Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The second newborn hurdle: sleeping at night

During the last few months of pregnancy, I barely slept.  I woke several times during the night to pee, get a drink, or for no reason whatsoever.  Near the end I started to embrace it and watch a little TV to get sleepy again.  I knew that once Noah arrived, my sleep would get even worse.  And countless people said "get your sleep while you can"...which really does nothing for an expectant mom.  I don't care how many naps I took before he arrived, nothing could prepare me for true sleep deprivation.

The first night at the hospital, hubby and I had to share my single bed because we were in a semi-private room (all the private rooms were full).  Noah was in a bassinet three feet away, and woke us frequently with his noises or cries to be fed or changed.  The next morning, we were tired, but still on that "high" you get after your baby is born.

His first night home, we had him in a co-sleeper in our bed.  It was nice to have him close, because we were both super paranoid, however our queen size bed was not really big enough to accommodate the three of us.  After two uncomfortable nights with him in our bed, we moved him to a bassinet in our room.  He was a few feet away on my side, close enough for me to reach him if he cried during the night.

I honestly can't remember how frequently he fed in those first weeks.  I suspect it was every 2 hours or so until my milk came in.  For the first week, hubby was off work and helping me.  I would often feed Noah in bed and then put him back in the bassinet.  But when he went back to work, I felt bad and took Noah to his room down the hall to feed so we wouldn't wake him.  It took about an hour each time I woke, as I would feed and change him every time.  I later figured out that changing him woke him up too much, and started to do it every second feed.  Once he caught onto nursing, he would feed for about 15-20 minutes total.  Sometimes he was so tired he would fall asleep on me.  Then I'd have to pull his legs out of his sleeper to wake him up so he could focus (and so I could go back to bed!).

Noah was swaddled from the very first night.  He quickly figured out how to wriggle out of it, and his flailing arms would wake him up.  We quickly got better at wrapping him up super tight, desperately hoping the swaddle would hold until the next feed.  After he ate and was changed, I wrapped him back up and rocked him to sleep.

Once we introduced a bottle for a few night feeds, hubby was able to help with the dream feed and on weekends so I could get one longer stretch of sleep.  The dream feed at 10:30 was a big help....hubby would pluck him out of bed asleep and feed him, and then put him back down.  Then he would sleep for another 3 hours.  I would go to bed around 9/9:30 and sleep till 1:30, which was heavenly.  When he's home, he still does the dream feed, and I try to go to bed before he does it so I get a solid 3 hours.

On weekends, hubby takes the dream feed and the second (4:30 approx) feed so we can both get a long stretch.  It's a HUGE help!  Unfortunately in the first few weeks, rather than stay in Noah's room to settle him (he didn't want his crying to wake me up), he started walking around the house to get him back to sleep.  While he had the best of intentions, it became a huge pain after a few weeks.  I would end up walking from the front to the back of the house for 30-40 minutes after every night feed to get him to sleep.  I was losing my mind!

Eventually, I put my foot down and decided we needed to break the cycle.  So I started keeping Noah in his room and we would walk around his room to get him to sleep.  I noticed it was starting to take less time, and decided to try putting him down without much rocking, but swaddled and with his soother.  To my surprise, it worked!  He could still be slightly awake, and I could put him down and he would settle himself.  Sometimes I would have to get up a few times and pop his soother back in.

After rereading the Baby Whisperer for the hundredth time, I decided to try her "shush pat" method, which promised to get baby to sleep so I wouldn't have to keep getting up to put the soother in.  It worked very well, and took anywhere from 2-10 minutes for him to fall into a deep sleep.  The idea is simple, put baby down and pat their tummy while saying "shhhh" until they fall asleep.  I could tell when he was "out" when his breathing changed from quick panting to a slow pace.  Usually he would take one big breath and sigh as a transition. 

The last week, I've started putting him down semi awake again.  The moment he's done feeding and burping, I pick him up and put him down.  We used to use a nightlight, and now I only use the light of the clock radio in his room.  I'm convinced the darkness helps him stay sleepy.  I pat him briefly, make sure the soother is in, and then tiptoe out. 

For the last two months, Noah has been waking every three hours.  The big difference is how long he's up for.  It used to be an hour, then I was able to get the first feed to 20 minutes and the second to 45-60 (for some reason he was wide awake at the 4:30 feed for WEEKS and it took forever to get him down), and how he's down in 20-25 minutes at both feeds. 

Over the last week, Noah started giving me a three and a half to four hour stretch from his dream feed.  On Monday he slept FIVE HOURS!  I woke at 3:30 totally confused and asked hubby if he fed him at 1:30.  He said he didn't, and we realized he finally dropped the first feed.  I was so proud and excited at the promise of more sleep.  But last night he went back to every three hours.  I wish I knew what I did to trigger the longer stretch, or maybe I didn't do anything!  It's all such a frustrating guessing game sometimes!

Needless to say, more sleep is definitely on the horizon, and I know if I'm patient, he will get there eventually.  In the meantime, I will continue to live the life of a #zombiemom.

Do you have a newborn who's sleeping through the night?  What's your secret?

1 day old (the morning after he was born)
1 week old (when he was so small we could use receiving blankets to swaddle,
now we need the heavy-duty swaddle blankets!)

1 month old (arms are always over his head during daytime naps)

2 months old (he loves to nap with mommy & daddy)

3 months old (while I'm writing this post!)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds eerily familiar to our experience - the part where your hubby would do the dream feed to allow a bit longer sleep for you - exactly what we did and it worked and I think might have saved my sanity. I followed the BabyWise principles very loosely, keeping E to an Eat/Wake/Sleep cycle very early on, around 2 months. Trust me it is SUPER hard to keep a warm and full belly baby awake (and I was still nursing exclusively then) but try as I might, even for 5 minutes, I would try to keep him awake by singing and clapping. The principle of it is to organize their metabolism and wake times. Also used to rock him to sleep but realized that he was started to NOT respond to it but instead, yearned to be put down and soothe himself to sleep. Before I knew it, he was sleeping 5-6 hours at 6.5 weeks, and then 8 hours at 10 weeks and on and so forth until now we get 11-12 hour stretches. He dropped his dream feed automatically a few nights but then cluster fed the next so it really is tricky to figure it out! You are doing great, keep telling yourself that your sleep will come back soon, and you're not alone!