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.
1. WEAR THE BABY
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.
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...
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?