After the initial shock of parenthood wears off, beyond the sleep deprived autopilot night time feeding zombie phase, you reach the point where it's time to make some major decisions again. With research, discussion and gut feelings Chris and I made it through the bottle vs. breast vs. both, the cloth vs. disposable diapers, how to decorate a nursery, what stories to read, etc. etc. long before Molly and Jack were even born.
Each time a monthiversary approaches, probably like any paranoid parent, I go on a research rampage monitoring the previous month and the month to come to make sure that the minions fall into the range of normal developmental milestones.* As I read about month five to six I saw that by now our babies should be able to sleep through the night and that if they aren't by month six it may be time for some sleep training or ferberizing**.
Since about month three both babies generally only require one night time feeding/changing where we both get up, change and feed both babies (whether they are both awake or not, to avoid being woken up twice) and are generally back into bed within twenty minutes to half an hour. Recently they have both started to give us about two nights a week where they sleep for the entire night and we're awoken by an alarm rather than a baby*** and now that we've had a taste, we want more.
When I presented my research to Chris he sighed and said, "When one of them gets up in the middle of the night they're really hungry, I don't know if I'm ready for us ignoring their hungry cry just yet, and besides they're sleeping through the night more and more every week now. And they may wake up the other baby**** by crying." We've been letting both babies self soothe for a couple of months now when they first go to bed, but never in the middle of the night, we'll sometimes give them about five minutes before we stumble out of bed and into action (to make sure it isn't just a random night scream - which Molly is infamous for). We agreed to revisit the issue in a month.
Last night Molly went to bed at 9:45pm and was screaming at 5:30am. Jack (while still asleep) consumed 5 ounces of formula. After ounce 2 Molly started chewing at the bottle and grinning at me. "She's not hungry, she's just bored." Chris said as I put her back to bed and she sang to herself in her crib for half an hour before going back to bed. While we tried to go back to sleep while Molly babbled from down the hall, Chris and I discussed whether or not she was really communicating things while she "talked" to herself. We couldn't determine what she was saying and finally fell back asleep. Now that I've thought about it I think I know what she was saying, "Don't hate the player, hate the game."
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*Both babies are doing fine, although Jack's recent obsession with making raspberry noises in combination with teething makes for a daily wet t-shirt contest.
**The Ferber Method is a technique invented by Dr. Richard Ferber involving baby-training children to self-soothe by allowing the child to cry for a predetermined amount of time before providing external comfort.
***The first few times this happened we both burst into the nursery in a panic to make sure they were okay and then felt silly for waking sleeping babies.
****I often catch myself in the nursery with Jack (who goes to bed about an hour later than Molly) standing still and avoiding eye contact with Molly, much like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, so she won't register that I'm there and attack.