Friday, February 24, 2012

Why can't you sleep like a baby!?

Orion started sleeping through the night when he was six weeks old. I think we got lucky and I really can’t explain why. I do not have any secrets for sleeping newborns, sorry to disappoint you. I can only share my experiences. Luck was not always on our side when it came to the matter of sleep so do not be jealous. One tip I can share is to understand the sleeping patterns of newborns.

We had a bassinet in our bedroom next to my side of the bed until Orion outgrew it at 3 months old. Then he was sleeping in his own room across the hall from our bedroom in his very own crib. I love that our baby monitor will give the room temperature. I like his room to be about 70° with the ceiling fan on low. We never used crib bumpers, pillows, or blankets in the crib. We also did not leave toys in the crib as they can be a suffocation risk or cause injury if the baby were to fall.

If we did use blankets in the crib, he was swaddle up in the blanket nice and snug. Swaddling is a wonderful thing and there are many blankets and sleep sacks on the market. I think swaddling does help newborns to feel safe and stay asleep while providing needed warmth. The blankets were great when Orion was really small. As he got bigger, I loved using the Halo sleep sacks with swaddle arms until he was able to roll over. I was worried that he would not be able to sleep without swaddling but he slept well at night once we had to discontinue swaddling. We still use a Halo sleep sack but without the swaddle arms. With a sleep sack, you can be sure the blanket stays put without worry of suffocation or uncovered feet.

Sadly, we have never had much luck with naps. This is something we are working on and I look forward to being able to get things done while he naps. During the day, he will fall asleep while nursing and wake up when I try to put him in his crib. Yes, he passes the dead arm test every time. I am doing the same thing I do at night but it doesn’t seem to work. If we are out and about and he falls asleep in the carseat, I can bring him inside and get him to stay asleep in the carseat. I am not looking forward to upgrading to the next size car seat which I will not be able to carry into the house. We bought the new carseat weeks ago but I have been putting off its installation. Orion is about 21 lbs. now and his current carseat will fit till he is 30 lbs. so I might put the switch off till he hits 30 lbs.

This picture was taken Christmas Eve, we took a car ride to look at Christmas lights and Orion fell asleep.

I was amazed when I saw a friend put her 5 month old down for a nap on my leather ottoman. She just spread out a blanket, put him on his back, rubbed his belly, and after a bit of fussing was out for about 30 minutes. Why can’t I do that? We sat there and talked while he happily slept. I really want to be able to put Orion down for a nap and think I may have to wait until we are able to have a conversation regarding the matter. When he falls asleep on me during the day I have to ask myself if I would rather be holding a sleeping baby or try to put him down in his crib and risk waking him up.

Lack of sleep and exhaustion can do crazy things to a person. One sleepless night, I was up nursing a 9 ½ month old Orion and reading blogs and trolling the internet for sleep advice. I started to worry that I may have broken the baby. He used to sleep so very well but suddenly he would wake up every few hours. He will soon be 10 months old, is he stuck with his old bad habits. Is he an old dog that cannot learn new tricks? Will I be holding him at naptime when he is 5 years old?

Could it be sleep regression? What is sleep regression? There is 4 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12/13 month, 18 month and 24 month sleep regression! I think it is just a nice term for a chunk of time when baby goes crazy and does not sleep well. This might be due to physical milestones, cognitive developments, or teething. People like things to have labels and it lets them know that they are not the only one dealing with a fussy baby who suddenly won’t sleep. Moxie can tell you more about sleep regression.

The phrase “sleep like a baby” is very misleading. I think it has fooled many parents into thinking that there is something wrong with their baby. I was also misled when I was told babies sleep 20 hours a day. Now "they" say a one month old baby needs 16 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. Orion seemed to nurse more than he slept in his first weeks. But he was never awake and fussy, any lack of sleep he may have now or in the past never caused an adverse reaction.

Babies go through phases and their patterns are constantly changing. Just when you think you have something down, it will totally change. I think you have to be flexible and patient as a parent. I understand there will be some sleepless nights. I am thankful and lucky that I do not have to go clock in somewhere during the day. If we have a rough night, we might be able to catch a nap together during the day. I may not have a "job" but I work 24 hours a day and am always on call. Orion is my boss.

I have yet to have a night away from my baby. I think the longest I have been away from Orion was for about 5 hours when a girlfriend and I did a ghost tour of Harper’s Ferry one very cold windy night. That was the only night my husband has put the baby to bed. It didn’t go so well but eventually patrick got Orion to go down but he woke up about 45 minutes later. I do look forward to some more me time but I have had about 30 years of me time leading up to Orion’s conception. My time will come but for now he needs me and I need him to be a happy healthy baby.

Orion and Squeeky are both sleeping on me and I cannot believe that smile on Orion's face. This was the best cuddle puddle ever!

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