Tigerlilly Quinn: A Sleep Update

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Sleep Update

You know how I said in this post things were getting a little better? It wasn't entirely a lie, things for me have got a little better. Tom and I have now implemented a routine, there is an hour 'winding down' period between 5.30ish and 6.30ish where I bath him before Tom gets home then we play with the toys in his bedroom a little before putting them all away and getting his jarmers on. Tom will then choose three books and I will nurse Wilf whilst he reads the first then we will take it in turns to read the following two. At this point I leave the room and start dinner/make myself a cup of tea and Tom will rock Wilf to sleep. 
Our sleep arrangement has changed (over the last month or so) Wilf's cot has been moved to his own room (for sometime in the future) and the futon mattress has been moved next to it on the floor. At the moment Wilf and I sleep on this but it is the plan that one day he will sleep on his own in the cot. The next stage of this will be removing the side of the cot to be level with the mattress and encouraging Wilf  to sleep on that side to familiarise himself with the cot. My only concern here being that this may take so long he will no longer need a cot! I know friends of mine who's 14 month olds sleep in their own 'big bed'..but hey this is the least of our problems at the moment and we can address this at a later stage.
The new routine is working well in that it takes the pressure off me a lot. Nursing no longer sends him to sleep (unless he is knackered) which has been a blessing in that now Tom can step in where he just couldn't before. Wilf will go to sleep much faster being rocked by Tom than if I attempt it and so the first stage of bedtime is now soley Tom's job. I know T is just happy he can help and I think the fact that Wilf responds to him putting him to sleep better than if I try is great in that there is something he now does a lot better than me (where as before a lot of things were simply resolved with breastfeeding).
All of which would be fantastic if he slept for longer than 45 minutes at a go, which he doesn't. I know babies sleep cycles are 45minutes long but its quite remarkable how with Wilf this is true to the exact minute, no more, no less. Essentially we know that the issue is not that he is hungry or being woken up by anything as such it is simply that when his sleep cycle ends he just doesn't know how to get himself back to sleep without us helping him. At times I feel ok with this, 45 minutes is better than nothing and he will go back to sleep with 5/10 minutes (usually) but lately its been taking its toll. We are both utterly exhausted and desperate for a solution that goes with the way we want to parent. 
Here's the thing, I am finding it hard to come to terms with the idea that me needing sleep doesn't mean I am a bad parent. When I see it written down like that I feel so foolish, if I friend said such a thing to me I would be so quick to tell her to 'give yourself a break'. I just cant shake this idea that basically Wilf didn't ask to be born, we created him and we are supposed to be here to help him no matter what. If he needs us then we need to be there for him regardless of how we are feeling. I guess the big shift has been that the tiredness is creeping in from all corners now,  I feel it in my whole being and because of this I wonder, am I being as present as I could be during the day? 
Not being whole or even being all that happy (I am happy a lot of the time but lately rarely a day goes by that I don't sigh or shed a tear at some point) is also a bad situation to be in for Wilf for Tom for me, its not fair on any of us.
So came the big heart to heart, things need to change and Tom and I discussed how we are feeling and what options we have. We both agreed we are still not comfortable with CIO, I don't think anyone should feel guilty if their decisions have taken them there, I know enough about sleep deprivation now to only feel empathy for any parent in this situation but ultimately its not for us.
I contacted The Attachment Parenting UK website for ideas on a gentle way to approach this and have been given lots of really encouraging suggestions along with just plain words of support and empathy. The first two I am excited to look into are Homeopathy and Cranial Sacral Therapy. I had no idea that in the South West your GP can in fact refer you to the Homeopathic doctors on the NHS which would be fantastic (if I can get my GP to agree). Cranial Osteopathy really helped Wilf in the first few months of his life when he was suffering with Colic type symptoms but unfortunately we did not continue for very long due the cost. I think another session would be worth a shot though just to see if there was a difference.
The next thing we are really going to try to stick with is implementing a structure to our whole daytime. I never ever thought this would be me..I used to think the word routine only fitted with baby training books like 'Gina Ford' or the lady off of Supernanny. I can see now it is important to establish awake times and sleep times and although we may not have the strictest routines we will try to stick to roughly the same times for naps each day/same time for lunch/dinner etc. Its really really hard for a stubborn person to change her ways so for me this is mega.
I am also maybe thinking that Wilf may just be a 'high needs baby' he does follow a lot of the signs of one. In many ways the positives of this is that he has been fairly 'advanced' in his progression with things such as crawling at an early stage and 'almost' walking. These are little nuggets I tell myself over and over when friends babies sleep right though the night!
Wilf is now ten months (yesterday) and I like to stick by the mantra that 'you cant spoil a baby under one'. We will try and work on these new structures with maybe a little help from homeopathic remedies too. I'm not saying that from the day he turns one all the above will go out the window but if nothing has changed then we will asses the situation again with the understanding that he may then understand a little more too. 
Wish us luck! 


Anonymous said...

I read this post on sleep training recently on A Cup Of Jo - you might find it interesting/useful.


Sarah x

Sarah said...

Ok no way am I an expert obviously - what parent is! And I know my own faults too (hence while I'm still obsessed with feeding Stanley so he sleeps through the night.) But, around 10 - 12 months we had our breakthrough with sleep. I'm not sure if it was just co-incidence or what, but when he could finally properly crawl he started to sleep for longer.
The other thing is that Stanley has a soother to sleep with. It never leaves the cot - it is only there for nap time. When he is out in the buggy or the car and naps he never seems to need it. I never judge other people that use their soother for more than sleep - everyone does what is best for them. I don't like categories either, I'm not an attachment parent or a gina ford type parent. I am Stanley's parent and I do what is best for him. So I don't know (but I seem to remember wilf having a soother at some point??) Anyway for a while it was great, when I knew it wasn't food he wanted at night the soother helped send him off. Then came the point when he would wake all the time because he wanted the soother but didn't have the dexterity to find the damn thing and put it in his own mouth so I would end up going into his room several times a night to put it back in for him! Then suddenly I think combined with the crawling he did it himself and hey presto it still works now. And I know, you are supposed to take away their dummy at age one. Well, everyone is different and for us the soother signals bedtime or nap time. It works like a switch. Stanley is so pleased to see it at bedtime and goes out like a light. And most of the time unless he is unwell sleeps right through now to 6 or 7. I'm not saying it's a miracle cure, I would never be that silly, I just wanted to let you know what worked for us in case in any way it might help you. I know how the sleep thing can send you over the edge!! Sorry this comment is so long...
I think having a routine of some kind is a good idea though, it is a good place to start for sure.
S x

abigailemily said...

Good luck, sounds like you are taking the right steps to change things, and I don't think with any method things change over night.

I've been in your shoes, and it seems like it will never change or get better, but it will! Theo was a horrid sleeper, and at least Wilf us getting better by not nursing to sleep, we didn't crack that one until he was about 15 months or later! There are gentle ways to change there habits, and even if it does involve a bit of crying, not leaving them alone cry in a room, but lying with them until they settle and reassuring them that you are there. The first night I tried it to stop theo nursing to sleep, t cried for an hour on and off, but with me next to him singing and cuddling. The next night it was significantly less, until he realised he didn't need me to fall asleep!

Anyway this is turning into a long ramble, but I can give you some advice in person (if you want it!) and go into more detail!

fritha strickland said...

I should have said actually Wilf does have a soother. He has it to go to sleep and then it sort of falls out. He can put it back in now (but like you he wasnt able to when he was younger) but it doesn't help to put him back to sleep really just to sooth him. He also has been crawling properly for about three months now :( but I hear what you are saying and funny enough a lot of people said they felt a shift at ten months! I also hear what your saying about the 'categories' I guess I mentioned the Attachment parenting site there as I knew they would be a good place to go to for solutions that dont involve CIO. Whilst I had never heard of attachment parenting until I had a baby most of what they say speaks to my gut instincts anyway so I do feel that I lean towards that way of parenting over others. I feel the same about people who judge, I've had people who dont know we give with a dummy say 'oh you know we could of gone with the simple option of plugging them up with a dummy' and its so ignorant. I would love it if it was a simple as giving him a dummy and he slept, it helps a little not a huge deal but every little bit helps! Thanks for your support and advice x

fritha strickland said...

Thanks Abi, I know what your saying about the crying when you weaned Theo off nursing at night. That you were there for him and he gradually learnt he didnt need it, I think we would be likely to have done similar but at ten months I dont think Wilf has the understanding of why things are being done that a 15 month old does. I have heard of people who tried CIO at 6 months and found it v distressing and then tried it after a year and found a remarkable difference in the understanding of the child, they were cross rather than upset if you see what I mean? Not that you were doing that but I think Theo would have been cross not scared, he would have understood better. Thanks for your help as always! x

fritha strickland said...

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for that, I love Joanna's blog but I don't think that would work for us. Thanks for your help though :) x

Emma cooper said...

Hi fritha,
this is the first time I've left a comment on somebodys blog but I'm similar age to you & I no what u mean when u say you were so against routine but honestly it saves my sanity. If I'm having a tough day it spurs me on to know that rita (my 1 year old) will always go down for a nap after her lunch about 1pm for about an hour & a half.
Even if she doesn't look sleepy after lunch I still lay her down & she will be asleep within ten minutes because she knows it happens every day. She Is dummy dependent but you can't have everything hey. Good luck!!

Julie said...

I was in exactly this situation with my oldest at a similar age. We did the CIO thing and it worked but I didn't feel comfortable with it although I was like a different person because I had managed to sleep myself. With my second child I discovered a book called the No Cry Sleep Solution which I found very helpful.

abigailemily said...

yeh i totally agree, don't think I would have been able to do what we did when Theo was wilfs age. Especially as he didn't eat properly until he was over one and he still needed the milk when he went to bed. Not too sure about ALL the feeds in the night, but still i obliged!

Yeh I think that he understood and got over it a lot quicker than he would have done when he was younger, and I think my attitude and determination changed too, I didn't give in as easily! and I can understand why he would have been cross, he was used to feeding whenever he wanted and then that was taken away from him! Someone told me something that I thought summed it up well:

that if your favourite restaurant was open 24hours, with free food, you'd eat there all the time whenever you wanted too!

but like I said it seems as though you are making the right steps toward changing something, and of course you have to do what is right for you and wilf, at the right time. is there any way that you could try weaning him at night, can he be soothed back to sleep in the night like he is when he goes to bed? without nursing? maybe that would be a step to take at some point?

anyway, see you soon! i'll text you now! x

weekendreader said...

It is so, so hard, isn't it? Have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution? Might have a few helpful pointers.

LCP said...

I totally empathise. It is so nice to know you are not alone. Our boy is 16 months and is not a great sleeper but is so much better since I gave in to the routine. Like you I was sleeping with him and feeding him back to sleep. When he was a year I went to a sleep therapist recomended by my health visitor which was so helpful- having someone tell me the things I already knew but just wasnt sure about (and it was free!). I was worried she would tell me my only solution was to cry it out but she didn't, she listened to my wants and needs and helped me work out a good routine and set goals. I made a sleep diary, and although I knew I was waking every 45mins it was quite sobering to see it written down. A few tears have been shed but slowly he is getting better. I know I probably shouldnt say this out loud but last night he slept from 7 until 5 with no wake ups - although this isnt the norm, it gives me hope!
It is all about baby steps (ha ha!)and doing what feels right for you and it sounds like you are on the right path.
Good luck, you will get there in the end.
This subject seems to prompt long comments!

fritha strickland said...

@kate thank so much for this, I reply properly on your blog now x

fritha strickland said...

@weekendreader thank for your support, yes that book is great. We are tying to implement a lot of it but its just getting the energy to stick to them! x

fritha strickland said...

@emma thank you, I can totally agree with that. Now I am trying to implement a nap time around 1.30, he will fight it for a good 30mins and then sleep for 45mins..we haven't got to the point where I am able to leave him to get anything done yet (he awakes immediately if he senses I am not in the room) but I'm working towards that and will lovely if one day (hopefully) I know I have an hour or so to get stuff done in the day! xx

fritha strickland said...

hey Julie, thanks so much for your comment. I can see the benefits of doing it if you are unable to parent properly on the lack of sleep. Like you said you were like a different person afterwards! We have the NCSS book and I'm trying to implement as much of it as I can at the moment :) xx

The Mummy Diary said...

My son didn't sleep through the night until he was 20 months old. The day we stopped breastfeeding to be exact. My daughter has pretty much been the same, although better than my son, but I think that was down to me. It's probably not all of them but I have certainly found with both of mine whilst breastfeeding they simply have something to be awake for. I did find with my daughter that a dummy helped, she had something else to suck on. It is strictly a bedtime thing but it seems to help. First time round you are so busy enjoying them and you don't want to do anything to upset them so you suffer the sleepless nights, but it is hard. It does get better although it won't seem like it now I'm sure. My daughter likes a light on and has taken to being surrounded by teddies and woolly blankets. Sometimes it is just their surroundings that is the problem. What about a night light? He looks like a gimmick but both of ours loved their Ewan the Dream Sheep, he plays soothing sounds and has a little light. We tried everything with our son too and was frustrated that other peoples children slept through from day one. It will happen one day. Sorry to ramble on, hopefully bits will make sense. Hope you get some sleep soon x

Josie said...

We do Pick Up/Put Down with Amelie. It helps her settle herself back to sleep and feel happy in the cot. You stay by the baby until they're in a deep sleep and there's no crying it out involved. Basically you pick them up when they cry and put them back down as soon as they settle. You can sometimes have to do it for up to an hour (that's a lot of picking up = bad back) but amelie mainly sleeps through the night since we started it. and you do it for daytime naps too. I never thought i'd be into any type of routine but it does seem to help. She'll eben occasionally sleep 1.5 hours in the day which was unheard of for her before we did this. I bought a book called The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems and took the bits i liked from it!

fritha strickland said...

@Ellie fantastic tip with the sleep sheep thing, we are going to get one! Thanks for writing such a detailed reply, I really appreciate it xx

fritha strickland said...

@Josie yep I think this may be our next step TBH we are doing the associations thing. Bath,Books, Tom putting him to sleep, grow bag, comforter, night light etc. But we have got to a point where we are going to have to help him learn to get out of this cycle and the NCSS book mentions this technique too. You are never actually leaving them but teaching them to go to sleep by themselves. We are putting it off until a weekend where Tom and I can fully commit to doing it (as I realise it will take a lot of time!) thanks for your help xx

Louise Ireland said...

Hi Fritha. We were in a very similar situation with Dylan. He relied on one of us to rock him to sleep while he cried in protest about going sleep, he also relied on his dummy to keep him asleep and would wake several times in the night crying for us to put his dummy back in. I would eventually put him in bed with me to save energy. Having our sleep interrupted 3, 4, 5 times a night became very exhausting for us, but we didn't like to hear him cry, and secretly I enjoyed co-sleeping so I was "happy" to continue in the hope it would run its course and one day he'd sleep through in his cot. But when he turned 7 months old, for several reasons, I realised something had to change. I went to the library and took out 3-Day-Nanny, read it the same day, implemented the suggested bedtime plan that same night and suggested daytime routine the next day, and we've not looked back. Dylan fell into the routine immediately...the routine that he had been trying to get himself into for months but that I admit I had been unconsciously ignoring, and instead was expecting him to just ride along with my 'go where the wind' takes me approach. The plan does involve controlled crying, not something I ever wanted to do, but something that the 3-Day-Nanny made me feel more at ease with in the way she explains what the crying actually means to the baby, and she does allow you to reassure the baby which makes everyone feel better. We were lucky, Dylan cried for 1 hour the very first time, slept through the first night without a dummy and without a single peep and then cried for only 5 minutes on subsequent occasions. Now he loves bedtime, didn't miss his dummy and has slept through ever since. That 1 hour of crying was a very small amount of moderate stress for a whole new level of independence and restfulness that he now enjoys. He's a happier little boy in the day too, we both love the routine.

Controlled crying may not be right for you as a family, and that's okay. It's not for everyone, and you have different circumstances to us as Dylan wasn't being breastfed and he had been sleeping in his own room for a couple of months (bar the co-sleeping from 2am each night). But I thought you might be interested to know how we moved from sleepless nights to sleeping through the night, and to give you an example of how controlled crying need not be days and nights of stress and tears for everyone involved - that some babies learn how to self soothe immediately with just a bit of encouragement and certainly without any trauma. I wish you luck in whatever you try, it sounds like you're doing some really good things to help and I'm sure you'll have a breakthrough one day soon xx

fritha strickland said...

@Louise thanks so much for such a detailed answer! I went to go through and write on your blog but I couldn't click through for some reason! I appreciate you telling me this, I'm starting to see its not so black and white especially when your general health and well being are involved! I'll have a peek at the book thanks, it may be that we take bits and leave bits but I certainly think we need more of a structure in our day, the trouble is I am off out being quite busy pretty much every day and maybe I just need to cut all this out for a few weeks to really focus on establishing a routine and then we will know where we are and can work around it!
Thanks for your help xxx

Emily Sanders said...

@Ellie fantastic tip with the sleep sheep thing, we are going to get one! Thanks for writing such a detailed reply, I really appreciate it xx

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