Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sleep is like gold...only maybe more valuable!

As I imagine any new parent can attest, sleep is a precious commodity and sleep or the lack of it can make or break a day.  And in the middle of the night a lack of sleep can break your spirit!  In the early days when they weren't eating or getting a diaper change, all the babies did was sleep. It was lovely. Now, even though we haven't yet made it to their due date, that is definitely not the case.  The babies have outgrown the newborn sleepiness phase and no longer drift into sleep peacefully like little angels.  I guess the peaceful easy sleeping still happens sometimes (and more often during the day than at night), but it is much more common to either fight sleep or go down easily only to wake up screaming within minutes.  They're all developing distinct personalities and habits around sleep.  Now if we can just figure out the strategies that work for each of them!

right about when she starts screaming
Avery is the biggest fighter.  When she starts showing sleepy signs we can swaddle her up and put her in the crib and she will usually lie there pretty contentedly for a while with her eyes wide open.  But as soon as her eyelids start to droop, she starts fighting, AKA wailing. And let me tell you, when this kiddo screams, you hear it anywhere in the house!! I think she has a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and just can't let herself go.  Avery is still a little swaddle Houdini, sometimes working her hand out up through the sleeve and neck of her sleeper.  (see the picture of Isaiah below!)

Isaiah is hit or miss with how he goes down.  Sometimes he goes down super easy and is dead asleep within minutes.  Other times he can be falling asleep in your arms and then be instantly awake and screaming the second he hits the crib, only to again seem dead asleep if picked back up.  When he does go down easily, it's usually only a temporary gig because within minutes he is often grunting and lifting his legs up (we're guessing from gas??), which then escalates to crying.  He is also the first to wake up 99% of the time.  Isaiah fights the swaddle pretty much every time, but we know he needs it because if he gets a hand or arm out it wakes him up every time because he startles himself awake.  He's a Houdini like Avery.
you can see how gets his hand up through the sleeper

Ellie, so far, is our best sleeper.  Like Avery, she will often lie in her crib with her eyes open for a while just looking around, but unlike Avery she usually drifts off to sleep fairly peacefully.   When she does cry it is this heart-wrenching sad little cry.  Thank goodness for Ellie or we might not make it!
winner of the best sleeper award! (and best hair!)

We've read a bunch of books, and are mostly using strategies from Healthy Sleep, Happy Twins and Babywise, but it's still hard to know what the best strategy is for sleep in any given moment.  They're all in their own cribs now rather than sharing one crib or the pack-n-play in our room because they've gotten too wiggly and if (when) they escaped from their swaddler they were waking each other up by whacking them in the face!  Sometimes it's their sheer will and strength that gets them out of the swaddle and sometimes it is grown-up error.  This picture is our best "swaddle fail" picture!
wow!  total fail!

We're focusing on getting them down in their cribs "drowsy but awake," but finding the balance with soothing and helping them learn to self soothe is still tricky.  And because they are preemies there is even less guidance because most of the books say that preemies will follow patterns post due date, but don't really tell you what the heck you should be doing until then! So we're doing our best to follow our instincts that still line up with the general concepts of flexible scheduling and a feed-wake-sleep pattern. Sometimes it feels like we're collectively doing well and other times it feels like big belly flop.  And of course it feels more flop-ish when we are flopping and not getting enough sleep!  Keep in mind that even on our "good" nights and days, we're still sleeping in 1-2 hour increments!  The picture below are the views of the cribs from our FosCam camera that we use to see who the culprit is when we hear screaming!  We don't love our view of Isaiah's crib so we might have to try mounting the camera closer to the middle of the room, but we can usually see him squirming and see his legs kicking up in the air when he's mad!
We have the best shot of Ellie...maybe we should re-think who is in which crib!

Isaiah on the left and Avery on the right


  1. I just love looking at the babies!! I missed a few posts and got to catch up tonight. Laughing at the funny blogs and sympathizing with the sleeplessness of the Mommies. The family photos are amazing! And I hope Michelle knows she is still glowing and as beautiful as ever! You two are so blessed. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I realize I'm a complete stranger to you (I am Carrie Hoyt's cousin and just love love love following your blog now) and commenting may sound completely crazy coming from someone you don't know. BUT, from one Mama to the next - you guys are doing a great job. Following your instincts is the only thing you can do and your babies are doing great! It is SO HARD - even with one! You two humble me and I think you should be told many, many times just how awesome you're doing! Keep hanging in there with the sleep's one of the hardest parts for sure.

  3. There is a ghost in that room. That's what's waking up those babies - do you see that black orb?


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