Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sweet dreams

I've talked a lot of about sleep here. Or, lack of sleep. My lack of sleep. Jonah's frequent night wakings. My craziness due to my lack of sleep. Well, finally, finally, we are all sleeping more. It only took an intervention by Jonah's pediatrician. That, and a huge change in our sleeping arrangement.

From birth, Jonah slept with us in our bed. It was really nice having him there. We always knew he was OK because he was right there between us. And, it was so sweet waking up in the mornings with him, especially as he got bigger and started interacting with us more. A nice bonus for me was that I could feed him in the middle of the night without having to get out of bed. I just latched him on and we both eventually fell back to sleep. I loved having him close, my warm, soft baby. That was great, for a while. By the time Jonah was about 3 months old, his stretches of sleep were getting longer and longer. I thought it would just continue, though I never had the unrealistic expectation that he would sleep through the night like an adult does. But, I was hoping for at least 4 or 5 hours at a stretch. Well, at about 3 1/2 months old, something changed and Jonah started nursing more frequently again, like every two hours. Or, sometimes even more frequently than that. Like a newborn!

I tried all sorts of things to encourage him to sleep longer at night, but this pattern continued on and on and on. I'd get a bit of a break for a few days, but then he'd be right back at it, waking me up off and on all night long. After a month or so, I started to understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!

Then, about 3 weeks ago, we took Jonah in for a "shot-only" visit. We expected to be there all of 10 minutes. His doctor took one look at me and asked how I was sleeping. I told her I wasn't. She said, "Come in and talk to me." Our shot-only visit quickly turned into a sleep intervention. She explained how important it is for the whole family to get better rest, including Jonah, who needs more consolidated sleep to grow and develop. She gave us some tips, a pep talk and permission to do something different than what we had been doing. She also told us to have a talk with Jonah to prepare him for the change. The very next night we moved Jonah into his crib in his own room, put him to sleep on his belly, which he prefers, got rid of the swaddle and aimed to reduce the number of times he nurses at night. We decided to just do it all at once, rather than a gradual transition. I'm not sure why, but we just felt is was the right way for him. We told him we loved him and that we knew he could sleep for a long time, and if he woke up, we reminded him to suck his fingers or thumb or his taggy blanket if he needed help falling back to sleep.

We decided to handle nighttime wakings like this: If Jonah wakes up before 4 hours has passed since his last feeding, we give him a few minutes to see if he will go back to sleep on his own. If he doesn't, Matthew handles soothing him. If Jonah wakes up after 4 or more hours since the last feeding, I nurse him.

The first night, we were prepared for the worst, expecting him to wake up every 2 hours like always. We were truly amazed when he slept for 5 hours! The second night, he slept for 6 hours during the first stretch, with one waking when he cried a bit but quickly stopped and went back to sleep. About two nights ago, he slept for a record 8 hours!

Since this change, there have been only two nights so far when Matthew had trouble soothing Jonah back to sleep. There was a lot of crying on those nights, mostly in Matthew's arms. Our pediatrician does not advocate letting him cry indefinitely but did encourage us give Jonah a chance to settle down on his own. It is truly amazing that if we don't jump at every peep, he actually does often go back to sleep on his own at night.

At first, I really missed Jonah in our bed. And, both of us had to get used to not being able to see him and check on him all night long. But, like we always do, we adjusted. Jonah adjusted faster than we did!

Jonah still needs our help falling asleep initially at bedtime or for a nap, whether it's by nursing him or bouncing him in the carrier or walking him outside. We know that we haven't succeeded in helping him learn to put himself to sleep yet, but we feel that we have made such a huge improvement in our nighttime sleep that we are fine with it for now. We'll keep working on it.

Meanwhile, because I am getting so much more sleep, I feel like a new person. The fog has lifted a bit. And, I can tell that Jonah is generally more well-rested, too. He's always been a happy guy and full of energy, but now I realize some of his energy may have been agitation. He definitely seems more content and focused now, and his naps are getting longer and more regular, too. Matthew, on the other hand, is involved much more at night, and I think he's a bit more tired than usual. But, he no longer has a crazy, sleep-deprived wife, so I think he's OK with the trade off. He's also showing Jonah how much he cares for him, even in the middle of the night, and I can tell that Jonah feels closer to Matthew lately. It's sweet to watch.

When we saw Jonah's doctor the other day, several weeks after her "intervention," we just wanted to give her a big hug! She encouraged us to keep working on teaching him to fall asleep on his own and told us that he is asking us for our guidance. He has to cry to ask for help because he doesn't have words yet, but he can understand a great deal already. I know that he understands that he has his own room and his own bed and that he can do a lot of things on his own, including falling back to sleep in the middle of the night, but that if he can't, his mom and dad will be there for him, just like we always have been. ~ Nicole

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jonah is 6 months old

Jonah had his 6-month doctor's appointment today. He's still extraordinarily healthy and a very, very happy little guy.
Here are his latest stats.
Weight: 18 pounds 6 ounces
Length: 28 inches
Head size: 17 3/4 inches

Jonah has been busy learning a lot over the last 6 months. Here are a few milestones: He has mastered rolling over and is learning how to sit up on his own. He sleeps in his own room in his crib and we're all sleeping much more these days! He's been really good at making vowel sounds for quite a while, but yesterday I heard him make his first consonent sound when he said, "Ma." He's SO close to "Mama!" I just know it. He got a high chair today and may get his first taste of solid foods this weekend -- probably some sweet potatoes. Or, maybe avocadoes. Stay tuned for some cute food-all-over-the-face photos. Meanwhile, remember when he was just a few minutes old? Seems like it was just yesterday. It has passed like the blink of an eye. ~ Nicole

Monday, June 16, 2008

Website Update

Hi Everybody - 

With a lot of help from Gerard, I've updated my photography web site. It's sort of bloggy now. Please check it out and let me know what you think. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Jonah sure loves his daddy. And, he has the best dad in the world. I think he knows it, too. Just look at how happy he is riding on his dad's shoulder this morning on the way to the playground. Jonah has a great guy to look up to. I love my boys. Jonah is also lucky to have three fantastic grandfathers. Happy Father's Day to Matthew, Pepe, Papa, Papa Bill, Uncle G and all the other great father's in the world. ~ Nicole