Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sleep Deprived?

WARNING! This blog is a little different than the rest... no pics, just boring raising babies info. It will not interest most of you, but it may be of some help for any sleep deprived parents out there! I find myself being asked all of the time via email, text, and in person
HOW DID YOU GET THEM TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT??!! Rather than continuing to respond in lengthy emails, I figured I would post a detailed blog on it so it's easy to reference and I will remember myself years from now when I look back... ya know for my next set of quads :]
(just kidding babe, calm down)
First let me start by saying I am not "supermom" nor did figure this out all on my own. With lots of advice from other moms and moms of multiples, Bret and I figured out what works for us. The babies came home at 2.5 months (38/39 weeks gestation) eating every 3 hours. We both did the nightly feedings together, each feeding two babies. NOT FUN but it only lasted about 2 months. I admit when the babies came home they kicked our butts the first week or two (ok maybe three) during the night. They had us sleeping on the couch and they were in boppys on the living room floor. We decided that was enough and they were going to their cribs and had faith that they would be fine without us staring at them all night to make sure they were ok.

We refused from the beginning to let them sleep with us. Not only because (in my opinion) that's a bad habit to start and I don't want a 5 year old sleeping with us (much less 4 of them), but I don't think it's all that safe either. I had dreams for months after they came home that one or more were in the bed with us, under the covers or pillows and I couldn't find them. I would wake up literally holding a pillow and very gently laying down beside me and I'd tell Bret to "go put so and so back in their crib". I would even wake myself up rubbing Bret's head as if it were a baby's head! WHEW what sleep deprivation can do to you HAHA! No offense to those of you who let your kiddos sleep with you, it's just not for us! Chasing a rabbit here, sorry...!

The transition to their cribs went pretty smoothly, Kylee gave us the biggest problem as far as crying goes. I was afraid letting her cry so hard for so long was bad for her premature lungs and tiny airways, other moms of preemies assured me it was ok to let her cry it out. One of us would go in every 15 mins to let her know everything was ok... we would pat her back and let her hear our voice but did not pick her up. The next night we went in every 20mins, then 30 and after a few nights she was fine. Once we moved them to their cribs I started changing little things to make bed time completely different than day time. I felt like they had to distinguish a difference between night and day since they slept all day long. First thing I/we did was add their vitamins to their last "daytime" bottle, which was 8pm at the time therefore changing taste. We also made sure they were in their sleepers rather than onsies during this feed to they literally "felt" different and were more cozy. I made sure the rooms they were in during the day were bright and covered their bedroom windows with dark blankets (totally ruins the cuteness of their rooms but whatever) so it was dark no night lights, nothing. During the night feedings we kept their rooms dark but using the hall light with their doors slightly cracked and fed them while sitting on their bedroom floors. By keeping it dark, quiet, and staying in their rooms they didn't get enough stimulation to really wake up. Putting them back to bed was a sinch (is that how you spell that?)!

As far as cutting out the night feeds one at a time... Our babies did this on their own for the most part, I just did my best to keep them full through the day so they would have a better chance at making it through the night or atleast longer time periods between 2 feeds. I was sure as they cut out feeds I didn't change their overall daily consumption, and added those ounces to the rest of their bottles so they were not loosing the calories which is crucial for preemies. It was like all of a sudden (not all together but within a week or so of each other) they didn't need the 11pm bottle and just got up at the 2am and 5am feeding. Then they would make it until 3-4am and before you know it it was all night. Bret and I were practically trained by this time to naturally wake up at 11, 2, and 5am so we didn't get good sleep during this time, but it was hope that the end of night feeds was near! We would lie awake staring at the clock just knowing they would be waking up at any minute. There were even times I actually got up and made their bottles just knowing they would get up, I would end up putting them outside there bedroom doors and going back to bed (don't worry the bottles we're thrown out if longer than an hour!). It was mid-late June before they all slept through the night pretty consistently which put them at 4 months old (1.5 months adjusted).

As of right now the babies are almost 6 (wow can't believe I just typed that) months old and Bret and I sleep like ROCKS.... tired worn out and exhausted rocks. It's great! It's no question when we go to bed weather or not someone will be waking us up... we know they are little sleepy rocks too :] Thanks to reflux and immature guts they still are eating every 3 hours during the day 5-6 ounces each feed but can't hold out until 8pm. They end up getting the last bottle around 7pm and that's only because we make them stay up that long. It works though, because Bret and I get some alone time to watch TV or eat dinner together. I usually hear the girls over the monitor around 7-7:30am but I don't go in until 8am.

As far as sleeping during the day, I'm not a pro at just yet. I want so badly to have that/or those specific nap times so I can schedule all of their appointments around them but were just not there yet. Right now they take their 8am bottle and then all sit on the couch or on the floor and watch me dance around and say their names over and over and over again for entertainment until about 9:30am and then all nap for an hour or so. After that it's one sleeps here the other there while another one at this time... nothing scheduled except the feeds. I think it will be easier when I can entertain them more and keep them all interested in things (other than me being a clown) for longer periods of time, right now they just don't care too much. Sometimes I NEED a break and I have them nap in their cribs during the day but I put the girls in the boy's cribs and the boys in the girl's so again, totally different than night time. Like I said they are not all on the same sleep schedule so they don't always like the nap in the crib time. This is another reason I put them in each other's cribs so they don't associate negative feelings with their crib if all they do is cry for that short time (sounds mean I know, but breaks are a must when you have quads for sanity reasons!). Now they know that when they hit their crib that it is time for night time and nothing else. Consistency pays off let me tell you!

Well I think that's about all I can write on the subject for now. These things worked for us and for our situation. I can only hope it made sense and gives you another outlook on sleep deprivation and way to overcome it! Oh yes, and if you are a mom who worries at night if her baby is ok or a mom of a preemie who didn't come home on monitors, check out the AngelCare monitor I mentioned in the previous post! Good Luck and whatever you do stay consistent!
*Any other blog followers who actually stayed tuned long enough to read this, don't worry, regular posts coming soon including cranial helmet updates (good news!), another public adventure with the babies, pictures (of course) and a super special reunion we're excited about planned for this weekend!
I'm going to go sleep like a rock now :]


  1. That post was great. Now I know how you look AWESOME a few months after having 4 babies. You dance around like a clown for hours a day!

    I need a sanity break and I only have two who are different ages. Plus I work full time. :)

    I am excited to hear about the helmets and am looking forward to more pictures.

  2. Heather, You have been special since the day you were born. You keep showing it over and over! The person who finds out how to take control of a situation and then does it is beyond what many people can handle. I am so proud that you somehow got that trait. Thank you for being you. Love Mom

  3. thanks heather, that was very informative now if only i will be able to remember it in my sleep deprived state!

  4. Amen for sanity breaks! Seems like you're doing great, keep it up Momma!

  5. so cute and adorablefrom victoria at baker elemetry

  6. Hi Heather!
    Wondering how much the kiddos weighed when you began stretching out feedings. Also, what did you do about the reflux?

  7. Hey Becca! At this point they were all between 8 and 10lbs. I was never told (unlike other moms) by their doctors to make sure they got to a certain weight before cutting night feeds, so I started as soon as I could. Keep in mind, I didn't so much "cut out" feeds as I just "rearranged" them. The bottles I took out at night were added to their daytime bottles, ensuring they still got the same amount of calories. I also stayed on the three hour feeding schedule during the day until they were about 15 months old (8am, 11am, 2pm, 5:30pm) Shortly after 15 months we went to a more typical 8am, 12noon, snack, and 5:30pm schedule.

    There's not a whole lot that can be done when it comes to the reflux. We did things like keep them upright during and after feedings and slanted their crib mattresses a little, letting gravity work in their favor. We also burped them more often than the average baby would be burped during a single feeding which helped a little. As far as medicines go, two of them came home on Reglan, which is used to speed up the digestive system. We were told by several docs about the neurological issues sometimes correlated with Reglan, and stopped it immediately. Another med we used for a while was Prevacid. Although it helped with the acidity in the reflux, it didn't lesson the amount of reflux itself. Most of the reflux was gone by about a year old, besides Kylee. Although MUCH better, she still upchucks from time to time at 2 years old.

    Hope that helped!

  8. That was a great post. Ours have been sleeping through the night since about six months which has saved our sanity. I cannot imagine having the energy for the four of them if they did not sleep through the night. This post will help so many families with multiples.


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