I have been with Lula every night for bedtime since she was born. She’s now seven months old. As I mentioned in another recent post, I have a few evening events coming up in the next few months so I won’t be able to nurse her to sleep- that’s been our pattern since she began sleeping in her crib.
I wrote in Lula’s seven month update that I felt like DST threw off her sleep patterns and as I think more about it, perhaps it has but additionally, she’s getting older and as far as I can tell, she needs less sleep during the day. Since I’ve shortened her naps, she has been going to sleep more easily at night- most of the time.
However, there have been some evenings I find myself sitting in the extremely dark nursery with her for forty minutes, trying to lull her to sleep through nursing but she de-latches herself, cranes her head all over the place, talks, whispers, bites, etc.
When I give up and put her in her crib on those evenings, she is outraged! I leave, she gets upset, I go back in and try to calm her down (usually through nursing) and the next thing I know, it’s 8 o’clock and I am worn out and I must admit, a little upset myself.
One thing I have learned as a new parent is that I can’t expect Lula to change in situations like this. I have to change.
Frankly, I was unwilling to cut those naps short…at first. I didn’t want to admit to myself that the length of her naps were part of our nighttime problem because it meant less time for me during the day. However, the idea grew on me as I realized that I would have an extra hour in the evenings and more importantly, it would make the evenings with my husband more enjoyable.
So far, the shorter naps have helped but Pa and I also felt it was important to get Lula accustomed to going to bed without nursing so she
would be prepared when I am not here. We tried it out cold turkey on Saturday night and it was interesting. I believe it worked well to start this on a weekend because my energy levels were higher, I had help all day long, and I felt positive about it.
Or…maybe it was because we decided to tackle this task about an hour and a half before it happened.
I nursed her around 6:30, Pa and I gave her a bath, she got in her overnight diaper and jammies and we both brought her back to the nursery. Pa was going to read her a book but as soon as he sat down with her, she got really upset. She was clearly letting us know that this was NOT her evening routine!
I took her back from him and held her for a minute or two and sang to her. She was still angry and fussy so I put her in her crib, Pa gave her a couple of plastic toys, and we left the room.
She fussed on and off for about thirty minutes. We heard her playing with her toys between whines and then…silence.
The following night, we followed a similar pattern and once again, Pa tried to read to her in the nursery. Once again, she started to get worked up. We sang her two songs and into the crib she went. She was fussy for 11 minutes and then it was silent.
Monday night was a little tougher. I didn’t even try to read to her but sang for a few minutes and put her in her crib with her toys. She fussed for a few minutes, then it was silent, then I heard the kind of crying where it’s clear something is wrong. I opened her door and my suspicions were confirmed. She was on her stomach with her hand on her head sobbing- it was so sad!
I rolled her back over, sang to her, calmed her down, and left again. She fussed for a minute, played with her toys, and then it was quiet.
Things vary each night- she got her leg stuck in the crib slats a day or two ago so that got her worked up. We definitely aren’t where I would like to be quite yet but we are making progress and I am excited that Pa and I got the ball rolling on something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Nobody I know likes change so why would I expect anything different from my baby? Over time, I know it will get easier.
Sometimes it feels like I am stuck in a routine with no way out of it but with a different mindset, it can get better. I realize now that bedtime uncertainty was dragging me down. Instead of crossing my fingers and hoping that bedtime would go well like I had been doing, I took action. Knowing that I have the power to change a routine like that has been very…well…empowering!