I just cannot figure out what this kid needs.
Ellie alternates between being a really solid sleeper and a really horrible one. Sometimes she’ll fall asleep, totally on her own, unswaddled. Sometimes she’ll sleep comfortably, for hours, all wrapped up.
And then, she doesn’t. The hands will flail and get so crazy, whipping her up into an overtired frenzy. She wants her hands in her mouth, but then she’ll gag herself on them. She yanks on her ear, grabs handfuls of hair, pokes herself in the eye, and generally seems like she’s trying to claw her own face off. But then the swaddle makes her SO MAD. She can wiggle her arms out of any standard swaddle in seconds, whether pulled tight with a big muslin blanket or velcro-ed in with a sleep sack. And even the famed uber-swaddle is a no-go. She literally spends all night furiously raging against it, and eventually manages to get an arm out. And then the face-clawing begins anew.
M and I spend the whole night trying to find the sweet spot. If she’s fighting the swaddle, sometimes you’ll unwrap her and she’ll pass out in under a minute. If she’s making herself crazy with unruly arms, sometimes you can swaddle her and she calms right down. You can do the bouncing and shushing thing from Happiest Baby on the Block and it will soothe the savage beast, or you can rock her and it’s like you’re pouring gas on the fire. And either way, 20 or 45 or 90 minutes later, she’s awake and you have to take yet another guess as to what will work this time.
It’s these things that make me feel like a rookie all over again. I’m at a loss to figure out how to get her to sleep better (we’ve got a day/night organization problem, as well). I’m forever giving people advice about sleep, but here I am, struggling like anyone else. Sure, the benefit of experience has me more likely to sit and wait to intervene, to see if she’ll settle herself instead of further revving her engine by picking her up too quickly. But still, I feel clueless much of the time. As soon as I think I might have figured out a trick, the next time it doesn’t work.
Some of our unique Ellie circumstances don’t help. While she’s over three months old, I’ve only had her home for four weeks. My knowledge of her cues and needs is still in the early stages. The fact that she is fed via g-tube takes feeding and hunger out of the sleep equation in a very strange way. Overnight, for instance, she is fed continuously at a very slow rate. So she’s neither hungry nor full, and doesn’t need to wake up to eat. But I also can’t use bottle- or breastfeeding as a soothing technique.
I know she’s too young to try to push a true nap schedule, or to do any real cry-it-out sleep training. I know I need to work on implementing a consistent bedtime routine. I can’t decide whether to limit her daytime sleep – while I’m a staunch believer in “sleep begets sleep,” sometimes she takes epic afternoon naps lasting 3-4 hours, and I wonder if that’s interfering with nighttime sleep.
Leave it to a new baby to make a know-it-all mom of twins feel like a brand-new rookie all over again.