Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Naps, nursing, and new plans

Let's talk naps, before the last few weeks disappear into a sleepy fog.

At some point, I read that a repetitive movement of approximately ten centimetres per second will lull a baby to sleep, and this is the principle behind rockers and swings. Well, it works with exercise balls, too (the big bouncy kind, not the heavy weight-training kind), and for a little while, I was getting Oliver to sleep with a moderate to vigorous bounce for five to ten minutes. It worked like a charm, although I worried sometimes that I was bouncing him a little too vigorously—besides the strain it was placing on my back! Anyway, it doesn't seem to have done him any physical harm.

According to Dana Obleman (The Sleep Sense Program), up to three months, a newborn shouldn't really be awake for more than an hour at a time. This makes sense, since babies of that age are supposed to sleep sixteen to twenty hours a day. Of course, Oliver had (and perhaps has) very seldom met that standard, but he does generally show the signs of tiredness after being awake for forty-five minutes to an hour: rubbing his eyes, yawning, saying "owh", droopy eyes, distant stares. (But he'd never just, you know, fall asleep.) So we were trying that out. Danijela would nurse him, he'd have a bit of play time, and then I'd bounce him to sleep and put him down in the swing. It was working fairly well, although we didn't make any record of how well or how long he napped at that time.

Like most other sleep consultants, Obleman also recommends making sure babies are awake when you put them down to sleep, which we had achieved at night, but attempted only accidentally during the day. Also, eliminating sleep props. So that was our next step. After our success at night, we figured the same strategy would work for naps. But we would implement it gradually. We moved the ball from the living room into the nursery, and gradually reduced the bouncing from Colombian mountain road to average Toronto road to calm lake. Around this time, we also found some experts believe sleep in motion or not fully reclined (i.e., in a swing, car seat, carrier, &c.) doesn't offer the same restfulness as regular sleep, so we decided to stop putting him in the swing right away. Instead, we brought his bassinet up from our room each day for naps. I also sang to him and patted his back. Then I would put him down in his bassinet when I saw he was having trouble keeping his eyes open, and usually he would go to sleep.

A few times, I had the very great pleasure of just watching him as he slowly nodded off. He lay there peacefully, lightly stirring, like he just knew what to do. That felt good. Other times were not so pleasant. Despite being clearly tired, he would often fight sleep, and soon, he started crying directly I put him down, if not before, despite my concerted efforts to calm him with gentle rubs and pats and song. Oof. Our plan wasn't working.

I could go into greater detail, but I'm starting to bore myself, especially when there is so much more exciting stuff going on! I almost feel like I shouldn't even be mentioning all of this stuff, like it makes us seem hyper-(re)active and hyper-stressed. Is this how kids get hyperactive? But let me just get round to the end of this tale. It gets better.

Danijela has found a local sleep consultant, Debbie Fazio, who holds regular free "clinics" on Facebook where parents can ask questions about their kids' difficulties. Around eight weeks, after Oliver had had a week-long growth spurt, he would no longer sleep at night for more than three hours at a time (when he had for the previous two weeks been doing well with regular six-hour stretches). So our first question was about why this might be happening and what we could do about it. The consultant suggested that such growth often ends with the baby needing more food, so we did. We must have just tried to feed him more often, although I don't remember exactly. Things improved a little, but were definitely spotty. We kept following the clinics and got some more good information from others' questions.

The sleep consultant had recommended to friends that they feed their daughter not just after waking, but also before naps (but still put her down awake), and we decided that we would give it a try. I mean, we knew it would work, because when he's tired, nursing will certainly put him to sleep, but we thought he would learn to use nursing as a prop and need it to get to sleep. I guess there are different opinions about this practice, but for now whatever, it did work. So, for the past week or so, we've had no trouble putting him down for naps. He's even started to nap in his crib instead of the bassinet, which is decidedly too small for him now. I was starting to feel bad for him when he woke up during his naps and I'd check on him; even though we are still swaddling him, he looked uncomfortable, like he was struggling to move around.

The point is, we wanted to feed Oliver more, but were still having problems. He was losing his latch, being fussy while nursing, and getting a bit cranky, like he was early on. Back to the breastfeeding clinic we went, where we found out that Danijela was taking only a third of the recommended dose of domperidone, the milk-producing drug. Double-oof! For some reason, the pharmacy had written the wrong instructions on the bottle. Despite the prescription clearly stating 30 mg, three times daily, the bottle said 10 mg. It's amazing that things went as well as they did for as long as they did. The dose Danijela was taking was barely better than a placebo. Unfortunately, the stuff can take up to two weeks to kick in, so now we're waiting.

Here's the better part. With our new routine and arrangement (feeding before naps, in the crib), Oliver goes down easily, often sleeps longer, and with our help he will go back to sleep when he wakes mid-nap. All except for the late-afternoon nap, which is usually a real trial. Sometimes, it just works, sometimes it's a struggle, and sometimes, it just doesn't work. But we're more relaxed about it. I don't know how or why! Probably because we're not fighting to get him to sleep as much. Besides, he's pretty great, and so much has been happening! Since I'm about two weeks behind with my posts these days, though, you'll have to wait to hear about it all.


I'm hearing things in the white noise.

Everyone has a new name now. Danijela and I are mommy and daddy; my parents are grandma and grandpa; Danijela's parent's are baka and deda; our sisters are aunties or tetkas; Pippin is big brother. Talk about identity crises!

Did I mention that he naps in his crib (in his nursery)!? I am unreasonably excited about this. I hope it means he won't have any trouble sleeping there at night.

He reached seven kilograms (fifteen pounds, seven ounces) two weeks ago and stayed there for about a week, but I'm sure he's grown since. I don't know when we'll weigh him again, but he'll probably surpass eight kg by then. I continually forget to ask his height.

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