Friday, October 17, 2014

7qt: I give up


I have officially given up trying to teach Miriam to nap in her bed.

As this week began, I was really losing my mind.  My schedule was going like this: Baby gets fussy.  Nurse baby to sleep.  Hold for 10 minutes while kids destroy house and/or demand attention I can't give because it wakes her up.  Put down.  Madly try to get stuff done for 10 minutes.  Baby wakes up.  Nurse. Rock.  Baby goes to sleep.  Hold for half an hour while kids destroy house, bite each other in the face, and cry.  Put down.  Baby wakes up instantly.  Rock.  Baby falls back to sleep.  Hold for an hour while house goes into utter chaos and my whispered threats have no effect.  Every time I attempt to say anything to get the kids to not put knives into outlets, hug the Scratchy Cat, etc., Miriam starts to wake up.  Wait for her to go into "deep sleep."  Never happens.  Eventually give up and put her down.  Baby instantly wakes up.  Leave her in her bouncy chair while I attempt to get dressed, eat, drink, fill up the water filter, feed kids, hug kids, etc.  Baby quickly escalates from short squawks to real crying, which she never did before this week.  Shriek incomprehensible things at kids.  Cry.  Go back to trying to put baby to sleep .....

Most days she was getting at least some sleep in her bed.  Either a really good nap, right when I was on the verge of giving up, or at least 45 minutes.  So I told myself it was worth it, because maybe she was getting closer to figuring out the whole sleep-in-bed thing.  But it was really wearing.  I was ending most days in either a zombielike state, or in tears.  It. Was. Awful.  There was just this constant feeling that I wasn't giving ANY of my kids what they needed.  That's just the most heartbreaking feeling.  Michael, in particular, has been getting worse and worse with his bad behavior and generally blowing off whatever I say.  Which is natural, of course, because he knew I was stuck rocking the baby and wasn't likely to DO anything!

Sometimes I would put her in the wrap and go to the park with the kids, and then everyone was happy.  But then this week had a forecast for rain every single day and all the happy disappeared from my life.  Ugh.


So I asked Facebook, and Facebook replied with a multitude of answers, like "have you tried x?"  (Yes, of course I did!  I'm no spring chicken here, I know bad sleep like a brother by now.)  "Have you tried y?"  (I am never trying y, that is just cruel.)  "Have you tried z?"  (I absolutely would try z if I could get TEN FREAKING MINUTES of quiet to do it in!)  And the only thing that didn't get one of those three answers is this: "That may just be the way she is."

Of course I do not like that answer, but it's probably true.  Possibly if I had a solid week of quiet to teach her to nap, I'd have more success, using all the stuff that eventually got Marko to nap.  But I don't, and what I'm doing is not working, so I decided I was just going to have to stop trying.

Basically I've just made up my mind to prioritize the boys' behavior over Miriam's sleep, because Miriam will eventually stop needing naps, but if I let Michael get into his head that he can just ignore me, I don't know how I will fix that.  And if I sit around and let Michael smack Marko around, then Marko gets angry and resentful and when Marko is angry, the whole world is a less happy place.


What that means is just having her nap in the wrap.  Which I hate because, well, she is a LIGHT sleeper.  Being on me doesn't stop her from being a light sleeper.  She wakes up multiple times per nap; the only difference is I can bounce her back to sleep pretty easily.  So I can't just ignore that she's on me, I have to do certain chores (dishes and sweeping) and avoid others (picking up toys, putting laundry in the dryer, holding the other kids).  I am getting her used to sitting down, so I can sit at my desk and type (this blog post, for instance) without waking her.  And when she does wake up, I can take a break, bounce her back to sleep, and get back to it.  Most importantly, I can intervene when the kids are being too dangerous, destructive, and/or combative, which is vitally important.

AND, a couple of times I've been able to sneak her out of the wrap around the two-hour mark, and she stayed down for another 30-45 minutes!  Which means at last, time for me/other kids!

But in general, time for non-wrap-friendly chores has been Miriam's awake time.  You see, when she gets some really good sleep under her belt, she can be happy and awake for two hours or so!  Of course, she's cute and sweet at that time, and does want some attention, but she's able to be down for much of that and so I can hold Michael and do all those other chores that need doing.

The downside is that it's getting harder and harder to put Miriam to sleep any other way than the wrap.  Which means it's been taking me longer and longer to get her to bed.  Last night she went to sleep at last at 10 pm.  Tonight I'm going to try wearing her in the wrap from 7-9 pm or so and see if I can move her into her bed after that.  I am NOT wanting to mess up her good night's sleep -- she is sleeping in six-hour stretches and it is what keeps me from being a blubbering mess some of the time.


Have I told y'all she smiles now?  Very unpredictably, so no pictures yet, but she definitely is smiling.  She loves it when we interact with her.  However she hardly ever actually seems to make eye contact.  She's always staring over our heads or to the side.  I don't remember whether my other kids did that.  Is there something super interesting elsewhere?  Or is there something terribly wrong?  (Yep, three kids and I still worry all the time if things are terribly wrong.)

At any rate it's very cute.  I love this stage, except for the naplessness bit.


The boys are hilarious as ever.  A couple examples:

Me: Did you pee in your pants?
Michael: Um, yeah.
Me: Where?
Michael (as if talking to an idiot): In my PANTS!
Me: I mean, is there a puddle somewhere I should know about?
Michael: Yeah.  In my bed.

Marko, holding the little brush that came with the dustpan: I'm a soldier, and this is my hairbrush.  Do soldiers brush their hair?
Me: I'm sure they do.
Marko: And this can be my bathroom table.
Me: Do bathrooms have tables in them?
Marko: Soldiers' bathrooms do.  They are bigger than regular bathrooms.
(Marko does not know what soldiers do, but he's very interested in them.)

Marko, holding a business card to his ear:  Hello?  Daddy's name is John C----.  He is running for F---- R---- Town Council.*
Me: What are you doing?
Marko: Talking on my smartphone.

Marko: Jesus does not like to wear clothes.
Me: Why do you think that?
Marko: On the cross, he is only wearing a diaper.
Me: Some people took his clothes away.
Marko: But they gave them back.
Me: No, I don't think they ever did.
Marko, very upset:  No, they need to give them back!
Me: I think he got new ones after he rose from the dead.
Marko: Where did he get his new clothes?
Me: .....I really don't know.
(Later) Both boys, running around in the buff: I am Jesus Christ!  I am Jesus Christ!

 [*Yeah, I know y'all know who we are and where we live, but let's just pretend you don't, huh?  I don't want John's opponents/prospective voters googling him and landing HERE.]


How about that Synod?  I think the freakout over it is just ridiculous.  It's a synod, not a Council, and so even the final conclusion is likely to be a lot of fluff, much less the interim report, which is just "here's what we're talking about."

However, I didn't have a problem with anything said in the interim report either.  I mean, isn't it obvious that unmarried, irregular, and gay couples love each other too and therefore there is some good we can recognize in their relationships?  It doesn't mean it's all hunky-dory, it means we're not going to pretend that all non-marriage relationships are horrible dysfunctional miserable things.  So when people say "but you must be wrong, because these people love each other!" we can just answer, "Yeah, we knew that already, but that's not the point."

"How can we fix this stuff?" is a much more difficult ball of wax, and I don't really think they're going to come up with anything other than "let's be as merciful as we can."  If the relationship can be saved, let's make a smooth path toward fixing it -- getting that convalidation, church wedding, annulment ASAP.

If not -- like a second marriage where an annulment can't be granted, or a gay couple, what can you do?  Basically nothing.  We can't change church teaching to allow them (have no fear on that count; the Pope and bishops know it too) and we can't lie and tell them to carry on.  On the other hand, we can hope that, even if they aren't willing to follow Church teaching now, maybe they'll get there someday.  I seem to remember it took the guy in Brideshead Revisited quite awhile to come around.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what they actually come up with, but I can't really see that it'll make much difference.  The bishops (if past experience is any indicator) will go home and keep doing what they were doing before.  The liberal ones will go on saying "Sure, x is our official teaching, but God understands, so go ahead and keep doing y."  And the conservative ones will make statements to the media about the sinfulness of sinners and how much they wish the Pope would phrase things the way they would have.


I had a cool thought while watching Doctor Who the other day.  (On to season 4 and still enjoying it.)  The whole world has been taken over by a Big Bad Guy (this is no spoiler, obvs, because this happens ALL THE TIME!) and the Doctor's companion is traveling over all the world, telling people about him.  Here's what she says:

I travelled across the world. From the ruins of New York, to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went I saw people just like you, living as slaves! But if Martha Jones became a legend then that's wrong, because my name isn't important. There's someone else. The man who sent me out there, the man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is The Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I've seen him, I know him... I love him... And I know what he can do. 

Does that remind you of anybody?

Let's try another quote, this one from C. S. Lewis:

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening--in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.  

Kind of makes church a bit more exciting, eh?  Sometimes, looking at this mixed-up world and how much misery is in it, you can't quite believe that there is a good God behind it.  But I really do believe that God is not all-powerful in this world in the way we think.  He's handed over the power to us, and we lost it through sin, and as a result the world is ungoverned, or worse, governed by the devil.  God has managed to smuggle knowledge about Himself into the world, and He will rescue us out of it in the end, but in between times it really is occupied territory.  So no wonder it so often makes so little sense!

Finishing this hours after I started -- I'm happy to report that Miriam is actually napping in the bed and has been for half an hour now.  So perhaps wrap naps aren't going to ruin real naps forever.  I have hope.

How has your week been?


The Sojourner said...

I might have to come back and ask you about these tricks for getting a baby to nap. Right now I either wear J or cosleep for all his naps and nighttime sleep. Once we get through moving to a new apartment (ugh) and the holidays and everything, I really want to see if I can help him sleep independently a little more. (He'll be 13 months by that point.) If I could get him to sleep alone for his morning nap and for that first stretch of nighttime sleep (say 8-11), that would CHANGE. MY. LIFE.

Ariadne said...

Sojourner, my daughter is the same way! If she sleeps long enough to get into a deep sleep, I can put her down in the bed, but her naps are usually too short and light for that. Some babies are just bad nappers.

Sheila, I hope wearing the baby for naps helps everyone get what they need and makes you feel better.

The Sojourner said...

I have shaken my fist at Dr. Sears many times these last 11 months because he claims that baby sleep cycles are 45 minutes long and you can set them down after about 20 minutes.

No. No you cannot. After ~20 minutes he's half awake and wants to nurse again. If I nurse him right away he falls back asleep; if I don't he's a cranky mess for an hour before I can get him calmed down enough to fall asleep again.

It's better at night; I think eventually he does fall into that deep sleep, but I have no idea how that happens.

Sheila said...

No, I can't either. What I get is about 15 minutes of still sleep ... not deep sleep, but she isn't twitchy either. Then 15-45 minutes of twitchy sleep. Sometimes she wakes up entirely -- usually at least opens her eyes, but sometimes bouncing or patting gets her back to sleep. But sometimes around the hour or hour-and-a-half mark she goes into a deeper sleep, if we make it that far. However, getting up from the rocking chair to put her down gets her back to light sleep, and then when I lay her down she is just awake enough to flop her head into an uncomfortable position and wake herself up.

Let's see, things that have helped in the past for one baby or another:
-lying down and nursing, then creeping away after I've napped for an hour
-going in the second I hear a peep and nursing back to sleep all over again
-waiting to see if he'll go back to sleep, sometimes he would (of course I can't do both this and the previous one)
-laying baby down on the bed and lying down next to them for a bit, shushing, patting, and breathing on their head till they relax (the breathing on the head seems to be essential; don't know why)
-singing to sleep (works best for toddlers, they are interested enough in the music to be still in their bed until they fall asleep)
-keeping on a very strict schedule - this really really helps, but then Sunday happens and throws us all off and the next week we have to start all over
-following all the sleep-cycle advice in The No-Cry Naptime Solution -- basically, start getting them to sleep at exactly the right moment when they are just beginning to get sleepy
-white noise
-belly sleep
-swaddling -- I admit I haven't given this a fair try, I just can't seem to nurse a burrito baby, and nursing really is the easiest and best way to put them down IMO
-sleep begets sleep, so if you can keep them well-rested *by any means necessary* they may start sleeping deeper (this is kind of the root of my strategy with the wrap naps)
-conversely, your kid adjusts to what he's used to and therefore you should never ever get them used to sleeping in a wrap (this is the advice that scares me about the wrap .... but she does sleep in her crib the first part of the night, so hopefully that will prevent wrap addiction?)
-make sure they are really thoroughly nursed AND burped before letting them fall asleep
-magnesium supplements

I think that's about it. Though I might have forgotten a few. I obsessed SO MUCH about sleep when Marko was little, but he actually took 2-3 good naps a day so I don't know what I was worrying about. Michael took about four 20-45 minute naps a day for awhile ... which meant he was almost always just waking up or just falling asleep.

The Sojourner said...

We tried No Cry Sleep Solution to help with our bedtime battle when he was about 6 months and it did. not. work. Before, he'd start getting fussy around 7 and then full-on crying from about 9:30-10 before he passed out. We started implementing a bedtime routine at 7 and it sort of worked for about 3 days (I'd have to go back in every 20-30 minutes and resettle him, but it was progress!) and then he caught on to our plot and would start screaming as soon as we brought out the lotion and storybook and not stop until he passed out at 10. Three hours of screaming (and yes, we'd be holding/rocking/nursing the whole 3 hours; no CIO here) is a step backwards from 30 minutes, and I gave up before I found out if he'd eventually get used to it.

I'm going to try some kind of No-Cry variation at the aforementioned 13-month mark, but if it epic fails again maybe I'll try blowing on his head. :)

(Husband: "What are you doing?" Me: "Somebody on the internet told me to blow on his head, okay?!")

The Sojourner said...

I promise I'm not making this stuff up; he really does hate sleep THAT much.

Sheila said...

The original No-Cry Sleep SOlution book was only marginally helpful. Yes, those tricks work really well if you have a child who already goes to sleep easily and you want them to adjust to fewer sleep cues so they sleep longer. If your baby doesn't sleep worth a darn to start with, it's not helpful.

But the No-Cry *Naptime* SOlution has this neat little section about sleep cycles that I found really helpful. Sleep cycles seem to be usually about two hours long, meaning if the baby sleeps five minutes and wakes up, or if you don't put them down when they first are tired, it will probably be a good two hours before you can get them to sleep again. Then there's the "how long they can stay awake" amount of time, which for a baby Miriam's age tends to be about two hours, but expands to about six hours when they're toddlers and then to all day when they are ready to give up their nap.

THe big secret is that more tired doesn't always make for easier naps, and therefore you have to put them down *exactly* at the moment when their sleep cycle demands it, no later or you may as well just wait for the next cycle two hours later -- and it'll be harder then. I'm not explaining it very well and the book has lots of charts, so if your library has that one, you should definitely check it out.

It sounds like starting bedtime at 7 was a very good idea, because if he's having so much trouble at night he's surely overtired. But since he's so firmly accustomed to going to sleep at 9:30 or 10, it will be a challenge to shift him over. Maybe stronger sleep cues (i.e., instead of a "sleep routine," a vigorous walk and bounce in the wrap or even a drive around the neighborhood, right at what you work out is the crucial moment -- tht is, shortly before he usualy gets fussy). My rule of thumb is, you can change the sleep schedule OR the sleep cues, but not both. If it feels like a sleepy time to them, they may be able to try something new, and if you are nursing/rocking the way you usually do, they might not notice that the schedule is different, but they can't do both at once.

Since he's already so old and clever, I think the sleep routine idea just tips him off to impending doom, so maybe you should vary the different calming things you do in the half hour before bedtime, so he doesn't see it coming. THings that worked in Marko's sleep-fighting phase include:
-stroller walk around the neighborhood
-YouTube videos of barbershop quartets, bob Ross, that sort of thing, while snuggled on a lap
-a long book, always the same rather boring one

If you've done the thing for a half hour, bracketing your best bed as to a perfect bedtime and he's wiggly and not even yawning, call it off and wait for two more hours. If he's relaxing and yawning, if it's something you can't keep at till he goes to sleep, transition quickly into his preferred sleep method (nurse or wrap or whatever). The first few nights, or maybe a week, you will need to keep wearing him or lie down with him until his previous bedtime, because he'll be twitchy as that's not normal sleep time for him. But once the new bedtime is really solidly established, you can try putting him down/sneaking away after the first hour or so.

Oh, and I forgot -- in our house we turn off all the lights in the house except a little lamp, right after dinner. That makes everyone a bit drowsier.

Hope in all this, SOMEthing I said helps. I know exactly how you feel. :P

P.S. The breathing on the head is just light breathing ... so she knows I'm there, I guess. I think in the wrap and when we are cosleeping she must feel my breath, and so it's a sleep association for her.

The Sojourner said...

I was thinking the Naptime Solution might be more helpful because our nighttime routine works just fine. I mean, fewer wakeups would be nice, but usually we just dream-feed and he goes right back to sleep and it's perfectly doable. It's the naps and bedtime that are a huge battle and cause me massive chronic back pain because he weighs 20+ lbs and wants me to wear him in non-ergonomic ways so that he can nurse while I'm walking back and forth. (When he was several inches shorter that wasn't a big deal because I could wear him near my center of gravity and he was still low enough to latch on.) I can't keep doing that.

Sheila said...

Ooh ... I feel your pain. Michael was such an awful sleeper, PLUS a fast grower. By six months he was too heavy to comfortably wear for long, but he definitely wasn't sleeping well by then. Do you have a rocking chair? If I remember correctly, that's what we switched to once he outgrew the wrap.

The Sojourner said...

We do have a nice comfy recliner that rocks. I might have to try that and see if I can convince him that it's almost like being worn.

Sheila said...

Try wearing him in the wrap while rocking in the chair. That's what I did with Michael when he was being extra difficult.

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