sleep training sucks

Nothing to do with sleep training, but darn she's cute

We have now completed one week of sleep training with Madison. It’s been a long week… As I mentioned in my previous post, we decided to enlist the help of a sleep consultant. Ever since we moved to Calgary at the end of Feb, she has taken every nap in her carseat. That means that for 4 out of her 10 months, almost half her life, she had never napped in her crib. With such a stubborn baby, I was terrified to attempt nap training. I knew I needed help.

After some research online, I found the website for Helen Sands, a baby sleep consultant based out of BC. She had a package that included a an online and phone interview, from which she would create a personalized sleep training plan, and one month of follow-up support. The cost was just over $200. Not cheap, but for us we decided that it was worth it to have a plan that was tailored specifically to our needs. For the most part, Madison sleeps pretty well at night. Once she’s down, she usually would sleep from about 7:45/8PM till somewhere between 5-6 in the morning. It’s the naps that are the issue.

Because we are on the go every day, she always naps in her carseat. I plan our activities and meetup times around it. So, for example, I’d make plans to meet some friends at the park at 11AM. I’d leave the house at 10, so Maddy could fall asleep en route to wherever we’re going and I’d sit in the car until she’d wake up. Then, when we would leave at around 1:30, she would again fall asleep in the car on the way home. When we got home, I would leave her in the car in the garage for a minute while I’d go inside the house and let the dogs out. I’d turn the fan on in the main floor bathroom and then carefully carry the carseat inside and place her in the bathroom and close the door. Then she would nap for about an hour and a half, sometimes as long as two hours. So really, her nap lengths were not an issue, it was the method that was the problem. If for some reason, she would get woken before she should, it was impossible to get her back to sleep unless you put her back in the car and took her for another drive. Now – there are several things that could wake her before she should be getting up, ranging from bumping her foot on the dryer when carrying the carseat from the garage to the bathroom, dogs barking outside the bathroom door, or sometimes she would even wake up if I didn’t back in at just the right angle and the jostle from the street to the driveway would wake her up.

It got to the point where I realized this just wasn’t going to work for us anymore. A couple of things accelerated this thought process for me. Number 1 – we’re coming back home to Vancouver for most of August. Staying at Murray’s dad’s house means we can’t do this whole bathroom sleeping routine. We tried it last time and it just doesn’t work. We can’t park in the garage, so the sunlight and the distance from the driveway into the house almost always woke her up. Secondly, I’ll be going back to work soon and we can’t expect any daycare to drive her around to put her to bed, and I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to expect them to sleep train her there. I’d be worried that she would be kicked out or not accepted because she’s not sleep trained.

We began the training last Saturday, beginning with her first nap of the day. The plan is basically to put her down according to her sleepy signals (yawning, rubbing her eyes). When she inevitably starts to cry, you do some soothing methods like shushing and patting (five pats only, then stop – no continual patting) to get her to calm down. If that doesn’t work, you reach in and give her a scoop cuddle, but never pick her up out of the crib. When she pulls herself up to a stand, you calmly grab her beneath the arms and sit her back down, then lay her onto her back or side each time. If she calms, you leave the room, but if she is freaking out, you may stay for up to 5 mins. After that five minutes is up, you leave anyway. This continues for a cycle like this:

Put into crib, stay up to 5 mins

Leave for 10, return and use same techniques to try to calm for up to 5 mins then leave

Leave for another 10, go back in if needed for another 5

Leave for last 20, go back in for 5 mins

If she doesn’t fall asleep at all through this process, then she just misses the nap and you try again at the next nap time.

As you can easily guess, Miss Stubborn didn’t sleep at all the first day and she was a massive grump. Bedtime was a breeze as she was absolutely exhausted. Day 2 was not much better. By Day 4, I had thought she turned a corner as she went down for her first nap immediately with no crying and slept for half an hour. Unfortunately, she was back to the fight for her afternoon nap. I can see that there is progress, but most of the time she still fights for half an hour before she will nap. The good news is, though, that she WILL eventually fall asleep in her crib now, each and every time.

The big progression is actually with me, though. I think the hardest part of this sleep training has been for me to get over my fear and frustration with Madison. Because I have a detailed plan (15 pages!), I’ve been able to keep more of a level head and keep my emotions more in check. I say “more” because it’s still really tough. It sucks to hear her crying so often and so long every day. It’s brutal being stuck at home all day long because I’m not allowed to take her out in the car or in her stroller during training. (This is because she is used to sleeping in motion, so part of our plan was that I have to stay at home.) It’s still a bit frustrating to have to deal with her crankiness because she only slept for 40 mins in the afternoon instead of two hours. However, I can see that both of us are coming along, and I hope that in a couple of weeks, we’ll really be where we want to be.

Wish us luck, we’ll need it! And if anyone would like a review on Helen Sands or get more information on the sleep plan she gave us, please feel free to get in touch.

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catchup

Mia Wallace tells her one and only Fox Force Five joke

The movie Pulp Fiction is full of great lines. One of the lines that comes to mind today is the Fox Force Five joke that Uma Thurman’s character tell to John Travolta. “Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. baby tomato starts lagging behind. poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him… and says, catch up!”

I know it’s been almost literally forever since I last blogged. Sorry about that. Things have been crazy, and obviously so much has happened since my previous post, so this is going to be a series of little updates so that we can get caught back up and hopefully I can start posting more regularly again.

 

a big month

May was a big month, full of firsts for Madison. She started to crawl, she started to wave, she started to point, and she started saying “babababa”. Before that month, I really believed that she would never crawl and that she would go straight to walking. All the books and nurses and health care workers always told me: Put her on her tummy! I would, but immediately, she would roll onto her side and push herself up into a sit. Then, if there was anything nearby, she would pull herself up into a stand. Eventually, though, she did start doing the worm, pulling her knees up underneath her and then flopping forward with her arms. She did this for a couple of weeks and would make slow progress around the living room, usually with the dogs as a good incentive to get to a new spot so she could tug on their fur. One morning, we went to the play area at CrossIron Mills, a kick ass mall just north of Calgary. She sat in her usual spot next to this little green bug and was looking over at the big blue sea monster. She lunged forward and started making her way over, on all fours! She was a bit wobbly to begin with, sort of stalling and figuring out the whole concept but she kept at it! She crawled all the way over and then patted the sea monster as if to say “Tag!” then sat up and gave me a big wave. I am thrilled that I was able to get it all on video, too. Thank goodness for iPhones, right?

On the go!

size matters

Speaking of those play areas, I have to say – they rock. In Calgary, I’d say the two best malls for babies are CrossIron Mills and Market Mall. They have nursing rooms and big play areas. Market Mall has underground parking (obviously a MAJOR plus during the winter) and the food court washroom has a whole row of the big bathroom stalls that can accommodate a stroller, not just one. On any non-sunny day, the malls are packed with mothers and their strollers. The play areas are often quite busy, but Madison loves them. One big plus is that she gets to see and hang out with lots of other babies. I get to chat with other moms. The downside to this is that you also get lots of unsolicited comments and suggestions. The one that continues to drive me nuts is how people will always comment about Maddy’s size. She’s small. I get it. She’s now 10 and a half months old, but she still fits into 6-9 month clothes. Some of those are even still a bit big, too. I don’t understand what it is with people and big babies. Just because they are bigger doesn’t mean they are healthier or thriving more or are more advanced or anything else. They’re just bigger. I had one person tell me Madison was “too small” when I told her how old she was. How would she feel if I did the reverse? Oh, wow, your baby looks too fat. People never say that. I’ve also had people ask me if she was premature. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I wish people would just look at me and look and Maddy and make the connection that I’m not a big person, so why should she be?

home sweet home

At the end of May, Murray and I held our breath watching the last game of the Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks series. If the Canucks won, that meant we had plane tickets home to watch a game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Madison was already in bed, and we had PVR’d the game, as usual, so that we wouldn’t miss anything while putting her down. Blackberry and iPhone carefully tucked away with the ringers off, we watched as the last few seconds ticked away and we heard those beautiful, wonderful words: The Vancouver Canucks are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals!!! We jumped up and cheered as quietly as we could so that we wouldn’t wake up miss Mads. We were thrilled, not only because the team that we live and die for were headed to the Finals, but because we were coming home. I even got a text from my Mom, who actually watched the game, saying hooray.

One thing that struck both of us was how green it is in Vancouver. The trees are huge and line the streets…It’s beautiful and lush. I miss that. As nice as our neighborhood here is in Calgary, it’s a new development and the trees are just little saplings. They’ll need 25 years to look close to as big as they do back home.

It was wonderful to see everyone, and for everyone to see how much Maddy had grown and changed since they last saw her. They were amazed at how she was crawling everywhere – nothing is safe anymore – and how much she could eat! When we moved at the end of Feb, she was just starting out on solids, eating very runny rice cereal. It was cute to see how blown away Grandpa was to see her grabbing a piece of cheese and popping it into her mouth and being able to feed herself.

A highlight was also getting back on the ice with our coed hockey team, the Huskies. I packed my skates and borrowed the rest of my gear from Vicky and Chris, and we played on our first night in town. It was so great to be back on the ice with everyone. Although the guys on my new team are great, it obviously is totally different playing with the Huskies. We’ve been a team for almost 10 years now, and it was such a great feeling to be back, if only for a couple of games.

Outside Rogers Arena

Obviously, the huge highlight was Game 2 of the Stanley Cup. We had seats up in the Best Buy Club, which meant free food, pop/water and a private bar. This free food ain’t no chicken strips and nachos, either – we’re talking salmon sashimi, oysters, steak and scrumptious desserts. It was bliss. I stuffed my face and filled my wine glass. Glorious! I did my best not to worry about Madison, who was in the loving arms of Grandma for the night. It was going to be the longest period of time I would be away from her during her waking hours. I felt better once Murray told me that she was asleep, so I could finally really relax and enjoy the game. The night was capped off by an amazing goal by Burrows just seconds into OT. The crowd went wild. It was deafening and exhilarating! I’m so happy that we were able to go to this game and see the Canucks win. It’s just too bad we lost to Boston in the end. I can’t believe we were so close but we missed the mark once again. Hopefully next year!!

 

 

 

rock a bye no more

Sleep has never been a strong point of Maddy’s. I don’t know why. I love to sleep and so does Murray. So how come our baby hates it? If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll know that we’ve had our struggles with both naptime and bedtime. I’ve created a bit of a monster when it comes to naps, but honestly, I had to do it in order to survive. Ever since we moved to Calgary, Madison has been taking all of her naps in her carseat. In order to keep my sanity, which admittedly is delicate at times, I have to go out each and every day. I just can’t be home all day. I can’t do it. I can’t fathom how other mothers do it. Anyway, because of this, I’ve gotten us into a routine of going somewhere, anywhere, every morning. Madison naps on the way to whatever our activity is, whether it’s a water park or the library or a playgroup, and then falls asleep again on our way home from said activity. The morning nap is anywhere from half an hour to an hour, taken in the car, and her afternoon one is usually 1.5-2 hours. That second one is tricky. When we get home, I leave her in the car so I can let the dogs out, open the door to the main floor bathroom, and turn on the fan. Then I go back out to the car and carefully take her carseat out and take her inside, put the carseat on the floor of the bathroom, close the door, then exhale. I know that might sound really odd to some people, but it’s worked for us. That afternoon nap is my lifeline. It’s when I can actually have some time to myself to relax, or eat, or do whatever. When it’s cut short, it’s killer.

I’ve come to the point now, though, where I just don’t feel like it’s working anymore. We’ll be going back home again for a visit next month, and so this bathroom gig won’t work there. Also, I’ll be going back to work in a few months, and no daycare is going to take her out for a car ride each day to put her down for a nap. So it’s training time.

I’ll admit that this absolutely terrifies me. Madison is not an easy baby. She is hot tempered and stubborn. I know that crib training her is going to involve screaming and crying and sleepless days and nights, and I’m not looking forward to it. It’s going to be hell. To help, I’ve gone to a sleep consultant, Helen Sands. She took nearly two weeks and it cost us over $200, but she has given us a personalized sleep plan for Maddy. I’ll do a full post on that some other time. We haven’t started yet as we just got the plan this morning, but it’s going to require a lot of willpower from both Murray and I to implement all of her rules. I hope it works, because Madison is going to have to learn to fall asleep on her own when I go back to work.

end of an era

Coastal Christmas party 2006

Speaking of work, I am saddened by this last piece of news. I knew it was coming, but it’s a sad sad day nonetheless. I’ve been with Coastal Contacts (clearlycontacts.ca) for 8 years. I feel like I have been there forever. When I started, I was CSR #6 with a full staff of about 20. At the time I went on mat leave in August last year, I was Advertising Manager and part of a marketing team of about 15, with a full staff of over 300. The company has continued to grow like crazy during the time I’ve been off, and even though we made the decision to move to Calgary knowing I was most likely leaving my career at Coastal behind, it was still very tough to hear the final word a couple of weeks ago. After some additional discussion over the start of the summer, I was told that unfortunately I would not be able to work remotely from home. I’ll miss my Coasties a ton. I can only hope that I can find a new position at a company that treats it’s staff as well and has a culture to be proud of.

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