Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rock and roll all night

Two bloggers whom I respect and admire recently started doing more "honest" posting and I have decided to join them.  So often as bloggers we only want to share the good, the fun, the sunshine and roses in our lives.  But that isn't real life.  Real life isn't always sunshine and roses.  So in the spirit of that I'm attempting to be more honest myself and letting myself share the occasional truth post.  So, here's my real life moment for this week.

I've alluded to this a bit in his monthly update posts - the fact is,  at 11 months old, Oliver still does not sleep through the night.  If you count the last month of pregnancy when sleep was difficult, this pretty much means I have not really, truly slept a full night (I'm talking 7-8 uninterrupted hours) in a year.  And sometimes that fact starts to really get me down.

Now before you start saying "well are you doing this and have you tried this" let me tell you - we have.  We have tried everything from this way to Sunday to help encourage him to sleep longer at night.  He gets a nice full meal about an hour and a half before bedtime.  He has a fantastic bedtime routine and he goes down pretty well most nights.  We've taken steps to make sure his room is comfortable, he sleeps in warm pj's and on flannel sheets - we know he isn't too cold or too hot.  We make sure to give him medicine if he's having a bad teething day.  I have tried simply ignoring him for a few minutes when he wakes in the night and sometimes he'll settle.  But sometimes he won't and to help us both get back to sleep sometimes it's faster to get up and let him nurse a bit.  He never is awake longer than about ten minutes at that time and then goes back down.  So while it's not fun having my nights interrupted that way, at the same time, we're not up for hours at a time.  A few minutes and then back to sleep.  I could be awake that long on my own sometimes.  

It can be discouraging though to feel as if you're doing everything wrong.  Wayyyyy back at his six month doctor visit, my well meaning and very clinical Dr. Uncle stated that at that age he should be doing at least eight hours without feeding.  Now mind you, at that time, he was still waking up almost three times a night so I know he had a point, but it did make me feel like I was doing wrong by Ollie.  I started taking some steps to help and we got him down to waking only once (not counting the fact that he was getting a little dream feed when I'd be getting ready for bed).  I was pleased with our progress.  We stumbled into a pattern that worked for us - and it has pretty much remained that way for the last several months.

The closer we're getting to his first birthday though, the more I'm realizing though that I may need to do more to help encourage him to sleep better and not need to eat at night, especially if we are going to work towards weaning to cow's milk.  And of course reading about sleep issues online really hasn't done much more for me other than start making me feel like I'm the one that has contributed the most to his waking.  There are some thoughts that basically are saying that by not working on weaning sooner, I've taught his body to wake up hungry overnight.  Well that's encouraging.  I thought I was just a compassionate mom who doesn't like her baby laying awake crying.

It's also easy to feel pretty lonely and like I'm the only one going through this with a child this age, every time I turn around I see other moms stating "Junior slept through the night!" and sometimes it's about a child younger than Ollie.  But then I have to remind myself - every baby is different, some can teach themselves to sleep by three months and some can take up to 18 months.  And I also have to remind myself something even bigger than that - this is just a season in life.  There will come a time where that won't be the one thing Ollie wants more than anything anymore.  And when I look at it that way, it puts it more in perspective.  He's separated from me for a big chunk of the day and so nighttime is a time he can get extra mommy time and I can totally understand his little brain waking up and saying "cry out for momma, you can get some snuggles and a snack."  I never want him to feel scared or alone in the night, so I will always go to him.  If I can't calm him down just rubbing his back, then snuggles and milk it is.

This isn't to say I don't think I should try to encourage him to break the habit, but I feel like I want to do it gently.  A big step is, I used to wake him up for a feed before I went to bed to help him sleep longer and I've stopped doing that now.  I let him wake up when he wants to.  Sometimes it still happens before I go to bed and sometimes it doesn't.  I'm trying to time his nursing sessions so that we slowly decrease the amount of time he spends doing it - not easy to do sometimes at 2:00 in the morning as it's so easy to zone out - but I'm trying.  The thought is by working to reduce the amount of time he nurses, eventually it will be phased out all together.  And we'll see what happens as we work more on the transition to cow's milk.  The less mommy milk he gets during the day could lead to him not really wanting it at night - or it might make him want it more, but we'll see.

No matter what happens, while it might get me down at times, at the same time I am surviving.  I catch up on sleep where I can on the weekends and I am averaging much more than I had been a few months ago.  And even when I'm dog tired, I have to say, there is nothing like holding your sweet babe in the middle of the night when they're calm and cuddly.  I don't get as many cuddles during the day now that he's active. And you know what, he's happy and healthy even if he does wake up sometimes.  So again, sometimes it's just a matter of perspective.  And I imagine that when that day finally comes that he doesn't need me in the night, I will likely look back and miss it.  I said it in this month's update, it's a work in progress. I am not so naive as to think that when I signed up for motherhood it would all be completely perfect all the time. Sometimes we have to go one day at a time!
So that's my real life truth for the week.  If anyone has any tips I haven't already talked about I would welcome them!  
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