Monday, February 25, 2008

cue up pomp and circumstance

Henry is a bona fide graduate of sleep school.

Last night, he was in bed by 7:15. He stood in his crib laughing hysterically at William for about 10 minutes and then laid down, by himself, and was asleep by 7:30.

He woke up this morning at 6:15. I nursed him in bed for 45 minutes. He ate breakfast at around 8:00 and went down for his first nap at 8:45. He cried for five minutes, before I picked him up, nursed him for five minutes, and put him in a slightly drowsy state back down in his crib.

He slept until 10:45.

While Henry slept at home under Charlie's watchful eye, I went to the doctor's office. This respiratory infection that I've had for the past three weeks, which had started to wane - came back strong. This is so typical for me. I'll be sick for a month before going to see the doctor. It's like running a marathon and giving up at the 24-mile mark. I suspect that if I can just hang on a little longer I'll make it, but I always throw out the white flag.

I was given a prescription for an antibiotic, but I didn't get it filled because I know that this is a viral infection and eventually - it will run it's course. I just needed to hear the doctor say that I wasn't going to die. Until then, I'm going to keep up with my Zicam and vitamins and consumption of 10 gallons of water a day. And, I'm going to try and get more than four hours of sleep at night. Surely that might have something to do with why my immune system is so weak. I also had an uncomfortably fun conversation with my doctor about the effect of nursing on a woman's libido. Maybe once I feel well enough to have a glass of wine - or am hit with a huge amount of courage - I'll write about that.

For now, back to Henry.

Yesterday, he napped from around 12:30 until 3:00. What I figured out is that although he naps exceptionally well in the morning, he wakes up after 30/40 minutes with his afternoon nap, unless I give him a pacifier. So, when I put him to bed yesterday with his pacifier, he slept for 2.5 hours.

Today, I put him down for his nap when the triplets went down at 1:30. Again, he stood in his crib laughing at William for a few minutes, before grabbing his pacifier, popping it in his mouth, and falling to sleep. (He woke up at 2:45 just as I was getting ready to publish this post).

I have a lot of reservations on sleeping with pacifiers. Primarily, I don't think that a baby sleeps as deeply when they have one, because my experience has been (with the triplets) that whenever the pacifier falls out, they wake up crying. But, if Henry needs a pacifier to extend his afternoon nap from 30/40 minutes to an hour or more, so be it. I think the reason he needs the pacifier in the afternoon is because up until recently, he would sleep in the Bjorn and sporadically nurse while I updated my blog. That's my opinion and it makes sense.

I know that not all days are going to be the same with Henry's nap schedule. Maybe he'll nap better in the morning than in the afternoon or vice versa. But consistency with his routine - getting him to bed in good time - and recognizing his sleep cues will all be important.

While I'm on the topic of naps...

The triplets are doing considerably better with nap time. A year ago at this time - when they were still in cribs and jumping out every 10 seconds - I thought I was going to go insane. But once we transitioned them to big beds, and more specifically, ever since we split them up in to different rooms, they fall asleep within five minutes of laying down and typically sleep two hours, if not three. They still go to bed at around 7:30 or 8:00 every night and they sleep until around 7:00, every morning.

I love my children with all of my heart and soul.

But I can honestly say that I love them EVEN MORE when they sleep well.

We took the children to get their hair cut yesterday. Charlie has finally convinced me that I have no idea what I'm doing with scissors and it really is best that we let trained professionals provide this service for us.

While we were there, one of the stylists mentioned that she has a son that turned three-years-old last month and he doesn't sleep well.

Every night, she has to lay down with him in bed and usually, she falls asleep waiting for him to fall asleep. Of course, this completely shoots her night and she has no time for herself or her husband. She said that whenever her son does take a nap during the day, he will be awake until 1:00 AM.

When I told her that our three-year-old triplets take a two-hour-nap during the day and sleep around 11 hours at night, I thought she might cry. When I told her that there was hope for her, I thought she was going to hug me.

THIS is the very reason that sleep training is important at an early stage. Children need to know how to go to sleep on their own and they need to know how to sleep in their own bed.

When you are looking at a beautiful, chubby-cheeked baby, it's almost impossible to imagine them as a demanding preschooler that INSISTS you lay down with them or they WON'T go to sleep. And dammit, they won't.

They seriously won't.

Those poor sleep habits that developed while they were a beautiful, chubby-cheeked baby, will absolutely wreak havoc on your life.

If you don't believe me, just watch Super Nanny.

Someone left me a comment regarding their baby that wasn't sleeping well because of colic. When babies cry incessantly early in their lives - it's usually because they have something happening with their digestive system. It could be reflux, or maybe an allergy. Or, as Michele wrote about, it could be the improper colonization of bacteria. William was lactose intolerant and we didn't get that figured out until he was several months old. He would scream every day, morning, noon and night. Once I made a few changes to my diet - and the formula I was supplementing him with - he was a different child. The girls both had reflux. We got them on the appropriate medication and they were different children.

If your baby is crying uncontrollably - there is something going on that shouldn't be.

Babies do not cry for no reason.

The point of this long-winded post is that if I can lovingly sleep train a seven-month-old infant with three-year-old triplets in a 1,600 square foot house (without a basement and not what could really be considered an attic), with sick children sleeping together in rooms that lack doors, and a barking dog, and a mother that calls in the middle of nap time to tell me to watch Oprah ... anyone can do it.

I cannot however, snack on an apple when there are a tray of O'Henry's in the fridge.

Because I am weak when it comes to chocolate.


  1. This was about the age we started putting SEVERAL pacifiers in the crib at night - all the same kind -so when the baby woke up they could find one easily and put themselves back to sleep. It worked very well for us.
    Congratulations on your successful sleep school.

  2. Congratulations on the sleep school graduation! I hope all the coming days are just as successful!

  3. hi Jen

    one thing you could try in addition to Zicam is a nasal bidet or neti pot. I've had one for years and it was even recently featured on Oprah.

    It looks weird but is easy.


  4. EXCELLENT! I couldn't agree with you more on just about everything! I think if you start young, you establish healthy sleep habits that stay with your children for the rest of their lives. My kids are still napping and they are 4.3 years old. Gregory took a 3 hour nap today with his brother! We've had a lot of resistance along the way. I've tweaked our schedule endlessly. I've spent hours and hours and hours and hours analyzing it. And I'll tell you what, it was WORTH IT! Because I have seriously happy kids. I think you know what I'm talking about it. When we go through a non-sleeping sleep hell phase, they are miserable and fight and whine and cry and I'm miserable and yell at them. I reall don't think people value sleep in our society. I think it's a terrible problem.

    So GOOD FOR YOU! I knew Henry would adapt and I really don't think letting him have that pacifier in the afternoon is a big deal. Really. I've analyzed it! I swear! :)

    Hope you are feeling better soon and take the damn antibiotics already. I do the same thing. Don't make me link that picture of my tonsils to you.

  5. Congratulations Graduate! Was there an official cap and gown ceremony, lol

  6. Sheila: I have heard about those neti pots. My mother, of course, watched that Oprah episode and sent me an article on them. I haven't purchased one yet, but I will look in to it more. The virus that lasts - despite zicam - for three weeks is simply unacceptable!!

    Michele: My tonsils are LONG gone, so no tonsillitis for me. They were removed (along with my adenoids) when I was 10. I really am feeling better today. I just need to improve my sleep (and undoubtedly) dietary habits!!

  7. Nursing + libido talk PLEASE.

  8. Hi Jen
    Yay for sleep school! And I have to second the recommendation for a neti pot. They are amazing for sicknesses...but then again so is sleep. Good luck with that!
    (Sorry I don't have a blog..I just like to read others. I do have 2 kids under 2, a dog and 2 cats. And I thought my house was crazy. Hah!)

  9. I have to second you on babies crying always have a reason. My little monkey had colic for 6 weeks. It was hell! Not just because of the non-stop crying, but also because I felt like I couldn't do anything to help him. We were on the right formula, but basic things I didn't know to do, were slowing me down. I had never heard of swaddling. An amazing secret! I swaddled him in my tshirts or hub's tshirts so he'd have our scent on him. I'd play the same soothing CD for him everyday. The Graco Nature's Swing was a LIFESAVER! Letting him sleep upright in his car-seat helped, especially on the dryer.

    I feel like I'm prepared so much more for the next one, but man...that learning curve with colic was steep. And I'm sure even with the experience, it would still be hard. I feel for any momma that has a colicky baby. It's tough stuff.

    On a totally unrelated note, Jen, that picture of you and the kiddos in bed in the last post? Priceless. LOVE it!

  10. How can you hold out on a sex talk? Don't you know we all need a sex talk around here? ;)

    Way to go Henry! I also did the same as HW said and put in several pacifiers so that they were easy to find. Sleep is a beautiful thing!

  11. Hey, can you come do some sleep schooling here?
    Clearly I need the help. :-)

  12. CONGRATS!!!!!!!! Now go eat the O'Henry bars -- you deserve it.

    FWIW, my #3 child had colic. OMG -- I thought I was going to die. My ped. said he thought she had an 'immature neaurological system' and that she was overly sensitive to things (i.e., the startle reflex would send her into fits & settling to sleep was soooooo hard). I really tend to agree and once she learned to suck her thumb (at 6mos.) on her own and did the whole self-soothing thing she was a different child.

  13. I just keep Shayna's hair long, so I don't have to get it cut but twice a year...LOL... Check out her new video on my blog. She's awesome!

  14. Hooray for Henry! Hope you are feeling better soon and the sleep success continues.

  15. Is there a book that goes along with "Sleep School"? I'd REALLY like my son to sleep that well. Or could you share the basics with us? I am new-ish ... was it in an earlier post?
    Congratulations! I am proud of you for working so hard with your kids on mastering their sleep rhythms. You DESERVE kids who sleep so well.

  16. Can we come live with you? I am a mess (although alex is doing really well on self settling and sleeping) but I so wish I could have half the organisational skills you have. I am so impressed! Well done. I hope you feel better soon.

  17. amen sistah. it's refreshing to hear from another mom who knows what she's talking about! :-)

  18. Just to add one thing:

    I am totally jealous that your three year olds can sleep 2+ hours and still sleep 12 hours at night. My kids don't -- And I cringe at thinking that the hairdresser is going to go off thinking that ALL three year olds can do this.

    Both my children (now 3 1/2 and 2) have been sleep trained from a young age. They were both napping/sleeping (10+ hours at night with no wake-ups to nurse), in their cribs, no pacifiers from 8 weeks on. (I am clearly a fan of sleep training!)

    But their both gave up naps all together at 2 years. They continued to sleep 12+ hours at night, but did not nap during the day. Some children just need less sleep. If they are allowed a nap somehow during the day, they will stay up until 10 or 11 or later...despite being sleep trained and me enforcing the guidelines with them.

    So although this is not necessarily the norm, I just wanted to point out that there are children (especially by 3) whose bodies don't need a nap and won't sleep if they get one.

    It's not fair, and yes, us mothers of those children are very jealous of you who still get peace and quiet in the afternoon.

  19. Liz: Our kids almost always nap in the afternoon. But even on those days when they don't seem to need the nap, (particularly William), I'll still have them go lie down in their room with a book for an hour or so of "quiet time".

    If I need quiet time in the afternoon @ 36 yo, they definitely need it at 3!

  20. Yep! She's telling him how to pitch! At one point she told him, "you missed, Daddy!" Too cute! I love her bike helmet, too! Hope you are feeling better.

  21. The american society of pediatrics actually recommends paci usage specifically because it does make babies sleep less soundly and therefore decreases the chance of SIDS.

    My daughter falls asleep with the paci, but then continues to sleep even after it has been removed /fallen out. Thank goodness for sleeping through the night though, she's finally going down right before 9 and sleeping all the way through 6am, hoping to bump bedtime up an hour this week!

    Best luck!

  22. You seem to know what you are doing when it comes to kids and here is a question for you. I have Lupus...every minute of sleep I get is absolutely precious to me. Not to mention, necessary for me to even THINK about functioning the next morning. I have a daughter who will be 6 next month. Her dad is in Iraq and has been there since June of 2007. Right after he was deployed, she started wetting the bed again! Then, when we finally got that under control, she started getting out of her bed in the middle of the night and coming to my bed. No matter how many times I would take her back to her bed, she would always return to mine. Now? She whines for me to lay down with her and if I am busy doing other things, she will NOT go to sleep. I am exhausted! I am working 40-50 hours a week plus taking college courses full time! If there is any advice you or anyone reading this has, you can email me Thank you and I absolutely LOVE reading your blog! Take care!

  23. Maybe you were referring to me with the comment on colic-not sure-but you are right- she cries because she hurts, we have her on her second reflux med and I have no dairy, soy or any gassy veggies in my diet at all. I also did this with baby #1, but she had blood in her stool-no colic. She is immensely better and yes-I swaddle her constantly and sleep with her at night, while this is not how I planned on sleeping with baby #2, she seems to really need it because she cannot soothe on her own right now.

  24. Anon: I would really suggest that you get a hold of Dr. Weissbluth's book. He goes over sleep challenges for children of all ages.

    I, personally, haven't had any experience with children your daughter's age >> but it sounds like she is programming herself to wake up at night. Maybe a reward might help? If she stays in her own bed and goes to sleep on her own - for several nights in a row - she'll get to pick a restaurant to eat out at, or perhaps earn a trip to the toy store?

    Good luck - sleep issues are very trying!

  25. Love the hair cuts--gosh they look so much older now.