Sleep Interrupted: The long and the short of it.

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We did some finger painting this week.

A week has passed since we started transitioning Casey to sleeping in his own room. I’m pleased to say it has gone pretty well and although I wouldn’t call it a breeze, I feel we have been remarkably successful one week in. Except for one night, he has stayed in his own bed throughout the night, until sometime between 6:30-7:30 when we either get up or I bring him into our bed in the hope of one more hour or so of sleep.

I’m proud of myself for listening to my instincts and doing this now. I really feel like it was the perfect time to transition him into his own room for both him and me. I’ve felt both mentally and physically strong enough to actually get up during the night and walk to his room when he wakes up, without being drained (sort of) or angry about it.  In fact I have felt remarkable peaceful this past week.  Staying fully present all day is one of the hardest pasts of being a stay at home mom, for me, but the past seven days I have felt myself being able to move from moment to moment and relaxing into the flow of our day rather than trying to impose anything on it. Maybe its lack of sleep or the peacefulness that being up early in the morning often propagates.

Casey seems to be adapting well. I was afraid he might have trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar bed but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  He naps in his little bed during the day and falls asleep there at night.   He wakes anywhere between two and four times during the night and twice he has gotten out of his bed (he’s never fallen off or rolled off) and crawled to the door, opened it, and either found me on the other side ready to scoop him up, or, the other morning, crawled right down the hall towards our bedroom in search of us. I always have the baby monitor nearby so I know what he is up to; I’m never afraid that he will get into anything dangerous while I’m sleeping. In fact, him crawling out of his bed and out of his room without crying about it is what I wanted.

At almost one, I felt like it was a good time to introduce more independence to Casey. My hope is that his room will be a place that is at once safe, engaging and restful. As he grows older, I want him to feel safe waking up in his own space and knowing that he can get up and play for a while if he feels like it, but that we are also close by if he needs us.   I don’t expect this to happen for a long time but I knew that this was the right time to begin this journey.

Anyway, I am about to get a bit technical about what this past week has been like for me. My last post generated a lot of interest from other moms I know who also co-sleep with their little one’s and have found themselves beginning to think about when and how to switch their babes to their own sleeping space. Read on for more information or simply enjoy the next few pics and call it a day.

Energy in motion

Energy in motion

"Swimming in an ocean of love"

“Swimming in an ocean of love”

Ok, so this past week has had it’s high points and its low points but by and large it has been easier than I anticipated. I have a number of thoughts and I’m not sure how to put them together coherently without rambling so I’m just going to approach this in list form and hope for the best.

  1. I started Casey sleeping in his own room for naps first and I think this helped ease him into sleeping there full time, knowing that it was a safe and fun spot to be even though it wasn’t what he was used to. I simply moved his crib mattress onto the floor in the corner of his room and put a few pillows on the floor next to the mattress to cushion him if he rolled onto the floor.   For the record I don’t believe he has actually rolled off the bed.   I think he has been woken up by being on the edge of the bed and feeling the difference between the mattress and the pillows (ie- “something isn’t right, this isn’t what I am used to, perhaps I will make some noise to see if that helps fix it”).
  2. Our nap schedule was definitely interrupted the past week. We had been on a pretty regular 2/3/5 schedule where Casey would go down for his first nap 2 hours after waking up, his second nap 3 hours after waking from his first, and go to bed about 5 hours after that. I made a conscious decision to push his nap back the first night I planned to put him to sleep in his own room, and skipped his second nap all together, in the hopes that he would fall asleep and stay asleep easier if he was tired. It seemed to work well, although other days when his nap schedule has been off he has also reached that point of being too wired to either fall asleep or be happy about being awake and those evenings are rough.  I haven’t continued to push his first nap back unless he naturally does not want to nap; I’ve encouraged naps at all costs.  I just wanted him to sleep as well as possible the first night in his new bed.
  3. Routine helps.  We have always had a bath time ritual in the evenings with him but don’t push it if time for a bath isn’t practical or if we just don’t feel like it.  I’ve been a little more routine with bath time this week in order to give Casey a more set routine and help him prepare for bed time.  I can’t tell you if this has helped or not since it’s something we usually do anyway but having this ritual/routine helps in general.
  4. I have tried to offer Casey more food throughout the day, as well as letting him nurse when he wants to, with the thought that if he is full when he goes to sleep at night, he will eventually sleep for longer periods of time. It doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference yet but he is still at the point where food is more fun than necessary. Sometimes he just isn’t interested.
  5. I have slowly tried to lengthen the amount of time between when I first hear him rustling around through the baby monitor and when I respond. The first few days, I went to him as quickly as I could because I wanted him to know that I was still there and that he was safe. But I also want him to learn to settle himself back to sleep (which won’t happen with me barging in at the first whimper) and feel confident enough to decide for himself whether to cry for me, come find me, or simply play by himself.  I have noticed a difference in how long it takes him to cry and what type of cry it is, when he wakes up.  I know these nuances are something only a mother would hear so I wont go into detail on this point.
  6. During the day, when he wakes up from his naps and I go into his room to get him, I give him as much positive feedback as I can. “Hey Monkey! Did you have a good nap? You slept so well! You are such a big boy sleeping in your own bed!  Was it a good nap?  Look, all your stuff is just where you left it!”, etc. This has really helped.  A few times, when I could tell he wasn’t sure whether or not to be upset and cry when he saw me in the doorway, he would smile and come over to my open arms for a big hug.  It doesn’t get much better than that.
  7. To be honest, getting up during the night isn’t easy. I don’t know how I did it before we brought him into our bed but at least them he was in our room then. It totally sucks some nights, especially when I have trouble falling asleep and am over tired. It takes a lot of will power to not feel angry or resentful getting up again and again. Knowing ahead of time that I was going to embark on this transition helped me feel more mentally prepared for this.  I find that I am at my worst between about 5:30 and 8 when I am waiting for Alex to get off of work, dealing with dinner and generally needing a break so I can prepare myself for the night shift.  I let Alex know that its a difficult time for me and he has been good about trying to take over Casey duties when he gets off of work to let me have a few minutes to myself or at least get a few deep breaths in peace.
  8.  Treats during the day also give me a boost and make me feel pampered which helps me get calm about evening time. Coffee or Chai tea, with honey, cinnamon and real whipped cream, red strawberry licorice bites from Aldi’s and Medjool dates are my top choices but to each her own. I’ve also found that having a good book to read when I need a mental escape, rather than a project which I might not finish, has been helpful. Not worrying so much about chores or housework or socializing too much has also helped to simply stay present during the day and follow Casey’s lead.
  9. I did bring him into our bed to sleep throughout the night once, last night, when I felt as if I needed a night of uninterrupted sleep and he was having trouble staying asleep in his own room anyway.
  10. Yes, there have been moments when I really miss sleeping with him. When he nurses to sleep and his little body is curled up into mine, it is hard to leave him. But then I get back to my own bed, with just my husband in it, and I get to spread out and pull the quilt all the way up to my chin and snuggle to sleep (on my left side!!) and I feel completely fine about the whole thing. (I’ll probably get to nap with him tomorrow anyway!)
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