The theme of the second month with Max was: SLEEP
Max started growing really fast – and everything completely changed from the first month to the second when it came to caring for him. He stopped just automatically falling asleep in our arms while we were doing our normal routine around the house, and instead was fully awake for many hours at a time. It was such a quick transition, and I was still a bit caught up in the newness of it all, that when he started getting extremely irritated and was crying for hours in the evening – I started to worry that he had colic or reflux.
But he was eating well, which ruled out the likelihood of reflux – and the more I read about colic, the more I realized how vague of a diagnosis it was, and I was determined to do whatever it took to make Max feel more comfortable if that was possible.
It took me a little while, but I finally figured out what was going on. There were so many interesting things going on in his world, and taking in all of these things became a priority for his body – sleep was forgotten until his tiredness accumulated and became “overtiredness” which expressed itself as crying for hours until he finally wore himself out. This tiredness didn’t reset after he slept for a long(er) period – the hours of missed sleep carried over from day to day – so his bouts of crying in the evening became more intense and lasted longer.
It is really easy, as a new parent, to start feeling guilty for not seeing the problem sooner. But feeling guilty about missing the cues that he was overtired did not accomplish anything other than as a point of self-punishment – so I had to forgive myself and let this guilt go if I wanted to find the solution and make a change to help him get the sleep he needed.
I started to become more aware of the “cycles” that he would go through during the day. He was usually awake for about 45mins – 1hr before he would start to get sleepy again, and then there was about 20 minutes where if the conditions were right, he could fall asleep and stay asleep for a long nap (about 1-3 hours). His cues for sleepiness were yawning multiple times and also a switch from being smiley and content to cranky and fidgety. If I caught the switch from awake to sleepy quickly enough, I could take him up to the bedroom and start rocking/dancing him to sleep.
This didn’t always work. Sometimes he woke up suddenly either just as we were laying down or at the beginning of his nap, so we would have to repeat the cycle and catch the next “sleepy time”. The more we practiced this, the more I became “in tune” with his cycle, and eventually his evening crankiness started to get shorter and shorter, until we finally started experiencing little to no crying during the so called “witching hour”.
I decided not to try to artificially schedule his nap times –
my focus was more on trying to get between 14-16 hours of sleep at a minimum per day. Some days we did it, some days we didn’t – but Max’s expression began to change tremendously – he was much happier and seemed to be enjoying himself and his surroundings much more.
Also – this month I discovered the awesomeness of nursing while laying down… sounds silly I know, but it’s a skill that takes time to do well, and boy does it help with the getting to sleep and staying asleep process. At the moment, Max is sleeping in his Dockatot at night, next to me, and when he wakes up at night to eat, all I have to do is roll over and feed him for 15 minutes, then he falls right back asleep – it is literally the best experience – I am losing very little sleep because of this (wish I had tried it sooner).
We also started going out more on walks each day – he doesn’t really like the stroller, but seems content in the Ergo baby carrier for about 30 minutes or so before he starts to get antsy to go home.
This month was really challenging for me – but I also became more connected with Max, and it does feel really amazing to have figured out how to meet his needs. Once we figured out how important Sleep really was, it changed our relationship a lot – this may be because he can trust me to help him get the sleep he needs (or maybe because I can trust myself to figure out a solution when I see a problem come up for him).
By the end of his 2nd month, he weighs 14lbs and 4 oz, and is 25 in. long.