Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sleeping Through the Night and Swaddling

Conor is sleeping through the night! Finally! Well, really, its all my fault that he didn't sleep through the night months ago. For months now Conor has been going to sleep, on his own, each night. No fussing, no playing in the crib, no long drawn out process of stories and bottles and kisses and rocking. Just two stories, the swaddle blanket (more on that later), the passie and in bed. At 6:30, no less!

All this was accomplished through a few very painful nights of the dreaded cry-it-out method. When Conor was brand new I was pretty sure letting him cry it out would inevitably lead to years of therapy, a disdain for his mother and possibly a future as a serial killer. But, my dear friend Niki said she had done it with her son and he is, quite frankly, adorable and I am certain not doomed for a life of crime. So, finally one night Morgan and I decided to just give it a go. And he screamed for 55 hours. Ok, it was really 55 minutes but I swear each minute was as long as an hour and it was easily one of the most difficult parenting nights yet. But the next night the crying time dropped to 15 minutes and the night after that 5 minutes and then suddenly he was just going to sleep.

But, every night, anytime between 2 and 4am, Conor would begin to fuss and I would give him a bottle. I knew I should leave him and just let him fuss. But, when that noise starts in the middle of the night, my sleep addled brain just screams "make it stop!". Somehow at that witching hour any good parenting strategies go out the window and I'm practically running to "make it stop!".

But, I also loved that time. Conor is not a cuddly baby. Despite my many, many efforts, he doesn't like to snuggle and hasn't (willingly) rested his head on my shoulder since he could hold it up on his own. In the middle of the night, however, he would snuggle. And I mean really, really snuggle. His little head was in the crook of my elbow and he would turn to face my body and it was 10 blissful minutes of Mommy and Baby time. Then, when he was done with the bottle, I'd give him his passie back, lay him in bed and go back to sleep. The whole process did not take more than 12 minutes on any given night.

So, I didn't want to give it up. I knew he was capable of sleeping through the night because he had done it in the past but it was nice. He's growing so fast and getting so big that those tiny 10 minutes in the middle of the night reminded me of when he was little.

But one night I had just had enough. Something in overly busy, haven't-slept-through-the-night-in-10-months part of me outweighed the Mommy part of me, and I just let him fuss. Yeah, he fussed (quietly) for about 2 minutes, went back to sleep and hasn't woken up since. The last few nights have been blissful.

But I do miss my cuddle-bug time.

Not only did Niki reassure me that cry it out isn't a serial killer maker, but she gave Morgan and I our first swaddle blanket. Conor was about five days old and she had found one on sale at Fred Meyer. First of all, swaddling is not as easy as they make it look in books and at the hospital. No matter how tight you wrap them, little babies have an uncanny ability to wriggle right out. The swaddle blanket however, has velcro! You stick their little legs into this little pouch and hold their arms down at their sides and and wrap one flap across his right arm and attach it, via velcro, to the leg pouch and then wrap the flap over the left arm and velcro it to the back. It keeps him snug as a bug.

We've tried to get him to sleep without the swaddle and it just hasn't worked. We've thought about just letting him cry it out again but don't really see any value in that. The swaddle causes no harm and its an instant bedtime cue for Conor. Worst case scenario, we'll still be swaddling him when he's 14. Ideally however, he'll eventually grow out of the blanket and gradually learn to sleep on his own. The other day I went in to wake him from a nap and his arms were entirely out of the swaddle and he was fast asleep on him tummy with both arms over his head. So, he can sleep without the blanket.

But we'll save that for another day.


geralyn said...

So I get it!! You stuff him in a bag and he's quiet.....COOL!! I guess this means his bubba has velcro on it.

Taneha said...

Look how cute and cozy he looks in his swaddle blanket though.