Thursday, October 11, 2012

moving past the bouncing

I recently experienced that precious breakthrough moment when my child prefers to just roll over and go to sleep for a nap instead of having Mama bounce her to sleep.  It happened with Ashlynn a week or so ago.  She's happily had me rock, cuddle and bounce her to sleep for her naps since she was born and for the most part I've been happy to do it.  Once the breakthrough happens I have to admit, I breath a huge sigh of relief.

I developed that new Mommy lower back pain from walking, bouncing, and rocking Addie to sleep when she was born.  With Bella I had knee pain from all the up and down jarring motions trying to soothe the un-soothable child.  Physically I was prepared for Ashlynn and all the bouncing that comes with a child in the first year.  The high altitude in Ethiopia has made my lungs stronger. I didn't feel strain from bouncing her in a physical sense. I felt more strain this time around with being needed elsewhere by my other kids.

Just as a disclaimer, I am well aware that some parents never bounce their kids to sleep for naps.  Some children are happy to soothe themselves to sleep by laying on their backs from day one.  Awesome!  Good for you.  It didn't work for us and I'm OK with that.  We let our kids scream it out for naps off and on through their first year of life.  I'm cool with letting them cry.  It worked for the most part.  I don't necessarily rock them all the way to sleep.  But definitely until they are drifting off.  In our family there is an unbelievable amount of child soothing that goes on in the first year of my children's lives and I am the one to do it ninety eight percent of the time.  Them's the shakes.

The great thing is that I'm on the tail end of this haul.  It's monumental to have reached this point with my third daughter.  She is ready to nap like a toddler and I am ready to give her a little snuggle, a kiss on her forehead, plop her down and tiptoe out of the door.  It happened at varying times with each daughter.  Addie maybe the earliest because she took a nap at daycare. Arabella took the longest and needed the most bouncing.  In all honesty Bella was the one who liked to be bounced the hardest with the largest motions (think lunges and squats with a baby in my arms) and under the loudest noises (the roaring exhaust fan above our stove in Manila).  Ashlynn was the easiest to bounce to sleep. She needed quiet but she always complied by closing her eyes and drifting off rather quickly.  With every one of them it was clear when they didn't need it anymore.

I know this sounds ridiculous but I decided to calculate just how much time I've spent over the last 5 years bouncing my babies.  It's a rough calculation but essentially I made a chart splitting up the girls' naps over the months and recorded how many minutes I'd bounce on average for each nap.

It's an average.  It doesn't take into account illnesses or teething that required longer bouncing sessions or the times I'd bounce them and lay them down then have to come back and do it again in 15 minutes after they screamed themselves silly.  It doesn't take into account easy days where they needed fewer than 10 minutes of bouncing before being put in their crib.  And If I were really being honest the numbers should just be doubled for Arabella.  This chart also doesn't take into account any bouncing to the girls to sleep for the night.  This is only for naps.

Anyway, the math nerd side of me felt a million times better after compiling this data.  I spent roughly 46,800 minutes bouncing my three daughters to sleep for their naps over the course of the three years that each of them were under one year old.  That's 780 hours or 32.5 days.  I have essentially spent an entire month of my life bouncing them to sleep. And the funny thing is, when you put it in terms of months it's only been one.  And one is an OK number.  I'd do one over again.

But let's just say I'm happy to be done bouncing (for the most part).  My knees and back will be pleased.  


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, the bouncing! Back when I was in college, still going out to bars and wearing cute sleeveless dresses, I would have killed to have biceps like I do now and they are all from bouncing WIll. Like your kids, WIll has gradually outgrown bouncing. He still needs it some nights but for a few months now, we've simply been snuggling and then putting him in his crib drowsy. I like your chart, it's nice to know all of that time was only a month! And what a way to spend a month, taking care of your babies. Our problem now is that we've finally put WIll in his own room (this is the first time we've lived somewhere he can actually have his own fulltime room). He's waking up every 2 hours, clinging to me and crying unless I lay down to sleep with him. The thing is, he used to sleep mostly in his crib in our room! Now there is a good long 2-5 hour stretch at night where I'm having to rock and nurse and sometimes even bounce him back to a deep sleep. I'd say we should cry it out but oh! the way he just wraps his legs around me as tight as he can when I pick him up in hte middle of the night. My poor uber snuggly baby!

Heather P. said...

Wow, holy bouncing! You are such a great mama to your 3 girls. Congrats on this milestone!

Sara said...

Thanks Heather. I'm sure you're doing some bouncing right now with your new little one!

Dani, it's tough huh?! The cry it out thing is easiest around 9 months I think. When they are still young. Will is at the age now where he gets it all and it will be harder on YOU to let him cry knowing he's in there calling out Mama! Before they can call for Mama is when letting them cry is easier. That being said, I am a huge advocate of teaching your baby to put themselves to sleep. It just has to be done for his sake and yours. The idea of it is usually worse than doing it. I have friends who sat in the room a little closer to the door every night until they were right outside the door. Good luck. It's a hard one.

Sara said...

Oh and I forgot to mention that we are about to start this with Ashlynn again! She's turning one and I'm still getting up with her to nurse. It has to stop soon! I'm not looking forward to it either!