Once Henry woke up from his afternoon nap at 2:50, I put everyone's shoes on (I honestly put shoes on feet that belong to people other than my own no less 50 times a day) and we went for a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. My mother would be disappointed that we missed Oprah, but maybe one day we'll get a TiVo and then I can watch all kinds of cool programs when I have a spare moment between 2 and 3 AM.
By the time we were back from our stroll it was around 4:00.
I put a movie in for the kids (Over the Hedge, if you must know) and sat down to feed Henry his dinner. Once I finished feeding him dinner, I stuck him in the sink for a quick bath and while I was doing that, I was remembering that the whole reason we bought the kitchen sink that we did is because even though we didn't have children at the time, I hoped that one day soon we would, and when we did, I was going to give them baths in this awesome stainless steel basin.
While I prepared dinner and washed dishes.
Oh, I kid.
When I pulled him out of the sink and started to get him dressed in his pajamas, he was starting to get fussy. I sat down with him and started to nurse at around 5:00 PM and finished watching the movie with the kids. Henry snoozed, while nursing, from about 5:10 until about 5:45. If Charlie had been home, I would have snoozed at that point too, because Sweet Reese's Peanut Butter Cup I was exhausted.
Just thinking about all the stuff I still had to do - by myself - before the end of the day made me feel less capable than an an amoeba.
Henry woke up from his catnap and I put him in his highchair with some Cheerios while I fed the kids dinner. While I got the kids ready for bed, I let Henry crawl around - until - he started picking up speed and was very soon, racing around the house almost as fast as the triplets. At 6:30, I put him in to his crib - solely as a means to contain him - while I got everyone's teeth brushed. He would laugh and coo whenever one of the kids went in to the room and would scream blue bloody murder when he was left alone.
By 6:45, I scooped him out of the crib, put him in the girls bed where everyone was perched and read them a story. I then moved him back in to his crib while I got everyone squared away and in to bed, said prayers, and then told 1, 2, 3 children that NO they could not use the potty because they had their chance before their diapers went on and because I have LEARNED that they have become extremely proficient at stall tactics. He cried the whole time I was dealing with his siblings. I went back in and picked him up - sat down to nurse him - and at around 7:10 put him down for the night. He fussed on and off for about 5 minutes before falling asleep.
Although one of his older siblings, who has a deep love for two ragged bunnies, continued to pop out of bed for the next hour and 20 minutes because she loves to drive me insane in the membrane. (When she woke up crying two hours later, I figured out that she has an ear infection. I spent a half hour on the phone with nurse line and scheduled her for a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning. Did I mention that all four of the kids came down sick with my flu just before Charlie left on his trip?)
So, here are my thoughts on the day:
1) I can clearly see that there are two primary sleep challenges to overcome. The first is Henry waking up about an hour (or so) prematurely for the day. The second is Henry waking up after only 30 minutes of his morning - and at least today - afternoon nap.
2) As for the first challenge: According to Weissbluth, the following circle graph illustrates the natural sleep/wake rhythms for a four- to eight-month-old infant.
Henry's sleep/wake patterns have followed this pattern, exactly. Up until recently, he was waking between midnight and 1:00 AM. Based on our previous experience with the triplets, we eventually stopped going to him at this time, and within two nights, although he might have still been waking up - he stopped crying out for us to get him. Even though he began either sleeping, or self-soothing, through the 1st awakening, he has continued to wake up and cry out during the 2nd awakening. Because this awakening is so close to the start of the day for our household, I have not wanted to run the risk of Henry waking up his siblings and have scooped him up before he could self-soothe and fall back to sleep. According to Weissbluth, "The natural wake-up time seems to be independent of the part of the brain that puts them to sleep or keeps them asleep. Most children will awaken to start the day about 7:00 AM, but there is a wide range (between 6:00 and 8:00). In general, it is not a good idea to go to your child before 6:00 AM, even if he is crying, because if you do, he will begin to force himself to wake up earlier and earlier in order to enjoy your company."
In essence, I really need to leave Henry alone when he wakes up during that 2nd awakening at 5:00 AM and see if he can get himself to go back to sleep for another hour - or more. I suspect that the reason he is waking up is not so much because he is hungry (because he doesn't really nurse vigorously), but rather, because he is programmed - like clockwork - to wake up at the exact same time every morning. My options here are to stay status quo of picking him up and soothing him by nursing; putting a pacifier in his mouth and soothing him while he stays in his crib; or letting him cry and ultimately, self-soothe. Since I'm looking for the fastest (and easiest) solution, I believe that letting him cry and self-soothe is probably the answer.
3) As for the second challenge: According to Weissbluth, "By four to eight months of age, infants should have at least a midmorning nap and one in the early afternoon and the total nap duration should be two to four hours." "After four months, naps of less than one hour cannot count as "real" naps. Sometimes a nap of forty-five minutes may be all your child needs, but naps of less than thirty minutes don't help."
As Michele pointed out in her comment today: "Henry's definitely having trouble transitioning through his first sleep cycle. Babies transition from deep sleep to REM sleep at exactly 40-45 minutes. If he doesn't sleep at least an hour and a half, he isn't getting both cycles of sleep which is why he's cranky. Now I used to time when my kids went down to the minute and I'd be waiting by the door at exactly 40 minutes and run in and pat their butt and stick their pacifier back in to get them into the next sleep cycle, because it just takes a little time for them to get it. Or you can let them cry to get into the next cycle but some kids wake totally up then and you are shit out of luck."
Today, I ran in with Henry's pacifier when he woke up after 45 minutes, and was able to extend his nap to two hours. Ideally, I don't want to do this. I'd like for him to transition through that sleep cycle on his own, because I'm usually doing something with the triplets when he is napping and if I don't get in there right away to pop in the pacifier - I might miss my opportunity and he is awake. So, again, since I'm looking for the fastest (and easiest) solution, I believe that letting him cry and self-soothe is probably the answer.
Now before everyone loses all respect for me and thinks I'm a heinous mother monster to let her beautiful baby cry - here's something critical that I've learned.
Babies need to know how to self-soothe. Until they learn how to soothe back to sleep - or through their sleep cycles - they will need for you to do it for them.
I'd really love to write more, I have several other topics to discuss (and comments to address), but they'll have to wait. I've got Elizabeth propped up in my bed on pillows with a heating pad under her ear and from the sounds of it, I think she's due for more ibuprofen. And, I must go to sleep because Henry will be up in five and a half hours. But first, I need to go move William in to the girls room. Elizabeth will stay with me, tonight. Push ups and putting laundry away will also have to wait. I'm definitely due for another Dove square, though.
It's been a long day.