Friday, March 22, 2013


I made mention to Eleanor's sleeping habits when I posted A day in the life last week.  Unfortunately it just hasn't gotten any better.  So for weeks we have been loosely seeking a sleep solution.  And I mean very, very loosely.  We talk about ways to improve our nights, we implement them in small ways, but I am nowhere near making huge adjustments. 

I picked up the book "No Cry Sleep Solution," and one of the things it mentions is asking yourself the question, "Do you really want to see change?" 

What? Of course we want this to change.  Of course we want to sleep through the night. 

But really, do I?  When I asked myself this question, I realized that I actually enjoy that I am needed by Eleanor at night.  I am not sure that I want her to sleep through the night.  Can't I have it my way and just have her wake up a time or two? 

So here in lies the problem with any change...Do I really want it to happen?  Currently our routine looks like this:

Bedtime: 7-8pm
Awake to nurse: 10pm
(sometimes it takes  a little coaxing and some fussing to get back to sleep, so she is out again anywhere from 10:15-10:30, and some nights even closer to 10:45pm)
Awake to nurse: 1:30am
Awake to nurse: 4am
Awake to nurse: 6:30am
(usually I get her back to sleep and then I am up for the day, shower, eat breakfast)
Awake for the day: 7-7:30am

That's a lot of up and down in the middle of the night.  One small change I made this week to help me feel like I was getting better sleep was to sit up and nurse her.  I used to lay her down beside me and let her nurse as I would fall back asleep.  It may seem that I could get more sleep this way, and the tired crank in me really needs to do this sometimes.  However, if I fall asleep nursing her, then we both wake back up 20 minutes later, switch to the other side, wake up another 30-40 minutes later, place her back in her bassinet, and then within an hour we start the routine all over again.  Therefore, it felt like nursing was all I was doing all night long.  This small change of forcing myself awake, sitting up to nurse her, switching sides and putting her back down takes all of 15 or 20 minutes.  Then I can grab a chunk of two or three hours of sleep before I have to do it all again.  It may not be more sleep, but it feels like it because of the larger chunks.

So back to the question: Do I really want to see change?  Honestly, I am only frustrated by our current situation because she used to be able to sleep for longer stretches.  I can still get through a day with energy and am usually positive throughout.  But, we had at least a solid month where she was sleeping 6-8 hour stretches.  I am just confused why it regressed.  If she used to be able to sleep for longer, why can't she now.  Is it something I'm doing, or is it natural?

One interesting reason (suggested by my friend Elizabeth) could be reverse cycling: where a baby will nurse more frequently at night than during the day.  Kelly Mom explains why babies will act this way:
  • Distractible (and/or very active) babies or toddlers may nurse more at night to make up for missed or shortened nursing sessions during the day.
  • If mom is very distracted or busy during the day, baby may nurse more at night to make up for missed or shortened nursing sessions, or simply to get more uninterrupted time with mom.
  • If mom is away from baby during the day, baby may take just enough milk (by bottle or cup) to “take the edge off” his hunger, then wait for mom to return to get the bulk of his calories. Baby will typically nurse more often and/or longer than usual once mom returns. Some mothers encourage reverse cycling so they won’t need to pump as much milk. Reverse cycling is common for breastfed babies who are away from mom part of the day, especially those just starting out with the bottle.
I fall into every single one of these categories unknowingly.  As Eleanor has become more aware of the world around her, she is a feisty little eater.  She wiggles and squirms and I'm sure her nursing sessions are not as long as they used to be or as filling.  There are probably less sessions as well.  I notice at night she is much more calm, and nursing for longer periods of time. 

Second, we are out of the house so much during the day and while I am not shy about nursing in public, if it isn't convenient, I may not be pushing it as much as I used to.  Finally, while she is at Shannon's I don't mind if she goes longer without eating, because that means less pumping I need to do.  And I.HATE.TO.PUMP.

All roads lead to one conclusion: it is my fault she isn't sleeping longer stretches at night because she isn't getting enough food during the day.  She is clearly trying to make up for lack of calories and waking up more often to eat.  Case and Point: yesterday at Shannon's she didn't take a bottle until after 1pm.  The girl hadn't eaten since 6:30am!  It wasn't Shannon's fault, Eleanor was just so distracted.  She clearly had calories to make up for last night!

I am realizing that if I want nights to change, our days need to also change.  This scares me because I enjoy our busy little days.  I like getting out of the house and running around.  But Eleanor is so distracted and so am I.  And she is a growing little chunk who needs her milk.  So for now I will be reading up on tips to handle reverse cycling and perhaps implementing them into our days.  I will also be embracing our nights with a little more grace because after all, I am the only one who can make the decision to change them.

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