Posts Tagged ‘sleep

womp womp

Posted on: 20 June 2013

Last night was a bit of a gongshow.

Ashelyn seemed tired, so I put her to bed at 8:30. I don’t fall asleep myself until 1:30. Dumb, yes, but I’m desperately behind on a bunch of translation work (as well as blogging).

3:30AM – Ashelyn wakes with a stuffed-up nose. Her thwarted attempts to nurse wake us both up. Then I notice that she has weird little welty bumps on different areas of her body. WHAT.

Bug bites? I’d brought her to band practice Tuesday evening, and she’d gotten some from the trip. These look kind of similar, more welt-y. Yet nothing had bitten me. Allergic reaction? But to what?

I think of waking Kevin, then think better of it. He has a fully-booked day tomorrow. Wait, that means he’ll be out all day. How am I going to survive on two hours of sleep??

What with all the on-and-off light switching, nose wiping, examining of the mysterious bumps, looking for the snotsucker, finding it in the cloth wipes basket in the living room … I’m wide awake, but what’s worse, so is Ashelyn. Crap. I start to see the light of dawn filtering through the curtains.

5:30AM – Ashelyn is finally asleep again. That means I can sleep too. We sleep till 11AM.

Come “morning,” the bumps seem to have vanished without a trace. (??) But it’s apparent that Ashelyn has a cold. Her nose is a leaky faucet, and she’s coughing. (Incidentally, none of her previous colds ever involved coughing.)

Then, in the afternoon, she has a mini coughing fit while breastfeeding, which causes her to choke, which causes her to throw up on me. And since I can’t shower till evening, I pretty much smell like rancid milk for the remainder of the day.


When I was pregnant, one of my parenthetical fears was that our noisy, hulking beast of a vacuum cleaner would scare the baby.

Turns out vacuuming lulls her to sleep! Sometimes. Only if …

  1. She’s decided not to sleepfight.
  2. I’m wearing her in the Ergo while I vacuum.

My back says UGH but any weapon in the anti-sleepfighting arsenal is too valuable to reject.

The dream: Ashelyn sleeps in the crib from 9PM to 9AM.

The reality: Ashelyn sleeps with me. She has a penchant for nighttime snacking and is up 2-3 times … I think. I don’t keep count or check the time anymore, because I only half wake up. Bedtime is around 10-11PM and she’s up anywhere from 9-11AM.

This is progress because Ashelyn used to keep herself awake till 2AM. And because she nurses right back to sleep, instead of waking up OH HAI CAN WE PLAY NOW? at 5AM. And because she’s content to sleep beside me, not on me like the early weeks (although sometimes there is cuddling).


The dream: Ashelyn naps for 1-2 hours at a time, in her crib. Twice a day. Regular enough to maintain a loose schedule; not so tied to it that a departure would throw her off.

The reality: Ashelyn generally takes two naps a day, one in late morning or early afternoon and one in late afternoon or early evening. She seems to nap in half-hour increments – either half an hour, or an hour, or an hour and a half. She naps in the spare bed in the spare room. We usually hold her for naps when we aren’t at home. If the timing is right, she naps in her carseat while we’re on the road. I’m trying to avoid “dream feed” naps – where she breastfeeds to sleep but continues to suck – because (aside from reducing me to a human binky) I’m never sure if they count.

This is huge progress! I worked hard to get here. We’re seeing some semblance of predictability, and Ashelyn can nap by herself, as opposed to on our shoulders every time. I get breaks! It’s glorious!


The dream: Ashelyn self-soothes.

The reality: HA! In the evening, breastfeeding usually settles her down for the night. For naps, I lie down with her, read: force her to lie down with me. Otherwise she will not lie still, which means she will clamber about and keep herself awake forever. FOREVER. Ashelyn hates lying still, even for diaper changes. It’s clearly the worst conceivable thing in the known universe. So she’ll fuss – sometimes more, sometimes less – but gradually she nods off. And then I extricate myself and quietly leave.

This is progress because just a short while ago I feared Ashelyn was incapable of falling asleep from a horizontal position (unless she was on the boob). She would only fall asleep on my shoulder, and only when I walked her around for half an hour. (You see why I succumbed to dream-feed naps.) I finally put my foot down and cut the walking requirement. I replaced it with rocking in the glider. Not ideal, but at least my body got a break! Eventually I cut the rocking and took her to bed awake. Both transitions were met with fierce resistance, of course; there were days it took two hours to get Ashelyn to nap for twenty minutes. Seemed a waste of time and energy, but I pick my battles and this one was worth fighting. Now, I can expect the naps to be longer than the nodding-offs, so those pains have paid a huge dividend. Hallelujah!


So, baby steps. We’re still some distance from utopia, but at least things are heading in the right direction.

Whenever I begin to think Ashelyn’s sleep patterns might be settling into something like consistency, she switches it up on me. Lately she shows signs of sleepiness at a reasonable hour of the evening, so we wind down for bed, except then she either doesn’t sleep or doesn’t stay asleep.

Confession: Ashelyn breastfeeds to sleep. Not during the day, at least not always, but at night this is what has worked for us. I feed her, she zonks out, I roll her over beside my pillow and she sleeps until some ungodly wee hour of the morning.

But these days she only dozes at the boob before inexplicably waking up wanting to play.

We did finally get around to lowering the crib mattress, thank goodness, so I can plonk her inside without risking much more than a head bump. Her antics are still worth watching, though, because she’ll pull up and do this crazy dance comprised of

  1. hip thrusts
  2. vigorous shaking of the head
  3. exaggerated chewing of imaginary gum
  4. murmuring or squeaking

My strategy is to let her wear herself out, which eventually happens … around midnight or 1AM. At first I hoped exhaustion would translate into longer sleeps, but guess what? IT DOESN’T. I’m still up a handful of times. On a good night, once or twice. On a bad night, I lose count …

Kidding. Four or five times on a bad night.

Actually, Ashelyn occasionally pulls this trick of waking at 4AM all fired up to play, and that is the worst. It takes hours to get her back to sleep. She’ll even shimmy over and kiss my face, and then I feel bad for wanting to throw her out the window.

I’ve read that even previously good sleepers may have disturbed nights at around six months, due to (1) teething, (2) separation anxiety, or (3) developmental progress, as in they’re so excited about their new skills that they want to practice them upon waking. Ashelyn’s been drooling since her third month, but to date remains toothless. And she’s not unusually clingy; besides, at night I’m RIGHT THERE. She does, however, start clambering around deliriously even before she’s fully awake.

I haven’t yet committed to anything heavy-handed, because despite sporadic bad nights we’re still making progress. For one thing, Ashelyn is now able to nap on her own, often for half an hour but sometimes for an hour and a half. She falls asleep in the carseat or stroller without as much resistance as before. Now and then we’ll have a really good night, where she’s down before midnight and sleeps until late morning with only one feeding in between.

With future children I’ll probably be much more deliberate about fostering “good sleep habits,” but even if I’d taken a more textbook approach with Ashelyn I’m not wholly convinced that things would be different now. Left to her own devices, she never would settle herself down, only work herself up.

It’s an inconvenience I’m willing to live with.

Dear Ashelyn,

You’re six months old! You don’t look much like your newborn self; your complexion has lightened considerably, for one. Do I even remember how to handle a floppy infant?

You haven’t been floppy for a long time. A couple weeks ago you surprised us by pulling up into a standing position in the bassinet … and almost pitching over the side. Is sitting up not enough for you? You’re really good at that now, no more toppling over. Now you want to hold onto our fingers and do squats. Girl, I can barely do squats.

You’re a robust one, for sure, brimming with energy and eagerness. Lately you’ve been working on your crawl. Though it’s still in caterpillar-shuffle territory at the moment, I’ve a feeling that won’t be for long. You’re hitting every milestone so early I have to remind myself it doesn’t mean anything beyond bragging rights for the parents; all babies learn to walk and talk in the end.

I still think you’re a genius, though, of course. That’s my prerogative as a mother.

Two favoured syllables have surfaced from your abundant chatter. One is “ngar,” the happy word. I like to watch you say it, the odd way you work your tongue to shape the sound. The other is something like “nya” or “yeh” (as in, “Nya nya NYA NYEH YEH!”), clearly a complaint along the lines of, “Why aren’t you picking me up?!”

When you’re really excited, you scream. And sometimes you’ll beat your arms against your tummy in accompaniment. You know your uncle David, the one who’s always all up in your face? He’s your future drum teacher.

I’ve seen you cross-examining your fingers, slowly clenching and unclenching your fist. Undoubtedly scheming what to snatch out of our hands next, how to stuff it into your mouth before we can stop you. Already you’ve swiped one of my mugs off the counter, where the handle broke off against the kitchen floor.

Last Sunday you somehow managed to give your father a nosebleed, WHILE YOU WERE ASLEEP. Apparently you were napping in the sling when you entered thrash mode and attacked his face. One of your fingers went up his nose and scratched a little too hard. When I arrived at the scene of the crime, you were still sleeping innocently, and your father? He rolled his eyes at me, a wad of bloody tissues in his hand.

See, this is why daddy sleeps in the spare room. Unfortunately you aren’t the greatest of sleepers, though I wouldn’t say you’re a terrible one either. You haven’t slept more than eight hours in a row; recently it’s been closer to four or five, occasionally less. We might want to do something about this soon.

Anyway, you make up for that by pooping in the potty! So far I’ve caught five and missed one. Yes, that’s six poops total over a span of three weeks. Yesterday you pooped twice, perfectly normal peanut-butter poops, after ten days of complete pooplessness. Even I was close to calling the newborn hotline. Except you were still so happy! If this is how your plumbing works, well, let’s just say it’s not far from my normal but very, very far from your father’s.

Also, even though I can’t tell when you pee, we’ve caught five in the potty. Easy catches, like after naps. The cool thing is you seem to have made the necessary associations on your own. And you’re so proud of yourself afterwards.

For better or worse, motherhood has awakened a part of me that will always be aware of your existence. Even when someone else is looking after you, there’s a corner of my psyche preoccupied with where you are, how you’re doing. I wonder if this ever lets up. It’s alright if it doesn’t, because you are a delight.


drama queen

Posted on: 26 July 2012

Ashelyn treats us (me) to the occasional meltdown, usually when she’s overtired. Yesterday afternoon was one of those occasions.

We could probably avoid meltdowns altogether if she’d just quietly succumb to sleep when she’s tired, instead of RESISTING. (I briefly mentioned this tendency here.)

So, yesterday. Meltdown. After half an hour of screaming, I realized it didn’t make any difference whether I was holding Ashelyn or not.

So I lay her in the crib and let her cry it out.


If I’m not mistaken, “crying it out” falls within the realm of the Mommy Wars. Admittedly, I may not be using the term correctly. I pulled the crib up against the bed and stayed put until Ashelyn calmed down, which didn’t take too long.

Then, when she’d settled to half-fussing, half-falling asleep, I stuck my finger in her mouth to finish the job.

Look, I even caught the tail end of a smile (something she does often while breastfeeding).

It’s a trick the midwife taught us, that touching the roof of a baby’s mouth triggers her sucking reflex. I keep it in my back pocket as a last resort.

I guess our true last resort would be an actual pacifier. So far we’ve held off on using one. I want that option to be available if I decide to “sleep train” in earnest. (I like to see how far I can go without conveniences and interventions, because then I feel that there are options. Which is, come to think of it, why Ashelyn was born in our bathroom.)

She napped in the crib! By herself! Not for terribly long, but at least half an hour.

Long enough for me to clip the nails on all her appendages, and then all of mine.

And she woke up in much better spirits.

Can we play now?

In the first week of motherhood, I ventured to say that Ashelyn wasn’t a difficult baby. (Of course, prior to her birth I’d scared myself by reading about “high criers” who screamed for eight hours every day.)

I still can’t say that she’s a difficult baby. Ashelyn is sweet and supremely happy. However, she doesn’t sleep independently.

She sleeps on me. At night, when she’s not hugging my torso, she’s in bed beside me, because I’ve managed to flip her there without her waking.

We sleep okay. The pattern is one big chunk of sleep, then one or two smaller chunks. (Our best night was 8 hours, followed by another 2.5 hours.) I’m pro now at sleeping with a sleeping baby on my chest.

It’s not that Ashelyn dislikes her crib. She rolls around like a tumbleweed and kicks up a storm and delivers orations in there. What she doesnt do is sleep.

During the day, she naps best while being held. Sometimes I’ll use a sling. Sometimes I set her down, with mixed results. She’s napped fairly successfully in her pillow, swing, even highchair. But more often than not she’ll magically open her eyes as soon as she hits a foreign surface.

Yes, I’ve heard all about “putting her down drowsy but awake” so she can “self soothe.” Great concept. Sounds good. Makes sense.

Except … once I put her down, she is no longer drowsy.

I don’t want to stress over something that may not be all that important. Maybe Ashelyn isn’t ready to self soothe, but she will be, in time. Until then, we’ll carry on with what works for us. It’s at most an inconvenience to me, but hey, never once have I felt like crying when the baby cries. That’s how (relatively) well rested I’ve been.