Baby’s Been…

DenaOctober 1, 2013“These are the days that must happen to you.” — Walt Whitman

I virtually skipped Roman’s four-month-old update post. It’s been so hard to write because things keep changing so much every day. Yes, he is developing and growing — that is to be expected — but that’s not the kind of change I’m talking about. When it comes to sleeping (and eating to a lesser extent) we make progress and then we take huge steps backward. A lot of the time I feel defeated.

First, the good stuff…

  • Roman is almost five-months-old and he weighs 19 pounds and is a little more than 24 inches tall. He’s still in the top percentiles for height and weight.
  • He is also still a champion breast feeder. I could hold him upside down from his toes and he would eat like a little piggy.
  • It’s a breeze for him to roll over onto his tummy. He struggles a little to get back over onto his back but he can do it.
  • He can’t sit up on his own yet, but if I prop him up he’ll stay up for a few seconds before flopping forward… almost!
  • He’s not crawling, but he’s a heck of a wiggler. I leave him on one side of his blanket, leave the room for a minute, and come back to find him all the way on the other side.
  • His hand-eye coordination keeps getting better (see also: expertly pulling hair, pinching, and scratching) and we’ve reached the stage where everything goes into his mouth.
  • His vocabulary continues to expand and the sounds that he makes sound like heaven to me — sweetest, sweetest, sweetest. He says “mamamamama” a lot, especially when he is crying.
  • He’s just figured out how to stick out his tongue and blow raspberries. It’s hysterical. Papa & Roman blow raspberries at one another sometimes and it cracks me up.
  • He loves to laugh. He’s been laughing a little bit here & there since he was two-months-old, but now he really giggles. It is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
  • He still loves to be out and about. As long as we’re out of the the house I’ve got a happy camper on my hands. Keep him in the house for more than a couple of hours though and things start to get ugly.

And now for the hard stuff…
His sleeping habits have been erratic. There are nights that he sleeps well, only wakes once or twice, but there are also a lot of nights that he wakes up, five, six, and even seven times. I’ve started several “no cry” books, joined baby sleep forums, talked to every mother that I know, and Googled myself crazy. I read about nighttime routines, white noise machines, and “pick up, put down” until I was blue in the face. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I broke down. I knew (know) what our problem was (is) and I know that there’s only one way to fix it — for us. Roman is a comfort nurser and he likes to be held while he’s sleeping. For the first two months of his life he slept in my arms all night, every night. It was hell for me, but it was heaven for him. And ever since we stopped that madness, he’s been fighting to get it back. He has what they call a “sleep association” — and a serious one at that. A sleep association is anything that a baby needs to fall asleep, like a pacifier, white noise, rocking, or (as is our case) nursing.​

When I broke down a couple of weeks ago, I bought the “Ferber Method” book also known as the “Cry It Out” method — Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. It’s a very insightful book and it’s not at all cruel or monstrous as some people would have you believe. Crying it out is just one method of many that the book offers. And, if you do take that route, allowing your baby to cry involves frequent checking, comforting, and supporting. The only thing you are really withholding from the baby is his particular sleep association. The key to all of this being that you have to break the sleep association (habit) so that the baby can learn to fall asleep on his own and soothe himself back to sleep when he wakes up during the night.

Every mother that I have spoken to, whose children had sleeping problems, says that this method was the only method that worked to get the baby to sleep on his own. The other thing that works, if you are willing, is to allow the baby to sleep in the mother’s bed indefinitely. In fact, the other day my cashier at the grocery store told me that as a result of her attachment parenting style, her fifteen-year-old daughter and seventeen-year-old son still sleep in her bed quite frequently and her marriage has slowly fallen apart over the years. This is an extreme case but I’ve spoken to literally dozen of mothers whose children slept with them through kindergarten and beyond. Honestly, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it, even the extreme case of teens in bed. If there is anything that motherhood has taught me, it is that every family should do exactly what works for them. It doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it! The end result must be a happy, healthy, love-filled family. And we must all do whatever it takes to accomplish that.

All of this brings me back to us. It is so difficult for me to articulate where we are right now because we have not accomplished a happy, healthy anything. I suffer through a lot of sleepless nights. Roman spends a lot of time crying at bedtime and nap time. I spend a lot of days in a total zombie-state where I don’t even drive because I don’t feel like it’s safe for me to get behind the wheel. Matthew and I fight more often than we have in a very long time (maybe ever). I have zero patience for anyone other than Roman because I spend all of my patience on him and try very hard (successfully) to never lose my patience with him.

I feel guilty because I am trying to sleep train him — to teach him to sleep on his own — but some mornings when he wakes up at 4 a.m. after a difficult night, I physically just cannot do it. So I muster up all of my strength to get out of bed AGAIN cradle him, nurse him, and allow him to fall asleep with me in my bed. I know that this must be confusing for him and probably unravels whatever progress we make. Sometimes I just cry because I feel very helpless. And that’s all I have to say about sleep.

Let me repeat what I said about all of this last time, because people always seem to find it necessary to remind me of this, even though I GET IT. I know that this time is precious. I know that it will be gone soon. I know that I should cherish every minute. I know, I know, I know. THAT’S WHY I AM DOING IT. But it’s still hard.

As far as eating goes, it’s been weird. We started some solids a few weeks ago. Rice cereal, bananas, and avocado. For a few days Roman really took to his cereal and ate a little bit in the morning and a little bit before bed. He ate really well and seemed to enjoy it. Then one day he just stopped. I would try to feed him and he would fuss and spit it out. I had been giving him homemade baby food and it got tiresome/expensive to buy organic produce and prepare his food… only to watch it go bad. So, I gave up and figured we’d try again later. I’ve bought a few jars of Earths Best Organic First baby food and tried out the first jar (bananas) today. He ate a few good-sized spoonfuls so maybe we’re back on track. I’m not really that concerned about the eating thing. Judging by the size of him and by the amount of smiles I get on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure he gets enough breast milk to keep a baby elephant happy. 😉

Alright, that’s it for this month’s update post. Even though the sleeping thing has been really hard, the other 99% of the time, things are amazing. I tell everyone that I have the best baby in the world who just happens to be a bad sleeper and that’s the truth. He really is the sweetest, smartest, happiest boy and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. xo

“These are the days that must happen to you.” — Walt Whitman

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Comments (13)

  • Corrie

    October 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    can i just say I am right where you are. I have a 5 month old ( tomorrow) he is 20 lbs and 28 inches and we were sort of going through the same thing. I did Ferber, and so far, it has worked. It was hard…but he still has his off nights. I’m sure teething has something to do with it too and they want to nurse for comfort at night to help ease the pain. Hang in there, I know I’m trying to. I get frustrated at night, but I try to push it all to the back of my mind. I have said constantly how i wish I could just skip forward but then I feel horrible for saying that, but hearing people say cherish these moments gets old. It feels like it is going to take forever when you aren’t getting any sleep and you’re foggy all day! Good luck to you!!! I know at some point I will sleep again…I got 4 hours straight last night, so I’m not complaining today!

    1. denabotbyl

      October 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you, Corrie! It always feels better to know that I’m not alone! <3 <3 <3

  • Suzy

    October 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    That quote IS motherhood. I love it!

    I’m sorry to hear your troubles, but you are so right…it’s your family, your baby, your story.

    Sam will still have difficult nights, ‘specially with teething and him being sick. And I am still the only one who can truly get him back to sleep. At 2am the last thing I feel like doing sometimes is to try to get him to take a pacifier, so I bring him to bed and breastfeed till we both fall asleep. I’ll then wake up and put him back. The nights when he does sleep through yeah they are great, but also that’s us waking up at 5:30 to get ready for work. That’s our story: )
    Oh and me and Rob totally fight more too and that’s not like us. It bums me out, but what can you do when you’re so tired?

    1. denabotbyl

      October 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Thanks, Suzy. You give me hope. <3 These are the hard times, but they will pass. I am so grateful that I have friends like you to get through it with. xoxo

  • amy

    October 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    any type of sleep training is hard, so well done!! one HOUR of it is hard. it’s so hard to get given all this advice about sleeping and what you shoudl and shouldn’t do. the thing is, you will find what you have to do to get through these times. it sounds like you are on the right kind of track. it usually only takes about three days to break a habit, if you are ruthless. but those three days, they would be hard. so hard. as you know, we co-slept a lot… it was just what worked for us. and slowly, as he got older and more well, he found his way through sleeping through in his bed & getting himself to sleep.. he still loves sleeping with us, but rarely does it unless he is unwell.
    you will get there, i know it feels like it is a million miles away, but you will. i promise. i NEVER thought we would get to the sleeping through in his own bed stage. and now, i am glad i did the co-sleeping thing, because that’s just what he needed at that time of his life. and in the grand scheme of things, it was a very short time in our lives. so what i am saying is, you do what’s right for YOU. <3 you need your strength and you need your sleep. so you do whatever you can to get yourself that.

    he might be starting to get sore gums/teeth… sometimes they go off food a little bit when they're starting to teeth 🙂

    1. denabotbyl

      October 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Amy — you’ve hit the nail on the head! I was beginning to think that he was really teething but after today I’m certain of it. He was literally chewing on EVERYTHING today. Even though I can’t see them yet I’m sure that something is going on beneath those little gums.

      Thank you as always for all of you wonderful advice & support. You are the best. <3

  • Misty Carone

    October 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Oh man, I remember being right where you are now. It was totally stressful, draining, and causing arguments between the husband and I. It wasn’t fun…at all. Mia is finally sleeping through the night, I’d say 4 nights out of the week. Last night, she woke up crying 4 times in the night. Why? Because she sleeps with her pacifier and cries when she wakes up without it in her mouth. The fix? It’s obvious. BUT…I’m enjoying this peaceful sleeping routine too much right now (especially after leaving behind us the kind of frustration you’re going through) to tackle that problem right now. I’m the one who has to deal with training and the crying and screaming and the sleepless nights (not Daddy) when we do ween her off the paci and I’m just not ready yet. We did do the “cry it out” method to get Mia to go to sleep, though. In the beginning, I was going in her room after only a few minutes of crying to lay her back down and calm her crying. Then, it phased into going in there less after longer stretches of time. Then, she’d cry, keep quiet, cry, keep quiet, etc and I’d only go in if she was screaming. Then, she’d “fuss” rather than cry. Now she smiles at me and blows me kisses while I walk out the door and will chat with her stuffed animals until she falls asleep. We never did anything “cold turkey” and transitioned/eased her into every new change. GOOD LUCK in figuring out what works for you guys! You’ll get there 🙂

    1. denabotbyl

      October 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      “Now she smiles at me and blows me kisses while I walk out the door and will chat with her stuffed animals until she falls asleep.” OMG, OMG, OMG! That’s the best thing I’ve heard… like… ever!! Thank you for sharing this, it is so amazing to have something like THAT to look forward to. 🙂

      As for the pacifier, yup, we’re not even going there yet either! LOL… Another bridge we’ll have to cross… someday… in the distant future! 😉

  • Rebekah Mann

    October 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I have a 8 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the whole night, so if you find something that works, please blog about it! Then I might also have a baby that sleeps through the night and I might remember what that thing called sleep is!

    1. denabotbyl

      October 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Haha! I definitely will, Rebekah. We shall get some sleep again….. someday. LOL

  • Pippa

    October 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hi, I know that my comment is probably not going to help much but I do hope that it doesn’t offend you. I would give my right arm to be as exhausted and frustrated as you. I have been trying unseccessfully to have a child for eight years. I do not say that to make you feel guilty!!! I say it because we all have our own journey and this is mine. I trust God everyday that if its supposed to happen, I will get pregnant or adopt a child. The only reason I wanted to comment on your lovely blog is that perhaps in the wee hours of the morning when you’re struggling to get Roman back to sleep, you will take some comfort knowing that this current struggle is God’s plan for you. Whether or not you believe in God or another higher power, isn’t relevant. This is your journey and yours alone. We don’t get to decide how our child sleeps, or doesn’t sleep. We don’t get to decide the sex of our baby. We don’t get to decide if we will have a healthy or sick baby. All we get is what we are given. And you have been given the most amazing gift a woman can hope for and I know you already know that!
    I used to blog all of my experiences but I felt like, while I was blogging, I was always writing preemptive “strikes” to what commenters were going to post in response to my feelings. I felt like my blog was not true to myself because I was always worried about what my readers were going to say back, and so i had to preemptively write in response to that. Do you ever feel that way? Just curious! I stopped blogging because of that reason and it also got to painful. What I realized is that I didn’t need to blog, I needed to journal! that way I never had to worry about the response to my feelings. This last part has nothing to do with your blog. I am just sharing!
    You are a wonderful, loving, beautiful mother. No one can take that from you! God bless you and your family.

    1. denabotbyl

      October 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Pippa. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles with infertility. I cannot imagine how hard that must be. I truly hope that everything works out for you & your family. You are right, I am so blessed. I count my lucky stars every single day and never take a moment for granted. As for my readers, I am very grateful to have a community that is incredibly loving and supportive. I don’t feel that I have to write preemptive strikes, luckily! Now thinking of preemptive defenses when I’m talking to family… yes. I have to do that a little bit. 😉 But I know that it’s all in love!

      Thank you again for your kind words. best wishes to you and I hope you’ll come by again. xoxo

    2. denabotbyl

      October 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Also, I am curious… after 8 years of trying unsuccessfully, have you considered adoption?

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