Friday, September 12, 2008

Middle of the Road

That's what kind of person I am - middle of the road. With most issues in life, I don't usually think that one way is the only way, and I'm not a person who embraces the extremes. However, with the sleep deprivation I've been suffering lately, I feel extremely bitchy and extremely exhausted. But I can't let those extremes influence how I deal with Jellybean and his sleep issues of late.

In the beginning, I didn't know what to expect, so when Jellybean slept 4-5 hours at a stretch as a newborn, I was thrilled. By the time he was four months old, he was sleeping at least 10-12 hours at night. He was not like other babies, who sometimes got their days and nights confused. He also took at least two naps a day on most days, which helped me keep myself centered.

All of that came to a screeching halt in July. Several things happened at the same time - he got yet another cold, he slept in the Pack N Play in our room instead of his own crib, I tried some pajamas from the Children's Place (I think these sleepers are made for skinny alien babies and not any babies with any kind of baby fat), and we were attempting some day trips that required Jellybean to sit in the car for longer than he was used to. At that point, Jellybean started waking up at least once during the night, but often times he woke 2 or 3 times in a 10 hour period. That may not seem horrible, but when you're used to status quo, which had been no night wakings, it was a shock to the system. At first, I thought it was because he was sick, so I did whatever I needed to do to comfort Jellybean - rocking, pacing, running the shower, nursing, and various combinations of the aforementioned. My summer off of work was about to come to an abrupt halt with me getting a new job, so I was desperate to get some kind of sleep.

I have read the "No Cry Sleep Solution" and found it too difficult to follow. Plus, I'm not a "hearts and flowers" type of mom, and I don't believe in totally sacrificing my own sanity for the sake of my child. When K was a baby, I used the "cry it out" approach religiously, which did work, but left me feeling like a horrible parent. So I've tried the two extremes, neither of which fit my personality or my world views. At the advice of my pediatrician, I picked up the book "The Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg. I like her "middle of the road" approach to creating better sleep habits for babies. She does not advocate letting a baby cry it out alone, but does not advocate using a ton of "props" designed to help a baby sleep. In a nutshell, the baby whisperer emphasizes the importance of routine (which is different than a schedule), and using the pick up/put down method. You watch for signs that your baby is tired and put him to bed in his own crib. If he cries, go to him and pick him up and comfort him until he stops crying. The minute he stops crying, put him back in his crib. If he starts fussing, try using gentle words and a calming hand on his back. If he still cries, pick him up and comfort him. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

We tried this last night for the first time and it was painful. It took an hour to get Jellybean to sleep. But, as with any behavior modification plan, the behavior you're seeking to change gets worse for a time until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. At 1 a.m., Jellybean woke again because he was too cold. Using the plan, I had him back to sleep in his own crib in less than 5 minutes, and he did not wake again until 6:30 this morning. At naptime today, it was painful again, but took half the time it did last night to get Jellybean to sleep. We'll see what happens tonight.

I'm committed to trying this approach because it seems like something both H and I can live with (which is essential). It's pointless to try to change any behavior using a method that both parents won't follow through with. Also, I feel like I'm trying to create a sleep habit that will be healthier for all of us. The cherry on top is that I don't feel like I'm abandoning Jellybean in his hour of need - that he knows I'm there to comfort him and help him in this process. Hopefully soon, Jellybean will return to sleeping a full blissfully content night on most nights of the week so I can get back to the middle of the road.

*Update: The first night I tried this approach with JB, it took at least an hour or more to get him to bed. The next night took 15 minutes, and tonight took 5 minutes. Last night I was not able because we got back late from a friend's house. We'll see what the pattern looks like this week. Of course, it doesn't help that we'll be going out of town on Friday.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Finally, I found a way to look at our presidential candidates that makes sense and asks the questions that need to be asked. I have watched only clips of some of the speeches from both conventions. I did watch all of Sarah Palin's speech on youtube. She presents very well, is a very solid public speaker, but I didn't feel like she told me anything of substance that I could grab onto.

After watching this forum at the request of my mother, who almost never engages me in political discussions, I feel like I have something of substance with which to really look at the differences between Obama and McCain. The first thing that Pastor Warren said is what I feel in my heart - that what is needed in our country right now is for people to quit attacking each other because of differing political views. Keep that in mind, each candidate was asked the same questions, which were prefaced at times with either some biblical or philosophical references. Some of the questions I didn't care much about, especially the ones about religion (faith-based institutions). The questions I liked the best were: "what do you consider your greatest moral failure, and this country's greatest moral failure?" and "was there an issue that you have changed your views on in the past 10 years?".

Each candidate did well in answering tough questions. I think McCain looked better during this forum because his speech was more fluid. Obama had too many hesitations in his speaking, which most people would perceive as being "unsure". As far as the issues, my values are more aligned with Obama's than McCain's. However, after seeing this forum, I felt like both candidates care about the direction our country is headed and both would do a decent job as president. Then again, I've had some lowered expectations as a result of the last 8 years and where I see our country right now.