Seasoned blog writers advise never to open a post with “Sorry I haven’t posted anything lately.” So, I’m not gonna be the chump who says that.
But if I were to say that, believe you me, there is a very good reason. Two words: SLEEP TRAINING.
As I mentioned before, the itty-bitty Seabass is quite a good sleeper. From the time he was just four weeks old he took a monster nap of three hours in the afternoon, with catnaps here and there in the morning. It was great because I could plan to wash the dishes, take a nap, or prepare dinner all in that three-hour span. That is, until two weeks ago.
I started noticing that Seabass was waking up after only 45 minutes of his so-called monster nap and NOT going back to sleep. Not cool when mommy’s in the middle of triangle pose and trying to regain her sense of serenity. If only that were the extent of the problem. No, the worst part was that our little guy became – all over again – an outright, one-hundred percent, take-no-prisoners pain in the butt from sun-up to sun-down due to lack of sleep. And I was on the brink.
A good friend recommended Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habit, Happy Child, and I had found it to be an excellent resource in the early weeks of Seabass’ life. But when I went to this helpful reference for solutions to the current issues of short naps and an all-around unhappy son, the writing just didn’t compute for me. This is no fault of Dr. Weissbluth’s, mind you. My brain, I believe, had officially turned into mush.
I’d had so much success with consultants in the area of lactation that I kept thinking If only there were sleep consultants, too. On one especially difficult day, I decided to Google “Dr. Weissbluth sleep consultation” and what should I find but a sleep consultancy based out of Stamford, Connecticut, that uses Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child as its bible. Eureka.
I set up a one-hour long phone discussion with Deborah Pedrick, founder of FamilySleep.com last Thursday, not without some skepticism but desperate for help. The conversation cost $100 and a day of follow-up emails would be $35. When I asked Jake if our budget could withstand a $100 phone call, he looked into my bloodshot, teary eyes and declared, “We’ll take out a loan if we have to.”
The baby was rocking happily in his swing where I knew I wouldn’t hear from him for at least an hour, so I sat down with pen, paper, and a pitiful little lunch to eat while listening to Deb’s wisdom. And here’s what she told me:
Big Shocker #1: Motionless sleep is best. In other words, get rid of the swing. Gulp.
Big Shocker #2: Seabass can only really handle one hour awake before he needs to be soothed back to sleep. That is all the little guy can take before erupting.
Big Shocker #3: You can’t force the length of Seabass’ naps. He is his own fish, and everyone else just needs to deal.
Big Shocker #4: Around four months of age, Seabass will (fingers, toes and everything else crossed) start to sleep longer and stay awake happily for longer.
I am tempted to ask for a money-back guarantee on that last one, but I think I can trust Deborah because (drumroll, please!) I am happy to report that for the past week, the consultation has absolutely paid off. No more swing, no more swaddled naps (he’s still swaddled for night sleep – we’re working on that one), and no more fuss-fuss-fuss-crash, fuss-fuss-fuss-crash. Don’t get me wrong: it isn’t easy. In fact, it takes a buttload of work. Seabass’ soothing routine can sometimes drag on for 30 minutes for a measly 30-minute nap, and we do that upwards of four times a day.
Moreover, Deborah instructs me to “catch the wave” of sleepiness before it crashes. To do that, I need to look for a tell-tale sign that Seabass is tired, but not overtired. For me, that signal is a yawn. Once the kid yawns, I’d better be within arm’s length of his crib, or else. So suffice it to say we’ve been home an awful lot for the last week.
But guess what? He’s sleeping nine hours at a stretch each night. That’s right: NINE. (I know I’m not supposed to brag because it’s rude. Did I mention that my boy now sleeps NINE HOURS every night?) So what if I don’t have a life outside of my little house? At least I’m well-rested. And so is my baby! Nothing makes me happier than to walk into Seabass’ room to find him happily chirping away instead of wailing. That is priceless, priceless.
This phenomenon has impressed me so much that I’ve been proselytizing the benefits of sleep consultation all over town. And why? Because Deborah gave me a plan I could implement with confidence. As a new parent, I’ve second-guessed every decision I made on my own. I know everyone says “just trust your instincts” but my instincts have been known to tell me to lock the screaming Seabass in a closet and hitchhike to Mexico. So I tend to disregard them.
Maybe it’s the fact that I had to spend money to get the plan. Maybe it’s the fact that Deborah touted herself as an infant sleep expert – a pretty gutsy move in my opinion. I don’t know where the faith and persistence came from. But I do know one thing.
My boy’s sleeping nine hours straight through the night, and I’m a happy mama.