Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As I Hit Publish, He's Awake in His Man Cave, Pounding His Chest and Demanding His Woman Come Now and Bring Him Turkey Leg, Grunt Grunt.

Y'all ever feel like you just want to go HANG OUT at your blog, with your peeps, but not necessarily SAY anything? Today I just sorta wish I could walk out onto my porch up there and sit in my porch swing and my friends would amble up and sit down around me and I'd rock and smile and listen to the chatter and soak up the fellowship and the kindred spiritedness but mostly just be quiet. I don't mean the silent kind of quiet, just the quiet quiet. Not like "I'm not speaking to you" silence but "I really love having you near me and I'm happy to bask in it and leave it at that" quiet. You know that quiet?

I think it's partially because lately I've just felt my vibe, or whatever's, been off. Do y'all ever feel that way? Like somehow what's inside me is somehow coming out all wrong and getting reactions I don't expect, scaring people off and inciting controversy where I've meant to engender collaboration and agreement. It's just weird, and I wonder if this is a God thing - that He's isolating me a bit to bring me closer to Him, or to teach me another of His amazing lessons?

Hello, sir. I'm listening.


Mr. Peabody turned EIGHT MONTHS old this week, and I will tell you that in this past week, he has probably slept more than he's slept in his whole life, combined.

I haven't shared fully with y'all the insanity that has been his unsleepitude, because you'd never have believed me (and for some reason whenever I told anyone about Peabody's sleep problems, they'd answer with "Oh, MY children slept through the night starting six minutes after they were born and I had to wake them up from their naps or they'd have slept until they were two," which is not what I really needed to hear but hey, good for them, right?). I'll sum it up by saying that since this boy turned six weeks old, he's had only a few days when he's slept longer than 30 minutes at a time for naps (two of them a day), and only a few nights when he's managed longer than a 3 hour stretch of sleep at a time, generally adding up to about 10 hours of broken sleep.

It just wasn't right y'all. I knew in my head it wasn't right but because he stayed in a good mood (he is JUST LIKE HIS STINKIN' CHEERFUL NO-MATTER-WHAT FATHER, darn him!) regardless, I began to think, "Well, maybe he just doesn't NEED much sleep. Maybe he's just not a sleeper."

Dude. Eleven or twelve hours of sleep a day for a 5-7 month old baby?

Survey says, "X!"

And yes, HE was in a good mood, but I was a total zombie. A lifeless, spunkless zombie with these eyes, y'all. These eyes that scared ME when I looked at them. Al looked at me like I was haunted, and Bean kept stroking my hair and staring at me worriedly like I was about to keel over.

Sump'm had to give.

So I hied myself hither on down to the Borders Books, and I quickly scanned the baby section and found a couple titles I'd heard of and commenced the perusal. For whatever reason, probably because I could see just in skimming a sense of rationality and balance and even EMPATHY that appealed to my confused, muddled, emotionally-overwrought little brain, I settled on Dr. Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Interestingly enough, not one single real-life Mom has recommended this book to me, and I've never really read or heard anything much about it except in a little forum I stumbled into one afternoon when I Googled "Hod a'mighty DAM, this child will not SLEEP."

(Desperation Googling is one of my current favorite pastimes, as I have mentioned to y'all before.)

Here's what I learned from this book, in a nutshell.

1. Peabody's been in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation for several months. A child his age NEEDS up to 17 hours or more of good quality sleep for optimal health and growth. He was getting 13 hours of broken, battered sleep on a really "successful" day.


2. A sleep-starved baby like Peabody can't and won't take back the sleep he needs just because he's exhausted. An overtired baby? CAN'T SLEEP. Has a hard time falling asleep (check), wakes up crying after only short catnaps (check), may appear to be in a good mood (check), but is easily scared by loud noises, has a short attention span and always seems hungry (check, check and check).

3. I don't know what I was thinking but I'd let Peabody's bedtime get later and later so that he was actually going to bed at the same time Bean did (at EIGHT O'CLOCK at night!) after taking only two little 30 minute naps throughout the day. I wanted to keep him up so he could see his Daddy and be with us as a family for a while at night. But that meant he was awake sometimes for six or more hours before I put him to bed! Babies his age should only be awake for 2 to 3 hours at a time, and a baby who's been up for twice that long is GUARANTEED to have a lousy night's sleep. CRAZY.

4. After reading the chapter of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby in which the good doctor outlined sleep needs for babies Peabody's age, after I scraped up all my facial features which had slid off and fallen to the floor, that very same day, I moved Peabody's bed time from 8 PM to 6:30 PM. And people, my boy slept six full hours before he woke up again. I fed him at that waking and he went easily back to bed and slept another five hours, woke, ate and slept an additional two hours, until 8 AM. That was 13 and a half hours with 2 wakings the first night, when we'd been in a pattern of only 11 hours with 4 to 5 wakings for several months.

I was officially on the Weissbluth bandwagon.

5. But the early bedtime didn't fix Peabody's nap issues, and I just about fell back off the wagon no sooner than I'd climbed on. We struggled another two weeks with only a handful of hour-plus (and they need to be at least one hour long to be considered good, restorative naps) daytime sleeps amid a continuing stream 20-30 minute catnaps. I moved the nap times earlier (Weissbluth says a nap that's too short is almost always too short because it started too late, when the baby was already over-tired), I soothed him more and in different ways, trying to figure out how to get him to nap longer, but nothing worked.

6. Until I found, hiding on a page in another chapter, one little sentence that suggested that if you felt convinced you were getting that baby to bed early enough and he was getting enough nighttime sleep but he still wasn't napping well, then perhaps the baby's sleep environment was too loud, or too light. Aha! We actually have white noise in Peabody's room and have since he was a few days old, so I ruled out the "too loud" theory. So, two days ago, I climbed up on Bean's tooth-brushing stool and threw a thick CLEMSON quilt over the curtain rod in the nursery, taking it from shady to nearly pitch black (with a slightly orange tint, I'll grant you) in the blink of an eye.

And Peabody hasn't taken a nap shorter than 90 minutes since then.

So either my boy likes him a man-cave for sleepin', or he's a dyed-in-the-wool Tiger fan.

I guess what I'm saying is, we feel better around here. Peabody, believe it or not, is even MORE CHEERFUL. I'm still not sleeping all that well, probably because I'm still conditioned to those four wakings we've done for all these months, but I know that will improve as I adjust to our new, more sane, healthier sleeping pattern.

Peabody has had one night of TWELVE solid hours of sleep, and the rest of the nights since that first night of two wakings he's slept up to seven hours at a time with only one full-awakening per night to eat and return to bed. (I hear him wake and fuss briefly at up to two other points throughout the night, but he quickly goes back to sleep on his own.)

So if you're looking for a good book about kids' sleep (all the way up to adolescence!), whether you co-sleep or not, whether you like to rock or nurse your baby to sleep or put her to bed awake and let her go to sleep on her own, whether you believe letting a baby cry for awhile is okay or is something you just wouldn't ever do, whether you nurse or bottle-feed, WHATEVER, even if you have an older child who has some behavioral or learning issues or just won't sleep through the night, this book may have some helpful information that will help your whole family get the sleep you all need.

And that concludes my spontaneous book review and lecture on infant sleep.


Oh come on, y'all didn't REALLY think I could just sit here and be quiet, did you?

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  1. Wow. That was really interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm so thankful that you're having a better go with the sleep for Peabody!! One of my friends recommended that book and we bought it before Brennan was born, but it's still sitting on my coffee table just waiting for me to pick it up. I definitely will though! I hope you start sleeping well, too!

  3. First of all, I'm glad you and Peabody are getting some more sleep. Yay for that!

    Second, your cave-man Tiger fan comment was too funny. I'm still chuckling. (My husband finds it hard to sleep with a single speck of light in the room, so I know how that goes. We have sun-blocking roller shades in our bedroom.)

    And lastly, I think it's difficult to share opinions about any parenting subject without inciting controversy because a lot of parents are passionate, defensive, opinionated, self-righteous, and / or unsure about their experiences with parenting topics and concerns.

    Everyone's experiences are just so different. We each enter parenthood with different backgrounds and expectations, and we all know that no 2 children are alike. It would be nice if we could all stop comparing ourselves and just share and engender collaboration, as you said.

    I for one, love reading about your (and others') experiences, even though mine may have been totally different, because I believe that I can still learn from you (and others). Plus, I just really enjoy your sense of humour.

  4. Glad to your sleep (and therefore household) is on better footing! I'll certainly keep that book in mind for future recommendations.

  5. Thanks for sharing these tips. My 2 1/2 year old was a great sleeper, so much so that I'm convince that my baby (who will arrive in 5 weeks) is never ever EVER going to sleep. I'll have to keep these things in mind if we get into a sleep-deprivation cycle.

  6. So I was thinking to myself the other day, well, moaning, really, about how all my blessings have turned into burdens and I just want to sit and watch the world go by a while. But I carry on. And I've totally been feeling like everything I say to everyone somehow strikes a raw nerve, and they don't want to be my friend anymore. Good to know I'm not the only one. :o)
    As for Dr. W...I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan, and have been for months and months. Honey, I didn't know you were having that much trouble with Ol' Mr. P, else I woulda recommended the book to you! Heck, I'da sent you a copy just for kicks! It's awesome, it really is. And I've dog-eared many pages. He's gotten me through one-month-in-a-playpen sleep, through other-side-of-the-planet sleep, through re-entering-this-side-of-the-planet sleep, and SO much more. I'm glad you wrote about it, though, because your readership is big enough that I'm sure there's a zombified mama out there that needs to hear your good words.
    Lemme ask you, though, because Dr W doesn't address this...going from 3 hours between feedings to 7 you feel like someone poured concrete into your nursing tank? Cuz I did. UN-comfortable. Because of our recent travel, we're back to a few hours between, but it makes me fear that the well will soon run dry. :o)
    That's all to say YAY!!! for you and for Mr P. Now, go take yourself a nap!

  7. What a happy post! I'm thrilled you found that book and what you said from it makes total sense. Hooray for sleeping!

  8. THANK YOU!! I probably should have it "all figured out" with #4 in 4 years on the way, but alas, I do not! ;) I will so be buying this book and reading it in preparation for Boy 4! Thanks so much for talking about it, and your experience with it in such detail - soooo helpful, Megan!

    I KNOW what you've been going through with Peabody, by the way. Arthur never (ever) napped more than 30 minutes, twice a day. And woke up to hourly at night until I frantically night-weaned him at 15 months, but then he STILL woke several times a night and needed settling till he slept through the night for the first time at 18 months!!! He very nearly DID ME IN, that boy! ;) Thankfully Matthew and Nathan have been somewhat easier than Arthur, though Nathan isn't so easy at night still. I wish I had bought this book, read it, and put it into practise from ohhh, November 2004?!! Tsk. Ah well. Better late than never. :)

    Thank you also for your comments at my blog, I so appreciate them!!! Will eventually muster up the not-sure-what-word-I'm-looking-for to post again about it all soon. xxx

  9. And I just totally failed to say the most important part - I'm so happy for you that you figured out Peabody's troubles and FIXED THEM - you go girl!!! :) So glad the sleep situation is improving for you all. I hope you start to sleep through the night soon, too! ;)

  10. I'm so glad Mr. Peabody is getting more and better sleep. And of course, that means YOU are getting more and better sleep!

    I wish I had known what was going on. I would have recommended The Sleep Lady. My son was much like Mr. Peabody so before I had my daughter, I sat in on one of her conference calls. She was a pro sleeper and I owe it all to The Sleep Lady. Her theories and methods sound very similiar to the book you read. But if you are

    I've missed you posting here. Hopefully you will have more energy now and will get your vibe back!

  11. Oh this post is just what i needed to hear today. I am struggling so hard-core with my almost 7 month old. She never more than cat-naps for 30 minutes at a time -- and she still wakes up every few hours all night long -- 7 months of sleep deprivation (not including pregnancy when i got up every few hours to pee) is catching up to me. For realz.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and the book - I am going to buy it on Amazon tonight! :-)

  12. A friend gave me her copy of that book when we came home with baby #3, and I wish I'd had it for all my kids! I'm SO glad you're getting better sleep . . . I have to check the 2-year-old sleep amounts and see if I'm doing bedtime too late again. My girl is waking a little lately, but it might also be her 2-year molars, which are taking a sweet forever to come in. (How long can you give them Motrin every night before they develop an ulcer?!)

    I hope the weird vibe starts to dwindle . . . I hate that feeling of being misunderstood when you had the best intentions. You're right, though -- sometimes our friends drown out God and we need a little alone time to get closer to him again.


  13. I am so pleased for you that Peabody is now getting the sleep he needs. Hopefully you will start getting the sleep you need as well!! Sophie seems to be going backwards in terms of sleeping at night, so I may need to check this book out before the situation gets deperate!

  14. Everything I know about the HUGE importance of early bedtimes for infants, I learned from Dr. W. I am so sorry I never mentioned that book to you. E. Pantley shares a lot of the same info in No Cry Sleep Solution. I am the FOREVER champion of early baby bedtimes - in fact, we didn't move AJ's bedtime past 7 o'clock until she was around 13 months or so.

    Oh, and both of my girls HAVE TO have black-out curtains or they will. not. nap. I discovered them when Dacey was two weeks old and they have been hanging in our home ever since. I don't know what i would do without them. Maybe find a collegiate mascot blanket. Would have been much more economic! :)

    Megan, seriously, I am so, so glad you guys have found some good sleep solutions. YAY!

  15. Sooooooooooooooooo glad you found the solution. HUGS! it must be such a relief. ♥

    glad to stop by and see you. missing you a bit. ♥

  16. This is just what we needed to hear - I'd given up on putting my kids down for naps - all that work for 30 minutes? No way! Sounds like I need to try some blackout material, or a big blanket...

    And I feel SO BAD now that I took your earlier post wrong (didn't realise it was supposed to be funny) and said it scared me. I really enjoy your writing. Apologies!!

  17. Wow, that is awesome you found something so helpful!! Sweet Dreams!!

  18. I am so happy for your family! It is amazing what sleep will do for everyone. Often, I don't realize how desperately we needed sleep until after we get things back on course. Hopefully now your whole family will find this life with two kids even more rewarding.

    And I absolutely get what you mean about the quiet of being with friends. I often have days where I just read my regular blogs, maybe comment, but often don't, and don't post anything on my blog. And it is just right.

  19. Such great info! I will keep that book in the back of my head just in case.

    Boo had awful sleep habits. At first she was great, but when she hit 6 months it wsa down hill from there.

    So glad that things are turning around!!!

  20. The group of girls I hung with during the baby years had this whole sleep thing down. So if I had trouble I could call somebody and we could go over what I was and wasn't doing until we got it working. We also tended to give a book on infant sleep as a baby gift at showers too. What better gift than sleep! LOL Glad you found an answer! : )

  21. Does the book say anything about fighting with a just barely two year old who thinks he doesn't need a nap even as his eyes are drooping? Because that's what I'm doing today, and I'm about to loose it!!!

  22. Oh, Megan, that is WONDERFUL. My little boy (16 mos now) sleeps really well at night, from 7:30 pm to 7 am, but he has always been a HORRIBLE napper. Lately he's been taking 2 30 minute naps a day. So today I put him down to one nap, and he slept for an hour and 20 minutes...and he's awake now. I may just have to look into that book, if this new schedule doesn't start working a little better! Thanks for sharing! :)

  23. I'm glad you are all sleeping better. More I'm glad I'm figuring out how to comment on your blogs.

    Nancy (Camapana)

  24. Wow, what a difficult year! Happy Happy Congratulations on your sleeping success. You will be a new woman and maybe you can enjoy some well deserved quiet time after all.

  25. Holy, Camolie, Megan, you totally described Vann. And Camden. I will defintely be checking out this book. Do you think Peabody was just ready for it or do you think it coudl have been used a lot earlier and if so when? Good Lord, though, this just gives me hope and light at the end of the long sleepless tunnel. Waking every 2 hours all night long just bites and catnaps during the day waking a crying baby in the middle of each one bite too! If I can nip this in the bud now...I'm sold.

  26. Heather - Dr. Weissbluth has detailed chapters about the appropriate amounts and timing and some of the normal roadblocks to sleep for children from newborn up to adolescence. You'll love this book, and it will help you with both Camden AND Vann both now and for many years to come. (Well, that's my prediction, anyway.) I'd say it's a must-have for just about any mom. I absolutely do think Peabod' was ready, because I read the chapter that applied to babies his age and used those specific techniques on him. :) Vann won't be ready yet for the super early bedtime, but you CAN find good information about how to handle him now and how to ease transitions for him as he grows older and his sleeping needs and abilities change.

  27. Oh, I completely believe your sleep woes. Ours were not the same, and have gotten better - but man, did I wind up with a little lady who did NOT like being put to sleep in any way. (She now is a fairly good napper and sleeps almost 11 hours each night - hooray! It only took 14 months!!)
    So glad you found some things to help you out - getting some rest and quiet time in your days makes all the difference!!

  28. i LOVE Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child! There is nothing like a baby that is a good sleeper. well rested baby = happy mama!

  29. Sure hope all the Okra's had a wonderful Easter!

  30. I already commented once on this post, but I had to come back & say "Thanks!" I hadn't heard of this book, but I'm going to have to read it. Your tidbit about a too-short nap being too short because it started too late somehow set off a lightbulb for me - I've been having exactly that problem with my 2 1/2 year old lately! I've been convinced that she still needs a substantial afternoon nap, but we were having trouble getting it done. I've started making an effort to get her down earlier, BEFORE she really shows signs of being sleepy, and it's great! She goes to sleep more quickly, sleeps more deeply, and sleeps longer!

    Yay for sleep!

  31. As a blood-runneth-orange, born-n-bred CLEMSON fan, I can tell you, you should have just gone with the blanket over the window trick from the beginning :-)

    I told you that boy of yours was a Tiger!!

    Seriously, though...glad you got little man sleeping again!

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  33. Megan,

    I am so delighted that things have improved so much there in the Manor!! I have heard good things about that book but never read it myself.

    For YOU, something to try is melatonin. When you're our age, your body starts making less of it, and then you don't sleep as well.

    I take it whenever I'm stressed, or had too much caffeine, and especially if I had a bad night the night before--because it seems like one bad night can make the next one even worse.

    Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

    I just posted pics of our church's first Easter Vigil! It went so well--praise God!


  34. Isn't it amazing how a few tweaks to the schedule can make such a HUGE difference? I am so glad that things seem to be looking up at your household! :) Lana

  35. Ahhh! I'm so glad I meandered over here today, even though this was posted a while back. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I'm going to order that book, and see what all I can learn. My boy is 3 months old and we've been battling the nap time thing the past week and nighttime sleep has been horrible! His bed time is 8:30-9 p.m. and I think that's what our issue is. Cat napping during the day and not sleeping long at night means we need an earlier bedtime and better naps. So glad you shared!

  36. YEAH zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz hee hee

  37. Hi from Australia! I really enjoyed your comments and insight, thanks. We are a small company that is just starting to learn about the US market. Our Paediatrician has developed a program that helps babies settle with a 90+% success rate. So I hope you dont mind me reading your blog. Our web if you are interested is
    We would love to hear from you on what you think of it for the US, thanks heaps, Steve