Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Operation Sleep - A Success Story

Even writing this blog--and certainly labeling it a "success"--is a bit premature, as we have had good nights of sleep in the past. But I am hoping and praying that we are onto something good...something lasting!

*Quick Note: "Success" in the sleep department of infants is a very relative term. If you are hoping to realize the secrets to twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep, there is no help for you here (but if you figure it out, do share!). "Success" for us is defined as:
1) Only waking up 1 (or 2) times to eat each night.
2) Only waking up 2 (or 3) additional times each time.
3) Not having to rock Augustine or get him out of his crib when he wakes up those additional times.*

Operation Sleep actually started almost a week ago. You see, up until that point, we were (naively, perhaps) just waiting for things to snap back into place. Each night as we laid our precious babe in his crib, we had hope that "tonight would be the night"...the night Augustine would go back to getting up only twice at know, like he used to do.

And then at 11 pm...12:30 am...3 am...and 5:30 am (give or take an hour), we were reminded that things weren't going exactly according to plan.

However, every week or two there would be a really good night, a night good enough to lift our spirits and renew our hope that this was just a phase. And when those good nights rolled around, we were like mad scientists trying to recall exactly what we had done that night--heck, that day--so we could replicate it.

Yet, unfortunately for us, there seemed to be absolutely no common thread:
It didn't seem to matter if Augustine napped all day or only caught a few zzz's in the car.
It didn't make a difference if Augustine ate every two hours or every three hours that day.
Cluster feeding at night was just as (in)effective as a lazy snack right before bed.

We further experiemented with the fan on, the fan off;
warm pajamas, cool pajamas;
early bedtime, late bedtime;
no caffiene for Mommy, delicious chocolate ice cream every night for Mommy;
putting Augustine in his crib awake, putting him down asleep;
going to get him immediately when he woke, giving him a few minutes to whine when he woke...

You name it, we *tried* to account for it, but at the end of the night (a month and a half of nights), we had nothing.

Now, just to clarify, these were not miserable nights of incessant wailing, booger noses, and lots of tears. It was more like this: every 1 1/2 to 4 hours Augustine would wake up and start whining--not a happy noise, for sure, but not a steady cry either--and I would go in and feed him if it had been at least three hours or Luke would go in and rock him. Occassionally, he would stay awake for up to an hour when Luke rocked him, but generally he would go right back to sleep for both of us...always for me (warm milk is sleep inducing)! He doesn't take a pacifier...and though he sucks on his little hands all day long while he is happy, he hasn't figured out how to use them to soothe himself. Still, these nights did start to wear on us, and more importantly, I longed for Augustine to have nights of sleep with fewer interruptions.

SO, after collecting tips and advice from just about everybody we knew, we decided we needed to make more dramatic changes. I won't bore you with all the details, but I will tell you what finally helped:
1) Swaddling Augustine from the armpits down (Curious, I know, especially for a child who hasn't been swaddled since he was three weeks old...but it seems to help him from startling himself and getting his legs stuck out the rails of his crib).

2) But now for the real life saver...get ready for it...

The Fisher Price 2-in-1 Precious Planet Projection Crib Mobile

It is a mobile, a music box--your choice of nature noises, classical music, or womb sounds--, and a projector. Though we actually opted out of using the mobile part and just use it as a music box and ceiling projector.

But the magical part is the remote control. With just a push of a button from right inside his bedroom door, soft music and/or a light show projected on the ceiling begins to play for twenty minutes. (We have only used the projector a few times--usually just the music immediately relaxes him and he goes back to sleep). Our method is not fool proof, but it is definitely a great improvement. I know there is still a dependence (the music), and it would be better if Augustine could just figure out how to go back to sleep completley on his own, but I am not ready for him to cry it out (...not sure I will ever be), so we are taking baby steps. For the past several nights, we have met most of our goals most the time!

I am the one having a hard time sleeping now! It isn't until Augustine does start fussing that I realize the majority of the times I am already awake! Hmmmm...

Blessings to all of you with little ones learning to sleep through the night!!


  1. This was so funny to read! But it isn't funny that you have had to go so long with such little sleep. I am hoping things continue to get better and better:)

  2. soo....... what ended up working in the end - ? I've ALMOST bought that projector about 50 times. The sleep situation in our house has been the same, if not much worse this past month (up every hour from 11:30pm-on til 6am). I'd love to hear if your little guy ever figured out what worked for him! We're on the verge of 'crying it out'... I'm afraid. Everything in me says its wrong, but I'm almost done with the book "Baby Wise" (again, which everything in me protests it and is a skeptic) but I'm willing to try anything at this point...