I have become very interested in sleep over the past two weeks. My own sleep deprivation might be an incentive to think about this captivating subject, but I think the main appeal for me to read extensively about sleep issues is Emma's previous problem: the frequent, frequent awakenings that were so uncharacteristic for her.
Well, I am happy to report that life is a lot better over the past few days. I started reading a book (GASP! I read a book) on child sleep issues (double gasp!! I read a book about baby stuff...I thought I could make it through parenting without ever reading a book on parenting/child rearing advice, but hey, I succumbed to the movement). Anyway, the book finally shed some light into how long babies should sleep for, and at Emma's age it seems that around 15 hours is the appropriate answer. The other thing I learned is that her sleep should be divided as follows: morning nap, afternoon nap, and a third brief nap before final bedtime that should be at seven pm. This gave me some structure on how to divide the day.
The problem was that I have to be at the office at 1 pm. She would sometimes want to sleep around 12:30, which would be a problem, since she comes to the office with me and my mom looks after her there. This was a big deal. Before, we had no schedule, and we would just sleep whenever the fancy struck us, but with the start of work, I began to make her nap at regular hours, and this has helped so much, I cannot recommend it enough. She is a much better sleeper now, not overtired, and she is so happy and smiley when awake. I can tell immediately that she is tired when she starts to fuss.
So, we wake up at 8:30 am or so, and she is fairly reliable in waking me up so I don't even have to set an alarm clock. We then stay awake for about an hour, me having coffee, her having some apple juice, and playing on the kitchen floor with books, blocks, and spoons. At about 9:30 I start to get her ready for the morning nap, and by 10 am she is asleep again, for one hour. This is the time when I can do my makeup, shower, empty the dishwasher, make phone calls, do my hair and get dressed for work. At around 11:15 am she wakes up, and we go for a half-hour walk outside in the sun. Even when it is cold and windy! she hates the wind, but I find that without some exposure to the elements, it is hard to get her to nap again in the early afternoon, and that makes it hard for her to be sociable when we get home from work, which is our best family time. Anyway, after the walk, we go to work, and at work my mom makes her sleep for two hours, usually 2-4 pm. At 4:30 I am done, and we go home, sometimes stopping to get groceries on the way, but usually not because I am in a hurry to get her latched to my bursting boobs. I still don't have much milk, but man, if I don't get that little bit drained, it hurts! So we go home, and spend 5:5:45 pm in bed, sucking on the boob, and then either having a brief nap or a cuddle. At 6 pm daddy comes home and we have dinner at 6:30, after which we play with her. At 7:45 pm we have a bath in the big tub (I find that bathing with her is so much fun, and it helps the eczema on her cheeks improve), and then we go to sleep at 8 pm. At exactly 8:45 pm she wakes up again, and takes another 15-30 minutes to fall asleep. This is the bizarre waking moment, but it makes sense being after one sleep cycle, and then she goes to sleep for the night.
Overall, I spend about two hours of my time during the day with the boob in her mouth putting her to sleep. But it is worth it. I have complete peace of mind knowing that she is at least very well rested, that I know when fairly well whether she is tired or not, and also knowing that I can leave the house at specific hours and she will take it well.
I used to think that schedules are restricting, but in this case my devoted observance of this schedule is what lets me do all the mothering tasks (feeding, changing, washing), all the household chores, and work at the same time. I feel pretty confident at this point in how I have things going. The only thing that I wish for is that she stay asleep when she goes down for the night, but that will probably come in time. She has achieved so much in just two weeks that I am shocked at how regular and trainable her brain is.
Please make suggestions for games to play with her. She will be six months old in about one week.
PS. We even went out to Boston Pizza tonight, and she had half a slice! she smells like cheese and tomato sauce, that is so cute. It was not my idea to feed her pizza, MrH did it, but I don't think he had a choice, given that she grabbed his hand with great urgency and started smacking her lips and salivating while looking at it. The healthy avocado/egg yolk/cottage cheese puree sat there, untouched, while my child ate pizza. I think my next reading will be on child nutrition.
If one can also tell me of good child-rearing books, I am in. I am sold. The wheel has already been invented, might as well use it.