Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our Infant Sleep Saga

See how happy she was in her Rock n Play?

It's no secret that I love to sleep. Seriously, I love it. I haven't really been able to sleep in since I joined the adult working world, but I had no issues with retiring early to make sure I got plenty of shut eye. 

During my pregnancy, I slept miserably. Especially my first trimester. I don't know how one can feel so tired that your body literally hurts but then doesn't sleep. It's one of the many mysteries of pregnancy and motherhood. I remember thinking that I was prepared for the lack of sleep that came with a newborn since I wasn't sleeping anyway. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I just gave myself a good laugh at that one. 

No way in hell was I prepared for the ongoing drama that was, and still is, Sabrina's sleeping. I read The Happiest Baby on the Block when I was pregnant. I had my 5 S's all ready for when Sabrina made her entrance into the world. I even made a promise to myself to not use a bassinet and instead just put her in her crib from day one, since I've heard so many stories of people's kids having a hard time adjusting to their crib. If only I'd been able to stick to my plan. (Plan? With a baby? HAHAHAHA again. Cracking myself up here)

Sabrina slept pretty well in the hospital, but I did take advantage of the nursery to try to recover from my c-section.  Our first night home with her was an utter disaster.  Between my milk not being in and her flat out refusal to sleep in her crib, we basically got no sleep.  Thus began the swing sleeping phase of our sleep saga.  When she was in her swing, with the motion on, she slept.  Not for long stretches of time, as she was still up every 2-3 hours to eat, but she still slept.  

Once we transitioned to formula feeding, I began sleeping downstairs on the couch.  The bottles, formula, and swing were all downstairs, so it seemed like a no brainer.  Plus, keeping Sabrina downstairs would allow Chris to get some decent sleep before he had to go to work.  I remember wondering why she was still getting up to eat every 2-3 hours even after being on formula for awhile.  Somehow I expected there to be a magic sleeping switch that came in the Similac container.  Here's a little nugget of advice: If the main reason you are considering switching to formula is so that your baby will sleep longer, let me be the first to tell you that I believe that to be a total lie that someone made up, either to push formula or to make formula mothers crazy, wondering why their dang kids aren't sleeping more.  Either way, at least for this mama, there was no noticeable change in her sleep habits from breastmilk to formula.  She still didn't sleep.

The most maddening phase of Sabrina's sleeping saga was the witching hour.  Or hours.  Eventually we found out that she did not have colic, but she did have acid reflux.  No matter what we did, what time we fed her, where we fed her, if we gave her gas drops, gripe water, stood on our head, prayed, cried, screamed, whatever...  every night around 7:30-8:00, she completely and utterly lost her mind.  Screaming bloody murder like you would not believe.  We would walk circles around our downstairs, we would hand her off from one of us to the other, we would hold her, put her down, pick her back up, try the swing, pick her back up again, walk, run, jump, spin in circles...  We were sure she was teething at 2 months, tried
Probiotic drops, gripe water, gas drops. Many nights she refused to take a bottle at all, arching her back and screaming. I called the doctor, who put her on Zantac liquid. At first, they told me to give to to her in a bottle nipple straight. One problem Sabrina never had, until then, was spitting up. That day, I swear she spit up a dozen times. Called the doctor again, and this person told me to mix the Zantac in with her bottle, just to make sure she took the full amount. Phew, much better.  That did help quite a bit. 

But it also created the biggest obstacle of Sabrina's life of sleep (or lack thereof)...  The Fisher Price Rock n Play!  Now at first, let me not mince words here. It was a savior. A godsend. I can't over-stress how big of a difference it made. The elevation of her head in the Rock n Play made a huge difference with her reflux. She began sleeping 4, 5, occasionally even 6 hours in a stretch. Finally!  I loved that thing so much I wanted to hug it. Eventually we moved it up to her room, and I got to sleep in my own bed again.

Not sure if you can tell from the pictures I've posted, but Sabrina is definitely ahead of the curve size wise. As in, wearing 18 month clothes at 9 months. She also is very long. Therefore, there came a time when the Rock n Play started to look a little crowded. And then it happened. She rolled over in it. We had never bothered to belt her in there. Thankfully Chris saw it. So in her crib she went. She could only cry for so long before she'd give up, right?  WRONG. After several hours of screaming, I waved the white flag of surrender and put her back in the Rock n Play, this time belted in. But it got to a point where she was so smushed that she wasn't comfortable, so she'd cry from discomfort. That's when we knew that it was TIME. Time for the dreaded crib battle that we both knew was coming. 

We did not do cry it out. I don't subscribe to a "sleep training" theory. I just try to know my baby, her cues, and use my mommy intuition. We did let her cry, usually for way longer than I wanted to, but we would comfort her and try to calm her down while leaving her in the crib. We started for a stretch of a few hours per night for a few days- the rest of the night she went back in the Rock n Play. Chris ordered a Woombie online. I am not one to push a product but this swaddle saved our lives and our sanity. It made her feel secure like she was in the Rock n Play.  With much time and many prayers and partially sleepless nights, she finally got the hang of sleeping in her crib. 

Sabrina, at 9 months and 2 days old, has only slept through the whole night (8 or more hours) maybe once or twice. On a normal night she still wakes up twice.  Just this week, she started to cut teeth (finally) so she's been crying a lot more, very restless seeming. 

During her crib training, I posted many hopeless posts on Facebook, and was surprised by the number of parents who responded that their kids too had sleeping issues. I felt so alone in all of it, like everyone else's kids were perfect sleepers and my kid was the only one still waking up or having other issues. To this day, I can't express my gratitude to all those who reached out to me, during one of the lowest lows I've experienced as a parent. When you haven't had enough sleep, and you are upset, your mind goes some crazy places. It was so reassuring to hear from others that I wasn't losing it, and that I was going to be okay. 

I'm sure there will be many more chapters to this sleep saga. I am sure that I will be tired every day from now til kingdom come. But at least I can say that my sanity is still intact (mostly), that I at least feel mostly rested some days (way better than it used to be), and that everyone happily sleeps in their own beds now. It was an epic struggle to get there, but we did. To new parents, you will too. Eventually. Until then, I recommend coffee, sugar, and going to bed at 8:00. 

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