Tag Archives: Baby Sleeping

On and off

It’s been a little quiet on the blogging front lately. My apologies. I think I’ve run out of ways to say ‘I’m tired’, and my beloved thesaurus is in tiny print, so no help there.

Some days we do well: Teddy’s night-time sleeping intervals inch towards three hours instead of two, we make outdoor plans, we carry them out, I do the cooking but probably not the washing-up, I watch a cheeky documentary on iPlayer, and everything feels normal.

Other days, Teddy fidgets half the night and we flop around the house all day, Henry gets more annoyed and more inclined to use his brother as a surfboard, and all I can think about is getting them both to sleep at the same time so I can too. I’ve decided that as long as I’m breaking roughly even with our on/off days, we’re doing pretty well.

Incidentally, I don’t have any foolproof baby sleeping strategies (Henry was a good sleeper with no input from us, and Teddy’s still so small he gets hungry a lot), but this is what I’ve decided is the truest truth. PRIORITY ONE is more sleep. PRIORITY TWO is better sleep. 

Initially I am insanely, eat-a-whole-jar-of-Nutella desperate for as much sleep as possible. Both our boys have slept for longer in our bed, so that’s how we start. But all babies are different, and we’ve had to experiment: they might sleep better in a swaddle, or after a bath, or after ten minutes with Daddy, or wearing a miniature Barbara Streisand wig, for all I know. Whatever works. Do it. DO IT.

That’s good for the first couple of weeks. But while they sleep for longer between us, I sleep lighter. I also feel a lot less like an, ahem, natural woman and more like a dairy cow when there’s a baby physically separating us at night. So now I settle Teds in the crib between as many feeds as possible. We’ve gone back to THE NEST, and elevating one end of the mattress, which I can recommend times one million (I thank Eunice the night nurse in my prayers for that little gem). And Teddy gets colic in the evenings, so he gets a dummy to help with the stomach ache. I am not sniffy about dummies. One day I’ll have one gold-plated.

It’s a little early for sleep strategies, though I’ve been trying out le pause when I remember, from Pamela Druckerman’s French Children Don’t Throw Food (more on that later, probably). There are plenty of nights where PRIORITY TWO goes down the sinkhole, so I go back to PRIORITY ONE. Two nights ago he slept for four consecutive hours, and I woke up dizzy with the joy of it. Last night he huffed and wriggled until 2am, then woke up again a couple of hours later. I got out the Nutella jar again this morning.

Here are some photos from a winning day. Bacon sandwiches, a clean house, an afternoon nap, an evening walk by the canal in a burnished sunset. Some days it does go right. No Barbara Streisand wig required.

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Photo 04-08-2013 12 26 46 AM

Sound and fury; or, why Tuesdays should be banned from every decent society

I love this child to his bones. But I’d be quite indecently grateful if he stopped making the noise that goes with this cross face. At least for today.

Happily, Daddy’s key in the door is always cause for excitement.

Less happily, Daddy is out tonight.

You don’t say, baby monitor. YOU DON’T SAY.

Oh, and the sleep training: for the past two nights, one of us has had a great night’s sleep, and one of us has had no sleep at all, which may possibly be due to the baby-monitor-to-ear bruise one of us is sporting. He didn’t seem bothered at all by the change of scene, and remembered to do his own breathing and everything. Tonight, I tried to put him to bed at a more baby-appropriate time and terrible things resulted. I picked him up after ten minutes, when he was crying so hard he couldn’t breathe (sorry, dear neighbours), and it turned out he had wind. Um. I’ll collect my bad mother award and go and stand over here, shall I?

Please pray for me and my nerves of steel

I’m doing it. I’m doing it. Tonight, he’s sleeping in his own room. No need to look at me like that.

The baby monitor came a couple of days ago, and his room is warm enough, and there’s really no reason to put it off any longer. We had a monitor trial run this afternoon as we put him in his room for an afternoon nap. Sure enough, I could hear him screaming his little face off as though he were right there in front of me. Top quality, BT. Top quality.

In case you were wondering, the temperature gauge is a worrywart. It’s definitely not Too Warm in his room. (I’m surprised they didn’t go for the urgency of all-caps and an exclamation mark. Perhaps I would’ve listened if it were TOO WARM!)

We discovered, after extensive research, that the monitor plays various kinds of tinkly music, can be used as a walkie talkie and does a superlative Darth Vader impression. Between this and the song I’ve composed to the tune of The Imperial March (The Imperial Henry; performances on request), this baby will be turning to the dark side of the force any day now.

It’s also possible to sing along to the music from the other room, but on this evidence – sorry Timothy – that’s something that should never be done again. We’d like to apologise to Mr Pachelbel for any offence caused.

He’s a cracking sleeper (at night, at least), but we’ll see what an unfamiliar room, an earlier bedtime and a very angry would-be tooth will do to his winning streak. If anyone has opinions on controlled crying, speak now or forever hold your peace. (I say ‘controlled crying’ all confidently like I have the heart to listen to him for longer than thirty seconds. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.)

Solving the Sleep Conundrum

Know what it takes to get your baby sleeping where he should be sleeping? A spell in hospital, and a lot more milk.

I had my first – and hopefully last, for a while – introduction to the children’s Accident and Emergency department on Friday. Henry once again failed to weigh anything more than an anorexic gnat, and his jaundice was getting to the point where it looked like he’d been Tangoed. A kind doctor referred us to the hospital, and after a few hours of having his temperature taken and gawping, horrified, at the gurning presenters on CBeebies (is it always like that?!), we were admitted for the weekend. Henry got a snazzy blue and green cot with a motorised mattress, and I got a plastic fold-up daybed and a migraine.

Let me just say that the loveliest doctors and nurses in the world are all sent to the children’s ward. Without exception, everyone we met was wonderful. It wasn’t nice watching them put tiny baby drips into his tiny baby hand, nor waiting for hours to catch a urine sample, standing poised with a pot over the relevant equipment. But they established fairly quickly that there wasn’t anything more wrong with him than a giant appetite we weren’t appeasing. We supplemented his feeds with expressed milk and formula, suppressed his throwing up with anti-reflux medicine, and in no time he was getting pinker by the minute and growing a thoroughly respectable double chin.

We learned several valuable things in Side Room 18. The first was that a stuffed-full-to-the-gills baby will lie happily until he sleeps, sodden with milk, without needing to be rocked or given a dummy.

Bleurgh. Too. Full.

The second was that a wide, flat mattress is not the ideal surface on which to persuade a baby to sleep. Instead, the magnificent night nurse Eunice introduced us to The Nest. Roll up a towel lengthways into a sausage, and place it in a U-shape at the bottom end of a pillow case. Cover the pillow case with a thick blanket and, behold, there’s a little sleep-friendly space for a baby to feel safe in. We also elevated one end of his mattress to encourage his milk to stay down where it belonged. The change was instantaneous. And here I was just rolling up two sets of pajama bottoms at either side of him, and wondering why it didn’t work. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW OF THIS. The world also needs to award Eunice a Nobel Prize, for which I will be nominating her immediately. And don’t think I won’t, because I will.

Nesting.

The third was that all food in hospital includes either the word ‘mince’ or ‘casserole’, or both, and that consumption of the same will do terrible things to your insides. This is by-the-by, but an important lesson nevertheless.

It is the truth.

Since we were discharged, Hennersly has fed and fed, then lain quite happily in his little half doughnut until he falls asleep by himself. And stays asleep, while I potter around actually doing useful things, or sleeping myself. Not a moment too soon, because I’m spending one hour in every three feeding him, which is no help at all for the eye-bags situation.

Seriously, Eunice? NOBEL PRIZE. I’m not kidding.

Cribs

Don’t look now, but I think Henry might actually be sleeping in his crib.

We haven’t really cracked the sleeping thing yet, which is a shame, because me + not much sleep = crazy-haired lady with personality disorder. Among other things, in the past few days I have eaten an entire packet of Jaffa Cakes in five minutes, woken up thinking that Henry had turned into a duvet and I’d squashed his little duck-feather head, cried for no reason (many times) and found an episode of Bang Goes the Theory genuinely funny (only once, thankfully). Henry sleeps, alright, but not anywhere that makes it convenient for me to sleep at the same time. He wants to be held, or he wants to be in our bed. You can put him down in the crib if you like, but you’d better believe he’ll be awake again and looking for food in ten minutes or less. And let that be a lesson to you for next time.

Part of the problem is me: after our little episode in hospital where I decided to run to the loo after a whole night of crossing my legs, only for Henry to choke himself spectacularly on mucus while I was gone, I’m completely paranoid about sleeping when he sleeps. Which is unfortunate, considering that ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ was the advice I heard most often when pregnant. So I don’t mind him sleeping in our bed for now, despite being completely against it before he was born: at least this way I can wake up and check that he’s still breathing without having to get out of bed and poke him in the ribs.

Also, I get to look at this all night:

Which can’t be bad.

I will get him in that crib eventually (any advice? Please share. No, really. PLEASE). It’s pretty enough to stand in the corner of our room just as decoration, but frankly, I’m going insane with this paltry amount of shut-eye. And on a completely unrelated note, Tesco is running out of Jaffa Cakes.

New Things

Week One with a newborn is over. We have survived. Our heads are bloody, but unbowed, etc, etc. Want to know the essentials? Here they are:
  • In case you’ve ever wondered about the question of ‘how long can you survive on two and a half hours sleep a night before you start to feel Really Flipping Ill?’, the answer is ‘about four days’. After this come headaches, hysteria and wholesale consumption of chocolate gateau.

Overnight supplies.

  • Boobs are pretty much Henry’s number one priority. Never let it be said that he does not devote himself entirely to his passions. If left unattended he will singlemindedly gum his way through t-shirts and brassieres, launch surprise attacks on biceps and fingers, and crane his neck like a velociraptor in the hope that, around the next corner, food will present itself. It’s amazing how many things are nipple-shaped to this boy (Daddy’s nose: yes; Mummy’s nose: no). So few of them yield actual milk, but he keeps trucking on. The optimism is quite touching. As for me, I spend all of my time being milked. Henry is flat out in a food coma for about half an hour afterwards.

You know full well what he's dreaming about.

  • Newborn nappy changes require superhuman dexterity. It should’ve been one of the tasks on The Crystal Maze. Even week-old babies find it hilarious to let loose the most explosively angry-smelling bowel movements fifteen minutes after you swabbed up the last one. While you’re scrabbling for cotton wool balls and suppressing your gag reflex, he expresses his displeasure at being naked by peeing all over himself and rolling around in it, squealing like a furious urine-soaked piglet. Yesterday he actually farted in my face. The aim was spectacular. He can’t actually giggle yet, but I could tell he was doing it on the inside.

Preparing for the next evacuation. Takes concentration.

  • Body heat rules ok: most of the time, he won’t sleep unless he’s being held. He makes a brilliant hot water bottle.

Another deeply offensive pillow moment.

  • We won’t talk about the time we made him have a bath. He’s still suppressing the memories.

Pure outrage.

  • Men and babies: smoking hot.

  • He hadn’t been in the house longer than 24 hours before we couldn’t imagine not having him there. I could look at that little face all day. Luckily, from now on, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

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