Tuesday, March 18, 2014

mommy confessions: getting a baby to sleep through the night ~ our story

When I imagined what it would be like to have a baby, I knew there would be some sleepless nights, waking to feed the newborn 2-3 times (prob more). We purchased a pack n play which would go in our room so we could easily get up and tend to her as needed. I pictured her sleeping there for a few hours in a row, waking up to eat, then easily going back to sleep (as would I). We would also enjoy napping together during the day.

And then she was born. And then we took her home the same day. And then we experienced "the first night". Ahhh! Let's just say there were a lot of tears. From me, from her, and probably a few from Harley. We all wanted to go to sleep, but for some reason I could not get Charlotte to calm down. I nursed her, changed her, swaddled her (that did not last in the hot temp), rocked her. Matt tried, my Mom tried. It was rough, like bootcamp, but with a baby. 

At some point she eventually fell asleep and I gently put her down in the pack n play. And then I tried to go to sleep. Tried being the key word there. I just couldn't relax. And I was so scared she would stop breathing in her sleep. I even got up and touched her tummy to make sure she was still alive. Big mistake. I woke the dragon. Commence more crying. 

The next thing I did was something I said I wouldn't do, but it just felt right.....I put her in our bed. I slept on my side, never moving an inch, and she slept right beside me, snuggled up like my little spoon. And we slept, pretty darn well actually. Of course she woke a few times to nurse, but nursing in bed is actually pretty easy. Insert boob in mouth and we both go back to sleep. My arm hurt the next morning from laying on it all night long, but at least I was able to sleep at all. Being sleep deprived really is torture. You literally cannot function. And after staying up all night the day before in labor, I was in desperation mode.

Eventually I recovered from the lack of sleep (maybe? were these dark circles there before sept 2012??) and we got into a nice little routine. Bedtime around 8-830pm, for both Charlotte and myself. Sleep 4 hours or less, nurse, repeat until 7am. I really enjoyed co-sleeping with her. And I know Matt did too. (But it sure was a full house! Matt, me, Charlotte, and Harley!) After experiencing it first hand we truly believe it is safe and exactly what she needed at the time. And we definitely wouldn't change anything that we did. It was very beneficial for her and me. 

one of the few times she was successfully swaddled

But then 11 months hit. And she started wiggling in her sleep, a lot. So much so that we found it impossible to get a decent nights rest. Every time she would move I would wake and it seemed like forever before I was able to doze back off. By the time 7am arrived I was an angry sleep deprived Mama. And Matt was only slightly bette off. Frustrated and at wits end, we decided to try that whole crib thing. We spent a good chunk of change on it, might as well get some use out of it right?!

One night in August we took the plunge. We put her to sleep in the crib and let her cry it out until she fell asleep. She cried for 45 minutes. It was heartbreaking and sad and very hard not to go in and cuddle her. But she eventually fell asleep, and when she did she stayed asleep until 3am. And the next night she only cried for 15 minutes. Each day it got less and less until there were no tears at all (most of the time). And as for that 3am wake up call.....for a while we went in and rocked her back to sleep. Matt and I took turns, so at least one of us got to sleep well. We wanted her to know we were still there for her. But after a few weeks we let her cry it out at 3am and within 20 minutes or less she was back asleep on her own. She has slept through the night in her crib since. I think a lot of that is due to Matt putting her down at night. She can't nurse so she just goes right to sleep. Yes she still occasionally wakes up and squawks for a minute or two, but those are fairly rare. And if she gets really upset then we know she is sick (and obviously go in to her). 

Now, not every baby can handle the CIO method. Some will cry for hours or until they vomit. Luckily for us Charlotte was able to get over her sense of abandonment and put herself back to sleep without too many hard feelings. I still get kisses and hugs in the morning so she forgets easily. And we are all happier. It is amazing what sleeping for 7 hours straight can do for a person. We can also enjoy our evenings without being stressed and worried about when she might wake up and need us.

Our saving grace in this whole process.....a sound machine! For all those new Moms, soon-to-be Moms or perhaps Moms struggling to get their little ones to sleep through the night, get a white noise machine. I don't know why I had never heard about one before I had Charlotte. Thankfully at around the 2 month mark my sister-in-law told me about the Sleep Sheep which worked wonders for nap time. The only problem was it would turn off after 45 minutes. We tried sneaking into her room to "reset" it, but half the time it woke her up. Fail. 

napping with the sleep sheep

So when we transitioned her to the crib at night we got the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine (Matt's brilliant suggestion) which plays a variety of sounds all night long. Ocean waves is Charlotte's favorite. It is awesome and I seriously don't know what we would do without it. It is a MUST HAVE for all new babies!!! 

Harley looks huge! 
Remember, as annoying as it sounds, every baby and situation is different so do what you think is best! 

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