Friday, January 25, 2013

Sleep is for the weak?

I love sleeping. I really love sleeping. Back when I was single (Nick's definition of single = before kid) I reveled in going to bed late and sleeping in. Like sleeping in until 10am on weekends. I used to need at least 9 hours of sleep a night to function well during the day (10 was preferable). Sleeping was my favorite.

Wow, has that changed.

Don't get me wrong, I still love sleeping, but I'm learning to get by on less. Jo has never been a great sleeper. It's not a huge deal to me since overall she's such an amazing kid. It's just a pain as we continue to adjust to her ever-changing habits. I've learned to survive on as little sleep as possible between her late nights and early mornings.

Jo has never slept all night. And by "all night" I mean all night-go-to-bed-in-the-evening-and-not-get-up-until-morning. We put her to bed in her crib and she usually wakes up a couple of times before Nick and I go to bed. Jo has a hard time putting herself back to sleep and we aren't using a cry-it-out method so either Nick or I have to get her back down. It's not really an issue between 8pm-11pm. It just takes some of our time. Fine by me.

The hard part is when she wakes up after Nick and I have gone to bed. It seems like it's much harder for her to fall back asleep during these later wake-ups. Plus Nick and I tend to be groggy or cranky from being woken up. Usually at that point I just bring her into bed with us and nurse her back to sleep. That always works. Always. And she just nurses off and on throughout the night. Easy peasy.

But now we're starting to night-wean. I'm ready to be done nursing. We had a good run, but it's time. So the night-weaning changes just compound the non-sleeping issues since Jo really has come to expect that when she comes into our bed at night that she gets to nurse herself back down. It's a comfort thing. I get that. But I also know that when Jo spent the night with Grandma she didn't have any problems falling asleep on Grandma's shoulder. So I know it can be done.

So what are we doing? Well, Nick has been amazing and has taken the "early" shift between 8pm-midnight getting up with her most nights. The idea being that since she can't nurse with Nick she'll get used to going back down with just a little parental help. Overall it's been up and down. If Jo really doesn't want to go back to sleep Nick's fail-safe has been to sleep with her on the couch. For some reason being wedged in between Nick and the couch instantly puts her back to sleep.

When she wakes up again after midnight I take her into bed and she nurses. At least that was the routine over the past few weeks. The next step is to cut out a few more hours of nursing. If we can get to 3am with no nursing, that would be swell. Then we'll go from there.

The past few nights have been really hard. Jo has woken up a number of times and after her 11pm wake-up she just doesn't want to go back down. Last night Nick was up with her for an hour on the couch and then I took over for another good hour. This was all between 11pm-1am. You'd think she would be tired enough to just sleep.

Perhaps the universe is taking care of me: I saw this article about sleep, gratitude, and parenting in my Facebook feed today. After digging around on the Evolutionary Parenting site I like this article even more. Good timing, right? I also recently joined a group on Facebook that supports the "Wait It Out" Method where the group description is:
"Wait it Out" is defined by each family. Some of us co-sleep. Some of us do no-cry sleep training. Some of us swaddle. Some of us nurse our children to sleep. Some of us use pacfiers. Some of us formula feed. What we all have in common is that we don't believe that babies need to be "trained" to sleep with tears.
This group is great for support when things seem rough. Like this week when I haven't slept much at all and things seem really hard. And when Nick is frustrated and when I'm frustrated and we're both tired and cranky and nothing seems to be working at night and we're living on coffee during the day and we all have bags under our eyes (even little Jo). It's nice to know that others struggle with this too. And we all make different choices based on what is best for our families.

I have to remind myself to be patient. It doesn't help me to get frustrated and it certainly doesn't help Jo. I have to remind myself that we can't push. We can't make Jo sleep. She WILL eventually sleep all night. Night-time parenting may always be a part of our routine, but it will certainly evolve. She WILL eventually sleep in her own bed. We'll get there.

In the meantime, Nick and I just splurged on a new king bed. If we're all going to be up in the middle of the night we might as well have a big bed to play in, right?

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