Archives for category: sleep

I should never, ever, ever revel in something like I did in my last post.

Since then, dear sweet Elinor and I have had a sleeping … disruption. She rarely sleeps for more than three, maybe four hours in a row at night, anyway. But now that she is truly teething (two so far!), she sleeps even less. We have good days (today! I am writing as she … NAPS!) and bad days (yesterday!). But this child does not want to sleep.

Let’s see. Monday night I finally got her down around 8:30, and then I stupidly stayed awake to get some items finished on my long list of things to do. I went to bed around 10:30, but my mind was racing and I couldn’t sleep. Just as I was about to drift off ….

I went to her, followed the normal routine. Change diaper, nurse, try to put her down between breasts, but she was still hungry, so nurse the other side. Try to put her down — she’s usually pretty soundly asleep by now — she falls into a fitless state around midnight. I crawl back into bed, drift off pretty quickly. But by 12:30, she’s crying. Throw myself out of the nice, warm comforter. I try to just get her down by rocking and soothing, thinking I might be able to head back to bed and curl up next to the furnace of a husband. No go. So, back to nursing. Both sides, another hour. She’s sleeping on me, but when I put her into her crib, she cries. I rock, soothe, put her in her crib — she cries. I try nursing, but she isn’t hungry. Her diaper is not wet. We rock, I sing, and she cries, growing more frantic by the minute. I walk around with her, I change her diaper despite the lack of stuff in it, and finally I try the baby tylenol. We rock some more, she nurses some more, and she finally, finally goes down around two a.m. TWO!! She and I were up for three hours.

The next morning, she woke up at seven. A five hour stretch is not bad, but it wasn’t enough for me, or for her. I spend the entire morning trying to get her to nap. She’s obviously tired, fretting and rubbing her eyes, but every time I put her down, she cries. It’s not a little cry, either — it’s the full-blown, world-is-ending cry. At some point I leave her in her crib for 25 minutes, and by the end of it, she is wailing like a hurricane, and continues to cry for 20 more minutes in direct reproach to my callousness. I feel like a bad mother.

And then we went swimming and she was awesome.

But afterwards, she was exhausted yet again, but still wouldn’t nap. She was awake the entire day, minus two 30-minute car rides. She barely made it through dinner before I had to bring her upstairs, and she was NOT having a book read to her, per our normal routine. Instead, she nurses fully, then cries as I rock. I put her down and say hi to Chad, who’s just gotten home. He goes in to rock her, and she cries for 20 minutes on him. We switch off. She doesn’t want to nurse, so I rock and begin experimenting with different positions, thinking it might be her tummy. Finally, I have her feet at my waist, her head on my shins, and am rocking in the rocking chair as she happily farts and farts and farts while basically hanging, upside-down, on my legs. She talks to me for a few minutes, I draw her back up into my lap, and she falls asleep laying back against my arm. I put her into her crib, and she makes happy noises for a few minutes, then drifts off to sleep.

That whole thing took two full hours. TWO HOURS!

And she woke every three hours last night, on the dot, though she went down after nursing each time like a dream. Ahhhh.

I don’t know. I attempt some sleep training, but she isn’t usually crying for me, per se, but because of pain. It’s her teeth or her tummy, methinks, and it’s my job to calm them so she can get some rest. This is hard, though, and it’s wearing on me.

It’s a good thing today was good, though. I keep having dreams that I am pregnant again, and I wake up TERRIFIED. This parenting business is the most difficult work I’ve ever done, and it’s emotionally and physically exhausting, and I can’t even imagine what eight hours of uninterrupted sleep would feel like.

Oh, all of this to say that I did not finish my novel this month. I did write 30,000 words (of crap), and I am proud of that. My goal is to get the next 20K done by New Year’s, and re-assess. When she doesn’t nap all day, I don’t have the fortitude to sit down and write for the hour or so to myself once I get her to sleep. Instead, I watch TV and, last night, drink Scotch. 🙂

It’s a good thing she’s so cute. And she insists on feeding HERSELF these days, manipulating that spoon like a ninja baby. I have video of that, but not a picture, so you’ll have to content yourselves with other pictures.

She’s moving so fast after eating that yogurt, ninja-style.

And even ninjas have to stay clean. Note the samurai topknot. Do samurai and ninjas ever get along? Do they even hang out together, ever?

Who cares. She’s a happy baby ninja, most of the time. The hair is a front for her mad skills, a distraction.


Ugggh. I have a feeling that I will find parenting hard in many ways, one of them being letting go of how things have been.

Elinor is almost seven months old, which blows my mind. She’s been in existence, for us, for almost 15 months, as Gorb and now as her own crazy self. But I cannot get over how quickly things change for her. She learns new things every day, acts differently every day, and grows so much every day. I don’t notice these things until I look back through pictures, or stop to consider a trait she possesses in detail — or make huge changes in her life.

For instance, she was a great sleeper at three and four months, but that fifth month was rough. She’d wake me up for feedings at least two or three times a night, her little body needing so much more fuel than I had been providing.

She was still sleeping in our room, in her crib, just feet from our bed. We kind of liked it that way. When we woke up in the morning, she would wake with us, usually smiling. When I went to bed, she would wake up and I’d get one last feeding in before I slept. When she was waking me up three times a night, it was way more convenient to just grab her, get back in bed, and nurse sleepily. Chad has this knack for completely blocking out her sounds and sleeping soundly, too, so his sleep wasn’t an issue. We figured that once we started her on solids, and she was sleeping longer, we’d finally move her into her own room, a whole twenty feet further away (although two doors do make a huge difference ….).

So we started her on those solid foods. Even though only a quarter of what I try to feed her makes it to her stomach, it helped immediately. She would sleep a six-hour stretch instead of a three-hour stretch. GLORIOUS.

But I resisted moving her away from me. Chad resisted, too, so there really wasn’t a big fracas about the whole thing.

Perhaps Elinor was ready, though. She started putting me through some awful nights, where she’d wake up three or four times, or would wake up at four and not go back down until seven or eight in the morning. She would talk to us in her big, funny monotone, and she began waking Chad up. Two nights ago, after being awake with her from two to four and then from five to eight in the morning, I snapped at Chad when he paused to smile at her, smiling at him, because I thought he was encouraging her to wake up. Don’t worry — I apologized.

But that day I took apart her crib and reassembled it in her room. Then I cajoled poor Chad, actually home for one night, to help me move all of the other furniture around — our twin bed into her room for nursing, her changing table into the bathroom, her old beautiful crib down to the bordello.

And that night, as anxious as I was to have her in a separate room for the first time in her life, she slept a straight six hours again. I woke to every noise on the monitor, but twice woke to noises which would have meant a real waking, but settled into sleep again.

We had been contributing to her lack of sleep. She had wanted to chill with us when she woke in the middle of the night, since we were there. But now that we are not there (and that kind of kills me), she sleeps. Our desire to keep things sweet, as they were, was holding her back from the sleep she needed, and perhaps the little bit of independence that she needed, too. I could have kicked myself for the sleep I missed by clinging to a tradition that Elinor needed to eschew.

And now I sleep. And Chad and I have real conversations before bed. And, amazingly enough, it’s easier to get up when I am not on her crazy schedule.

Remind me of this when other big things happen. The baby gates are still in boxes … but that will come soon enough, I know. I’m breaking out the drill today.


I think that Elinor may be weaning herself from her Woombie. We’ve swaddled her since she was born, and she is the Houdini of swaddled kids; sometimes I have to laugh when I think I’ve achieved an excellent, tight, perfect burrito-style swaddle, only to see her little hand pop straight up out of it. She usually gives me a little grin as she does that, and I untuck her and try to tuck her in again as I smile indulgently at her.

Anyway, Liz Kellermeyer mentioned the Woombie to us, which is essentially a stretchy straitjacket that makes the kid look like a peanut. It zips up but has no legs or arms, so imitates the womb’s atmosphere, which is supposed to be the excellent thing about swaddling to begin with. The Woombie was magic. Suddenly she was sleeping five or seven hour stretches, whereas she had always woken herself up around three or four hours before with her madly flailing hands. We love the Woombie. She looks like a glowworm, or a weird vegetable, or a Confucian official as she crosses her arms over her heart. See her when we first got it, around two months of age:

But the last three nights her usually calm bedtime routine (drifting off while nursing, wrapped up tight in her Woombie) has NOT worked. I was up until one with her Monday night, moving around the house to find cooler spots (it was HOT) and to let Chad sleep as she grunted and cried and grumbled, instead of drifting off placidly like she has for the last two months. I finally got her to sleep just by swaddling her in a swaddle blanket, which she squirmed out of around 3:30 in the morning. Tuesday night she was just AWAKE, wide-eyed and smiley, then wide-eyed and rubbing those wide red eyes. I finally dressed her in pajamas and she fell asleep in the dark without her Woombie — and slept thirteen hours, straight. Tonight I didn’t even try the Woombie — I just pajamed her and we nursed, and she fell asleep with the lights on, her busy little hands gently twitching.

When I placed her in her cradle, she thrashed a bit but didn’t open her eyes. I placed my hand on her chest and shushed her, as mommas do, and I could feel her tiny heart beating as she calmed down.

Suddenly I could see that tiny little heart inside her, and I could hear it the way I heard it at the doctor’s office, just eight weeks into the pregnancy. They make you wait eight weeks to see the doctor, and I was desperate for more proof of the little thing inside me than a urine test. Chad couldn’t come, but my mom did, and as the midwife covered my belly with the cold jelly, I was terrified. She moved the doppler around for a minute or so, telling me that sometimes it’s difficult to find the heart and that this was completely normal, all while I sweated in anxiety.

Then suddenly, there was the beat, steady and strong. I started to cry, full of relief and joy and the sheer wonder of the whole thing, of another little being growing inside me, circulating blood through tiny arteries and tiny capillaries, opening and closing valves already.

All of this, just as I laid my hands on the heart of my daughter to calm her to sleep without her Woombie. Motherhood can be overwhelming in wondrous ways like that.