Since he was born, Damien has shown a distinct preference for sleeping on his back. Thanks in part to this, and to the ‘easy’ newborn period, we’ve been trying to teach him to fall asleep on his own. Generally speaking, if we keep his awake window short and put him down swaddled with white noise, he’ll fall asleep on his own.
Usually I give him a quick ‘bonus’ nurse if he seems fussy before he goes down, but I try at least once to put him down awake before scrapping the plan and moving to plan B, ‘nurse to sleep’.
I took the above video as Damien was falling asleep last night. At night, he is a little more fussy, so I employed the bassinet to help rock him to sleep. Downstairs, he sleeps in a pack & play and doesn’t use rocking (though I jiggle it for nap extensions).
Since Aiden was colicky and not a great sleeper, we ended up sleep training him when he was four months. He’s had many regressions since then; it’s just his personality. As a result, we know a lot about sleep and are trying to employ some of our knowledge (and patience) to slowly teaching Damien the basics. Since he is so young, we don’t push it, but wherever possible we work on falling asleep unassisted and on extending his naps if they’ve been less than 1 hour (it works most of the time).
Despite how awesome this all is, currently none of our little tricks work once Damien starts waking up at night. He hasn’t yet mastered the ‘going back to sleep’ skill at night and I don’t anticipate he will for many more weeks. Since night time there aren’t ‘awake times’ to get Damien tired again, we often are stuck with one big night chunk where he’s awake (day/night confusion) and the rest are easier to get him back down after a feed.
He will sleep in his bassinet if he’s having a good night, but most nights are not so good. His best chunks of sleep are snuggled very close to, or being semi-held in the lying down position by, either Mommy or Daddy ;)
A few months ago, we purchased a new video monitor for Aiden’s bedroom. We had a sound-only monitor while he was young, but felt that with all his sleep regressions, it would be nice to know what he was up to in his crib. We were also looking ahead to a time when Aiden would be in a toddler bed and, quite likely, getting out of said toddler bed. It’s nice to know that when we’re downstairs, we can see what he’s up to. It’s also fun that we can watch the monitor from our iPhones.
Sometimes what Aiden is up to is definitely not sleep. His wind-down period can last from 20 minutes to 2 hours, sometimes requiring Ianiv to go in once (or a few times) to remind Aiden to sleep or to deal with one of his stalling tactics (water, throwing out blanky, etc). We knew, for example, when he had taken off his sleep sac – which he then refused to wear ever again.
And yet there are also both cute and funny moments. Moments when he’s draping his blanky over a stuffed animal or moments when he’s doing summersaults.
It’s funny, but this time around I had absolutely no nervousness around labour. It’s such a short span of time that any pain is really easy to forget about. I know I had a lot of incoherent-screaming-pain with Aiden, and yet I still felt completely ok with going through that again. Compared with months of pain during the pregnancy, it seemed like an “easy” end.
My Labour Story with Damien
As many of you know, I was scheduled to be induced on my due date (May 14) because of the pain the pregnancy was causing me (pelvis, back, neck, etc) – I couldn’t take care of Aiden, let alone myself. Our induction was pushed to May 15th initially, which was ok, but it all went messy from there.
Originally, I was told we would go straight to the pitocin to induce my labour, but the midwife on call thought my cervix could use some extra work and gave me cervidil instead. I was sent home, which was very confusing for me. Initially, we tried not to let Aiden know we were home, since he thought we were having the baby. However, we had to drop that plan eventually when the induction didn’t trigger my labour. I had about 30 hours of early labour contractions, but nothing after that.
With cervidil, the best plan is to return for a second dose the next day, often triggering labour with the back-to-back action. However, the hospital maternity ward was full and I was bumped off the schedule (as an “optional” induction, higher risk patients took priority). For the next 3 days, this continued to happen – at one point the entire hospital was on overflow and diverting patients. Meanwhile, I kept having on-and-off early labour and felt on edge all the time. I tried everything to trigger labour on my own, all to no avail (though it was nice to walk in our week of Spring sun!). It was the hardest week of waiting ever!
Finally, on Saturday night, I was invited back for a second cervidil. Early labour began instantly again and I was sent home. At 2am, my water broke; by 2:20am, I wanted to go to the hospital. Apparently, my labour is back-to-back contractions (the cervidil had been out for a couple of hours already) and that’s just not fun. Thankfully, they weren’t as intense as they were with Aiden, but I still wanted drugs.
When we got to the hospital, we had to wait for the midwife to arrive. My labour progressed very quickly and I was very ready for drugs by the time she got there. My waters gushed again and I was already 5cm dilated – soon after, I was started on the gas, which helped tremendously with the pain. The midwife was also amazing, really talking me through the pain (wow, midwives shine during labour!).
If my pelvis hadn’t been misaligned, I would have considered labour with just the gas. As it was, I was too worried about tearing and could barely lie down from the pain associated with my pelvis and back, so I got the epidural. I love the epidural, but I had an adverse reaction this time. I got sick, my blood pressure dropped and baby’s heart rate was fluctuating. They were concerned from time to time, making me change positions often, but thankfully when the midwife went to check me again an hour after her initial exam, she was pleased (and surprised) to see that I was ready to push. I could feel baby descending and rotating with each contraction (pretty neat).
After 20 minutes of pushing, Damien Grayson was born! The whole process, from when my water broke / active labour began to the birth, was 6 hours – not bad!
The only hiccup so far in our parenting journey has been the unfortunate resurgence of my milk supply issues. I was hoping, as is often the case, that it wouldn’t be a problem with Damien, as second babies often see more milk. On some days, I’m able to supplement with just 3oz of formula (total), though his demand increased and yesterday (and likely today) will be more like 9oz – that was a bit of a shock last night. However, looking back at what I had with Aiden, it’s about the same quantity (maybe a little bit more).
With Aiden, I dropped most bottles by 8 weeks and all bottles by 4 months. I’m hoping the journey is shorter this time, particularly as it’s more inconvenient to both breastfeed and bottle feed when taking care of a toddler. Not to mention trying to stick in cluster feeding and/or pumping. But, more than anything else, I find bottle feeding to be an emotionally discouraging process and look forward to one day stopping it altogether.
I actually credit my milk supply increasing to Aiden being colicky – although it was super stressful, it meant he essentially cluster fed all the time. Since Damien is a more placid baby, that hasn’t been the case. While I have the help at home, I’ve been delaying bottles and extending feeding to include at least one long cluster feeding session during the day. This won’t be possible when I am on my own.
Our nights are hit and miss, so I may end up breastfeeding more during some nights. When Damien sleeps, he sleeps really well; however, if he misses his bedtime window, his whole night goes off and he ends up waking up very frequently, which means more breastfeeding and more formula. I’m trying to be careful on the timing of his last nap to ensure his bedtime is easier, but you never can account for things like explosive diapers. Those just happen. Ah, newborns.
I hate each and every bottle I have to give Damien, though I know in the end I’m doing what’s right. Sometimes self doubt crops up, particularly as people (online and off) can be so incredibly polarized on the breastfeeding issue, particularly stigmatizing those of us who need to supplement or criticizing how we choose to supplement. There are many opinions about what will affect your breast milk production and it’s all a very confusing situation – even with the help of the lactation consultant. I doubt myself often.
So, wish me luck! I will need all the support I can get to soldier through the next few weeks.
Although Aiden slept like a pro in Hawaii, he did get used to sleeping in the same room with us. When we returned, a combination of jet lag and a subsequent cold made us slow to get him back to his firm bedtime routine. This resulted in one of us sitting on the rocking chair in Aiden’s room while he fell asleep about 50% of the time. Sometimes we could get away with a few Shh’s from the door. Mostly not.
As a toddler, though, Aiden likes to push his limits. The nights where he “needed” help were increasing, as was the time it took for him to fall asleep. He was yelling again for ‘more books’, even though we had a set rule on the number of books already. He’d ask for Mommy not Daddy and cuddles not just having us in the room. He tried to engage in arguments and we were losing focus on trying to minimize interaction. We kept putting off sleep training again because we were tired ourselves.
Finally, though, we put our foot down. After reading a few things online, I decided to make a Sleep Chart to help Aiden remember his sleep rules.
I let Aiden help me pick out some of the pictures and tried to make the steps simple. We modified his sleep routine to give him more choice and control, such as allowing him to turn off the lights and put on his night light. I made the steps after his books more drawn out (even though they are fast) so that he would have some distraction from wanting to read more.
We review the chart several times during the process of going to bed: it’s taped up in our bedroom (where he has his bath) and his bedroom near the rocker where he reads before bed. We encourage him to name each step. He’s very proud to point to the pictures and name the steps.
The first night was B-A-D. Aiden was super mad about the process, trying everything he could think of to stall – asking for water or Kleenex, but mostly for Mommy to sit in the chair. I kept calm and told him I would come every 10 minutes to rub his back, but that the “chart says sleepy time”.
After the first night, I put in one last sentence on lying down and trying to fall asleep, since his first night he refused to lie down for 1 hour. We talked about what would happen if he had trouble falling asleep (that he would get periodic visits only). Last night, he threw his blanky out once and tried to ask me to sit in the chair, but one reminder of “chart says sleepy time” and he went to sleep.
Last night, Aiden did better, but not perfect. He was a little wired going into bed (a surefire recipe for disaster normally), and though he didn’t escalate and start talking then crying and yelling, he did stay up for 45 minutes mumbling. He got frustrated at this point and needed a couple of reminders to go to sleep – he tried a few stall tactics at this point, but we did manage to calm him down quickly. Tonight should *hopefully* be even better.
As a bonus, the chart had the immediate effect of making bath time fun for Aiden again – he was putting up a fuss almost every night about it, but now he is eager to jump in. Go figure!
We arrived back from Hawaii on Sunday morning and are still getting our bearings. The trip was amazing and I have many many posts to share of our wonderful adventures. The only mar on the vacation was the airplane, and only because it involved sleep.
THE GOOD MOMENTS…
THE BAD MOMENTS… Visualize me, tears streaming down my face from incredible pain, putting up with a child squirming and whining every 2 minutes. For 4 hours.
The only direct flights available to us were at night. On the way there, it was earlier in the night and Aiden was able to play, be with other people, and sit in his car seat. It then took more than an hour of struggle, but he slept. Some in his car seat, more in my arms. But it wasn’t the whole trip, thankfully. On the return, not so much. Flying red eye, he fell asleep at the airport (go me!) and slept in my arms until I tried to buckle him in to his car seat. He slept about 30 minutes in his car seat, total, the rest of it wriggling to get comfortable in my arms. He was very unhappy.
Here is what I’ve learned from this whole experience…
Never ever fly Red-eye with a child. NEVER do it. If your child can sleep anywhere, no matter the position, you’re lucky. Mine is fussy about lying a particular way and that’s without the disruption of lights, announcements, other kids…
They cluster families together, probably to keep them contained from other passengers. Result – the kids keep each other up. If it’s a daytime flight, they play and that’s fine.
Naps are easier to miss in the long run than night sleep. That takes days to catch up on.
Even if you have 3 other adults to help, your child will only want Mommy when it’s time to sleep. So much for help!
Toddlers are actually pretty easy to amuse when awake. Don’t stress over that. There are beverages, snacks, tv’s, iPhones, books and other people to smile at.
The safest place for a child on an airplane is a car seat… but, does your child actually like the car seat? If the answer is no, don’t take it.
If safety is still a concern for your family, there is the CARES system. We should have done this instead.
An extra seat is still a good option, even for those under 2. Most don’t do it, but I think if our car seat hadn’t been in the seat, Aiden would have had a more comfortable place to sleep, draped across my lap and on the seat.
I don’t do well on airplanes with all my injuries to begin with, but having to hold Aiden made my pain so much worse. I could barely lift my arm for 24 hours after the return flight and am still very high on my pain threshold after the chiropractor and a massage. UGH