Now that I’m [pretty much] graduated, I’m having this sort of identity crisis. After 24 years of school, to have it be OVER is a bit disorienting–especially going from the intensity of trying to finish the PhD to the calm quiet mommy life. But, I’m trying to explore some new sides of myself and do a little reinventing of our lives around here. Of course, knowing me I’m probably going to tackle a pile of new challenges any day, but this period of time is what I am considering a vacation. I’ll assumably get some sort of job here one of these days, and Kabyn keeps telling me he has a list of things for me to do 🙂
In the meantime, I’ve decided I have to learn one thing that I’m probably the only mom in the world has never done at 5 months after having a baby: learn to get baby to sleep AND put her in her crib. Before the PhD was over, the baby’s schedule pretty much revolved around whatever would help me get finished: while awake, I’d do stuff that had to be done around the house, shower, or try and work. Then the second she’d get sleepy, off to her bassinette for a few minute’s fuss and to sleep and I’d work. At night, simply to survive, I just nurse her and then we both pass out (and yes, I am well aware of safe co-sleeping guidelines). And it has worked well for the PhD phase—I got a dissertation written and defended, despite having a baby that woke every two hours most every night. She started going to sleep reasonably quickly soon after we started the naptime routine, so I could get more work in.
However, after months of that, the night sleep wasn’t improving much, lately she was starting to fuss even more at naptime, and more importantly, my and her life didn’t have to revolve around the PhD any more. It’s finally time to start being a mom!
I got a copy of “the no-cry sleep solution” from Dorothy, and I’ll admit, when I first heard the title of the book I was a bit cynical. How can you have NO crying? A little bit maybe, but none? However, the book has exceeded my expectations, and despite reading piles of sleep books previously, I’ve decided we’re starting over. This whole cry-it-out business didn’t teach her to sleep through the night, the crying didn’t really get much less, and I’ve realized my philosophy has changed a bit. [Side note: this whole topic is battled so fiercely in parenting books, websites, classes, and mommy groups that I’m NOT entering the debate, I’m just sharing what I’m finding for US, whatever works for you, your friend, your neighbor, is fine so long as everyone gets sleep, love, food, and sanity]. My friend Jessica Ribera says it well when she shared how she realized she just has to be Ezra’s mom, and will trust God to show her what Ezra needs and what works for her and her husband, not for all the other babies and women and families out there. So, per Jessica’s advice, Alaythia and I are working on figuring out something that works for us—me the former grad-student, her the former cry-it-out-at-naptime baby who never learned to “put herself back to sleep”.
Our first steps are simply to encourage lots of sleep. A consistent schedule, early bedtime, and happy bedtime rituals of what seems natural for a baby to fall asleep to: rocking, singing, and nursing. Three days in and baby and mom are happy, sleeping lots, and nighttimes are 8pm-7am with two awakenings—big improvements, actually. The unexpected side effect is all this peaceful sleepin-ness seems to put Kabyn to sleep, too! Three times over two days after I have gotten the baby all peaceful and to sleep, come downstairs only to find Kabyn has fallen asleep. I have no scientific explanation for this…
Once we get everything happy and consistent in our room, the big step will be to move it all to the new [to us] crib, hopefully by March 16th, AE’s 6 month birthday. I figure that’s a good goal.
I will, of course, keep you posted.