Sleep Update

After posting about Sophie’s terrible sleep patterns, we decided we had to let her learn to put herself back to sleep on her own, whenever she wakes in the middle of the night. Apparently, according to all our sleep-books, everyone wakes every few hours at night. Most adults just toss their pillows, turn over, fall back asleep, and forget all about it by morning. Babies, on the other hand, yearn for whatever put them to sleep in the first place, which in Sophie’s case is usually rocking in the rocking-chair with me. She had to learn to put herself back to sleep like a big person. Getting up to soothe her six times in one night wasn’t doing any of us any good.

She is brilliant. We know this because, when she wakes at night and her crying doesn’t bring me running, she sometimes switches to giggling, to see if that will lure one of us. Then she tries her words: “Ma-maa, Ma-maaa, Ma-maa.” Usually, I hear her slowing down sleepily while she says that.

The real evidence of Sophie’s brilliance is that if she manages to stay awake, she’ll experiment, trying out other phrases that she thinks might lure one of us. “Daddy.” “Uh-oh. Uh-oh.” “Mamaa?” “Boo-boo. Baby boo-boo.” Baby Sophie is not actually experiencing a boo-boo injury or an uh-oh accident, of course. Sophie is simply cleverly attempting to see what words will best get our attention.

I had hoped for a clever daughter, but I’m already beginning to regret what I wished for.

We have stayed firm, for the past week, not going to her until we hear panic in her voice. And for six of the past seven nights, she has managed to make it through the night without us. Lately, her sheets aren’t even tangled in the morning. Lately, she doesn’t even stand up in her crib, just shifts, sighs a few gentle “Ma-maaa”s, and gets herself back to sleep. She wakes up in the morning more cheerful than ever.

Knock on wood. I hope this lasts.

The next step, I think, is weaning her from breast-feeding. I always insisted on not judging parents who breastfeed toddlers (up to 2 years, maybe two-and-a-half. Honestly, I did judge anyone who breast-fed a five-year-old, except in circumstances of dire emergency when there’s no other food available.) Anyway, Sophie is still a few months away from her second birthday, but I’m starting to want my body back to myself.

This evening, Sophie was playing with her Dad’s old cell-phone while breastfeeding, and, you see, that’s just a little weird. Picture it: a little person, pretending to talk on a cell-phone, but also sucking away, and occasionally accidentally banging that cell-phone on my bare chest. It’s just wrong, you see.

Maybe I’m secretly more judgemental than I thought I was. In any case, no longer breastfeeding Sophie in the middle of the night has been the first step. Second, I’ll stretch out the time between breastfeeding in the day. “Don’t offer, don’t refuse,” is the breastfeeder’s mantra for kids over age one, but not refusing with Sophie would mean feeding her every hour, sometimes — so I’m starting some gentle redirecting, giving her lots of other foods and other things to be interested in.

I think this will take some time to do gently, but it’s slightly less urgent than the sleep issues. For now, I can report, I have gotten to sleep through the night for almost a week. I accomplished more at work today than in a whole week of the sleep-deprived time. It feels good. I hope I haven’t jinxed it by posting about it here.

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2 responses to “Sleep Update

  1. Tracy

    I’m so happy for you! I didn’t know what advice to give because Finn sleeps with us and I also lay down with Meghan in her bed when she can’t sleep or she wakes at night. I know you didn’t want to do that but I didn’t know what else to suggest. Leaving Meghan alone in a crib never really worked for us. The closest we came was getting her to sleep while holding her and they laying her in the crib asleep. At 1 1/2 we gave her a futon bed because it was quicker to get her to sleep by laying next to her in the bed. As soon as she drifted off we could sneak away instead of holding her and waiting for her to be so soundly asleep we could transfer her. When she wakes at night, however, one of us still goes to her bed until she falls back to sleep. I don’t let her in my bed, because she’s a kicker and I can’t sleep with her there. She rarely wakes at night anymore, though, and neither does Finn unless he’s sick or teething. It’s really all about what works for each individual family. The best solution is the one where everyone gets the most sleep. I read that somewhere and it has stuck with me.

  2. Pingback: Headbanging « Elaine’s blog

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