“Babies like routines.” I’m sure you’ve heard that one. Or even, “babies need routines”. I tend to agree, now I’ve got a baby. He has found his own sort of patterns, but the problem is, any change from the outside (ie. if I go to the shop or if something prevents him falling asleep when he’s ready or if his tummy is sore), and all is lost. People ask me, “how’s he sleeping?” and I always proudly say that he has slept through the night from eight weeks. But technically what happens is that he wakes a couple of times, has a quick bit of boobie, and goes back to sleep. This is still pretty good. And I always found myself telling people that I hadn’t had to get up in the middle of the night with the Dude since he was eight weeks old. Well that streak has now been broken.
Yesterday was an odd day, I suppose. But I’ll start with some background. Since he’s reached the three-month milestone, a few things have changed. He is suddenly much more aware, so he notices his surroundings and is distracted easily by random things happening around him, especially the tv. Prior to this, when he wanted boobie and sleep I’d just put him on as I watched tv and he’d fall asleep. I’d sometimes succeed at taking him to bed to sleep by himself at this point, or most of the time I’d let him stay asleep in my arms. Suddenly this is not doable at all. Similarly, we thought he was the most social kid ever, as we’d taken him out with friends to noisy restaurants and whatnot and he’d just fall asleep in the carrier, not bothered by what was happening. In fact he seemed happier when out and about, listening and watching calmly and then just passing out happily. But not any more. We took him to lawn bowls and then out to dinner the other night and he hardly slept at all the whole time! He even cried in front of our friends, which has never happened. He’d feed a bit, get distracted, look around, get angry because he was tired but couldn’t just go to sleep. The only time I got him to sleep was once when I took him outside away from any noise and fed him – passed out in minutes, and then finally at the end of the night he eventually passed out in the ergo, totally shattered. So in the last week I’ve been recognising when he’s really tired, then taking him straight to bed and feeding him to sleep lying down. Sometimes I’ve stayed next to him for an hour or so to get him really sound asleep (thank you trusty old iphone for keeping me amused!) and then he will stay asleep at least an hour by himself. When he stirs I go in quietly and if he is grumpy and still has his eyes shut I just feed him again and he goes back to sleep. That was great! I actually got a few things done around the house!
That brings us to yesterday. I got a text from a new friend who has a little baby as well asking if I wanted to go for a walk and a coffee, as she lives nearby, which was fine, we did that. As per his recent distracted/alert phase, the Dude stayed awake most of the way to the coffee shop and finally dropped off, only to wake again when I sat down. He then fell back to sleep on the walk home, and woke when we got inside, although he was trying to settle himself back down to sleep which was great to see – he sucked on his little hand and kept his head down. He even did this the other day and settled himself back to sleep for another hour with no input from us, it was amazing. Anyway, yesterday I think I made a bit of a mistake. I tried to feed him to sleep as usual, but I think I tried to put him to bed before he was quite tired enough because the rest of the evening was an utter disaster. I guess I had in my mind that if I could get him to sleep and stay asleep by 8pm then if we get up at 8am he’d have had a full 12 hours sleep overnight and that’ll be the beginning of our little routine. Husband got home at something like 9:30 and I’d just given up trying to feed him to sleep and begun changing him. I tried again and he wasn’t having it, obviously had his fill of milk without drifting off and just didn’t want to lie down. I tried walking him around and hung out in the lounge for half an hour or so, but no, still wasn’t having the boobie. So I relented and put him in the ergo, where he promptly fell asleep, phew! But that wasn’t the last of it. I managed to get him out of that and into bed and asleep, and I finally crawled in myself at about 11:30… only to be woken at 2am! He was trying to feed back to sleep but it was clearly too much and he was starting to cry in frustration. It was pitch black but I could tell he was awake. Not ready to be awake, but awake nonetheless. I tried so many things to get him to settle back down, and eventually he woke husband (who’d probably been awake all along anyway), and, frustrated, I decided to take him out to the lounge before he got any louder. I was tired. He was tired. I couldn’t do any ergo pacing in the middle of the night, although in hindsight this probably would have worked the best. Instead he worked himself up and cried for what seemed like forever! I wrapped him in the warm blanket I’d just finished edging, held him and looked at him and told him I could do nothing more for him. He looked back at me as he screamed and I think he knew what I meant. So I waited. And he screamed and then he began to go quiet. It must have been four or five times he went quiet and briefly fell asleep but then woke himself up with a sob and started again! It wasn’t nice to sit through and I did feel sad for him but at the time I felt there was nothing more I could do. I was despairing, thinking ‘what have I done wrong here? could this have ended up any other way? is this a sign of things to come? no more night waking, please!’ Finally he went quiet and stayed quiet, falling into a deep, exhausted sleep. I sat for a few more minutes, just to make sure he was soundly asleep before I brought him back to bed. He was pretty restless a few times through the morning too, and at one point I got rid of the blanket he’d been wrapped in and he fell back to sleep, obviously that was too hot and uncomfortable.
Anyway, so it was a freaking nightmare, and I’m scared now that it’s going to be that way every night! Thank god I’ve got him booked in at the osteo on Friday, hopefully that’ll help him settle. I realise he’s going to wake and need comforting during the night, that’s why he sleeps in bed next to me, but I don’t think I can handle him fully waking and freaking out every night. It’s so much harder now because he has this awareness and he’s so sensitive to what’s going on around him. I want him to feel secure and relaxed, that’s all. Genetically, the odds are not on his side in terms of sleeping and relaxation, that worries me too. My mum seems to think it was all very simple and normal but I didn’t feel like that about sleep. I hated night and sleep, hated the dark, hated having to quiet my brain for sleep. I remember tossing and turning night after night, turning the light back on to read, always having problems getting to sleep. I never had a problem staying asleep, but my dad is and always has been a real insomniac. Mind you, this was probably heightened by the fact his mother used to lock him in the bathroom to cry as she didn’t know what else to do! That’s one thing I’ll never do, I’ll never leave the Dude to cry himself to sleep. No matter how hard it is I will always at least be there for him when he’s upset, that’s my vow.