Two steps forward, one step back

It’s been one week since leaving the safe bubble of Masada, so I thought it was a good time to reflect on how things have been going at home with Frankie. In a nutshell, it has been 90% awesome, and 10% un-awesome. The 90% awesomeness comes from the fact that Frankie is now down for 3 naps every day (and two of those naps are 2+ hours) and has self-settled into every single one herself (no patting required). Same goes for her night time sleeps. This is a big change from pre-Masada, whereby Frankie liked to keep us guessing as to whether she would self settle or whether we would have to bring out the big guns (in our case, the electric swing). Awesome. And on average, post-Masada, we have only had to use the Pat Pat to help her resettle between sleep cycles about two or three times in any 24 hour period – so not much at all.

Yesterday was an un-awesome day. I think Frankie sensed something was in the air. Her loving, doting father has been away since Wednesday as he received some bad news about his own dad, and flew to Adelaide to be with him during the week. He gets home tonight (hooray!), but I think yesterday the exhaustion of looking after Frankie without the help of my wonderful husband finally got to me, along with the toll the week has taken on everyone emotionally. And so Frankie was very unsettled. I had to do the Pat Pat a total of 10 times – a record for the last two weeks – and it felt like she was throwing up half of every feed (not cool Frankie – you need all the milk you can get).

Today, so far, has been back to awesome. It’s coming up to 2pm and only one Pat Pat required. But my point for writing this post is that sleep school, and the weeks proceeding it, are hard work. Masada “warn” people about this, but I think that the “one step backwards” can still be really disconcerting and confusing, especially when it’s 2am and your baby is crying and you are pat pat patting and the crying continues. And you feel like curling up in a ball and crying yourself.

Frankie, back in fine form today.

Frankie, back in fine form today.

All of my Masada “group” have been keeping in touch via Facebook. We all write to each other many, many times every day and keep each other updated on what’s happening. And on the whole, it seems we are all having similar experiences – definite improvements, some really great fist-pumping days, and some really tough times too.

So if you are thinking of going to sleep school, or even if you have been reading this blog and “playing along at home”, please don’t expect the ride to be smooth sailing. The seas are choppy, but I just know it will be worth it in the end.

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So what does the Masada Pat Pat technique actually look like?

Since writing about the Pat Pat technique, I had promised to create a video. So yesterday evening, I invited my dad over to film it “live” during Frankie’s witching hour (which typically starts at 5pm). Dads arrives at 5, punctual as always, and we sit and wait for Frankie to grizzle. And we wait. And we wait some more. And then we wait a bit more. And the clock ticks onto 5.45pm (time for Frankie’s bedtime routine to start) and I end up having to wake her! Thank you Masada 🙂

Frankie - after being rudely woken up by her mother.

Frankie – after being rudely woken up by her mother.

So instead of being able to film a live version of the technique in action, we created a demonstration video with Frankie wide awake. I hope that this helps you understand super clearly how this magical resettling technique actually works.

Before you watch the video, here is a little recap on the technique:

What is it? The Masada “Pat Pat” (as I refer to it as) is a technique you can use to resettle your baby if they wake before they are supposed to (e.g. after a cat nap to help them link sleep cycles, at 5am, when they can’t even get to sleep to start with, etc).

When should you use it? For bubs under 6 months, wait 10 minutes for grizzling, and 2 minutes for crying before you go into the room to Pat Pat. For overnight use, wait 20 minutes for grizzling, and 2 minutes for crying. For bubs over 6 months, you can gradually increase the “cry wait time” by 2 minutes after every time you go in to up to 10 minutes total. Grizzling wait time remains the same.

Who should watch this video? Well, obviously mums and dads should watch it. But also, it could be useful to show to people who look after your baby and need to learn how to resettle it (grandparents, nannies, babysitters, the family dog, and so on).

What if I am too busy to watch your little video? Fair enough: here is a summary of the technique:

Enter the room (and don’t turn any lights on), and do a gentle shhhhh. Don’t say their name (you are not here to play and interact). Then start the Masada Pat Pat. To do this:

1. Place the baby on its side, facing away from you.
2. Say “shhhh” in a calming way (ideally until she/he 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. Even if you can hearing grizzling or crying.

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

And without further ado, here is the video:

Feel free to share it with those who are looking after your little guy/girl using the buttons below. Or you could be all old-fashioned about it and cut and paste the URL into an email and share it that way…

Sleep School – Day 5

So after five amazing days at Masada Sleep School, it’s home time tomorrow. From chatting with the other mums, everyone seems excited to be going home. I know I feel like I have a big suitcase full of tools that I can use with Frankie to help her sleep better and be a more predictable little baby.

Frankie had another great night last night. Like a little sleep machine, she self-settled within about five minutes (on her own) after I put her down grizzling loudly at 7pm. I did a dream feed at 11am, and then one of the wonderful night nurses fed Frankie a bottle of EBM at around 3am (and also changed Frankie’s outfit as she had a nappy leak – damn you nappy!). I could see in Frankie’s notes that she was put back down to sleep after all that, wide awake, and apparently was quiet and went straight back to sleep. I then woke Frankie up at 7am to start the day (yes, it is OK to wake your baby), even though she definitely could have kept sleeping soundly.

Frankie wormed her way half up the cot last night.

Frankie wormed her way half up the cot last night.

On the topic of leaky nappies, I got some great advice on that this morning: try putting a cloth nappy over the disposable nappy OR put a second nappy on top of the first nappy. Gold.

I have also now had a few goes of doing the Pat Pat on Frankie. The first couple of times I did it, the biggest problem I ran into is Frankie being a squirmy worm and wanting to roll back onto her back. Frustrating – because both hands are patting and unfortunately I don’t have a third hard to hold her down. I asked what to do and I was given some great advice: first, when positioning the baby on their side, make sure you roll their legs over so they are facing the side (not just their torso/shoulders) and second, use the sheet to cover their shoulders and pull it tight so it keeps them in position while you pat. Using these techniques helped a lot. Also, as a plan B, you can leave the hand on bub’s shoulder secure and just move your fingers to pat on the shoulder (and do the proper pat on the hips). I hope that all makes sense! I’ll try to create a video of what I am talking about over the next few days in case it all sounds like gibberish.

To change the nappy overnight or not? This was a question I had always wondered about. At home, my husband and I would oscillate between obsessively changing Frankie’s nappies through to letting her sit in her wee and pooh overnight to avoid waking her. The answer is: change the nappy if is completely soiled (i.e. it feels really heavy) or if there has been a leak and the bub’s clothes/blanket are wet. Because no one likes to sleep covered in urine.

Time for food.

Time for food.

And here are a bunch of helpful tips I got from yesterday’s big Q&A session (there were plenty of other tips which I will post in the next couple of weeks):

– To blacken out a room (because despite Black Out blinds being called Black Out blinds, they don’t really black out the room at all, do they?), use black garbage bags blu tacked to the window or black art paper. The trick is to have the room completely black until your baby has learnt how to self-settle and sleep well (the length of which differs for every baby).

– Try to book appointments (e.g. doctors appointments) for the afternoon because the morning sleeps are more important, of better quality, and longer. This is also good advice for mother’s groups trying to decide when to meet for coffee – afternoon is better than morning from a bub’s sleep point of view.

– When out and about, bring your bub’s cot toy or comforter that is a sleep cue, and hide it until it is time for them to sleep, and then place it in the pram when it is nap time.

– When I was out walking with Frankie a couple of days ago, she kept falling asleep in the pram even though it was “wake time”. I poked and prodded her (probably looking like a very strange and annoying mother to passers by) to keep her awake. But I was reassured during yesterday’s session and said if they do happen to fall asleep when you are out with them during “wake time” just treat it as a cat nap and get back on schedule when you get home.

– When your baby wakes after every sleep or nap, take them to the window and tell them what time of the day it is (e.g. “It’s morning Frankie, time for breakfast”). Doing these little things will start to get them used to it being day time, and different from night time.

Check out is at 8am, and they have recommended that the baby’s room at home be all ready to go so they can be put down for their first nap as soon as we get home. My husband just called me before to tell me he put up about 30 garbage bags on the windows of Frankie’s room and it is now pitch black. Brilliant.

I’ll keep posting updates on life after Masada. If you are keen to be notified of when a new post is uploaded, just go to the top of the right side tool bar and click on Follow.

I love hearing all your comments and questions. And if you do have any questions before I check out of Masada, please post them below and I’ll try to either answer them myself or ask one of the Masada Nursing gurus.

Time to say bye-bye to this corridor that has become my home over the last five days.

Time to say bye-bye to this corridor that has become my home over the last five days.