Thursday, August 19, 2010

The 4-month wakeful period ain't no joke!

Sophie is the champion sleeper she's been all along.

Michael, however, has been very, very, very wakeful.

For a couple of months both babies had been sleeping from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. when they woke for a feeding and then sleeping again until 7 a.m.  Recently, however, Michael's been waking up more during the night again. 

We've suspected teething as the culprit since both babies have become little drool monsters, but he doesn't seem to be in pain.  Usually I go in and he smiles up at me, takes his paci, and I rub the top of his head until he zonks out again. 

Over the last week or so, though, it's gotten trickier.  He's been waking up every.single.hour.  Not only am I feeling like the sleep-deprived mother of a newborn again, but I know this is rough on Michael (I've been letting Mike sleep through this for the most part).  It's probably keeping Michael from getting those deep Z's needed for development. So, as is typical, I've been stressing over it a bit.

Consulting my sleep books and message boards once again, most of what we've been doing has been confirmed as "right."  I get them down for naps after less than two hours of awake time.  I feed them in dark, quiet spaces, especially for that middle of the night feeding.  In general, we've been respectful to Sophie and Michael's need for routine sleep.

I did, however, find some things we could be doing better.  Here's what I'm working on:

1.  Making sure they're eating enough at each feeding.  They're getting curious about the world and tend to stop eating to smile at me, look toward any sound they hear, and feel around for anything in their reach, particularly each other's ears and noses.  I'm giving them more attempts to finish like I did when they were newborns learning to feed.  This way I know they're not underfed if they awake crying.

2. Pushing them to take longer naps.  Good sleep during the day, as we know, gets better sleep at night.  Unknowingly, though, I've been giving in to the "45-minute intruder" and getting them from their naps too soon.  My favorite tip:  a well rested baby wakes up happy, and one who needs to keep napping cries. So far soothing them back to sleep even during the day is going well--over the last two days they're up to two hours for both their morning and afternoon naps!   Oh, the projects I could have finished if I'd known this was possible sooner...

3.  Being less reactionary when they do wake up.  I'm not ready to give "crying it out" a try and hope to avoid it.  I definitely can't listen to them cry right now wondering if they think I no longer love them (even just for increasing five minute intervals) with returning to work so close on the horizon.  I'm plagued by enough self-inflicted torment.  What I am willing to do is give them more time before I go in to help them get back to sleep.  A couple of times in the last two days they've settled themselves back into naps when given the chance.

I've really only made a strong effort to improve Michael's sleep over the last two days.  He had a tough time going to sleep last night (I ended up feeding him an extra time), but he slept for longer spans.  Mike deserves credit for finally getting Michael to slip into unconsciousness last night.  After going at the current late night disruptions alone, mistakenly thinking this temporary bump would smooth out easily and soon, Mike and I have had to team up again a little better...and what better timing than just before I join the early rising workforce again?

Hopefully we'll get through this 4-month wakeful thing without developing any new bad habits (like routinely feeding an extra time at night...) and without adding too much to my already blossoming mommy guilt!


  1. Hi Carrie,
    Take it from a first time mom whose first born did not sleep through the night until she was 18 months old, #3 is important. You don't have to tell be how hard it is, I know. What you want to avoid is a pattern. Being a first generation crier who didn't want to sleep my mom said she used to turn the vaccuum on to drown me out! I was way more relaxed the second time around and Katie was the perfect baby!

  2. Ellen, I've heard that vaccuums can be soothing to babies, so your mom was really onto something! Block the baby out while helping her sleep...and getting the carpets clean. :)

    It's funny how different two babies can be. If we only had Sophie, we'd think everything we're doing is genius. If we only had Michael, we'd think we're totally clueless. Good thing we have both at once!


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