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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Sleep, sleep, a love-watch I'll keep


I've had a parenting epiphany.

Lincoln had colic.

There. I said it. I wrote it down on the Internet for all time and eternity.

I don't know why I have been so hesitant to label him a colicky baby. Maybe I didn't want it to seem like I was blaming him for things being so hard. Maybe I didn't want it to seem like I was giving up and just finding any excuse for feeling so overwhelmed those weeks when he cried so. very. much.

As I've been studying colic in the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, I've realized Linc was colicky. There's a section entitled "What Is Extreme Fussiness/Colic?" and right there, in black and white, it states, "In 80 percent of infants, the attacks start between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. and end by midnight" (Weissbluth 139). DR. WEISSBLUTH MUST HAVE BEEN SPYING ON ME.

For a few weeks in Linc's early infancy, he started crying ridiculously at 4:30-5pm every evening. He could only be soothed by being nursed every hour from then on, until about 10pm. It was miserable. And since Kev was usually gone, that meant I was desperately trying to soothe my colicky baby and tend to my toddler all by myself at the end of a looooong day, running on little sleep. Dinner? Have a poptart! Bedtime stories? Only if you can read my lips because the baby is screaming too loudly for us to hear the words I'm saying! Cuddles and tickles for Aspen in bed? Only if the feeling of your skin crawling in response to blood-curdling wails sounds like a good idea!

I felt so defeated. I so desperately wanted to be better at parenting an infant the second time around. I worked so hard to keep my attitude positive and my depression at bay. But those weeks, I dreaded the end of the day. Bedtime was so difficult. I cried along with Linc for so many of those hours. And Aspen, bless her heart... she would sit on the floor looking at books, or she would watch a lot of TV, and she would go to bed so much later than I wanted her to just because I was trying to survive.

But I feel a little better about those weeks now that I can confidently say I was dealing with colic. I wasn't just doing a terrible job parenting.

And as a result of Linc's colic, his sleep now is all sorts of insane. I'm working on a schedule with him, trying to nap him after no more than two hours of wakefulness at a time. It seems to be helpful, but we're dealing with what Weissbluth calls postcolic sleep. We need to recover from disturbed sleep patterns established during the colicky stage (and not just Linc's; mine too!). It doesn't help that he refuses a binky, and doesn't yet suck a finger or thumb to soothe himself. BUT BELIEVE ME I'VE TRIED. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would happily deal with a week of intense binky weaning in toddler-hood if Linc would just take a binky now to sleep.

Yesterday's naps were all unbelievably successful, although all three were taken in the swing I'm borrowing from Daedree (I OWE DAEDREE ALL SORTS OF AWESOME). I just didn't have success putting him down in his crib to sleep, but I'll take swing naps over no naps! I often get really discouraged, but then I get a day like yesterday in which I accomplish millions of things and feel like I have all this extra time on my hands because my hands aren't full of baby for 12 hours.

So I will persevere! I will conquer! I will sleep again! And I will probably buy a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits... because I'm never going to get through the whole thing thoroughly enough in the three weeks I have it from the library. Especially since I'm also trying to study The Everything Parent's Guide to the Strong Willed Child (I'll let you guess who that book is for).

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