Sleep Training our 7 Month Old Twins

These past couple months have been really rough sleep wise. The twins were on a great schedule of eating at 2 or 3 am and then again at 6 or 7 am (so basically one feed a night) but then at around 5 months old they went through a growth spurt or something and started to eat three feeds a night. They seemed to get past that and went back to two feeds a night again which would be fine except for Dylan is waking up frequently after falling asleep at 7pm and needs to be given a pacifier or picked up a couple times an hour with it getting really intense between 10 and 12 pm. He wasn’t hungry or needing a diaper change, he just seemed to want to be held or have me standing there with my hand on his chest. I have tried taking him into our bed to see if he just wanted to be near me but Dylan just gets excited and riled up instead of going to sleep so cosleeping isn’t really an option, which I guess I am glad its not because I like having the bed to ourselves. 

Finally, three days ago after several weeks of sleepless hours between 10 and 12/1am of constantly trying to get Dylan to go back to sleep we decided that at this point sleep training was necessary. I read a fellow twin mom’s blog about why she decided to sleep train her twins and it totally hit it on the nail for me and was the incentive I needed to do it (Blog Link Here).

 You see, I had such a fear of sleep training and I didn’t understand how parents could listen to their baby cry without going in to comfort then. Ryan and I didn’t do any sleep training with Ian and although it took a long time for Ian to sleep through the night, he eventually did by about a year and has been a great sleeper since. With Ian we did a lot of cosleeping and letting him nurse when he wanted. But after a year my milk had run out so we kind of naturally weaned him off of the night feedings which in turn let him sleep through the night. Bedtimes were a long drawn out thing though and could take up to an hour to an hour and half with lots of rocking but again we stuck it out and by a year and a half he was happy to go to bed and bedtime is a 20 minute deal ever since. So lots of good success came out of it all and we never had to let Ian cry it out. Well, what we’re discovering now is that what worked for Ian isn’t the same for Dylan let alone when we have two babies. Dylan has some sort of sleep association with needing me or Ryan near him anytime he wakes himself up. I also have a theory that he is waking up when he moves through a sleep cycle and doesn’t know how to put himself back to sleep. He is not hungry, he is just mad/sad about waking up! Keeping all this in mind we decided now was the time to sleep train so Dylan can learn to soothe himself back to sleep without needing mommy or daddy. Here is my log with my progress so far. It’s been hard (REALLY HARD) but we’ve started to see results so that has been AWESOME. 

Night 1:

Ryan went out of town for a work trip so I decided that was a good time to start because that way just one of us was suffering. Sometimes when one of the twins is crying or freaking out we kind of can take it out on each other because you know, you can, whereas you can’t get mad at your baby. So it was good to just to do it on my own and cry and suffer without needing to also see Ryan suffering too. 

The night started out well with Dylan waking up a couple times between 9-10:30 but I let him be and he went to sleep ON HIS OWN after a minute or two of light crying. That was pretty great. Normally we rush in to give him a pacifier and to see that if we just leave him alone he can just work it out! Well, that was so good to know. 

Well, then things got tough. Starting at 10pm and till 12:30pm Dylan cried. I would go in, using increments, first 3 minutes waiting then go in, then 5, then finally 10. By the time I got to letting him cry for 10 minutes he had worked himself into a state. This was at 12ish and I had to pick him up to calm him down and he was shaking and having little hiccups while crying – IT WAS SO HARD. Why was I doing this to my baby?!!! It felt so wrong! I kept just wanting to give up. Meanwhile a little earlier I had brought Leo into my room because he was waking up from Dylan’s cries. I managed to continue to stick it out but man, I was feeling drained. Finally, FINALLY, after picking up Dylan after a 10 minute cry and setting him down calm and almost asleep, he went to sleep. This was at 11:45pm. After waiting 10 minutes to see if he was actually asleep I too went to sleep. Around 1am Dylan woke up but I decided to feed him since his normal feeding schedule has been 12am and 4am. The point of this sleep training was more to get Dylan to sleep on his own from 10pm to 12am and eventually we would push out his feeds but not tonight. Leo meanwhile was still sleeping and normally I would wake up Leo to feed but I decided to let him keep sleeping. Leo stirred around 2am and I nursed him then in bed. Since he was right next to me it was so easy and I was able to be half asleep during it. Then Dylan slept till 4am and I fed him again. Leo kept sleeping again so I let him. Leo woke up at 6am wanting to play so I decided to feed him just because I wanted to try to get 1 more hour of sleep. It worked and Leo went back to sleep. We all got up at 7 am and that was the first night! Whew. Exhausted. But I made it. The good news that came out of it, Dylan ate a little later at night at 1am and and 4am. Leo only really needed to eat once! I was prepared to continue with this sleep training the next night even though it was so hard 

Night 2:

This night was intense, even worse than Night 1, but I made it through. Dylan ended up eating only once so that was the great news out of it. We were down to one feeding! 

Again, after both twins falling asleep easily by 6:45pm, and minimal wake ups until about 10:30, Dylan started his usual shenanigans. Dylan was up crying intermittently from 10:30 to 1:30. Yes, 1:30! Arghhhhh. I was so tired. But when he finally fell asleep he slept till 4 with no feeds! So that was the good news. The bad news was that I was about to keel over from lack of sleep. 

Basically from 10:30 to 1:30 Dylan kept waking up but he didn’t seem hungry when I held him which Is why I didn’t feed him at 12:45. He just needed comfort but as soon as I set him down he would cry again and I would give him 10 minutes before going back in. Eventually he gave in and fell asleep at 1:30am. Meanwhile Leo was sleeping again in my bed. I moved him in there because he began to wake up from Dylan around 12am and I didn’t want to deal with both twins crying. Leo only ate once as well at 4 in the morning. I transferred him back to his crib after feeding him and both of the boys then slept till 6:45am and woke up happy and ready to play which is their normal MO. They then ate at 8am. So overall even though I suffered till 1:30am, both boys ended up with just one feed! Progress!

Night 3:

Ryan came home and took over on the sleep training so I could get much needed rest. I got to sleep in the guest bedroom with white noise and it was amazing. I woke up with a start at 3am. 5 hours of straight sleep. Thank. The. Lord. Or more like Ryan in this case. 

Ryan came in shortly afterwards with Leo. He said Leo kept waking up so I took him. It was 3:30 so I decided to just feed Leo and Dylan and see if they would sleep the rest of the night. And it worked! They both slept the rest of the night in their cribs and didnt wake up until 7am. I fed them as usual at 8:00am. So lovely! I talked with Ryan more about his night and it turns out that Dylan only woke up twice in the night and it was Leo who kept waking up! I couldn’t believe it. That is such a difference. Leo is normally a great sleeper so I think he may have just had an off night. We shall see how night 4 goes. I am just happy that Dylan had a great night!

To be continued…

 All in all though, I feel like in just three days we have made a big shift with Dylan waking up less on that 3rd night and both boys only eating 1 time instead of 2 or 3 times. I am happy feeding them one time a night until they are around 9 months and are eating more solids or if they just don’t seem hungry anymore at that time. Whichever comes first. 

Exercising After Giving Birth to Twins, Post Cesearean 

One thing that I had looked forward to all through my twin pregnancy was being able to exercise. I love to run, bike, workout and be active. Of course, it was nice to take it easy but by the end I was so ready to get back out there in my running shoes. Little did I know that recovering from a second cesarean would be completely different from the first one.
I delivered the twins via cesarean so I figured I would have to wait to get back in the saddle the requisite 6 weeks and get the doctor’s okay. No big deal. I received the okay but the idea of running just sounded crazy to me. My body was still bloated from all the fluids (I cannot believe how much my feet and legs swelled up – it was several weeks until they looked somewhat normal and even now my feet are a size bigger than before.) Plus, I was still having major cramps and my incision was very sore and tender. Almost none of my clothes worked for me because the rested on my incision, especially my low lying running pants. No way was I putting those on! 

My bloated feet. Sorry for the visual. 

When I had my first son, Ian, I felt like my recovery from cesarean was so much faster. Looking back now, Im realizing since Ian was in the hospital for two and a half weeks and I was getting a lot more rest than I did this time around. I was able to go home every night and get 10 hours of sleep those first two weeks while Ian was in NICU. But this time with newborn twins at home PLUS a toddler PLUS living in a house with two stories whereas before we were on one level it was just insane. Additionally, after talking with other moms and my doctor I found that the second and third babies are a lot more painful to recover from. Something to do with the uterus contracting more and causing more cramps. Basically, by week 6 I was nowhere near running and was finally feeling well enough to go for walks. I didnt want to push myself and get injured so I gave myself 4 months to completely recover. Thats a long time but to me, it was worth it. I did do small little runs at 3 months and some light yoga but that was it. By the time January rolled around my body felt better and I really did feel ready. 

My first 4-mile run in January was such a challenge but felt great. I didnt have pain (well, cesarean pain – the breath rushing through my lungs again was the regular exercise “pain” and I was happy to push myself through it.) I ran the whole shebang. My miles were slow and slogging at around 11 minutes a mile but I did it! What a great accomplishment. 

From there, I have been running two to three times a week and slowly my pace has increased and I have felt those wonderful endorphins feel me up. It is so freeeing to go for a run when you are stuck at home with three kids, especially in the winter! People may say, why would you choose to run on your free time but that’s the point. Its freeing to do it! It clears your mind, you feel accomplished and plus, your body loves you for it.

Last week, Ryan and I took all of our boys for a run on one of our first warm spring days. I pushed the twins in the Bob Revolution stroller and got an arm workout along with the 5-mile run. Ryan pushed Ian in the Burley. As we ran around the lake, we got so many looks of amazement from others walking around the lake. Our little train was the main attraction so to speak. Like, I keep saying, having twins is like winning the compliments lottery. Everyone wants to look, say hi and wish you well. Its lovely. 

At the end of our run, we stopped at the park and Ian got to play and the twins went in the swings for awhile. We finished it off with a picnic and I nursed the twins while Ian ate and then played with his daddy in the basketball court. It was a wonderful Saturday morning. We’ll be doing this often through spring, summer and fall.

Here’s to exercise and playtime all in one go. Cheers.

It’s getting better…. I think? 

Okay, so sleep MAY be improving. I’ll put the emphasis on “may”. It’s been four days  of the boys being asleep at 7:15pm and having only one or two feeds in the night and less fussing from Dylan. I’ll take it. 

Our night routine now is something like this:

6:40 – Upstairs to the nursery with the twins, singing while I change them into their PJs. I used to do this all downstairs but I think doing it all upstairs in their room where it’s nice and quiet really sets them up for bedtime. 

6:50 – If they aren’t too tired then I also will read a couple books while they sit in their rock n plays (the rock n plays are off)

6:55 – We have started to do bottles at night of 8 ounces of formula or breast milk (if I’ve pumped) mixed with a little rice cereal to see if this will help sustain them longer through the night more than nursing. Although the last two nights Dylan didn’t want the bottle so I nursed him and gave Leo a bottle. 

7:00 – Burp them both and lay them each in their own crib and turn on their Fischer Price Aquarium. I love these aquariums. They will just stare at the fish and lights until they fall asleep. Very little fussing. Sometimes I have to give Dylan his pacifier if it drops out but that’s it. 

(Here’s a link to the aquarium if you’re interested: http://www.fisher-price.com/en_CA/products/ocean-wondersaquarium-with-remote-control )

Dylan usually wakes up and fusses around 9. I first try giving him a pacifier and sometimes that works and he goes back to sleep but if he continues to fuss I burp him and he normally he lets out a big one. I then and lay him back in the crib. If he continues to fuss in the next hour I transfer him to the rock n’ play (with out it rocking) so he can get more of an incline while sleeping. I’m hoping as he gets older this gassiness will go away and we don’t have to do this. Amy one have other ideas on how to help with Dylan’s gassiness? It seems to turn on only when he’s laying down and happens every night. It also happens during his long nap in the afternoon. 

For the night feeds I end up feeding them both around 1:30am and then 5:30am. They wake up for the day around 7:15am and eat at 8:30ish. 

This is our current schedule, and it seems to be working so far.  The best part is we have our evenings to ourselves after all the babies are in bed and Ian is in bed. (Ryan puts Ian to bed at 7:30). 

The next step is to eliminate one of the night feeds. We shall see how we go. Last night we did push Leo to only eat once even though he woke up crying at 2am. I asked Ryan to rock him back to sleep. Normally we just give in and feed them. But it worked! And yes, eventually we want to not have to even do that but right now it’s baby steps! We don’t let our babies “cry it out” it’s just not in our hearts to do it. It was the same with Ian. So yes, we’re doing this the long and hard way but really this is just a short time in our lives and eventually they will be sleeping through the night! Until then… we persevere! Onward. One day at a time. 

Again, any tips and tricks for Dylan’s gassiness is appreciated!