Sleep is for the Weak

Hubby has started his new job & I'm on my own with Georgia from Monday mornings to Friday nights.

Now she's a pretty good baby, and I am okay with the single parenting gig for the most part - I miss him like crazy and I would LOVE for some help every now & again, but I know it's for the right reasons. But Georgia has never been a good day sleeper - and I've relied on her sleeping well through the night to get my own rest. Throw in the four month sleep regression and what I THINK might be the start of a very long teething process {flushed red cheeks, dribble everywhere, hands and everything in sight shoved in her mouth and gnawed on} and her night sleeps have also gone to pot.
I've always been thrilled with her night sleeps, but envious of other babies & their ability to sleep anywhere during the day. Friends' babies will be playing on the floor, get sleepy, and crash into sleep right then and there. Or they'll start showing signs, be placed in their cot or carseat, and BAM. Sleep. Georgia, on the other hand, will grizzle, cry & eventually sob/scream - it takes a bloody lot of effort to get her to bed.
The last two nights were painful. She woke constantly, needed lots of resettling, woke up crying at 4am and I gave up and officially started the day at 5am. FIVE AM. Exhausted mama, right here. 
After a failed morning nap, I reached the end of my tether & decided to ring and talk to someone. I had a chat with one of the nurses from Tresillian to see what I could do to help Georgia with her day naps, and to get some self-settling advice. I love snuggle time with my baby, but rocking her to sleep every time I need her to nap is getting harder and harder as she gets older. I got lots of advice & it was common sense stuff, which is exactly what I needed to hear.
These were the best bits of info I took in from today:
*Watch for those tired cues - which can be difficult when you have a baby who is notoriously anti-sleep. I need to catch Georgia's very early on, otherwise she goes into meltdown mode VERY quickly.
*Start a conversational routine to get Georgia to sleep. She responds really well to people talking to her {and likes to talk back} so from now on, I'm going to narrate when it's bedtime. "Time to get ready for bed, Georgia!" "Let's change your nappy, Georgia!" "It's sleeping bag time!" "Let's put our white noise machine on!" and finally, "Time for bed!"

*Stick to a similar routine - upstairs, nappy change, sleeping bag, kiss and cuddle, quick rock, bed.
*Put her to sleep upstairs, away from the hustle and bustle of downstairs. Being around loud noises was great when she was smaller, but for trouble sleepers, dark and dim.

*Babies can take a while to get to sleep when they're learning to self-settle. Up to 30 minutes! So what I need to do is listen for the type of grizzles and cries she does. The nurse informed me that it's normal to have a tired cry/grizzle/pause routine for a while - as baby gets more tired, the grizzles and pauses will be longer than the crying sessions.
*If Georgia gets distressed (increased crying that is >1 minute in duration) try to pat and rock while she is still in the crib. Praise her when she calms down, and start again.

*If Georgia gets MORE distressed and inconsolable, pick her up, soothe & eventually start again.
That's a really broad summary, but basically, it's listening closely to the type of noises she makes & making a judgement call. I tried these things at our midday nap, and it took her about 30 minutes to fall asleep - she had a 40 minute nap afterwards. She's currently still asleep from her second nap, where she woke after half an hour, needed a quick resettle, and then went back to sleep. I haven't rocked her to sleep all day! :)
She also gave me some good advice about weaning away from swaddling and into sleeping bags, which I've started trying already - I'm happy to say that she's had her TWO naps today swaddle-free! It's early days yet, but I'm ready to work on it!

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PNG said...

Hi from ICLW! Sleep problems really aren't fun, cause the more tired you get, the less energy you have to try whatever might help. It's comforting though, that usually it all gets better with time. Lots of hugs, it's looking good!

Candace said...

Way to go momma! You and that sweet girl got this!

Mrs Green Grass said...

Our go to is walking around the block if he really won't go to sleep. We probably started it around 4 months and we also made our routine more regular. A pat on the butt only makes him angrier, so we pick him up when he starts to really cry. I also use a crib mobile with a light up monkey on it. I'll hold him and calm him while he looks at his mobile. I'll put him down again and if it doesn't work...then walk.

Good luck! Do you have to go back to work?

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I am so glad I found you during ICLW, because this post is taking me back! Your description about envying the mums with the babies who just fall asleep anywhere was me! I remember having a playdate with a mum and her baby fell asleep on the play mat, and I just could not believe my eyes.

Our E. was a TERRIBLE day sleeper. Problematic at night too, but naps were carnage. For his first twelve/thirteen weeks, he only napped if in a carrier while I paced around the house (walking outside woke him up). Then we graduated to swaddling and bouncing to sleep.

At around Georgia's age, what worked well for us was stopping swaddling, putting him in the crib in his sleepsack on his side, and physically holding him on his side until he fell asleep (assuming we had his sleepy cues right). Thumb sucking was also key. But the naps honestly still sucked a lot of the time until he hit nine months and went down to two consistently.

Somewhere around nine/ten months (see- life is kind- you forget!) he was able to start to put himself to asleep- first at night, and then during naps as well. It just became obvious to me that he was getting too distracted with our presence and he wanted to do it himself. There were rough moments, but we got there, and he's been a completely independent sleeper since then.

What really helped us was a rock solid routine (which sounds incredibly similar to yours with sleep sacks and white noise machines), and an acceptance that he just wasn't going to be a baby who napped easily.

If it is any consolation, when he went down to one nap at 14 months, it suddenly became three hours long, and he now (at almost 28 months) naps for longer and better than many of the toddlers the same age who were better sleepers when they were younger.

Finally, if you haven't already, I would google Ask Moxie's posts on tension increasers and tension decreasers. Her basic argument is that some babies WILL NOT settle to go to sleep through crying, but just work themselves up into a tizzy. These are the ones who vomit repeatedly when their parents try to let them CIO. As soon as I read it, I knew that E. was a tension increaser- it took all the pressure off to have him CIO- it would never have worked for him. We still respond to him in the night if he wakes because it is so rare, and if he can't resettle himself, he needs something.

Good luck! I would say "this too shall pass" and "things get easier" but I know I couldn't believe people who said such things to me when I was in the thick of it. Sleep is so hard, because the less you get of it, the harder everything else becomes. But it will get easier!

Lara said...

Congrats on your beautiful daughter. All of this sounds so familiar: part-week single parenting; poor daytime sleeper; night waking after having mastered sleeping through the night. Just keep taking it one day at a time!

Rebecca said...

Stopping by to say Hi from ICLW. Have fun with the routine.

Unknown said...

You just described my daughter! I've heard some babies have more active brains so they dont just crash...I like this makes me think my child is smarter. It is nice to know my baby is doing stuff other babies are doing. Still got to get her room pitch black. I do think this makes a difference for her....but then i'm off to ireland so I'm sure jet lag is going to stuff every thing up. We are ready for food....heard this helps with night sleep as well.

Heather said...

Thinking of you xxx I don't have much of a routine, I count hours since he last woke and also if he cries like a tired cry if that makes sense. Then I nurse him to sleep which may take about 15 min or so, and slip away when he falls asleep. I've always done it like that. At night we co sleep so I am close when he needs his reassurance or a feed. I guess I am not the norm here but it's worked for me. We have had some bad nights lately but I just hung in there and it did get better. I think the frustrating part is you don't always know why they won't sleep, you just have to hang in there with them through it.

Teacher Anonymous said...

I feel your pain! Sounds like you're taking good steps. I've found a good routine to be key.

I think sleep is one of the most challenging ongoing aspects of parenting. It's just not optional. I've got a toddler who only wears underwear at home because, in the end, clothing at home is optional. But sleep is not.

Mrs. Higrens said...

It's very frustrating when you get used to having X hours of sleep again and then it goes away without warning.

Rescogitatae beat me to the tension increase/decrease and askmoxie recommendations. Note that she just switched website providers and the search functionality is a bit wonky right now.

The other thing to keep in mind is that infant sleep runs in 40-45 minute cycles. Sometimes if LO started to stir at that time I was able to wait it out and she would go back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. You know how Georgia reacts best though as to whether she just needs to be left alone or needs help to resettle.

Anonymous said...

Hi from ICLW. Your baby girl is gorgeous! :)

Nic at Haus of Harnois said...

her eyes! lol hahah i love it.

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