Eleanor slept until 2pm and then 5:30am last night. We almost got a full night of sleep. We’re moving in the right direction as a family toward sleeping through the night. I’m so excited for progress according to what is age-appropriate for Ellie. My level of excitement cannot be understated. By the middle of last week, I was failing at this. Turned out I was not using all the tools I know we have.
Much of what we thought was purple crying has eased because Sara and I have changed two of the only things that matter: our habits and our perspective.
First, our habits
Turns out we were tiring Ellie out. We were not very good at asking her to sleep for long periods in the morning and afternoon. According to Dr. Weissbluth, eight weeks is about the time for establishing set nap times. A morning nap, an afternoon nap, and then bedtime between 6pm and 8pm. Yes, that is very early in the evening, but if you want to learn more, read his book.
Short version: it has been working. Ellie is on a great schedule of wake, eat, sit up and watch the world, tummy time, reading/singing/kicking/self-entertaining, and then take a nap for at least an hour. There is still crying, but she wants to be held, she wants to be entertained, and she really wants to watch her mobile or the ceiling fan go round and round.
We have come to the conclusion that we were trying to do too many things at once. Sara and I were trying to add being a mother on top of our previous identities as wives, daughters, sisters, employees, etc. There was a rough couple of weeks where the reality of Ellie’s needs and the time commitment she requires was at odds with what we wanted our daily routines to look like. We were meeting friction because Mommy wanted to be a full-time teacher and only be with Ellie after 3pm and on weekends. I wanted to try to be a full-time mom and work at my full-time job around Ellie’s schedule. That experiment failed.
Most importantly, our perspectives
Mommy and Mama are not “wing it” kind of people. We were definitely winging it for the last several weeks. We are the happiest and most successful when we make a plan and execute the plan. We told ourselves for the first several weeks of Ellie’s life that we cannot possibly put her on a schedule because that’s too obsessive. We’ve learned now that we still need to be true to ourselves. We both like organization, lists, and schedules. There is a way to be true to ourselves and build our new lives around Ellie.
If you read the previous post with the title “I have lied to you,” you probably got the feeling I was at a pretty low point. You’d be right. Staying home last week and only focusing on Ellie taught both Mommy and me the new perspective. Ellie wasn’t purple crying for no reason. She was bored, she was lonely, she had serious FOMO, she wanted more attention. Our little girl is growing up already. Her age-appropriate development is to be awake more and engage with the world more. We can’t just “let her sleep” next to us and expect that to be her day anymore.
I say this because my week off progressed perfectly in line with this discovery. Monday and Tuesday were still rough with crying stretches between 10 and 25 minutes to calm her down, but I was able to pick her up immediately, sing to her, snuggle her, talk to her and she calmed down in my arms. After two and half days of building that behavior that I would be there if she cried, she started quieting faster. As soon as I picked her up on Wednesday afternoon, she dried her tears and smiled and giggled at my faces.
Could some of that be my level of stress decreasing over the week? Absolutely. Could it be about building trust that I was picking her up to take care of her as long as it took instead of trying 8 million things to “get her to stop crying” and growing more frustrated? Sure. Could it be that I was sincerely interested in the moment? Singing, talking to her, making funny faces was the moment – not trying to get back to work as quickly as possible? Yep. Could it be that Ellie is growing into the official infant stage and this change has had very little to do with me? Uh, probably a little, but I’m sure my reactions had something to do with it.
Maybe the earliest lesson of last week’s desperation is when I start to feel like the worst mom in the world, maybe I need to spend some time on why I feel that way. That’s a tricky slippery slope to navigate to not go down the path of mommy guilt.
Week 8 for Ellie
Coda has been a great example for me. She is such a loving, care-taking doggo. We start Ellie’s sleep routing (bath, bottle, book, bed) at 6:30pm, and by 7pm Ellie is winding down in her room. Coda’s new place each evening when we turn out Ellie’s light is underneath her cradle or next to her crib. Don’t know why, and I don’t know what Coda is thinking – maybe protection? maybe keeping an eye on the newbie? maybe establishing her place in the pack?
Coda is calmer. Ellie is much calmer. Mama is calmer. Mommy is helping to take Ellie in her pack’n’play during the day as much as she can. We are figuring out our family’s routine and what each day can be without incidents. In the coming posts, our new perspectives and our new routines will be put to Ellie’s test. I’m confident we’ve hit the reset button enough to assess and adjust rather than grow frustrated and rage-quit my job.
With the kind of sleep we got last night, we are definitely on the right track.