Tag Archives: 4 month sleep regression

A Great Workout and Our Worst Night Yet (7/16)

I’ve basically taken the whole training calendar I created for myself during my pregnancy (when I needed to think positively about the future to be ok with just running for fitness) and said “screw it!” I have to admit it felt pretty good. I love my training calendars. They help to keep me focused and stay on track. Plus I’m one of those people that loves checking off the box every day once I completed something. There are plenty of runners out there that just run whatever they feel like on a particular day and are perfectly happy. When I’ve tried that “plan” before the end result was that I didn’t run very much and got increasingly out of shape. For me the training calendars that I make for myself hold me accountable and motivate me to work hard towards a goal. I also HATE not hitting my goals.

Lately, I had been dealing with so little sleep, and a very demanding baby and you would think I would look forward to completing my runs/workouts everyday but I wasn’t. It just felt like another thing that I HAD to do. Sure, I always felt good after I was done but summoning the motivation to go out and do it day after day was starting to feel like dread. Its also summer in Michigan, which means HOT and HUMID weather. I don’t complain about the weather because it doesn’t really change anything but I really would rather run/workout in freezing temps and snow covered roads than 90 degrees and 80% humidity. Since I’m not about to move to Alaska, I normally deal with the heat/humidity by running early in the morning before work. When you’re getting 3-4 hours of sleep as it is, skimping further to get a run in just doesn’t even seem healthy. So, I’m left to either run on my lunch hour or in the evening when I get home. Since I actually want to spend a lot of time with my baby girl before putting her to bed at night the latter option doesn’t work for me most of the time.

So I’ve been running on my lunch hour. I kept scheduling mid week 8 mile runs on my training calendar thinking that at this point she’d be sleeping mostly through the night and that getting up and running in the morning would be ok. So every week I’ve been cutting it to 7 miles because I just don’t have enough time on my lunch to run more than that. Even doing 7 miles in the heat of the day was getting harder and harder. I was running the same route, all alone with my headphones sweating like a pig just wishing for it to all be over. Does that sound like a fun, stress relieving activity? No. It was adding more stress. At least I recognized this, probably not as soon as I should have. Monday I was supposed to do an 8 mile tempo run—HA! Hilarious! In 90 degree weather with a heat index of 106 according to Tim (who did a crazy impressive workout in that weather on his lunch break—who is this guy?!). So instead I got on the treadmill to do a 5 mile run and since it was boring decided to throw in a speed workout. Mile repeats. 3 of them. First one at 6 minutes, the second one at 5:21 and the last one at 6:00. It was not anything from any training plan I ever read, I just made it up on the spot and it was fun. I know that the treadmill makes workouts feel easier so if I had done it outside I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the same results. Still, hitting the 5:21 mile seemed like it would be a really big challenge for me. Especially after running one at 6 minutes. I had a half mile jog in between and when I first cranked the treadmill up to that pace it felt like I was sprinting. I just told myself to do as much of it as I could and once I took the pressure off I got into a good rhythm and ran the whole mile at that pace. When I started the last mile at 6 minute pace it actually felt really easy compared with the second mile. I think the workout served a few good purposes. First, it allowed me to have fun with running again. Second, it helped me re-learn what it feels like to run hard on tired legs. I haven’t run that pace for a mile in almost 2 years. Then I made myself finish strong with another 6 minute mile. Lately in 5K’s I’ve been fading in the last mile so it was a good workout for trying to practice finishing strong when you’re tired.

That Night I think Tim and I had the worst night yet. Our evening went really well. Peanut came home from daycare and they said she was fussy/tired and sad all day but we had a great evening with her. She was happy and in a great mood and she was just all smiles through her whole bed time routine. She went to bed about 8:45 without too much of a fight. Tim and I even watched a little tv before going to bed. Then at 1:40 she woke up. I went in, fed her and tried to put her back to bed for 40 minutes. Tim took a turn. He tried for 30 minutes before I went in and tried again. We tried EVERYTHING! It was so frustrating. We watched 2 hours come and go with no improvement. By 4 am I realized that any hope of getting anymore sleep for the rest of the night was gone. I thought about how I would have to get up for work at 5:45 and it was 4 am and she still showed no signs of sleeping. I thought about how I am so sick of the lack of sleep and got really angry that we are going through this. Earlier at work one of my co-workers was telling me her grandson (who is two weeks older than Alex) slept 12 hours straight the last night. He’s formula fed and already eats solids. I try to follow the “rules” outlined by my doctor and based on the latest research. I breastfeed her and am not starting solids until she’s 6 months (except for cereal which the doctors say is ok to start between 4-6 months). So I was utterly frustrated and started questioning everything I had been doing by the book. In my head I was almost screaming “Its NOT FAIR!” and I’d hear my own internal voice chirping “Life’s not fair” right back at me. I struggled with the anger and guilt having wars in my head. “Why do WE have to go through this when we try so hard to do everything right and people who break all the rules get to have babies that sleep 12 hours?!” Followed by “You are so lucky! You have a HEALTHY baby that you love more than anything, its just SLEEP after all. You will survive this, quit being such a whiner!” I realize I’m making myself sound pretty crazy but I’m being totally honest and I’ll admit I was feeling pretty crazy.

Tim was rocking her for the umpteenth time and she was just crying, not settling down. I looked at her, those beautiful eyes wide open and she smiled at me like it was time to play. Even at 4 am, that smile is adorable. At that point, I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and turned on the lights and started talking to her like it was day time. She gave me a look like I was crazy (again, probably pretty accurate at this point) and then started crying. So I turned the lights back off, rocked her, fed her and she closed her eyes and went to sleep. It was 4:20 am. Tim and I tried but never really got back to sleep except for maybe a quick 20 minutes. I had looked at the clock at 5:20 and woke up at 5:40 after having a dream that I fell asleep at the wheel and started to go off the road.

Nights like that are incredibly hard for so many reasons. There’s the obvious reason that you got less than 3 hours of sleep. For us that’s been the norm for the last 9 weeks but its been that she wakes up every 1-2 hours but would fall back to sleep after you fed/rocked her. You at least get to lay down in bed and TRY to fall asleep again right away before she wakes up again. She just would not/could not go back to sleep and we had no idea why. Its scary. We took her temperature and she didn’t have a fever. She would fuss but then settle down when picked up. You start to worry that its the START of a totally new issue. You worry that you will endure days and weeks and months of this before it gets better. You worry that you are actually going to lose your mind. Maybe not everyone would respond this way but I immediately started going into crisis mode. Since I didn’t know how to fix the problem (get her to sleep more and get her to go back to sleep) I focused on what I could control (how to cope with it). So that morning Tim and I talked about what we would do. We decided that if this pattern continued, we would need to take turns. We decided on every other night. We made a plan that included us sleeping in separate rooms because he and I had been taking turns during the night (every other time she wakes up the other one attends to her) but we were both waking up whenever she woke up and I know that I was staying awake the entire time he attended to her because I could hear her crying/and or I worried that he wouldn’t be able to get her back to sleep. I even went to the doctor and got a prescription for a sleep aid that was safe for breastfeeding so that on my night off I would really get some good sleep.

I’ll admit that this plan was not ideal for so many reasons but we were so desperate. I guess part of it was that I just kept feeling like I had to do/try something. I also felt bad for her because she was not getting the amount of sleep that she needed. I thought about giving her a bottle of formula, just at night since it takes longer to digest and I keep hearing how all these formula fed babies sleep better. I know that formula is not poison and I’m not one of those judgey, everyone has to breastfeed mommas. I think that everyone has to do what works for their family. Breastfeeding has had its ups and downs but in general had been going well lately. I’ll admit part of the reason I was reluctant to supplement with formula was because of all the trials I went through in the beginning only to feel like I was “giving up” now. It seems sort of silly when you think about it since we’re really only talking about 1 bottle a day. I talked to my sister who has worked in daycares and she told me that formula fed babies in general (not ALL) tend to have more digestive issues. Alexandra has had enough to deal with in terms of reflux and I just eventually came to the decision that it wasn’t worth it (for us). PLUS there was no science to back up the claim that it helps them to sleep longer. Finally, to seal the deal I really felt that her wakefulness was not due to hunger anyway.

So, we were all set to roll out said plan but my sister was in town and staying at our house (and taking the guest room) so we figured we would wait until the person “on duty” could use that room. That night, she only got up twice and didn’t have as much of an issue falling back to sleep. What a relief. We were still up a large portion of the night but it wasn’t as stressful because she at least went back to sleep ok. What a relief, for one night anyway!

High Needs VS. Difficult Babies 7/8/13

Yes, I am still behind on my posts…but here’s my latest revelations….

Well, we tried and failed miserably at the whole “sleep training” that I wrote about in my last post. We came to realize at the end of it all that Alex is just not a baby that conventional methods will work on. She will not be controlled.

Tim and I couldn’t follow through with it. I felt like we were failures until I talked to my sister in law and she agreed that you just can’t let reflux babies cry it out. We let her cry for less than 5 minutes and she vomited and after that all bets were off. I couldn’t do it. Tim couldn’t do it. It took us a good 15 minutes just to get her to calm down after that and I felt like the most horrible person in the world. So instead of us trying to be controlling of her and the situation and feeling guilty for not being “tough enough” for it, we started adjusting our methods and did what our hearts told us.

During this time, I came upon an interesting article from Ask Dr. Sears.com on “High Needs Babies”. It changed my whole perspective…on everything. Their theory (A pediatrician and a nurse) is that there are certain babies that are very unique in that they really do NEED MORE than most babies to thrive. This also goes along with something my friend Carol told me she was learning in some of her psychology classes: babies that demand more attention and receive it end up much more well-adjusted later in life than those that didn’t receive it. In reading the descriptions of high needs babies, our wonderful little girl has almost all of the traits/qualities. When I read it, I was relieved. All this time, Tim and I had been trying to figure out what we were doing wrong and felt like we were failing because she just didn’t behave like most of the other babies we had been around or our friends/family had. Now I’ve come to accept that she really is just unique, or different, and that’s not such a bad thing. There will be parts of parenting her that will be more challenging than it is for most parents, but there will also be plenty of rewarding parts too.

Its so hard to begin to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it what exactly makes these babies so much more challenging at times. I believe that ALL babies go through challenging times or have certain behaviors that are difficult to deal with. Eventually you can to pick out other parents that have high needs babies; sometimes just from one conversation. Those that don’t know may think that we exaggerate…or we’re just not handling the situation very well. We thought that too. For so long I felt so guilty because I felt like I was just complaining all the time. I knew that I loved her more than life itself, no matter how hard it was. I just felt like I couldn’t get control or get it together. I was happy. I knew I didn’t have PPD (Post-Partum Depression) because I wasn’t unhappy, didn’t find myself crying or letting myself go. I was actually keeping it all together quite well, I just felt like I was failing her.

I wanted to write about this because someone else out there is feeling the same way. They are feeling like a failure and I want them to know they are not. If you’re reading what I wrote above and already feeling relieved that’s probably enough to know that you probably do have a high needs baby. Still, I’ve included a list directly from their website of the qualities.

“12 Qualities of High Needs Babies:” Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/

1.) Intense- The cry of a high need baby is not a mere request, it’s an urgent demand. These babies put more energy into everything they do. They cry loudly, feed voraciously, laugh with gusto, and protest more forcefully if their needs are not met to their satisfaction. Because they feel so deeply, they react more powerfully if their feelings are disturbed. “If I don’t feed him as soon as he fusses, he falls apart” is a common statement from the mother of such a baby.
Intense babies become the intense toddlers, characterized by one word — “driven.” They seem in high gear all the time. Their drive to explore and experiment with everything in reach leaves no household item safe. As older children and adults this can be a great characteristic!

2.) Hyperactive- This feature of high need babies, and its cousin hypertonic, are directly related to the quality of intensity. Hypertonic refers to muscles that are frequently tensed and ready to go, tight and waiting to explode into action. The muscles and mind of high need children are seldom relaxed or still. These motor traits are part of the baby’s personality. They may be hard to live with at times, but this restlessness is not necessarily a negative trait. Some highly creative, world-changing people were at one time or another labeled hyperactive as a child.

3.) Draining- High need babies extract every bit of energy from tired parents — and then want more. The seemingly constant holding, nursing, and comforting leave little energy left over for your needs. But just when you feel you can’t cope with another day of giving, you get a second wind, and suddenly you can relax and enjoy your baby’s unique personality blooming. It’s as if baby senses mother’s breaking point and backs off a bit. There probably won’t be any days off, but some days will be less difficult than others.

4.) Feeds Frequently- feeding is not only a source of nutrition, it’s an easy tool for comforting. Studies show that babies who are fed frequently, as needed, cry less than infants who are fed on a more rigid parent-controlled schedule. So how often should you breastfeed your high need baby? As frequently as baby needs, yet not to the extent of wearing out the feeder. There are other ways to comfort high need babies, and it’s important to learn some of these alternatives. Not only do high need babies breastfeed more frequently, the need for breastfeeding lasts longer. These babies are notoriously slow to wean.

5.) Demanding- High need babies don’t just merely request feeding and holding, they demand it — loudly. This feature more than any of the others pushes parents’ buttons, causing them to feel manipulated and controlled. Mothers of high need babies often say, “I just can’t get to him fast enough.” These babies convey a sense of urgency in their signals; they do not like waiting, and they do not readily accept alternatives. Woe to the parent who offers baby the rattle when he is expecting a breast. He will let you know quickly and loudly that you’ve misread his cues. With parents who both respond to and wisely channel her demands, the high need child develops into a person with determination, one who will fight for her rights. The child becomes a leader instead of a follower, one who does not just follow the path of least resistance and do what everyone else is doing

6.) Awakens Frequently- “Why do high need babies need more of everything but sleep?” groaned a tired mother. You would think that high need babies would need more sleep; certainly their tired parents do. I have gradually come to realize that she just doesn’t need to sleep, and I can’t force her to do so. The best thing I can do is to continue to provide a nurturing environment conducive to sleep and realize that she will eventually sleep more and so will I.

7.) Unsatisfied- Not being able to satisfy a baby’s needs is very frustrating for parents of high need babies. It seems like a direct attack on your abilities. After all, isn’t a contented baby the hallmark of effective mothering? Wrong! There will be days when you nurse, rock, walk, drive, wear, and try every comforting technique known to man or woman, and nothing will work. Don’t take this as a sign of failure. You do the best you can, and the rest is up to the baby. You have not failed as a mother even if your baby is miserable much of the time. This is simply part of his personality. Meanwhile, keep experimenting with one comforting tool after another, and you will eventually discover one that works – – at least for that day.

8.) Unpredictable- It’s frustrating to realize that what worked yesterday doesn’t work today. “Just as I think I have the game won, he ups the ante,” a baffled mother confided. High need babies are inconsistently appeased. You will need lots of variety in your bag of comforting tricks. Some of these things worked some of the time, nothing worked all the time. This is very frustrating and it makes you constantly wonder what you are doing wrong. Along with their unpredictability, these children show extremes of mood swings. When happy, they are a joy to be around; they are master charmers and people pleasers. When angry, they let everyone around them feel the heat. The child’s unpredictability makes your day unpredictable. Do you take him shopping and risk a mega tantrum when his first grocery grabs are thwarted, or will this be a day when he is the model shopping cart baby, charming everyone at the checkout counter?

9.) Super Sensitive- High need babies are keenly aware of the goings-on in their environment. “Easily bothered,” “quickly stimulated,” “like walking on eggshells” is how parents describe their sensitive babies. High need babies prefer a secure and known environment, and they are quick to protest when their equilibrium is upset. This acute sensitivity to their environment can become a rewarding asset as a high need child grows. They become kids who care. They are bothered by another child’s hurts. They develop empathy, a quality that is lacking in many of today’s teens and adults. Because these children are so sensitive, they develop great discernment and are able to consider the effects of their behavior on the feelings of others.

10.) Can’t Put Baby Down- High need babies crave touch: skin-to-skin contact in your arms, at your breasts, in your bed. They extract whatever physical contact they can from their caregivers. They also crave motion. Holding is not enough; the holder must keep moving. If the holder wants to sit down, it had better be on something that rocks, glides, or swings. Most high need babies choose to upgrade their accommodations from the crib or playpen to the baby sling. They like to be worn many hours a day because they like the physical contact and they like to be up where the action is. Smart babies.

11.) Not a Self Soother- Another unrealistic expectation new parents often have is that babies will soothe themselves to sleep with the help of a pacifier, a music box, or some baby-calming gadget. High need babies are smarter than that. They want to interact with people, not things. High need babies need help to fall asleep. They must learn to trust their parents to help them. This will help them learn to relax on their own, a skill that has value for a lifetime. Crying oneself off to sleep is not a good way to learn to relax. The best way for a baby to learn to relax and fall asleep is to have his behavior shaped for him by a parent. Once a child learns to relax on his own, he’ll have no trouble falling asleep, when he’s tired, on his own. The quality of wanting people instead of things as pacifiers, while initially exhausting, will eventually work to the child’s advantage. The child will have a better grasp on interpersonal relationships, especially being comfortable with the quality of intimacy.
12.) Separation Sensitive- The song “Only You,” could be the theme of most high need babies. These infants do not readily accept substitute care and are notoriously slow to warm up to strangers. Your baby’s quality of being very selective about who cares for her shows that she has great discernment. High need babies know which situations and which persons they can trust to meet their needs, and they protest if these expectations are not met. Loud separation protests also reveal that these babies have a capacity for forming deep attachments — if they didn’t care deeply, they wouldn’t fuss so loudly when separated.”

Those are the descriptions I took directly from the website. Like I said, probably all babies will have some of these characteristics or even all of them some of the time. Alexandra has had all of these characteristics except for the last one about separation. She has always been really good with people. So how do you tell then if you truly have a high needs baby? For me it’s the consistency of it.

I think a lot of how you can tell is by gaging the parents. When you love your baby more than you ever could imagine yet you just feel like no matter what you’re doing, it’s the wrong thing. On the other hand when you do get it right and have success, you feel incredible, on top of the world…until the next thing happens. If you find yourself going into Monday mornings already feeling completely drained. Sure, all parents have weekends like that or maybe even feel like that a lot of the time. For these parents though, its all of the time. They find themselves hesitating to make plans because they just don’t know how things are going to go. Sometimes it feels like walking on eggshells around your little one and feeling like you have to do everything just right and one missed cue or incorrect interpretation will send everyone over the edge. Some great trick you discovered yesterday no longer works today.

Ironically, she does really well at daycare. I had serious fears that they were going to call me after a couple days and tell me that they couldn’t handle her…that they didn’t have the staff to give her the attention she needs. While I was incredibly relieved this didn’t happen, it also added to my own feelings of inadequacy. What was I doing wrong?? I’ve observed her at daycare though now enough times that I really think she does so well there because there is always so much going on. She also does well when Tim and I bring her to races. She will just look around and take everything in. She probably wouldn’t do as well in a smaller setting. Even my parents who have always said “Oh she’s so good.” Have witnessed some of her incredible temper. And we have now started to get reports from daycare that some days she does have a difficult time or she’s sad and needs more attention from her providers. She’s is highly unpredictable.

We’ve tried to do schedules with her to help with so much of this and we’ve come to realize she just does her own thing no matter what. For a while we were putting her to bed at 8:30. We did a whole nighttime routine and she went down great and we could at least count on that. Then we’d find that she would just get really fussy around 7:30 and start the inconsolable crying so we would try all these things and finally just put her to bed at 8 pm and she went right to sleep. So we would try the next night to put her to bed at 8 again and she would fight us until 9:15. She’s not any more consistent at daycare either. Sometimes she naps at 9 am, sometimes not until 11. Sometimes she naps for 20 minutes 3 times a day and other times she naps for 2-3 hours! Our daycare sends her home with a report every day and we have been saving them and for the last 2 months no two days have looked the same with her!

So there it is. I’ve accepted that Alexandra just has more needs than most babies and that is fine. She is who she is and I love her. The article goes on to say that if you can give these babies enough of what they need they can go on to be highly successful adults. Some of these qualities that can be challenging to deal with in babies can in fact turn into great characteristics. She’s got a stubbornness/determination that is fierce. It is my goal, as she grows to help her develop these traits she already possesses so that she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, or chase after her dreams in life.

When I think about the years ahead of us, I can just tell that she’s going to grow into a child that can figure out pretty quickly just how to push our buttons. She will probably challenge our authority and we may have some passionate discussions ahead of us. I also have a feeling that she will blow us away with her tenacity and will follow through on any and all talents she may possess to the absolute best of her abilities. And I look forward to all of that.

Sometimes Tim and I compare what we’re going through (especially with the lack of sleep) to that of others and feel frustrated. At the same time she brings me so much absolute joy and I take so much delight in all the wonderful new things we’re able to do with her every single day. Its not a completely one-sided give-give-give. She gives us priceless gifts every single day and I love her exactly the way she is. Sure, the day I’m able to get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep I will probably get up and do a happy dance. Until then, I’m just going to have to find new ways to cope instead of trying to force my unique daughter into some mold that she never was meant to fit into.

I want to do it all, and do it all really well and I just can’t. Being a parent is something that I have to do well and absolutely will not compromise on that. At work I have to give my best too in hopes that the rewards my family receives make it more than worth it. My running? That may be one of the things I’m going to have to let go into “maintenance mode” for a while. I don’t like it, yet I can’t keep burning myself out like this. So what if I don’t do a marathon this fall? I can still do a half marathon! So what if I run 25-30 miles a week instead of 50? I’ll still maintain my current fitness level and it won’t take too much time to get it back up again when I actually have the energy to do so.

Alexandra has taught me there is really only so much I can control in life. And I am a total control freak.

Reeds Lake Recap and Project Get More Sleep (7/2)

Ok, I’m really behind in publishing my posts! I like to edit them obsessively before posting so I save them and then pubish when I find the time, which has been a real challenge lately! So this was from 7/2!

The Reeds Lake 5K did not go as I had envisioned it would. I went out fast enough (maybe too fast?) 5:52 for the first mile. After that first mile I was already really struggling. Just a couple weeks ago I went out in 6:06 and felt great so I wasn’t sure what to think. Doubt had already started to creep in but I willed myself to just get through mile 2 on pace and focused on achieving that. So mile 2 I was right around 6 minutes. Perfect. Still ahead of goal.

That’s pretty much when it all fell apart. I started my last mile at 7:33 pace! Oh no! I pulled out ALL my mental tricks at this point. I started focusing on the runners ahead and trying to just pull myself towards them. I started finding landmarks and telling myself to push just until that tree, then the light post, etc. It worked. My pace dropped to 6:45. Still WAY off my goal! I knew I had less than a mile and I thought about my Peanut and her struggling to crawl and I kept pushing and got my pace down to 6:20, then 6:19, 6:18 with a half mile to go. I was still off pace, but was happy that I hadn’t given up yet.

At some point during the last half mile a woman that I used to run against in college passed me. I had seen her name in local 5K results lately and she was running in the mid to high 18’s. I told myself that if I just went with her I might still make my goal. I focused on her and watched her slowly get further away. Finally I saw the finish line and knew I was almost done. I started to give it one last push and then…ugh. I made the mistake of looking at my watch. 19 minutes. There was no point in working so hard anymore. I found myself jogging through the finish line. Mad. Defeated. Disappointed that I did actually give up.

I found Tim and wasn’t actually surprised to hear him say that he didn’t run very well either. With my mother in law watching our baby, we went for a little cool down together. Even the cool down felt hard and we only went 2 miles at about 8:30 pace. In talking to Tim he felt very similar to the way I did. His second mile was 6 minutes (he usually runs close to 5:30 pace).

Here’s where I finally could admit that maybe it was too much. I said “We haven’t had even a decent night’s sleep in about 6 weeks.” I hate making excuses. I hate feeling like I’m making excuses. Sometimes you really have to just face reality.

It had been about 6 weeks since we’d even had longer than a 4 hour stretch of sleep. Most nights we were probably getting 3 broken hours with a few “good” nights where we would get one solid stretch of 4. When I say a “few” I mean probably about 3 in the last 6 weeks. The truth is that when I wake up in the morning my head hurts, my body hurts, my eyes hurt. We had finally overcome the 3+ weeks where she was up every 1-2 hours so getting up 3-4 times a night seemed like such relief at first. We go to work, we run, we come home and work until we go to bed and then have a night full of interrupted sleep. She actually slept for longer stretches at night as a newborn. Even at just a few days old she would sleep for a couple 4 hour stretches. The weekends come and we hope to at least be able to sleep in and find ourselves up earlier than we are during the week. You just never get into that deep sleep where your body actually recovers. You CAN survive on very little sleep (we are proof of that) but you certainly don’t THRIVE on it and maybe you can’t expect to continue to improve your athletic performance. Professional runners even take naps during the day…this after getting a solid 8-9 hours of sleep at night. At this point, I would be thrilled to even just get a solid 6 for a few nights in a row!

So that brings me to the next part of this post. We had her to the doctor yesterday for her 4 month check up. It was rewarding to hear that she’s doing very well. Its frustrating to hear that most babies her age that are healthy are only waking up once in the night to eat. She’s up at least 3-4 times. We’ve got a bedtime routine and we’ve been more consistent with a bedtime. Our doctor told us at this point its ok to start letting her cry for 20-30 minutes. Eeek!

So I started doing my research because so many things are controversial and there are so many different opinions. I also started talking to friends with babies and finding out what they’ve done. So Tim and I are going to try some version of the Ferber Method, and it will be soon.

I remember after her 2 month shots she got really fussy and woke a lot during the night for a couple nights so I figured it was best to wait a couple days after her shots before starting this. We have a 4 day weekend coming up, so I guess its as good a time as any to start. We just have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for what’s ahead.

Letting her cry for 20-30 minutes is not something I am comfortable with. At all. This will be the hardest part for me, no doubt. That and the part where Tim and I will have to be up in the night while we’re doing this. Obviously you don’t start there and I really hope that we don’t actually have to ever wait that long. So the first night you put them down in their crib awake and leave them alone and let them cry or fuss for 3 minutes before going back in. Once you do, you gently soothe them and leave them awake again and this time wait 5 minutes before going in. You can progress with the waiting time however you’re comfortable with in increasing increments and according to the plan after 7 days they should be able to soothe themselves.

Ick. Alexandra has no problem going to sleep at night, it’s the waking up so many times that is our issue. Which means we will be doing this at midnight, and 2 am, and 4 am and 5 am. So we should just plan to be miserable for about a week and then the hope is that she can go 6+ hours without needing us in the night.

Why did our doctor recommend this? Well, first of all because she did used to sleep for 7-9 hour stretches so he knows she can go that long without food. When babies hit the 4 month mark (or for our little A it was right around 12 weeks) their sleep changes forever. They go from infant sleep cycles to adult cycles and so they wake several times in the night and some can’t get themselves back to sleep so they rely on you to do it for them. Secondly, she has been growing at an incredible rate so she shouldn’t need the night feeds for nutritional purposes.

Why am I ok with this? I do believe it is best for Alexandra in the long run. I have never been a great sleeper. If I wake up in the night I have a hard time falling back to sleep, especially if its within a couple hours of my morning wake up time. I’m hoping if I can teach Alexandra how to get herself to fall back to sleep at a young age it will stick with her throughout her life.

I hope so badly that the sleep training works well without prolonged periods of crying. I don’t believe that any parent can stomach leaving their baby alone to cry like that as it goes completely against our instincts.

I’m NOT looking forward to this. I will keep track of how it goes though.

Brian Diemer Recap, parenthood struggles 6/16

15 weeks in! Time flies, yet sometimes it goes so slowly.

The Brian Diemer 5K was already over a week ago. It went much better than expected. We had been dealing with some tough things at home that I’ll get into later. Anyway, my goal was to run 19:12 and I ended up running 19:01. Yes, 2 seconds from breaking 19!

There’s a guy at work that’s a fantastic runner, especially for someone in the 55-59 age group! We found each other at the start and decided to try to help each other out with pacing. We went out in 6:06 (goal of 6:10) and I felt great. It seemed easy. Almost too easy. Doug and I were still right next to each other through the second mile. 6:04. Still felt great so when I looked down at my watch again and saw we were now at 5:48 pace I figured that I could run much faster than I anticipated. I started realizing we were going to break 18 minutes, I just had to hold this pace.

Brian Diemer always runs in the 5K, but this year he was injured so he let his daughter carry the torch. If you beat him (or her this year) in the race you get a donut. I don’t even like donuts but I saw her up there with balloons I really wanted to pass her. So I did. Doug was still with me stride for stride. We had just over a half mile to go.

That’s when it happened. Not all at once but every step started feeling a little harder. The pace slowed slightly. Doug started to creep up ahead of me. I tried to put in the effort to get back on pace and it was hard. Nothing really hurt I just suddenly didn’t seem to have the energy. I continued to go through the motions but was definitely slowing down and I could feel it without even looking at my watch.

Doug held on and was gradually slipping away. Brian’s daughter and the balloons passed me again. I got frustrated, told myself I was so close to being done and should just toughen up. I turned the last corner and saw the finish line and it looked so far away. Still, I started my kick but it didn’t really feel like much of a kick. I got close enough to see the clock, 18:55 and knew that I wouldn’t be under 19. I wish I would have known how close my chip time would have been though!

So, I beat my goal of 19:12 but I struggled a lot in the last half mile! I just have to keep doing workouts and work on building my endurance and know that it will get there. My goal for my next 5K in a couple weeks is to break 19 minutes.

So that was the race. Now here’s the background about everything else.

We thought we were so lucky that our baby started sleeping through the night at around 4 weeks. We read horror stories about it not happening for most babies until 6 months. 6 months! She consistently slept 7-9 hours every night with very few exceptions for about 2 months! As fussy as she was at least we knew we could count on her sleeping. I even admit that I got almost cocky about it. I read some article online about how to get babies to sleep through the night and it was all these tips that we didn’t do and she still slept through the night. Ha. They didn’t know what they were talking about. Don’t EVER get cocky with parenting. EVER.

A few days before I went back to work she started waking up once or twice in the night for a feeding. Strange. Maybe a growth spurt? I was sure it would pass and we’d go right back to our normal routine. I started work, she started daycare and every night was the same. Only now when she woke me up at 3:30 or 4 am I couldn’t fall back to sleep knowing the alarm would be going off at 5:30 am. We hadn’t done anything different. The days went on and we started to get more tired. It didn’t pass.

Then she got sick, had her first cold and things really got messed up in the sleep department. Up every single hour! I started to get really tired. I told myself it was the cold. She’d go back to sleeping through the night again once it was over. 10 days passed and she wasn’t waking up every hour, but every 2 hours. She had to be almost done with her cold right? I started to experience exhaustion. Different from just being really tired. Its from more than a couple weeks of very little sleep, very poor quality of sleep. Your body starts to ache. You’re crabby. Really, really crabby. So you put your baby down at 8 pm and you go to sleep then too because you know you’ll be up in a couple hours anyway so you might as well just get the whole thing started early. You CRAVE sleep, yet dread the night because you start to assume that it will be more of the same. You start to wonder if this phase will EVER pass.

Then you get sick. Strep throat to be exact. Fever. Yet you still have to bounce around a crying baby every night for at least an hour before bedtime. You start to get desperate. You wish you could just pay someone to come over and take care of your baby for one night so that you can actually get more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. You snap at your spouse because you’re not yourself. You’re just some shell of yourself that just feels like she’s barely functioning and is going to zonk out at her desk at work soon. You wonder what you’re doing wrong. You scour the internet to try to find out what has changed and how to fix it. Some nights you just deal with it. Its been over a week now. You assume this is your life for a while. You get up, feed her and put her back down without hardly waking up too much yourself and go right back to sleep until the next one. Even the weekends are not any better. During the week you have to wake her up to get ready for daycare. It seems such a cruel joke that on the weekends she decides that 4 or 5 am are perfectly acceptable times to wake up.

Then one night you just lose it. Its 12:30 am and this is the second time she’s been up. Its a Wednesday morning. You’re miserable. You wonder if you’re causing the problem by always feeding her when she wakes up. You wonder if that leads her to need to wake up and feed more often. You try picking her up and rocking her. She cries. You try giving her a pacifier. She wails louder and your spouse wakes up and the two of you fight about what the right thing to do is. You feel like you’re failing. You feel frustrated and angry, though not angry at your baby because you know its not her fault. So instead you’re just angry at everything else. Especially your spouse. Why? Because they’re there. Finally, you just give up and feed her and she goes back to sleep but you can’t. You’re crying. You and your spouse then go downstairs and have a meaningful conversation at 1:30 am. You know you should be sleeping. The baby is sleeping and she’s going to wake up again soon and you’re just wasting time being angry. But you can’t sleep because you’re angry and so you and your spouse commiserate together. Strangely, it feels nice because its the best conversation you’ve had in a while. You feel guilty for being so unhappy. You have a healthy, beautiful baby and you love her more than ever. Its ok. Its ok to feel this way.

I put a frustrated status update on facebook and tried to retract it immediately and was overwhelmed by the positive responses I got from other moms. They had been there too. They also loved their babies but experienced that utter frustration that is very much a part of being a parent. I can’t explain how normal it made me feel in that moment, and how much I needed that.

The next day I vented to people at work. Anyone that would listen really.

That night I felt better. I went to bed prepared to wake up two hours later with a crying baby. I was SHOCKED when I woke up and looked at the clock and it was 2:20 am and I realized she hadn’t been up yet!!!! I quickly panicked and made sure she was still breathing. She was. I went back to sleep. She woke up at 3 am and I fed her and she went back to sleep. And then I woke her up at 7 am to get ready for daycare.

The sun was shining a little more brightly that day. The grass looked greener and birds seemed to be singing everywhere. My spouse seemed especially wonderful. I knew that I wasn’t possibly caught up from all the sleep debt I incurred for weeks, but I had something else that day that just made me grin from ear to ear. Hope. I knew that the next night it could be that we’d be up every 2 hours again. But I felt better that maybe it wasn’t something we were doing wrong and just had to do with Alexandra and what she was going through.

I took her to the doctor last week to check on her cold that still didn’t seem to be gone and asked about the sleeping thing. He said she was a little young to be going through the sleep regression that tends to happen around 4 months. Maybe. Maybe it was something else, but I have a feeling that was exactly what she was going through. Its now been 4 nights that she’s woken once or twice to feed. I still don’t want to say its over because I know what will happen tonight.

I share my tale because I hope it will provide some other poor sleep deprived parents with some hope. It may be another 2 months before she starts sleeping through the night again like she did before. I can certainly handle 1 or 2 wake ups though much better than 4 or more. If nothing has changed with you or your routine its probably NOT your fault. Just get through it. This too shall pass. And repeat…