Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commence Operation Bye-Bye Bouncer

Cue the next step in my recovery. Now that I'm getting enough sleep it's time for Kiddlywink to learn to fall asleep in her own crib/cot. Her dependence upon the bouncer to fall asleep came about through a series of events that we were unable to prevent. First of all we had to keep her upper body elevated for half an hour after she finished eating because she'd upchuck if we didn't. (Alaskaboy could wear her in a baby carrier, but I couldn't.) Secondly, I had to use a breast pump after she did finish eating, so what better way to combine the two than pump while rocking her to sleep in her chair. (Then Alaskaboy could carry her into bed until I was recuperated enough to do so.) And finally, even after she had grown out of her upchuck episodes at about 4-6 months old, I was well beyond exhausted thanks to my sleep apnea. I hadn't recovered enough to try attachment parenting either.

With Alaskaboy gone anywhere from 12-16 hours per day, I used the quickest means necessary to get Kiddlywink to fall asleep, so that I could then drag my sorry arse to bed...often napping on the couch instead. Many times I'd wake up to Kiddlywink complaining that I'd fallen asleep mid-bounce...before she was asleep!

With this being the norm until beyond her first birthday, (we and) Kiddlywink developed her bedtime routine around the use of the bouncer. A couple of months ago we'd almost completed the first stage of transferring bedtime, by making it normal for her to be bounced in her bedroom rather than the lounge room, but then teeth started happening and her schedule went to shit.

Plus, we realised she wasn't emotionally ready for the transfer to falling asleep in her bed. Neither did I have the mental or emotional fortitude yet to deal with the potential screaming/crying. So why not wait a little longer to make the eventual transition easier on all of us? Waiting until she's ready worked for other developmental stages, hopefully it'll work with this one too.

I was rested enough a couple of weeks ago to start attempting Operation Bye-Bye Bouncer, but she was showing signs of cutting another pair of teeth. Everything I learned as a nanny plus all the current resources I've perused for tips on changing a child's routine suggests avoiding doing so while they're teething. Too much happening at once for them to concentrate on = bad juju.

The first night it worked like a dream. I read to her while we both sat on the rocking chair. Then she had some quiet time in her crib while I read some more. I even read a few pages of a novel while she read some of her own books to herself. There were a few crying fits I had to soothe, but then she went straight back into bed when she calmed down. We gave Blinky Bill umpteen kisses, and then she almost fell asleep but couldn't quite get there on her own and began to cry again in frustration. I hadn't expected her to do half as well as she had done already, so I picked her up and rocked us both in the rocking chair. Eventually she was relaxed, sleepy, and not quite comfy enough, so I hoped for the best and plopped her back into bed. And after a few strategic moves to get comfy, she was out like a light!

The next day was one of those nights where she simply refuses to sleep for anything other than a couple of brief spurts. (Have one of those every 6 weeks or so just before she has a mental or physical growth spurt. I guess every child's sleep regressions are different.) We'd also switched to a night shift schedule, another clue for us that she was ready for a change in the bedtime routine. Unfortunately the sleep regression meant she was overtired each time we tried to repeat the success of the previous night. Everything I did led to screaming and screaming, so after about half an hour of scream/soothe/read/scream/soothe/read/read/scream/soothe etc I admitted defeat when she got to the point of crying so hard she dry heaved. Thirty seconds in the bouncer and she was out cold.

Last night, she couldn't settle in the bouncer either so back into bed she went and as long as I leaned over the side of the crib breathing deeply and evenly at her, she was content to lay there till she fell asleep. She had a four hour nap during the night, was awake at an ungodly hour, then back in bed by 7:30am. Again, falling asleep in her own bed after a little time in the bouncer. In the bouncer she held a book against her mouth as she comfort-sucked her bottom lip. That made her Mama Bookworm VERY proud. LOL

Today I'm applying what I've learned from the last few days. Kiddlywink showed signs of stirring between 1:30 and 2pm, so I woke her up. (Much more reasonable than after 5pm!) This afternoon's nap, we got her ready for bed at the first sign of tiredness. (Yesterday it was easy, she very blatantly handed me a book and climbed into my lap to snuggle in.) I placed her into bed and read from the rocking chair. She lay in bed doing her comfort lip suck and almost fell asleep a few times while I read to her.

After awhile I left the room to bring in the card table so I could fold some clothes, unfortunately that was a mistake because she'd dropped off in the few seconds it took to get a drink of water and the table. Deservedly so, she was very cranky now, so I picked up her to soothe her tears and then back into bed she went. About two minutes later I could tell she wasn't going to fall asleep again on her own, so when she stopped the little test boo-hoo-hoos that she did, I picked her up and put her in the bouncer. (No way do I want to reinforce crying = bouncer!)

Instead of waiting until she was deeply asleep like we used to do, I picked her up out of the bouncer as soon as she was asleep. She disturbed, but this time she snuggled back into bed and fell asleep on her own after a few minutes. Hooray!

Gradually, cautiously, and above all else while keeping her relaxed about the process, we're implementing Operation Bye Bye Bouncer. Taking bits and bobs from all different sources and applying the advice that works for us and making up the rest as we go along. The most important lesson I'm learning as a parent is that sometimes kids can follow the advice books or what works for other people you know, and sometimes we've gotta figure it out together by ourselves.

Bonus is, when Operation Bye Bye Bouncer is eventually successful, I can then implement Operation A Little Extra Time To Get More Stuff Done!

0 Nibbles: