On Sunday night, I was at a breaking point of sorts. We had been dealing with Vivienne’s awful sleep for at least a week or so, and the sleep deprivation was catching up with me. So just as I was about to lose my mind, I let it all out on the blog, hoping someone, somewhere, could possibly help us. (And you certainly answered the call, THANK YOU!)
But that was also when I figured it all out. Well, at least we hope so.
In my last post, I mentioned how—after observing a distinct difference in Vivienne’s behavior in the upright vs. lying down positions—I had a new theory that all of this might possibly be due to her reflux. This was after we had spent a week testing all sorts of other theories… we felt like we had tried almost everything! I don’t know why it took me a week to consider her reflux, but it did. After hearing from so many of you about your own reflux babies, and hearing from other parents on Facebook, I suspected that maybe we had found our culprit.
On Monday morning, as I prepared to give Vivienne her Zantac for reflux, I made a split-second decision to give her a little more than usual. I upped her dose by 0.2mL, figuring that the pediatrician was going to tell me to do that anyway, and I might as well get her started on the new dose to test it out. Someone else had also suggested adding gas drops to her bottles for the day—in case gas was the culprit—so I did that, too.
Later that day, I called the pediatrician’s office and talked to a nurse. I explained to her what had been going on and asked about reflux. But instead of her just telling me to up the dose like I expected, she said that because she is so little, they wanted to see her to rule out an ear infection or anything else. Having dealt with ear infections many, many times in Nora—and learning our lesson when she got her first one at 3.5 months old!—I REALLY did not think that Vivienne had an ear infection. But I agreed to bring her in because I figured that if nothing else, I could use the appointment to talk to our pediatrician about the best way to approach our sleep issues. We scheduled an appointment for Tuesday morning (today).
As I put her to bed last night, I made the decision to again go rogue and give Vivienne the increased dose of Zantac. I swaddled her, fed her, and she fell asleep nursing like she often does. I lowered her into her crib and waited for a few beats to see if her eyes would fly open. But they didn’t. So I turned away quietly and left her room, closing the door behind me. I got downstairs and checked out the video monitor… still sleeping. So far, so good, but based on past experience, this didn’t necessarily mean anything. The true test was how long this would last. I didn’t at all expect that she would make it past the 45-minute mark.
But guess what? SHE DID. My face was like this:
And then? SHE KEPT SLEEPING. For hours. MANY HOURS.
You guys, she didn’t wake up until after 7:00 a.m. this morning. We’re talking about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Not only was this a vast improvement over what she had been doing—even just one night before—but this was also the first time she had ever slept that long without waking to eat. FIRST.TIME.EVER! The kid went from one extreme to the other in just 24 hours time. My face looked like this:
We didn’t have any choice but to keep the doctor’s appointment since it wouldn’t have been enough notice to cancel it, but it didn’t matter—I still wanted to go anyway, in case this was a fluke.
At the appointment, I told the nurse and doctor right off the bat what I had done with her meds. The doctor asked me to start at the beginning and talk her through what brought us here. I explained it all to her, including what had happened last night, and then I apologized for taking it upon myself to up her meds when God knows I don’t have an M.D. behind my name. But instead of scolding me, our pediatrician said, “No, don’t apologize! You did the right thing!”
After hearing how Vivienne had been acting at bedtime and throughout the night, she said that what I was describing was a baby struggling with reflux. She said it was further proof that yes, Vivienne definitely does have reflux, and yes, she definitely does need meds. She also noted that Vivienne had gained more than a pound since the last time she had seen her (for a reflux follow-up) and nearly two pounds since the last time we raised her dose. It was perfectly reasonable to up her dose again.
As I write this, Vivienne is sleeping, and has been for an hour. She’s already made it past the dreaded 30-45 minute mark again, and I am starting to feel like MAYBE I can breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not expecting her to make it through the whole night again—that would be crazy—but at this point, I’m tremendously grateful for marked improvement. I’m only kicking myself that it took me this long to figure it out. My poor baby had to suffer for over a week! :(
Knock on wood.
You guys: I am so tired. And we are so frustrated.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge the fact that I know many of you out there hate me when it comes to baby sleep. Nora was a rock star sleeper from the very beginning and I know for sure now that a lot of that was pure luck. We definitely put in a lot of effort into keeping it that way—sticking to routines, schedules, and even doing short bouts of modified cry-it-out when we needed to as she grew older. But I know how fortunate we’ve been. And I know that although we’re having our challenges, they could be so.much.worse. So please know that if you feel the need to roll your eyes at me as you read through this, I DON’T BLAME YOU. Still, this is my experience and as with a lot of other things, I feel the need to put it out there so that 1) some of you might be able to commiserate with me, and 2) someone might be able to HELP ME. Pleasepleaseplease.
So let’s talk about Vivienne and her current sleep situation.
Vivienne. She is seriously the sweetest right now. As I mentioned in her 3-month post, she took a huge turn a couple of weeks ago and suddenly… stopped fussing so much. Oddly enough, this coincided with me returning to work, which has led me to conclude that I was obviously just boring the crap out of her at home. I’m trying not to let it hurt my feelings.
ANYWAY, we are having one little HUGE issue. She is giving us a run for our money with her nighttime sleep.
It started with daylight savings time. My god, remember when daylight savings time meant that you GAINED an hour of sleep? It was the most glorious weekend of the year. Now? Well, now I would hunt down Benjamin Franklin and kill him if he wasn’t already dead for more than 200 years. Franklin clearly didn’t have small children at the time he “invented” daylight savings time. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
At any rate, my life right now is crazy, so I can’t even remember what exactly Vivienne’s sleep was like before we changed the clocks. But all I do know is that Sunday night was so terrible that I decided on a whim on Monday morning that Vivienne was going to make the move to her nursery. It was something I was trying to work up the courage to do soon anyway (we moved Nora at about 3.5 months, so the timing was getting there) and Sunday night’s sleep—or lack thereof—was the push I needed. I ran around on my lunch break buying the last things we needed to make her room suitable for sleeping… a white noise machine, a space heater. And then we made the switch.
Now, because of this timing, you might all start pointing fingers at the crib transition. But here’s the thing: I really don’t think the crib is the problem. Like, really REALLY don’t think it’s the problem. After all, the reason I moved her to begin with was because she was driving me crazy in our room, too.
But things have been not-so-great ever since. She is a BEAST to put down to bed at night. At first, I thought this was due to her being overtired. Long day at daycare, then we weren’t putting her to bed until 7-7:30, which was her “normal” bedtime… but with the time change, that was REALLY 8-8:30 according to her internal clock, right? So we busted our asses after work to get her to bed as early as possible (so hard, I get so little time with her as it is!) and… it still didn’t make a difference.
Vivienne will usually get very, very drowsy or fall asleep completely at the breast. I then burp her, say a little prayer, and lay her down. But this has changed. Most nights, her eyes pop open and she acts wide awake as soon as I lay her in the crib. Sometimes she starts crying pretty much immediately, and other times she will lie there and stare at the rainforest lights/sounds soother. Then it goes off, and she cries. There have been nights this week when it has taken us the better part of TWO HOURS to get her to sleep.
And then there are nights when she goes down relatively easy—or so she would make us believe! But then, 20-45 minutes later… she’s awake. It never fails. THEN she makes us work for it (sometimes an hour or more) to get her to sleep again. We’ve made many trips up and down the stairs, I can tell you that.
Once she’s sleeping for the SECOND time, we can usually count on a pretty solid stretch of sleep. She’ll wake sometime between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. to eat, then I put her back into her crib. After that, sleep is pretty crappy. She’s up more often, sometimes needing a pacifier placed back in her mouth, sometimes just to whine and cry and writhe around a little bit. And in these wee hours of the morning, our normally sound sleeper Nora is more “alert” than earlier in the night and sometimes ends up waking up earlier than she should. Which is so NOT awesome.
To add insult to injury—because of all of this, with each passing night, my “mommy ears” have grown more and more sensitive so that I hear every sound she makes, even over the monitor. (Before anyone tells me to shut it off—I can’t. I just can’t. Too SIDS paranoid. But it IS on the lowest volume setting it can go.) And honestly, I’m more and more anxious about when she’s going to wake up, so it’s harder and harder for me to fall back to sleep after feeding and/or hearing her. Because as she makes noises I’ll think, “Oh god. This is it. She’s going to wake up. I’m going to have to go in there. She’s going to cry. Wait for it, wait for it… wait for it…”
To try to fix all of this, we’ve tried so many things. I’ve tried feeding her again a couple of hours after her “bedtime” feeding. I’ve tried unswaddling her (epic fail, she lied awake moving her arms and legs a mile a minute for two hours)… instead, the last two days, she’s been swaddled with one arm out. I can’t say it has really made a difference in her sleeping habits—it’s no better or worse—but I figured if we’re going through all of this right now anyway, might as well make progress toward ditching the swaddle. We’ve let her fuss it out a bit (not really cry it out—once she escalates to a full cry, we do go in, because I think she’s still too young for cry it out). We’ve used the lights/sounds soother. White noise. We’ve put her down awake. We’ve put her down sleeping. We’ve put her down earlier. We’ve put her down later.
I know she CAN sleep. In fact, one of these nights, she actually did sleep through until the morning—but it was after putting us through a few hours of the asleep-awake-asleep-cry-upstairs-downstairs-pacifier-soother-rocker routine. So it wasn’t without struggle, at least at first.
So, all this time, I’ve been blaming daylight savings. Because how could my baby—who was a pretty good sleeper before—all of a sudden be so horrible at it? Or maybe it’s a developmental milestone. The whole “4-month wakeful” thing that some babies start to go through as early as 3 months old. It’s funny, too, because we went through sleep hell with Nora around this age, too, but it turned out she had an ear infection! It’s crossed my mind, of course, but Vivienne doesn’t have the same signs. Nora had been sick with a cold for a few weeks prior, and Vivienne hasn’t been sick. And Nora was literally waking up EVERY.SINGLE.HOUR. crying in the middle of the night.
But, tonight, a new theory did dawn on me. Her reflux. Maybe? Could it be?
I fed her like normal and she fell asleep on my shoulder as I burped her. I laid her down and her eyes shot open, but I gave her a pacifier, turned on the soother, and left the room anyway. She was crying within minutes. Michael went up to rock her and she SCREAMED the entire time—it had to have been 15 minutes, if not more. I finally went up to relieve him and found him rocking her in the typical cradle position. As soon as I lifted her up into an upright position, she calmed down. I rocked her like that for a few minutes and then as I saw her eyes drooping, I lowered her into a cradle position. Eyes immediately opened and she started crying again. I quickly popped her back up into an upright position and… silence.
I know it’s possible that her reflux is bothering her in the lowered position, but not in the upright (duh. that’s reflux 101). But could it be that her reflux is what’s making it difficult for her to transition from one sleep cycle to the next, both at the beginning of the night and then again after her middle-of-the-night feedings?
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking since reflux is—as far as these things go—something we can more than likely “fix.” But I’m definitely calling the pediatrician in the morning to discuss the possibility of increasing her dose to give it a shot.
Anyone with similar experiences? Either with reflux or not? If it’s NOT reflux, what can we do at this point, since sleep training isn’t really an option at this age? Is it normal for babies to be pretty good sleepers and then take a sudden turn for the worst?
I sure hope we find our answers soon. Mama needs some sleep.
We started this month with an appointment with your pediatrician in which we discussed your tendency to be “high needs” and hypothesized about the potential reasons for your excessive-at-times fussiness. But if I had one word to describe you at this moment, at the end of month three and the beginning of month four… it would be “chill.” Within the last few weeks, something within you seemed to change. You went from being a baby that seemingly needed to be held all.of.the.time to a baby who is pretty darn content most of the time. Go figure! You are such a pleasure and we are eating you up.
You’re big and beautiful and alert. Really not at all like a newborn anymore; sadly, those days are behind us. But I know how much we have to look forward to as you grow. It’s crazy to look back at how much you have grown already. Two weeks ago, we welcomed your new cousin, Sadie, to the world. Sadie was born at 7 lbs. 9 oz.—almost an entire pound bigger than you were—and she looks SO TINY. I can’t even believe that you were that little (smaller, actually) not that long ago. It’s definitely bittersweet. Because while I loved you as a tiny, squishy newborn, you are so much more fun now that we can watch you take in the world around you, move your arms and legs a mile a minute, and smile up a storm. You’re a real person now, and I know you’ll only become more so with time.
You started daycare last week. You’re going to Mary’s with Nora now, and you took the whole transition completely in stride. Mary couldn’t believe what a great first day you had, and then every day after that, she still marveled at how well you were doing. By the end of the week, she was telling me, “I’ll take ten of your kids any day!” because apparently you and Nora are the most well behaved. I’m proud of you girls. :) It was hard for me to go back to work and leave you, of course, but I’m adjusting. I miss you like crazy. Being a working mom is really tough sometimes!
You had a doctor’s appointment two weeks ago for a follow up on your reflux. At that time, you weighed in at 11 lbs., 8 oz. so you are continuing to grow and grow, just like you should. This month, I officially cycled out all of your newborn clothes, because yeah, there’s no way you’re squeezing into any of those anymore! You are comfortably in 3-month sizes now, and at this rate, I am questioning whether you are eventually going to outgrow your sister’s seasons. What I mean is that by the time we hit spring or summer, I think you might be wearing a larger size than Nora was at that same stage—so wearing her hand-me-downs might become a problem! Not to worry, Mommy would certainly enjoy an excuse to shop for all new stuff for you. It’s just funny because we thought we were lucky in the timing… but you have ideas of your own! It makes sense that you’re YOU, and you’re going to grow at the rate you’re going to grow. How fun it is to have you keeping us guessing!
Sleep has evolved this month, too. Following your lead, we started pushing up your bedtime. You were becoming ready for bed earlier and earlier, so now you go down for the night around 7:30—usually. Sometimes it takes a little work to get you down but you’ve been pretty good overall. You’re still waking up to eat once a night, typically around 3-4 a.m. but sometimes as early as 2 a.m. or as late as 5:30 a.m. Now that I’m back at work, we’re waking you up most mornings, around 7:20 a.m. You’re still sleeping in our room in the pack ‘n’ play, but by the time I write your next monthly letter, you’ll be in your own room, assuming all goes as planned. We’re still swaddling you, too. You flail your arms and legs around so much, I can’t even imagine how you would stay asleep without that swaddle!
For eating, you’re regularly switching back and forth from breast to bottle now, and seem to be doing fine with it. You’re draining your bottles at Mary’s. We started by sending you with 3.5-ounce bottles (three of them), but over the course of the first week, we ended up bumping it up to 4.5-ounce bottles. You can certainly eat!
Your sister continues to love you wholeheartedly, and you are starting to notice her more, too. Nora comes into our room every morning saying, “Mommy, I want to see if Bibbienne is awake.” I tell her to go look, and she’ll run over and peek over the edge of the pack ‘n’ play, reporting whether your eyes are open or closed. She talks to you in that same, special high-pitched voice she uses just for you—and the things she says just melt my heart. Her latest is to say, “Hiiii Bibbienne. Good morning, hunny bunny!” She’s so happy that you go to Mary’s with her now. That first morning, as we drove to Mary’s, she told me, “Bibbienne miss Mommy. But I take care of her.”
When I come to fetch you out of your bed every morning, you greet me with the sweetest smiles. Your smile melts my heart. We anxiously await your giggle, and we hope it’s coming soon. I just cannot wait to hear a laugh from that little mouth!
Uncle Trevor has often joked, “Why does Vivienne always look so surprised?” You always have those eyes WIDE open. I think it’s because you don’t want to miss a single thing!
You do this adorable little thing with your hands. When you make a fist, your thumbs are tucked up in between your forefingers and middle fingers. Mary was actually first to point it out, but now I notice it all of the time. It’s just one of those little things that makes you YOU, and I love it.
Holding you brings a sense of calm. Just being in your presence is like therapy to my soul.
I love you to the moon.
Halloween was here before we knew it, and then it went by in a flash.
I never even took “official” pics of Nora in her costume, and Vivienne never even wore one, even though she had two available to her. Mommy fail. But that’s what happens when you have two kids and return to work the week of Halloween, I suppose. The main reason I didn’t put Vivienne in a costume was actually because it was too warm for them. Both are made out of a cozy, fleecy material to keep little ones warm… too bad it was 60 degrees! But it did rain.
Anyway, Vivienne did rock her plethora of Halloween onesies this month—and even wore two different ones on the day of Halloween itself—so she was in the spirit in that way. :)
Last Sunday, we went to the pumpkin patch to pick out a few pumpkins and take some pics of the girls.
Nora can be somewhat challenging to take photos of these days. This is usually her default face when we tell her to smile. LOVELY. :) And that’s if we can get her to look at the camera at all.
Then, on Wednesday night, we carved pumpkins. Nora was really into it this year. She helped us scoop all of the seeds and guts out of the pumpkins, and chose the templates to use for carving. Obviously, it’s not easy to let her “help” carve—what with the sharp knives and all—so for that part, we let her fingerpaint a few small pumpkins instead. She loved it.
Vivienne just sat and observed. Such an easygoing girl!
On Halloween, my office had its annual Halloween party for the kids toward the end of the work day, so I went and picked up Nora and Vivienne from daycare at 3:00 and brought them back to trick-or-treat from cubicle to cubicle with my coworkers and their kids. Nora had a blast with that. Honestly, it’s the best trick-or-treating ever, because the kids fill up their buckets with candy in no time—there’s not a lot of space between cubes! They can hit up far more cubes than they can houses. :)
After that was over, we rushed home to meet my family at our house. While we were waiting for everyone to get here, I sat Nora and Vivienne on the couch to get a few photos of them. Nora was NOT having it. She hadn’t napped at Mary’s, and had already played hard at my office, so she was spent. I asked her to smile, and this is the face that I got:
I’m not going to lie; I think it’s totally hilarious. When everyone else posted adorable pics of their kids in their costumes, I posted this one for a change of pace. It’s true life with a “threenager”!
As per our tradition, we had frozen pizza and beer with my family for dinner. Once we were all fed, we got the kids dressed in their costumes for trick-or-treating.
We were probably only out for 45 minutes or so before the rain started coming down steadily and we decided to call it a night.
Another Halloween in the books. Onward to Thanksgiving!
It felt much like a first day of school.
You don’t know that feeling yet, but some day, after a summer vacation that seems to have gone by all too quickly, you’ll go to bed at night with butterflies in your stomach that mark the anticipation of what the next day will bring. A new school year—a new chapter.
I felt those butterflies. I felt the anticipation. And I had anxiety. Because today, my maternity leave officially ended and I returned to work.
I was so sad to leave you, but I have to admit… it wasn’t as bad as when I left your sister. I don’t love you any less than I do her, but—much like other rites of passage in motherhood—I’ve done this before. I know that you’re not going to forget me while I’m away from you. I know that you’re not going to love me any less. I know that my bond with you, as my child, will still be stronger than with anyone else in the world.
I am so, so tremendously thankful for the twelve weeks that I had at home with you. I loved all those mornings that I spent snuggling with you on the couch, cherishing the way the weight of your body—completely relaxed—felt on my chest. I spent so much time just staring into your little face. I planted countless kisses on your cheeks, lips, nose, eyes, and the top of your fuzzy little head.
With Nora, I spent much of my maternity leave worrying, stressing over details of her routine like establishing nap schedules and being sure not to “spoil” her by holding her too much. Don’t get me wrong, I still spent a lot of time holding her, but my mind was always spinning, wondering about the “right” thing to do, and analyzing the possible effects of my parenting choices. With you, almost all of that worry was gone. I shamelessly held you for hours and hours. Just as I knew from experience that we would both be okay this morning, I also knew from experience on my maternity leave that I needed to do nothing but SOAK.IT.IN. Eat it up. Cherish every single second.
So I did. And wow, I am still so sad that it’s over.
But you did great at your first day of daycare. Your big sister was so excited to bring you with her. As we got ourselves ready this morning and I was packing bags, she ran around the house on my heels, asking, “What do we need now, Mommy?” and talking through it all with me. At one point she said to me, “Mommy, you need bottles! You need bottles to feed Vivienne!” And she was absolutely right. I did need to grab your bottles out of the fridge.
As we drove to Mary’s, Nora chatted from the back seat. She said, “Vivienne miss Mommy. But I take care of her.” And that was the only time I felt a real threat of tears. In that moment, your 3-year-old sister simultaneously made me feel so much better—because I knew you’d be with her—and also completely broke my heart. But I felt so happy. So proud to have given you both the wonderful gift of sisterhood. How lucky you both are.
I carried you with me, as part of me, for nearly a year when you account for both my pregnancy and maternity leave. It’s hard to let you go. It is the plight of the working mother, and for lack of a better word… it sucks. Maybe some day, you will also know this same, bittersweet feeling when you return to work after having your own babies.
I’m so sad for all that I’ll miss, but I’m so happy for all that you’ll gain. In the years to come, I know you’ll be coming home with new words. New phrases. New mannerisms. New knowledge. All things that you’ve learned not from me, but from being away from me. From Mary. From friends. From TV, even. And all of that is GOOD for you. Last week, Nora suddenly started asking “Can I be excused?” after meals. And you know what? We’ve never taught her that. Mary did. And Mary will teach you, too.
So, Vivienne… we made it through the first day. I think I’m going to miss you more and more as the week goes on, actually, because it’ll start sinking in that this is very real. It’s not just one day; this is going to be our new normal.
I’ll be counting the minutes until 5 o’clock. I’ll be counting the hours until the weekend.
Your smile will always brighten my day. I love you, and thank you for such a wonderful, unforgettable twelve weeks.
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 31 and have been married to Michael for five years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
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