Friday, April 9, 2010

Toothless wonder (and some thoughts on sleeping)

Will has behaved like he was teething since the moment he was born. What with all the crying and the crying and the nursing constantly and the needing to be held and did I mention the crying and the nursing? Other mothers would see his behavior or listen to me describe it and assure me that he must be teething. And yet. He remained a toothless wonder.

Those days are about to end. Yesterday I noticed that his gums looked kind of bumpy on the bottom. This morning they were more bumpy and I could see little white ridges just barely poking through the gumline. This afternoon when he grabbed my finger, put it in his mouth, and gave it a good chomp, I felt teeth! Sure enough, both of the bottom incisors are coming in at once.

This is so ironic. The last week has been just about the best week we've ever had-- he certainly wasn't behaving like a teething baby.

I completely gave up trying to get him to nap, and strangely, I think that is what did the trick. Since about the time he was 2 weeks old, he was a fairly good sleeper at night, but he's always been a terrible napper. Long about the time he was 4 months old, I listened to a podcast that featured a "sleep expert." She was saying all this stuff, about how babies should be sleeping so many hours per day and should be going to bed at 6pm and shouldn't be napping past 4:45pm because it messes up their sleep cycles, and etc, etc. Hearing that kind of made me freak out. At the time, I realized that Will was not really napping during the day, and he didn't go to bed at night until 9 or 10pm. So I really started trying to get with the program. I mandated daytime naps (which didn't always go so well), and I would get him to bed at night around 7 or 7:30pm (I never could seem to manage to get him down for the night by 6!). And things kept getting worse and worse. Instead of sleeping through the night or waking up just once (as he had been up to that point), he woke more and more frequently in the night. Moreover, the daytime napping was often very difficult. I could usually manage to get him to nap twice during the day, but often it would take 20 minutes of frustrating crying while I rocked, patted, swayed, felt like I was losing my mind what with the crying, and then the nap would sometimes not last as long as the whole rocking, patting, swaying deal.

The whole system sort of broke down about 2 weeks ago. The rocking, patting, swaying routine fell apart, and Will refused to nap at all. He would fall asleep in my arms, but as soon as I tried to lay him down in his bed, he would scream. This would go on for hours every day as I kept trying to make it work. Often times it was so frustrating that I felt like I wanted to punch my fist through a plate glass window.

The nicer weather has saved my sanity. Instead of being cooped up indoors as we were all winter, now I take him out for a walk in the stroller or go for a run with him in the baby jogger. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 miles for him to fall asleep, but usually he does, and since I'm training for a marathon anyway, it helps me get in some miles. Sometimes he gets tired and falls asleep after 4:45pm-- what the sleep experts say not to do. I feel kind of like I'm cheating or like we've taken a step back what with his sudden refusal to nap in bed, but seriously, I just can't deal with any more crying. When it's cold or rainy, I just sit there and hold him while he sleeps in my arms and think that someday, he won't want me to hold him anymore so I might as well hold him while I can.

And you know what? Things got better. I still put him to bed sometime between 7 and 8 at night, and for almost 2 weeks now, he's been sleeping more or less straight through until 6 or 7 in the morning. It's been wonderful. And I'm doing everything the sleep experts say not to do.

The other major breakthrough is that I've stopped swaddling him. For several months now, I've been stressed out about the fact that he still "needed" to be swaddled in order to sleep and terrified about what I would do when it got too warm to bundle him up so much and he was too big for it anyway. Well, one warm night this past week, he woke up crying around 10:45pm and when I went to check on him, he was sopping wet. Not from a wet diaper... from sweat. His little body was so warm. So I unswaddled him and held him for a couple minutes and he went right back to sleep. I put him down in his crib unswaddled, and he stayed asleep. I couldn't believe it. All these many long months, I have believed that he needed to be swaddled or he wouldn't sleep. Maybe he did, and he's finally outgrown it, I don't know. But for about a week now, I have been putting him to bed unswaddled, and so far so good. He sleeps on his side, which is adorable. In fact, he's been sleeping so well that I've rarely nursed him in the night these past 2 weeks. It's weird. I wonder if we're night-weaning? In a strange sort of way, I am not sure that I'm ready for it. Which is just as well. Now that I've written about how great everything has been going, I suppose that jinxes it and he'll be up every 2 hours all night long for the foreseeable future.

I'm just still amazed that in the midst of this, with things finally going better than they have for the past 8 months, he cuts 2 teeth!

All this talk of sleep has made me very sleepy, so that's all for now.

7 comments:

amypfan said...

Many things....

1. For the entire first year of her life, Bryn would only nap if I was holding her, or if she passed out in her swing after watching maltiplr Baby Einstein DVDs. (I know I'm not going to win any parenting awards for the second one, but sometimes, Mommy needs to rest.) But when she turned 1, it was like somebody had flipped a switch, and she magically started taking multi-hour naps every day. So don't give up hope entirely.

2. Isn't it funny how kids give things up or change their preferences without us knowing? Much like you with the swaddling, I was convinced that Bryn NEEDED a pacifier to sleep. We kept several in her crib at all times, and whenever she whimpered in the night, I would get up to go give her one. Then I shared a room with her on a visit to Peoria when she was about 8 months old and saw firsthand that she didn't actually use them at all.

3. A warning: teething and breastfeeding? Kind of miserable for Mommy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah!!!
Way to go William!
Can't wait to see the new smile!!
Yeah!!
Way to go Mom!

As for the book reference - I learned a very long time ago that books are for reference. The author is not on site and doesn't know your baby like you do. Baby is always the best reference.

(analogy): I love that a person can go to college for 4 or 6 years to be a "teacher", then they put them in a classroom that has nothing to do with what you learned about the past 4 years.

Books are always a good reference, but they aren't gospel. Baby knows what he wants, and mom knows what works best for them both.

You're doing a great job!

Love you guys, Grandma Barb

Anonymous said...

Yeah!
Way to go William...
Yeah!
Way to go Mom...

I learned a very long time ago that books are a good reference, but they are not gospel.

(analogy): I love that a person can go to college for 4-6 years to be a "teacher", then said person is given a classroom and it's completely different from what she/he learned the past 4 years.

A mother knows her baby better than anyone else. Although an author has good ideas and suggestion, he/she is not on-site and doesn't know your baby like you do.

You're doing a great job. It just takes a while to figure babies out. All babies are their own person and no one knows a baby like his mother.

We love you guys,
Grandma Barb

Anonymous said...

Yeah!
Way to go William...
Yeah!
Way to go Mom...

I learned a very long time ago that books are a good reference, but they are not gospel.

(analogy): I love that a person can go to college for 4-6 years to be a "teacher", then said person is given a classroom and it's completely different from what she/he learned the past 4 years.

A mother knows her baby better than anyone else. Although an author has good ideas and suggestion, he/she is not on-site and doesn't know your baby like you do.

You're doing a great job. It just takes a while to figure babies out. All babies are their own person and no one knows a baby like his mother.

We love you guys,
Grandma Barb

Anonymous said...

Yeah!
Way to go William...
Yeah!
Way to go Mom...

I learned a very long time ago that books are a good reference, but they are not gospel.

(analogy): I love that a person can go to college for 4-6 years to be a "teacher", then said person is given a classroom and it's completely different from what she/he learned the past 4 years.

A mother knows her baby better than anyone else. Although an author has good ideas and suggestion, he/she is not on-site and doesn't know your baby like you do.

You're doing a great job. It just takes a while to figure babies out. All babies are their own person and no one knows a baby like his mother.

We love you guys,
Grandma Barb

Anonymous said...

Yeah!
Way to go William...
Yeah!
Way to go Mom...

I learned a very long time ago that books are a good reference, but they are not gospel.

I love that a person can go to college for 4 years to be a "teacher", then said person is given a classroom and it's completely different from what she/he learned the past 4 years.

A mother knows her baby better than anyone else. Although an author has good ideas and suggestion, he/she is not on-site and doesn't know your baby like you do.

You're doing a great job! It just takes a while to figure babies out. All babies are their own person and no one knows a baby like his mother.

We love you guys,
Grandma Barb

nancy said...

CONGRATS to WILL on his first TOOTHIES!!!!!! and what a COOL day to cut them!!! that will be easy for me to remember!!!!! the rest will follow, so just keep looking!!!!! or FEELING??????OUCH!!! ENJOY the NIGHTS of SLEEP when they happen, and when they are disrupted, well , don't dwell on it and let it go,,,,, it will always be a continual CHANGE , some good and some troubling... what works today , may not work tomorrow,,,,,,,,, but that's OK!!!! He's OK and You're OK!! and THROW those stupid BOOKS in the garbage and USE common sense!!!! hugs to all, luv you mama