Sleep School – Day 4

Before I get started, you can now “follow” this blog and get alerted when new posts are uploaded – just go to the right-hand sidebar and click on the “Follow” button. Simple.

I spoke to my parents at about lunchtime yesterday and was telling them (well, boasting) about how Frankie was going. If you read yesterday’s post, you might remember that Day 3 is the day where the mums start to do the settling themselves. We watch a nurse do it a couple of times first, then a nurse observes us do it a couple of times, and then we are on our own. So I said to my parents, “Frankie hasn’t grizzled at all today! I might not get any practice resettling her!” And of course, upon getting back to the hospital room, Frankie starts grizzling like a grumpy old cat. So after watching the nurse settle Frankie a couple of times (successfully), Frankie again turned grizzly towards the end of her afternoon nap. I had my first shot at settling Frankie with the Pat Pat technique and it worked a dream! She grizzled a bit on my exit, but then calmed right down and did another sleep cycle. Amazing. Pre-Masada, I would have (guiltily) put her straight into the electric swing.

The door to Frankie's room. Someone drew a star on it (probably because of Frankie's awesomeness)

The door to Frankie’s room. Someone drew a star on it (probably because of Frankie’s awesomeness)

Last night, all of the fathers came in for a session on settling as it is super important that the baby have consistency with settling techniques. My husband was telling me they were all taught the Pat Pat, and then practised on each other. I guess that fully grown men are similar to babies? The fathers are then allowed to stay overnight, which was nice for my husband to get some time with Frankie before bed and in the morning. It’s awesome that Masada incorporates the world outside of mother-baby to help enforce the techniques we learn here.

Frankie having fun with her dad

Frankie having fun with her dad

This afternoon we have our final group session about life post-Masada. We have also been told that it is Q&A time for us too. So I figure that session will go for about 36 hours.

I continue to bombard all the nurses with questions, so here are a few more things I am learning. And no doubt, tomorrow’s post will be a big one with everything that comes out of this afternoon’s session!

In no particular order…

– A few people have asked on the blog about what to do if the Pat Pat doesnt work. If you find yourself in this situation, and if you have done the Pat Pat three times, then give them a “cot cuddle” (sit them up in the cot and cuddle them until they calm down), and if that doesn’t work take them out of the cot and give them a cuddle until they calm down – then do the Pat Pat routine.

– Someone asked about whether you make any noise when Pat Patting. The rule is – if the baby makes noise, you Shhhh, and if the baby is quiet, you are quiet. Easy. Although not easy to count to 100 when you are also trying to Shhhhh.

– One of the nurses gave us a great piece of advice yesterday. She said “Focus on the (Pat Pat) process, not on the sleep”. If you are in with the baby and all you are thinking is “please get back to sleep”, it is only going to stir you up more – and if you are stirred up, the baby can sense this and it rubs off on them.

– When it comes time to drop the red eye feed (as I call it – that is, the one between 3-5am), the trick is to just resettle them at this time, rather than feed them. It might (apparently) take a few resettles at first, but I have been told to persevere for a few nights and she should start sleeping through. We get to drop the red eye feed when the baby has doubled its birth weight. I think I might feed Frankie some sneaky doughnuts to help speed up this process.

– I always wondered how much time needs to pass when you are timing the grizzle/cry before you reset the clock. The answer is five minutes. For example, if you haven’t heard a grizzle for five minutes, then you re-start the timer for another 10 minutes before going in to resettle (if you need to).

– If your bub wakes at 6am, but you are working on the Masada wake time of between 7-8am, I was told to resettle, and if the baby hasn’t resettled by 6.30am, get them up and start the day.

– Here is a funny one: Frankie always yawns for the first 5-10 minutes of the first feed of the day, without fail. I think to myself, “Frankie you have been in bed for 12 hours – how can you be tired already?!” But apparently, tired signs in the first 5-10 mins of awake time actually means they have had a great sleep! Good to know.

– Masada use Ergo sleeping bags. In case you are interested.

– The maximum nap time Masada recommend is three hours. Any longer than this can throw the day out of whack.

As I finish this post, I am excited to say that I put Frankie down 20 minutes ago for her second nap of the day and although she grizzled for a couple of minutes when I left the room, she has been quiet ever since. Go Frankie!

Our final group session with Q&A time starts in 90 minutes. Keep the comments and questions coming and I’ll try to answer them all (or seek out answers for you)!

A gratuitous bum shot. Just because it is so cute.

A gratuitous bum shot. Just because it is so cute.

Sleep School – Day 3

It’s the morning of Day 3 today which means: time to settle our babies on our own (well, not quite on our own as we have guidance “on tap” from the amazing nurses). Frankie was a little champion last night – I put her down to bed at 7.30pm and while she grizzled like a very grumpy cat when I put her in her Love to Dream suit and then left the room, she self settled within five minutes. This is unheard of in our household. The only times this has happened at home is when we have used “bad” sleeping aids (our electric swing or feeding her until she fell asleep in my arms). I was then woken by the nurse to do a dream feed at 11pm (incidentally, Masada call them rollover feeds) and then a nurse gave Frankie expressed BM at 3am – no grizzling at all: she had to be woken up to feed!. And this morning, she started grizzling a tiny bit at 7.25am so I got her up to start the day. Which means, with the help of a sleeping tablet, I slept for 7 hours straight. OMG. I think the last time this has happened was in my second trimester.

We also had a great session yesterday afternoon where all the mums (there are 20 of us) came together in a room and one of the nurses ran a bit of a group therapy session (I don’t think Masada calls it that – but it’s basically when it was). Some of the mums shared their stories which was incredibly moving. The mums here are truly amazing in what they have been going through and managing to cope with. (Incidentally, when we are in the group sessions and it is feeding time, our babies get brought up to us if they need to be BF, and Frankie always decides it is feeding time during these sessions. So I was feeding Frankie during this particular session while some of the mums were sharing some really heart-wrenching experiences and in the middle of all this, Frankie does the world’s loudest pooh. And then a minute later, does a second one – just for comic effect. She clearly wanted to lighten things up and I am sure she is destined to be the class clown when she goes to school).

Frankie, the loud pooh-er.

Frankie, the loud pooh-er.

So, loud poohs aside, I thought I’d write about a few other things I learned yesterday (it really was information-packed and way too much for one post), so here are some other tidbits:

I know I had a lot of trouble distinguishing the difference between a grizzle and a cry (other than a grizzle sounding like a grumpy cat). A couple of weeks ago I had my amazing friend Monique over (a super duper brilliant mother of four children under 6!) trying to help me decipher whether Frankie was crying or grizzling. And I think that I have now finally got the hang of it: a cry is constant, and a grizzle is not. Grizzles are more like a wave – they stop and start. Also, volume is not an indication of whether it is a grizzle or a cry. Some babies grizzle loudly, while others cry softly.

Up until now, we have been swaddling Frankie in a wrap with her arms by her side. We had a brief break from this when a lactation consultant taught as what my husband and I called “the mummy wrap” (because she looked like a mummy). Masada recommends swaddling until 6-8 weeks, then angel wrapping until 4 months (this is the same as a mummy wrap), and then a sleeping bag from 4 months (when babies start to roll). If you haven’t come across angel wrapping before, this is where the bub gets to sleep with their hands up near their face (exactly like the Love to Dream swaddle for 0-3 months) – the reason for this is so they can self settle by sucking on their hands.

Feed, Play, Sleep is the routine they preach at Masada – which I knew theoretically, but didn’t really practice that well. Frankie and I would start at feed, but so often she would be so tired that we wouldn’t make it to play. And then when I put her down to sleep, she would grizzle and cry because she was overtired. Argh.

BUT – there is one exception to the Feed, Play, Sleep routine, and that is at bedtime where upon waking (at around 6.30pm ideally), we give Frankie a bath, then some low key playing and cuddling, and then finish with a feed (and then a nappy change). The idea behind finishing with a feed is to help her stretch longer until her next feed.

Masada recommend dream feeding (between 10.30pm-midnight) up until the age of around 7-8 months when the bub is well and truly on solids. And until Frankie has doubled her birth weight, we need to feed on demand after the dream feed (typically between 3-5am). I am secretly a bit bummed about this as I was hoping that Masada would magically help Frankie sleep from the dream feed through to 7am. No such luck. Frankie has always been a bit of a runt (in the 15th percentile). She was 3kg at birth and is now 5kg at 3 months – so we still have 1 kg to go until we’ll be getting a bigger chunk of sleep.

Feet out! Frankie pretty much lives in a Bonds Wondersuit and out of habit, we leave her feet covered up. The nurses said for day sleeps, pull her feet out (which we had never done before). The reason for this is because it firstly is a sign that it is daytime (not nighttime) and secondly, they are more likely to overheat in the day from being grizzly and overtired and having their feet out helps them be a bit cooler.

I’ll report back on how I go self-settling Frankie today, and as always, I love hearing your comments and questions!

Sleep School – The morning of Day 2

Miracle of miracles – I am writing this blog post having just put Frankie down for her second nap of the day (at 11.40am) and after grizzling her head off for a few minutes, she had self settled by 11.45am. Has someone swapped Frankie for another baby?

We had a great session with all the mums with babies under 6 months this morning with one of the nurses, who was a whirlwind of brilliant information. She said at the start – “don’t worry, you won’t need to take many notes” – but of course, I found myself writing non-stop. Note to self: bring iPad to next session.

Here are some tips from this morning (keeping in mind these are tips for 6 months and under):

Feed 3-5 hourly during the day, and within 15 minutes of getting the baby out of the cot. Allow a 45 minutes window for feeding – after this time, the Milk Bar is officially closed. The reason for this is to teach the baby that milk does not flow on tap around here. Prior to sleep school, Frankie was a major snacker. In my pre-admission interview with Masada, the nurse said to try to stretch Frankie out to 3 hourly feeds (just extending each window by 5 minutes until we could reach 3 hours). The snacking cycle is hard to break – but important to break as it helps babies feed better.

A little trick to help wind the baby is to sit them in a bouncer or swing (or something where they are a bit upright) straight after a burp – this mixes burp time with play time. Who knew that babies could multitask at such a young age 🙂

As tempting as it is to multitask while I am feeding (I feel so “inefficient” if I don’t have my mobile phone or ipad in hand or on lap when I am feeding), one of the nurses suggested just focus on the feeding when they are feeding – especially during our time here at Masada where we don’t have the duties and distractions of the outside world. This will allow me to actually focus on whether Frankie is feeding properly. She shared a story about a mum who was constantly on the laptop while feeding, and she never noticed that her baby never wanted to feed from one side – which was the side by the laptop.

There were a few comments on Facebook about babies becoming dependent on pitch black rooms. This was brought up this morning and it was recommended that after Masada, we try to stick to the “Masada rules” for 2 weeks (as strictly as we can), and as the bub learns to become a better sleeper, you can slowly let more light into the room, and they will also naturally become better at sleeping in the pram, car, grandma’s, etc too.

Frankie's "bedroom" at Masada, which becomes pitch black when the door is closed.

Frankie’s “bedroom” at Masada, which becomes pitch black when the door is closed.

 

Apparently hiccups are a tired sign. Who knew?

For morning naps, try to do three sleep cycles (one sleep cycle is around 45 minutes). This is the most important nap of the day – seems to get them off to a good start for the rest of the day.

Remove all mobiles from above the bed. It is critical that there are no distractions for the baby. This is especially important between sleep cycles to help them move effortlessly from one sleep cycle to the next.

When putting the baby down to sleep, give them a rub on the chest and say “time for sleep”. Another thing to help them recognise that it is NOT time to play.

For the overnight sleep, always wrap the baby in the cot and if they need changing in the middle of the night – change them in the cot. This is something we had never done – but am excited to do this. If you move them out of the cot for these activities, the baby might mistakenly think that it is play time.

If they don’t settle, come in, and do a gentle shhhhh. Don’t say their name (you are not here to play and interact). Then start the Masada Pat Pat (my name for it, not theirs…). To do this:

1. Place the baby on its side, facing away from you.
2. Say “shhhh” in a calming way (ideally until she stops crying).
3. Cup your hands like you are holding an egg and with one hand on the baby’s shoulder and the other on the hip, do a fast pat. Place slightly less pressure on the shoulder pat because it doesn’t have a nappy as a cushion. Count to 100.
4. Change to a slower paced pat. Count to 100. The idea is to bore them back to sleep (and hopefully you don’t get bored to back to sleep while you are doing it).
5. If they are still crying or grizzling, do another round of the slower pats.
6. Keep your hand still on your bub’s shoulder, and then do a single pat on the hip for 50 counts. Start slowing right down for the final few pats.
7. Move the baby back onto it’s back.
8. Walk out.

Finally, never go backwards in the steps. I asked “why not”? The nurse replied “because you don’t want to be in there all night”. Fair enough.

And here are some tips for play time:

– Do tummy time midway through a play. You don’t want to do it right after a feed (too much pressure on the tummy) and too close to bed time (hello grizzle city).

– If you have a playmate (like Frankie does), swap the mobiles that hang above it from time-to-time to give the baby a bit of variety. This may sound really obvious to some people, but a good thing to be reminded off nonetheless.

– Spend the last five minutes of every play time doing “wind down”. This involves changing the nappy, then reading a story (rhymes are good) or singing a low key song (like Twinkle Twinkle little star). By doing this before every nap time, they will start to associate this with “time to sleep”.

Keep your comments and questions coming! It’s lovely to know that this blog is helping some sleep deprived mummas 🙂

Frankie doing tummy time - and trying to lick the air while she does it.

Frankie doing tummy time – and trying to lick the air while she does it.

Sleep School – Day 1

I know that on one of the Facebook Mothers’ groups that I frequent, there are always a lot of posts about sleep and some about sleep school. So I thought that I’d write about my time at Masada, and the things I am learning, in the hope that it helps some other sleep deprived mums out there…

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to make the call to Masada Sleep School (aka The Mother Baby Unit). Except for Frankie’s first 24 hours in this world where she slept like an angel and we felt all smug – like we had a GREAT sleeper – she has been an average sleeper at best. Up until a couple of weeks ago, she only managed chunks of around three hours at night, and would have a LOT of trouble self settling during the day – to the point where taking her on a walk in the pram or putting her in our amazing electric swing were the only ways to get her to sleep. Obviously, since enrolling Frankie in sleep school, she has improved quite a bit – we even had one night where we put her down to bed at 7pm, gave her a dream feed at 11pm, and she slept until 7am – OMG! We thought someone had swapped out Frankie for another baby.

So Frankie turns 3 months this Wednesday, and we checked into Sleep School this morning. I gave Frankie a feed, and then she went down to sleep. As I type, I can her her grizzling / crying, and one of the wonderful nurses  is settling her. And I am trying to block out Frankie’s cries from my mind 😦

Frankie hanging out with her rings during "awake" time.

Frankie hanging out with her rings during “awake” time.

The set up at Masada is this – the ward is in a square shape, with rooms for the mums around the outside, and small rooms with a cot in them around the inside. So Frankie is across the corridor from me – which in itself is a strange thing to get used to as Frankie’s bassinet at home is about 1.5 metres from my side of the bed.

Even thought not much has happened yet today (it’s only lunchtime), I have already learnt a few things:

1. The room Frankie is in is pitch black – when the door is closed, she literally can’t see a thing. One of the nurses said this gives Frankie two choices – she can either stare into darkness or sleep. We hope that Frankie will chose sleep. At home, the room Frankie sleeps in is very dark at night, but quite light during the day (even with the blinds shut). I already suspected this before checking in, but when we get home, I think it’s going to be time to move Frankie into her own room and cover the windows in foil to keep all the light out. Also time to move her into a cot too. Even though Frankie is a noisy sleeper (it’s like sharing the room with a 90 year old man), it’s going to be really strange and sad moving her into her own room. God knows how I’ll cope when she wants to move out of home in a couple of decades…

2. Frankie needs to spend more time awake. At three months, Frankie should be awake for between 1 hour 15 minutes to 1.5 hours at a time (including feeding time). I know that this is probably not “new news” to a lot of mums, but we would always put her straight to sleep when she showed tired signs – such as yawning – which meant sometimes she would wake, I would feed her, she would yawn, and I would put her straight back down to bed (not that she would actually go back to sleep or anything…). So when Frankie wakes up next, I’ll feed her and we will play, play, play until the clock hits 1 hour and 15 mins. The nurses said that by the end of the week, Frankie will definitely be awake enough not to start showing tired signs almost as soon as she wakes.

3. I had heard Masada used controlled crying and that this had put some mums off. So I thought I’d report on what they have used with Frankie (which seems to be much nicer than letting the bub cry out). In a nutshell, Frankie is allowed to grizzle for 10 minutes and then a nurse goes into settle her if she hasn’t calmed down. If this escalates to a cry, then they go in after two minutes. Sometimes I have trouble working out what is a cry and what is a grizzle – am hoping to know the difference well and truly by the week’s end. So far I have learnt that a grizzle sounds like a grumpy cat, whereas a cry is louder and more constant (and heartbreaking to listen to!).

If you happen to be reading this blog, I’d love to hear any comments or questions that you have! I’ll try to post once a day and share as much as I can 🙂

My room at Masada

My room at Masada Sleep School.