As Ellis transitioned out of the newborn phase I felt it was time to change things up a bit, because up until then, I had held her for every single nap she took (6+ a day!). I realized I needed to establish more of a routine with her if I wanted to have any control over my life.
Being a teacher, this is extremely hard for me, as I crave control in all situations. I was essentially being used as a bed (and happy to do so) for not only my baby but my dog as well, laying on the couch with both of them on me. As I tried rocking her ever so slightly and declining FaceTime calls for fear I would wake her – “wake the snake” as my husband likes to say, Ellis would inevitably become grumpy at the drop of a hat if she was woken her before her full siesta. I felt as if I couldn’t leave the house because if she didn’t nap adequately I would throw off her sleep pattern, and go back to those dreaded sleepless nights as a newborn. I felt guilty for not wanting her to lay on my chest all day, because for as long as I can remember, all I’ve EVER wanted was to know the feeling of having my own baby sleep on my chest. I knew something had to change, however, for both us of.
I started researching “sleep training” in an attempt to find out what I was most comfortable with at her age. For me, I knew I wasn’t ready for the “cry it out” method, nor was she. Ellis still sleeps in our room, in her bassinet, so I wanted to make her room and crib an enjoyable space; one where she doesn’t cry for prolonged periods of time. What I took away most from the research at this point for Ellis and I was the following:
- a) Put her down drowsy (which I never did – hence my hunchback from rocking her for hours)
- b) When she cries, go back in the room and soothe her. For Ellis, this is rubbing her head, putting her soother back in, and speaking softly to her.
- c) If she’s upset and really crying, pick her up, rock her, and place her back in her crib. Usually, I find myself doing this only once or twice.
One day, after much encouragement from my sister, I placed Ellis in her crib for her first solo nap. I was ready for a meltdown because she missed me so much, but it never came. To my delight and surprise, she went down first try, and with no tears! I couldn’t believe it. Now, I am not saying every nap is this easy; there are days where she will scream and scream until I surrender, but for the most part, she’s pretty good!
On any given day, this is my usual setup:
This experience has only led me to feel more like myself lately (finally) and I am so thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone to start her napping in her crib when I did. I am now able to do the personal things I love most again like writing, DIYs, recipe testing, and the necessities like cleaning and laundry… but I have time for myself again. Sure I watch the baby monitor like it’s the last episode of Breaking Bad the entire nap, but when Ellis wakes (usually after 40 minutes as she is a short and frequent napper) I feel refreshed and ready to be the best mom I can be for my sweet little Ellie.
With naptime under control, I felt like we had our schedule down pat! That was until we approached the dreaded 4 month sleep regression… Ellis goes to bed at 9:30 wakes up at 10:30, goes back down until 12 and then wakes every single hour to feed. I sleep in 45-minute intervals and forgot how true sleep deprivation feels. Are there any mamas out there who have advice? After searching the depths of the internet, I fear there is nothing that helps besides time. I love how as soon as I feel I’ve figured things out, baby girl throws me another curve ball. Ah, parenthood.