Getting the hang of it

I thought I’d never say this, but I think we’re actually getting into something that might slightly resemble a routine.

Up until recently, we just let life pretty much revolve around Corban’s unpredictable schedule, which was sometimes conveniently in line with ours and other times so out of whack that I thought I couldn’t go on one more day. But last week I decided to institute the simple existence of a bedtime routine, and the fact that it gives us evenings to ourselves with Corban asleep has really made everything seem more manageable.

The routine goes something like this: Sometime between 7 and 7:30 p.m. we bathe him (if it’s a bath night, which is every second or third day), change him, swaddle him, sit in the living room and read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” followed by “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and then I nurse him in our bedroom with the lights dimmed until he is sleepy enough to be put in the Pack ‘N’ Play and I can safely escape from the room.

It doesn’t always go like that. Last night I ended up nursing him for almost an hour because he wouldn’t stay asleep. Some nights we get two pages into “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” and have to head straight to the feeding part of the routine because he’s crying. Sometimes he wakes up after an hour of sleep. But if all goes well, he stares at the pictures in the books, eats for 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes just for comfort) and passes out for a good three or more hours.

The rest of the night can be dicey. It’s usually fine (with him eating every 2-3 hours or so) until the 3 a.m.-ish feeding, when I can’t stay awake to finish feeding him so we end up in a prolonged haze of sleep and awake and eating and dozing. When I snap out of that, sometimes he doesn’t want to go back in his Pack ‘N’ Play, or he’ll only sleep for an hour before he’s acting hungry again. Eventually we both get some more sleep, and around 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. we wake up for good. If I’m really tired, I’ll try to get him to nap in bed with me until after 9.

He’s usually happiest in the morning. A week and a half ago he gave us his first smile as the three of us lay in bed on a Saturday morning, and it melted our hearts into piles of goo. He’s likely to smile in those early minutes after his first feeding of the day. Then we’ll play until he gets restless (hungry) again. “Playing” includes me rattling bells and rattles above his face attempting to get him to respond (he still hasn’t really), singing to him, listening to “Rockabye Baby” lullabies on Spotify or Pandora (they’re awesome and Corban loves them), walking him around the house, setting him on his play mat (he might stare at something and kick his legs around for a while), reading, doing tummy time and bouncing him in my lap.

Usually at least two or three mornings a week we have somewhere to be in the morning – women’s Bible study at church or baby yoga at Destination Maternity – so there’s not much time for playing before we leave. He eats at least once during Bible study or baby yoga, then will pass out in the car on the way home and might sleep in his car seat for an hour or more after we get home. It actually is good to have an outing like that in our day because it ensures a good nap and a bit longer between feedings. He can’t resist sleep in the moving car!

(Sometimes he’ll nap nicely in the Mamaroo for a while too.)

The afternoon and early evening involves more eating, and napping if we’re lucky. He tends to get crabbier so “playtime” is me trying to placate him until the next feeding. If it’s nice out, like it has been the past few days (51 degrees in January?!), I’ll take him out for a walk in the Baby Bjorn or a run in the stroller. Otherwise it’s lots of couch time. We have a very hungry little boy.

Soon it’s time to start the bedtime ritual again and pray for some decent sleep.

I still, at times, question whether we’re doing things “right” with our attempted schedule, or lack thereof. I know there’s no black and white answer to that, but I want to make sure we’re doing all we can to set Corban up for good sleep habits as he gets older (for our sake as much as his). I read “On Becoming Baby Wise” and couldn’t quite get on board with some of the techniques advocated (crying it out at this age makes me uncomfortable). I like the idea of a sleep-eat-play pattern, but Corban usually won’t sleep unless he eats right before, or he’ll get hungry before we’ve had a chance to both play and sleep. He still gets hungry every 1.5 to 3 hours, which I don’t think is completely unusual for his age (8 weeks), but I’m incredibly eager for that interval to lengthen and sometimes wonder if we could do something to help that along.

Each day really is its own adventure. After a good day, I have such earnest hope that the tough times are over, but there’s still no telling what the following day will look like. Overall, it certainly has gotten easier though, and I feel like we kind of have the hang of things, at this stage at least. I’ve learned a few tricks to calm him down when he’s perpetually fussy, and his awake times are full of alertness and opportunities to engage him. Oh, and lots of cuteness, of course.

As a side note, he’s growing so incredibly fast! I finally retired his newborn clothes, after squeezing him into them for probably a week longer than I should have. It’s hard to admit that the tiny outfits he once was swimming in are now too tight.

So, can we just stop time for a little bit, please? Or maybe wait till he’s sleeping longer at night – then let’s pause for a while!

Any tips for prolonging his blocks of sleep at night and increasing time between feedings? Or maybe this is just how things are for us at this stage and we need to continue with patience…

3 thoughts on “Getting the hang of it

  1. Sara Christianson Klipstein says:

    Great job for starting to establish a routine already! We were in total survival mode for quite a while before deciding to try to get a routine going. One thing you might try to get a little longer chunks of sleep at night is formula for a night time feeding. It seems to fill them up more and keep them fuller a little longer. You could try nursing before bed and then doing a formula feeding when he wakes up the first time or do formula before bed. Anyway you want to try it, but it might be worth a shot!

    On another note, if you are interested, there is a nice mom’s group I went to when my son was an infant. It meets in the Women’s Pavilion at West Allis Memorial one morning a week (I believe on Thursdays from 10-11:30). It gave me a chance to talk with other moms and get advice or help for any issues we were having. Plus it was nice to be around other women who were going through the same things! Also, when we stopped attending they were starting to bring in guest speakers on topics such as baby massage and baby sign language, etc. I believe there are also groups that meet at Elmbrook Hosp. and Columbia St. Mary’s downtown, but I haven’t had any experience with those!


    • Alison says:

      Thanks for the info! I will look into it. There is a breastfeeding group I was going to at Waukesha Memorial Hospital (where he was born) but it is not the most convenient location – we are closer to west allis. It is so nice to be around other new moms and babies!


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