Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Nap Nazi

I am a Nap Nazi.

To put a finer point on it, actually I'm a Sleep Nazi. I am insane about making sure my kid gets her sleep. It is as important to me as making sure Chicky has a balanced diet to eat and lots of milk and water to drink. It is as important to me as making sure she knows how much I love her. In my house Love = Sleep. If you're tired and cranky, you're more difficult to like. Simple as that.

After four and a half long months of fighting with a colicky infant who Just. Would. Not. Sleep. Already. For the love of all that is good and holy, please sleep. Just sleep. Mommy really needs you to SLEEP. PLEASE....


...we broke down, threw out the No Cry Sleep Solution book and others of its ilk, picked up the Weissbluth Bible (as I refer to it) and sleep trained Chicky.

My lawd, I need a nap. Can someone help me out with that? Where's that boob thing that makes me sleepy?

It wasn't that easy, of course. I cried. Mr. C paced. I would call him at work in the middle of the day while I was trying to get Chicky to nap just to have him talk me off the ledge, so to speak. And in about a week, Chicky was out of our bedroom, where she had slept, when she slept, mainly on my chest for most of those 120-plus days, having decided the co-sleeper was just not good enough for her, and in her own crib. In her own room. With her own door shut.

Praise Jesus and pass the wine.

She slept there, finally, for every nap and every night. It didn't matter to me how it happened. The important thing was that she slept. And I didn't care if she woke up once or twice during the night for a quick feeding and I had to leave the comfort of my bed to go to her. She went back to sleep on her own and I got more than a fifteen minute stretch of uninterrupted sleep as well.

Now, some consider CIO cruel and I will freely admit it's not for every child. But I, looking back on it with a clearer head (from all those Zz's I've been getting), think the way she was living in those early days to be far worse. Chicky just did not know how to sleep. She stimulated easily. The stars and moon and all the planets, not to mention the wind direction, position of the sun, light blocking shades, and just the right amount of white noise, all had to be aligned perfectly for her to fall into a peaceful sleep. To this day, whenever Mr. C and I see an infant spontaneously fall asleep we still can't believe his or her parents didn't slip a mickey into the baby bottle. Babies sleep? All on their own? No freaking way! Who knew?

It only took about a week for Chicky to learn that sleep was a good thing. A very good thing. And almost immediately, her whole demeanor changed. She was happy and rested and she didn't have bags under her eyes anymore. She ate better. She was finally an all around pleasant being to be around. Which was in sharp contrast to her first few months of life when, if you looked at her cross-eyed, she'd scream like you were poking her with needles.

See?? Bags! Under my baby's eyes! They're as big as mine! Almost.

Now she sleeps like a dream. We have our battles, but I can deal with those. I like to think it's because we've been so consistent about her sleep habits. She's only spent one night in our room, in our bed, since she turned five months, and that was a total disaster. If she is ill, Mr. C or I will gladly get up and go check on her. We have a video monitor in her room so we can gauge how much she really needs us to go to her before we mistakenly interrupt her slumber, confusing sleep sounds with distress. And I make sure her bedtimes are relatively consistent and naps are enforced. The girl needs her sleep, and as her mom I make sure she gets plenty of it.

It's worked out really well so far.


I am well aware that this method, at that particular time in her life, worked well for Chicky. I am aware that I'm lucky that at three years of age she still naps fairly regularly. And though I am tied to my house for at least three hours every afternoon, I am not willing to postpone naps for more than a day at a time, for fear she might start thinking she doesn't need them as much as before. She does need them. She's a bear without a nap. Hell, I need them. I'm a bear without her nap.

Hence the Nap Nazi title I have no problem embracing.

With Baby #2 on the way, I'm terrified it won't work out this way again. Maybe next time I'll get a newborn that will easily nod off but will resist all sleep training entirely as an infant. Like my Sister in Law's oldest son who would scream for hours if left in his crib to try to CIO. Sleep training did not one bit of good for him. There was not much sleep to be had in that house for the first couple of years of his life.

That scares the bejeebus out of me.

It's moments like this, when Chicky is sleeping soundly in her new big girl bed, having made the easy transition from her crib, and I have a few quiet moments to myself that I wonder what I've gotten myself into. We've got it pretty good now and I decided to get pregnant again and throw a monkey wrench into the works. True, a cute monkey wrench that smells of newborn baby head (because if the first one is any indication, Mr. C and I make some damn cute babies. Good smelling ones, too.), but our whole life will go back to what it once was. Hopefully for just a short time, but still...

Trust me when I say it wasn't the hat that made her scream like that. We threw it on her after the screaming had begun for our own sleep deprived amusement.

It makes me twitch just thinking about it. The same reoccurring twitch I had whenever Chicky screamed as an infant.

Old fears die hard. With the next one I'll know better what to expect but I don't think that will make it any easier. Just less of a shock. Hopefully, when it's all said and done I'll have an extra set of stripes to add to my Nap Nazi uniform and a second child who sleeps like the first one does. I'll probably have a few more wrinkles. And a few more gray hairs. And a few extra centimeters added to the bags under my eyes...

Ugh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.


The Spunky Mommy said...

Hi! I tagged you to do a new "Lemonade Meme" http://spunkymommy.blogspot.com/2008/04/ode-to-lemons.html You're it!

Backpacking Dad said...

When my daughter was 4 months olds we finally said "enough" and sat her down to make her watch the "Sleepeasy Solutions" DVD.

That night she slept for 10 hours.

I don't think we were supposed to make her watch it...but hey, whatever works.

flutter said...

Oh, honey...I am afraid

Avalon said...

Oh, if the hat picture is any indication, the new baby will have a great set of lungs too. Hopefully it uses them only for snoring sounds.

My daughter was also colicky. Miserable. For 4 months. I wanted to throw myself off the ledge but we only lived on the first floor. I couldn't let her cry it out because we lived in an apartment with our elderly landlady upstairs. When she finally went on a week's vacation, I spent that entire week teaching my 9 month old how to sleep. I can still remember the unabashed joy having woken up in the morning to realize that she had slept ALL NIGHT LONG!!

I hear your worries.

Kimber said...

Awww, I remember thinking this when #2 came along. (My m-i-l never told me until AFTER the wedding that the husband didn't sleep for 1st two years of life. THX!)
What was weird, though was babies #2, 3 and (SURPRISE! HAH HA LOSER, YOU'RE PREGNANT AGAIN) 4 all were fab sleepers. It's like somehow they were born knowing Mama's going to lose her shit if they didn't sleep.
And all was well, Amen.

Greens and Pinks said...

Hahahaha - I could have written this word for word. I am a total sleep nazi. Charlotte screamed about 20 out of 24 hours a day from birth to 3 months or so. I too used the Weissbluth bible and she slept 12 hours straight through the night by 5 months. The naps were harder - there was screaming - but to this day she sleeps 12 hours through the night and naps 2 hours every afternoon. I won't let her go more than a day without a nap.

I'm afraid this new baby will be more easy going but not as great a sleeper. Afraid? More like petrified.

Heather said...

My son was and is a better sleeper than my daughter was and is. Hope it works that way with this one too. (And for you...but not as much as I hope for this for me!)

Tania said...

Stop!!! Think sleepy thoughts while you can still transfer them to the fetus!

I had an easy go with the first one, so I am scared sh*itless of how I may be about to ruin a good thing in my household. Then I think happy thoughts and sing, la la la la...

Blog Antagonist said...

My first child was a dream sleeper. I had no idea that all babies weren't like him. He slept 3-4 hours at night from the get go, and transitioned to 8 hours pretty easily at about 6 months. And he took two naps daily until he was fully a year old. Then he napped until kindy. It was blissful.

Enter Diminutive One. I don't think he ever slept a whole night. Still hasn't. And he gave up napping at 18 months, which was a sad, sad, sad day in the Antagonist household.

In desperation, we used sleep training with him, and it was successful. However, he will just never be the sleeper that his brother is. And now, he takes meds that add to the problem. YAWN.

That said, don't be afraid. I'll admit the first year is hectic, but it just makes those rare occurrences where you get them to sleep at the same time all the more precious.

Julie Pippert said...

You know what? Good parenting is DOING WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. (I emphasized because I thought I caught a tad bit of blase defensiveness about the CIO deal.)

I did two entirely different sleep things for my kids because they are VERY different and needed different approaches.

All I can say is that number 2 was easier for a variety of reasons, one of which was probably my "do what works" approach LOL.

The lovely thing about three full years apart is I had 1 sleeping by the time 2 came along.

And naps. Oy, the 3.5 year old and naps. Somebody shoot me now.

kittenpie said...

I fear the lack of sleep, too. It was a tough road for a while there, but we did make it out, so I at least know there is light at the end! We didn't do the CIO with pumpkinpie, but nonetheless, we started moving her into her own crib at about 6 months, and I do credit a rigid go-to-bed routine with some of that. I am a total freak about sleep, too, and only reluctantly in the last few months have we conceded that naptime must now be "quiet time" instead. Still, she goes to sleep well and easily at night, sleeps a solid 11+ hours, and we rarely mess with the bedtime business. I'm with you, there. (And CIO worked very well with my sister, so while it wasn't for me and pumpkinpie, I'm not going to say it's a bad thing, either!)

Hannah said...

If it makes you feel any better, my firstborn was a ROTTEN sleeper. We had to keep him in the bed with us until he was nine months old, when I went back to work and finally tried the SleepLady method - which worked. But he didn't start sleeping through the night regularly until he was two and a half.

My two week old, on the other hand, sleeps beautifully. Every 2.5 to 3 hours he wakes - without screaming - eats, gets a diaper change, and goes back to sleep. In his own bed. This isn't anything I have done. He is just magically a much more placid being than his older brother.

I hope the parent gods bestow the same gift on you.

Pgoodness said...

I'm jealous of your naps and sleeping all night! Both of my boys have always been pretty crappy sleepers - sleep training or not, neither slept through the night until after age 2. And naps? Gone way before that! My youngest is doing something totally amazing - he goes up to his bed when he's ready - climbs in and gets ready. It's the best sleeping-related thing to happen in our house! (Of course, he still wakes and wants to come to our bed in the night, but lately he wants to go back to his own, so the end MAY be near!)

Pgoodness said...

Oh, the doing things for sleep deprived amusement? Love it! Did some ourselves...

Anonymous said...

I am with you on the Weissbluth bible and the need for sleep. I firmly believe that babies should not be awake for more than 2 hours, ever.

For about a year now my girls (4 and almost 2) have both napped together for about two hours after lunch. There is hope!

Anonymous said...

Don't push the panic button yet! I had many of these moments when I was pregnant with #2 since #1 is an awesome sleeper. And guess what, #2 turned into an awesome sleeper as well. Ok, until the molars started coming in...

motherbumper said...

Vegas odds say that this little lady will be a champ sleeper. Weissbluth was our saviour and bible also - I'm still mad that I lent to another neighbourhood mom who has never returned the book (despite my repeated requests - she's making me feel psycho). And your sleep photo essay makes me want to chew on Chicky's toes - dang she's adorable - even when screaming.

Mandy said...

My kids have not been easy sleepers. BUT, my second learned the CIO method in two nights. It was bliss. My first couldn't do CIO. When we tried, he'd scream for 5 hours straight. Seriously. I did that twice and decided, no way.

Anyway, I think second kids learn to adapt a lot faster. Hope this is what happens for you.

Julie Marsh said...

What Julie P said. You'll do what works. And if it helps, I had a much easier time with CJ, and Oliver has been easier still.

(Those pics of Chicky wailing are priceless. Love them!)

Sarahviz said...

Fellow Sleep Nazi here. Middle (almost 4) and Baby (almost 3) both still take naps. At the same time. Every day. Because they NEED IT.

And we've always been consistent with the bedtime routine.

Children thrive on structure. They feel secure when they know what to expect.
That's my motto, anyway.

Geekgrl64 said...

I remember those nights, even though they were 13 years ago. The prominent one is when he was awake all night crying. He finally was calmer in the morning, but as you said, I was on the ledge.

Good luck with the new addition!

Creative-Type Dad said...

My daughter was like that for the first few months. I feel your pain..

By the way, crying pictures are the best. Of course, when viewing them later. It's not fun when you're in the middle of it.

justmylife said...

CIO didn't work for Little Miss, ended in a trip to the ER for the crack in her head from slamming it into the crib rails! At 8 she still doesn't sleep well. Not trying to scare you, just saying start young with this one too! Good luck.

the new girl said...

You gave me farging FLASHBACKS with this post.

the mama bird diaries said...

My 2nd did not particular take well to sleep training but finally did get it once I stopped nursing at a year.

That first pic is so friggin' adorable.

JJ_West said...

Love some Weisbluth ... and even though my second has not slept as well as my first, it worked for both when we were alert enough to pay attention. :D

Good luck!

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Reading your post makes me glad I'm done with babies---oy, the sleep issues! We've had some MAJOR sleep issues, most notably when my 2-3 yo old (who is now 5) would wake up every night and have a total freak-out screamfest/punch mommy fest for an hour. I seriously thought about holding an exorcism. I'm happy to say that even that nightmare passed.

raqgold said...

it took me an hour before bringing my MC to sleep tonight, and she's already six :) and we've been struggling with her every sleeping time. let me check that bible you have.

Daisy said...

"...for our own sleep deprived amusement..." I remember that feeling! Those were the times we laughed because if we didn't we would have cried right along with the baby.

Anonymous said...

You my friend, are now an old pro at parenting.

The second babe will be wildy different, but you will make it work and get that little critter to sleep.

In the meantime, I have baby drugs to get them to sleep if you need it...


mo-wo said...

another great wry post Mrs.

But on a serious note -- watch out about the Nap Nazi status. I am/was entirely the same. Such that I became sort of addicted to naps. I freak out if they are skipped and inflict great flagelation on an increasing basis. I occasionally look to my dear friends of near-no-nap children with an odd envy. They seem to know how to drink a coffee or tidy a house with child in hand. Me? I fear I am hopeless. What will I do when the naps do end?

-- I have made a campaign of this for about 3 months and life is actually a lot better with not caring. Remember I am talking about my 3 and a half year old tho'... I still lord it over my 22 month old cause I am an old Weisbluthian too.

Unknown said...

We used a combo on many techniques!

Declan was -gasp- a Babywise baby from the getgo.In fact, from before the getgo since he was in the NICU for 6 weeks and their schedule was *exactly* the Babywise schedule.

And then we took parts from Weissbluth and No Cry Sleep Solution that worked for us later as well.

I am TOTALLY with you that sleep is critical and proudly call myself a Nap Nazi too. Only now, at 5.5 are we starting to let Declan have the occasional late night out.

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