The Three Month Sleep Update.

Today it’s been just me and the nugget.  Oatmeal took Poppyseed to his brother’s house in Cypress for the day, and they should be back soon.  I had a long list of things that I wanted to do before they got home, but as anyone with a young baby can probably understand, I’ll be doing good to cross just one or two things off of my to-do list.

I’ve been really beating my head against a wall, so allow me to vent for a few minutes.  We’ve been having some trouble in the sleep department.

To give you some background information, I’ll tell you about Poppyseed at this age.  Poppyseed, now 2.5, was not the best sleeper when she was born, but I’d say she was pretty easy to work with.  I spent the first few weeks of her life getting her on a nursing schedule.  Once she was used to it, she barely ever cried out in hunger – I usually offered her milk before she even asked for it!  It was so nice to be able to run errands and plan our day and know that I could build in times for just feeding her. Her naps were never really consistent, but her nighttime sleep was.  She slept so hard at night during her first month of life that I would actually wake her up to feed her at 3am.  As in, intentionally go into her room and unswaddle her so that she would wake up to eat.  CRAZY!  Then I put her back down and she would sleep until 5am, at which point I would just let her snuggle in bed with me until it was time to get up.   There were a few nights where I didn’t wake her up for one reason or the other, and she would usually sleep from 1o:15pm-4 or 5am.  That was way too long for me to go between feedings, so I always tried to wake her so that I didn’t pay for it the next morning!

Between 12-14 weeks, I started edging that 3am feeding back by 15-20 minutes at a time until she was sleeping soundly from 10pm-4:30am or so.  So to sum things up, she slept in 5 hour stretches from the beginning, and I got to sleep 6-7 hour stretches pretty easily after that.  There were some nights of protesting and crying, and our system wasn’t perfect.  But all in all, I really never had to get used to waking up more than once a night!

Baby Poppyseed at 3 months...busting out of her swaddle and sleeping soundly!

Baby Poppyseed at 3 months…busting out of her swaddle and sleeping soundly!

Baby Middle is so different.  He used to sleep long stretches in his swing as a tiny baby, usually in the late afternoon.  But now we are on the same schedule as we were with Poppyseed, and it’s just been hard.  I’ve experimented with bedtimes, and right now we are putting him to bed between 6:30pm-7pm.  Any earlier is really annoying and difficult for me, because Oatmeal gets home from work right at 6:15 and it’s just not an opportune time to be putting his son down to bed.  And later seems, well, too late.  He doesn’t nap well in the afternoon, so if I were to keep him up past 7 or so he would be a MANIAC.

So until a few weeks ago, this was roughly what our evenings looked like:

  • 6:15pm: nurse, bath, massage, swaddle (always in this order, and he loves his bath and massage!)
  • 7pm: bed (in his crib, swaddled, on his back)
  • 12am-1am: he woke on his own and nursed
  • 3am-4am: he woke on his own and nursed, if 4am I brought him to bed with us
  • 7am: wake up in our bed

Then, in an effort to get him to sleep further into the night, I added a dream feed between 10-10:30pm and things looked like this:

  • 6:15pm: nurse, bath, massage, swaddle (always in this order!)
  • 7pm: bed (in his crib, swaddled, on his back)
  • 10pm: dream feed (I pick him up, nurse him, and put him back down to sleep.  No diapering or anything else.)
  • 2:30am-3am: he would wake up to nurse and go back down in his crib
  • 4am-5am: he would wake again, I’d move him to our bed
  • 7am: wake up in our bed

This was really great for me, and let me tell you why.  I was able to nurse him at 10ish and then go to sleep right after he did.  This allowed me to sleep from 10:30 until 3am.  Four and a half hours of sleep – y’all, that felt amazing.  I woke up feeling so rested, and my day was much better as a result.

Things were going so well that at 11 weeks, I decided to see if I could get him to consistently wait until 3am to eat.  If he woke up earlier I’d give him a paci a few times to see if he would doze off.  It is during this time that we began having problems.  He began waking up at 1am again, even with the dream feed.  Puzzled, I fed him at 1am a few times, but then he just continued to wake up then, so I stopped.  Then I began sending Oatmeal into his bedroom at 1:30am to give him his pacifier or rock him until 3am.  That didn’t work either, so we wondered if he was really hungry.

Baby Middle actually fell asleep right after I swaddled him on my bed last night!

Baby Middle actually fell asleep right after I swaddled him on my bed last night!

I decided to experiment by continuing to give him his dream feed at 10pm by nursing him, and then following that immediately with a bottle of 4-5oz of pumped breastmilk.  He continued to wake at 1:30ish!  We were baffled, so we decided to try to hold him off to 3 or 4am for three nights.  This was purely to see if the consistency would help.  So here is what the past 3 nights have looked like…

  • 6:00pm: nurse, bath, massage, swaddle (always in this order!)
  • 6:45pm: bed (this is a slightly earlier bedtime than before)
  • 10pm: dream feed followed by 4-5oz bottle
  • 1:30-2am: he wakes up, we give him his paci several times, then we just keep an eye on him and pray that he goes to sleep.  He doesn’t, so I eventually give up and feed him between 3:30am-4am.  So yes, I’ve been awake for TWO HOURS in the middle of the night for the last three nights!
  • 5am-6am: he wakes up again, into my bed he goes!

I keep a tracker on my phone, and the pattern I’ve noticed is that he always wakes up between 3.5-4 hours of his dream feed.  It’s been suggested to me that I drop the dream feed and see if that works after several nights, which I really hate to do only because that means I’ll probably be getting more broken sleep, as he will probably wake up around 12am now.  But, clearly what I am doing is not working, so I guess I should start taking some advice!

Obviously I’ve considered things such as growth spurts and wonder weeks, but that’s why I started giving him the bottle after nursing him.  I read on kellymom.com that the average breastfed baby takes about 19-30oz of milk on average, so 4oz is a pretty good percentage of his daily food.  Especially since he is nursing first and then getting that 4oz!

At the risk of being judged or yelled at, I will mention my thoughts on letting a baby cry.  I did let Poppyseed cry some when we were sleep training her.  I would go back in after 10-20 minutes when she cried, and after a few rounds of this, she became really good at self-soothing.  It only took a few nights before she could connect her sleep cycles and get back to sleep on her own – without any crying.  Though it wasn’t my favorite part of having a baby, and I HATED hearing her cry, I was so glad that I did that because it worked!  I could put her to sleep anywhere and just tell her “Okay, now go night-night, I love you” and she would.  I mean sometimes I would have to replace her paci once or twice, but for the most part she was golden.   Another huge advantage was that it helped me to recognize problems.  She was so unlikely to cry at night that when she DID actually cry, I would immediately go to her because it was unlike her.  I knew that a cry at 2am probably meant she needed to be changed, or was sick or teething.  So by teaching her to sleep without crying, I felt like I really just made things much easier and better for both of us.

One night a friend of mine and I decided to go out to dinner, and we had a sitter take care of both of our babies.  (This was a sitter who had taken care of each of our kids countless times and knew our babies very well.)  I told the sitter to just put Poppyseed down in her pack-and-play after a bath and let her go to sleep.  She did just that because she wasn’t accustomed to being rocked or nursed to sleep.  My friend’s baby had never been sleep trained, because she just holds different views than I do about babies and sleep.  Well, the sitter was awake with her crying baby for 4 hours!  She tried rocking, swaddling, bouncing, lying down with the baby, even wearing the baby in an ergo.  I felt so sorry for him when we got back – he was exhausted and just totally disoriented.  And my poor friend!  All she wanted was ONE night out to grab dinner and see a movie, and she came home to a sobbing child and very flustered sitter.  I remember thinking to myself that her baby had cried nonstop for four hours that night, and that Poppyseed cried for less than a total of four hours when I sleep trained her.  So it just seemed like the short term stress was worth it for the long term gain.

So what I’m saying is… I believe in different strokes for different folks.  I see both sides of the arguments with regards to “let cry” sleep training methods.  Natural vs. unnatural… better for their brain vs. damaging… I’ve read the articles on cortisol… I get it.  I do.  All I know is that it worked with Poppyseed and she was a confident little sleeper – and so HAPPY when she woke up!  So naturally I tried the same thing with Middle.  We decided to let him cry for a few nights during those night wakings to see if that would help.

Y’all.  It did NOT work.  I will not be trying that again any time soon.  He is, quite obviously, not his sister.  I am going to have to figure something else out.

So tonight I guess I’ll pump before I go to bed and then just skip the dream feed.  We will probably go back to 2 night wakings, but maybe with some time things will get better.  In the meantime I have even become so desperate that I have contacted a sleep consultant.  I think I just want someone to tell me what to do so that I can stop guessing!  I’ll definitely follow up with a post about that later.  Hiring someone to help me get my baby to sleep sounds really crazy, but if it works I will be thanking my lucky stars!

This was taken one afternoon this week after many failed attempts at a nap.  #wavingwhiteflag

This was taken one afternoon this week after many failed attempts at a nap. #wavingwhiteflag

Oatmeal picks up the baby and he falls asleep.  MADDENING!!

Oatmeal picks up the baby and he falls asleep. MADDENING!!

 

 

 

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