Operation Bumbysleep 1.1 – in which I am the Worst Mother Ever

Last Friday, my sister needed to get a steroid shot into her epidural space to alleviate some pain associated with a slipped disc.  She was nervous, so I told her I would come in and sit with her before her appointment. We were going to get some food at a deli afterward, and then I would head home.  Operation Bumbysleep had been carrying on with moderate success (naps improved, nights much the same, with the exception of putting him down easily in his crib at night for an hour and a half before bringing him down with us).

Long story short: I went into the city. The appointment took longer than I thought.  The lunch eating took longer than I thought.  Bumby refused to nurse politely in the restaurant, which means he did not really get a good meal, because while I am all about public breastfeeding, I am not about public boob exposure while a screaming baby draws attention to my toplessness.  While changing Bumby’s diaper during my sister’s appointment, I discovered a disturbing rash on his abdomen.  I texted a picture to my wife and asked if she thought I needed to get him to the doctor.  I had to drive my sister home from the Upper East Side to her apartment on the Lower East Side at 4pm on a Friday because her back was numb and I didn’t want her taking the subway (although – this is why there are CABS, people).

The end result was that at 4:48 on Friday, I had a starving baby and was driving up First Avenue looking for a place to pull over and feed him when my wife called.  “YES! I think you need to get him to the doctor!”  Now she tells me.  I can’t call while driving, the traffic is horrific, and of course there is no place to pull over on First Avenue.  I am a ball of stress.  She reminds me, over the screaming, that I had promised to go to the Boy Child’s baseball game at 6.  Although we live less than 15 miles outside the city, there is no way I am making it in this traffic in less than an hour.  I hang up on her.  I pull over into a no standing zone —  hydrant, I think — and call the pediatrician, who of course is already closed even though they are supposed to be open for another 4 minutes AT LEAST.  My wife calls back.  She has also called the pediatrician, while googling baby rashes, and decided it is a post-viral rash from Bumby’s cold.  Meanwhile, Bumby is crying and screaming through the whole thing.  I get back on First (because the FDR is even more backed up than the surface streets) and keep driving.  Bumby is long overdue for a nap, but won’t sleep in the car because he is starving.  And has a rash! And is exhausted!  But at least I got matzoh ball soup?  Ugh.  I was so frustrated with myself, which was exacerbated by my wife calling while I was navigating through Manhattan rush hour traffic with a screaming baby to tell me she was also frustrated with me.

When I finally get on the FDR at 6, we are creeping along at less than 5 miles per hour.  Bumby is screaming and hyperventilating.  I see a stalled car on the shoulder and take the opportunity to pull over in front of it, throw my flashers, and climb into the back seat to feed Bumby.  At this point, I don’t care if it’s legal, I don’t care if I get a ticket, I don’t care if the truck drivers crawling past at 5 mph get a good eyeful.  Bumby is starving, and I am going to feed him.  I figure that if someone goes off the road, firstly, they will only be going 5 mph, and secondly, they will hit the stalled car before they hit us.

After I feed him, he zonks out.  I am 45 minutes late to the baseball game, and Operation Bumbysleep is thoroughly fucked for the night.  He is so overtired that he cries all evening and won’t go down.  He is up every hour all night long.  I feel I deserve this punishment, because of being the Worst Mother Ever.  Saturday naps were short and ineffective, and Saturday night was just as bad — lots of fussy crying, difficult to get down.  When he was up for the day at 4:30 Sunday morning, my wife, who had forgiven me for being the Worst Mother Ever, decided to take him on a little driving tour of City Island and then read and play in his room while I got some much-needed sleep. Sunday he took 4 long naps — two of them were over 2 hours — and he was back to being a delightful baby.  He went down easily last night, so I had some hope he would sleep a couple longer stretches, but he still woke every hour or so to eat all night long, until he was up for the day at around 5.  This was tragic, as I am super anxious about a work meeting I have today, and really didn’t want to go into it on four hours of broken sleep.

In summary: Operation Bumbysleep was derailed by my own foolishness, but we have had some success.  He is still a much better napper than he ever was before, even if he is no better at night.  He is getting too hot in the swaddle, and it’s too small for our big boy, so we bought him a mesh Woombie that’s made for bigger babies and will keep him a little cooler. We’ll see how he likes it. I am inclined to keep him in it all night and put him in the pack and play in our room to see if he sleeps better near to us but not with us, although I love sleeping with him and don’t really want to let it go just yet.  I was also pondering the Magic Merlin suit, but I’m afraid he’ll totally overheat in it, and I’m not sure whether it will work as well as the swaddle. Any thoughts on the Woombie and the Merlin suit would be greatly appreciated. The naps are great but this mama is desperate for some nighttime sleep.

PS The rash was gone in the morning, so we decided it was indeed a post-viral rash.  Whew.

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Operation Bumbysleep – 1.0

Two nights ago, I had the worst night with Bumby that I have had since he was born. Worse than the growth spurts, worse than when he was a newborn. He was up about every 45 minutes and literally would not sleep without my boob in his mouth. Blame it on his cold, blame it on his approaching the four-month mark, blame it on whatever you want, but by the time he was awake for the day at 5:30 am, I wanted to die. I fed him until 6, then I looked at my wife, who was about to get up for work, and said, “Please just take him. Take him away from me.”  She put him in the stroller because she needed to walk the dog anyway, and he slept 2 1/2 hours straight.  Of course.

I became convinced that proximity to me was causing him to nurse WAY more frequently than he actually needed to.  He also hasn’t been napping for shit.  He used to be a pretty great napper — I could nurse him to sleep, ooze away, and sometimes he would sleep on the bed for two hours like that.  No more. I haven’t had more than a 30 minute nap in ages.  His total sleep is declining, which makes him over tired, which makes him sleep even worse. Something had to give.

Enter Operation Bumbysleep.  Step One is to get him to fall asleep somehow other than nursing or time in the carrier, and stay that way for some period of time. Even if it’s short. We need to create some sleep associations that do not involve parts of my body.  I have had some success with the swaddle, but I thought he was a little too big for it.  You know, because he’s the size of the average 7-month old. But it seems like he wakes up because his arms float all over the place while he sleeps, and eventually whack him in the face or cause him to startle, so yesterday afternoon, when he seemed tired, I gave him a diaper change, jammed him into the swaddle but left one arm out so he could get his thumb if he wanted it.  I gave him a pacifier, and I placed him sleepy but awake under his mobile, which he likes.

Operation Bumbysleep fail.  He watched the mobile for a while, then got bored and started whimpering.  I sat outside his door to see if the fuss would turn into a cry.  It did.  My wife and I are both adamantly against letting him cry it out, even for a little while, so I went in and tried to comfort him without picking him up. This seemed to piss him off even more.  Sleepy but awake. HA.

 (NO)

 I tried a new approach. I re-swaddled him with both arms in and popped a pacifier in his mouth. I closed the blinds and sang a ridiculous and repetitive song.  It goes like this:

Oh my little baby, what you need is a nap, nap, nap.
Oh my little baby, I will help you sleep.

Over. And over. And over.  His eyelids drooped, and his body became a dead weight.  He spit out the pacifer.  I put him into the crib and walked away. Total time: 15 minutes.  Operation Bumbysleep success.

 (YES!)

  He slept like that for an hour, when he woke up hungry. He seemed sort of pissed off to be awake, and he fell asleep twice while nursing. I didn’t want him to have a nursing sleep association though, this was kind of the whole point.  So I woke him by changing his diaper, which needed to be done anyway, and started again with the swaddle and ridiculous song. The first time or two that I tried to put him down, he woek up sort of mad, but he eventually did stay down. It took almost 30 minutes, but he slept another hour.

In the evening, I let him nap in the carrier, because I needed to walk the dog and I could NOT sing that stupid song anymore. He got about a 20 minute catnap.  At bedtime, we started our normal routine — diaper change, walk with dog in stroller. Normally we come in and I nurse him to sleep at this point, but our plan was to nurse and keep him awake, then do the swaddle-singing business to get him down.  While we walked, we debated what to do when he woke to eat. Bring him back into bed with us, so the transition to his crib is gradual (and mama gets more sleep – I can usually doze while I feed him in our bed)?  Nurse then sing/rock him back to sleep?

He fell asleep in his stroller on the walk.  This has never happened before — it must have been from all his great napping. We figured we would get 20 minutes of sleep before he was awake and wanting to nurse, so when we got home I put the infant seat in his room and shut the door.  We climbed into bed without him for the first time since he was born.  After a while, my wife whispered to me in the dark, “Be careful what you wish for.  I miss Bumby!”  I missed him too.  He slept until somewhere after 11:30 this way, and when he woke, I brought him in with us. He seemed very happy about this.  He nursed at that time, then again at 2:30 and at 4:45.  This seems like a lot, but it was such a vast improvement! Most importantly, he fell asleep and I could move him away from me a little, so I could actually sleep while he slept.

He was such a happy baby when he woke up today!  He was up for the day about 8 1/2 hours after falling asleep.  Once, at around 5:30, he woke, but  he went back to sleep without nursing.  I think he legitimately needs less sleep than some other babies his age, because I tried to put him down after being awake for 2 1/2 hours, and he was not having it. He dozed for 15 minutes and was back up.  I wore him out by letting him play with toys, have a bath, do some tummy time, and get dressed, then tried our swaddle/singing routine.  He was asleep before I could close all 4 sets of blinds in his room.

I think we will carry on this way for a while before we start trying to rock him down in the middle of the night or cut nighttime feedings. Ideally I would like him in our room at night anyway, at least until 6 months, and our little butterball is already too big and heavy for his bassinet. Which, for the record, he never slept in.