Seriously Zoe, Go the Fuck to Sleep

Breastfeeding: check. Sleep? Not so much...

Zoe and I have managed to get breastfeeding under control, hooray! We've done a few more on the go feedings and I've felt comfortable enough with her latching and our groove that I've tried out some more holds with success (I was practically getting carpal tunnel). But the next challenge? Getting Miss Fussy Pants to sleep. Oy vey.

It seems like we can get her to sleep pretty well about half the time. Pretty well means waking up for a feeding twice (usually around midnight and another around 3 or 4). I will gladly take that schedule. I've had sleeping problems for the past couple of years (and at other times throughout my life) so I'm no stranger to getting crappy sleep. And I've grown somewhat accustomed to it. But on bad nights Zoe decides she either needs us to entertain her or just flat out WAILS from 10:30-4am. It's like clockwork. Oh my god. Earlier this week it happened 3 nights in a row and I thought I was going to go insane.

Oh, that's hilarious, huh Zoe?

I was seriously going crazy and Chris and I really buckled down to try and figure out what the hell to do.

There are a TON of ideas about what you can do to make your baby sleep better and we sorted through many of them to figure out what was best for us. Of course, we're still trying this strategy out, so we'll see how well it works.


This one I read about in our beloved baby book. The idea is that the first several months outside the womb for newborns is like a "4th trimester." Because of this babies can be overwhelmed by all of the stimulus going on in the world when they've been safe in your belly for 9 months. By carrying baby you're simulating being in the womb again and it's comforting for them. They hear your heartbeat, your voice and just like being close to you. The only bad thing is that she's a fucking little heater and it has been HOT this week so I've probably sweated off about 4 pregnancy pounds. So, I guess that's actually a good thing...

2. Cue feed.

The idea is that because baby is close to you by being held all the time they are more stimulated to eat when they want it (because they're so close to your boobies) and so you feed when baby wants to feed. By doing this she doesn't get disrupted out of sleep and all fussy to eat. If she sleeps longer than 3.5-4 hours we wake her up to eat. She's already hit 10 pounds (1 pound over her birth weight at 3 weeks), so she's definitely turned into a good feeder.

3. Keep her awake closer to bedtime.

This one is a little challenging. How do you keep a newborn up? We try to move her around a lot, "play" with her as much as possible with a 3 week old person, and generally try to be exciting enough to keep her awake closer to when we go to bed.

4. Create a nighttime routine.

It's amazing, but apparently their little tiny brains can already make associations of what a nighttime routine is and what that leads to. So we've started getting ready for bed around 9 and feed her, go for a nice evening walk at 9:30, and start trying to put her down for bed at 10. She seems to like it, and it's nice for Chris and I too.

5. Make nighttime feedings just about feeding.

During the day now I keep the lights bright, have the TV on, talk to her, etc. And at night we keep it dark, I stay quiet and we just get the job done. Babies hopefully start to learn the difference between night and day - I can play after during the day and at night mom and dad really want me to go to bed.

So far this strategy has worked pretty well. We've only really buckled down with this strategy for the last 3 nights, but each night we've done it has been an improvement, hooray! The first night she only woke up twice, I fed her, and she went to bed within an hour. The next night she fussed till about 2 am, then went to bed till about 7. Still fussy, but fussing till 2 is WAY better than fussing till 4. And last night was magical. It took her a decent amount of time to fall asleep because we didn't finally get her down till about 12:30. But then? She fucking slept all the way to 7am. It was fucking amazing. Now, I know we'll have lots of backslides and it will continue to be trial and error. But it at least seems to be improving things, so that is awesome.

But along the way we've gotten pretty good at soothing her. Well, I'm not sure how "good" we are at it because she still wails. But generally we can get the wailing to stop, it's just the challenge to get her to SLEEP. Here are our top soothing techniques.

1. Swaddling

Zoe is fucking Houdini and can get out of any swaddle we put her in. So we finally got so pissed off that we bought these velcro ones. They're like a little baby straight jacket. I feed her at night, we imprison her in her straight jacket and lay her down to sleep. It works sometimes. But it usually works to at least calm her down when she's screaming, so that is much appreciated.

2. The exercise ball

Who would have thought? Our friends said this worked for their daughter and it can generally get her to stop crying about 85% of the time. We just hold her and sit on the ball and bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. It starts to hurt your back after a while though...

3. Walking

I apparently cursed myself by being really active while pregnant because if we sit with her for too long she gets really pissed off. It's actually pretty humorous because she'll start crying and then after you walk for 4 steps she stops. We take about 5 laps around the house and she's completely calm, we stop and the crying starts again. She knows the difference between just bopping back and forth and actually walking too which is also pretty hilarious.

4. White noise. The louder the better

We go to bed with white noise going every night now. And we leave it on alllll night. And when she's really upset, playing it softly does not work at all, it has to be LOUD. And then she calms down pretty quickly. I can't tell which is more frustrating though - a screaming baby or the sound of a vacuum cleaner played forever.

5. The Happiest Baby on the Block

Seriously, this guy is a genius. His video was recommended by 2 friends. I have no idea how he figured these things out. Putting her on her side and rocking her while "Shhhhhhh"-ing works about 2/3rds of the time at night to calm her down. She might not sleep, but at least the crying stops. And putting her in a swing works about 1/2 the time. Sometimes it's magical, and other times she is not entertained by it at all. But hey, 1/2 the time is something.

Hopefully she continues to improve on her sleep patterns. I have no problem waking up multiple times to feed, but waking up multiple times to her wailing for hours was making us completely lose our minds and is not fun.

What about you, sleeping or soothing tricks and tips?


Heather said...

My friend's baby hated riding in the car unless you blared hiphop or something with a good baseline. Kids are so weird.

That picture of you and Zoe is GORGEOUS! Beautiful girls, both of you.

Kathie said...

Oh man. I feel your pain. Quentin didn't sleep at all at night for about the first 8 weeks. I was ready to die. And then we figured it out just in time for me to go back to work. He slept all the way through the night for the first time at 10 weeks old. I woke up in a panic the next morning because I hadn't heard a peep out of him all night! You'll figure it out! Hang in there. :)

meryl rose said...

Lol, Heather that is HILARIOUS that the baby liked hip hop, bahahaha :) I love that pic that Chris took of us, *blush* :)

Kathie - this morning when I woke up with her sleeping the whole night my boobs were really confused, hehe :)

The Scotdogs' said...

I feel for you! I had 3 boys and they wanted to eat ALLLL NIGHT! We were in a small house at that time so I felt like I had to keep them quiet for dad to get some sleep. It was so frustrating! I read a good post on House Tweaking where Dana figured out that her baby was lactose intolerant so while nursing she had to stop all dairy. It helped tremendously. You might see if it's food related. I think some babies are just fusspots! She's so freakin' cute though!!

Anonymous said...

OMG! Hang in there. My third cried and screamed for two years. He was the one that would not be here now if they had not cut me open and yanked him out. See the pattern? The first child is supposed to be easy, to trick you into having more! Keep trying different things. What about a swing or those baby jiggler things?
If you feel the need to walk away and re-group sometimes, don't feel guilty. And ask for help! If I didn't live in NJ I'd walk Zoe for you! Even an hour away from a crier can calm your nerves. This too shall pass.

G. Robison said...

You need this:


Samuel L Jackson reading the book "Go The Fuck To Sleep". It's a riot.

G. Robison said...

Oh, and my nephew screamed and cried whenever they put him down to sleep for the first 9 months of his life. Turned out he was colicky, but back then they didn't know you could give them pepcid and end the problem. Talk to your pediatrician about this possibility.

Bunny @ 86n It said...

The biggest lesson I learned was sleep begets sleep. If Mina was awake for more than 45 mins, it was awful to get her to go to sleep. It is amazing how much these new babies need sleep.
Even now, Mina doesn't really stay up more than 2 hours at any stretch.
And now I remember the second thing I was going to say on that other post. I have this app "Total Baby", you can track feedings, naps, etc. It was SO helpful for me to have a little timer telling me what she *might* need. Especially when time can get away from you so easily when you are tired/busy!

Glad it seems to be getting better!

Emily said...

Vera (11 days old) is still on a cycle of being up for an hour and then sleeping for two hours. She is very mellow and only cries about diaper changes and bathes. However, she is the gassiest baby ever. We're nursing, but I have to keep her upright for a good 15 min after each side so she doesn't spit up. I always try to burp her, but that doesn't seem to matter either way. She gets the hiccups like nobody's business too, and was the same in the womb!

meryl rose said...

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!


Anonymous said...

Well, your title caught my eye. I have 2. The first one I tried to keep awake in the evenings because I thought he'd sleep a longer stretch. I fussed him through many nights of Letterman. I tried to coax him into a "schedule." It never worked.
The second came along a year and a half later, and I was so exhausted that I let him nurse and sleep whenever he wanted. He dictated to me what he wanted. He was the most pleasant, peaceful baby EVER!
She doesn't want a schedule. She wants you. There are no tricks or strategies to this.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

OK, and I have to share this, too: I know you're young parents, and sleep deprivation is tough on anyone. These early months are hard, no doubt about it. But please consider how Zoe might feel someday when she comes across this blog post that has the words "Fuck" and her name in it.
I know your fans may find this terminology funny. I now you're writing for your readers, and expletives offer some fantastic eye candy in this online medium--it's why I dropped by. Perhaps Zoe will, too, someday laugh at this. I hope she does. But had my parents written this about me, I'd be, well, a little less appreciative. In your sleep-deprived, reader-appeasing state, please don't lose the perspective that there's a third person here.
Again, good luck. This stage is hard. But you'll get through it.

meryl rose said...

I'm sorry that you feel that way, however in no way was I trying to appease or entertain visitors when I wrote that blog title. That is exactly how I felt when I was exhausted and I couldn't get her to sleep. I say what I feel and if some visitors like it and and some don't, that is totally up to them. I understand your sentiment, however, Zoe will also have to realize if she ever comes across this blog post that sometimes being a parent isn't easy. She is adorable and happy and wonderful most of the time, but there is also the reality that it can be really tough, and I try to be honest with myself about that, and in turn, with her one day as well. I appreciate your thoughts, however, it is important to me to talk about what I really feel, whether or not a reader finds that entertaining is not my foremost concern.

Leigh C. said...

My son did nothing but cry and puke until he could walk, then when he could stand, hang onto the couch and smile and puke. I had a 1-year-old and a newborn and only 2 weeks off of work until I had to pick up the self-employed work again. I worked around the clock and only slept when they did. Nothing is 100 percent perfect; you go with whatever works that day/night and it all improves with time.

Deb said...

There's a reason someone wrote the book "Go the Fuck to Sleep" - because a lot of us have felt that way at some point during 2 am feedings when we haven't showered in three days and can't even work up the energy to change clothes or brush our teeth. And if shouting the F word twenty times in row or posting this on your website makes you feel better and relieves some stress then do what you gotta do. As far as Zoe sleeping is concerned I can only add my two cents - when my kids cried at night it was because they were teething or they cold (which is why they like to be held - it's warm and snuggly). Maybe try covering her a bit more and see if that doesn't help? Sydney was born in May and the AC was cranking, so - while it was 90 outside - it was chilly inside. Until someone suggested to me she could be cold it never even crossed my mind. Once I made her warmer - she slept better. Just a thought. Each baby is different so you just have to find out what works for her. Trial and error - and sleepless nights sadly. Hang in there - It DOES get better. (And I still say the F word to relieve parenting stress even though my kids are no longer infants. I just have to be choosier about where and how loud I scream it. You're doing fine mama ;))

Heather said...

My goodness, it doesn't take long for people to start judging your parenting, does it? ;)

meryl rose said...

Thanks for the support ladies :)