Friday, June 09, 2006

Babies on the Brain

Disclaimer: This post does not mean that I am pregnant, or that I am considering becoming pregnant. It simply means that I miss my child because she is out of town, and so therefore, I've been thinking about her a lot lately.

When I was pregnant, I befriended a neighbor who had a newborn daughter. She in turn befriended someone who had an infant son. So, I got to hear about what to expect from someone with 6 months more experience than me and someone with 12 months more experience than me. I then told what I learned/experienced to my friends Raquel and Aimee who were just a few months behind me in the process. What a great system! 5 woman all sharing this information about this alien thing that has invaded our lives.

The first couple of weeks after Emily was born, I was so frazzled. I didn't know what I was doing! The only "rule" that I followed was that Emily was nursed every 2 1/2 to 3 hours and my entire day revolved around that and napping when I could and learning to eat with one hand. My neighbor saw my frustrations and let me borrow a book and told me to take out of it what I wanted. Sorry folks, I don't remember the name of the book, but I do remember reading it and this huge LIGHT coming on in my head. Basically, it suggested following a simple routine. Eat, Play, Sleep. Then it gave suggestions on how often the cycle should be repeated. Here is how it went (I think, I am doing this from memory and that is the great thing about being a mom, most of the bad memories get erased).

0-3 months - 3 hour cycle - 1 1/2 to 2 hours of feeding followed by playing followed by 1 hour of napping. Repeat 8 times a day (except for the 12 hours of night, eliminate the playing portion). So a typical day for me went:

8 AM - Feed, Play, Sleep
11 AM - Feed, Play, Sleep
2 PM - Feed, Play, Sleep
5 PM - Feed, Play, Sleep
8 PM - Feed, Play, Sleep
11 PM - Feed, Sleep
2 AM - Feed, Sleep
5 AM - Feed, Sleep

Wait, don't give up, it gets better!

3-6 months - 4 Hour Cycle - 2 1/2 to 3 hours of feeding followed by playing followed by 1 hour of napping

So, now I'm feeding her at 8 AM, 12 NOON, 4 PM and 8 PM, putting her down for naps around 1030 AM, 130 PM and and 5 PM (we always tried to get that last nap in earlier than later for night times sleeping sake).

Here is where it got tough. Around 4 months I got tired of having a baby right next to my bed. Sure, it made nursing easier, but it didn't help me sleep and it sure wasn't helping my relationship if you know what I mean.... So, I moved her into her bedroom. Gone were the days of her napping wherever she fell down. I even took the big step and started to put her down for a nap when the clock/cycle/her baby signals told me so instead of rocking her or nursing her to sleep. YIKES!!! We handled the nap times ok because it was daylight out and I was learning to keep my own eyes open for most of the day, but the night time was bad, very bad for a few weeks. The books that talk about this "Ferber" method tells you it will be days. They lie.

Here is how we survived: Routine, routine, routine. We told the world that we no longer ran our lives, our mega baby ('cause she was a 10 pounder at birth) was now in charge. That meant that we had to be home by 7 PM every night no ifs and or buts. The television was turned off. A nice leisurely bath was given followed by some playtime between Emily and Daddy (Jer was working 3rd shift at the time, and unfortunately, since one of her naps was during his awake time, he really only got to see her for about 3 hours a day), then the last feeding of the day was at 8 PM followed by almost immediate bedtime.

After listening to her scream, you really start to learn that all cries DO mean different things. The first couple of nights were so hard that I would sit on the couch with headphones on and read a book with the clock turned around. We had to work our way up. The first night we let her scream for 5 minutes then I rescued her. Then 10 minutes, then 20, then all of the sudden, she hit her maximum and would fall asleep. We quickly learned that it takes our Emily approximately 25 minutes to fall asleep once she is put in bed. That is still true to this day. The screaming lasted for several weeks, then it was over. Our baby had a bedtime, we had a life again!

I'm so proud of me, of us, of Emily. We had our doubts and our doubters. I remember many people thinking I was crazy to let my baby scream and we had to talk to our neighbors and let them know what we were doing so they didn't call the cops on us, but today I have an almost 2 year daughter who goes to bed around 8:30 every night and sleeps until at least 7 AM, plus takes a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon. It is recommended that all children under 5 get a minimum of 11 hours a sleep, but the more the better. Their little brains are developing in overdrive and they need their rest! I cringe when I see small babies out in public after 9 p.m. or I overhear someone say that their little one "missed" their nap today because they were at the mall or something else not important. So what if I've missed out on a few things because it was time for me to get her home for nap or bedtime, she is my legacy and the most important thing in my life!

P.S. The rest of the schedule follows:

6-12 months:

Feed every 4 hours, attempt to eliminate 3rd nap of the day by lengthing the other two naps.

8 AM Feed
10 AM Nap
12 Noon Feed
2 PM Nap
4 PM Feed
8 PM Feed, Bedtime

Sometime in the first to second year, the morning nap will get dropped, along with the mid afternoon feeding. It didn't happen for us until around 18 months, and then our schedule looked something like this (and still is today)

8 AM Feed
12 Noon Feed, Nap
6 PM Feed
8 PM Bedtime

Whenever someone compliments me on how happy and well behaved my daughter is, I feel justified in taking the credit for putting her on a schedule. It doesn't have to be a strict schedule, just have some consistency in your daily activities on MOST days and everyone will be happier.

7 Comments:

Blogger Kristen said...

Mrs. Tito,

Since you'll have some free time on your hands, check out this site if you haven't already. I think you'll dig it: http://www.dooce.com/

11:40 AM  
Blogger MrsTito said...

Yes, I love her website. Her daughter is just a little older than Emily so she gives me a lot of reason to smile...

Plus, she F'ing hiliarous!!!

11:46 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Bebout said...

We have a 9 month old and my sister has a 5 month so your post does interest me. My sister read this book. She told me about the EASY method: eat activity sleep you time. I was never so regimented in my adherence but I try to stick to it. And we have a baby who goes to sleep between 8 and 8:30. I'm still working on putting him down before he's asleep. I work so I like to spend as much time with him as possible so I don't mind if he falls asleep in my arms. But like the breast, I will have to wean him of that too.

1:56 PM  
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3:10 PM  
Blogger MrsTito said...

I was lucky enough to stay home for over a year, and that is probably what make it easier for me to stick to a schedule. Now that I am back to work, I find it hard to put her to bed sometimes because I just want to hang out with her. Every day gets better and better....

10:45 PM  
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