Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Adventures with Stella

It is official...Stella Grace sleeps in her very own room in her very own crib all by her big girl self and mommy and daddy have their room back!  It is weird to think that I haven't slept in a different room than her in 5 months but it is true.  The American Association of Pediatrics suggests that parents room with their babies until 6 months to lessen the risk of SIDS but she was ready and I was afraid that if we missed the window of opportunity, it would be a hard fight to get her comfortable in her own room.  The first night was scary and full of wake ups at every little sound on the monitor but everything was fine and Stella was safe and sound, sleeping away :)

Moving on...I have come to appreciate just how flexible my little girl is.  I have heard horror stories of parents that are unable to leave the house during "nap time" or never able to stay out with friends past their baby's bedtime.  I have always been the type of person that wants to put my baby as my first priority but not stop living because I have a baby.  So, on Saturday night we went to our friends house and we knew it would be a late night so we brought all of her bedtime stuff, thinking we would just put her in the guest room and watch her on the monitor.  Well, little Miss Social Butterfly wouldn't go to bed and just wanted to play with everyone.  She stayed up with us and was pretty content all the way till the end (around 11).  She fell asleep on the way home and had no problem going down when we got home.  I thought we had for sure ruined our efforts to get her bedtime to an earlier time and our progress would definitely halt, if not regress back a few weeks, but sure enough, Stella was very flexible the next night and was down by 9.  Each night we kept moving her bedtime earlier and earlier and she was ready to go whenever we were, totally following our cues.  We finally got her to the 7:30pm bedtime that we were aiming for, last night.  She went down at 7:30pm and woke up at 8:00am (with a few short wake ups in between).

I really am continually amazed at how sweet she is! I won't lie - sometimes I get frustrated in the middle of the night or when things don't go as planned but she really is amazing.  Truly my dreams come true!  Above is a picture of her in a kitty cat sleeper.  It isn't her Halloween costume but it was too adorable to pass up :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

You Won't Believe It...

I'm about to bring up a controversial subject...sleep training.  That's right, I said it!  Just like everything having to do with babies, everyone has their own opinion on sleep training and anything other than their belief is wrong and bad for children.  With that being said, as we are working on developing good sleep habits for Stella, we found a sleep training method that seems to be working well for us.  I'm sure some people will disagree with my methods but, frankly, I don't really care.

As I mentioned in my last post, we have been making a strong effort to get Stella to sleep on her back.  After almost a week of little progress, I decided we needed to take another approach.  I read a book called, "Sleep: Top Tips from the Baby Whisperer."  I chose this book because it offered a middle of the road solution between wearing your baby 24x7 and the Cry It Out method.  The author suggests a pick up, put down method that allows the baby to cry and learn to self-soothe but the adult never leaves the room while they are awake, which eliminates any abandonment issues that are said to occur with the cry it out method.

Essentially, Hogg (the Author/Baby Whisperer - hee hee) says that when you see signs of sleepiness, you go ahead and put your baby in their crib, lay your hand on their tummy and tell them it is nap time (or bed time) and you'll see them when they wake up.  If the baby begins crying, she says to pick them up and hold them for 3-5 minutes or until they stop crying and then put them down.  Repeat this process until the baby is asleep.  Hogg noted that the first few days usually take 20min-1 hour of this before the baby gives in and goes to sleep but as time goes on, the process will become shorter and shorter until you can eventually lay your baby down and say, "see ya when you wake up" and the baby will put themselves to sleep.

We thought we'd give it a try.  On our first try, we found that the pick up, put down method may not be the best method for Stella (or our backs) but that the thought process behind the method might work so we tweaked it.  We did the PU/PD method for about 10 minutes but then left her in her crib, put our hand on her belly, reassured her things were ok with our voices and allowed her to cry and whimper until she fell asleep.  The entire process took about 20 minutes at first.  Unfortunately, she woke up within 20 minutes and it took 50 minutes of the same thing to get her back to sleep, where she slept another 30 minutes.  So the first nap was 2 hours long, 70 minutes of soothing and 50 minutes of napping.  Not a bad start.

The second nap went pretty much the same.  20 minutes of initial soothing, but a lot less frantic crying more mantra crying (repetitive tired cry), as Hogg would describe.  Followed by 20 minutes of sleep...followed by 20 more minutes of soothing...followed by another 30 minute nap.  The second nap was 90 minutes.  40 of fussing and 50 of sleeping.  Already seeing progress.

I wasn't home in the evening but Matt said it only took him 20 minutes of fussing the first time and then only 5 minutes the second time.  YAY! Progress! 

But here came the real test...night time sleeping!  This is the part I was dreading because it had been so awful for the past week.  We have a bed in the nursery right now so I decided that rather than disrupt the pattern of sleeping in her crib, we would just go ahead and take the plunge and transition her out of our room and into her crib for all naps and night time sleeping.  So I nursed her and then put her in her crib and I slept in the bed in her nursery.  I had expected to get woken up within an hour (as she had done in nights before) but when I woke up around 1:30am, she was still sleeping.  I went and checked on her to make sure she was still breathing because I literally couldn't believe it.  She was, so I went back to bed.  I woke up again around 2:30am, still sleeping.  Finally, I was awakened by Stella at around 4:30.  She had gone 6 1/2 hours straight sleeping in her crib on her back!!!

She has a nasty habit of waking up about 4:30 wanting to be fed so I put my hand on her tummy and within 2 minutes she was back asleep again.  This time until 5:45.  I finally got her out, changed her and fed her but then put her back in her crib where she slept again until 8:45!!!!!!  WHO IS THIS BABY!?!?!?  Oh and get this, she was awake when I put her in her crib after feeding her and within 5 minutes of talking to herself (not crying) she put herself to sleep!!! MIRACLE!!!!

So...say what you want about sleep training but my baby slept through the night for the first time in over a month and with little to no crying!  Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy to sit there with my hand on her chest assuring her that everything will be ok while she cried but I've come to realize that she really cried as much in my arms when she was winding down to sleep but I just felt better about my actions when I was rocking her, etc.  Most of the issues I have with her sleep patterns have been created by me and now it is my job to work on not getting in the way of her progress.  Thankfully, I have an amazing support system with our nanny and Matt, who are both extremely patient and flexible.

Now this all happened yesterday and we are trying day 2 of this sleep training today.  So far the fussy periods before sleep have been cut almost in half but she is still only sleeping in about 20-30 minute increments.  Hopefully we can extend those over time and lessen the fussy times.  I realize that it may get worse before it gets better but I feel more solid knowing we have a plan and are already seeing results.

Keep praying for us as we continue this training.  Hopefully soon, Stella will be a pro napper and night time sleeper like she used to be. Yay sleep!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rolling Rolling Everywhere

Yep - that's right! Stella has mastered her back to front roll, finally!  On Saturday, October 1st (just 1 day before her 5 month birthday), Stella rolled from her back to her front!  She's been close for almost a month but her pesky shoulders have always gotten in the way.  She even gave her daddy a repeat performance when he got home.  Gone are the days of an immobile baby!  She is also making rocking movements when she is on her belly, telling me she is preparing to learn how to crawl...YIKES! Not sure I'm ready for that yet.  I haven't even begun to baby proof our house!

On another note, many of you know that Stella has been sleeping on a slight incline since she was born because she has had pretty bad reflux and would often spit up all over herself while sleeping.  Well, we have gotten to the point where we are ready to transition her to her crib so we are attempting to get her to sleep flat on her back.  This has proven to be a difficult task.  On night 1 - she woke up every 30min-1 hour.  I had a huge paper due for my master's program the next day so Matt was Super Daddy and was up with her the entire night unless she needed to eat.  On night 2 - she woke up every 1-1.5 hours so we were a little better.  My paper was done so we tag teamed that night.  On night 3 - She slept 1.5 hours but I was awakened to the sound of her choking and gagging on her spit up.  I shot out of bed and Matt picked her up, flipped her on her belly and patted her back until she started breathing again.  This was more than her average amount of spit up...she was laying in a pool of liquid and had aspirated quite a bit of it.  That is one of the scariest sounds I've ever heard.  After something like that, you can hardly sleep...listening for every breath to make sure she is ok.  Last night - night 4 - she slept about an hour before waking up and then wouldn't go back to sleep without being rocked.  Rockstar Daddy took night duty, once again, and would get her to sleep but the second her body or head hit her mattress, her eyes would spring open and he'd have to start bouncing her again.  Finally around 2am, he gave up.

She seems to enjoy sleeping on her side, which helps ease my mind a bit because if she spits up, she won't choke.  However, she could easily roll to her belly and then I worry about her airways being blocked.  I know she is strong enough to lift her head if needed but everyone has new parents so paranoid about putting babies on their back to sleep that you become VERY fearful of them ever rolling or sleeping on their belly at night.  Night 5 will be tonight...Let's just say, I'm not looking forward to bedtimes as much as I used to.

On top of that, Stella is teething.  She has 2 little teeth that have made their appearance and I think she has a few more that should cut through soon because she is a drooly, slobbery mess!  On top of that, she has had cold like symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes) which all come with teething and everything has become a teething toy to put in her mouth and gum on, including me.  When I was feeding her last weekend, I got bit for the first time.  YYYYYOOOOOUUUUUUCCCCCCHHHHHHH!!  Not pleasant, especially with those 2 little razor sharp teeth on the bottom!  She's done it several times since then and it is making breastfeeding less and less appealing. I pump 24x7 (which I hate doing) so I can bottle feed her breast milk or do I cave and give her formula (which I didn't want to do)??? I'm still debating...I want her to get to at least 6 months before deciding anything so hopefully she won't be too much of a biter for the next month.

It is really hard to believe that it has been 5 months since Stella made her entrance to our world but even with all of the hard stuff that I've written above, it really does just keep getting better and better! She laughs and smiles more.  She grabs my face to pull me in for a big, slobbery wide open mouth baby kiss.  She loves to look and talk to Coach (our dog).  In fact, she thinks that Coach is around for her enjoyment.  The other day, Matt and Coach were playing with a stuffed soccer ball and Stella turned into a giggle monster.  She just laughed and laughed every time coach got the ball and shook it.  She is just amazing in every sense of the word.  I never thought that I could ever be so consumed, emotionally and physically, by something but I am.  Being Stella's mommy is an amazing gift (albeit overwhelming and tiring at times LOL).