Progress with Night Weaning

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Two months ago I posted about how I was ready to gently start night weaning Jack.  You are probably wondering how it’s been going. Maybe even wishing I had some amazing story where I just snapped my fingers and he slept through the night. I wish. I so wish I had a great and easy story with some magic secret. But sadly no. But I do have a story of love, understanding, and a pretty happy ending!

So the night after I published my night weaning post, I implemented my plan.  We had a good routine before we got to bed. Bath time with lots of play to tire him out, pj’s and brush teeth, and a few books in bed and snuggles with papa. Then I nursed him to sleepy and unlatched him and rubbed his back to get him to go to sleep.

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It did not work at all. He screamed and screamed! So I relatched him. Nothing changed that night. Or the next night. Or the next night. Or for the rest of the week. I kept trying though. I would unlatch and if he freaked out, back on he went. I just gave him the suggestion, but he clearly wasn’t ready so I did not force him. And yes, I was still VERY exhausted and frustrated.

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Then the next week one day he accepted it. He nursed to sleep, I popped him off and he laid down next to me and let him rub his back to sleep. It took FOREVER though. He just kept jabbering away and wiggling. But no tears and it did work eventually. He woke up several time to nurse that night, but it was a start.  During this time I also started a part-time job where I work 2-3 evening a week, so Michael or my mom puts him to bed. I think this was key, he learned that there are other ways to go to sleep besides milk. At first they had a hard time getting him to sleep, but they were just patience and loved him through it. They do offer him a bottle before bed, it’s hit or miss if he takes it.

After a few more days, I decided to try to drop his first feeding of the night. And it worked! When he woke up, I just rubbed his back and told him “the milkies are asleep” and he eventually went back down. After a few days he didn’t wake up at that time at all.

Then I got greedy. I decided to drop the next two feedings. It all blew up in my face. He would wake up around 3-4 AM demanding milk and I mean DEMANDING. Screaming at the top of his lungs and ripping at my shirt to get a boob out. I tried that for two nights and it was horrible. The second night he got so frantic that when I finally gave him my boob back, but it was too late. He worked himself into a state and would not calm down. I lost my patiences and had to go sleep on the couch while my husband calmed him (to no avail). He passed out from exhaustion at 5:30 AM and I came back to bed feeling horrible. Clearly this was not the way to do it. I got ahead of myself and did not consider Jack’s feeling.

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Luckily I had a La Lech League meeting that morning. I got some great words of encouragement and wisdom. They suggested that I stick to just dropping the one feeding for awhile until he’s ready to do more.  That night back to nursing to sleepy and encouraging him to drop the first wake-up. After two weeks,  he was doing great. No more tears or screaming. He would go down on his own and sleep until 3 AM. After that he awoke every 2 hours to cluster feed, which I could handle better after several hours of sleep.

Not a well baby.
Not a well baby.

Just when I was thinking of trying to drop the 3AM feeding, it all fell apart again. As I mentioned in the intro to my guest post last week, Jack has been having some allergy issues for months now. Hive, rashes, and diarrhea on and off. We think that coupled with a stomach bug going around really upset his tummy. He had a constant rash and had the worst diapers I’ve ever seen. This lasted for 10 days! He barely ate and nursed like crazy. He couldn’t sleep at night because he was having stomach cramps. He would wake up screaming and holding his belly. It was the first time he ever signed hurt to me. I threw all the night weaning out the window and spent 5 nights holding him on the couch all night barely sleeping.

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No idea what it’s from yet.

After some trips to the doctor and 2 solids weeks of antihistamines, he went back to normal. But it was back to square one with night weaning. I was very frustrated, but was better educated this time. I finished the book “Night Time Parenting” and gained a lot of perspective on toddler sleep habits. Plus this time I knew he could sleep for longer periods of time without milk. I was armed with knowledge and patiences to try again.

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Frustrated papa, baby, and mama!

One night he woke at 1AM and would not unlatch for anything. He was just nursing and nursing. I was so tired that I started to cry. I unlatched him and we had a talk. I explained that momma is too tired and not happy. He deserves a happy mommy who plays with him all day. He said yes. I said if we only nurse when the sunshines, the whole family—including him–will be happier. He said yes. I told him I will hold him all night and so will daddy. If he’s thirsty or hungry, he can get up to get something. All he has to do is ask nicely. He said okay. Then we laid down and snuggled. It took a long time, but he did falls asleep and stayed asleep until 7. When he woke up, daddy opened the window and I told him the sun is shining so he can have all the milk. We all snuggled in the bed smiling. I knew we turned the corner.

The next night I told him he could all the milk he wanted, but once he got sleepy, it was time for sleep so the milkies would go to sleep to. He said okay. Then when he was starting to close his eyes, we said good night to the milkies, and he rolled over and went to sleep. I couldn’t believe it! That night slept till 5:30, I offered him a little milk and he went back to sleep until 8 AM!

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This general pattern of sleeping until 4 or 5 AM, then cluster feeding until 8 AM has continued for almost two weeks now. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better.  I can handle the cluster feedings after a several hours of sleep at least now. And he’s taking 2-hour naps all on his own! I nurse him down, then leave him the bed and get to do something else for a bit.

So my advice? Just love your toddler and respect their feelings. Talk to them. Keep talking. Keep the idea of nursing only during the day out there. Ask them how they feel about it. Talk them through their feelings. Try it every night, but back off if they resist. Try again the next night and back off again if they resist. One day—maybe not right away— they will accept it. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it. Your toddler will respect you and know you still love them. There is no point in forcing them into something they are not emotionally or mentally ready to handle yet. I know you are tired, but remember this is only temporary. They will only be a nursing toddler once, and it lasts for such a short time.

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Good luck with your family’s night weaning journey!

Traveling Baby Part 3: Traveling Without Baby

The last part of my Traveling Baby Series is traveling without your baby. That’s right, I dared to leave my baby for a few days! It was nerve racking at first and I worried about losing my breastmilk supply, but it all worked out pretty well in the end.

I wanted to do something nice for our first anniversary in September, celebrate the amazing and challenging first year we spent as husband and wife. It’s enviable that once you have a baby, romance becomes a scare thing between couples. I figured if we wanted to stay married, we needed to celebrate. Then my parents offered to fly down so we could go somewhere for the weekend. I love my baby very much, but my first instinct was, “YES, I COULD GET SOME SLEEP!!!” Only someone who has raised a child can understand what I am talking about. Jack wakes up at least twice a night still and gets up bright and early each morning. I am so tired all the time that I hardly even notice any more. I know this is normal and won’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love a chance to get some baby-free sleep!

We settled on Reno and booked a room at Harrah’s for 3 nights. Close enough to drive but far enough away to feel like a vacation still. Plus we love driving through Gold Country (see my Babymoon post). We could gamble, drink, relax, and sleep! We were both really looking forward to it.

How could I leave this cuteness?!?!?

Now I know what you are thinking, “How could you leave your 5-month old? Especially an exclusively breastfed one who likes to co-sleep? And with your parents that he doesn’t see often!” First of all, let me say I did worry A LOT about going. A LOT. I kept thinking he would start screaming and not eat until I returned. So we made the deal that at any time, for any reason, we could call it off. Even if we were already in Reno, just jump in the car and haul it back home. Second, my parents came a few days early so Jack had time to adjust. I also made a detailed outline of Jack’s daily routine to help them keep him happy. Lastly, I completely trust my parents. I think this is key to leaving your child with anyone. If you have any reservations—even a teeny tiny voice that says “Ehh…”—then don’t leave your child with them. Plain and simple. That right there will make it less stressful for everyone.

I think it’s safe to say he loves his grandma…

Oh, and the breastfeeding thing. Remember that freezer stash I determined to build up before I went back to work then ended up not needing? Well, my parents now had plenty of milk to feed Jack while I was away. And no, my parents did not co-sleep with him. But they were prepared for him to wake every couple hours for a bottle at night. My brother and I never slept through the night as babies, they knew what to expect.

Nothing says romance like drying pump parts in your hotel room…

I also planned on pumping every 2-3 hours to keep my supply up. However, I decided I didn’t really need to replenish my freezer stash and I didn’t want to deal with a bringing a big cooler to bring it all home. So I decided to donate it a local mom in Nevada through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. It’s a wonderful donation network that allows moms with extra milk to directly donate to moms (and other caregivers) who need it. It’s so easy too, just find your state Facebook page and post an ad. A mom or whoever will reply, then you set-up a place to meet and give them the milk directly. I posted a month before and set-up to with a mom who was struggling with a low supply on our way home.

So, we planned it all out and were ready when the time came. My parents arrived late 3 days before. That night we just went about everything as usual, just with them here. The next day they watched him while I went to work in the afternoon and helped put him to bed. The next day they watched him the whole day while I went in for a normal  8-hour day shift.  Jack was happy and comfortable with them, so we went ahead with the trip. We left for Reno the next morning and Jack didn’t even care! He was sitting on the porch with grandpa looking at the flowers. I was sad as we drove away but knew it would be alright.

This is how much fun pumping in the car is….

The drive was lovely—until we hit the smoke. A massive wildfire was burning near South lake Tahoe and had shut down HWY 50. We had planned on taking HWY 80 all along, but it was smokey as hell in North Lake too. Like at one point it felt like we were driving through fire and brimstone. And it kept getting dark out the closer we got to the lake! But once we turned away from the lake and headed towards Reno, it cleared some and we saw daylight again. It was still smokey in Reno but I didn’t care. We didn’t plan on being outside there too much and all I really wanted was some sleep!

Once we got our room, we took a long nap. It was glorious. I love co-sleeping with my baby, but it was soooo nice to cuddle up with my man and pass out for once. That night we walked to Noble Pie Parlor and got pizza and beer. I found this place on Yelp. It was good, but weird. Like a college house party that this one guy you talked to in class a few times invited you to, but it turned out awesome, but you feel awkward still because you know no one there. Made us feel like kids again, worth checking out if you can handle that sort of atmosphere. We got back late and passed right out again. I woke up 7 hours later to rock-hard, aching boobs. I pumped 9 ounces each side that morning. But it didn’t effect my supply at all, just painful.

The next day we went to Virginia City. We may be nerds who love history and geology, but this place was TOTALLY awesome. You need to check out everything, but I really suggest the Washoe Club. We took the ghost tour and had a drink too. Really fun and not too expensive. We wish we had more time there There was still so much more to see. I foresee a family vacation there when Jack is older. I pumped on the way there in the car, about 3 hours later, and again on the way home. I brought a soft mini cooler and an ice pack to keep the milk cold. It was kinda annoying to have to go back to the car and waste precious time there, but it wasn’t that big of a hassle overall.

I drank it all, I was drunk and I have no regrets!

The rest of the trip we just relaxed in Reno (and slept a lot). When we were just hanging out in and around the hotel, I just used my double electric pump back in the room. It wasn’t a hassle and I just popped the milk right in the mini fridge. I did pump twice when I was drunk, and that milk was dumped right away.We went out for a nice sushi dinner the night of our anniversary. We planned on getting very drunk and going crazy afterwards, but I forgot the flanges to my pump so went back to the room. After I pumped, somehow we ended up falling asleep watching TV instead…oops.

The milk to donate on my lap while we drove to Carson City.

The next morning we got breakfast (Hash House A Go Go is AMAZING, giant plates with tons of flavor) and headed off the Carson City to meet up with the mom I was donating milk to. Before we left the hotel, I placed all the  milk storage bags in a large zip-lock back, then placed that bag in a bag of ice. We met her in a store parking lot right off the highway, gave her the milk (72 ounces) and she gave me replacement storage bags. Not every mom will offer storage bags, HM4HB is a free service, so don’t expect this every time. The mom was very grateful and I was more than happy to help her little one thrive.

That’s not clouds, it’s smoke.
We had drive through that shortly after I took this.

Highway 50 was still closed from the fire so we took a long back way south through the Sierra. I ended up pumping two more times in the car. That milk became Jack’s bottles for when I was at work the next day. We got home around 5 PM and I expected a big reaction from Jack….but I got pretty much nothing. They were waiting on the porch for us and he just calmly looked at me like, “Oh, hi. Where you gone?” I didn’t care though, I snatched him up and covered him in kisses. I was happy we went, but more than happy to come home.

We bought Jack a coyote puppet in Carson City,
he was sort of amused by it when we got home.

It all worked out well and we had a lot of fun. I have a few tips on how to handle traveling without a baby under a year old, especially for the first time.

Traveling Without Baby Tips

  • Leave your child with someone you completely trust. And I mean completely. Someone you know very well and has extensive experience caring for children. And, I know this may sound harsh, but sometime older grandparent or family members may have health problems that could inhibit proper childcare. Don’t feel bad if you have to turn down someone you love because you are worried about them falling or forgetting to do something. Just be nice about it, but your child’s health is more important. My parents are in good health so I wasn’t concerned.
  • Make sure you leave with them clear instructions. Don’t just chuck the baby at them and run. This will stress them out and cause them to not do a good job. And it will stress your baby out to vary so far from their normal routine without you. Babies can perceive and expect some consistency, even right from birth. This is why I left my mom the outline. So she knew about when he naps, eats, and plays. At the time he had also just started Baby-led Weaning and she needed to know what foods he could have as well. Give instructions for everything possible to avoid a major issue.
  • Make a list of important contacts and numbers Pediatrician, Urgent Care, Hospital, a relative or friend nearby, and where they can reach you. I left a list with full names, addresses and phone number in case of an emergency. I know that you could just say “Nearest Urgent Care” to Siri nowadays, but a quick list make it easier on everyone. I also left my parents with Jack’s insurance cards, vaccination record, and identification—plus I took copies with me.
  • Give your baby time to adjust. If the person isn’t normally around baby much, odds are they might flip out to suddenly be left with a stranger. If possible, have the person come a few days over and stay with you so the baby becomes familiar with them. Like I mentioned earlier, Jack didn’t seem to care I was even gone in the end because he was comfortable with my parents.
  • Leave enough supplies, where to get more supplies, and what to get.  It’s can be stressful to watch someone’s child, give them a break and leave them with everything they need so they aren’t running around town. I left plenty of breastmilk. And I left a can of formula in the event something happened to freezer stash. I also left plenty of diapers, wipes, shampoo, lotion, & etc. I also told her all the brands we use and where should could go get more. For example, Pampers are the only diapers that fit  Little Mr. Fatty’s thighs well enough to prevent blow-outs. I would hate for my mom to buy Luvs and her end up washing poop off everything. Likewise, Jack has never had formula before, the brand I have is designed for breastfed babies. If she bought another brand, he might get sick and not eat it. And that formula is only sold at Babies ‘R’ Us around here so I wouldn’t want her to waste time and money going to a store that doesn’t carry it. Or her buying a brand that he won’t eat.
  • Have regular check-ins. My mom sent me updates and photos every couple hours to reassure me everything was okay. It calmed my nerves and it made me happy to know he was still happy. How can a mom expect to have fun if she doesn’t know her baby is happy!
  • If you are breastfeeding, figure out how pumping before you go. I tried to pump as close to Jack’s normal nursing schedule as possible, in order to milk my established supply stable. If this is not possible, make sure you pump at least every 2-3 hours during the day. And if you miss a few sessions, nothing will happen. Especially if you skip it because you are getting some much needed sleep! I suggest bringing an electric and manual pump since you never know what might happen during traveling. And bring more storage bags than you think you need just in case. Also, consider what you want to do with the milk afterwards. I suggest donating if you don’t need the extra. But if you do, make sure you keep it cold. Bring a cooler and buy enough ice to get it home.You can even pack on dry ice to keep it frozen if you like. If you are flying, you can carry breastmilk on a plane (even in a giant cooler). Look up the current laws first and make sure you declare it to the TSA agent at security.
  • It’s okay to worry. You are leaving your tiny little love behind, it’s okay to worry and be upset! You can even cry as you drive away. You are this little person’s whole world and you spend every waking minute caring for them, you are supposed to miss them like crazy! But take assurance knowing you little one will be loved and cared for, and enjoy your small break from the stresses of parenthood (and get some sleep!)

The End of Sleep Regression

A month ago I posted about how we were dealing with the evil four-month sleep regression. At the time we were right at the peak of it. The night after I posted that was Jack’s worst by far. It took over an hour to get him to close his eyes. He just kept screaming and making himself more overtired. Then once I finally thought he was asleep and set him down, he woke right back up. Another 45 minutes of frantic nursing and crying, he finally passed out and stayed asleep when I set him down. Then he woke-up every hour for the rest of the night. At 4 AM I went out the living room and cried out of exhaustion. And of course, once I got myself together and went back to the bedroom,  Jack woke right back up! At that point I put him in bed with us, but it didn’t help. He still woke up every hour until 8 AM when he decided to be up for good. I wanted to die. And naps weren’t any better that day. He screamed and nursed frantically. And when he did finally go to sleep, I couldn’t set him down and he only slept for 15 minutes in my arms. And he did this every 2 hours. I called out sick from work that day because I couldn’t function properly.

“It’s 10 PM? You want to go to sleep? That’s nice. I’m WIDE awake!”

After that night, it slowly got better. And I mean slowly. Like another month slowly. That’s right, it took a whole 56 days for Jack to sleep through the night again. What’s weird is everything went back to normal in reverse order, like he magically hit the rewind button. First, he started to go down easily for naps. Then his naps went back to the normal 30-90 minutes. Next, he started waking only every 2 hours at night. Then 3 hours. Suddenly he went to sleep easily at night. Lastly, he went back to his normal 5-6 hour stretch, followed by two more 3 hours stretches. It’s just like all the books said, he did go back to normal once he learned how to handle the adult sleep cycles. Last night I officially declared the regression over. I got 8 hours of sleep total and it felt amazing!

So what is my advice to any parent struggling through this hell? Do nothing. Seriously. Just keep your baby’s normal routine (being flexible as needed) and understand that neither you nor your baby can control this. If it worked before, it will work again once your child brain develops enough. I know you were probably wanting to hear that I did some magic sleep training program to get him back on track quickly. But I don’t believe in sleep training, I honestly think it’s mean. Why would you force your baby into something that they are not designed to do yet?  I think the time and energy you waste on forcing strict training on your child should be used to comfort and encourage them during such big mental leaps instead.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to help your child master the skill of sleeping better (note I said better, not prefect).

  • Have a bedtime routine. That way they begin to recognize a pattern of events that lead up to sleep. We do bath, lotion massage, pajamas while calmly talking/singing, nurse on the couch with all the lights out until he’s asleep. He’s learned this pattern now too, he starts giving me the milk face while I put his pajamas on.
  • Put them to sleep in a dark, calm room. Turn off the lights (we leave a night light on so I can see him when he fusses). Make sure there is no loud noises that could startle them (loud neighbors outside,  noisy dishwasher, & etc.). Keep the room at a decent cool temperature. Use a white noise machine if you like too (we use a box fan). Pretty much remove all outside stimulation that could keep your baby awake if they do happen to open there eyes for second.
  • Lay them down drowsy. This encourages them to put themselves to back to sleep when they wake-up at night. I know I said I nurse him to sleep, but the walk to the bedroom usually wakes him a little. He wiggles and opens his eyes a bit as I set him down. I usually step out out of his view and watch to make sure he goes to sleep. Ninety-nine percent of the time he does instantly.
  • Learn the difference between real and fake cries. When Jack was in the middle of his sleep regression, I notice sometimes when I picked him up when he cried, he would forcefully open his eyes and start screaming. Then he would throw a tantrum and it would take an hour to put him back to sleep. After a week of this, I research it and realized he was not actually awake when he cried. Babies—especially when in a sleep regression–cry in their sleep if they are dreaming or in between sleep cycles. I picked him up too soon. I would scream too if someone woke me up from a sound sleep! So one night when he cried I sat-up and watch him for a second. He kept his eyes closed and his hands stayed soft. He cried for maybe 2 minutes tops, but it wasn’t loud, more like a fuss. Then he went right back to sleep and slept 3 more hours. Later he cried again, but this time his eyes were open and he reached out for me. Then I picked him up, nursed him, and he went back to sleep in 5 minutes. If they are really crying, always comfort them. I do not believe in letting them cry-it-out. A baby under 6 months does not have the mental capacity to manipulate you, they only cry when they need something. And yes, attention and reassurance at this age are basic needs.
  • Don’t change your comforting methods. If you start something new during this time, they will get used to it and want you to keep doing it after the regression is over. For example, if you never sat on yoga ball and bounced them back to sleep before, don’t start doing it “just for now” to get them to sleep quicker. It will become a new crutch that you will always have to do at 3 AM.. Do you really want to bounce on a yoga ball at that ungodly hour for the next year? Didn’t think so. I kept on picking Jack up and nursing him back to sleep. If he was really fussy, I patted him bottom and shushed. If he really wasn’t having it, Michael would turn on his calming music and I would gently rock him. But these were the things I had done since birth. The only difference was I had to do them for longer. Now that he is back to normal, I went back to doing them normally too. No crazy sleep crutches at 3 AM.
  • Walk away if you reach the breaking point. It’s okay if you get too stressed out from lack of sleep, you don’t have to be prefect. One night I went to bed right when Jack did because I was exhausted, and of course he woke up as soon as my head hit the pillow. I tried for an hour to put him back to sleep but he was WIDE awake. I carried him to the living room crying and told Michael he had to take him. I went to sleep for three hours while Michael tried in vain to get him back down. I woke up at midnight and nursed him back to sleep. He still woke up every hour after that, but with a little sleep I gained some composure and prescriptive. Remember they are not torturing you, they are just learning a new skill and need your help mastering it.
Woke-up with his cute face after 9 hours of sleep.
It does get better, just be patience.

Just be patience. Seriously, this will not last forever. One day your baby will be leaving for college and all you will have are the memories of rocking them back to sleep at 3 AM.  Don’t over stress and make those long nights more painful than they need to be. Keep loving your baby and help them through this phase.

The Thing I Said I Would Never Do: Co-sleeping

I’ve mentioned before on here how I was trying to avoid co-sleeping—sharing a bed with the baby. I know that humans have done it for centuries and that many cultures around the world still do. My parents and my in-laws did it too. I even read about how to do it safely. But it really did not sound like it was for me. I am very particular about my sleep because I struggled with insomnia in the past. Plus, it just seemed so weird. I wanted to share my bed with my husband, not our child. I brought it up to Michael and he said he will do whatever makes me happy. So agreed Jack would sleep in his own bed every night.

Clockwise: On the monitor in his crib, on the monitor in
the bassinet, in his pack n play, and in his swing.

We bought Jack a lovely crib and fixed up the bassinet Michael used as baby. We also bought a Pack n Play for when we visit family and friends. And we got a swing second-hand from a friend. Jack had plenty of places to sleep, no need to even give co-sleeping a second thought. When Jack was born, he was pretty willing to sleep anywhere.

At the hospital, he was so tired it was like talking to a zombie.

We started putting him in his crib at first, but getting up 10 times a night got old fast. What we didn’t consider is that babies wake-up every 2-3 hours to nurse at night. And sometimes, even every 45 minutes. And we didn’t realize how exhausted we would be from the whole birth experience. Do you know how much it sucks to get up every hour when you are still sore from pushing a baby out? Do you know your husband will be a zombie from not being able to sleep much at the hospital? That went on for about a week before we decided to try something else.

Then we tired putting him in the crib for the first part of the night when he slept the longest, then after I nursed him sitting up in put bed and I put him in the bassinet next to me. So when he woke up again, all I had to do was reach over and pick him. It was so much easier, but we still weren’t getting enough good sleep some nights.

One day three weeks postpartum, I woke up very very sore. It hurt to sit up to nurse him. My mom mentioned to me that she loved nursing laying down because she could rest. So I laid him next to me on the couch and nursed him. He fell right asleep and stayed asleep next to me while I watched TV for 3 hours. It was great!

“I look like I’m sound asleep, but put me down and I will SCREAM!”

The next Monday Michael had to go back to work, meaning it was Jack and I alone for the first time. I was still tired and sore, so of course Jack decided he only wanted to sleep in my arms. I thought maybe I could just lay down with him in the twin bed in the nursery for a bit? So we tried and both went asleep easily. Two hours later we woke up very happy.

Right before he woke up from our first long nap together, so cute.

I talked to my mom about it and said explained again that it really was the only way she got any sleep in the beginning. But I was so worried about SIDS or him suffocating. She said that yes, tragic accidents do happen but she did it with me—and I am still alive. The next day I decided to try again with his afternoon nap, but this time in our queen-sized bed.The next thing I knew Michael was walking in the door and we had been asleep for 4 hours! Jack had even latch himself on my breast in his sleep. I remember pulling him in closer instinctively, then going back to sleep.

So I thought about it some more and realized maybe I had demonized co-sleeping for no reason. The concerns I had before mostly vanished. Once I got over the initial worry,  I actually slept great. And I didn’t need to get up every hour because Jack was right there. He would either fuss and I pulled him to my breast, or he would just latch himself on. Then he went right back to sleep. And he could stay latched as long as he needed and I could go back to sleep. And I naturally adjusted to having him in the bed and didn’t mind sleeping on my side.

I talked to Michael about it and he said he was willing to try whatever we needed to get some more sleep. But he was concerned about somethings. So we did more research and we came to an agreement. We would not co-sleep the first part of the night because we did want Jack to learn how to sleep on his own. And we agreed we would not co-sleep every night. And we would follow the rules every time he did sleep with us.

We didn’t  try sleeping together as a family until a week later. Jack got his 2 months shots and just conked out after. Michael and I were tired too, so we decided to try a family nap. We took all the heavy blankets off the bed. Michael and I only had a light sheet tucked-in around our waists. I laid down with Jack, then Michael got in. Soon we were all fast asleep. Three hour later we all woke up very happy.

They were so cute, I just had to take a picture.

Co-sleeping on occasion is a great choice for our family. Now we only put Jack in bed with us if he’s fussy and it’s still too early to get up for the day, like around 5 or 6 AM. And he and I take naps together a few times a week too. Not only is it so much easier, but it’s so beautiful. When I open my eyes to see my boys laying in the same position with the same happy looks on their faces, my heart melts. And Michael loves coming home to see us snuggled up together. Looking back at my own childhood, I think about those Sunday morning where my brother and I jumped into bed with my parents for snuggles and I can’t believe I ever denied co-sleeping.

All that being said, before you dive into co-sleeping, please do some research and make sure it is right for your family. Sharing your bed with your baby isn’t for everyone, so please discuss it thoroughly with your partner and take all factors into consideration first. The information I got from my local La Leche League was the most helpful. Please scour the internet, there is tons of info.

Resources on co-sleeping:
Sleep-Sharing: The Family Bed, Baby Center
Pros & Cons of Co-Sleeping, What To Expect
Sharing Sleep With Babies: The Benefits of Nighttime Slumbers, La Leche League
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, American Academy of Pediatrics
Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing, Kellymom
Safe Co-Sleeping Habits, Ask Dr. Sears

Dealing With Sleep Regression

It happened so suddenly and quickly snowballed. From about 3 weeks-old, Jack had slept through the night. Maybe twice a week waking at 4 AM to nurse, but usually sleeping right till 7 or 8 AM. And he would take three 2-3 hour naps each day too. I did very very light “sleep training”, if you ever want to call it that, but he was just naturally a good sleeper. It was a dream come true! Then one night it all vanished.

It all started three weeks ago. The first few days he just woke up one extra time a night to nurse. Then in a few days it went to twice. Then before I knew it he was waking up every two hours. Then nap time went out the window, only 30 minutes at a time. Then he became insanely fussy at bedtime and it would take over an hour to get him asleep. Needles to say I am exhausted and frustrated. Did I mention that I started back at work this week too? Such fun.
This is the last good night of sleep we got three weeks ago.
He woke up at 7 AM and we put him in bed with us until 9:30!
Jack is in what is known as the four month sleep regression. It can happen anytime around 3-5 months though. I knew it could happen and I did some research on it. But let me tell you, I didn’t think it would get this bad. He didn’t even act like when he was a newborn! It sucks, really really sucks. However, because I did my research I know it should not last forever.
Now he only wants to sleep in my arms during the day.
don’t mind short term, but it would be nice to clean my house…
So what is the evil sleep regression? Essentially Jack is learning how to sleep like an adult. Before this he slept like he did in the womb, one basic sleep cycle. He didn’t need to recharge any of his major systems because he wasn’t really using them. Now that he is bigger and doing bigger things, he needs to have deep REM and non-REM cycles like adults. But unlike adults, he has not learned how to sleep through these cycles yet so he wakes every 45-90 minutes. Also during this time Jack is undergoing a major growth spurt and a mental leap. That’s a lot of stuff for a little guy to go through, no wonder he’s having a hard time sleeping and wants more milk! However, once it’s over, he should return to normal. I can’t wait for that day.
But for your amusement and because I was bored when afternoon while he slept in my arms…
 
 Four Stages of Grief For Sleep Regression:
Stage 1.) You deny it’s happening. He’s just having a bad night…for the past 2 weeks. He’ll be fine tomorrow night. He will take a good nap this afternoon too.This isn’t sleep regression, it’s just a growth spurt!

Stage 2.) You get angry and blame everyone. Your husband has the TV too loud so you ban him from it. The neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking so you yell out the window for it to shut up. The house is too hot so you call the AC repairman demanding he come out today. The room is too bright, the sun must be imploded! You think you are a bad mother and just cry. 

Stage 3.) You plead with your LO. You will give him anything or do anything if he just goes to sleep. You want to co-sleep, will that make you happy? How about a new sleep sack, we can get one with owls on it! More milk before bed? You want a puppy? A Porche on your 16th birthday? You want me to stand on my head? Daddy will sing all night long for you, please just sleep! 

Stage 4.) After some research, talks with your mom, consulting the online forums and calls to you doctor, you finally accept it. Your sweet little angel is in the middle his first sleep regression. You hope it will be over soon and you just pray you keep your sanity till then.

The Nursery: The Crib

I had no idea cribs were so complicated. Do you want changer combo or a standard crib? A convertible one? What color? How big of slots? Does it have stationary or drop sides? What is the maximum mattress height? Wood, metal, or plastic? Do you want to skip a crib, and do a bassinet or pack n’ play instead?

After some research (links provided below), I figured out what I wanted. We have a bassinet that my in-laws used for all of their kids that is still in great condition. We want to use that while he is really little so he can be right next to our bed. But we still wanted a crib in the nursery for when he got older. We wanted it to be wood, to match the baseball theme. Also, we wanted it to be lighter in color like a baseball bat—but not too boyish so if we had a girl in a few years it wouldn’t match girly stuff. I wanted it to have stationary sides so he can’t hurt himself he if climbs out. Because the room is small, I liked the crib/change combos to save space.

Once we figured all that out, we were in for major sticker shock. Cribs are so freaking expensive! We fell in love with one from Pottery Barn Kids, but it was $849! So I began looking for good deals. I quickly came across ones for around $100, but they were unstable and usually all plastic. I wanted something inexpensive, but still good quality. Then Babies R Us started discounting the 2013 model cribs at the end of the year and I found what I was looking for!

source

The Delta Houston Crib and Changer in Cinnamon. We had looked at a similar model in darker finish at the store a few weeks earlier and liked it. We didn’t get it because the price was too high though. This one seemed perfect—crib/changer combo, in a light color, stationary sides, and can convert into a toddle bed/bed frame later. And it was only $299!

He opened the beer seconds before
I asked him to assemble the crib.

My husband assembled it one night after work, with some help from his sister and brother-in-law. It wasn’t that complicated, but the instructions were kind of vague and hard to follow at first.” Insert HH into C. Then insert C into D”….yeah because that totally makes sense…

All ready for baby now!

Obviously I can’t fully review it yet since Jack isn’t born yet. But it appears to be very sturdy (Michael gave it some good shakes and it hardly budged). My only minor complaint so far it already has a scratch on it. It happened during assembly, Michael leaned it against the bed and it slid down slowly until it hit the floor. Nothing major, but kind of annoying to happen so quickly. I like the two storage drawers and three side storage shelves a lot. The larger top shelf fits a good amount of diapers and wipes.

I would also like to comment on the crib bumpers. I know no bumpers at all are recommended, but I babysat for a little boy who got his leg stuck and badly bruise when he was only a few months old. It was awful. I know odds are that most kids will never get their body parts stuck in the crib, but I don’t want to risk it. The ones on his crib are mesh and very light weight. And I know you can breathe through them because while I was fixing them one day  my cat wrapped herself up in it tight and totally covered her head. I panicked thinking she was going to suffocate, but as I picked her up I could see her nose smashed against the mesh breathing comfortably. I will remove the bumpers when he gets bigger and will be able to take them off himself though.

Links on how to select a crib:
How to Buy a Crib, Baby Center
How to Pick a Crib For Baby, My Mommy Manual
Baby Crib Buying Guide, About.com