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.
MY BABY WAS SLEEP-STARVED.
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?