In defense of sleep training

For the last 6 weeks, blogging has been the farthest thing from my mind.  It is not that I couldn’t find the time to write a post, I simply couldn’t gather my thoughts long enough to type anything that made sense. After Thanksgiving, Jax was still waking up every hour. On the dot. Then he became difficult to get back to sleep. Long gone were the days of him nursing right back to sleep. When I did get him back to sleep he was starting to really resist being put down at all. Not only that but putting him down for naps required an elaborate song and dance that resulted in maybe 15 minutes of sleep outside of my arms. Also, Jax does not take a bottle so I became the only person who could really get up with him at night.

In a perfect world, I would love to hold my baby all day and night. But after four months that kind of sleep deprivation finally caught up to me resulting in me collapsing on his floor about a week after Thanksgiving due to pure exhaustion. I am not being my usual dramatic self, it was a very scary moment and I am incredibly lucky I was not holding him at the time. I knew that this was the breaking point for me. Not only was I incredibly frustrated (despite really trying to cut him some slack) but I was also becoming ill and depressed from sleep deprivation. Something had to give.

Enter sleep training.

I did not come to this decison lightly nor did I start immediately. But in the end I came to this decision because I knew that he could handle it. He stopped crying as soon as I picked him up. He was clearly tired but completely lacked the ability to put himself to sleep.

The day I decided to start sleep training, I used some basic guidelines sent to me by my friend E. The method she suggested felt right for Jax and for me. I would put him down drowsy and check on him at different intervals of 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, etc. until he fell asleep. Naturally, there would be some crying but I wasn’t leaving him in his room for an hour to cry until he exhausted himself to sleep.

The first day was awful. I spent most of my time outside of his door, crying and e-mailing E and bombarding her with questions. I fed and changed him at his normal intervals and he didn’t nap until late afternoon but somehow he feel asleep on his own. And each day got easier and easier for him to fall asleep on his own. He spent less time crying and so did I. Over the course of two weeks he regressed here and there but in the end he figured how to soothe himself without crying. He now puts himself to sleep for 3, sometimes 4 naps a day and is sleeping far better at night. Well, let’s be honest anything is better than up every hour. Some nights are better than others but I am not super concerned about him sleeping through the night at 6 months old.

Not to sound like an infomercial for sleep training but I haven’t even mentioned the best part. I have never seen Jax more happy and content than he is today. And I am not the only one who notices it. Just about everyone who knows Jax has mentioned to me that he is a different baby. I know sleep training isn’t for everyone but in our case it was the right decision for our family. My baby is the healthiest and happiest I have ever seen and so am I. I feel more connected to my son than ever. Life is good. Life is very, very good.

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thankful

Hosting Thanksgiving this year was a huge success. The turkey turned out great (in large part to my mother coming over at 6:00 a.m. to help me) and everyone had a great time. I am thankful that the entire day went off without a hitch. More than anything I am thankful for the people that were there. Even in the middle of the craziness of hosting I felt like I had a chance to connect with each person and I was reminded how lucky I really am. This year has been the absolute best year of my life.

great expectations

The one thing everyone always tells you when you are pregnant is to sleep now because you won’t sleep again for a very long time. However, if you read my facebook homepage or twitter feed there seem to be plenty of mothers with babies that sleep 8+ hours at six weeks old.

I, on the other hand, am lucky if Jackson sleeps one 3 hour stretch at night. That’s right, 3 freaking hours. Lately that rarely happens. In fact, most nights he is up every hour. I don’t feed him every time but he is up every hour nonetheless. As you can imagine, I am incredibly exhausted. I have tried everything. 5 different types of swaddling blankets. Fleece pajamas. Cotton pajamas. Temperature changes. Sleeping in the swing. Moving to the crib (with an incline). Humidifiers. Blacking out his windows. White noise. Changing his reflux medicine. Adding BioGaia probiotic drops. Warm baths. Massage.  No matter what I do the kid does not love to sleep.

Now, he is probably going through his four month sleep regression but honestly he never improved long enough post-colic to call this a regression. I just feel like I am living through colic with less screaming. But please don’t take this long blog post as a complaint. Yes, it sucks but he is healthy, happy, and really quite funny.

A couple weeks ago when we met with the specialist for Jax’s GERD, the doctor said something that stuck with me: “Cut him some slack, he is not even four months old.” Sure I am exhausted but she is right. This is what I signed up for when I became a mother. Of course I wish he slept more but my expectations need to be adjusted. He is still very young and despite the fact that I feel like every other baby sleeps longer than mine I need to give him a break and be patient.

In the meantime, if you can think of anything that might help I am open to advice.

 

one year ago

One year ago today I found out I was pregnant. Reggie and I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year without much luck and I was starting to feel defeated. I remember a few days before talking to my cousin Sarah over gchat saying that I felt really “off,”  a feeling I couldn’t explain but that there was no way I was pregnant because I was never going to get pregnant. But for some reason I woke up that morning and decided to test just in case. Much to my surprise the first test was positive. Thinking it was a mistake I tested again. Then one more time for good measure. What can I say? I am thorough.

Minutes later I was calling Reggie in tears, telling him he is going to be a father. The other line was silent. He couldn’t believe it either. But then with a shakiness in his voice I could hear him smiling on the other line, ecstatic that he would finally become a father. When he arrived home that day he walked through the door and held me for what seemed like an hour. We were so happy. Our dream of having a child was finally coming true.

 

Nine months later, Mr. Jax arrived and our lives have never been better.

We may live on less sleep but there is certainly more love.

 

reflections on motherhood

(via)

When I think back on my first few months of motherhood I am sometimes ashamed to admit that it was less than perfect–that I was less than perfect. I had this image of me taking home my son and him crying only when he needed to be fed, changed, or burped. At the time, I was very idealistic. As you know, my precious little boy appeared to be so unhappy in his own body and spent what seemed like 3 months straight crying screaming. To say that I handled colic and reflux with ease would be a lie. I feel like I may have spent just as much time crying as he did. Mostly, I felt like a failure.

In reality, I was totally unprepared for how motherhood would change me. I don’t think anyone is. I had this whole “I’ll learn on the job” attitude which was great but I wish I had talked more with other moms about the realities of being a mother more than what the best swaddling blanket was for newborns. In that spirit, here are my thoughts on the first couple months.

Do not be afraid to admit you are struggling with your emotions.

Having a baby–and an extremeley fussy one at that completely rocked my emotional world. Days after we moved to our new home some of my family members came by to meet Jax for the first time. He spent most of the time fussing and screaming with me utterly embaressed that I could not soothe my own child. Again, I felt like a failure. Later I would find out that those same family members were telling everyone I was suffering from postpartum depression. At first I was hurt that people in my own family would choose to gossip about this—because there is nothing a stressed out, sleep deprived first time mom needs more than people talking about her mental well being. Did I have postpartum depression? No. Did I have a serious case of the baby blues? Absolutely. I never said anything to this family member because if that is what she thinks she observed, that is fine. As a culture, we need to talk more about the mental and hormonal struggles women face during those first few months of motherhood. There were so many moments where I felt like I couldn’t handle what was being thrown at me and I just needed a small break. I am lucky that I had a great support system in Reggie and he encouraged me to communicate any and every feeling I was having–both positive and negative. I think because of my husband I came out on the other end of the colic tunnel with an “I can do anything” spirit. Because seriously if dealing with colic, reflux, and a move in the first few months of our baby’s life doesn’t test a marriage, I don’t know what does.

Look to the future but appreciate the present. The tough part is over before you know it.

Just like our birth story, the first few months of Jackson’s life is part of his larger story. Reggie’s mom told me that her friend assured her when she was in month 6 of my husband’s colic that babies with colic are kind adults because they are very sensitive. My MIL remembered scoffing at this statement because, let’s face it, after 6 months of colic it is hard to believe. But as it turns out that woman was absolutely correct. My husband is incredibly kind in addition to being intelligent and still very sensitive. I am not saying that babies without colic won’t be kind because let’s face it, they already are by relieving their parents from 3 months of stress. But I see those qualities already in my dear Jackson. Just last night as I was nursing him to sleep, I started crying thinking about how much he had already grown. Almost as if he could sense my emotion he reached up with his hand and rubbed my face as if to say “it is okay mom, I love you too.” Love that sweet boy.

Stop trying to be perfect

At some point during the first three months, I  stopped trying to get him to sleep where I wanted him to, stopped trying to shove my boob in his mouth every time he cried and instead just held my son and rocked him. I stopped feeling like a failure and started realizing that babies cry. Sometimes they cry for no reason. And that is okay. Some days he takes great naps and I can get done all of the little tasks I have planned. But some days he wants to be held all day. Each day I am walking to fine line of allowing myself grace for my mistakes while at the same time pushing myself to be the best possible mother for Jackson.

Each day gets better. Just this morning I was thinking about how truly happy I am and how easy our day to day routine has become. I remember in the beginning I thought this day would never come. But it is here and I have never, ever been happier in my whole life.

my dragon baby

Since Jackson has been particularly fiery in the first few months of his life, he dressed as a dragon for his first Halloween. I am using the phrase “dressed up” loosely here because he lasted about 3 minutes in his costume before screaming for it to come off. But boy did he look cute.

Halloween was also the day we met with the gastrointestinal doctor to discuss his reflux. Thankfully, she wants to wait to do a scope and instead play with his Zantac dosage since he is approximately….huge (95th percentile for height and 90th percentile for weight). She also suggested adding some rice cereal to thicken some of his feeds a bit but I am holding off on that for a little while longer since he is not quite 4 months and he refuses a bottle.

The one thing she did confirm was that he is one smart, quizzy little dude. After watching me feed him she determined that part of his problem is that he loves to pop off my boob and “talk” to me, observe his surroundings and in the process sucks in a lot of air. That air makes him really gassy and really uncomfortable. The reflux is definitely a problem as well but not as dire as I thought.

Side note: That is the one good thing about being overdramatic–you are never disappointed in the result because you often build up the worst case scenario in your head or in this case, on my blog. I am working on that because the major downside to being overdramatic is unnecessary stress and occasionally annoying my husband. But he is my kid and I was really worried about him. So there.

Getting back to Jax…after one week on his new dosage I can honestly say I have seen a huge improvement in his feeds. He is much more comfortable and there is no screaming. As for me, instead of getting frustrated when he pops off, I talk right back to him. He laughs and smiles and the whole process is much less stressful on the both of us. He is still waking up quite often in the middle of the night but he is only 15 weeks old, I think I can cut him some slack. He will get to sleeping longer stretches when he is ready.

Take as long as you need buddy.

5 months would be nice.

Pretty please.

jackson: 3 months

Weight: 15 lbs, 4 ounces

Height: 25.5 inches

Milestones: Mirrors what I am doing (sticking out his tongue, cooing). Tummy time for 2-3 minutes at a time without screaming. Yes, I am considering this a milestone since he usually went 2-3 seconds before screaming. Pushes up to standing position on his own when I am holding his hands. So basically I think he is going to skip crawling and go right to walking. My sister did that at 9 months. Pray for me.


Challenges: SLEEP. He is still waking up every 2 hours at night and fighting every. single. nap every day. I am incredibly frustrated but in the end I know it is temporary situation. Reflux is still a problem but we are working on finding a permanent solution. We have changed his Zantac dosage so hopefully that will help.

Favorite Moments: This is going to sounds very selfish but my favorite moment this month is that he prefers being with me over anyone else. No matter how frazzled or upset he is the second he is in my arms, he is smiling. I had a really tough case of baby blues in the beginning and I can say at this point, I have never felt more connected to him.

Likes: Boobies, Pushing up to stand, the Jumperoo, Grabbing things, especially my hair, and his all-time favorite–BATH TIME. Whenever he is especially fussy I run a warm bath and he is all smiles.

Dislikes: Bottles, tummy time, massages, and of course, the car seat. There will be no road trips in our future.

Outings and Events: 4th trip on an airplane to San Jose, cousin Cody’s first birthday luau, started Gymboree music and play class, and lots of neighborhood walks in the stroller.