Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Autumn: We Push Ourselves Ahead

The weather has cooled off early, at least for the week, and the wind is shaking down maple leaves into our back yard. I think the premature cool spell has the squirrels fooled -- the one that hangs out in our yard is already fattening up and acting all ballsy in pursuit of food.

The cool spell also has Nutmeg fooled. We received a Halloween merchandise catalog in the mail a few weeks ago, and it has become her main bedtime story and constant obsession. She wants to order all kinds of glow-in-the-dark severed fingers and eyeballs, and every kind of candy, because, as she was quoted here previously, "(she) love(s) sugar!!!!!!" She also wants to listen to me read every word of the catalog: "New! Glow in the dark sticky eyeballs. 3/4 inches. 48 per unit. $17.95/unit." Seriously -- she will listen to four solid pages of that and beg for more, but I cannot read more, because, come on!

The early cool weather must also have me fooled into behaving like all-systems-go autumn, because I am have this feeling lately that I must buckle down. On everything. You know what it is, it's starting a school year, and you are telling yourself as you walk to school with the morning sun slanting through full bushy treetops, "This year I am going to keep all my school supplies organized in my new pencil case and I am going to keep every assignment in the proper folder in my Trapper Keeper. I am going to use my assignment notebook."

So I am buckling down on little girls going to sleep in my house. It's not so hard with Nutmeg. We've been easing her bedtime earlier for a couple weeks and my goal would be to have her in bed by 8 p.m. I think she needs that because now, if she goes to bed at around 8:30, she will naturally sleep past 8 a.m. if we don't wake her up. And if we wake her up, she's crabby.

But Pebbles, Pebbles, Pebbles. I am going all out with "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" on this kid. I have photocopied sleep logs from this book and filled them out for a couple of nights, and it ain't pretty.

Between 9:30 and 10:45 p.m.: asleep
11:25 p.m.: wakes up, Epu soothes
3 a.m.: wakes up, comes to our bed and nurses
5-7 a.m.: on-and-off nursing
8 a.m.: up for the day

Part of the reason she's getting to bed so late is that she has actually stopped falling deeply asleep while nursing, which makes it a good time to start working on the whole sleep thing anyway. When she used to fall asleep nursing and stay asleep through the transfer to her crib, she would be down by 9:30 p.m. or even earlier (hah! yes, I know that some other babies out there are in bed at 6:30 p.m.). The last couple of nights, I have had her asleep early on, but I then spend a couple of hours at the side of the crib, trying everything to get her to go to sleep already.

So, all the things we've been doing to get her to sleep without a nipple in her mouth are in the book, so we're really already doing part of the program. But as per the book, I'm going to write out a "sleep plan" and attack the problems one by one. Obviously bedtime is our big problem right now. Night wakings can come later.

My sleep plan:

1) Make the bedtime routine longer, more predictable, with dimmer lighting.

2) Establish an earlier bedtime. Start routine one hour before bedtime. Her new (goal) bedtime will be 9 p.m., so the bedtime routine starts at 8.

3) Make regular naptimes a priority. Regular naps, they say, contribute to good nighttime sleep. (Pebbles actually does pretty well at napping every day at 10:30 and again at around 2:30, but I have been sabotaging her by being at the gym or at a baby class I signed her up for during morning naptime. No more. Now I'm only going to the gym on the days that Epu take Nutmeg to school so I can get there early and get out by 10:30.)

4) Introduce a lovey. (Nutmeg never used one, but I never tried to get her attached to one, either. Now, I'm trying with a nice little pink elephant with attached silky blanket.)

If these steps work at getting Pebbles to fall asleep easily by 9 p.m., then I'll work on moving bedtme up to 8:30 p.m. Then, we work on getting her back to sleep without nursing when she wakes at night. On that, there are two approaches in the "No Cry" book -- either quit cosleeping, or somehow cut back on the nursing while in the family bed. We'll see about that when the time comes.

By the way, the Pantley book is also totally up on the sibling bed, which I love. It says that babies are ready to sleep with their siblins at 18 months. I hope the girls are down with it because I would love for us to build them a little loft for a queen sized bed instead of buying twin sized bunkbeds.


Kori said...

Wow, I really admire your patience in working through her sleep plan. I know that a lovey has done great things for EJ, as well as the same music every night, and "blowing out the lights" together. We have a CD that has lullabies sung with her name, which is kind of sweet---I certainly enjoy it through the monitor!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the sleep plan--sounds thorough! My sisters and I co-slept alot growing up. We enjoyed each other's company and I think it is one of the reasons that we are so close now as adults. With that being said, it was very nice to have our own sleep space to go to if we so chose. I think that exercising the option to sleep together, versus complying with a requirement, is what made it special. We all had our own twin beds, and even at 15 and 17 years old, two of us would still squeeze into one twin bed when one of us had had a bad day and needed some companionship. We still share beds alot when traveling. Just some thoughts on the subject.