Solo napper

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:

  1. a) Put her down drowsy (which I never did – hence my hunchback from rocking her for hours)
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

 

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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.

 

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