An update on sleep

I’ve kind of settled into this life of little sleep. It has been 9 months and 1 week since I slept through the night. No, that’s not true. There was a while there when Avery was 5-6 months old that I demanded we bed share because the dreaded 4 month sleep regression had destroyed any possibility of putting my baby down, anywhere, without my body next to hers. During those weeks I slept a lot more back-to-back hours, but she was also waking up for the day at 4:30am. 
Here’s where we are now, at 9 months and 1 week, in a nutshell. 

7/7:30pm. Bedtime routine, then I nurse her to sleep (with a lullaby) on the floor of her room, on her crib mattress. 

8:30-9:30pm. At her first wake up of the night, about an hour to two hours later, I lift her mattress into her crib with one hand while holding her and Benny (her chosen Lovie) in the other, and I nurse her back to sleep in the chair before putting her down in the crib. 

We start the night on the floor because she is a lot more sensitive to wake ups early in the evening. By the time she has been sleeping for an hour or two, her wake ups are a lot quicker to manage and she settles in the crib a lot easier. I feed her at her first wake up even if it’s only an hour later because she wants it. It seems like her body wants to stock up for the night ahead. 

So by around 9:30-10 I am done my shift, and I am free to go to sleep (free does not equal able). My wife handles most wake ups from 10 – 1 by rocking. These wake ups are usually easy to deal with. She wakes crying but it’s only a couple of minutes of reassuring snuggles before she’ll stay asleep for the crib transfer. 

Of course, every time she wakes for my wife, usually 1 to 3 times between 10pm and 1am, I wake up. Occasionally my wife calls me in because Avery tries to nurse on my wife’s shoulder and we offer her milk. It’s usually just that she wants me to hold her, though. 

At 1:30am she wakes for milk. 

At 2:30am she wakes and I try rocking her but my legs are too weak from the tiredness and I feel nauseous and I have to sit. She is asleep on me and I fall asleep before I can get back up to put her in the crib. 

3:30am rolls around and she wakes again, this time in my arms in the chair. Oh fuck, I’m still in the chair. I rock her and put her in the crib and go back to bed where I find the cats have stolen my side of the bed and I am too tired to move them so I teeter on the edge of the bed, usually with no blankets. It’s so silly what the sleepy brain makes you do. Why can’t I think to just move them? 

4:30am she wakes and I waste no time bringing her into our bed with me for the best 1.5 hours of sleep I will have all night. I lock the cats out of the room so they won’t wake her by begging for breakfast. She sleeps next to me until her natural wake up time of 6am. 

Ocassionally we get a 3 hour stretch that happens totally out of the blue, always in the very middle of the night. The other night she slept from 11:30pm until 3:30am. 

I try to really pay attention to the progress we’ve made rather than focusing on how far we have yet to go. Although she still wakes a lot, there was a time when we COULD NOT put her down in the crib. No matter how long she had been sleeping for in our arms, a transfer would lead to SCREAMING. Now she responds well to crib transfers most of the time, and even pushes off of us at least once a night asking to be put down while still awake. On these rare but hopeful occasions, she rolls over and goes to sleep with a light back rub. That’s amazing progress. 

Although I would still love to bring back bed sharing, I’m kind of sneakily integrating bedsharing into the 4:30am wakeup when I’m just too tired to be up with her. That’s good enough for me right now. It’s nice to have our bed to ourselves for the first half of the night so we can watch tv and talk (and even have sex, TWICE, for the first time since part way through my pregnancy).  

I can see her growing up before my very eyes, and I can see her sleep abilities maturing, if I look really, really closely. Or rather, if I look at the big picture. I’m confident that another sleep update post a few months from now will look even better. 

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On Photographing your Birth

I’ve written about this before in a post on regrets. I wanted a birth photographer, but in the end it was going to be too expensive to hire a professional and we didn’t know anyone I was comfortable enough letting into the delivery room (I’m weird that way… the closer someone is to me, the less comfortable I am showing them my vulnerability). We brought our nice camera to the hospital with us, but of course everyone in the room was too busy, you know, delivering a baby, to remember to snap pictures. There are 4 or 5 photos of all of us in the delivery room, and most of those have nip slips in them so I don’t even want to show them off.

I’m also a person who takes A. LOT. OF. PHOTOS. My wife teases me about it and asks why I can’t just settle for making a memory in my brain, rather than trying to capture everything in photos and live the actual experience from the other side of a lens. I take so many photos that both my laptop and my phone ran out of space after 6 months of having a baby. I was able to store some pictures in the cloud for a while, but then that too ran out of space. We finally bought a huge external hard drive and I’m now moving everything over to it (and forcing myself to pare down the photos I kept, from ~300 a month, to under 100 per month). 

In my photo sorting, I came across a folder from my nephew’s birth. My wife brought her fancy camera to that too, but this time was free to get creative and play the role of professional photographer. There are more photos of my nephew’s birth (actually the afternoon after he was born – we weren’t in the room for the gory stuff) than there are of Avery’s first 4 months combined (after paring down). There are beautiful shots of the clock on the wall, the contraction monitor, the little “it’s a boy” card, the baby with each and every one of his new extended family members, and about 50 of the new mom with baby, so she could pick the few that she looked best in.

I’m jealous. I’m disappointed for Avery’s sake that we didn’t plan to capture more of her special day. It only happens once in a person’s life, and the changes from that day forward are monumental, taking you away from the wrinkled, vernix-covered innocence to the round, chubby baby days in the blink of an eye. And birth itself is such an intense experience for the person birthing that photos would really help jog the memory when the dust settles and you find yourself wanting to reflect.

So if you are reading this and you are pregnant, I highly, highly, highly recommend having a birth photographer. Don’t lose out on the chance to capture those fleeting memories in all the raw, beautiful detail.

Canadian babies cry more and have a higher rate of colic – but why? 

I was interviewed for this article in the Globe and Mail on our experiences with Avery’s colic. It’s a really interesting read! 
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/canadian-babies-cry-more-and-have-a-higher-rate-of-colic-butwhy/article34688315/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com&cmpid=rss1&click=sf_globefb&service=mobile