One of the main questions I get these days is how Carter is sleeping. My response: "About as good as can be expected. Can't complain, for now."
Now that we're heading toward having to be on a real schedule, it's been a bit of a relief to see that Carter has gotten himself on a bit of a schedule. It's not perfect by any means, but it's enough to give the daycare folks a little something to go on and enough to know myself what to plan for. Here's a rundown of our day:
- He'll usually wake up again somewhere between 7 and 8 (though a couple days this week it's been closer to 6am). If it's early I try to swaddle him again and get him to sleep a little longer, but if it's on the later side we'll do the feeding on the couch and I'll grab some breakfast afterward.
- I'll put him in his swing so I can shower and get dressed, and he usually ends up taking a lengthy morning nap in there. Maybe it's bad I let him sleep there, but the morning nap seems to be a good one for him. I hate to wake him if I don't have to.
- He usually wakes up shortly before noon for his next feeding, which is followed by my lunch, but once in a while he'll sleep a little longer and I'll grab lunch first.
- Often he'll take another nap in the afternoon, particularly if we're out and about. If we're out in the world and moving, he's tucked blissfully into his car seat and rarely wakes up. I'll often let him sleep in his car seat once we're home, too, because again, no reason to wake him.
- He'll usually eat around 4:30, then often we're off to pick up Jacob and back to get ready for dinner. Usually he'll sit in the swing or his vibrating seat during dinner (particularly if his belly is bothering him, since the vibrations seem to help), and we can just sneak in dinner before he gets fussy and jumps into a couple close feedings, first around 7 and again at 9:30 or so.
- Near the end of the 9:30 feeding I change him and swaddle him so he's ready to fall asleep with the last bit of his bottle. He's usually asleep by 10 or 10:30, but even if he doesn't fall asleep, usually I can put him down awake and he'll fall asleep on his own. At that point I aim to go to bed. Normally that happens by 11, even though I'd like it to be earlier. That little bit of "me time" is too precious so I'm always trying to fit something in.
- Most nights recently, he'll sleep until 2:30 or 3am. That is one long stretch! Two nights ago he woke up earlier, around 1:30. Still, not bad since I can get a few hours in before having to be up for a bit. Feedings take about 45 minutes, including a diaper change and some vertical time to minimize the risk of spitting up. I usually kill some time with my iPod and don't have too much trouble falling back to sleep.
This schedule can still vary a bit depending on how long a nap might last or growth spurts causing more frequent feeds, but that seems to be our general schedule. The takeaways at this point are as follows:
- He usually seems to get in good morning and afternoon naps, which is what we should be aiming for since that's the daycare norm.
- He's getting in a good almost-six-hour span between feedings at night. It's good to know he's capable of that, but it would be better to either shift it to 12-6 or get him to tack on a couple more hours. Jacob slept through the night at 10 weeks, so I'm hopeful for that again. I will be even more impatient now that I'm facing a long day of work on so little sleep! I'll be up around 6am regardless, so if he could work within that framework, it would be great.
- He's sometimes stretching out day feedings to four hours (or more with a good nap). That's a far cry from the two hours he was doing, so I don't know if we have age or formula to thank for that. I'm sure the daycare folks will be relieved.
I do worry a little bit about letting him sleep in the swing or his vibrating chair for too long, but I think that's more because some other people don't like it for their kids. I get the importance of human contact, but at the same time, if he needs a nap and is fussy everywhere else, including my arms, then I'd rather do whatever it takes for him to be comfortable. I think the vibrations of his chair make his belly feel better, and the motion of his swing knocks him out almost every time.
I love when he has alert periods where he's content and curious. He makes the best noises and his eyes are so eager and so pretty. I wish he had more of those periods, but I think he's still a little uncomfortable at times. I don't know if it's the belly thing, though that seems a little better, or if it's a nasty case of diaper rash he has, or if it's something else. He generally cries for one of a few reasons--he's hungry, he's uncomfortable, or he's tired. It's hard for me to know if a wet diaper is enough to make him cranky, but usually I give that a try. He still spits up a bit, so I know sometimes his belly isn't perfect, but it's obvious he's better than he was.
Anyway, today marks the end of my time off from work. This was technically a week of vacation after my six weeks of leave, and Monday we'll be back to the grind. I'm working on gathering up all of his stuff for daycare, and bracing myself for a hectic week next week trying to get used to our new normal. I'll be sad to leave him, but I know he'll be well taken care of. It's just going to be an adjustment to give up full control of him after seven weeks of near constant companionship. It's hard enough figuring out a baby without missing nine hours of the day with him, so that's going to be challenging. I'm definitely more bummed overall this time about going back. Last time it was sad, but it was a bit of a relief, too. This time I know how hard working motherhood is, and I know how fleeting this time is. I hate to miss it. I love my co-workers and like my job, so it'll be nice to have that element back in my life, but it comes at an expense. I just have a greater appreciation of the experience this time around, so it's harder to know it's over. The good news is that Carter will probably adjust fine. Doing this transition at seven weeks is easier than doing it at seven months, and he'll never know anything different. I wish it could be different, but this is our reality and it's not going to change any time soon. We've gotten through it before and we will again. Note to Carter: A little more sleep will make it that much easier. Your cooperation would be appreciated...