It's been a rough week or so, and perhaps rougher (more rough?) the past couple of days. By rough I mean it could be a lot worse, but for us being new parents, the experience of trying to get our son to get quality sleep for long(er) stretches, and at the appropriate times, has been, well, "rough."
The past couple of days/nights we've been trying to ween him out of his cradle and into the crib. Gone is the busy mobile and stuffed animals sharing space in the crib. The bumper is still there but we've discussed doing something with it, as well. All in the name of keeping our son concentrated on falling asleep and not interested in his surroundings. So far, it hasn't yet worked according to plan. We're not sure if he's happy sleeping on his back, though he did okay in the cradle. He sleeps well, however, in his swing and car seat, where he's on an angle. He also sleeps fairly well on his side, but we don't have anything to prop him up, if we even decided to do such a thing. Let's just say it's been a battle, okay?
We're trying to keep a schedule, or at least a routine, but our method has flexibility. He sleeps, feeds when he wakes, has some play time while awake, then goes to sleep again. Every other night we give him a bath to calm him, give him a massage with lotion, then read to him in hushed voices with the lights down before putting him down for sleepy time. At least that's the plan. Either because of gas, colic, or not liking being on his back, the past couple nights he has been really wailing shortly after he goes down. He lulls us into a false sense of security by being "asleep" in our arms only to scream shortly after laying him down.
The other part of the plan is letting him cry a little before rushing into comfort him, trying to get him to self soothe. We've only just started doing this, so we did try to assure him we were always there when he needed us. Now that he's almost two months old (already!) we'd like him to learn to calm himself down when he wakes during sleep. This process definitely isn't easy since our son isn't much of a cryer, but more of a wailer or screamer. His "cry" makes him sound like he's in pain but of course as soon as he's picked up he stops, so we know he's okay (since he doesn't show any signs of being sick or hurt).
The process will also take some time for him to learn, also, and is hasn't been easy for me. I don't know if it's the pitch, the volume or what, but something about his crying really works me over, almost to the point of wincing when I hear it. Last night I was slightly better about it than the night before, so hopefully I will get used to it and/or our son will learn better to relax and soothe himself. I'm also afraid our neighbors in the apartment next door will call the police thinking we're hurting our child (the wall of the nursey is adjacent to their living room, and vice versa). From what I can tell, our neighbors also use this cry-out method, since at 8:10pm every night their youngest daughter, who is perhaps almost two, cries herself to sleep. I don't consider it payback, per se, but our son's crying should be abated by some determination and effort on our part, while their daughter may continue crying at night indefinitely.
We know that a well-rested baby is a happy baby, so we will keep on truckin' with getting the boy to sleep through the night. I read too many books pre-birth to let our son get over on us and think he's boss (he is). The colic thing sort of throw's a monkey wrench into our routine or methods, but keeping his stimulation in check and well-fed and rested should help us stay on track. Last night, for instance, he slept for 3.5 hours straight (after a bit of struggle), then got a feeding, then slept another couple of hours. All this was while on his back, in his crib. There's surely room for improvment, but it's a first step!
Our little man Jack went to his pediatrician yesterday and weighed in a 11 pounds, one ounce, which we came to find out is actually normal for a baby at five weeks. We didn't know until yesterday that his head size was on the small size at the last appointment but has since gained size to become average also. His length, however, at over 23 inches, is above average for his age, which I consider to be pretty cool, for some reason. When is it good to start a kid in sports? (Kidding -- anytime is a good time, LOL)
He still has colic, though it is apparently on the "mild" side, since he doesn't cry for hours on end. There are a couple points during each day, mostly in the evenings, where he does have trouble passing gas and stool. When it (gas) does eventually come out, it's sort of comical but mostly just smelly. The pediatrician made a joke that smelly gas is hereditary, and since I wasn't at the appointment I'm sure he was referring to me, har har. Jack's crying isn't funny, true, but the outcome of all his red faces and squirming can be a little funny, especially when his farts last a few seconds at a time.
But enough about poopy and boom booms... We're trying to get the boy to sleep better during the night, creating some sort of battle plan with strategies and protocols, etc. We've instituted a bath ritual every two days but I don't think Jack realizes it's part of our attack to get him to begin the sleep process. We read to him and feed him afterwards, though for now he's more interested in the bottle than what's on the page. We don't expect him to sleep all night long yet, but we'd like him to get used to being in a bed, on his back, and maybe even self-soothe himself more. He's not a big fan of his lovely crib yet, so we still put him in the bassinet. Personally, I think because it's still cold he doesn't like all the open-ness of a crib, but rather the closeness of his cradle. Hopefully when it's warmer he will dig the crib. My wife thinks there's "too much going on" in his crib with the bumpers, mobile, and stuffed animal friends on the edge for him to ignore and fall asleep. I'm not in total agreement, but until he sleeps well in the crib, I don't have many other explanations.
It's definitely been interesting having a fussy baby. I mean, the more exposure and knowledge I get about his condition(s), the more I'm comfortable around him, even when he's screaming. Sometimes in the car he has serious bouts of crying and yelling at the top of his little lungs, but he cannot be consoled. I've only been witness to that behavior once (unfortunately not close to home), while the wife has been hit by it a few times now. The doctor told us there's nothing we can do but let him cry it out, that it might be the position he's in that puts uncomfortable pressure on his tummy. But it's completely nerve-wracking and heartbreaking, and I/we feel pretty helpless.
We can only be happy in the fact that this will be something he should outgrow soon, as his internal mechanisms mature and he learns how to deal with it himself, too. And as he grows so will we, finding new ways to soothe and comfort him. And before we know it we're getting a whopping four straight hours of sleep a night, ha ha!