20071004sleeping-max.jpg

He looks peaceful, doesn’t he? 

I haven’t been too good about blogging and keeping everyone posted on what’s going on with Mr. Max…so for those of you who have been checking our blog, I’m sorry!  I’ll definitely try to post at least a few times a week.  That should be a little easier now that Max has a few weeks under his belt.

One of the challenges that we had the first few weeks was getting Max to go to sleep at night.  Right around week 3, he  started to cry a lot at night, what we call the ‘light colic’, and he was just really difficult to deal with.  Dave and I set up a system where Dave would be the first responder and change Max’s diaper, and then Dave would wake me up to feed Max.  It sounds like a fair trade-off, right?  Well, consider that we’re breastfeeding Max, so Dave’s diaper change of 10 minutes (I know, I know…) compared to my feeding of 30-50 minutes three times a night…you can do the math.  I was definitely getting the shorter end of the stick. 

In the first few weeks, Max was waking up 3 times a night, at 11, 2, and 5 am.  Dirty diaper and hungry belly each time.  The week before his two-month check up, we were eventually able to get him down to waking up only twice a night, usually at 11 pm and 5 am. Yay!  We did this because we thought he weight at least 11 lbs, and would be able to skip the middle feeding.

So, in the last two weeks, we’ve skipped the 5 am feeding and just fed him when he wakes up, between 8:30 and 9:00 am.

The main problem we were having, however, was getting him to sleep in the first place.  We used the swaddle on him during the first two weeks that he was home, but he seemed so uncomfortable and always ended up squiring out of it when he woke up for his first diaper change/feeding.  Instead, we put a fleece sleep blanket on him so that his arms were free to move around at night.

As Julia Roberts said to the snooty Beverly Hills saleslady in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

Max seemed happy to have his arms free.  Too happy, in fact.  He was able to wave his arms around at 1, 2, 4, or 6 in the morning, and in the process startle himself awake.  But, since he seemed to hate the swaddle when we first tried it on him, I didn’t have the heart to subject him to the swaddle again.

But the repetitive wakings in the evening were beginning to really. get. on. my. nerves, and I started to look in to ways to keep babies asleep at night.  I came across the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block” (which our lovely friends Titus and Angela passed on to us after their son Xander was born), and learned that the way to keep a colicky baby asleep at night was with the 5 S’s – swaddle, side, shushing, swaying, and suck

The theory of the book is that when babies are born at 9 months (and Max was 3 weeks early on top of that), their bodies and brains are not quite ready to exit the womb, and they really need a 4th trimester to adjust.  The 5 S’s allow babies to feel like they are still in the comfy confines of mommy while making the adjustment to being a full-fledged member of society.  I was desperate, and decided to try the 5 S’s, even though the first, and most important S was the swaddle that Max seemed to hate.

Our friends Andy and Mechelle had given us the Kiddopatamus Swaddler a few months earlier for a shower present.  Another great set of friends, Ben and Lauren, gave us the Miracle Blanket because, well, they were relatively new parents of a toddler and knew the trials that we would be going through soon.  Both are based on the concept of keeping the baby in a tight swaddle, like a soft straight-jacket for infants. 

The first night we tried it, Max screamed and screamed (which for any parent is a painful sound to hear), but we stuck to completing our S’s.  Once he was swaddled in, I took him and held him sideways, so that he wouldn’t have the sensation of falling (which happens if they are rocked in a laying back position) and setting off his startle reflex.  At the same time, I swayed with him (or “shiggled”, as Ben likes to call it), and made a shushing sound, which are supposed to replicate the sensations of being in the womb and calm the baby.

This is what the Miracle Blanket looks like on Max.

miracle blankie

I’m happy to say that the 4 S’s alone worked.  I didn’t have to give him a pacifier for the final S!

So, I would like to say a big Thank You to Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of the Happiest Baby book.  Thank you for giving me back 2-3 hours of sleep a night.  And than you to Andy, Mechelle, Ben and Lauren for sharing the secret of the swaddle blanket with us.  In the last few weeks, Max has been a lot easier to put down, and both Dave and I have been getting more sleep.

sleeping max

Max seems to be happier too.  If he does wake up with a wet diaper at 5 am, Dave puts him back in the bed with us, so that I have a nice little surprise when I wake up in the morning. 

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