Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hard Day's Night

Yesterday I think I lost part of my mind. Seriously. I think I forget that babies have "bad days" just like we all have bad days, and I get so frustrated when Eli has one of those days because it messes up my plans. (Selfish, huh?) So, anyway, yesterday Eli did his usual wake-up-at-5:30am thing, but instead of going back to sleep he decided to stay awake until noon. Yes, NOON. That's 6 1/2 hours of awake time. And not only did he decide to stay awake, he decided to scream and cry the entire 6 1/2 hours. The only way I could comfort him was to hold him, which I don't mind for most of the time, but a girl's got to go to the bathroom! And drink coffee, being as I got almost no sleep the night before.

I hate getting so frustrated with Eli. He's so sweet and innocent- come on, he's a baby! But it's hard not to when I'm going on no sleep and when I've been listening to crying for hours and hours. I feel like I have no reserve to deal with "bad days." If I could get a good night's sleep I feel like I could have some energy to deal with days like yesterday, but it seems I'm always running on empty. I'm sure that's how every mom feels.

Plus there is so much conflict in information when it comes to getting a baby to sleep. One camp is the let-them-cry-it-out-even-if-it-takes-an-hour camp, and then the other camp is the pick-up-your-baby-when-he-cries-lest-you-scar-him-for-life camp. Of course many people fall somewhere in the middle. I was trying so hard to find some sort of good advice yesterday about how to get Eli to take a good nap in the morning, but it seems like everything I read just contradicted the article I previously read. I guess it boils down to knowing my child and knowing myself and trying to do what is best for both of us. Easier said than done. Plus he's a preemie, and everything is different with preemies. AAAAAHHHHH!

My plan of action today was to wake up super-cheerfully with Eli and make being awake fun and exciting, even at 5:30am. I would play with him for an hour and a half and then put him back to bed for a morning nap, going in to comfort him when he fussed but not picking him up, only talking to him and patting him. As hard as it was to muster a cheerful voice this morning, I did it. We talked and played and then he went to sleep for an hour. Only one hour. He refused to go back to sleep after that, despite my numerous comfort-and-talk-and-pat attempts. As soon as I'd leave the room he would scream. After a couple more hours of having him awake and playing with him, I put him back down. And he took a nap for only one more hour. RRRRR. Fortunately I can count on a good long afternoon nap from him, which is what he's doing now.

I am just praying that I can get him into a morning nap routine. And praying for the Lord's patience and grace, because I sure don't have much to give. And praying for good, wise advice from moms who have been where I'm at. I don't know what to do, what is best for him. Help! :)

On the bright side, I have one heck of a fabulous husband. He rushes home from work and takes over with the baby so I can take a nap or read a book or run an errand- he's wonderful.

And Eli is pretty wonderful too. He's "talking" so much now- making all kinds of fun little noises, and he is smiling more every day. He was lying on his play mat this morning babbling and smiling away at the little toys that hang down from it. I love listening to him and watching him. He's such a miracle. He weighs 7 pounds, 4 ounces this week- almost 5 pounds up from what he was at birth. I praise the Lord every day for sustaining our tiny little son through the first months of his life, and I rejoice in watching him continue to grow.


Kate Wilke said...

It sounds like the way you handled things today was right on track. With all of our boys we followed the Ferber Method ("Solve your child's sleep problems" by Richard Ferber) - which is exactly what you are doing. The only thing I would suggest is that everytime you put him down = make it the same. Change his diaper, then sit in your rocker and read him the same book everytime (I love "goodnight moon") before you lay him down for naps or bedtime. Lay him down in his crib and walk out of the room. If he cries - give him a few minutes, go back in and pat him, tell him "shhh... it's ok. night, night now," or something to that affect. Leave the room and wait. Each time after the first time that he cries - go back in, pat him but don't talk. The Ferber method is great and works like a charm. I swear by it. You have to be consistent with the schedule though. At night - give him a warm bath, bottle, change diaper, read book, put to bed. Everynight the same. We talked about this - babies thrive on schedules. Give him and yourself 3 days. By the 3rd day, I promise if you are consistent you will see change. You may be going in every 3 minutes, and sitting in a chair outside his door (b/c it's easier) - but it's one of those things where for those 3 days, don't make committments, don't have a to-do-list. If you have no plans - and your plans are all about him - it's easier to deal with the crying - even w/no sleep.

We did this w/Ben & Will and it was great. Something always happened that the boys schedules and nightime routines got messed up and we needed to get them back on track. The first day/night was always the worst. They would cry for like an hour and a half; the second night 45 minutes; the third 10 minutes and then the 4th - it was done. You may want to start this on Friday or Saturday so Eric is there to help you. It's better if you have backup : )

When letting him 'cry it out' you have to gage his cries. You are his mom, so you can tell the difference in his cries. Like I told you earlier - Andy cries alot more than Ben & Will did. But I also listen for his cries. I can tell when it's "i'm tired but I'm trying to manipulate you," and "I'm having a nightmare, I'm scared, something hurts or is wrong with me, come and get me." Once you figure that out - it makes it so much easier.

I have the book - I'll see if I can get it over there to you tomorrow or Friday.

In the meantime, I found this article about the Ferber method:

You are doing great. Be assured that all mom's struggle with what you do. I recommend teaching him sign language at 8 months old. We taught all 3 of our boys and it took the guesswork out of what was wrong. They were completely communicating by sign at a year old. Telling us if their tummy hurt, they were hungry, tired, needed a diaper change, wanted to go outside to play, etc. I have a kit that we used - I'll loan that to you as well. Signing with babies is great and definitely a must for first time parents. It helps your sanity.

Hang in there. I'm here if you have any questions or need an ear.

Love you,

Kate Wilke said...

P.S. Ask Eric about the signing - he saw it first hand with Ben. It definitely saved us.