offering me a chance to shoot him in his new pants. It's motherfucking doughnut time.


  1. Friday, February 5th, 4am: The Biscuit wakes and is restless & I know it's been 2 days since he pooped. Uh-oh. Finally at 8am he lets loose and IMMEDIATELY passes out into a deep sleep. I feel so bad for the little guy that I let him sleep an hour, but have to wake him at 9am because we have an appointment to get to. What do I find upon removing his (THANK YOU, GOD) zip-up footie pjs? Poo up to his shoulders. This is a 4.5-year-old, mind you. He got a shower, then a diaper, then we raced out to our appointment with a sleepy, but much more comfy, Biscuit.

    In other words, I feel ya.

  2. Bitchin' pants! Every time I read your posts it's like getting a sneak peek into our future (although we've had several "up to the shoulder blades in shit" moments). Keep it coming!

  3. OMG PANTS!!! Okay what the hell book says babies sleep through the night at 4 months? Zane is 10 months and still waking once, despite a full tummy on solids and milk at bedtime. Hope started sleeping through after about a year. By most accounts, that's "normal." Zane used to also super-poop. Totally disgusting - like a French's mustard masque on his backside. It used to happen quite a bit after vigorous bouncing in the Jumparoo. Eventually, it subsided, certainly before the 6 month mark, but I could never really pinpoint a cause.

  4. PS: Glad you have discovered the fuss-it-out secret! Doesn't work as well with Zane (he tends to wake up more completely) but it was magic with Hope. Also try the putting back to bed if he wakes before 8am if you are looking for an extra snooze. If it's still darkish in the room, you may be able to nurse & settle back down (or perhaps just snuggle snooze) until you're ready to face the day.

  5. Zip up footie jimjams for the win, K.

    Natasha - I figured out the nurse-cuddle-snooze trick within the first month. Works like a charm! Our room is on the north side of the house, so it's always dark in there. It's the stupid AAP that says, "by the fourth month, baby shouldbe sleeping through the night." I know that's only 5 hours, but I started feeling like forcing matters when Zeph reverted to 2-3 hour chunks instead of his prior 4-5 hour chunks. At least now I know he doesn't have a disorder.

  6. Bruce - Wendy mentioned Colman's epic shitsplosions today at New Seasons. :D

  7. My sister recommended your blog to me, since apparently we're going through many of the same things right now (glad I'm not the only one!)

    Sleep's the most recent of my worries (my previously sleeping-through-the night baby is now ready for action at 2am and 4am) - but I can really recommend the dreamfeed to you if you've not tried it - it's magic for getting a few extra hours sleep.

    She's also recently went 6 days without a poo - and then managed to Release Roger in the middle of a 4 hour flight... Ah the serene bliss of motherhood. Good luck!

  8. Barrenness - Yes, motherhood is all rose-scented candelight. :) I've been doing the dreamfeed (had to Google to find out what it was), though now we're adding a dipe change so the feed is a little less dreamy and more bright-eyed.

  9. The dream feed! I tried that for a while and the whole feed and then back to bed never worked for Wide Eyed McGee. I would then be stuck with a baby who was like - that was an awesome nap and a meal, now who wants to play for a few hours?

  10. Dude, those pants are THE awesome. Holy hell.

    And I've got no advise on sleep/sleep training etc. but I do want to munch on your child's cheeks. In a strictly not creepy way of course. Plus, he's got more than enough to share.


Yay! Thanks for saying nice stuff about my baby.