claire's sleep secrets/part 2: sleep training

A while back I wrote a post called "Claire's Sleep Secrets" detailing how we had gotten Claire to sleep through the night by about 3 months.  I stand by the advice I gave there - it gave us a lot of wonderful nights of rest and Claire was a happy newborn.  You can't ask for much more than that!  

But then the 4 month sleep regression hit us REALLY hard.  We stuck to our principles of letting her fuss a bit before picking her up, but she became more and more persistent.  At first she picked up her middle of the night feeding again.  Then she picked up a 3 am feeding.  Soon after she stopped letting us put her down awake - she would cry and cry until we rocked her down, sometimes spending 30 minutes or more confined to sitting with her in one of our arms until she fell asleep.  On her worst nights, she'd be up 5-6 times, ultimately ending up in bed with us.  We replaced the pacifier a lot.

I kept thinking to myself that this was the way I had planned to parent - I was finding the most in common with Attachment Parenting principles and I was scared of Claire feeling alone.  But then her naps went the way of her nighttime sleep - she was only getting short naps in the sling.  We stopped wanting to go out (it loses its appeal when you come relieve the sitter at midnight only to be woken up an hour later.)  We knew we had to do something.

We had briefly attempted cry it out at a bad time, around 4 months.  It didn't work at all - she wailed for over an hour (with lots of reassurance intervals) before ending up in our bed and the experience sort of scarred me.  I knew though that 6 months was a good age for forming habits, and after having a baby scream at me with her eyes completely closed (she was SO TIRED) one night I laid her down, closed the door, and left the room.  She cried.  Darrell went in after about 5 minutes and told her "we're here, we love you, it's time for sleep."  She cried some more.  Again, "we're here, we love you, it's time for sleep."  5 minutes later......total silence.  I was obviously terrified that something horrible had happened but no - I peeked into see her sleeping soundly.  Here's the craziest part - each time she woke that night (which was significantly less than usual anyways) she re-settled within 5 minutes on her own.  She didn't even demand a night feeding!  I thought for sure she would want to eat at least once, considering she had been nursing back down 3-4 times each night.

What we had been doing, we realized, was keeping her from learning how to put herself to sleep.  We had stolen that skill from her when she went through the developmental leap at 4 months.  Instead of reinforcing her skills, we coddled her a little bit too much.  At the time it seemed like the easy way out, but we were only making life hard for ourselves in the long run.

We resolved to do the same thing on night two - I spent the entire day a little bit nervous.  Surely it was a fluke....she would wail for an hour tonight, I thought.  But nope, the books were right.  She cried for about half the time she had the night before - less than 10 minutes.  We laid her down when she showed signs of being tired and there was very little fuss.  She awoke a couple times that night (I can't be sure what times) but her crying was so minimal that I hardly remember it.  She put herself back to sleep even more quickly.

Night three....I was terrified of.  I work out of town every Tuesday and Wednesday in my hometown & we stay with my parents.  She has a crib there, but it's in my room, so I sleep right next to her.  We laid her down when she acted tired at 7:15 ish, and she cried less than 5 minutes before falling asleep, just like Ferber said she would.  This evening she didn't wake up until 4 am - at which point she started crying, definitely realized I was in the bed across the room, and didn't stop.  I ended up having to leave the room to sleep on the couch in the living room where I slept until 7, when I went to get her.  She stopped crying pretty quickly after I left the room, but I'm nervous about how this will affect her sleep in the future when we're there - we may have to move the crib or my sleeping situation, and I'm not sure how we would make that happen.  Hopefully by next week she'll be sleeping through the night consistently and it won't be necessary to deal with the wake up when we're in the room with her.

Night four got even harder.  Have you ever heard of an extinction burst?  It basically means (in science) your subject is amping up the original behavior in a last ditch attempt to win the war.  Here you've got two choices.

1) Wait it out, knowing that this is just the peak of the mountain you have to climb over.

2)  Never sleep again.

Okay, that might be sort of dramatic, but it's mostly true.  Claire cried for almost an hour on night four.  What can I say?  She's smart and stubborn.  I was REALLY REALLY REALLY tempted to go in and save her but after letting the internet remind me that doing so would mean the past nights had been a complete waste and we'd have to start ALL OVER I instead grabbed a bar of chocolate and attached my butt to the couch for some louder-than-normal Gilmore Girls.  She did eventually fall asleep, only waking for a few minutes around 4 am and falling back to sleep really quickly.

On night 5 we were pretty much home free.  She didn't cry more than 5 minutes any subsequent night and we've all continued to sleep through the night.  Now she wakes up and babbles a little bit around 6 am (when she's really hungry) and I pick up her, bring her into bed with me, and we nurse and snuggle until about 7 am.  Sometimes after travel or a screw up in our schedule she'll revert to crying for a bit longer when she goes down, but otherwise she's been predictably good at putting herself to sleep at night.  In sum, sleep training kind of saved us all.  It's not something I ever thought I would do, but now that we're through it I feel like it was absolutely the best decision for our family and for Claire!


vienna sling share/volume 3: kara

This week I'm thrilled to introduce Kara Peck and her daughter Grace, who will be sharing their very bittersweet (last!) babywearing experiences in our sling share series with Vienna Springs.  

In Kara's words: 

I first dabbled in wearing with my third baby, however, I had no help or advice.  Couple that to the carrier I had not being ideal, and I never got the hang of it.  

Fast forward to the fourth baby, and I started looking into better options.  It was that or drown!  I'm sure most parents can relate to that feeling.  With Grace, I found a much better carrier and a large community of help.  My experience just grew from there.  With such a large group of support and advisors, I quickly found myself deeply obsessed with wearing my daughter!  I was trying all the carriers I could get my hands on and making friends through it all.  I loved it!  

I had been wearing my "baby" for two years, at that point you become a toddler wearer, and you have to be a little more fierce about your decision to wear your child.  That's about the time I stumbled into a sweet group of friends online and found the Vienna Springs sling share.  I was quick to jump at the chance to try her slings.  My wearing days were slipping away, and the opportunity couldn't be missed.  I signed up and anxiously awaited my turn.  I began to wonder if we would even use it in the week we were slotted to have it.  Well the day it came, I opened up the package, feeling rather bittersweet about it.  Grace knows when new carriers are in the house, she was super excited.  When she saw it, she said "Ohhh pretty!"  Her eyes were lit up and she immediately wanted an up!  I was thrilled, I can tell you.  We of course loved the sling.  More than that, loved the fact that we could put all the love we had for wearing and all the love and friendships we had been give into a sling, and share it.  How amazing is that?  To be a part of something so beautiful.  I am honored and blessed.  The day we took these pictures is the last day we wore.  I am sad to say it, but so glad to be passing on the love.  To know that something so special exists is wonderful!  I think it's also safe to say, my daughter was thankful too!  Look at that smile!  I may not be wearing anymore, but that doesn't mean I've lost the love and kinship with other babywearing mamas.  I pass it on wherever I can.  As you can see, I'm not the only one who feels that way.  As parents, we often feel alone - well you aren't!  Don't hesitate to reach out.  Chances are you'll be as welcomed and blessed as I have been.  


the weekender/christmas edition!

Sorry for the radio silence everyone!  Our little house got attacked by the nastiest of colds, and last week, well I think we can pretty much strike it from the record.  Not much of anything happened really, and Darrell was the only one that made it out unscathed - although he was STILL forced to take a sick day just to take care of Claire & I on 6 month shot days.  Shot days are the worst, am I right?!  And I was just kind of pathetic at that point, all sweatpants and coughs and runny nose nonsense, not nearly the kind of parent you want taking care of your baby that just had 3 shots (in one day!  sheesh!) so Darrell came home from work and took over.  

I think we're mostly out of the woods now, I've been diffusing all the anti-germ essential oils for a week (more on this soon....) and it seems to have actually worked.  Friday night we went out for noodle soup just to make sure every cold was properly kicked to the curb. 

There is this fantastic restaurant in St. Louis' Chinatown called Famous Szechuan Pavilion.  Yes, we have a Chinatown, and yes it is VERY small.  But it exists!  Having been to China, well, this is as close to the real deal as it gets.  They don't turn the heat on (space heaters only, which I'm not sure actually saves any electricity but you know....) and the water isn't served cold.  Cleanliness is questionable.  However!  It's BYOB and all the food is served boiling hot, so no worries.  Get the house noodle soup and the vegetable fried rice.  Bonus points for frying an egg and serving it atop the fried rice leftovers for breakfast the next day!

 By Saturday we were all feeling mostly recovered and decided that it was time that Claire meet Santa!  She basically killed the first Santa visit.  Is it a little mean if I say I was kind of disappointed she didn't cry?  Those pictures are kind of hilarious.  I'm sure I'm jinxing us for next year and she'll have a total meltdown.  But she loved this guy!  He was sort of magical in a Miracle on 34th street kind of way.  He actually insisted he chat with every child after taking a picture (which made the line loooooooong) and he really did talk to Claire, and she stared into his eyes like he was Old St. Nick for sure, just rapt in attention.  Crazy stuff.  I'm not sure I could've felt any more warm & fuzzy.  

 Claire is definitely into the sparkly and fun elements of Christmas.  Her exersaucer is right next to our tree and this is pretty much all she does in it anymore: 

Holds her little hands like that and stares at the lights.  Okay, now for the rest of the baby photos this week that are completely unrelated to this narrative.  

She keeps trying to pull herself up on things and I keep telling her she's only 6 months old.  So far, she's winning this argument.  


newly minted traditions

Claire has the great fortune of being the first grandchild in our family - to say that she's had attention lavished on her since birth would be an understatement, and we've recorded practically her entire life.  Between the new iPhone's "burst" feature and my obsession with documenting her outfits we have so many good pictures of our daughter - pictures we have absolutely no idea what to do with!  It seems silly to leave them on our phones for our eyes only (and we share with anyone who cares to see in a shared photo stream) but it can be a cumbersome task to print and fill photo frames.  I'm not a crafty person and I am 100% okay with that.  

I'm also picky - the photo frame market isn't exactly geared towards young and modern, so when I found Minted's collection of photo art I was thrilled.  Here was something I wanted hanging in my home!  They have perhaps the only "baby's first year" option I've ever considered let alone really  wanted.  For those of us who take perhaps a few too many photos of our children (never!) they have great options like this "I love you to the moon and back" print that allows you to fill in with all your best snaps.  I could probably fill in three of them, actually, but I'll try to restrain myself.  If you happen to be able to narrow it down to just one photo - I applaud you - their gold foil prints are an amazing way to highlight some photography magic.  When you add the option of their (very affordable) modern gallery framing you have an all-in-one way to preserve your memories in the best way possible.  Expect photos of my living room covered in little collages of Claire, coming very soon!

ps - i was compensated by minted for posting about their art, but all opinions included are my own, i've been using their services for cards, invitation, and calling cards for years!  


when time starts to fly

So these blog posts lately, you may have noticed, are seriously lacking in textual components.  This isn't because of lack of things to say - there are always things to say, even when life gets really really normal & boring in that delicious way that it sometimes does when you have an exciting 6 month old but not a very exciting social life.  It's been more about the time it takes to say them.  I love sharing with you.  I want to say more.  But lately I've been spending less time talking and more time watching.  

Watching this little girl smile so hard she squishes her whole face up in that excited childlike way that reminds you of what it means to be happy with your whole body.  Watching her marvel at Christmas tree lights and puppy dog fur, and watching her army crawl towards exactly what she wants with a determination that makes me both proud & terrified (because I know what that determination can do, and how it sometimes can be a bit dangerous.)  I've watched her sleep when I should've been sleeping, watched her eat when I should've been typing an email with my other hand, and watched her grow with a quickness that is simultaneously exciting and heartbreaking.  

I frequently feel as though I didn't truly understand the concept of time passing until I became a mother, and now it stays with me, an acute awareness of every passing second.  

Sometimes I think I don't have a very good memory, but I am good at writing down how I'm feeling in the moment and this is where I do that - I just need to be more consistent with doing it.  Because someday when Claire is 17 and I only have the faint memory of what the top of her head smelled like the week she was born, I'll be able to read it here and it will come back to me.  I frequently think I'm too buried in my phone, too connected all the time, but for some things (the memories you want to save forever) the internet is just really awesome.  


the weekender: thanksgiving edition

Hello, from this side of a holiday weekend!  Aren't Mondays after holidays just the worst?  Perhaps it will make me feel better to reminisce on the weekend.  

From Thursday - Sunday we did a lot of this: 

and a lot of this (Claire's first Christmas movie, Elf!) 

We took lots of naps....

and lots of adorable pictures!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend - now onto the best month of the year!  

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