Monday, September 28, 2009

sleep "training". day 3. we give up

4.00--freak out in the car (overtired)
4.25--nap attempt in crib, failed.
5.45--book, lullaby, nursing
6.15--falls asleep in crib (rocking, lullaby)
7.20--awake, crawling, crying
7.45--refuses to be put back in the crib.
8.00--banshee wailing. i'm on the verge of losing it, thankfully matthew is in the room to make sure nothing bad happens.
8.05--i decide it's time to cry it out. i.e., i can't take it any more (did i mention SEVEN months of this?). we sit in the living room and watch the clock.
8.15--i tell matthew to check on leon to make sure he hasn't thrown up
8.16--i peek in and see him holding leon. what happened to crying it out??
8.30--leon is in my arms, drifting off to sleep and then jerking awake to scream periodically.
8.45--i put him in the crib so i can go into the living room for a second. i'm losing it again.
8.46--we go back into the room to see leon standing up in the crib. yes, he can pull himself up to the standing position. yes, he's only just 7 months old.
8.47--leon is fully awake and smiling contentedly in my arms. we decide to put two foam mattresses on the floor in the little bedroom (7'x10' with noisy lightwell and 'walk-in' closet) because it's already pretty much child-proofed (and extremely warm in the winter). the huge bedroom is going to be our office/luxurious guest bedroom.
9.10--the details have been ironed out. leon and i climb into bed after several foam mattress pads have been placed strategically on the floor in case he starts crawling.
9.20--he's done with nursing and is laying on his side, facing me, eyes wide open, perfectly still. this is really creepy.
9.40--finally asleep. i roll off the bed and hightail it to the freezer for a sweet red bean popsicle. matthew says it's a good thing that leon was staring at me quietly. this means he's tired and knows he needs to sleep but doesn't need to cry to fall asleep. well, better that than having an alien-demon-possessed baby, i guess.

the fact that we were giving in earlier with each consecutive night wasn't a good sign. my mental state is in the danger zone, leon behaves as if we've abandoned him, and matthew can't figure out what exactly i want to do. what a mess.

i'm ok with the new plan, even though i feel like a total flake. i told matthew i hope leon doesn't turn out like every pet i've owned. i'm terrible with consistency, especially when it comes to disciplining doe-eyed tiny creatures. my dog was completely wild, and the cats---well, you know how cats can be. mine are willful and bad-mannered, but of course i blame myself.

i hope we can move to a bigger place where i can have a large empty bedroom with a california king coco-fiber mattress on an extremely low platform bed, with tatami mats for leon to roll onto. now if only we could figure out a way to keep the night nursing to a minimum so he doesn't require a diaper change....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

sleep "training". day 2.

6.55--bedtime routine (book, nursing, rocking)
7.20--asleep in crib
7.55--crying and crawling
8.10--asleep in crib (rocking)
9.15--awake and crawling
10.05--asleep in crib (rocking, nursing)
10.10--crying (matthew goes in as the relief. i then relieve him)
10.30--asleep in crib (rocking)
10.35--screaming (matthew goes in)
10.55--game over. leon goes into bed with us.
11.00--asleep in bed (nursing)
12.45--asleep (diaper change, nursing)
4.05--asleep (nursing)
5.10--asleep (nursing)

this time instead of trying to let him settle himself (ie. scream and flail in the crib for 1-2 minutes), i rock leon until he is deeply asleep and then very slowly lower him into the crib. i then rub his back while carefully extracting my other hand. lots of 'shhh, sleepy time, shhh, it's ok, go to sleep...'.

exchanging one crutch for another? perhaps. but if he could stay in a sleepy state during these rocking sessions, he would fall asleep more quickly. i'm surprised at how quickly he's replaced the suck-to-sleep association with sleeping in my arms. maybe this is progress.

but then matthew tries to rock leon, and within ten minutes, he is fully alert. we decide to bring him into bed. he immediately snuggles up close to me and falls asleep.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

sleep "training". day 1.

6.15--bedtime wrangling
7.10--falls asleep in crib (nursing, rocking*)
7.40--wakes up crying**
8.10--falls asleep in crib (rocking)
9.15--wakes up crying
9.40--falls asleep in crib (nursing, rocking, shushing)
9.55--asleep in crib (rocking)
11.20--asleep in crib (rocking)
12.50--asleep in bed (nursing, diaper change)
4.05--asleep in bed (nursing)
5.35--asleep in bed (nursing)

* rocking entails holding him in my arms while bouncing in the poang chair, slowly standing up and swaying him while next to the crib and then finally rocking gently as i lower him into the crib while on my tiptoes so i can keep my chest close to his. the crib was lowered because my 7 month old can pull himself up.

** crying is an understatement. more like wailing, shrieking, back-arching, kicking, fist-flailing, red in the face, tears streaming down, misery.

after leon was brought into the bed last night, he slept really well. unfortunately, i woke up at 7 am to find him crawling over me. he was seconds from plunging to the ground. i've spent the past 3 weeks a nervous wreck, always checking him at night and during naps. it takes me at least an hour to fall asleep at night, and i rarely sleep deeply because of the extreme anxiety. plus, i'm sick with a cold, and i have a conference paper to complete in the next few days.

the crying was really really tough. in general, he cries frequently day and night, so that wasn't new to me. but trying to get him to fall asleep in the crib and seeing his little fists reach up for me while tears streamed down his face. so so sad. i could only do it for a minute at a time, not because i wanted him to cry it out, but because i was frantically rubbing his back, telling him it would be ok, hoping he would miraculous fall asleep. that didn't happen. my emotions ranged from sadness to frustration, and finally anger. at points during the evening, i wished that he had never been born. at other times, i would cry because i knew he was suffering (withdrawal) and i didn't want to be an enabler anymore.

aside from his propensity to crawl/fall off the bed without warning, the main reason why i'm trying to get leon accustomed to the crib is because nursing in bed hasn't been working for the past 2 weeks. he nurses so frequently that his diaper becomes full. this makes him uncomfortable, therefore it's difficult to fall back asleep. a diaper change really upsets him. it's a vicious cycle. he also cries at night, which is probably connected to the diaper issue. so my goal is to nurse him less frequently, maybe 2-3 times at night. it is impossible to stop nursing him as long as we're sharing a bed. the smell of milk and accessibility are huge obstacles. plus, i would rather he got most of his food during the day, which hasn't been the case for the past month.

honestly, i would have thrown the mattress on the floor, put up pillows in front of every hard object in the room, and nursed him to sleep for the next year if that's what worked for us. but the wet diaper and lack of interest in nursing during the day have made me reconsider my approach. i also want matthew to be able to help out more with bedtime. a reliance on nursing makes this difficult.

this obviously isn't a 'no cry sleep solution,' but i knew from the beginning that there would be crying. i'm trying to keep it at a minimum, but i would like leon to learn different ways to fall asleep. we're going to be traveling quite a bit in the next few months, so relying on one method is not a good idea. i love him to pieces, more than i can ever verbalize, so listening him to cry and toss his head from side to side as he chases sleep is very hard to watch. i don't think he's 'manipulating' me or that rocking him to sleep and maintaining night-feeds is going to turn him into a maladjusted unpleasant 3 year old. i just want him to sleep better and for longer periods so that he is well rested and happier rather than hyperactive and incredibly cranky.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

dressing for winter

i am sorely tempted to dress leon in Lana Wool from head to toe. he is very naughty and refuses to keep his adorable knit hats on, so maybe this balaclava is the answer. if i have to spend another winter here, i might as well dress him as warmly as possible.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

baby proofing

snuggle wool blanket (not a sheepskin!)

thank you. we're doing better, although leon had a meltdown on the way home from a very early dinner (5.30-6.30). i had to skip his bedtime routine (solid food, book, bath, music) because he was losing it. i'm pretty sure he didn't mind skipping right to the main event, though.

so now that he's mobile and on the verge of crawling properly--i give him two weeks--we've started clearing out the living room so it's leon-friendly. last weekend i packed up 6 boxes of books and matthew put three bookcases along with our coffee table in storage. we have two bookshelves that we lined along one wall to partially block the radiator. i've been looking at montessori-inspired blogs for ideas, and the main thing i decided to do was create interesting spaces for leon to play. these cubbyholes are perfect for storing toys in baskets or displaying his favorite picture cards (the eames' house of cards). right now he loves visiting each 'station' and pulling out the toys. sometimes we sit together and he goes through a basket, which i find to be inexplicably charming.

i'm going to order a few wooden toys to place on top of the cubbyholes to entice leon to pull himself up. these by little sapling toys would be perfect.

i'm trying hard to resist buying too many toys, but sometimes i just can't say no. for instance, these wooden puzzles with peg handles would be perfect for leon to practice his pincer grasp.

the living room transformation




many more books to pack before we move next year. not to mention the few hundred novels that are at my parents' place. someday when we're settled i'd like to be reunited with them. thank goodness for the postal service's media mail rate.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

bad mother

on the advice of many, i attempted to leave leon to settle himself. over six months of sleepless nights and overly wakeful days has taken a toll on us. the fact that i am the only person who can get him to fall asleep (via nursing in bed) has made it difficult to share the work of parenting.

so i nursed him, snuggled with him for 15 minutes in his side-car crib, nursed him again, patted him on his back until he closed his eyes. and then i crept away. the crying began immediately. a loud, angry, jagged cry. i kept the door cracked open so i could watch him. he passed his lovey from one hand to the other, his cries continuing. i looked at the clock. 1 minute. 2 minutes. 3 minutes. the cries intensify. 4 minutes. i go into the kitchen for a glass of water. when i return, he is crawling from his crib across the mattress and toward the pillow barricades. the cries are moving from protesting to truly hysterical. 5 minutes. i decide to go in.

he's face down in vomit, the bed is covered in a mixture of sweet potatoes and milk. i feel sick and angry with myself. i pick him up, take off his clothes, yank the sheet and mattress cover off. in the bathroom, i gently wash his face off and look for new sheets. when i put him in the crib so i can put the new sheet on, he begins wailing inconsolably. i pat him, pick him up, put him back down. the sobbing starts as soon as i detach myself from him. it's as if he believes i'm going to abandon him again.

not all babies cry so much that they vomit. i didn't realize it could escalate so quickly. i figured babies who throw up from crying it out are the ones left alone for 30-60 minutes or more--which i refuse to do. but 5 minutes? i feel like a terrible person.

not to mention he fell off our low bed this morning--hence the new barricades. i was napping with him for over 2 hours when i decided to make a quick bathroom run. in the 30 seconds that i was gone, he managed to wake up, roll 4 times and onto the floor. THUNK. and then wailing. he's fine. i've been watching him like a hawk, and so far so good.

but still. i am at the end of my rope. nearly 7 months of sleep issues, an intense temperament, and an inability to do my own work (which really needs to be done if i want a job come august). i give up. it'll sort itself out eventually. i'm tired of trying to make it happen before he's ready. the only thing that matters is that he gets quality sleep. even if that means nursing him til he falls asleep, napping beside him, and putting our mattresses on the ground.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

away he goes

wool pants by tuss from enfant terrible

things are moving so quickly now. in just 5 days, leon has gone from rolling to crawling/dragging himself across the foam mat and onto the hardwood floor. trying my best to slow things down once in awhile so i can hold him close and breathe in his curls.