Friday, August 13, 2010

Sleepless in...

There are people out there who have babies who sleep. Babies who sleep through the night from the first week home from the hospital. Babies who nap all the time, who have 3 and 4 hour naps several times a day. Babies who quickly settle into a wonderful sleep routine and who will sleep anywhere. I don't have those kinds of babies.

With Pk, it was awful. She would cry and cry... it was nearly impossible to settle her and the only way to get her to sleep was nursing. That would stop the crying but it didn't mean that you could put her down - as soon as she was away from the heat of her mommy's or daddy's body, she was wide awake again. I think she was about 18 months when she started sleeping through the night and she didn't nap longer than 45 minutes at a time (and usually, it was closer to 25 minutes) until she was a year old. Other mothers got things done when their children were sleeping - I didn't have that luxury so I don't remember much from that first year other than a feeling of desperation that I didn't know how much longer I could hang on.

When I was pregnant with Baby Bean, I prayed and prayed that he would be a better sleeper. While I didn't get my hopes up that he would be a "sleep through the night" kind of baby (I would never be that lucky), I hoped he would at least nap occasionally and sleep for a bit longer than Pk. When he first came home from the hospital, it seemed like he would be a better sleeper. Gradually, though, it has become more and more clear that sleeping is not his best skill, either. I am less frantic in my exhaustion because at least he doesn't cry but over the 8 weeks of his life, the sleep pattern (what there is of it) is becoming less and less inspiring. He goes down in the evening at some point, than is up at between 1 and 2 a.m. for a feed, again at between 4 and 5 a.m. for a feed and again sometime between 6 and 7 and won't go back down at that point. He won't sleep at night in anything other than our bed (please, don't lecture me about how children shouldn't be in their parents' beds - that's my only way of getting any sleep at all and I am not going to give that up). While it isn't a case of what Pk was in terms of the fact that after he has fed, he is at least willing to go back to sleep, I am finding the lack of sleep is really catching up with me. At first, during the day, he would nap at least once in his co-sleeper or his chair and often, after that 6 a.m. feed, I could put him in the chair to sleep and I could do my Bible study. Now, if I put him down in anything during the day, he is awake within 10 minutes and the only daytime naps that happen are in my arms or in the car while driving. I am back in that fog that I was in with Pk - I feel so stupid because I have trouble following a basic conversation and I say stupid things because I am just so exhausted. I haven't been able to do much of anything in the last week or so since I can't do anything that requires two hands or sitting down (I can get him to nap in the Sleepwrap but only if I am standing).

Yesterday, I was reading a blog of a sweet woman whose baby is two weeks older than Pk and she was saying that her baby often sleeps through the night (from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) I haven't been able to get that out of my mind. I am not begrudging her at all (I would love that for everyone) but I have really been brooding over it. What is it that I am doing that makes my children into such horrible sleepers? Is it genetic or is it a flaw in my parenting? If they were older, we could discuss sleep training (which I don't believe in, at least until a child is speaking and can articulate feelings so I know that nighttime issues aren't related to pain or fear) but sleep training doesn't enter into it when you are talking about babies whose ages are still measured in weeks, not months. I don't drink caffeine, I am dairy-free, our house is quiet, I try and put the babies down at the first sign of sleepiness... I am trying not to get too discouraged but I won't lie, I have hit the wall - every day, once afternoon comes, I dream of having a nap with Baby Bean. Pk now sleeps for 2 1/2 hours each afternoon and every day, Dh tells me that the moment she goes down, he wants me to try and sleep with Baby Bean. I try and get him to sleep using all of the tools and usually, the way it plays out is that he is bright-eyed and wants to play for the first hour or so, then he gets sleepy, I rock him and he goes to sleep in my arms, I try and lie down with him and then he is wide awake. We repeat this several times and then I give up and spend an hour or more in the chair with him, either reading or trying to doze upright, all the while terrified of dropping him.

I don't know what to do but I am tired enough now that I worry that I should drive. Any suggestions or at least, any words of encouragement from those of you whose babies were the same? What am I doing wrong? I am trying not to get discouraged but it's getting harder.


  1. I feel your pain, Sarah...mine were both terrible sleepers. I was able to finally get them on a napping schedule, so that helped. All kids are different, and I used to get so frustrated that mine were not naturally good sleepers. It's especially hard the second time around because there is an older child to watch and keep up with.

    I swaddled both my girls and that seemed to help. Neither really liked it at first, but they got used to it and it became part of our routine.

    I'll be praying for you - that God gives you adequate rest to function.

  2. I will never tell you not to sleep with your children in your bed, since all three of mine did, and I loved it and they never had any problems finally adjusting to their own beds.

    I can't give you any suggestions since mine were all wonderful sleepers, well Asher I had to go to a 'clinic' actually for help because I was ready to lose it. The final straw came when my husband came home at 11:30 in the evening to find out 18 month old Asher watching the news on his own while Randan and I were in our bedrooms sleeping (all on the same floor and the living room was adjacent to our bedroom). Randy came in our bedroom and woke me up asking me why Asher was up. "I give up, I'm exhausted!" So I phoned the Region Childcare and Youth Center and went for help....within a week he was sleeping through the night.

    I will be praying for's SO hard the exhaustion.I can relate somewhat but not to the full you girl

  3. I co slept with all of mine, it was the only way I could get any rest! And yes, often they nursed on and off all night. Eventually they made it into their own beds, but don't overthink it or feel you need to justify what works for your family to anyone.
    Perhaps your pediatrician can recommend something?

  4. HOnestly, PP was a horrible sleeper, and The Bun was better, sleeping 4-5 hrs at a time but still net through for a very long time, so with that difference, I think some of it is just the child, because I don't think I did much differently. Both slept with us in our room for the first 6 months, and then went to their own, and for both, when they need help going back to sleep, I've gone to them there. Difference is, The Bun woud usually go back down quickly, whereas PP took forever and woke up again more quickly. It sucks, it sucks, and then... it gets better.

  5. My babies sleep well, so I'm lucky, but I have to say that I'm feeling your exhaustion. I read the book "On Becoming Babywise" and it was a great help. I started implementing it right when my daughter was born, and again with my son. It's not perfect, but the things the book talks about make a lot of sense, and helped to make me more confident in my 'parenting' (it talks about parent directed sleeping... various forms of getting your child to sleep, and the big one for me was the eat, play, sleep cycle... not sleeping right after eating... which I sometimes have to fight myself on now, still, since it is SO MUCH EASIER just to nurse them to sleep, haha). Anyway, I recommend reading the book. I have no idea how my kids would have slept if I hadn't read it, but I do know that both of my children have great nap times and nights as well (except during growth spurts... 4am is the dreaded night hour).

    Good luck to you! Ooh, why not pump, and get someone to babysit for 10 hours so you can sleep!? Sometimes we really just need to break the cycle!