Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Held Baby

So that's me.  And that's Theodore.  Just a few days shy of 2 months old, being carried up to his crib ready for bed after being fed to the point of being drunk with milk.  I could have switched shoulders, shifted up or down on my body.. probably could have even dropped him and he would stay sleeping.  (but no, we don't drop babies in this house).
At this point in time, Theo was sleeping roughly 4.5-5.5 hours (a few times he did 6!) every night in his crib, swaddled.  He would then wake, and feed for about an hour.. and then be put down again, swaddled, and would give us another 2-4 hours in his crib.  We thought we had it bad.  We thought Theo should be sleeping better for the second half of the night.  We were constantly getting up and trying to comfort him at 4 in the morning so we could all get a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep.  He was always so gassy, and grunty during that second half.  We thought we needed to do a, b, or c to improve upon our nights.  We thought the feed should last 20 minutes, and back to bed he should go, with little effort.  We thought it could be so.much.better in how we all were getting our rest.
Well... if we only knew then how good we had it.  What I wouldn't do for 4.5 solid hours of sleep these days.  Oye.
I don't know the exact week when things started to change... but I'll go back a bit to see if I can put some of the pieces together.
We were having a few issues with breastfeeding after the 1 month mark. 
(And by few issues I mean extreme pain, burning, itching, shooting stabbing pains going through my breasts after feeds.  I'll spare you all the details and sum it up.  Poor latch.  Vaso spasms.  A Clamping little mouth.  Compressed nipples.  Lazy baby.  Frustrated baby.  Impatient Mom.  Emotional Mom.  At-her-wits-end Mom.  Slight tongue tie for Theo.  Removed.  Everything got worse.  SO MANY LC APPOINTMENTS.  House visit from LC/RN.  A few hundred dollars later, and a shitload of good advice = breastfeeding problems fixed.)
But it was around the 8 week mark when we had that LC visit us at home, and she discussed everything from feedings to sleeping to temperament.  And we mentioned to her that Theo had lost his ability to sleep on his own for day time naps.  He would get put down... and if not within a few minutes, he would wake within 20-40 minutes and just be over tired and cranky... and a be eye tee see aych to put down there after.  So we were always on the couch, very still, for hours at a time while this kid napped.
She had 2 words of advice.  "WEAR HIM".
She was a bit of a hippy herself, and said that her approach with babies is always very common sense.  If a baby wants to be held, you hold him.  If they want to eat, you feed them.  If they want to be put to sleep, you do what it takes to get them to sleep.  Rocking, singing, shushing or alternatively, you wear them.  She was in her late 40's/early 50's and had 2 girls of her own.  She told us her second daughter pretty much lived on her for the better part of her first 2 years.  Her first, she could put her down anywhere, and she'd stay put.  Every baby is different, and it's our job as parents to read their cues, and accommodate their needs.
I get it.  I'm sooo for that.
But Theo doesn't sleep on his own now.  EVER.  And we are a mess in this house. 
After that LC appointment, breastfeeding got better within a few days... and I had a few carriers and slings just waiting to be used... so I started wearing Theo around the house for his day time naps.  At this point, I was already doing 2/3 daytimes naps with Theo in my arms.  So I tired wearing him to see if I wouldn't feed so trapped every time a nap was in the cue.  In Theory, this would mean I could eat, go to the washroom and putter around the house doing simple tasks (or at least that's what our LC told us baby wearing would equal) and Theodore would stay sleeping in the wrap and get whatever rest he needed.  After a few naps I realized that even though I wasn't exclusively couch bound when Theo napped... I wasn't that much better off in wearing him.  He woke easily, and as the days and weeks passed... it just got easier to stay put and rest with him on the couch so he could get his sleep.
And I don't know when exactly it happened.  But Theo started waking at night after being put down to sleep after 1-2.5 hours.  The first few nights, we were shocked and amazed and tried to analyze everything from room temperature to the tightness of the swaddle to outside noises... and after about a week's time, we were mortified (strong word, I know) that he was continuing to wake after just a few hours.  Teething was the issue - or at least we are saying so - but there seems to be no end in his behavior in sight. 
To give me a break, at the 2-3 hour mark when Theo wakes, Daniel gets up and rocks him back to sleep... and in recent night has continued to hold him until the 4-5 hour mark from the last feed would roll around, and he would then hand him off to me to eat. 
Because of my absolute sheer exhaustion, I've decided to co-sleep.  After feeding, I would just slide Theo off my lap into the bed next to me... and try to get some rest myself.  Re-swaddling or placing in the crib has resulted in a baby waking up every 20-40 minutes...IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. 
After the first few nights, every time Theo would stir (usually around the hour mark of his sleep) I'd just pull my boob our and nurse him a bit.  He usually wouldn't even drink, and just needed to pacify.  Horrible strategy?  Probably.  But after just a few intervals of 10-30 minutes of rest in a 4 hour timeframe, it's all I had left in me to do. 
I've gotten a bit better at co-sleeping.  I'm able to fall asleep faster and cash in on the precious minutes Theo stays sleeping next to me.  But he's still such a poor sleeper. 
For the past few weeks, our nights pretty much go like this:
- 7-7:30pm Theo gets a bath
- 7:30-8:30pm Theo eats until his hearts content - or until he falls asleep
- 8:30-9pm Theo gets put down in the crib, swaddled (WE HAVE TO START WEENING BUT ARE SO TERRIFIED WE WONT GET ANY SLEEP OF OUR OWN.  But at this point, what have we got to lose??)
- Anytime between 11:30pm-1am... Theo wakes.  Daniel gets him back to sleep again with a few laps around the bed and light humming.
- sometime between 1:45-3am Theo gets handed off to me to eat.
- He feeds while sleeping for about 15-25 minutes.  He no longer poo's in the middle of the night feed (yay!) so no diaper change needed.
- Anywhere between 1:45am-3:30am, Theo is put next to me and I do my best to get comfortable and we sleep.
- Within an hour-2 hours... Theo is stirring to the point where I'm awake, and will soon wake himself.
I scoop him up and put him on my chest.  He falls asleep again for about an hour.  I try to cat nap, but continuously have to pat his bum to keep him asleep every 10-20 minutes (if not every 2-5 minutes).
- By 5:30am, I just cant take it anymore... I feed him again, and pass him off to Daniel to take downstairs.
- From 6am-8am... I get the best quality sleep of the entire night.  Sometimes it lasts until 9am.  During these hours, Daniel is downstairs with Theodore.  He's usually propped up on the couch with Theo on his chest.  Theo usually needs a lot of assistance to stay sleeping during these hours.  Daniel says he sleeps... but the bags under his eyes tells me he does not. 
So yeah, we have totally REGRESSED with sleep.  Or Theo has.  Or we have let him.  5.5 hours + 1 hour feed + another 2-3 hours sounds HEAVENLY right now. 
Theodore is roughly 4 and half months old, and we fell off the rails with sleep around 2 and a half months old.  People could say it was his shots (which he got at 11 weeks old) that changed his sleep... but we were noticing his sleep abilities change around 9-10 weeks.  The vaccinations, in my opinion, made no difference in Theo's temperament or sleeping abilities. 
Everyone we know who has had babies are telling us it's his teeth.  He's been a drooling fool since about 7 weeks old.  But is this how it's going to be forever until he's done with teething?  Or when the first tooth cuts, will it get better? 
People have said to try a pacifier.  We did.  Theo doesn't really take it unless he's in his car seat. 
I am welcoming all advice.  If you have a baby that sleeps well, tell me about your friend who has a baby that does not sleep and what they did to survive.
I was talking with my godmother the other week, and I told her I just couldn't imagine wanting another baby, ever.  I just cant do this again with sleep.  And I asked her how on earth does anyone want to have more children so soon after having a baby when I can only imagine you're more so under slept with the second?  And she said, "Veronica, some babies sleep better than others.  You're not doing anything wrong, you just have one of those babies."  (My godmother had one of those babies too... and she said the only thing that saved them was when her daughter started solid foods.)
But I do feel we're doing something wrong.  I do feel we are molding Theodore's sleep abilities the wrong way. 
Do we "cry it out"?  But isn't he way to young?  But if we do CIO, isn't there a better way to survive as we wait for the 6 month mark?  And does sleep training work for all babies?
Theodore has been exclusively breastfed since birth.  I've had people *coughs*Daniel's mother*coughs* suggest we try a few ounces of formula before bed.  In which Daniel responded, "he's not a science experiment!"  I agree.  I'm not against formula in any way, but I don't feel that's the answer.  Because you know what else would work?  Whisky.  But I don't think that's the answer either. 
(NOTE:  I AM NOT SAYING FORMULA IS A BAD CHOICE IN ANY REGARD!!  I just don't want to interrupt his method of feeding because of sleep issues.)
For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures of "The Held Baby"  Aka, Theodore. 
Don't get me wrong... I love love love this kid, and love holding him while he sleeps.  But Life is changing, and Sleep is getting worse for all of us.  And lazy days on the couch are not so lazy when I'm spending the better part of my awake time trying to get him to sleep.


When Theo was just a wee babe - 2 months old.

Before I knew how much sleep-holding I would actually be doing!

Sometimes, guests come over. 
And if Theo allows it, they can do a holding shift here and there!!
Dan's mom
My mom

Theodore living it up on Dad

chewing his hand off to sleep

Thank goodness for the iPad!
Thankfully on Daniel's days off, he does all the holding.  So on days like today, I can blog!


  1. This sounds exactly like our daughter! I didn't know what else to try but I could not go any longer nursing her back to sleep every hour or so all night long. She also would not nap during the day and was constantly tired and cranky. Finally, at 5 months old, we did the sleep sense program. I never thought I would be able to let my baby cry it out, especially after losing my first at 31 weeks. I had a lot of guilt, but something had to change and it ended up being the best thing we ever did for her. She sleeps through the night and is so much happier now. She is now 14 months old. We still have difficulty with naps, but she takes at least one good one a day. I highly recommend this, if you can make it through a few rough weeks with lots of crying and mommy guilt.

  2. I honestly don't remember how well or poor Finn slept prior to 6 months. It didn't scar me so I don't think it was too bad, but I do remember him getting up often. We let him cry it out at 6 months old. I don't regret that. But that's also because in less than a week he was sleeping though the night and for that week when he was left to cry, he gave up after maybe 15 min. So I don't think we had it too bad and hope that if you do go the CIO method that it's successful. But before you get to that point? I don't have much advice but agree that I doubt formula will really change things. Maybe it will, but maybe your godmother is just spot on.

    I wish I could take a shift holding him .


  3. Oh my, what a lovebug! I don't have much advice either. Bode still wakes a few times each night, but the difference is that I can nurse him and then put him back down. I do sleep with him sometimes, especially in the early morning and it is so sweet, but not very good sleep for me.

    I think Bode goes in spurts of being a better sleeper and then not so much. My SIL thinks her kids don't sleep as well and are more crabby when they are on the verge of a new developmental step and then once they master it (rolling, crawling, etc), they go back to being more content.

    The only time we really use CIO is for the first put down for naps and bedtime if he wakes while I'm transitioning him. He nurses to sleep and then often will transition and stay asleep, but if he wakes it is usually so obvious that he is super tired and will fall asleep on his own, but sometimes it takes 15 min or so and it is agonizing to hear him cry when I know he would stop the moment I pick him up. I don't like watching him flail around in bed, but the video monitor actually helps because I can see if he is rubbing his eyes and putting his head down and I know that he is just on the verge of sleep and I need to give him more time. I haven't tried letting him CIO when he wakes at night mostly because he is super skinny and eats really well in the middle of the night without distractions.

    I don't think formula would make a difference and you have worked SO hard on getting breastfeeding down that I would not give that up! I don't know if it will make a difference, but sometime in the coming weeks you could start cereal or oatmeal mixed with breastmilk. We didn't do that (B is not much for solids still so definitely no advice in that department), but I know people have had good luck with it.

    Good luck and hang in there!

  4. The lady at the bank said; my son didn't start sleeping long stretches until he was 3 months old! I was so tired!
    I rubbed my huge belly and thought; holy shit I will die if I don't sleep for 3 months.
    G fed every 2 hours at night until she was 10 months. My husband said; You go to bed at 11 and don't get up until 11, why are you so tired still?! You get more sleep than anyone I know!
    And then I beat him bloody and unconscious and buried him in the backyard.
    I'd put G down at 9, stay up and be a person with a baby not attached to her boob, feed her at 11 and go to bed. We'd do the every 2 hour thing all night long and about 6 J would get up with her and take her out to the living room to play. I would sleep 3 glorious hours and he'd bring her back into me where I would feed her again and we'd have what I called "cuddle naps". Her sleeping on my chest for another 2 hours. I'd finally get up at 11, get ready for the day, she'd have a 2nd nap in there somewhere on her own in her swing.
    You might want to look into digestion issues or something along those lines. G had silent GERD, where she'd spit up and swallow it back down, and after getting Previcid was helped considerably. I also put a well lined plastic car seat shaped seat in her bassinet for her to sleep in. Being elevated helped her sleep and discomfort ALOT. There's wedges you can buy to put in the cribs under the sheet. They're crap. Don't bother. She slept in that until 10 months when after sleeping in it in her crib we finally transitioned her out of it to sleep on the mattress.
    I don't know how people work, or socialize or be productive members of society the first year of their kid's life. Sincerely, for me, it was about survival, everything else was secondary. I wish you well.

    This is the seat I used, without all the bells and whistles of course. She hated it as a swing, but to sleep in still, she loved it. We bought a different swing that was wonderful, you may want to consider that, movement and elevated sleeping.