Monday, June 23, 2014

In Which The Baby Soothes Herself To Sleep - Update #2

Two weeks since the last update, and I'm happy to note the following changes:
  1. E takes three naps consistently. 
  2. I no longer need to do any shushing or rocking but I do occasionally nurse her in bed.
  3. Bedtime is not arduous at all - she fusses for a bit and then goes to sleep herself.
  4. E has figured out which fingers she likes to suck. Hooray for my nipples!
  5. I can actually do things during naptime. Those Internet memes are not going to catch up on themselves.
  6. Babies can be real babies about sleeping. If only they'd grow up about it!
The Morning Nap

The timing of this nap depends on when she wakes up in the morning. I see a variance in her morning wake up time but it's usually somewhere between 6 and 7:30 AM. Accordingly, the morning nap happens anytime between 8 and 9 AM. 

E spends her mornings with her father. Once he has to start getting ready for work, we take the dog out and generally expose E to some fresh air and noise (my assumption being that morning air is freshest). Until last week, E fell and stayed asleep in the soft carrier.

But a super cute little scientist.
As she hit 15 weeks, I started sensing her uneasiness in the carrier just as she was drifting off to sleep. She kept straightening her legs and jumping in the wrap, which I took to mean that she wanted out. She wasn't crying or fussing but I brought her home and put her down in our bed. She seemed surprised but happy and immediately went to sleep.

Needless to say, my heart broke. I planned on wearing her forever the morning nap but she decided it was more comfortable in bed. I use the morning nap time to eat breakfast and sort laundry.

Her morning nap in bed is only 30 to 45 minutes or so and she wakes up refreshed. Dr. Weissbluth recommends that this nap be no longer than an hour so we're probably okay on this front.

The Afternoon Nap

Between the morning nap and the afternoon nap, E spends some time in the balcony, listens to music, plays on her playmat, and has a big splashy bath in her bathtub so by the time I put her down nearly two hours after she wakes up from the morning nap, she's quite tuckered out.

The routine goes - bath, massage, jammies, darkening the room, nursing in our nursing station, and then a big hug and a whispered, "I love you. Let's rest now," before I put her down in bed with her legs wrapped in her tiny blanket. Until last week, there was some crying to contend with. But what I've noticed over the last few weeks is that her sleepy cry is very, very different from all her other cries and if I let her "cry it out" GASP it subsides in less than five minutes.

I've decided to call this cry, the oh-no-what-is-this-I'm-feeling-why-do-my-eyelids-feel-so-heavy-I'm-so-tired-I-just-need-to-close-my-eyes-oh-right cry. Everyday she gets to the "oh right" bit of her cry sooner than the previous day and I'm just so incredibly proud of my baby girl. To the extent that at the start of her 16th week, there is no crying.

Hold on, she'll get to the "oh right" bit of her cry soon.
She wakes up about two hours later usually having pooped herself but definitely hungry. I just repeat our nighttime scenario of not acknowledging her existence and changing her diaper in silence. I also feed her at the nursing station in silence and then put her back in bed. This way, I can get her to sleep for another two hours while I eat lunch and watch Homeland OMG all my conspiracy theories about the US are true .

The Evening Nap

She wakes up between 2 and 3 PM from her afternoon nap and then it's some more time in the balcony. She loves watching the wind rustle through our plants and I love watching her watch the wind. I also use this time to talk and sing to her. This is followed by some more time on her playmat before I put her down again, around 90 minutes after she wakes up from her afternoon nap, such that she wakes up from this nap around 5 PM.

This nap, like the morning nap, is short - 45 minutes at best and is more for my sanity than hers. If she doesn't sleep at this time, she gets overtired by bedtime and finds it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Said no mom ever.
Bedtime

After she's up from the evening nap, I lay her down on a cloth on the floor in the hope that she might roll over No such luck. We play for a bit and then around 6:15 PM I start bedtime - exactly the same routine as the one before her afternoon nap but with a quick wash under warm tap water rather than a full blown bath. Also, the massage is different - firm, straight strokes.

I tuck her in bed, switch the monitor on, and mama's off duty, baby. Until 2 AM when E wakes up for her night feed.

Conclusions

In three weeks, E has learnt to expect and enjoy sleep. All her naps take place in our darkened bedroom (thanks to the monsoons, we have no direct sunlight). This is a vital sleeping cue as she knows sleep is soon to follow as soon as I take her into our room. As soon as I lay her down, she looks away from me and starts sucking her fingers.

She went from sleeping in my arms and waking up as soon as I put her down on the bed, to nursing in bed before falling asleep, to sucking her fingers as soon as I put her down and soothing herself to sleep.

It may have taken me three weeks, but all the hard work put in has paid richly - I actually get time off during the day. Almost like those "coffee breaks" at work. I'm now thinking about undertaking organisation projects around the house.

But of most value, is the post-bedtime hours I get with my husband every evening. We lived and loved our baby-free lives for 9 years before biting the bullet so the few hours we get together everyday recharges me for another day spent cleaning poop and speaking in baby-lish.

It was hard while we were learning - I genuinely believed that my upper back was permanently damaged - and there were days when I wanted to strangle my husband for impregnating me but I truly believe that all the babywearing, responding to each cry, rocking, shushing, and holding of the last three months has lead to a baby who accepts sleep. I'm incredibly proud of my baby girl.
Yay!

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