by Erica Hicks
Who am I kidding, there’s no short cuts in parenting! You have to do the work, put in the time, but that is why we do it right! Right?
I’m a new, first-time mom, and I’m loving every minute of it. But I’m all about gathering tips and tricks to make life run smoother so I can enjoy it more. And this tip is no gimmick. Babywise saved my sanity. And for something I had never even heard of just four short months ago, it has changed my life.
STEP ONE: READ (the book and babywise websites like The Chronicles of a Babywise Mom)
Rewind to the beginning of March, and you’d find me circling a roller derby track warming up with my derby “Big Sister”, chatting about her recent adoption. She had just told me that her 9 week old baby was now sleeping through the night. I almost fell over – and it wasn’t because of the 8 wheels on my feet. I needed to know more! And I needed to know quickly! See, although nothing was final yet, there was a possibility that I would also be adopting in a few short weeks. So I needed to know more about this secret sauce to get the baby sleeping. I was intrigued, and immediately purchased the book and started reading.
Sure enough, we brought our beautiful baby boy home the beginning of April. We only had about a month to prepare, and even then nothing was definite until we left the hospital. Luckily, my derby “Big” had shared this amazing tool with me. I consulted the book almost daily for the first few weeks. The growth spurts that it listed were RIGHT-ON…something else that I had never really heard of before. I’m not sure how I was so baby-clueless before.
STEP TWO: WAKE THE BABY
The biggest adjustment in thinking for me, my husband, and our extended family was the whole concept of waking the baby up to get it on schedule. (Some of them still think we’re crazy, all I can say is hey…it’s working!) I think I even said it out loud as I was reading it, “WHAT!?! You are never suppose to wake a sleeping baby!!!” I was about to put the book down and start looking for help somewhere else. But I kept reading, and as I did things began to click in my brain. This actually makes sense!
I know it says to not even worry about working on a sleep schedule for the first few weeks, but just having the schedule there as a guide was so helpful. We tried to be fluid and relaxed about it, and just enjoy the time with the new family addition, and it worked great. And he fell right in line with the schedule. It was really amazing how well it worked…especially when I would wake him up to keep him on a regular schedule.
STEP THREE: LOOK FOR PATTERNS AND ADJUST
I was a super big nerd and made excel spreadsheets to keep track of the feeding times, amount of ounces, and wet/dirty diapers. Mostly because lack of sleep causes one to seriously loose your mind. Plus, since we adopted and were formula feeding, my husband and I could rotate feeding times. This way we could write the info down and the next person knew when to expect the next feeding without having to wake each other up to ask. We cruised right along with feedings pretty much at every three hours until about week 6. Other than the 10 day growth spurt, which was AWFUL, he’s been a great eater and sleeper. Starting about week 5 he started trying to drop his early morning feeding, the times adjusted all over the place until it finally settled in week 6 to about 3:30am.
Our “goal” times from week 5 – week 8 were 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 11pm and 3am. And that’s pretty much exactly what he did. As with life though, there was always some flex and adjustments. Reading Babywise and sites like Val’s helped us so much, just knowing what to expect gave us such peace. And then it happened…week 9. He dropped his over night feeding. He wasn’t quite making it to our goal start time of 7am, but I can handle an early riser with a full night’s sleep.
We seemed to be settling into a rhythm, so I sat down and looked over my nerdy spreadsheets to see what time I could try to work in a regular quiet time with my journal and Bible again. Since bringing him home, and then going back to work at week 6 I hadn’t figured out the best time for that again. I’m a creature of habit, and if it’s not at a regular time for me, it usually doesn’t happen. And that’s when I realized he was usually waking at about 6:30am, not the 7am like I was trying for. So, instead of trying to make that happen, I just adjusted my thinking, and his schedule.
I also got a little more relaxed in my “schedule” mentality. Instead of shooting for a specific time (to the minute) for his next feeding, I tried for a range of about an hour. I had always been attentive to his cues for food or sleep, but I would also try to make the schedule happen. Suddenly my brain shifted, it relaxed into this new thing called motherhood. Instead of feeling totally unprepared and clueless, I was feeling more in control, and prepared. Our schedule, was still a schedule, but it became much more natural. So for week 11, our new adjusted and relaxed “goal” times were: 6:30-7:30am, 9:30-10:30am, 12:30-1:30pm, 3:30-4:30pm, 6:30-7:30pm, and 9:30-10:30pm.
STEP FOUR: RELAX & ENJOY
I know I said 3 Steps, but this last one is so important to remember as you try to survive these long hours in these first few weeks. It seems like it’s never going to end, but when you stop and look at the bigger picture, it’s really not that long. Don’t miss it! Enjoy it!
Now we’re at week 13, and the next magical step happened….he dropped/adjusted his late feeding. What a difference some sleep can make! His new evening schedule is usually 3:30pm,5:30pm, and 9:00pm. And then he’s been sleeping until almost 7:00am, longer than he was when he was taking that last, later feeding before. We had been doing a dream-fed for the late night one, in hopes that he would make it longer in the mornings so we could get ready for work. But when we stopped doing that one night he actually slept longer! So we just continued that, and let him sleep. It’s been working great.
I’m not sure what I would have done without Babywise. But I do know that I’m telling everyone I can about this way of thinking. And when people tell me I’m lucky because I have a good sleeper, I tell them, “NO way, we’ve worked hard for this!”