Tag Archives: sleep deprivation

How to (Sleep) Train Your Dragon(s)

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Image from deubellzebub’s Etsy store. Go buy something so that I don’t get sued for stealing this image.

I think Baby Dragon is about to fall asleep for his early morning nap, but I can never be too sure. With babies you can think you have a good thing going and then blammo, your hell spawn is screaming in his crib and you’re cowering in the corner covered in various kinds of bodily fluids (His? Yours? Who the hell knows).

Yes, the time has come to kick sleep training into high gear. Baby Dragon, whose roar of choice is a wail so deep that instead of striking fear in its opponent (me), it penetrates to the very core of my soul/heart/being (reader’s choice!) and whittles away at my sense of reason by activating the self-doubt gene that every parent struggles their whole existence to overcome. But THAT is the challenge of the ‘cry it out’ (CIO) school of thought. When your baby dragon is wailing alone in his cage (crib), demonstrating his mad drama skillz (he is going to make it in Hollywood, I swear!), you will question your parenting choices. Is CIO really the way to go? What if he really NEEDS me?

Answers: Yes, it is the way to go. And if he really needs me, I will know it, and no book detailing a method is going to deter me from picking him up!

How do I know it’s the way to go? Because sleep in this house is on its way to being something that actually exists! CIO, contrary to popular believe, does not mean leaving your dragon to wail himself into a fury, hone his fire breathing abilities and burn your house down so that you wake up amongst the smouldering cinders (that exact scenario is the popular belief). It is actually a progressive waiting method. The idea is that you put your dragon in his cage awake, tuck him in, kiss him goodnight and leave. If he cries you set a timer and wait until it runs out before going back in. When you go back in you may adjust blankets, replace a soother, pat and kiss for reassurance, but for the love of God DO NOT PICK UP YOUR BABY DRAGON! If you do he will demonstrate the fire breathing skills he’s been working on and you will not only be homeless, you’ll also be hairless… and everyone knows that if you’re homeless in this winter climate you need lots of hair, so please, don’t be ridiculous. You then leave the room again after having spent no more than two minutes with your baby dragon. If he starts to cry again you reset the timer for a slightly longer period and wait it out once more. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat etc. The miracle is that we have never gone beyond two wait periods! This method works for this dragon!

Baby Dragon asleep in his cage

Baby Dragon asleep in his cage

And not only does it work, it has improved his sleep. When we were co-sleeping and Daddy Dragon was relegated to the spare room, Baby Dragon was waking up every 1.5-2 hours during the night. Since the CIO sleep training has begun the 5-6 wake ups/night has been reduced to 1. Yup, that’s right. 1. 1 measly little almost insignificant wake up! It’s a miracle. So, you’d think this mama would be getting some sleep now. Well, you’d be Wrong. That’s right. So wrong that the ‘W’ needs to be capitalized.

Let’s back up a bit.

The sleep training began not by choice. It began because Daddy Dragon reclaimed his rightful place in bed. He weaselled his way back in by engaging in our most romantic conversation to date. It went something like this:

J: The baby is sleeping in his crib tonight.
S: No! I’m not ready!
J: Don’t be a wimp.
S: I’m not a wimp! I’m just not ready! Neither is the baby!
J: You promised that at 4 months he’d go in the crib.
S: … (I got nothing… it’s true. I did promise).
J: So the baby is going in his crib tonight, end of story. (He tries to end the story quite often. He has yet to realize that is isn’t the sole author of this story. Hell, he’s not even the first author of this story! I’m pretty sure that’s the kid.)
S: Fine. If you want the bed back I guess I could sleep with the baby in the spare room.
J: What do I have to do to make you realize that I want you in my bed again? Tell you?
S: Um… yes?

D’awe. Aren’t we sweet?

Romance Fail

This is typical of J’s idea of romance, and is the reason why yes, he did need to tell me!
Image courtesy of mindskin.com

So, Baby Dragon went to his crib that night with no time for me to mentally prepare (probably a good thing cuz I would have just psyched myself out) and Daddy Dragon reclaimed the west side of the bed. At first I was happy that he had expressed a desire to sleep by my side again… but then reality set in and I was swiftly reminded of how difficult it was to learn to sleep by each other’s side comfortably in the first place. Daddy Dragon’s roar of choice is the snore roar, and let me tell you, it is loud and it is mighty. Mighty. Loud. He also likes to fight battles in his sleep which involves a lot of thrashing and grunting. These are the various forms he took last night:

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Image courtesy of my real life experience

The pink ‘x’ represents where I fit into the picture. b. is the absolute worst case scenario because I have the least space and the weird neck angle results in the most tremendous snore roar. All scenarios result in blood pouring out of my ears and unhealthy homicidal thoughts. I’m not too sure if sharing the bed again is so good for our relationship… ok, that’s not true. I value the pre-sleeping cuddle time and we did manage to figure out bed-sharing once before. I just need to recommence the shoving and punching that beat him into shape last time around.

Baby Dragon has awakened from his nap and is letting out that frustrated cry that only creatures with underdeveloped wings can master, so off I go to rescue him.

Despite my whinging, I love my Dragons

Despite my whinging, I love my Dragons. Aren’t they beautiful?

P.S. I love that I have about five million drafts started, but this post is the one that made it to completion. Why? Because two of my favourite blogesses have also posted about sleep (or, to be more accurate, lack thereof) in the last two days. Sleep is so important and so scarce with wee ones around. I have to credit their misery for the actual completion of this post. Check them out:

Sanity Has Left the Building

A (mostly) Depressing Post

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Every Mommy Needs a Daddy Sometimes

So after yet another night of four feedings I groggily and reluctantly woke up before the sunrise because Baby H said so. I went down, popped a T-Disc in the machine and cried to myself a little bit. I miss my friend Sleep so much, although I somehow don’t feel it so much during the day. I miss it in the throes of lacking it, when J is fast asleep and snoring.

I came back upstairs to where my little wiggle monster was, well, wiggling around in his bassinet. I flipped on the TV to find a familiar scene unfolding.

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As a pregnant lady watching this movie last summer I definitely related most to the Elizabeth Banks character. Despite people telling me that I had ‘that glow’, I did not have that glow. It was just sweat. Buckets and buckets of sweat. To be fair, it was the hottest summer on record and I had no air conditioning, but still. I spent the last months of my pregnancy flopping around on the couch feeling like I’d never be comfortable ever again.

So, given this information, and the fact that I have clearly forgotten it, why on earth do I feel twinges of envy as friend after friend announces their summer babies on the way and posts adorable belly bump pictures? They are still small enough that they really are glowing and lovely. Maybe that’s why. Maybe if they were posting pictures of themselves looking like beached whales or Violet Beauregarde post-blueberry incident I might not feel that little bit of envy.

Two days before the birth of H... see the resemblance?

Two days before the birth of H… see the resemblance?

Why on earth would I miss being pregnant? Besides being huge and uncomfortable, I was a sleep deprived hormonal nightmare. I haven’t slept since August! I have no sleep in the foreseeable future. And while I don’t begrudge J his sleep (ok, I do begrudge him just a smidgen of sleep), I have in fact, as Amy at Pregnant Chicken (<- Pregnant women, click that link. You’ll thank me later.) warned, stared at his sleeping, peaceful face at 2am and wondered what the hell the point of him is. In those sleepless 2am moments, especially post-baby, as I stumble around blearily trying to figure out if the baby needs to be changed, nursed, or both, I think of J simply as “the sperm donor” and feel like he couldn’t possibly be the father because he clearly abandons me in every 2am moment of need. If only the men had the boobs… (ok, no. I love breastfeeding and wouldn’t give it up for any amount of uninterrupted sleep, and that’s the truth!).

Sperm Donor

Ok, to the point. On those nights I don’t really feel abandoned. That’s the deal. He needs to get up at 5am to work every day, and he operates heavy machinery. I’d be a pretty horrible person if I expected him to share in the sleepless nights. However, despite my supermom status, I must admit that sometimes I need him. And so does the baby. The other night, I was having a moment (or several). For the life of me, I could not get little H to sleep. He’s normally really easy to put to bed! Nurse him or pop a soother in and he’s fast asleep in 5. This night, though, I felt like my baby had been replaced by a banshee. He screamed until he was purple in the face, tears streaming from his eyes. I tried everything but he could not be consoled. This is how J found us upon arriving home from work at 10pm (where he’d been since 6am). I fully anticipated that he’d disappear into the basement or to bed and leave me to deal with the shit show we’d created. Instead I was pleasantly surprised. He came into the room and started talking to the screaming, writhing mass that I suspected was the baby but was no longer sure. My head was throbbing and I couldn’t think clearly. All of a sudden there was silence as H listened to his daddy’s voice. There was still some pouting and gasping going on, so J picked up the baby and off they went to play in front of the mirror and have a little chat. An hour later a perfectly calm little angel child was returned to me and we fell asleep side by side, which is where J found us 6 hours later at 5am. It was a miracle.

So you see girls, there is a point to him. If you’re tempted in those last days of pregnancy or early days of baby to stab him with a fork as he lies there sleeping like an angel (or snoring like at trucker), hold off. Think about it for a few days to make sure its what you really want to do. You might end up regretting it because even though it may not seem like it during those sleepless nights, every mommy needs a daddy sometimes.

S and J

Staccato: A Story of Sleep (Or Lack Thereof)

(This is a repost from my family blog. I’ve been trying to update my shenanigans, but life with a newborn is hard y’all! Finding time is tricksy. Hope you enjoy reading about my life these last few weeks.)

Towards the end of pregnancy friends and relatives unknowingly utter the most annoying phrase known to pregnant women worldwide, “Make sure you’re getting your sleep now because once that baby comes you’ll be dreaming of the days when you could sleep.” There are two things wrong with that sentence. Thing the first is that no, you will not be dreaming of those days because you will, in fact, never sleep to dream. You may stumble around your house deliriously muttering about pillows and sleepy time wondering where your mommy is and why she hasn’t tucked you in yet. Alternately you may find yourself yelling at the couch for sitting so still or looking so leathery. Either way, that’s not dreaming. It’s the nonsensical blabbering of a sleep deprived whale woman. This bring us to thing the second –the truth is that you already haven’t been sleeping for at least a couple of months. That ship has sailed and it left the dock so quickly and without warning that you didn’t even have a chance to buy a ticket. During the third and fourth trimester sleep is non-existent at worst, staccato at best.

Staccato: Marked by or composed of disconnected parts… [In] Music (of notes) short, clipped, separate… Italian, past participle of detached, to detachfrom staccare, short for distaccare (thefreedictionary.com, 2012).

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Staccato
Image courtesy of: it.wikipedia.org

In music staccato is denoted as shown above. Each note is a crisp burst of sound separated by an equally short silence. In a major key this can sound lively, blythe, and joyful, like Bach’s Invention No. 8. Fingers trip lightly and happily over the piano keys. In a minor key, however, staccato relays a sense of urgency. This brings to mind the passage from mins. 2:37-2:58 of Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor from his darker days. Producing this urgency, the minor key and rising staccato notes combine with the volume beginning at a whisper and building to an apex where suddenly the sound. Just. Stops. Seemingly without resolution, before tumbling off a cliff at min. 2:59.

During the third trimester the waking moments (silences) between the short bursts of sleep (notes) are marked by heartburn, muscles spasms, difficulty breathing and/or the need to make a trip to the bathroom. Telling a very pregnant woman to get her sleep while she can is actually a joke. The sleepless nights begin long before those newborn cries pierce the night (also rather staccato with a building crescendo– wah. waH. wAH. WAH!). Dreams of the legato sleep of Brahms’ Lullaby are but a distant memory.

Legato: In a smooth, even style without any breaks… [In] Music to be preformed smoothly and connectedly… Italian, past participle of legareto bind, tie together (thefreedictionary.com, 2012).

LegatoCredit: en.wikipedia.org

Legato
Image courtesy of: en.wikipedia.org

Baby H likes to sleep in my arms and not so much in his crib or bassinet. I nurse or rock him to sleep, but the second I try to put him down he’s awake, wide eyed and wailing. I have tried warming his bassinet before placing him in it, bouncing, swaying, rocking, walking, dancing to his favourite music (Jack Johnson, for the record) etc. None of these methods have worked, much to my and his chagrin. Sleep deprivation makes me go a bit insane and it makes for a very cranky baby.

I’m currently working on ferberizing him. This is also known as the ‘cry-it-out method’, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. Basically at 3 months of age you start putting your baby to bed awake. He may cry, but you are not to pick him up to soothe or feed him. You do, however, come to him at regular intervals to pat him and reassure him that you are still there. Theoretically this teaches the baby to soothe himself to sleep. Baby H is only one month old and so I am not using this method to the T. Since returning from the hospital the only way he was sleeping was if I had him with me in the bed. The problem with this is that Joe has been relegated to the spare room for the unforeseeable future and I live in constant fear of smothering my baby. Several times now I have fallen asleep with him on my chest, or nursing him at my side. Although unlikely because I tend not to move too much in my sleep, all it would take would be for me to roll over in the wrong direction. I shudder to think…

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Hunter and his new buddy, the Sleep Sheep

Three nights ago I started trying to put him in his bassinet at my bedside, but he kept waking up. I swaddled him very tightly which worked the first time I put him down but stopped working soon after that. In sheer frustration, after having tried to put him down for what was probably about the fifth time in a three hour sleepless period, I didn’t pick him up again and he cried and cried and cried. I then began to feel like a horrible person. How could I let my baby scream like that? It was making me cry. So I turned to Dr. Google and found out about Ferberizing. Being too young for this method as it was described online I decided to modify it to suit my and my one month old’s needs. I turned on the sleep sheep that Nana had given us earlier that day, put my hand on little Baby H’s heaving chest, and began to rock the bassinet. The crying slowed in response, so I removed my hand and over time eventually stopped the rocking. He wasn’t quite asleep yet and started to cry again, so I resumed the rocking. Miraculously, he stopped crying again. I repeated this until he fell asleep. I have continued to do this over the past couple of nights, but I don’t attend to him immediately when he begins to cry. Lo and behold, sometimes he barely cries and puts himself straight to sleep.

When I was getting little to no sleep I was exhausted and irritable. I had feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Nursing at night was painful and I dreaded it. I was seriously worried that I was going to slip into a postpartum depression, eyes wide shut. Since the modified Ferberization of Baby H began, yes we have had to deal with some tears, but ultimately both mum and baby are much happier. We both sleep in longer legato stretches and are refreshed in the morning. We awaken only once or twice to nurse and resettle at night. Sleep more closely resembles that classic Brahms Lullaby and dark and desperate Mozart is now becoming a distant memory.