Thursday, September 4, 2014

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About My Kid's Sleeping Habits

So, you'll have to pardon my absence.  Between keeping a human alive and happy - working - trying to get a weekly shower in - taking real estate classes (because, yeah, that's a thing again) - trying (and failing miserably) to stay on top of our infinite mountains of laundry - trying to get our house ready to sell (because, yeah, that's also a thing), I haven't had much time to sit down and devote the time that I'd like to my blog.  This post has literally been sitting in my Drafts box for almost 4 months.  I've started it about 800 different ways and ended up hating them all.  (And then almost threw my laptop through the window and gave up altogether when Blogger decided it would be fun to not save a crapton of stuff I had written.)  I didn't want it to turn into one of those boring mommy blogger posts that drones on about all the things people only pretend to care about - you know, like my kid's head circumference.  But of course, that's exactly what it turned into.  And as I write this "intro", I'm not even finished with the entire post.  So, instead of inundating you with 5 months worth of all things Eli all at once, I'm just going to post a little now - and you'll get the rest in separate posts. Otherwise you'd be reading this post for 3 weeks.  So, for today, I present to you, everything you'll ever care (or not care) to know about Eli's sleeping habits since birth.  Yeah.  An entire post about sleeping.  Try to contain your enthusiasm.

Before you have a kid, people are constantly warning you about how you're never going to sleep again.  Like, ever.  So naturally, when Eli came along, I felt totally mentally prepared to have completely sleepless nights.  (I say 'mentally', because there was no way I was even kind of physically prepared.  I was getting 10 glorious hours of sleep every night Pre-Eli.  So, I was fully aware that quitting sleep cold turkey would likely kill me in a major way.)  

So, Eli is born, and those first few nights in the hospital were so. exhausting.  The morning after having Eli, Shawn and I went to this breastfeeding class - and it was just this nice, old lady and us.  At the beginning she had told us that it was totally okay if we started nodding off, she understood - and I remember thinking, "I'm tired, but who falls asleep having a one-on-one class with someone?  Not me."  I was wrong.  So very wrong.  It took every ounce of will power I had to keep my eyes open - and apparently my will power was severely lacking.  I mean, as riveting as pictures of engorged boobs are... I just couldn't.  I was damn near drooling when she finally ended the class and commented on how tired we looked.  Yeah, just a little bit.

The first night at home was, well, just like everyone said it would be.  It felt like Eli woke up at least 800 times during the night.  He and I both bawled pretty much all night long.  I'm sure Shawn was like, "What fresh hell is this?"  Because I can't imagine waking up to your kid screaming and your wife sobbing uncontrollably that she doesn't know what's wrong with him and why he won't sleep is even kind of fun.  Unfortunately for him, that wasn't the last time he woke up to his family having a complete freak meltdown.

Although waking up every half hour was beyond exhausting, Eli slowly began to get the hang of the whole sleeping at night thing.  Slowly, but surely.  He was already a pro at sleeping through the day.  Dude would sleep for hours.  I had to constantly check on him to make sure he was still actually alive.  Babies can be so lifeless when they sleep - sometimes you just have to go poke them to make sure they're still breathing.  Well, if you're a hot, paranoid mess like I am, anyway.  But rest assured, there were (and still are) three sure-fire ways I could wake him up, if I needed to:

#1 - Fall asleep.
#2 - Tell someone how long he's been sleeping.
#3 - Sit on the toilet.

Every. Time.  Not to mention he seems to wake up the second Shawn and I take our pants off.  You know.  We make it work though.  Hopefully not to a point that Eli's going to have horrifying, therapy-inducing flashbacks someday.  *Cough*

Anyways, I digress.

We had (and still have) Eli sleeping right next to our bed in a Pack 'N Play.  I know there's a lot of people who aren't fans of baby sleeping in the same room - because of the noises they make and what not.  I'll admit that Eli's grunting took some getting used to.  Kid would grunt in his sleep all the time.  Imagine a billy goat trying to fart - and that's pretty much what he sounded like.  It was was pretty amusing.  Luckily, the grunting (and all his other random baby noises) were something I got used to and could sleep through.  Though, back then I'm pretty sure I could have slept through the apocalypse.  Because, you know, so tired.  

With Eli constantly waking up throughout the night to eat, the first night he decided to sleep for 3 whole, glorious hours in a row was a Godsend.  Granted, he didn't actually sleep in his own bassinet - it was in a Boppy pillow right next to me.  But, he slept.  Every night it seemed to get harder and harder to stay awake while I was feeding him.  There was no amount of playing on my phone that was even remotely interesting enough to keep me awake at 3 in the morning.  I can't even begin to count how many nights I ended up completely passing out with him still attached to my boob, and then waking up hours later in the morning to find Eli still in my arms and my shirt completely soaking wet because my boobs had a girl's night out.  A charming scene, I'm sure.

The first few weeks of Eli's life, I was making sure to feed him at least every 3 hours - even if it meant waking him up to feed him.  (Yeah, I know.)  It was what the folks at Primary's told me to do when we were there for his jaundice - and I never really thought to do it any differently.  So, when we went and saw his pediatrician at his two week appointment, I had mentioned that I was waking him up to feed him.  After giving me a totally dumb look like, "WTF are you waking up a sleeping baby?", he told me I was okay to just let little dude sleep to his heart's content.  I almost didn't hear him, you know, with the all the choirs of angels belting out the Hallelujah chorus and all.

Up until he was almost two months old, he was sleeping 3-4 hour stretches at night fairly consistently.  Of course there were the random nights when he'd flat out forget how to sleep.  Or the nights when he'd refuse to fall asleep unless it was the ass crack of night.  Or the nights when he'd almost be asleep, but would keep farting himself awake.  Then there were the nights when he decided sleeping on mom was funner than sleeping in his bassinet.  I must make a damn fine pillow, because right before he turned 2 months he finally slept for six hours straight.  Granted, that was 6 hours of me sleeping in a totally weird, less-than-comfortable position to avoid smothering the kid to death - but it was totally worth the extra hours of sleep.

For the next few nights following his initial 6-hour stretch, he continued to sleep for 6 hours at a time at night - in his own bed, even.  I was finally starting to see the light at the end of this metaphoric, sleepless tunnel.  I figured that he was probably going to be too fat to sleep in the bassinet attachment on the Pack N' Play pretty soon - so I'd better get him used to sleeping flat on his back in his crib.  He would sleep in his swing just fine - but I was worried that he'd struggle sleeping in his crib.  So, I swaddled him up and laid him in his crib where he proceeded to prove me wrong for the next three hours.  I was so proud.  I went into his room to find him just laying there all smiley and content - just like he usually is when he wakes up (not a trait he even kind of inherited from me).  It really is amazing that I'd even know he was awake half the time.  How I'd wake up in the middle of the night knowing he was awake and ready to eat is beyond me.

So, I thought I had figured out the secret to keeping him asleep in his crib.  I had to swaddle him.  Up to that point, we really had only been swaddling him at night.  For the next few days I continued to swaddle him when I'd lay him down for a nap in his crib.  Of course, at the time, I didn't realize that it was pretty much the worst idea I had ever had.  Ever.  He slowly started falling asleep later and later at night - until I was consistently staying awake until 2 and 3 in the morning with a wide awake baby.  I had somehow managed to completely eff over his entire concept of day and night - and when it was appropriate to sleep.  Way to go, mom.

For the next few weeks we tried just about everything under the sun to help him fall asleep at a less horrifying hour.  We stopped swaddling him for naps.  We started doing nightly baths.  We tried using lavender shampoo.  We tried using J&J's "Bedtime" lotion - which he hated with the white, hot passion of 7,000 suns.  (In fact, he really just hated any lotion at all.  He would scream bloody murder every time we put it on him.  We thought that maybe it was just too cold - so we'd heat it up with a damn blow dryer - but he'd still scream.  That's when I realized that maybe it was actually stinging his skin.  Mom points.)  We tried not using lotion. We'd play white noise on YouTube.  We sang to him.  We tried taking his arms out of the swaddle.  We tried a binky.  We tried Gripe Water.  We tried gas drops.  We rocked him.  We'd put him in his swing.  We'd push his stroller around the house.  And when we finally felt like we had exhausted all our options, we'd lay him on the floor on his tummy - and subsequently both pass out on the floor while he just hung out, happy as a clam.  To no avail, homeboy insisted on staying awake.  Not even a grumpy awake.  Just an I-don't-want-to-sleep awake.

After a few absolutely exhausting weeks of trial and error, he started going to sleep earlier and earlier.  We finally were able to nail down a bedtime routine that put him to sleep and kept him asleep - for what would eventually be a solid, consistent, and beautiful 8 hours each night.  To this day, his routine is still the same.  We give him a bath - which he loves.  Like, a lot.  We figured out that my Vaseline lotion for extra dry skin didn't make him scream - so we use that to give him a little mini baby massage.  We put his jammies on and swaddle him.  We turn off all the lights, so there's no mistaking that it's nighttime.  We turn on the "oscillating fan" on a white noise app I had downloaded.  And then I nurse him to sleep.

From about three months on, he's slept through the night fairly consistently.  There's been random spurts of him waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat - which I can only assume is either due to growth spurts, his schedule being messed up from vacations, or him just being totally random. Luckily the spurts, whatever their reason, don't usually end up lasting for that long.

When he does wake up in the middle of the night, he still doesn't wake up crying.  Between 3 and 4 months when he'd wake up, he'd just lay there and sing/babble to himself.  Shawn would try to nudge me awake, as if I hadn't been laying there for the last 15 minutes listening to Eli already.  Some nights he'd just babble himself back to sleep - others, he'd sing until I picked him up.  His new favorite thing to do when he wakes up is kick the shi out of his mattress.  He'll lay there and kick over and over and over again.  Again, sometimes he'll go back to sleep - other times, not so much.

These days, he's usually in bed by around 9-ish and he'll sleep until around 7-ish and I am not complaining.  Contrary to what this post may have made it sound like, I'm actually really happy with how good of a sleeper Eli is - lengthwise and just solely what he'd sleep through.  (I've been amazed at what that kid can sleep through.  People are always quick to be more quiet if they realize he's sleeping - but we like to make sure to tell people they're welcome to talk normally - so he can learn to keep sleeping through loud things.  Like, you know, our dumbass dog barking.)  Anyways, obviously we've had our rough patches here and there - but, eh.  It's not anything I wasn't already expecting.    

As far as sleeping throughout the day goes - he's still pretty much a champ.  He obviously doesn't sleep nearly as much as he used to - but he still gets some good naps during the day.  Around 4 months, he started taking some naps on his stomach.  Up until that point, I've always had him on his back - because that's what his doctor had told us to do.  And far be it from me to not listen to his doctor.  Gasp.  He didn't mind being on his stomach, but I didn't like, want him to die from sleeping that way.  Which is completely absurd, I know.

Anyways, so when he started falling asleep on his stomach, I literally could not stop watching him to make sure he was still breathing.  In the beginning, he would fall asleep during "tummy time" - because, you know, lifting your head off the ground is hard work.  So he'd just sleep in the middle of our living room floor - which made it easy to sit and watch him breathe.  At first, he'd only sleep on his stomach for maybe a half hour or so.  Now, I can put him in his crib on his stomach and he'll get some good 2 hour naps in.  And hey, he's still alive - so there's that.  (Don't worry. You think I'm paranoid now.  Just wait until I publish the, "Things that freaked Mom out" post.)

When he's not sleeping in his crib, it's usually in his swing, in his carseat, or snuggling with me or Shawn.  We got one of those detachable swings that you can carry around the house with you - and I've loved it.  Luckily, so has Eli.  Unfortunately, he's scary close to being way too fat for it.  He's still not technically to the maximum weight - but the swing is starting to creak when we have it turned on.  Yeah swing, we get it.  Our kid is huge.

When we aren't home, and he starts to tired whine - I can usually get him to sleep by putting him in his carseat and either pushing him in a stroller, driving in the car, or just swinging him around (which, given the kid's size, is getting infinitely more difficult).  Sometimes if he's really cranky, he will not let you stop moving, otherwise he'll lose. his. shit.  Example: If we're driving and he's not happy, he'll scream as soon as he realizes the car isn't moving any
more.  The second the light turns green and we start moving, he'll stop crying.  Sometimes, if we see that we're going to get stuck at a red light, we'll stop way before we need to and slowly inch forward then hit the breaks over and over again - to try and trick him into thinking we're still actually moving.  Unfortunately he's getting smarter, and this doesn't work so much anymore.

If he's not in his crib, swing, carseat, or on the ground - he's sleeping with either myself or Shawn.  There's been so many times where I've been nursing him in my comfy chair, and he'll fall asleep, and instead of laying him down and taking a shower - or doing something productive - I'll just sit and snuggle with him for however long he decides to sleep.  Because, guys, snuggling with babies is the best.  Not to mention, way more more fun than doing laundry.  Shawn is convinced he has magical powers of getting Eli to sleep.  I mean, I have magical powers too - magical boob
powers - but on the days that I had exhausted my human pacifier abilities, Shawn could always manage to get him to sleep when I couldn't.  It was relieving and frustrating all at the same time.  But I'd manage to get some pretty adorable baby + baby daddy napping pictures out of it.  And by 'some', I mean I probably have like 800 pictures of Shawn and our kid sleeping.  Such a swoon-worthy moment.  It's really too bad the pictures Shawn manages to catch of me passed out with the kid aren't nearly as cute.  Meh, what're you gonna do.

And because I can't fathom possibly writing any more about my kid sleeping - we'll end this post with possibly my favorite video of Eli sleeping ever.

I've got plenty more where this post came from.  Stay tuned!


  1. woo hoo!!! Well I'm excited to hear about your fertility grant too

  2. Hi Chelsea! My name is Heather and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer my question about your blog! My email is Lifesabanquet1 AT gmail DOT com :-) I greatly appreciate it!