Last few days Bean hasn’t really napped. It has been pretty frustrating. Today I went outside and pulled weeds in the garden after I put her down in our room. She actually fell asleep. Maybe I won’t micromanage the nap from now on.
Last few days Bean hasn’t really napped. It has been pretty frustrating. Today I went outside and pulled weeds in the garden after I put her down in our room. She actually fell asleep. Maybe I won’t micromanage the nap from now on.
Sprout (and Mommy) slept for seven hours straight last night. It was glorious and I feel amazing. So this is a very happy Friday indeed.
It all started at 1am. After a nice four hour stretch, Sprout decided thereafter that he needed to wake up and be fed just about every hour. I think there is a growth spurt at three weeks if I remember correctly, but it didn’t stop me from muttering in exasperation at 6:30am, “Every hour! Really!? I’m just. so. exhausted!” By 8:30am when Bean’s laughter, singing and animal noises were no longer enough to keep her entertained and had instead turned into whining and cries for, “Nummy-nummy,” I realized any hope of meaningful sleep really had escaped me. So I was up.
Even though I was quite grumpy about it, it is hard to remain so when upon entering her room with Sprout in my arms I am enthusiastically greeted with a cheerful face and exclamations of, “Bebe! Bebe!”
Bean has become more and more interested in and concerned with her little brother of late. If he is crying and I can’t get to him right away she goes over to him with a very concerned look about her, sometimes she’ll try to pat his back or tummy and then proceeds to look at me with a very serious, “Aren’t you going to do something about this?” expression on her face. When I have him out in the swing or on a blanket, she parades around him pointing and saying, “Bebe,” or trying to point out the body parts on him that she knows the names for such as hair, ear, toes and eyes.
We’ve figured out that Sprout likes to be in a more upright sitting position and prefers bouncing to swinging. So yesterday I had scoped out some chairs at Target and talked over their prices and features with Stephen that night. I had decided on one after our discussion and planned to get it in the morning before the kids’ appointment with the pediatrician. The appointment was on the cusp of Bean’s naptime so I didn’t want to go afterwards.
There really wasn’t much to eat in the house except cereal, but we ran out of paper bowls yesterday and the regular ones are all packed because we are moving this weekend (crazy, I know because, hello, we just had a baby, but our lease was up and we didn’t want to keep living here anymore and we found a place in a better area that is cheaper and had a garage). So I packed up the diaper bag with diapers for each kid, my wallet and breakfast goods for Bean before heading over to Panera to get something for myself.
Ever the charmer, Bean quickly won over the affections of a really interesting couple in the next booth. She’s a former opera singer from Israel and he was from Australia. They had the most lovely accents. Bean kept flirting with them through the whole meal.
We made it to Target after that. I opened Sprout’s door, put on my sling and as I went to lift him into it I discovered that his pants leg felt warm and squishy. Gross. Because I very rarely have blowouts with cloth diapers, I of course had not packed a second outfit for my boy. So, I opened up the back hatch to the van, got set up for a diaper change and then delved into a very, very disgusting diaper and clothing situation. I used every single wash cloth I had and it still wasn’t completely enough. Luckily Sprout was wearing a jacket and I did have the sling so he was covered enough that I could still head into Target without feeling weird about my mostly naked baby. Since I planned the Target trip with just enough time for Target and then to head straight to the pediatrician’s office, I was going to have to get Sprout something to wear in addition to wipes and the bouncy seat that was the whole reason for the Target trip in the first place.
I found a few cute options in the clearance section including a vintage-y looking Star Wars onesie and a Dodgers outfit. Got wipes from the diapers and wipes aisle to further take care of cleanup when we got back to the van. Then I headed to the aisle where they had the seats. Of course, just my luck, yesterday they had two of the seats that I wanted and today both were gone. I thought about asking if they had anymore in the back, but really didn’t have the time for them to figure it out and so I decided against it. I went back and forth on whether or not to get a Bumbo instead, but decided that $40 for just a plain seat that really doesn’t do anything was not worth it.
So I left Target $20 poorer and headed back out to my van where I proceeded to dress my son and finish cleaning up his minor explosion.
Then it was on to the pediatrician’s office. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this yet, but since our last appointment I changed pediatricians again. I just felt the last one had a personality that didn’t mesh well with mine and found it very hard to talk to her or have my opinions heard. So, while she did have some similar opinions as mine (homebirth is OK and breastfeeding is great), those we disagreed on (like the AAP vaccination schedule) I just couldn’t get my point across easily. This other doctor was also recommended to me by the same parenting group that recommended the other one as well as one of my real-life friends. We were able to get into his practice because of Sprout since he only accepts newborns and their siblings.
There were a ton of sick walk-ins when we got there so even though I was on time for my appointment I waited nearly half an hour past that time before getting called back. Got the kids undressed, weighed and measured. Bean is still “petite,” but moved up from the third to the fourth percentile. She managed to grow two inches (now 28 3/4″) and gain about a pound (now 19lbs 12oz) since her last checkup in September. Sprout, on the other hand, is in the 75th percentile, gaining three quarters of an inch (now 21 3/4″) and 17 ounces (now 10lbs) since birth.
When the doctor came in to check them both out, Bean started crying and screaming as soon as the stethoscope touched her chest. He wanted to see her walk and said she pronates a bit (which I do too). Upon reaching the side of the room I was on, not being diapered or clothed and more than a little upset and stressed out, she grabbed onto my leg and started peeing on the floor next to me. Lovely.
He said we could go without the flu and MMR shots because of her egg allergy, but he did want her to get two other shots today as well as a TB test and another anemia test since she was slightly anemic at her last checkup. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it though since now that she’s weaned it isn’t as easy to calm and comfort her and she was already really upset from the examination.
I did manage to get her calmed down during our conversation about shots, but then as soon as the doctor started examining Sprout and he started crying she lost it again. Usually when she cries she also says, “No!” or “Mama!” over and over again and we usually say something along the lines of, “I know sweetie, I’m sorry,” while we are trying to comfort her. Well, lately she has started saying, “I know, I know” over and over while she’s crying about something, parroting back what we usually say to her. It’s so sweetly sad. She picked up the doctor’s reflex hammer and became enthralled with it and calmed down on her own while her brother continued to be examined during which he also peed all over the examination table.
The doctor left the room, I quickly nursed Sprout a bit to calm him down and then got him dressed. The nurse came back in the room with Bean’s shots. I think the thing I hate most about shots is that the nurse usually needs your help as mom to hold down your child or hold their arm steady, etc. I’d honestly prefer it if they could spare an extra nurse to do all of that and then I could just give cuddles and loves afterwards instead of being associated with the pain, too. We found out right there that Bean is no longer anemic, which is good.
Afterwards when we got back to the waiting room, Bean whined when she tried to use the hand that got the finger prick for the anemia test to touch any toys and just about lost it when the band-aid on that finger came off, but was happy again when I put it back on. We made our way back out to the car. I put her in her seat and gave her the snack trap from earlier in the morning with the rest of her cereal and then went to the other side of the car to put Sprout in his seat. During which time, Bean dropped the snack trap so that it was wedged between her leg and her seat, but she would only be able to get it by picking it up with the hand that had been pricked. She also lost the band-aid again. So she started crying again. After buckling Sprout I went back over to her side of the car and placed the snack trap between her legs and convinced her that since her finger was no longer bleeding she didn’t really need the band-aid anymore.
Back to the front seat. Then a FedEx truck drives up and blocks me from getting out. Bean and Sprout start crying again because it has been far too long since we’ve been moving. So I pull out the iPod and blast Raffi’s “Down by the Bay” and everyone is happy again. The FedEx truck finally moves and we can pull out of our parking spot too.
Made it back home. Bean throws a fit when we get to the strip of grass that runs along the walkway to our apartment because I won’t let her sit in it (I never do because our neighbor has dog, even though we’re not supposed to have dogs in our complex, and he always takes it to do its business on that strip of grass). We finally get back inside after the tantrum. Sprout is asleep so I place him in the swing and proceed to fill Bean’s sippy cup with milk prior to her nap.
She gets mad and starts throwing another fit because I won’t give her the sippy before we get upstairs. Then when we get upstairs and she finishes the sippy she starts crying again because she’s finished it and she knows that means I’m going to put her in her crib. So I indulge her a little bit and keep rocking with her in the chair until she calms down. I get her into her bed and she closes her eyes immediately, exhausted from a stressful morning.
I realize I haven’t peed all morning and of course, just as I get into the bathroom Sprout goes from peacefully asleep to full blown hysterics in a matter of seconds. After I’m done I head back downstairs, pick him up and start nursing him while calling Stephen because I just needed to talk to him after all that. So, after I’m done telling him all about it he says, “Sounds like my morning, minus the urinating.” Things have been pretty stressful at work lately too because several projects they’ve been working on are coming to a close all at the same time.
This is what we keep telling ourselves: I wasn’t pregnant forever and just like that came to a close so will the other uncomfortable/painful/stressful things in our lives. We won’t have a colicky newborn forever, there won’t be nighttime feedings forever, the stressful projects at work are coming to a close and won’t go on forever, we won’t be moving forever, etc. Seasons come and go in our lives. God gives us strength, patience, grace, children that nap for 2-4 hours several days in a row, and anything else we need to get through them.
Everyone else went back to hang out some more, but I just needed to go home take some Unisom+B6 and hit the hay. Bean also was way cranky and needed to sleep. So we skipped out on the Mario Kart till 2am and did just that.
Next morning we woke up bright and early again. This is what happens when you have a baby, no more sleeping in. Not wanting to spend $20 a meal anymore Stephen decided to head to the grocery store for some breakfast items. The time elapse from when I felt hungry and should have eaten to when I actually ate wound up being far too long and I barfed just before enjoying a bowl of cereal. My stomach felt gross the rest of the day, but I didn’t want to be cooped up in the apartment while everyone I knew was having fun. I trudged on.
We headed back over to my sister-in-law’s house before driving to Somis to pick blueberries. I really enjoyed doing this!
We got so many really good, really big blueberries. I am going to have to figure out some recipes to use them all in. Hopefully I’ll feel up to baking at some point this week. I also have some brown bananas that need to be made into my favorite banana chocolate chip bread.
Then we all had lunch at Natural Cafe. It was my third time there and I have to say I am not a big fan. I should have snuck over to Daphne’s with half our crew. Though Daphne’s is also a bit of a disappointment after you’ve had Flame & Skewers. Mmm. Next time I’m in Bakersfield I am so eating there.
I still felt crappy the rest of the day. Wound up taking some Unisom at 4ish and when it finally kicked in two hours later I no longer felt pukey, but could not keep my eyes open. I don’t know why it took so long to work that time.
Stephen woke me up to eat dinner. He grilled some corn on the cob we got at the farm, garlic bread and chicken. It was all pretty good, but I just wasn’t up to eating much. Then Bean and I went to bed at 9pm.
And now we are in recovery mode from the weekend.
When I say that Bean isn’t on a perfect schedule and that schedules don’t work for us, I’m partially lying.
She is on a very loose schedule.
First of all, she doesn’t always wake up at the same time each day. When she wakes up she’s usually doing the I’m-starving-feed-me-now scream. If that happens at 6:30 our day is on even numbers. If that happens at 7:30 our day is on odd.
And maybe the experts would tell me that we should be consistent and I should be waking her up at 6:30 on the days she wants to sleep in. Well, skip you experts. If she sleeps in until 7:30 I am too and I am going to enjoy every single minute of it.
And just because I’m not on a “schedule” doesn’t mean I’m totally on-demand about feeding either. It’s not like I put her on the boob every 15 minutes.
I would die.
If it hasn’t been at least 2 hours since her last meal I try other things… distraction, changing the diaper, moving to a different room, introducing a new toy, cuddling, etc. I know this is more frequent than some people would feel comfortable with, but I also know it is less frequent than others do. I’ve tried stretching out the feedings (I know most people do four hours at this point) and it just a cryfest that I do not have the temperment for.
This is how our days usually look (for an odd numbered day just shift everything forward one hour)…
6:30am – up for the day and wanting to be fed. I feed her and then change her diaper.
8:30am – Feeding #2
10:30am – We nap for two hours
12:30pm – Lunch (Feeding #3). Bean gets some solids if I’m feeling up to dealing with it, otherwise I just nurse her.
2:30pm – Feeding #4 and nap #2. This one is usually short, but every now and then she surprises me and it is another two hours.
4:30pm – Feeding #5. If she took a short or no nap at 2:30pm she will usually go down for another nap at this point.
6:30pm – Dinner (Feeding #6). If I am not feeling well or feeling rushed with dinner I don’t bother with solids, but she almost always gets them at least at dinner time.
8:30pm – Feeding #7 and bedtime for Bean.
And with the exception of one crazy night in San Diego this weekend she’s been back to only waking 1 or 2 times at night. Usually with at least 4 hour stretches in between. I can live with that.
Oh and on an unrelated note, I miraculously started feeling a little better after our nap today which is glorious. Since then I’ve folded three loads of laundry and washed the guest room linens. But I am starting to feel a little yucky again right now so I’m going to try and have a snack to cut it off early.
I finished Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka today.
I must admit the last few chapters I was pretty disenchanted, but I pushed on. Here is my review:
I did like this book. Kurcinka has clearly done her research on sleep. I liked reading about circadian rythm, how a person’s/child’s personality impacts sleep, and how different environmental factors impact sleep.
I do feel like I am walking away from this book with a better knowledge of sleep and how to help my daughter get the sleep she needs.
I also liked that she helps parents approach the process of getting their child to sleep in a gentle and sensitive manner. You aren’t left feeling like you are coddling your child if you help them into sleep. You are not told to leave your child crying desperately for you.
Kurcinka really does a great job of helping you to see the problem of sleep from your child’s eyes and reminding you that they are a little person just like you.
That said, there were some negatives to the book.
Kurcinka claims that we should take what works for our family and throw out the rest.
However, her entire strategy seems to revolve around a schedule. I know that I am not alone in being the parent of a child that refuses to have perfect and predictable schedule. There has to be some other way to get your child to have good sleep.
So I guess I’m left with taking her advice and holding onto the tips that will usher my child gently into sleep and tossing the doesn’t-work-no-matter-how-hard-I-try schedule out the window.
“All too frequently, your child’s reluctance to go to bed is actually a reflection of how her world is feeling at that moment. Sleep is very sensitive to our emotions. And while it is well documented that emotions can disrupt sleep for adults, what is not as well known is that they can also disturb the sleep of children–even infants. That’s because emotions ‘arouse’ the brain and body. As a result, our muscles tense, preparing us to take action.”
I just finished the section on tension triggers and it makes so, so much sense!
When did all this sleep/behavior trouble start? When Stephen and I decided that we were going to move among other things.
“It doesn’t have to be a traumatic event such as an accident or major illness to increase arousal and agitation for your cild. Getting lost in a store, being held down for a painful medical procedure, experiencing a bad storm, hearing a terrifying news story, or having a teacher or coach who yells and shames, can be enough to keep your child awake at night for days, even weeks… It can be difficult to know what will significantly upset a child. During the last six months, has your child or family experienced any painful or distressful event? The residue may be lingering in your child’s body, pushing her across the line into tense energy… Major changes can also pose a problem. A move, a new baby, a divorce are obvious creators of tension, but what may not be as obvious are the little changes that actually have a big impact on tension… which disrupts your entire family’s sense of order and predictability… Switching beds or bedrooms, going on a family vacation, the start or end of a school year, or even the shift to daylight savings time can impact your child.”
-Being held down for painful medical procedure? Check (shots)
-Switching beds… check (we transitioned from the Pack N Play to her crib after the move)
-Switching bedrooms… check (we not only changed to a new bedroom in the move, but started having her sleep in her own room after the move)
-Family vacation… check (well a sort of one day only thing for my sisters graduation, but I noticed it had a huge impact)
-Daylight savings time… check.
“Anthropologist Mark Finn from the University of Missouri has been studying children living on a remote tropical island for more than thirteen years…What he discovered is that children’s (even infants’) stress levels peak when the key adults in their lives are stressed. What may seem inconsequential to adults–a fight between Mom and Dad, Grandma fretting about bills, or Mom leaving on a business trip–causes a child’s cortisol levels to rise… It appears that, without meaning to, you can communicate your stress to your child via your touch, voice tone, and gesture. When you slam the door, throw down the car keys, or yell, the force and tone convey to your child that something is amiss and that he needs to be on alert. Immediately, stress hormones are released into her body. Your stress also preoccupies you, making it less likely that you’ll pick up your child’s cues and respond patiently. The result is a child who feels more anxious and insecure and, as a result, fights to stay awake.”
I am horrible when it comes to masking and dealing with stress. I am sure I’ve transmitted how I’m feeling to Bean. I just tend to be a pretty emotional person in general. If I am worn out or stressed about the tiniest thing it is pretty obvious. Stephen is way better at this stuff, but then again not. He’ll say that he’s fine and not stressed, but I can tell. He does act different. He isn’t fine.
“Ironically, the less sleep your child has the more stress hormones his body releases to keep him going. If your child isn’t sleeping or behaving well, think back on the events of the week. Did you have to wake him from a nap? Did he skip a nap or stay up late for a special event? Did he spend a restless night in a hotel or at a slumber party? If these things occurred, you can assume that your child is experiencing high tension.”
When I run errands all day or the day is just really exciting because people are here and there is stuff going on, Bean often skips naps or doesn’t nap for very long. Consequently, she is sometimes harder to get to sleep and get her to stay asleep that night because she is so overtired and having a hard time shutting down.
“Lights, noise, crowds, and colors are all sensations that can stimulate the brain. Some children seem to easily block those sensations and drop off to sleep in the midst of them. Others get revved up and just can’t fall asleep. But high levels of stimulation are the norm for most families, and, as a result, it is easy to miss this as a cause… Do a life check. Did battery-operated toys arrive as gifts for your newborn? … Have you ever noticed that, after a day of shopping your child can’t sleep? Stop, look and listen. How many different sensations is your child’s brain trying to process at once? Does the stimulation level in your child’s life leave him cringing, too tight to sleep? If your child is especially sensitive to stimulation, it doesn’t mean that you should never go to an amusement park for fun, or a restaurant for dinner. It’s just a reminder that if his day has been filled with hours of television-watching, crowds of people, and a barrage of stimulation, it’s likely that he’ll need more help settling down for the night… Sometimes it’s the pace and sense of rushing that can be keeping your family awake. Even when you’ve been looking forward to the activities and thoroughly enjoy them, there’s a line where you and your child cross from calm into tense energy… Often we become so accustomed to this level of tension that we are not even aware of it. Take special care to pay attention to the needs of a younger child who gets toted along… The stress of a too-busy life can get you and your child not only during the day, but at night as well. Recognizing this allows you to find the balance between a busy, yet satisfying day and one that leaves everyone in a frenzy.”
Bean is defnitely very easily stimulated by the world. When we are in public she deals with this by becoming quietly observant. However, she does start to dart her head around trying to take it all in. Sometimes even just Stephen’s presence is enough to send her over the edge of excitement and overstimulation. As I’m carrying her upstairs for a diaper change she’ll be in a frenzy to keep her eyes on him. If she hears his voice and he comes home during a nursing session I can just throw in the towel because there will be no use trying to keep her attention on the task at hand. Papa is just too exciting. This is one reason I am so glad we don’t have cable or the ability to watch TV right now. I think we would have even more problems.
“Pschologist Tom Anders found in his studies that children nine to fourteen months old wake more frequently than six-month-old infants. The reason, he believes, is the huge surge in physical devopment at this stage. It’s during this period of nine to fourteen months that most tiny toddlers begin to pull themselves up to standing, and begin walking. The joy of these new skills raises arousal levels and so enthralls the child that even in the middle of the night he wants to practice… So, if your child is waking in the night or battling to stay up, ask yourself, is she within six weeks of her birthday or half birthday when growth spurts tend to occur? Or have you noticed any significant change in her skills?… What skills is your child working on right now? What is he able to do that he couldn’t do six months ago? The quest to grow may be keeping him aroused.”
Yes, yes and yes. Stephen and I have come into Bean’s room in the middle of the night to find her trying to sit up, crawl, roll over and pull herself up onto the side of the crib. The other night she was saying “Ma ma ma” a bunch in her sleep. During the day her new discoveries are often a huge source of tension in her little body, especially when she can’t quite get to or do the thing that she wants.
So often though I’ve just been frustrated. I take her attitude personally as if she can somehow control it. Instead of seeing things through her perspective. This new exciting world to her. Each day it seems she discovers a new toy, finds a new way to do something.
“When you are able to tune into the ‘culprits’ that are creating tense energy in your child’s life, you won’t feel so out of control. As a result, you’ll respond more empathaetically, recognizing that your child is not trying to be difficult. Your awareness will also allow you to be kinder to yourself. You are not a bad or ineffective parent. It’s tension that is keepig your child on alert, unable to sleep and acting up. The ‘force’ is no longer invisible. It’s concrete and manageable, and you are now ready to take the steps to reduce it, so that everyone can sleep.”
I just re-picked up Sleepless in America: Practical Strategies to Help Your Family Get the Sleep it Deserves by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I first read this book when Bean was about a month old. I actually didn’t read the whole thing. Just the first chapter and then the chapter on infants. I was a little disappointed at that time because it basically said everything that Happiest Baby on the Block said. I didn’t understand why so many AP (attachment parenting) parents were such a fan of this book when it was just reitterating the same exact information and offering no new tricks or advice. Way to blow $20.
Well, with all our sleep issues lately I decided to give the book a second chance. I’m through the first five chapters and already finding so much stuff that falls in line with my parenting style (which is somewhere between AP and not AP). I love that Kurcinka admits that not every strategy works for every child. I love that she has so much research in here to back it all up. I just am loving this book right now.
What I’m not loving? That my yuckiness is pointed out so blatantly before my eyes. A yuckiness that I believe is a result of not getting enough sleep.
Here’s a checklist of behavior that unfortunately fits me nearly perfectly:
-Be short-tempered, easily “set off” by the kids
-Feel irritable and cranky, nothing is much fun
-Burst into tears
-Become frustrated easily
-Find it difficult to alter plans or deal with surprises
-Become controlling and demanding
-Feel overwhelmed, anxious, or jittery
-Experience head- or stomachaches
-Have difficulty falling asleep even though you’re tired
-Wake up in the morning to an alarm going off or a child waking you, rather than on your own
-Become ill more frequently
-Crave carbohydrates, sugar, and/or caffeine
-Drop things, stub your toe, turn your ankle, or stumble
-Feel sluggish, heavy, unable to make a meal, pick things up, respond to a child
-Experience overwhelming sleepiness at certain points in the day
-Feel as though you are in a fog
-Mix up words
-Make a list and then lose it
-Perform poorly, especially on things that require quick thinking or action
-Miss “cues” from your children and others
-Miss your exit on the freeway
-Have difficulty making decisions or thinking things through
-Argue with your partner or your children
-Take your child’s behavior more personally
-Demand that things be done NOW!
-Be more easily hurt by the comments of others
-Be less flexible
-Allow the “tone” to creep into your voice
While some of it is kind of funny, most of it is just yucky. I hate that I act this way. Maybe not in the public eye, but I do act this way. Out of the whole list there were only a few things that did not describe me: hitting, throwing things, inability to be creative (can’t really see that one ever happening), feeling frenzied, frequently ill, and feeling guilty about lack of energy.
So yeah, we definitely have sleep issues around here. Yes, I knew that already. Hopefully this book will help.
Nuggets I like so far:
“Anything that upsets your child’s sense of well-being will raise her arousal and pull her system in the direction opposite of sleep. That’s why it is important to look at the advice you have been given. Scrutinize it carefully and determine whether the recommended strategies create a sense of security that calms your child’s body, thus gently nudging her toward sleep, or leave her feeling anxious and insecure, pushing her away.”
Ah yes. All the well intentioned advice us moms (and dads) get… “You just need to let her cry it out. She’ll sleep like an angel.” “Don’t spoil her.” “If you bring her to bed with you, you’ll never get her out.” A few paragraphs later Kurcinka shares some good tips for responding to the advice so that you don’t start debates or offend your friends and family or make anyone feel guilty for doing what works for their family.
“It’s very likely that your heart has fought the use of strategies that leave your child feeling tense and threatened, but you might not have known what else you could do. Or you may have felt trapped, reluctant to ignore the warnings of others, or pressured to use strategies that so many others have. And it is true. Children may cry as they go to sleep. The key is in knowing the differences in the cries. Lay one child down, and he may cry for a few minutes. A mad cry, as though to say, ‘This is hard work! I don’t like it. I don’t want to rest,” but in less than five minutes, he falls blissfully asleep. As his parent, you realize that a bit of fussing was just what he needed to release the tension from his body and that he will now sleep well. Lay another child down, and he screams as though he’s pleading, ‘Help me, please help me, I can’t stop!’ And, indeed, he can’t. His heart racing, eyes wild, hair mussed, he is unable to bring his body back into balance and calm himself. If left unattended, he will cry for hours, overwhelmed by the rush of stress hormones in his body. He cannot stop until someone helps him, not because he’s trying to be manipulative but because of the tension and level of arousal in his body. Or, if he does finally ‘crash,’ as a parent, you are left wondering, as Robert did in class, does he fall in exhaustion or in despair? When you practice sensitive care, you recognize the difference between the cries of these two children, and respond to each appropriately. If, however, you allow the advice of others, no matter how well intentioned, to stop you from listening to your child’s cues and to your own heart’s reaction, you lose your rudder, that deep sense of direction that tells you what your child needs and how to respond. Children can learn to fall asleep and to stay asleep with strategies that gently and respectfully get them there. You don’t have to leave them screaming in the night.”
Ah yes! This is totally us around here! I will now admit freely that I did try “crying it out” again about a month ago during nap time one day. Such a disaster. Let’s just say that Bean is very persistant and she would have gone on for hours and hours and hours if I let her. Crying it out does not work for her and I really don’t have the nerves for it honestly. However, sometimes after I’ve already rocked or nursed her to sleep and I put her into bed she will roll onto her tummy lift up her head and cry for a couple seconds before resettling herself and falling blissfully asleep as if nothing happened. I was exasperated over these two completely different situations. Was I being a bad, non-AP mom and letting her “cry it out” sometimes even though I knew that these situations were, in fact, completely different?
“Stop and reflect. How are you approaching sleep now? Does your nighttime routine match the kind of nurturing care you are providing your child during the day, or are you doing things at night that you would never consider trying during the day? If someone asked you to post your ‘nighttime policy’ at your door or on the Internet, would another family want to send their child to you for care? If you were a child, would you want to sleep in your home?”
This section was especially hard hitting because she took the advice that many parents have been given when it comes to dealing with their babies and applied it to a “nighttime policy” for elderly in assisted living situations. Would you want your sweet grandparents left crying it out, soiled in poo or puke, and thirsty in the night? I don’t think so.
“Perspective is a powerful force. It changes our attitude, our behavior, and the physiological reactions in our body. When we are willing to stop and consider the other person’s perspective, we begin to work together. When your child doesn’t sleep, it can feel as though her behavior is intentional. Why, you may wonder, is she doing this to me? Why is she goading me and disturbing everyone around her? This perspective leaves you feeling angry and helpless, ready to fight with your child or to shut the door and walk away from her. The reality is that when your child isn’t sleeping, it isn’t about you. Rather it is a reflection of what’s going on inside of her body. When she doesn’t sleep, it’s not because she won’t, but because she can’t. Think about your own restless nights, when sleep eludes you. Tossing and turning, you find yourself checking the clock every two hours, your dreams leaving you troubled and tired. You do not choose for this to happen to you. Rather, something is on your mind, your body is humming with energy. As a result, you do not sleep because, like your child, you can’t.”
Oh man. So often I take things with Bean so personally even though she’s only 7 months old. Even tonight as I was putting on a particularly complicated pair of PJs (seriously who designs sleepwear for babies with a million snaps and four ties!?!), I was getting really mad because she kept wanting to roll over and look in the mirror or play with the carpet and gosh darnit I needed to get these PJs on already! Why wasn’t she listening to me? I said, NO! So dumb to get upset over PJs, I know, but it had been a long day and I was exhausted and frustrated.
Anyway, like I said I love this book. I’m even thinking about ordering her other one about raising a spirited child because I already have a feeling from her personality that Bean will be spirited, to say the least.