Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sleep glorious sleep

Our little Ada slept 7 hours straight last night, from 11 to 7. Oh, the joy. She fusses and gives her colicky cry for a few hours before she goes to bed, but once she's asleep, it's bliss!

I'm feeling indescribably excited and hopeful about longer sleep cycles in our near future. These past few months have been wonderful, but the sleep deprivation is a doozy. It impairs my ability to function and steals the joy of interacting with them. Having my energy and zest back would be lovely.

Now if we can only get Ms Ada to repeat this feat - sans the 4 hours of crying that precedes the sleeping - and get the other two peanuts to follow suit, we'll be the happiest parents in the whole wide world. We're close. I can feel it.

It all began a few weeks ago when I noticed they weren't all that hungry when I was trying to feed them at night. They'd dreamfeed and each drink about half of their bottle, but weren't interested in more. I didn't force the issue, hoping they were starting to wean themselves of the 2 am feed and knowing that ultimately we'd want them to go without eating at night.

The next step was letting them go (sort of) "on demand" at night. Instead of waking the first one after 3 hours, we'd wait until one woke up and then feed them all. We noticed it was always Julia waking up first. It seemed Emma and Ada would sleep longer if we let them. Here's the rub, though. If you have triplets, you don't want to be up every single hour through the night feeding a baby, so it's a tricky scenario knowing when to let them go.

To figure out what kind of stretch each baby was capable of sleeping, I stayed up the first part of one night (11-2) and Dh the second part (2-5). Turns out, Emma and Julia could go 4 hours, and Ada 5 hours. Armed with this knowledge, we feed them all at 11 pm, then expect Julia and Emma to wake around 3 am. We let Ada sleep from 11 am until she wakes up, which was 4 am two nights ago, 5 am yesterday and 6 am today! She's definitely making huge progress. It will probably be another few weeks before Emma and Julia are able to go longer - they have some catching up to do weight-wise.

Here are a few tips I think have helped us:

- We've been actively waking them up at the same time every morning, regardless of what happens during the night.

- They're at the point now where they don't cry for food the minute they wake up, so it's starting to be possible to wake them simultaneously and get them situated in bouncy seats, boppy pillows, swings, etc. and then feed them one by one.

- We keep them on a 3-hour schedule during the day, and encourage them to eat as much as possible. Ultimately, we'll try to add in any ounces they "miss" during the night to their day feeds.

- I've noticed that they want to eat less in the morning (8-11 am), and then slowly eat more per feed as the day progresses. They are *hungry* when the sun goes down. Sometimes it feels like I'm feeding them all every 90 minutes from 5-9 pm, but I guess it's because they're gearing up to sleep through the night. Since they're struggling with reflux, eating large amounts at a time is still challenging for them.

- We dreamfeed them for all of their night feeds - from 8 pm to 8 am.

- The lights are kept very low at night (we can barely see!) This goes for the living room where we feed them, the bathroom where we change them, and their bedroom.

- We keep them snuggled in a blanket during their feed and "handle" them as little as possible. I hold them and burp them, but do a gentler version at night.

- We don't talk to them when it's "sleep" time. I whisper a few words when I pick them up and lay them down, but not in an excited tone of voice.

- We change diapers at 11 pm, but not during the wee hours of the night (unless there's a little stinker!) My dh has installed a small LED nightlight in the bathroom. It emits just enough light to change a diaper without waking them up.

- At night, we change diapers before feeding them. That way, they can fall asleep after the diaper change, during/after eating without being disturbed again. Works like a charm!

If you have more tips on how to get us a good night's sleep, please delurk to leave a comment.


Kate said...

I have no tips (still waiting for baby), but thank you for posting yours!

Anonymous said...

Wow - I think you are doing a wonderful job! No tips from my side (I was not so organized and my children took longer to sleep through). Best wishes and that soon you will get lots of uninterrupted sleep again!

The Patterson's said...

This is exciting! I don't have any tips either, but this is definitely reassuring that my dh and I are doing something "right". Hope our little guy will be sleeping 6-7 hours straight soon. :-)

Michele said...

We've always fed on demand and, a little before 3mo, the twins slept through the night and skipped their night feeding. They, too, eat less in the late morning-early afternoon, but then take great bottles late afternoon and evening. Their last feeding is usually less than average, but they sleep like dreams!

BB said...

Great tips... thanks for sharing! Your babes are definitely growing fast! :)