Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 25: Nighttime sleep success, naptime sleep failure

I think I can tentatively say MARI HAS STARTED SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! I'm so happy!

Last night Mari slept for 11 hours, from about 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., without a single peep. In her crib, in her room. Without sleeping on her tummy. Without a dream feed. And she woke up happy and well-rested, not obviously starving, though with a good appetite once I did feed her. I'm so conditioned to waking up at night that I woke up at about 3:30 a.m., boobs sore and swollen, but even so, I had the best night's sleep I've had since before Mari was born.

The three nights prior too, she technically slept through the night, if one defines "through the night" as five hours. I don't know yet what tonight will hold, but as I write this it's nearly midnight and Mari has yet to utter a peep, so I'm optimistic.

What's more, she has put herself to sleep without me in the room for the last three nights running. I've still been doing her bedtime routine and getting her good and sleepy, but then I've put her in the crib, stayed with her for another couple of minutes, kissed her goodnight and left. Tonight she "talked" a little after I left, but only for a minute or two. Then, blessed silence.

I know not to count on a good night every night, and I know there may be further sleep regressions ahead, but I think both of us have finally learned she is capable of putting herself to sleep and back to sleep, and staying asleep all night or at least most of the night. It feels like a miracle.

Now, if only her napping habits would improve. Today was actually a particularly bad day for naps. She only had a 45-minute nap in the morning and a 30-minute nap in the early afternoon. Her late-afternoon nap totaled two hours but she woke up in the middle and the only way I could get her back down was to nurse her back to sleep, which I really don't like doing. What's more, I or Jon had to stay with her for all her naps, as we've been doing pretty much all her life with rare exceptions, and even so we weren't always able to keep her asleep or get her back to sleep.

It's not that Mari doesn't need to nap as much anymore, because she was obviously overtired and cranky most of the day today, going from laughter to tears like a bipolar mosquito on a roller coaster. Maybe tonight's sleep was saved by her last, lengthier nap, but the day was hard on me because she spent a lot of time screaming shrilly.

I've now read over the No-Cry Nap Solution and will log the day tomorrow and try to create a plan. I must say, I've already started trying to use Elizabeth Pantley's two main suggestions to get a short napper to nap longer and they haven't been working. But maybe things will improve when I've put together an integrated plan to improve her napping.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 23: Woo hoo!

Mari fell asleep on her own! For the first time ever! I did her usual bedtime routine and stayed with her for quite a long time after I put her down, but I didn't pick her up. And then I left. And she stopped making noise after 10 or so minutes. Incredible.

Also, she has been doing better on the sleep stretches, especially if I don't count the times she fusses but manages to put herself back to sleep within less than 10 minutes. If I count only the times I had to go in to put her back to sleep, the night before last she had a wonderful six-hour sleep stretch, and last night, nearly five hours. Tonight hasn't worked out quite as well, but I never expected progress to be perfectly linear.

Naps, however, are another story -- especially keeping her asleep long enough to have a decent rest. One of her naps today was only 15 minutes, and I spent nearly an hour beforehand trying to put her down. Maybe the day is approaching when she can go down to two naps a day, but I don't think it's quite here yet -- she still gets tired and cranky quickly.

I've been thinking maybe I need to change her routine, so she eats soon after she gets up instead of before she naps, so that she can go down for her naps more quickly when she's tired and so it's clearer to me if she's fussing because of hunger or because of fatigue. I'll try that tomorrow, and I'll spend a few days just trying to put her down as soon as possible when she seems tired, so I can see if her schedule needs adjusting. I'll continue to feed her just shortly before she goes to bed for the night, though.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 22: The new 10-day plan

Once again I haven't managed to formally set down the plan until today, but I've been more or less implementing the points below for the last couple of days.

The last plan stays in place, with the following changes:

1.  I will start the naptime routine 45 minutes, not 30 minutes, before I want Mari to sleep. While in some ways this is a step backwards, since the ideal would be a shorter naptime routine, the fact is that Mari often takes a long time to fall asleep, and if I'm to have a hope of keeping her on schedule, I need more time. If, however, Mari shows signs of tiredness before I start the naptime routine, I will skip the story and song -- I will just feed her (if she hasn't eaten recently), take her to the potty and put her to bed.

2.  If she doesn't use the potty within a minute or two during bedtime and naptime routines, I'll just diaper her and get on with it -- no more 15-minute potty trips that include a lot of getting her on and off the potty, no matter how convinced I am that she really should need to go.

3.  I will try harder to get her to fall asleep without being rocked to sleep. I will rock her until she's calm and is putting her head down on my chest but before she has started to close her eyes, I'll put her down and pat her, give her her lovey, verbally soothe her and stay by her side but I won't pick her up until she has been in her crib 20 minutes without falling asleep OR until her fussing turns into full-on crying. If she hasn't fallen asleep after 20 minutes, or if she starts to cry, I will do what I was doing in the previous 10-day plan (i.e. pick up and rock until nearly asleep).

4.  In part to adjust for the above, I will try again to move the beginning of the bedtime routine to 6:30, with the goal of having her asleep by 7:30. Too often lately I have had to skip the bath because she was already getting fussy.

5.  I will read the No-Cry Nap Solution (which I just got today) and make a plan to try to improve Mari's napping habits, since she currently wakes up very quickly and has to be held if I'm going to get her back to sleep, often for the rest of the nap.

6.  I will try harder to stick to the schedule.

7.  I will continue to keep track of her nap lengths and night wakings, and I will also start keeping track of how long she's up between naps, in hopes of establishing optimal times once I have a bit more data.

8.  I will eliminate the before-I-go-to-bed dream feed, because I don't want to interfere with her sleep cycles, even if it means I have to get up sooner to feed her. I will avoid feeding her until five hours have passed after she went to bed. After the five-hour no-feeding stretch, I will feed her up to every three hours if she won't fall back asleep without nursing.

9.  I will now let Mari fuss for up to 10 minutes before I go in, not five minutes. This is for fussy noises only. If at any point she starts to full-on cry, I will go in immediately.

Today: Another day of unpredictability, coupled with a little culpability. Mari's morning nap was unusually long at 2.5 hours. I then took her to the library but didn't leave as soon as she got up because I thought she'd be hungry and didn't want her to start screaming while we were walking. So we ended up being out longer than we should have and she fell asleep in her carrier on the way home. I was going to let her continue to sleep in her carrier, but she woke up as soon as we got home, maybe due to the change in temperature or because I wasn't walking anymore. So that nap only lasted 20 minutes. She woke up twice during her early-evening nap and ended up having to be held until she'd slept for an hour. Then she got cranky again very quickly so I had to skip the bath and massage and get her straight to sleep.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 21: Some progress, some frustrations

There are definite signs of progress. And yet, last night was a very hard night for me, one of the worst since we started the NCSS.

On the positive side, I only needed to put Mari back to sleep twice last night. She woke up and fussed a bit three other times, but those times, she managed to put herself back to sleep within a few minutes. I nursed her once when she woke up at about 11:30, and again at about 3 AM. So if we count only the night wakings in which I had to intervene, we have gone from 11 on Jan. 18 to two last night. I'm definitely happy about that.

However, the time she woke up at about 3 AM, she would NOT go back to sleep. Maybe I was wrong not to nurse her right away because I wanted her to go at least four hours between night feedings, and it had only been three and a half. I rocked her, but instead of falling back asleep, she kept fussing and seemed full of energy. Even when I gave in and nursed her, it didn't seem to settle her at all. It took until nearly 4:30 AM before she fell back asleep, being rocked in my arms, since by that point I had long since given up on trying to get her to put herself to sleep.

Also, she was up at 6 AM, which is an hour earlier than the earliest time I like her to wake up. Again, she seemed full of piss and vinegar and absolutely would not go back to sleep.

This started a day (today) in which Mari seemingly wanted nothing to do with sleep. She acted like she was hopped up on Red Bull and coffee. She kept waking up very early from her naps and refusing to go back to sleep even when I rocked her and even though I was willing to let her finish her nap in my arms. Her four naps today, which were stretched out artificially as much as I could, totalled only two hours, 15 minutes. Usually she gets three to four hours of total naptime, sometimes more than four.

Yesterday, she napped three hours, 50 minutes in total, which I count as good. In total, she slept 13 hours, 45 minutes yesterday -- still a little on the low side, but closer to the target of 14-15 hours.

Generally, it has seemed to me that more time spent napping resulted in a better night's sleep. But I wonder now if it's possible that napping a little more than usual yesterday resulted in the wakefulness last night and today. I've been logging nap lengths since Feb. 2, so once I have 10 days worth of data, I'll try to look for patterns.

Returning to the results from a day of logging, Mari's sleep stretches have improved a little -- she went for three hours, 8 minutes between wakeful episodes last night. That's counting the night wakings in which I didn't have to intervene. If you count only the times when I did have to go in, she went three hours, 45 minutes between when she first fell asleep and her first night nursing.

However, there has been little progress on getting her to fall asleep without rocking, especially for naps. We're at the same spot as 10 days ago, with me usually having to rock her until she's very nearly asleep. I did try repeatedly to put her down before she started to close her eyes, but she was having none of it. I'll have to keep trying. I know she can do it because she occasionally does it in our bed when we're co-sleeping or co-napping, but she hasn't managed it in her crib yet. This is something we'll work on in the next 10-day plan.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 20: Elimination communication dilemma

Mari and I practice elimination communication (EC), which might be briefly described as infant potty training, though really it's not as much about "training" as it is about my trying to be aware of when she needs to pee or poo and giving her the opportunity to do so in the potty instead of expecting her to sit in a dirty diaper for ages. (A better explanation can be found at

Mari is only actually diaper-free for certain periods during the day, when we're home, I'm not going to be very distracted (such as when I'm making dinner) and she's not breastfeeding or sleeping. We don't EC at night; never have. However, I still consider that we EC pretty much full-time. 
Lately, though, I've been wondering if EC-ing should take a back seat (no pun intended) when I'm trying to get Mari down to sleep or for her naps. One of the fairly reliable times when she's likely to pee or poo is right after a feed (occasionally during, which is why I always diaper her before I nurse her). At the moment, pottying is incorporated into our naptime and bedtime routines for right after she nurses from the first boob. 
However, sometimes pottying can take significant time, especially when I'm sure she has to go but she's taking her sweet time about it. By the time she's clean and has her clothes back on, the potty trip can take up to 10 or even 15 minutes, eating into her sleeping time. Also, if I take her to the potty when she's drowsy, it tends to wake her up.
On the other hand, if I try to put her to sleep without having gone to the potty, she often wakes up quickly because she has to pee or poo -- she never seems to go without waking up at least a little. So I'm constantly torn between taking her to the potty and emphasizing sleep. Any input would be appreciated.
Today: Things went a little better in terms of keeping more or less to the schedule and getting a decent amount of total naptime, though I ended up having to hold her for a significant part of her last nap, because she kept waking up still tired. Today is logging day, so I'll post results tomorrow.