Monday, April 29, 2013

Mama Monday: Sleep Training

I've kept a book blog for the last three years. I've always liked expressing my thoughts, whether through writing or talking, and I read so much that the blog was a perfect way to get all my book thoughts out there, communicate with nerds like me, and not drive the people nearest and dearest to me crazy.

Since I've had Cal, motherhood has similarly consumed my thoughts. While this blog isn't a "mommy blog" read by thousands who admire my perfectly decorated home,, size 4 Anthropologie wardrobe, and cherubically adorable child (just kidding about all of that, except the adorable child part), I feel like I need an outlet for some of those thoughts (and I have a lot of them). So I'm thinking on Mondays, I will post something about a motherhood-related topic that is on my mind.

In a similar and yet also tangential vein, I am also going to start doing a "Foodie Friday." I jokingly say that if I wasn't a nurse, I would have been a food critic. Probably not in reality, because I have an aversion to any career that doesn't ensure an income, but I love eating and I love discussing food. I don't want to maintain a whole new blog devoted to food -- my poor little book blog is neglected enough as it is. So it will be thrown into the hodgepodge of my personal blog.

And with that taken care of... on to my first topic. SLEEP TRAINING. I feel like this is one of the most divisive topics in parenting. The two extremes are co-sleeping and letting babies cry-it-out, but there is a whole gamut of opinions in between.

Let me fill you in on our situation. Cal has always been an excellent night sleeper -- he usually sleeps ten-twelve solid hours at night, and before that he was usually only getting up once. However, naps are a different story. Ever since he got out of the hospital, he hasn't been able to stay asleep for more than forty minutes at a time. My solution to that problem has been to rock him to sleep and then hold him until he wakes up, at which point I can immediately rock him again and then put him down in his crib once he is asleep. Usually I can get another half hour out of him that way, and have a little time to get things done.

Cal is kind of a wild sleeper. 
However, I came to realize that this needed to change. First of all, Cal wasn't staying asleep in my arms anymore. Now that he isn't swaddled, he would get too distracted and start playing with my hair or my shirt or his pacifier. Also, I was just starting to get frustrated with my confined time. I really am grateful for all the time that I was able to hold Cal during his early infancy (and all the reading I was able to get done), but I felt that he was getting older and more mature and needed to become more independent in his sleeping habits.

So, on Friday we began sleep-training. I knew I didn't want to co-sleep, obviously -- that wouldn't help with naps and the rocking was close enough (especially since I usually ended up passing out... thank goodness we have a comfortable recliner). I also knew I didn't want to let Cal cry it out. It just felt instinctually wrong to me to leave my baby screaming, at least until I had exhausted every other option. (I'm not saying that those of you who did let your children cry it out are bad parents. I think it works very well for some families. However, I didn't feel that it was right for ours). After talking to a friend who had successfully sleep-trained her son who had similar sleeping patterns to Cal, I decided to adopt the Baby Whisperer's "Pick-up/Put-down" philosophy.

The general idea is that you help the baby wind down with a naptime ritual, then lay them in the crib. If they cry, pick them up until they stop and then put them back down. Keep your hand on their back (except Cal sleeps on his back, as all babies should now that we know it reduces SIDS... so I put mine on his chest) until he falls asleep.

I modified this somewhat. Our naptime ritual is that I change him, zip him into his sleep suit, rock him and sing a song, say my little "I love you" rhyme, and then hold him for a few minutes until he seems completely calm. Then I say, "Time to go to sleep. I love you!" and lower him into the crib. Then I sit where he can't see me. Sometimes he has gone right to sleep. Other times, he wants to play and just messes around for about twenty minutes, after which we go through the pick-up/put-down thing.

For the most part, it has been going well. He usually goes down fairly well, and when he doesn't, I keep reminding myself that he eventually will -- he has every time but once. For the first couple of days he still didn't make it past the forty minute mark, at which point I would pickup/putdown until he was due to eat or fell asleep (um, he never fell back asleep). However, today he has made it through to at least an hour and twenty minutes for his first two naps. We're at the thirty minute mark of his third nap, but according to the Baby Whisperer (I've said that phrase so many times this weekend my husband mocks me for it), its okay if the last nap is a catnap.

I've read or at least leafed through several books on this topic, including:

  • The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg
  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by ... someone I'm too lazy to look up right now
  • Baby Wise
I also have found the book The Wonder Weeks to be very informative on times when a baby will probably have more trouble sleeping than normal.

Did you sleep train your kids? What did you find to work? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The next 25.

I've had an incredible birthday, and have been very spoiled -- lots of cute new clothes, the Pitch Perfect DVD (aca-awesome), some gift cards, and best of all, a beautiful video slideshow that my husband put together (we'll see if I can figure out how to post that here one of these days). I also had the opportunity to attend the LA Times Book Festival yesterday, which was fantastic. Thank you to everyone who helped make it a lovely day.

I've been thinking that 25 is a significant number -- a quarter of a century old. It led me to reflect on what I've accomplished in the last 25 years (some serious, some silly), and what I'm hoping to accomplish in the next 25.

25 of the BEST things that have happened in the last 25 years:

1. I was born. Sa-weet.

2. I married my true love for eternity in the Boise, Idaho temple.

3. I gave birth to my darling, AWESOME son, Caleb Allen Lemmons.

4. I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. I graduated from college... twice. 

6. I lived in France for a summer.

7. I had my heart broken many times, but pushed through it and found true love. :)

8. I put together a lengthy program for my senior piano and voice recital. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it was amazing.

9. I learned to ballroom dance and even placed in a competition

10. I discovered that the Lord wanted me to be a nurse, even though it wasn't my original plan (and I'm so grateful for it now!)

11. I learned to read. (If you know me, you know this is a huge part of my life!)

12. My two siblings, Jenna and Jace, were born.

13. I started my book blog.

14. I've met many wonderful friends.

15. I received a magical first kiss under mistletoe

16. I wrote a song (and made 50 dollars from it... starving artist)

17. Hearing Cal laugh for the first time

18. I came home to find my mom had bought a piano. :)

19. I won the parent lottery. 

20. I had my life changed by some beautiful, strong children: the autistic boy I tutored for 2 years, the kids at Camp Kesem, and the cancer warriors on Primary Children's ICS.

21. I gained a testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel.

22. I faced some of the toughest trials of my life, including having my husband leave for boot camp, dealing with a scary birth, and watching my son suffer in the hospital -- and grew and became stronger.

23. I got an American Girl doll (that was a big moment in my 5-year-old life).

24. My 11th grade English teacher, Mr. Dempsey, told my mom he remembered I was a good writer six years later. (Sounds lame, but it was seriously one of my life's favorite compliments)

25. I traveled to some fun places: Boston, Hawaii, Mexico, Belgium, San Francisco, DISNEYLAND.

25 goals for the next 25 years:

1. Have the rest of my darling babies.

2. See Cal serve a full-time mission.

3. Be a temple worker

4. Go to the temple in another country

5. Finish writing my novel

6. Run a half-marathon

7. Get a master's of nursing education

8. Become a certified oncology nurse

9. Become an IBCLC lactation consultant

10. Return to my pre-pregnancy weight (sooner rather than later, please?)

11. Memorize all the Scripture Mastery scriptures

12. Live somewhere I've never lived before

13. Join a really good choir

14. Learn Italian

15. Go to General Conference in Salt Lake City with my family

16. Have our own house

17. Work as a nurse

18. Read the complete works of Shakespeare

19. Plant a garden

20. Go to Italy

21. Return to France

22. Ballroom dance again

23. Complete baby books for all my children and my wedding scrapbook

24. Bring someone into the Gospel

25. Be happy. 

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