I used to know two facts about Ollie. He was one of the best sleepers around and he’d never go for the Beef Jerky idea from a recent Feeding Evaluation.
Turns out they were both wrong.
I finally worked up the gumption to try a Slim Jim with him. After a month of not really progressing with eating as I’d hoped, the worry about him actually getting a chunk off was finally outweighed by the goal of getting him actual food as his main source of nutrition.
It’s really hard to give a baby Beef Jerky. It feels so….Britney Spears. Like I ran into the Quik Trip barefoot to re-fill his bottle with Mountain Dew. While I’m at it, do I stop at Starbucks for a baby-sized Carmel Frappuccino for him to slurp on?
I’ll tell you one thing: it’s odd leaving the gas station with a bouquet of Slim Jims; it’s downright bizarre knowing it’s for a 1-year old.
And, crazy thing here. Get ready, because I’m about to blow. your. mind.
He likes it! He chews on it, working on desensitizing his gag-reflex while enjoying the mild kick of beef jerky, little multi-tasker. It’s a perfect snack for babies with eating challenges. Its tough skin keeps him from really biting anything off, but his jaw muscles are working that bit of jerky and he’s learning to chew. And his little baby fists can snatch up that stick with surprising efficiency. So it’s working, this Slim Jim Jerky idea.
What’s not working are his sleeping habits.
He slept through the night for months, since June. I was proud of the little guy. For any milestone envy I got from hearing about what other babies his age are doing that he hadn’t yet mastered, I had that little nugget of consolation. Yeah, but Ollie sleeps through the night.
Then, starting with his first ear infection, he’d wake up once in the night. Nothing big, just out of the ordinary crying that was happily soothed away by a minute of shhhh–ing and finding his puppy blanket.
The ear infection went away, but the night-waking remained.
Then he got sick again. Our once-a-night-wakings went to twice-a-night-wakings. But, still I wasn’t worried. He was sick and still easily lulled back to sleep. I could continue doing this while researching Sleep Training methods that would help him learn to put himself to sleep.
In the past week, though, things have gotten really outta control here.
We’re the “Before Family” starring in any book about getting your child to sleep through the night.
No matter what book you’re looking at, there we are. Child awake from midnight to three, mom desperate to get him back asleep. Child wondering why it isn’t play time, mom wondering what happened to her sleeping baby.
I shhhhh him; he cries. I pat his belly; he kicks his legs. I, out of options, pick him up to snuggle him to sleep; he wakes upon put down and blows raspberries.
If it weren’t 2:30am, and we weren’t on the fifth put down, it’d be pretty funny. If I didn’t get to eat at the unlimited buffet of sleeping through the night for a good 6 months, it wouldn’t be so devastating. If it were summer time and Matty didn’t have to work, this new development would feel more manageable than it does now.
Insert big, enormous, dramatic, feeling-sorry-for-myself SIGH here.
I don’t know what happened, I just know that something has to change.
I picked up the book “The No-Cry Sleep Method” a couple weeks back, knowing that our habit of snuggle-to-sleep would have to soon change. Getting him to bed involved a good routine of bottle, quiet play-time with Matty, then the hand-off to me to snuggle him to sleep. (Of course it was my job, Matty’s arms are too long.) While I knew that he wasn’t learning to put himself to sleep, it became a comforting habit for both of us. What mom doesn’t enjoy that time with her baby, him sleeping soundly on her chest?
But in the back of my mind, I knew he has to be able to put himself to sleep. He’s become accustomed to sleeping on someone, noise and rhythm of my breathing, close heartbeat and warm arms surrounding him in a cozy cocoon. More importantly, it has to be a mommy-cocoon. No daddy-or-grandma cocoon is good enough, it has to be mommy’s shoulder he lays his head on to drift off.
So, with these habits firmly entrenched, how would he be able to fall asleep alone, flat in his crib, with only his puppy blanket for security?
Yeah, um. He can’t.
I’m realizing my rookie mistake.
According to the “No-Cry Sleep Method” book mentioned above, there are ways to teach him to fall asleep on his own, without going so far as making him “Cry It Out.” So, yesterday, according to the book, I bought a soothing CD of rainforest sounds to play while I still snuggle him down. We are to play that CD during the snuggle-down, for naps and nighttime, so he starts to associate those sounds with sleep. The goal is that one day, in the not-too-distant future, just playing the CD will make him sleepy. One day, I will be able to put him down, in his crib, awake, with that CD playing, and he will drift off to sleep soundly and happily.
Makes sense, in a Pavlov’s Dogs sort of way.
But, and this is the part I’m struggling with. Everything else the book says, I’d already been doing out of instinct and this no-sleep thing is getting worse, not better.
So NOW what, Sleep Expert Book Writer Lady?
Is it as easy as sleep-que-association? Will using this Rainforest Retreat CD really be enough to “train” him to fall asleep on his own?
I don’t know, but then again, I didn’t know that Slim Jim would help him eat.
Maybe its indigestion that’s waking him up.