Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 12: The new 10-day plan

I've already made some changes to Mari's original 10-day plan, but I haven't written it all down until now, so here goes. Unless otherwise specified, the original plan still stands.

1. Mari's schedule will look something like this:
7:30 - Up and play
9:00 - Naptime routine (Breastfeed boob 1, potty, put on sleep sack, story, lullaby, breastfeed boob 2, rock and shh)
9:30 - Nap
11:00 - Up and play
12:30 - Naptime routine
1:00 - Nap
2:00 - Up and play
3:30 - Naptime routine
4:00 - Nap
5:30 - Up and play
7:00 - Bedtime routine (Breastfeed boob 1, potty, bath, massage, put on pajamas, story, lights out, breastfeed boob 2, lullaby, rock and shh)
8:00 - Sleep

2.  In addition to the feedings described above, I will offer supplementary feedings shortly after waking up for the day (if she didn't feed immediately before/after waking up), immediately after her late-afternoon nap, and at at any other time on demand. If she doesn't wake up demanding a feed in the evening, I will feed her just before I go to bed. After that last feeding, I won't feed her for at least four hours, after which I will revert to a minimum three-hour stretch between night nursings. If a four-hour stretch goes well for a few nights, I will start stretching it out until she goes at least five hours without a feed in the next 10-day plan.

3.  The above schedule is subordinate to Mari's sleepy cues. If she seems sleepy sooner than a prescribed bedtime/naptime, I will get her to bed right away, skipping the story and song part of the naptime routine or, if necessary, the bath, massage and story parts of the bedtime routine. I will strive not to keep her up more than two hours at a stretch and I will never keep her up more than 2.5 hours at a stretch.

4.  I will try to ensure Mari naps for at least an hour each time, unless it's the last nap of the day and the previous two naps were long. I will continue to stay near her during naptimes so I can immediately put her back to sleep if she wakes up after less than an hour. If she wakes up during a nap, I will put her back to sleep by rocking her entirely to sleep. If she wakes up a second time after being put down, I will hold her for at least five minutes after she has fallen asleep, then put her down again. If she wakes up a third time, I will give up.

5.  At bedtime, I will hold her only until she starts to close her eyes. If she fusses after I put her down, I will soothe her without picking her up, by shushing her and putting a hand on her belly or stroking her. If she's still fussing after a few minutes and doesn't seem to be trying to put herself to sleep, I will pick her up and rock her until she has her eyes closed, then I will mentally count up to "ten-one-thousand" before putting her down. If she still won't fall asleep, I will repeat the process, adding ten counts each time. If I have picked her up four times and she's still fussing, on the fifth pick-up, I will rock her completely to sleep. Same applies at the beginning of naps except that I will rock her completely to sleep on the third pick-up.

6.  After she has gone to sleep for the night, I will stay in her room for only five minutes, then slip out. If she fusses within a further 10 minutes, I will immediately go in and soothe her. If she has been asleep for at least 15 minutes before she starts to fuss, I will let her fuss for up to five minutes before going in, in hopes she puts herself back to sleep. However, if her fussing turns into full-blown crying, I will go in immediately.

7.  Mari will sleep in her crib until at least the second time she has woken me up after I've gone to bed, after which I will bring her into bed with me. She can spend one nap per day snuggled up next to me in our bed.

Today: Mari adhered quite closely to the ideal schedule and napped quite a lot today, nearly four hours in total. However, she had some trouble falling asleep and wasn't asleep until 8:25, so the longer naptime may have been compensated for. We'll see how she does overnight.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Results after 10 days on the No-Cry Sleep Solution

Well, Mari isn't sleeping through the night yet, and her night-waking rate would make many parents of easier babies weep. But there has definitely been some improvement in the last 10 days.

On Jan. 18, Mari woke up 11 times overnight. Last night, she woke up only five times. I know some parents think it's awful if their baby wakes up once, but for Mari, her night waking rate has been cut by more than half.

When we started, Mari spent just 2.5 hours napping. Yesterday, she napped for 3.5 hours in total, and I think that has helped her be less overtired and thus sleep better.

Another exciting thing is that Mari has started to be able to put herself back to sleep. In the last couple of days, she has cried out a few times, long enough and loudly enough (though not full-on upset crying) that I was sure she was actually up, not merely talking in her sleep. I waited. And then, the fussing stopped. It didn't work every time, but that she did it at all is a huge step. Also, I have been putting her down still awake, if just barely, and she has often, though not always, managed to put herself to sleep without further picking up. That's a big step too.

She has been napping in her crib typically two naps out of three, which is a great improvement over 10 days ago, when she always napped in our bed, and had to fall asleep curled up against Mom or Dad. In fact, she could probably nap in her crib all the time, if I didn't usually want a morning nap too, since Mari is still keeping or waking me up a lot.

At night too, she's spending more time in her crib. Ten days ago I only kept her in her crib until I went to bed. Then I moved to keeping her there until the first time she woke up after I went to bed. In the last couple of days, I have moved to keeping her there until the second time she wakes up after I go to bed. If she starts sleeping longer I will try to keep here there even longer until she's sleeping in her crib all night.

Mari has never been one of those babies who fell asleep nursing all the time, but she did it fairly often 10 days ago. Now she almost never does. If she does I slightly wake her up before putting her down and most of the time she falls asleep again pretty easily.

Adding naps and night sleep together, she slept 13 hours, 20 minutes last night, up from 11 hours, 25 minutes on Jan. 18. She should still be getting more -- 14 to 15 hours for a six-month-old, according to the book (Mari is only five months and one week, but there isn't a time recommendation for a five-month-old).

It isn't all good news. The worst part, as far as I'm concerned, is that her sleep stretches haven't shown much improvement. Ten days ago, her longest sleep stretch was two hours, 45 minutes. Last night, it was -- get this -- two hours, 50 minutes. Yay, five minutes' more sleep.

Mari's bedtime has actually migrated later, to 8 PM the last few nights, despite my best intentions to start her bedtime routine at 6:30 and have her asleep by 7:30. That just isn't fitting well into my life. I can manage starting her bath at 7, though. I guess there has to be a balance between meeting her needs and mine. It wouldn't be all that bad if she didn't wake up as often as she does, but when I subtract the amount of time she spends awake in the middle of the night, she only slept 9 hours, 50 minutes last night. She should be getting 10-11 hours at night.

I haven't been good enough at getting her to bed quickly for naps when she shows signs of being tired, and her naptimes are as inconsistent as ever -- more about that one of these days.

But the good news certainly outweighs the bad. Time to revise the sleep plan and stick to it. Thank you, No-Cry Sleep Solution.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 10: Starting to see some success?

Suddenly things seem to be coming together. This is the second night in a row that Mari has managed to put herself to sleep again after waking up and crying out. Of course, she's still waking up more often than I'd like, but she's waking up less often than she did even a few days ago.

Since this is Day 10, I've been logging her naps, bedtime routine and night wakings. Results and a new plan tomorrow.

Day 9: To co-sleep or not to co-sleep?

Before Mari was born, here's how I imagined things: she would sleep in her Arm's Reach co-sleeper bassinet until she started getting too big for it. It would be good for both of us to have her there as a young baby because she'd need to nurse at night.  I'd nurse her in bed, put her back in her co-sleeper and we'd both sleep until the next time she needed to nurse. Then, once she started getting too big for her co-sleeper, perhaps around four months or so, she would easily transition to her crib because by then she'd be big enough not too need to nurse at night.

The reality looked more like this: I would put the younger Mari in her co-sleeper at the beginning of the night, but once she got onto the boob and started nursing, I'd drift off and wouldn't put her back in the co-sleeper. An hour or so later, I'd wake up uncomfortable because I'd be holding my shoulder in a weird position over her head. So I'd try to put her in her co-sleeper at that point. Often, she'd wake up, and I'd wind up putting her back in our bed again to comfort her. So she got used to being in our bed and came to prefer it. So she slept less in her co-sleeper and not at all in her crib until recently.

Now Mari is really too big for the co-sleeper. She can still fit in it -- just -- but her arms touch the sides when she flings them out, and sometimes that wakes her up. She still seems to prefer being in our bed. She wakes up less often that way. But sometimes it's clear that a movement or sound of mine wakes her up. More often, a movement or sound of hers wakes me up, and my shoulders feel permanently kinked from holding my arms above her head.

I think there are good reasons to co-sleep. I do think more cuddling helps parents and baby bond, and helps the baby feel secure. As I said, Mari does tend to wake up less often when she's sleeping with us. It is indeed easier to nurse and comfort her when she's right beside me.

However, I don't want to co-sleep with Mari forever. I think it's interfering with her learning to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own. It definitely isn't good for Jon's sleep (never mind our sex life), and it's debatable what it does for mine. I do spend more time more fully awake if I have to go to her at night when she's sleeping in her crib down the hall. However, I am less often awakened by little snorts and movements in her sleep. 

Since there seem to be more pros to getting her to sleep in her crib, I've been working on keeping her in her crib longer at night. Once I get sick of tromping down the hall in the middle of the night, I bring her into bed with me. I co-sleep with her at naptime if I also want a nap, or if she's overtired and really fussy and is having difficulty calming down enough to nap.

Sometimes do I wonder if I'm striking the right balance. There's no shortage of experts on one hand telling me that co-sleeping is best to have a close attachment to my baby, or on the other hand telling me that I should have made her sleep in her crib from day one and cry it out when she wakes up. I don't know the right answer -- I'm just doing what feels right at the moment. I do hope she spends full nights in her crib soon, but I make a point of doing a lot of cuddling during the day and I put her in her sling for outings whenever practical.

Today: It was a bad day for keeping on the schedule. She woke up later than usual, so I let her go for her morning nap later, and that nap turned out to be a long one. Then I took her shopping, which took longer than I expected, so she had a late and short early-afternoon nap, followed by a very late late-afternoon nap. Still, I have had some success this evening: a couple of times, she fussed in her sleep, I waited, and she put herself back to sleep.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 8: A baby schedule and a life - is it possible?

The last couple of days I've stuck to the schedule fairly well, but wow, sticking to it is really limiting my activities. I've kept outings very short and still didn't manage to do everything I wanted to do, even though they were simple things like stopping at the grocery store for some granola bars. At home too, I've abandoned a lot of activities halfway because it was time to put Mari down for her nap. Not that I was really adamant about folding all the laundry at once, but I hate going downstairs to an abandoned sink full of dishes sitting in cold soapy water.

I'm not a naturally scheduled person, so trying to stick to a schedule is a pain in the ass. Mari isn't predictable either, and I've had to make a lot of minor modifications as she's napped less or more than expected, got cranky sooner or seemed wide awake later. Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. I'm hoping that if sticking to a schedule teaches her to sleep better, we can start to be more flexible. Or maybe I'll be able to work out ways to stick to the schedule even when we're on the go, like timing naps for when she can be in her car seat or carrier. Trouble is, Mari's picky about where she naps and is a very light sleeper, so things like walking into a store or even stopping for a red light will often wake her up.

Doing this whole sleep plan is also time-consuming. I feel like I spend half my day putting Mari down to sleep. And that's not far from the truth -- about a total of two and a half hours for three naps and one bedtime, plus assorted other time for her many variable night and naptime wakings. On a day like today, that's about four hours in a day spent trying to wind Mari down and putting her to sleep or back to sleep. In addition, there's the amount of time I've been spending sitting by her in hopes my presence and/or comforting hand will keep her from waking up in the first place. I hope not to keep doing this for the rest of Mari's babyhood, but I probably spent about four hours doing that today. And then there was the half an hour I spent holding her during one of her naps, because she woke up after only 20 minutes and wouldn't go back to sleep and the NCSS says to do whatever it takes to make sure she sleeps enough during the day. If you add it all up, that's more than a full workday occupied with Mari's sleep. Sigh.

Yesterday and today: Yesterday was a relatively good day for sleep by Mari's standards, with her waking up roughly every two hours most of the night. Today has been awful. Except for one hour-long stretch, she has woken up every 5-15 minutes all evening, even after I started resorting to rocking her all the way to sleep. I really don't understand why she so often wakes up after seeming briefly to be genuinely asleep. The days didn't go all that differently and Mari got comparable amounts of naptime. So what's going on tonight?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 6: Off the rails

Mari seems determined not to be scheduled or predicted. Yesterday ended up being a very rough night of sleep. She woke up more times than I can count and was wide awake at 1 AM for a good hour. And yet, the day had gone relatively well and the schedule more or less adhered to.

Today, the schedule pretty much went out the window. Mari was up at 6:30 and took a two-and-a-quarter hour nap from 9:30 to 11:45 -- her longest nap since she was about three months. By 1:30, she already seemed tired, so I did most of her naptime routine and left Jon to really put her down while I went out for my weekly afternoon off.

I returned three and a half hours later (half an hour later than I'd promised Jon; oops) to learn Mari had slept only 20 minutes, refused to go back down, refused to take a bottle of pumped milk (she used to take it but has been refusing pretty consistently for the last couple of weeks, which is another source of stress) and then cried until I got home.

So I fed her at 5:30, put her down for the ill-advised evening nap from 6:00 to 6:30 (she woke up), and didn't get her in bed properly until about 8:00.

The surprise? It's actually been a relatively good evening for sleep so far, with only one waking since.

I guess she got a reasonable amount of total naptime, with the long morning nap. And I still think the schedule will do her good in the long run. But it goes to show what an unpredictable baby she is.