Sunday, February 24, 2008

live blogging: sleep school day 3 / wrap up

Henry had a very tired afternoon. I could tell that my little guy was exhausted and probably would have done much better with his second nap if I had been able to get him down to sleep, sooner.

I fed him dinner at around 5:00 and he played for about an hour after that. I washed him up and changed him in to pajamas at around 6:15, nursed him for a few minutes, and put him down in his crib by 6:35. He cried while I got the triplet's teeth brushed and *something* told me that he needed a little bit more time before being put to bed.

I scooped him up after about 10 minutes and sitting in our rocking chair, nursed him for another 20 minutes. After having my face sucked and and gummed by him for 10 minutes, I again put him in his crib at around 7:20 and he peacefully put his head down and fell to sleep before I left the room.

There are certainly times when I think about all the things I need to do and how convenient it would be to put him in his crib and have him go right to sleep. But then I have to stop myself and seize the opportunity to sit and rock him and have him gum my face, because the fact is - I won't be able to do this forever and it really is a highlight of my life.

Here are my thoughts on the day:

1) It is very important for me that Henry sleep in until at least 6:00 every morning. I truly believe that he is at an age where he can do this and I suspect that he just needs some time to get through that 2nd awakening on his own.

2) I know people who have children as old as six-years-old, that still wake up and start their day at 5:00. That wouldn't fly in this house because the earliest Charlie and I get out of bed (unless we have a plane to catch or they are evacuating our neighborhood because of wildfires) is 6:30. It is extremely rare that our children are awake before 6:45 AM and typically they are up sometime between 7 and 8. For those parents that have children that are waking up so early, if that schedule works for the family - great. But if not - I believe that the early wake up can be linked back to the child never going back to sleep after their 2nd awakening.

3) Several people have told me that they want to get their baby to sleep but they don't want to hear their child cry. Although no parent likes to hear their baby cry - I really believe that the process of self-soothing is an important thing for them to learn. As I mentioned yesterday, until a child learns to self-soothe, they will rely on you to do it for them. Although it would be nice to lay down with my child before they go to sleep at night - this is not something that I can do every time they go to bed. Nor can I rush in and give them their pacifier whenever it falls out, or rock them until they are completely asleep.

It can be terribly frustrating but the key to success is setting forth a plan. This whole exercise of writing down Henry's schedule has been great for me, because I have critically evaluated his nap schedule and wake up times much like I did with our triplets. When I would hear him wake up and cry after 30 minutes from his first nap - I would have already worked out my response. It's that "Not Knowing What To Do" that is horribly paralyzing and causes sleep deprived parents to run themselves ragged trying to figure out the next step.

Let them cry?

Pick them up?

Rub their back?

Feed them?


And now, I'm going to get up on my soap box.

It is amazing to me how many people are completely oblivious to the importance of sleep. When I was still working, I would go out for business dinners and notice small children sitting on their parents laps at 9 or 10 at night. When Charlie and I went to a movie last year, I couldn't believe that when we were walking out of the theater at 10:00 PM, there was a family walking IN with their two small children.

Last week, as I was walking around Target at about 9:00 PM I spotted a woman pushing a baby, I'd estimate to be 18-months old, in a shopping cart. The baby was wailing. She was rubbing her eyes and her cries sounded like someone was jabbing her with a needle. The mother kept hushing her and I overheard her say to her husband "I seriously don't know what is wrong with this kid." Because I have a really tough time keep my mouth shut when I probably should, I walked up and said, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but overhear you. And for what it's worth, I suspect that your daughter is crying because she is tired. I have three-year-old triplets and I know that they would have a complete meltdown if I kept them up past 8:00 at night." The mother told me that she thought that her daughter's cries were a result of teething.

As I've written before, I believe that teething is a scapegoat for a host of babyhood problems ... poor sleep habits and fussiness, being chief among them. I noticed that Henry is cutting his first tooth and yet he is sleeping well, aside from the issues that are physiologically normal for his age. I might be the only person in America to believe that when children are fussy it is because they are tired or hungry, or possibly - sick. It is not because they are in pain with their teeth. And if they are, feed them and put them to bed. They'll surely feel better when they wake up because chances are - they're tired, too.

Speaking of tired...

I haven't taken a shower in two days. But in that same time, I have cleaned up the house, folded and put away several loads of laundry; gone to the park twice; McDonald's, the after hours pediatrician and the post office once; cooked several meals; consumed an untold amount of chocolate; walked the dog; emptied the potty chair fifteen hundred times; tried to teach my three-year-olds how to blow their stuffy noses; established a sleeping schedule for our seven-month-old and blogged about it four times a day.

I'm off to bed.

Provided I don't pass out cold before I get there.


  1. ahhh... showers are overrated!

  2. Wow! I think you have done awesomely well. For what it is worth I have been working on sleeping patterns with Alex lately as well. If I am lucky I can get him to sleep by about 7:30pm but usually it is 8:30 and sometimes even later (when he is fighting it and refuses to give in no matter what we try). But he does sleep right through until around 7am every night. Sometimes he is up earlier and sometimes he sleeps in until 9am. During the night he wakes several times but it is just a fussy type of waking, and within 40 seconds he is asleep again.

    I can't believe you actually got to put washing away. I am seriously considering buying more washing baskets as my 4 are full! lol

  3. Hi Jen,

    I think I told you before that we have a different philosophy on sleep - but I'm starting to reconsider that opinion! One of my pet hates is teething being blamed for everything. I hate it, because it gets parents off the hook for looking for the REAL problem. And more often than not, it is because the kids are overtired.

    I am one of those families that you see with a kid up at 8.30pm, but that is because I own one of those kids that is TRULY unable to sleep before that time. What can I say, but after two years of the sleep routine, NOTHING would make that fact change. But, I can't stand people who ignore the tired signs in their kids and torture those poor children by not letting them get to sleep. Occasionally is okay - kids have to learn to be a bit flexible, so that they can cope with those rare occasions that it is necessary to blow their schedule. But, I too see badly behaved, unhappy kids who just need a good nights sleep.

    And now I will step down off my soapbox.

    P.S. No shower for two days? There's been a funny smell down here in Melbourne today - now I know it was you Jen! (Tee hee!!!)

  4. Nose blowing! I have a technique!! Totally and completely disgusting, but it works. The peed I nannied for way back when taught her year-old son by using candles. When your kids are less snoggy, have them try blowing out candles using their noses.

    With three of them giving it a go, I'd probably suggest a rain coat as well. And maybe no candles on their next cake....JUST in case.

  5. yes, that is a LOT going on!

    I like what you are doing with Henry. It is gentle and seems to be working already.

    Love the live blogging too:)

  6. Certainly you are not suggesting that the ONLY way to teach ones child to "self-sooth" is to allow the child to cry it out. Heck, my 14 month old wakes 1 time/night (when healthy) due to reverse cycling when I went back to work full-time. Yet, he naps and sleeps well, which he learned without CIO (using my own situation as an example). I could take away that 1 nursing, but he gets all of his milk from 5pm-7am, so one night nurse is necessary (7pm bed time). Anyway, point is, if you don't want to listen to your child cry, in some cases you don't have to. Oh, and we didn't use a lovie or pacifier to get it to happen.

  7. I commend your sleep training efforts! Awhile back I *suggested* to my hubby that we help our little guy out with his sleep training since he is physically capable of sleeping through several hours. This lasted just a few days after my husband became totally exhausted and impossible to deal with (MEN!). That's my problem...if we had a nursery or other room for our son to sleep in we might could withstand "crying it out" but as it is our son's crib is right next to our bed and there have been times when I've woken up holding him having no idea how he got in my arms. What to do?

    Anyway, good luck. It sounds like you guys will be sleeping through the night in no time. In the meantime, however, here's to gummy kisses!

  8. In defense of those parents shopping late with their children... I have a night owl. We're all night owls, so she probably picks up on my rhythms and when I'm more ready to start the day. We're all perfectly happy with the baby going to sleep by 10 and waking up around 9:30, or 7 on an early awakening day.

    A shopping cart ride calms her when she needs to wind down, and there was a time when we'd run off to a nearby 24-hour store at a late hour because she wasn't ready to sleep but was getting fussy. Now we rock instead of coast in a cart. I honestly was clueless about sleep cues and sleep needs until relatively recently, when I got the No-Cry Sleep Solution. It's important to note that the toddler version does allow for crying, and many parents do allow crying in the process, but it's not wailing until the child wears him or herself out. CIO does not work for our family, for several reasons.

    I've always been amazed reading about kids going to sleep at 6:30. That's around the time my DD will take a catnap. I've learned not to try to put her in her bed for that nap, because she's not ready to sleep for the night. When she gets a good nap (or we attempt to put her to sleep for the night), she wakes up refreshed and ready to play til 11 or 12 at night. Our schedule really isn't that different from Henry's, just pushed back about 2 hours.

  9. You are going to wear yourself out and get sick, Jen! When is Charlie coming back anyway?

    Okay, here's the pattern I see emerging. If Henry gets back down within 2 hours, he barely fusses and he then sleeps right through his sleep cycles. If he doesn't get down within 2 hours, he fusses and then wakes up during his sleep cycles. Are you noticing this too? Because you really haven't gotten him down for any of his afternoon naps on time.

    Geez, I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY???? :) I think in a lot of ways, having Austin so close to the other kids made it easier for me to keep him on schedule. We didn't run around as much back then as we do now. If I had a newborn right now, I would be very hard-pressed to keep that child on any type of sleep schedule in the mornings. I see these women with their little babies at the Community Center EVERY SINGLE DAY and their babies are never sleeping in the mornings. And they never cry either. It's crazy. I don't know how they do it!

    So I think that Henry CAN self-soothe. That's evident because he CAN go to sleep on his own and he CAN get through his sleep cycles, unless he's overtired and overstimulated. So I know I'm not as hardcore on the self-soothing, because if I knew that I got him down too late, I would help him get to the next sleep cycle just to catch up the day so the next sleep time went better.

    But I'm a little OCD about sleep. So just ignore me. You are doing a great job and the fact you are alone makes it even better!

  10. You Are Amazing!

    But please... don't forget that you deserve the lovely luxury of a shower, too!

  11. My kids still wake up around 6am. I don't, but its OK. They are 9 and almost 12 - they get up and amuse themselves until I get up around 8 (weekends and holidays). When they were toddlers sometimes they slept in more, but not now. I firmly believe that they are just morning people, like my DH. I'm NOT. The benefit is that they are easy to wake up for school.

  12. I think you are doing fabulous. Do you need some more chocolate?

  13. i like you and enjoy reading your blog. i have been fighting with my five month old triplets over afternoon napping for a month now. it is nice to know by reading your blog that it will get easier. i made the mistake of letting them "nap" in their swings the first four months. what was i thinking? clearly i wasn't. now they are awful nappers. i read three or four sleep books before they got here, yet still made this huge mistake in not putting them down for naps. isn't it amazing how it's hard to see things clearly when you are right in the middle of them (and sleep deprived)?

    i love reading the emotional reactions women have to letting babies cry it out. i agree with you 100% about babies needing to self-sooth. i believe that if you know your babies and listen to them you can tell what their cries mean and then decide how to respond. i want to raise confident and competent children, and i think self-soothing is one of the first steps in this journey.

    at any rate, i agree with so much of what you say. i think you are doing a great job and are a wonderful mother. thanks for sharing your struggles and successes.