Sleep is on my mind. I am not nearly as tired as I was a couple of weeks ago, though I’m not getting any more sleep. But I feel so refreshed after my Seattle trip that I feel ready to help Felix learn to get to sleep without always needing to nurse. I am hoping this will lead to longer stretches of sleep during the night. I guess I can expect any changes I make to take a few weeks to have any effect, so I want to keep this up for a while.
Warning – this is going to be long and boring – of interest to me but probably nobody else!
When Felix was small he slept great. From less than a week old he understood that night time was for sleeping, so though he woke several times a night as a newborn he always went back to sleep. He only had one incident of crying in the middle of the night, not counting the night we brought him home. From about six weeks he was doing 6-8 hour stretches from 11pm, which was pretty heavenly. And then around three months, he got his vaccinations, we had a stressful trip up to Oslo to get our visas, and a week later we left for the US. His nighttime sleep has pretty much been downhill from there.
For a while he was just waking a couple of times a night, which didn’t bother me, but it got steadily worse and around five months he was waking every two hours, sometimes more. I decided to try to do something about it and got hold of some books – but then my parents came to visit, and I didn’t feel like I could implement any big changes around that time. Strangely enough, towards the end of our holiday with them he started to improve a little again on his own. So I didn’t make any changes after all. Then a few weeks ago the very frequent wakings came back in earnest. I think they were partly related to teething – the week his teeth came through he also would inexplicably stay (noisily) awake for an hour and a half in the early hours of the morning. Thankfully he’s stopped doing that.
One night in Seattle the poor mite felt a bit queasy because I’d given him some baby food I’d been carrying around all day. I felt terrible and it will never happen again! Luckily he got over it fairly quickly. But he refused to nurse, so I had to calm him down and settle him in other ways. And he managed it. So I know he can.
So in the hotel in Salt Lake City on the way home, I decided to try to settle him to sleep without nursing as much as possible. So I gave him a cuddle and a pat and he cried a little but fell asleep in six minutes flat. He woke up forty minutes later, distraught, and I gave him another cuddle and sang him a song. When we lay down together again he looked at me with such pleading, trusting eyes, and I felt terrible, but just gave him another pat and he went to sleep without complaining. I fed him when he woke at 11, and then again when he woke at 3, as Michael was in the room and had just arrived back from Norway and needed his sleep.
We’ve had two nights at home so far, and I’ve managed to settle him without nursing the first time each night, and two subsequent wakings, but when he wakes after 10 he demands a feed. Last night he woke again at 2.30 and I was just to tired to consider doing anything other than a quick feed and back to sleep. (He’d been in his crib for the early part of the night, but I’d left him in with me after feeding him at 10.30, because he seemed quite unsettled and he had got used to sleeping with me in Seattle. Besides, sleeping with him is quite nice now – he’s not so tiny that I’m terrified of squashing him all the time.) He woke again at 4.30 and 6.30. I think if he had been in his crib, though, I would have had a go at settling him without feeding, so I’ll work towards that. My goal at the moment is to feed around 11 and 4, but not at 1 or 2 or 3!
I’ve also been trying to settle him without feeds for his day naps, with some success. Today I tried it but it didn’t work, so I got him up for twenty minutes then tried again, and managed to settle him directly in his crib in less than ten minutes. He’s been asleep for an hour now. (Lately he’s been having one long nap of around an hour and a half, and one short one of half an hour.) I think a good tool is to give myself a time limit. The first night back home I tried for an hour and a half between 11.30 and 1 before I gave in and fed him, and that wasn’t fun. Twenty minutes is doable, however.
I just needed to write it all out because I’m quite preoccupied with it right now! It doesn’t seem to be extending his sleep times yet, quite the opposite – he doesn’t usually need resettling so many times before 11pm – actually he’s often quite good at sleeping from 7-11. But I want to keep trying. He’s going to need to fall asleep without me in the barnehage next year, and it would be nice if in Australia I don’t have to personally settle him for every nap – we could be more flexible then. And it feels ok to do it just now. I’m not doing it out of desperation – I actually feel quite ok at the moment – so I have reserves of patience and love to draw on. I think he can do it and I want to help him to do it in the gentlest way possible. I feel calm about it now. I don’t know if he would have been ready for this before now, but I know I wasn’t. (At the moment I really can’t come at controlled crying – the thought of it just breaks my heart, but I know it works for some people.) So we’ll see how we go. I also wanted to write this out so in a few weeks I can look back on it and see if we’ve got anywhere!