I am now the mother of a 4 year old and an almost 7 month old. Both were premature. One profoundly so with lasting issues. We've been through surgeries, therapies, specialists, and experts of all kinds. And if you ask me what the hardest part of parenthood is, this is what I'll tell you- the lack of sleep.
Robbie was a horrific sleeper. Awful. I know, I know, "but he had a lot going on." Everyone tells me that. Let me tell you, that doesn't help at 5 in the morning when you've had 2 hours of sleep in the last 36. Reason goes out the window at that point. Yes, he was in pain, yes he was hungry, yes he refused to eat. I totally got that. But I needed sleep. He did, too. After a certain point, your brain stops functioning well. I can remember being home alone with Robbie one afternoon and going to the kitchen. The refrigerator door was open. I don't mean "not closed all the way." I mean WIDE open. There was no one to blame but myself. I was so tired I forgot to close it. And then didn't notice.
Things didn't get better until he got his feeding tube and we did some sleep training. We did a sort of modified Ferber method. Once he got his feeding tube, he slept pretty well once you got him there. But every single night was at least 2 hours to get him down. I tried all the strategies and it was not to be. But 2 nights of Ferber and he went down w/o a fuss. He's been a fantastic sleeper ever since.
Charlotte started off as a great sleeper. Since she was early and very small, I wasn't allowed to let her sleep more than 3 hours for a while. I had to set an alarm because she wanted. When she started gaining weight a little better, the doctor said we could go 5 hours at one stretch, but 3 the rest. I still had to set an alarm. Occasionally I would sleep through it and she'd go 6 on her own. When she started gaining weight like crazy, I let her sleep as much as she wanted. She would regularly go 8-10 hours at a stretch.
Her naps weren't great, usually only around 45 minutes or so, but since we were getting 12-14 at night (total) it was no big deal.
But then that stopped. It was around the time I moved her out of the rock-n-play and into the co-sleeper. I thought it was that. But even going back to the rock-n-play didn't help. So we're back to the co-sleeper.
She goes to sleep great. You can't keep her eyes open past about 8:30. Really about 8:00, she shows the signs of readiness for sleep. I nurse her one last time, she passes out while nursing, I lay her down and she's out. For about an hour. MAYBE 2. What comes next is anyone's guess.
She might wake up and eat every hour until midnight and then sleep a 2 or 3 hour stretch from midnight to 3, then until 6. Or she might wake up at 10:00 and be awake and perky and playing until 2am. Those nights are the worst. She's cute about midnight, but by 1am, she's getting the stern mommy voice, "Charlotte Corrina! GO TO SLEEP." She gets overtired and will not settle down. I've done music, rocking, stroking, white noise, dark room, light room, singing, and on and on. When she gets like that, all you can do is wait it out.
For a while, the every 2 or 3 hour thing was okay. But after a while, your body just needs a good long (4 hours? 5? anything!) stretch of sleep. What usually ends up happening is that about 5am, I nurse her and put her back to bed and she cries. and I soothe her and she sleeps for 10 minutes and then cries. And I soothe her and she sleeps for 10 minutes and then cries. After 4 or 5 times of that, I am so exhausted I just bring her to bed with me. And she sleeps. Sometimes until 8, but sometimes until 10. This morning she woke up at 6:30, went back to sleep at 8:30 and slept until noon. She always seems to do better in the early morning hours than at night.
I honestly don't know what to do. I've tried not picking her up and she just gets hysterical. Because we have a co-sleeper, I can literally lay my upper body and head in it with her. She's not alone or cold. But she wants to be wrapped in my arms. And I get that, I do. But I worry about SIDS. Our bed is pretty cushy, we have too many pillows, and while I'm a very light sleeper, David is not. Co-bedding is not something I really want to do. But I don't know what to do.
I'm beyond tired. And I go back to work full time in 3 weeks. I'm going to have to be able to get some sleep at some point. Tell me, readers, what would you do? What have you done? I'm open to suggestion here.