Tuesday, September 20, 2011

127 Hours

Late last week I decided that Hannah and I would take a "staycation" to help her get used to sleeping without all the usual daily interruptions. Equipped with the knowledge of two Baby Whisperer advice books, plenty of groceries, and lots of hope, we settled in for a long week. I had already started Hannah on the EASY routine (eat, activity, sleep, your time,) and it seemed to have a great impact on her attitude and the amount of sleep she was getting. However, I was still having trouble with the process of getting her to sleep and nap so I figured something wasn't quite right.

On day 1 I armed myself with a new plan for helping wind her down and a pair of blackout drapes. (Thanks Dada for setting those up and building her beautiful nursery!) Since we were already on EASY, I had become much better at distinguishing her cries and I was able to isolate new issues as they came up. When she woke up I would unwrap her from the baby burrito and wait for her response. Generally, she was pleasant and peacefully waited for her next meal. Holy smokes! I had time to use the bathroom before nursing or grab a drink of water or start the laundry! After eating in the morning I'd let her play in the activity gym. She focused on the toy and enthusiastically swatted and kicked away while chatting to herself. It was amazing to watch her learning on her own and gaining excitement from tackling these new skills. Then she yawned, so I changed her diaper, bundled her up and turned off the lights for naptime. I shushed her and patted her back while she writhed and protested. Sure enough, though, within 10 minutes she calmed and let me put her in the crib for a snooze. I stuck around in the nursery for an extra 10 minutes and shushed when I heard her stir to help her get to sleep. I quietly folded laundry and checked my cell phone to entertain myself. Then I got some breakfast and took a nap. Hannah slept right through to the next meal!

Next, we repeated everything with variations to the activity. Since she was very physical in the morning I sat her on my lap so we could coo to each other. How sweet! She laughed, she giggled, and smiled while talking. It melted my heart to see her so happy and I just knew we were on the right track!

Nap #2 rolled around and it went pretty well, too. It wasn't until the afternoon that the meltdowns started. I stayed the course and kept up with the plan even as she woke up every 20 minutes from 4 until 7. Still, as I listened to her cries I knew that the majority of them were tired cries. I was responsive to her other calls and we did finally make it through the day by 8 for her long snooze. At 11, I tried a dreamfeed and it went perfectly! I didn't even have to help her get back to sleep- it was too easy. She woke up a few times that night, but I resisted the urge to nurse her since she was not giving me any hunger cues. I took care of the other baby matters and helped her back to sleep.

The next day went by similarly, with small progress in the amount of fussiness before each snooze. I could tell Baby Bear was tired! No sooner would she get a new diaper after a meal than she would start yawning. So I'd begin winding her down and get almost all the way through and she would pee. Change diaper, start over. Wake in the middle of nap, start over. The sun peaks through the corner of the shades and wakes her up, start over. A few times she didn't want to go back to sleep so I would take a quiet walk with her in my arms to the mailbox to pass time before her meal.

By the end of the day my arms and back were so tired from putting her to sleep two to three times per nap. Luckily Dada came home from work, gave her a bath and took over the wind down routine like a pro! Out of the 500 baby pages I had read in the past month I got Zac to read 8 of them. Let me tell you, they were the right eight! She melted into his arms and it was the first time he was able to put her in bed without tears. She also seemed to like the way he shushed better than me, so I took a note to mimic his gentler sounds from now on.

Things got dicier on afternoon 3. And even worse on day 4. I was encouraged by her morning progress and the additional sleep we were both getting, but it was not easy to stay on track. There were so many times as I was laying her down that I just wanted to nurse her to calm her down. However, I realized that would just start the cycle all over and potentially add new unnecessary meals to her day. I did everything I could to keep her calm and settled using methods the Baby Whisperer suggested. At one point as I kept trying to calm her with the "shush/pat" method to no avail an epiphany struck and I remembered that Hannah was already used to the cuddle cure suggested in "Happiest Baby on the Block." (Swaddle, Side, Shhhh, Swinging, Sucking.) I tried that and it worked even though I was the one who remained unsettled. I was so nervous for the evening that I barely made a peep. That night temperatures dropped so Hannah stayed unsettled for most of the early hours. After I got the house back to a comfortable 72 degrees the day moved forward with some noticeable improvements.

By Saturday I could tell she was really starting to benefit from getting better sleep. She was still tired, so there wasn't too much play time and I was having trouble getting used to spending so much time in the dark trying to calm her before her naps. We made it through another day and woke up Sunday morning bright and early to start again. Everything ran smoothly for most of the day, but I was nervous because I was returning to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house that night and I would be leaving her with my Mom. It wasn't the first time we'd been apart, but I felt more attached to her after this week than ever. How could I explain to my mother what each cry sounded like? How would she know whether or not to shush her for an extra minute before laying her down if she stirred? Hannah had done so well all day and was very aware of her new routine. I wanted things to stay as close as possible to the norm.

We arrived early and set up her things. I fed her and then gave Mom a few extra instructions. In the past when I left her in someone else's care I always hoped for the best and made sure there was plenty of food for her. Now that I knew she was so aware of all of her particular needs, I really wanted to make sure she would get exactly what she had grown to expect. For the first time in Hannah's short life, I was overwhelmed with pride for what my little baby had accomplished in one short week. I kissed her forehead as I promised to be back that evening. I had become so used to being with her and responding to her every need that missing her brought me to tears before I even left.

What a difference a week can make.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like things are progressing so well, Jeannette! I remember you showing us the "cuddle cure" - it really seems to work like a charm. ;)