Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And I Thought Some Parents Were Lying

As I'm sure you all well know, the Pumpkin was and is not a good sleeper. I have gone on and on about it. It's a central theme in my life, and has been for 2.5 years. There are more and more nights when she sleeps through the night, in her own bed, by herself (minus the sick nights we had over the last week). And lately, with her lack of napping at pre-school, she is not taking long to put to bed. My experience with putting my child to bed and her sleeping at night has probably jaded me in my opinions about kids and sleep.

But today, my post isn't about the Pumpkin. I just started it that way to give the frame of reference.

Today, on the Pookie's four-month birthday (can you believe he's four months already? I can't!), I'm going to tell you how the nights had been going, and then tell you about this crazy thing that's happening over the past few nights. And yes, I know that I'm going to completely jinx myself. I figure we're about to start in on the four-month sleep regression anyway, so I should document the current happenings before it all goes to hell.

To put the Pookie to bed, I do the follow:
1. Bring him upstairs in the bedroom and dim the lights.
2. Change his diaper.
3. Swaddle him in the straight jacket Miracle Blanket.
4. Nurse him, rock him, walk him or any combination there of to sleep.
5. Hold him for at least a half hour, possibly an hour and a half(!), until he is in deep sleep.
6. Put him down in the cosleeper next to my side of the bed.
7. Quietly sneak out of the room and pray that he stays asleep.

Historically, he sleeps for 2-4 hours--usually right about 3--when I first put him down. When he wakes up, I usually bring him to bed with me (this is often when I'm going to bed or within an hour of me going to bed) and nurse him back to sleep lying down next to me. And I fall asleep. Cause I'm seriously tired, people. I tend to not wake up until he wakes up again, and then I nurse him back to sleep and I fall asleep. Unless he has a fart or poop or I think he's going to or his diaper is very full, and then I get up (or occassionally wake up Londo) to change his diaper, reswaddle and then nurse him back to sleep. So he pretty much sleeps with me most of the night.

Over the last week or two, he has spent many nights waking up every hour or less. Until I give up somewhere around 4 or 5 or 6 in the morning and stick him in the swing, where he'll sleep for a solid 2 or 3 hours more, and I actually get to sleep by myself for a few hours. Oh, and he's also taken to nursing for an hour or more while sleeping. I guess since it's right there, he thinks hey, why not!

Did I mention I'm tired? And sore! And exhausted! And my poor nipples need a little rest too!

And none of that even takes into account the Pumpkin's coming to our bed and coughing all night long so my sleep is even more disrupted!

But... but... but... get this: Now, the Pookie doesn't have to be in deep sleep to be put down in his cosleeper!

Not only that, but... get this: The Pookie can actually fall back to sleep on his own!!!!

I'm not kidding! It really does happen for some kids! It looks like the world isn't full of people with their pants on fire!

For most of his naps, I just nurse him to sleep and when he seems asleep enough I put him down. It hadn't worked so well at night, but three nights ago, I thought I'd give it another try at night. And it worked! I nursed him to sleep and 5-10 minutes later, I put him down! And he slept about 3 hours!

Two nights ago, he woke right up. But we had an overall tough night, I believe because of gas and poop that didn't get all out until the next morning--all over the swing, which was especially fun to deal with.

And last night? I did it again! Not only that, but once the other night and twice last night I was able to put him in his cosleeper after nursing him lying down. I've been going to be in the 9:00 hour, so I think I'm not so exhausted that I just fall completely back to sleep when I nurse him to sleep. I'm able to either stay awake-ish or wake back up and put him back in his cosleeper. And it works!

But it gets even better. Last night when I first put him down, I had to get the monitor from another room and plug it in and I ended up jostling him somewhat awake. His eyes were open and he looked at me. I ducked out as quickly and quietly as I could. When I went downstairs and turned the monitor on, Londo and I heard him fussing a bit. I thought it was all over. For the Pumpkin, it would have been. I headed back upstairs, but it was quiet when I got up there. I listened at the door, and I heard some more fussing. But then? Nothing! He had fallen back asleep! By himself!

I think this is what people mean by "self-soothe."*

And at least one of the two times I put him back in the cosleeper last night, he was not fully asleep. His eyes were that fluttering-open and he was tossing and turning his head. But? HE FELL ASLEEP! IN HIS COSLEEPER!

So we may have one of those previously-believed-to-be-mythical-by-Londo-and-I children who self-soothe! I have hope for regaining some of my sleep prior to his turning 3!

Now, if only he could teach his sister...

*The Pumpkin has never really been able to self-soothe. When she sleeps through the night, it is completely because she doesn't wake up enough to have to get herself back to sleep. When she wakes up enough to require getting back to sleep, she comes in our room or calls for one of us. She just has not developed this capability yet, and we are working on it with her.


songbird said...

"His eyes were that fluttering-open and he was tossing and turning his head."

My husband calls this "slow asleep". You know, as opposed to "fast asleep." I have a self soother as well, who takes less work to put to sleep than you describe with the Pookie. After reading your descriptions of the Pumpkin, I count my blessings every day.

Cloud said...

So far, Petunia seems likely to be an easier sleeper than our Pumpkin. Our Pumpkin has finally learned to self-soothe, but she can't do it all the time and she can't go to sleep on her own yet. Between her bedtime needs, her earlyish wake-up hour, and Petunia's middle of the night wakeups (she is, after all, not yet two weeks old)- I'm very tired even though I know that Petunia is sleeping more than Pumpkin did at this age!

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

I remember at one point -- who knows when, that first year was such a blur, but maybe at around four months -- we realized that we were being compensated for our laziness. I was so sick of waking up to nurse le Petit, who was in a crib next to our bed, that I'd let him fuss for a minute or two while I summoned the courage to sit up. And lo and behold, he'd often fuss himself back to sleep! Same thing when we let him fuss a few minutes in the evening before we went into the bedroom from the living room.

It felt like a miracle, I'm telling you.

I remember the whole hold-sleeping-baby-in-arms-for-half-an-hour routine. Such fun. In order to keep from losing it, I started reading with a flashlight while I was waiting. I got a whole lot of reading done that way...

I'm Not Skippy said...

We were lucky with our son. He never needed the rocking or walking, he'd finish nursing, I'd swaddle him and put him in the bassinet and he'd go to sleep. No fussing, no problems. We just always did that and it worked.

Then when bedtime became a routine we'd put him in bed he'd cry for a few minutes (the first few nights were a little much), tire himself out and go to sleep. . . or talk to himself until he went to sleep. Now (unless we are trying to get him back in footie pajamas) he goes to bed with no crying, he often babbles or sings to himself, but no crying. He's a happier baby for it and we're happier parents.

I've always been befuddled by all the sleep problems you have.

AmyinMotown said...

You know how some of the sleep books tell you to put your baby down "drowsy but awake"? And if you have the kind of baby who goes from drowsy to "what the hell are you doing get me out of here RIGHT NOW where do you think you're going" in about 1.2 seconds when you put them in the crib if they aren't sound asleep?

Yeah, had one of those the first time and thought those "drowsy but awake" babies were mythical. My boy? Actually didn't, and doesn't still, like to be rocked to sleep. When he's ready, he even points to the crib. Maybe he's a unicorn.

Sky said...

I can't believe someone else has children who sleep exactly like mine! Eldest daughter (2) is the worst sleeper ever and always has been and will never get herself to sleep. Youngest daughter (6 months) will put herself back to sleep after a feed at night and will actually nap during the day. Granted that youngest is having crappy sleep at the moment, but then she has a fluey cold and hand, foot and mouth disease, so who can blame her? Will be following further sleep posts with interest to see if there is hope of Eldest ever sleeping the night through!

HeatherY said...

That is so awesome!!! WTG Pookie on letting Mommy get some well deserved rest!

mom2boys said...

T had a fever yesterday and so of course wouldn't let me put him down or for a good bit even sit down with him. Such a flashback to the many many nights of walking, standing and very gently easing into the rocking chair while holding the barely sleeping baby. Still should he fall asleep in the car near nap time he needs me to transition him from sleeping in the car to being put down in his bed by laying down with him. The clutch mommy sensor is still there. I know people with easier sleepers think we are crazy and just haven't put our bad sleepers on a routine or let them fuss enough - but that's okay. Everyone gets as much as they can handle, right?

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