Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Excuse me while I snicker like the sleep-deprived-martyr I am

I've been googling "4 month old sleep regression" and find people complaining that their child went from sleeping from 7pm-6am to getting up at 1am for an extra nursing session.

Hah. Hahahahahahahaha.


OK, sorry. I can't help it. The idea of an uninterrupted night of sleep is just so absurd to me.

Remember the Elaine dance, from Seinfield?

That is pretty much what Jack looks like when he's sleeping. He seems to spend a lot of time in the in between zone, fighting the urge to snooze. He jerks his hands and feet around. He stretches at odd angles. He squeezes his eyes shut and rubs them with his hands. He's teething, now, and spends at least 10 minutes out of every hour pulling on his ears. He just can't settle enough to fall asleep, and it can be very uncomfortable when Jack is doing the Elaine-Dance next to me in bed. When he finally does fall asleep, he always manages to get himself into a rather awkward position: on his side, legs curled, back arched, and head tilted backwards as far as it will physically go (about 45 degrees from centerline). The only reason I can come up with for why he likes this pose is that it is reminescent of how he curls up when we side-lie nurse. I've been trying to convince Jack that he'd feel better if he kept his neck straight, but, alas, my advice goes unheeded.

Even in utero, Jack was an very active little baby. The video clip below is fairly typical. I used to have dreams that he pushed his hand right through my belly, and then I'd wake up to find him stretching himself from end to end with a strength that always surprised me

And I wonder why I have terrible stretch marks! I'm convinced that it wasn't just Jack's growth that did the damage to my belly -- I think it was his constant kicking and punching that stretched my skin past its natural limit.

So Jack has always been an active little guy, and nighttime is no exception. When Jack came home from the hospital, he was already sleeping in 3-4 hour stretches, with a fussy period in the morning. That was awesome. Unfortunately, things quickly settled into an up-every-two-hours routine, which is pretty tough on me. He has a predictable pattern right now: asleep at 6:30, up at 11pm, 1am, 3am, 5am, 6am, 7am.

Often I just bring him into bed at 1am, but we don't really want to be doing that every single night, all night long. He'll spend hours doing the Elaine-Dance: punching me in the face, scratching up my neck, and kicking me in the belly.

Greg and I decided to spend however however much time it takes to sooth him to sleep while he's in his co-sleeper. No getting up and leaving to let him cry for short periods of time: we just put him in, pat him, talk to him, and sing to him. Sometimes we pick him up, but he goes right back down when he calms down. Sometimes it takes an hour, and sometimes we repeat this ritual as he wakes up sporadically for several hours, but eventually we know he'll fall asleep on his own.

The last few nights, things have been getting a little better. In fact, twice, I've put him down when he's totally awake. I let him squirm on his own (no crying), and he's fallen asleep after a few minutes. Once, Greg put him down for a nap -- and he fell asleep all on his own with no fussing. Last night, he nursed at 11pm, 3am, and 5am, and I am I so well rested, I can't believe it!

I'm trying my best not to expect a linear improvement in Jack's sleeping patterns. The truth is, he'll go through so many stages: learning to crawl and to pull himself up, teething, and an impatience to get up and go as his new awareness of the world increases. He's got quite a bit going on, both mentally and physically, and I know that this growing is going to interrupt all of our sleep for a while to come.

Still, I can celebrate a few hours of uninterrupted sleep when it happens. Huzzah!

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