I realized that I haven’t written a blog in quite awhile. There’s so much afoot in our world these days: the anticipation of our new arrival in two short months, the daily pleasure that is watching Bram grow and change, R’s national job market search, and the beginnings of my birth doula work. The long and short of it is that we are often tired women. As such, we’re motivated to improve Bram’s sleeping habits, both at night and during the day. We are opposed to any cry-it-out approach and, to this point, everything around sleep has been purely baby-led. But now that we’re expecting again, we need to know that B can take naps and night sleep at consistent times, that he can nap out of our arms, and that he can make it through the night with minimal waking and nursing.
I plan to tandem nurse B and Sailor, though Sailor will need to have primary access for exclusive breastfeeding. My goal is to do this without supplementation, so I’m working hard to increase my supply, to freeze backstock milk, and to gradually nightwean Bram so that Sailor can have milk throughout the night AND I can ever sleep again! Right now Bram co-sleeps with us almost exclusively (he does have a sidecar toddler mattress that he often begins the night in). He’s waking up every 1-2 hours to nurse (last night it was eight wakeups!). Increasingly, he’s having longer periods of wakefulness in the night (1-2 hours at a stretch) where even nursing and rocking won’t settle him back to sleep. Obviously, this current pattern is unsustainable with one, but it’s downright crazy with two.
We don’t want Bram to associate night weaning and any change in sleeping arrangements with the arrival of the new baby, so we’re working hard to incorporate these changes over the next two months. Our goals are: two naps a day (1-2 hours long) around 10 and 2 each day, weaned from bottles and onto a sippy cup of breastmilk by 12 months (still nursing freely at the breast throughout the day), bedtime around 7pm with a goal of 12 hours in the bed, one to two night wakings/feedings. He’s eating solids like a champ, so I think that the decrease in milk is likely to be self-selected. Naps are getting better already. It’s the nighttime that we’re having the hardest time with. I’ve begun consulting both the No Cry Sleep Solution and Beyond the Sling,and we’re beginning to incorporate some new co-sleeping suggestions this week. I wish that I had started to use some of these solutions with him when he first started co-sleeping with us at four months (before that, he was in a sidecar portacrib). Both of these books are quick reads and full of helpful information.
One thing in the No Cry text that really struck me was a section where she asks parents to really interrogate themselves to see if they might be at the root of their child’s sleep problems (i.e. preventing the family from changing patterns). That was a real a-ha moment for me, because, despite how fatiguing it is, I really treasure my time with B in the night. I work full-time outside of the home and miss him so desperately when I’m away, that the nighttime snugs and feedings are such a touchpoint of reconnection after time away. I love smelling his milky breath and stroking his soft downy head back to sleep. I love to wake up and find that he’s latched himself without me even noticing. I love the moments where he connects R and I in bed (sometimes he’ll take both of our hands in his or he’ll roll from side-to-side checking in with both of us). They’ve certainly had their challenges (and more than one bitten nipple), but all-in-all I’ve treasured these last five months of exclusive co-sleeping. But I want for Sailor to have these same opportunities for intimacy and bonding, and I know that two babies in one bed is a safety hazard, and so I know that this time must change soon. We’re thinking that we may have to divide and conquer at first. Perhaps abutting a twin bed up to our queen sized bed? R and B can be in the smaller bed with the new baby and I in the larger bed. My only fear is that the babies will wake one another in the night. Personal experiences with this, anyone?
Perhaps, once they are a little older, we could invest in a king sized bed and extend family bed for the four of us into the preschool years. I’d love input from how other families have handled these questions (especially from anyone with multiple children close together in age).
Also, many of you have asked how our meeting with L (Sailor’s birthmom) went last weekend. I think that it went really well. It’s a very unique kind of relationship building. Our agency has said that ours is the most “open” adoption they’ve every facilitated. It was surreal, though, to sit across from our baby bump for over three hours and never be able to touch him, to sing or speak loudly to him, or to protect him. This is one of the biggest lessons in surrender I’ve ever experienced…
Thanks, all, for your support and encouragement. I can’t imagine parenting without this community!