Thursday, 24 January 2013

Baby, Please Sleep!!! A story about loving your baby to tears.

Morning cuddles with Jack
I have the most adorable, healthy baby boy. The problem is, he is growing like there's no tomorrow and earlier this month, he had me well worn out. In just under three weeks, baby Jack put on 470grams. That's just over a pound for my friends in across the ocean. During this growth spurt, jack was downing 3 - 4 solid meals a day on top of his regular breast feeds. This was not a major problem. What was bothering me were the two-plus feeds per night. Now Jack has never been one to sleep through the night. At six months he was still having that 3am feed and I really didn't mind at all. But I did mind feeling like I had a newborn again, sometimes waking evert 2 - 3 hours. Whilst I realise extra feeds during growth spurts creates more milk, I lost 4 kgs in three weeks (that's just under 9 pounds) and could not continue.

After a quick visit to the doctor and a my mother flying in to help, the decision was made to add a supplementary formula feed to Jacks diet. Great in theory, terrible in reality. Jack would take one taste and reject it. We tried, bottles and sippy cups, but he just hasn't got used to the taste yet. Ultimately this hasn't mattered, as with my mum staying I was able to get lots of extra rest and I guess Jack was over his growth spurt. 

Just when I thought things were going back to normal, my lovely child who had recently become cuddle dependent to go to sleep, cried and cried and cried at bed time. Try as I may, I could not get him to settle down. I sang, I rocked, I shushed - yet he cried on. And, what inevitably follows when you cannot sooth your child, I cried and cried and cried. It was time for a change.

It's time for a shout out to all my lovely facebook friend mummies who were so generous with their advice and support when I was at breaking point. With their help, a week ago we started a new program of 'controlled crying'. I hate that term so instead like to say 'self settling'. And, it was marvellous. We never let Jack cry for longer than 5ish minutes without going in and giving him a pat to calm him down and very quickly, bedtime became a much less painful event. By the end of the week Jack was even making happy sounds when I put him to bed instead of crying as soon as I put him down like we had in the past. 

The greatest development from our new routine is night sleeping. Without really intending to, Jack is now sleeping through the night. I give him a feed going to bed at 7:00, then a dream-feed just before I go to bed, usually about 9:30. For the last four nights (don't breath unless it changes something!!) Jack has slept from the dream feed till after 6:00. It's wonderful! 

What I've learnt

  • Stick to your routine. If 7:00 is bedtime, then it's bedtime every night whether the baby seems tired or not.
  • It's much easier to listen to someone else's baby cry. 
  • Try not to cry when baby is upset as it just makes everything worse.
  • Being strong and taking the tough option makes life much easier in the end.
  • Ask for help. My wonderful mum flew in and saved the day.
  • I have the greatest online support through social media. It's a fantastic resource when you live away from friends.
So one week on, whilst we still have the odd difficult bedtime (it just took me 45 minutes to get him to go down) generally nap time is a simple and happy process for Jack and I. If you are thinking about changing your baby's routine, this method is not suggested for children under 6 months, but worked wonders for us. Good luck and stay strong!
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