First off, thank you so much, everyone who commented and wrote me emails and messages and told me to come on down and let them hold my crying baby for a little while. Wow. Mamas are awesome, I can’t tell you how much I learned from you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We’ve made a few changes around here and, knock on wood, it seems like we are moving in the right direction. Is our kid sleeping through the night yet? No. Is he still coming into our bed around 1am? Yes. But we’ve managed to eliminate about 95% of the pre-bedtime crying (he never cried in the middle of the night, only before bed) and that was our only real goal for now. That, and to get him to bed, in his crib, at an hour that would give Chris and I some free time and Will a little more sleep.
We’re definitely not home-free yet. It still takes us about 2 hours to get Will down at night, and yes, we are still going in there and picking him up every time he cries, but the amount of crying has dropped so dramatically and even the number of times we have to go in there to comfort him is going down, albeit a little more slowly.
Our new routine goes something like this:
Chris gets him in his pjs at around 6:45-7pm while I pump a quick 4 oz bottle so we can give him his Vitamin D (I know a lot of people have stopped supplementing Vitamin D in the States but with Chengdu’s perma-grey he’s actually at a slight risk for rickets if we don’t)
I feed him a bottle in our room with the lights dimmed and we read Good Night Moon anywhere from 1-10 times. He usually doesn’t finish his bottle and he usually goes at least 6 hours between feedings at night so we aren’t too worried about him getting enough.
He gets another 10 minutes or so of cuddles to help him settle down if he’s not already asleep and then I put him down.
He usually wakes up within about 30 minutes and I go, pick him up, get him settled and then put him back down. Rinse and Repeat anywhere from 1-4 times until about 9pm when he sleeps straight through to sometime between 11pm-1am.
I’m hesitant to say “oh this works great” about anything that we are doing now but a couple of observations:
1. Once we start our bedtime routine, Will does not leave the bedroom. We don’t do anything but snuggles and soft singing. Even if I’m in the middle of a 90 minute cuddling-back-to-sleep session, I don’t leave the room with Will. If I need to do something, like throw a load of diapers in the laundry, I’ll put him down in his crib and come back but he doesn’t leave the room. I think wandering around the house just gives him too much to look at and he forgets how tired he is until he’s too tired to do anything but scream.
2. For now, we’ve given up on Chris putting Will to bed. It just gets him worked up. Once we get Will good and used to this new routine, we’ll start having Chris taking part again but for now, the goal is just to eliminate the crying and for now, anyone but me holding him after about 7pm is a great way to make him cry.
3. Shots suck. I think because all of the literature says kids have a reaction to shots for only about 24 hours, it caught me really off-guard when Will ran a fever for 48 hours and then was out of sorts for the whole week. He stopped smiling for basically a week and cried all the time. He’s better now, but wow! What a reaction.
4. Teething sucks. Our kid is soooo far from any of his teeth breaking through but you can just tell when they are bothering him. He’s clingy, fussy, and he ceases to be interested in any of his toys, all he wants is to chew on our hands or a frozen wet washcloth.
5. Our kid still needs to cry a little bit. We’ve gone from 2 hours of crying to about 5 minutes of total crying each night over the course of the last week. It seems like Will is getting used to the routine and, while he will cry for me to come comfort him, he stops almost before I can pick him up which leads me to believe we can start moving towards a non-pick-up comfort soon. That being said though, before Will will really settle down and close his eyes, he still cries for about 2-3 minutes in my arms but it sounds very different than hysterical screaming. This sounds more to me like he’s just blowing off steam, letting out the last of his energy before he settles down for the night, and that, I think is just normal and healthy and manageable.
6. I can’t treat naps differently than bedtime. I used to let Will nap in my arms or nap in the living room. Now, I put him down in his crib, even if it means a really short nap or if it means I spend 2 hours going in to comfort him every 15 minutes. It’s harder for him to settle down in his crib at night if he doesn’t take at least one nap in there during the day.
So, that’s where are. It’s not perfect sleep, probably to some people it still sounds like a nightmare but for us its a huge improvement. I read somewhere that when you are trying to change your kid’s sleep habits you should start with the thing that is driving you most bonkers and spend 2-3 weeks trying to fix that one thing. At the end of that time you will either have a) fixed it; b) be on your way to fixing it; or c) realized that you can’t fix it yet. At which point you move on to the thing that’s is the second most bothersome to you and so on and so forth.
So that’s our strategy. For now we are working on getting him to fall asleep in his crib peacefully, next we’ll tackle getting him to stay there all night… 🙂
Thank you again so so much everyone. Your comments and suggestions and sweet empathy really made Chris and I’s week a little easier last week, thanks again.