I don’t know why I thought parenthood would be much different from my past jobs in terms of progress. I know I’ve had a short run as far as the job world is concerned but all my jobs have been working with people that don’t change/improve quickly. Being a Catholic Worker, a case manager for Meals on Wheels, a high school teacher, and now a mother, I’ve learned to revel in small victories.
It’s such a weird thing that you have to teach babies how to sleep. As essential as water, sleep is such a biological necessity that you would think that babies would instinctively do it. Nope. Especially not the Squeaker. She has been a bad sleeper from day one.
From the day she was born, she would not sleep by herself or put herself to sleep. Those few nights in the hospital consisted of me and Kraft sleeping off and on an hour to hold her because every time we’d put her in the little bassinet, she would start wailing.
When we brought her home. Same thing. She would not stay asleep unless she was in someone’s arms. For the first three weeks of her life, we alternated between having her sleep on her diaper pad in our bed between me and Kraft and in our arms. I would take the 1-4am shift and Kraft would take the 4-7am shift. We realized quickly that we needed more sleep than this.
Then I figured out how to sleep on the couch sitting up propped up by pillows while holding her so that she wouldn’t roll off of me during the night. This lasted a couple more weeks.
Then I found that if I rocked her for a couple hours until she was soundly asleep I could lay her down on our couch and lay down next to her and she’d stay asleep for 30mins or so until I’d have to rock her to sleep again. This lasted about another month. (She was 3 months old at the end of this stage.)
Then I could rock her for a couple hours and lay her down (extremely carefully) in our bed and she would stay asleep maybe an hour at a time. Of course she would wake up at the slightest noise. A car alarm going off, people walking by the apartment and talking too loudly, a cat meowing, anything would wake her up. So there I would go again to the rocking chair for a few more hours until she was sound asleep. I got so sick of this rocking chair. Cracker Barrel sure can sell a sturdy, cheap rocking chair but man is it uncomfortable and hard on the back. There were some nights that I totally thought I was going to go crazy from rocking for hours then putting her down only to wake up 5 minutes later.
One night out of sheer desperation I swaddled her. She had fought this like a fiend before this point. She would scream as if we were killing her when we had tried the swaddle previously. But magically this time, she was fine. In fact, she slept like 4 hours straight. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Between 3.5 and 4.5 months she started sleeping super well. She was sleeping about 5 hours stretches at night in a swaddle.
Then she started learning how to break out of the swaddle and by 5 months we couldn’t do it anymore. Damn. After coming to hate rocking O to sleep, I figured out how to nurse her to sleep lying down in our bed and then sneaking away when she was asleep. This still took forever but at least I could lay down during it and rest while trying to get her asleep. Now, of course, she cannot fall asleep unless she is nursing. She won’t even fall asleep rocking anymore, which while I hated rocking before, now means that Kraft cannot help with putting her to sleep. Damn, again.
For the last month we’ve been following Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Sleep Solution techniques to wean O from having to nurse to sleep. Pantley said it would be a gradual weaning and, man, it sure is. Here we are one month later and we have made very little progress in that department.
However, yesterday was a glorious day. It took two hours to get O to finally fall asleep around 9pm. She did not wake up until 3:30am, at all. I kept going in to make sure she was still breathing because it was so unbelievable. Of course tonight she woke up 5 times in 4 hours but that is neither here nor there. She slept six and a half hours yesterday without waking up.