Aug 29, 2007
About time I post on the big one--or the big sleep, I mean. We don’t hear this as much as we did when the babies were littler, but many of the common comments barraging us focused, of course, on sleep: Are you getting any? Are they sleeping through the night? With triplets, there’s always one baby awake, right? You must be exhausted (uh-hum, Jerry’s standing there too, why wouldn’t he be exhausted as well?)! Throughout this dialogue I’ll post pictures of the boys to keep your interest up and to illustrate that good sleep follows pure exhaustion after busy play.
The triplets were tiny and only five months old at placement. They couldn’t sleep through the night without two bottles. Two bottles per baby every night, four hours in between, never at the same time, like clockwork. We all slept together on the living room floor on top of floor mattresses. Cozy and easy to respond to that first whimper with a Podee bottle of formula and little effort, then back to sleep as soon as that nipple inserted into mouth.
Then the babies got fatter and only needed one bottle per night. But the mattresses flattened and felt more like towels protecting us from the wood floor. Time to move mama, papa, and babies to our bedroom. A baby or two between us, one in the crib next to us, maybe another in the pack n play over there (wait, that’s too many babies I think). A non-hunger cry could quickly be stifled by a binky or if that doesn't work, bring baby into our warm bed and we're sawing logs again. By now we would say, nights aren’t so bad, the babies do pretty well, but I still had strange eyes that didn’t focus properly. Next thing I realize, babies sleeping through better, no more crying for night bottles. Maybe they’re 10 months now? I can’t remember.
Ahhh, no more bottles by the bedside. Now usually one baby sleeps in the nursery (we’re down to only one crib in there and added an adult bed), one in a pack n play either in our bedroom or out in the living room or kitchen (just outside our bedroom), and one in a crib in our bedroom; not so many babies in the bed with us anymore unless the binky fix fails.
A night when no babies cry is perfect (we got three this past week!), but our typical night one baby cries, maybe two, and a quick binky fix settles it. Not bad at all, quite healthy. I think my eyes are back to normal. One bad weekend not long ago Jerry left out of town on business and the babies and mama got into a funk. Sleep was bad and not coming or staying. Sleep-deprived, I bought the book No Cry Sleep Solution and after reading some, realized we don’t have sleeping issues. If your baby wakes every hour or two, get this book, although I disagree with a few minor points (I’ll send it to you free of charge).
Now words on putting baby to bed for night or day sleeping . . . Some say never put your babies down asleep as they will wake in terror and need you to rock them or sing to them all over again all night long. Some say let the baby cry it out and never pick your crying baby up from the crib. Others will tell you never sleep with baby in your bed or baby must sleep in your bed for maximum attachment. I say babies respond differently and never mind the nay-sayers and sayers, although I am against crying it out (let’s just say I didn’t have a choice a couple of times as I had to tend to another baby and possibly reached a limit—it didn’t work and everybody felt bad); CIO is different than baby crying as you help him “cross-over” in your arms, or a brief whimper in their crib after laying him down.
Bereket and Sira have always been relatively easy to cross-over. They require a little help, often in mama or papa's arms. At the first window—an eye rub or a cranky disposition—we swoop, blanket, bink, and hold in our arms until eyes half-close. If they cry or stand up in crib I try to lay them down again and tuck, but if doesn’t work, I take them out and can usually get them to deep sleep fast in my arms before laying back down.
Then there's Tsega. He would stick toothpicks between his lids to stay awake if he could. I used to get him sleeping deeply in my arms--a necessary task for him to sleep--by vigorously rocking, singing, patting, and wildly bouncing (he likes it rough!) before laying him down and tip toeing away. He screamed and writhed throughout. One exasperated evening, home only a couple of weeks, I look up from Tsega screaming in my arms and say to Jerry, this baby doesn’t respond to me, he’s not bonding! (Bonded he did, he’s crazy about me!). Then it got better, less fuss, no more screaming. Once asleep, he goes deep and I usually have to wake him up or he'll keep on dozing.
But Tsega changed in the last month or so, refusing to fall asleep in my arms or stay asleep in his crib, staying awake past 10 pm, resting in my arms peaceful but awake for hours. Then I remembered the old days after responding to somebody’s concern about their high-spirited baby’s sleep. Alpha mama helped Tsega get over his sleep curse in the beginning. I would hold him without anxiety but with great authority and sleep came; far from mean, but firm and no-nonsense. This relaxed Tsega, as if he thought this person will protect him; these arms are safe. I realized, Tsega’s a big boy now (14 months!), he understands more and he needs to know what we expect out of him. We expect him to go to bed! Alpha mama returned. (Excuse the goofy picture of me!)
Now I sooth him a few minutes in my arms (he usually doesn’t stay still), tell him quietly it’s time to go to sleep, carry him to crib and lay him down; then he cries and tries to get up and I tell him firmly, Tsega, lay down, maybe repeat it a few times, and lo! It’s working! I pat him a few times, leave the room, he cries, I go back in and repeat if the cry rises or lasts more than 30 seconds, and after maybe five minutes of this back n forth, all is quiet. OK, we only started this two weeks ago, but it works every time from naps to bedtime (knock on wood!). Not only that, we decreased the bed time hour by a smidgen and now by 8:30 all three babies sleep. Heaven!
There you have it on sleep. . . things change, nothing works 100% of the time, bad nights surely lay ahead, healthy sleepers don't always sleep through the night, and two totally different techniques work for three different babies. I may have to take it all back next week. . .
Next goal, get all three cribs back in the nursery and all three toddlers sleeping in them. . . but some other day.