Sunday, February 11, 2007

2/11/07 Katrina's pacifier-free day


Holy Cow.

Last night, after putting Katrina to bed the usual way, she woke up about an hour later, tired, grumpy, but refused to take the pacifier again and go to sleep. I took a deep breath, braced myself and said, "OK baby, this is it."

Swaddled her, held her, shushed her, rubbed her back, put her down, and left the room.

And so the crying started. I quickly remembered how we did this with Julian, giving myself time limits so it was bearable; and checking on her when the crying sounded too stressed (as opposed to increasing time intervals a la Ferber). Once again, the dilemmas presented themselves immediately. After investing 20 minutes in crying, now what -- give her the pacifier again? Then what was the point of the crying? But how long should it go on?

I kept extending the time to let her cry, straining and praying for it to peter out, to no avail. I checked her frequently, picking her up, holding her (more for my sake than hers), shushing her, rubbing her back. I recall from attempts with Gabriel that interrupting his momentum helped, and he'd calm down, but Katrina has never been soothed by holding, and remained tense and rigid.

After an hour and 20 minutes, I gave up. I picked her up, held her, and she was calm, but very sober and tense. Not sure what to do, I just sat and held her for about 20 minutes, still calm.

Then we tried again: swaddled, shushh, lots of rubbing and facial contact, avail. She cried for another 20 minutes until I was ready to get into bed. By then, it was time to nurse anyway, and she availed herself heartily. It took a while, but she finally calmed down nursing, then I was able to put her down in the bassinet with no further fuss.

This whole thing took about 2-1/2 hours, ending around midnight. I couldn't sleep until past 1am, frazzled and stressed. But what choice did we have? There was just nothing else I could do to get her to sleep, and sleep is clearly what she needed. Katrina makes this harder, and easier, by not responding to the usual baby-soothers (rocking, holding, swinging etc).

But then something incredible happened.

Katrina didn't wake up again until **** 6:00 AM ****. That's six straight hours of sleep, something she hasn't done in months. No waking up crying, no pacifier every few minutes, no getting up and nibble-nursing her at 2am. Wow!

At 6am, she woke up, I nursed her, she ate hungrily, then went back to sleep until about 9am, when she woke up cooey and adorable. HOORAY!! I was beside myself. I couldn't believe how different I felt today. Optimistic, energetic, enjoying time with the boys, feeling gushy love toward my baby. It's truly astounding how different the day is when you get at least some normal sleep. Being woken up every hour, for numerous nights in a row, really really takes its toll.

Better yet, both her naps today started sans pacifier!! The morning nap is very reliable and I usually don't need the pacifier anyway. But after a fun afternoon outing, she needed a nap, and I was sorely tempted to use it then. Cold-turkey is asking a lot from a 4-month-old baby after all! But, I decided to give her a chance. So, I swaddled her, put her down, shushhed her, kissed her, rubbed her -- and left. To my amazement, she fussed a little, yakked for a while, and then...quiet.

Of course, we're not out of the woods by any means, but it's a good start. I've really dreaded the crying-to-sleep thing, but it's clear we have no choice. As I type, it's well past bedtime for her, and she's crying now. I know we could be in for more painful hours tonight, but I'm encouraged and have new resolve. I'm really starting to think my instinct was right, that the pacifier was causing sleep problems, despite how easy it makes getting her to sleep (sometimes).

After our usual giant Sunday breakfast, the boys were at each others' throats, arguing and fighting and being grumpy and ill-behaved: they clearly needed to get OUT. And so did I. I wasn't in the mood for a kid playground, where I'd sit in one place and be bored; I wanted to take them somewhere that we could walk around.

So when Katrina woke up from her mondo morning nap, I packed up the whole kit'n'kaboodle and took them to the Sunnyvale Baylands Park, on the Bay. An instant improvement from the boys; they got right into being in this new place with freedom to walk or run.

There were birds on the hills and water, as well as all sorts of buildings and towers and contraptions, due to salt evaporation ponds and a water treatment facility. Not to mention Sunnyvale's world-class dump!

The trails were essentially on levies, with water on either side, and lots of views of mountains and the bay.

Gabriel was far more interested in a bridge and a tower with a red rotating cage-like thing than the wildlife.

Julian got tired walking around, but mostly kept up.

It was really a nice way to spend some time exploring together, and we all got a lot out of it. Even though there are a lot of things not to like about living in the Bay Area, the plethora of places to see and visit (ocean, bay, mountains, redwood forests, deserts) is a strong draw to stay.

Katrina hung out in the jogging stroller, also enjoying the new sights and smells -- she needed to get out as much as her brothers did. Mom (my Mom that is) always said kids -- anyone, really -- needs to get out every day, get some fresh air, and certainly that applies to 4-month-old babies too. Not a peep out of her on our trek, though she did doze off, despite the chilly wind.

I managed to get a rare, though crummy, photo of me with all three kids. Well, it's a good one of them, anyway!

Tonight, I tried a little tummy time, and Katrina rolled from her front to her back!

It's been 20 minutes, I've checked her three times, and no signs of slowing down on the crying. Sigh. I always pick her up and make sure she hasn't spit up -- some babies will cry so hard they'll throw up, and that's too much for me. She sure belches a lot when I pat her back. Tonight is different from last night in that last night, in the end, she essentially nursed to sleep. Not tonight, unless she lasts three hours.

I remember when we had to let Julian cry to sleep that I thought he knew what to do, he just didn't know how to do it. Maybe I'm projecting, but I get the sense that Katrina knows what to do now, she just doesn't want to do it.

Looks like I'm in for many hours of crying tonight, but I'm shored up by the sweet memory of six whole hours last night.


(p.s. Newsflash: 11:20pm:Katrina finally cried herself to sleep. An hour and 20 minutes all told, but with breaks from crying, and without nursing. Best of all, when I picked her up to soothe her, she actually calmed down a little sometimes. And no pacifier. Painful progress!)

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