Friday, June 8, 2012


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.



Geohde said...


I am open to the same damn suggestions. My six month old is killing me and I get how controlled crying works except for the bit that they never stop screaming and you feel so godawful when they're practically retching from crying and still, clearly, not asleep. My monster is in bed with me all night. Waaaaaaaaah.


Kim said...

I do think there's a window where they just DO that (unfortunately). Daniel and Abby both did it. Someone it coincides with working which SUCKS. Abby is now at nearly 9 months back down to just one waking. So it might just take a little time.

2 things we did that you might want to try -
1) Try an earlier bedtime. She might just be TOO tired.
2) You will need David or another adult's help with this one. Move the cosleeper to his side of the bed or even her room. Sound machine/fan/white noise. Gradually stretch those feedings by having David or the other helpful adult go to her first. Stretch and stretch. Whatever you decide to start with, say 2 hours - put her to bed and don't feed her before 2 hours has passed and then say 2 hours after that, a few nights later, 2.5 hours to start 2 or 2.5 hours after that, 3 hours, etc. Eventually you stretch them out, but without the harsh CIO.

Studentrntiffany said...

I agree w putting her on David's side. But really, what do I know?! I'm still struggling with Nolan! Sending you prayers and love.

manapan said...

I actually came here hoping to steal your commenters' suggestions. I can definitely sympathize with the brain malfunctions from The Tired! I was once so out of it that I accidentally set our kitchen on fire when I turned on the wrong burner on the stove. And our son (who is almost 1) is really stubborn about any attempts to change. His so-called controlled crying record is 2 hours and 47 minutes of "full-on scream until you vomit" before we gave in.

I was terrified of SIDS. Pretty much any co-sleeping risk factor you can think of, we had. We're obese, we sleep deeply, we have a fluffy bed with lots of pillows and blankets, we formula-feed, and my husband takes sleeping pills every night. But when it was the only way to get any sleep at all, I had to give in. I would lie on my side and cradle him in the crook of my arm all night, every night -- until I literally blew out my elbow joints from doing so. And even then, I kept it up, just with the addition of ibuprofen and a tennis elbow brace.

It's just been in the past month that he has allowed us to sidecar his crib and go to sleep there. But he still wakes me every night when he crawls over me to get to "his spot" in the middle of the big bed. And he still wakes 3-4 times per night on a good night if we try to have him sleep in the crib. If he didn't thrash around and keep me awake that way, I'd still have him in our bed.

Good luck!

Anne said...

Have your tried a crib in her own room? She might want to hang out with you (because you're awesome!) and might not think about it if she can't see or smell you.

My first was horrible and didn't get good until she was 2 1/2. We've gotten lucky with our second. And, I think that's all that it is--luck.

Adriane said...

Agreed. Sleep deprivation is the hardest part of parenthood. You must be exhausted!!!!! We sleep trained around 3 mos or so and it worked. Put them in bed awake with their rainforest machines. We had some regression here and there but it was usually teething relateD. Around 18 mos is when everything went to crap for us! I was insanely afraid of SIDS too. I don't really have advice - one of them was in my bed last night and they're approaching 4! :-) I think you should do what works for you. If co sleeping works, go for it. You gotta survive!!! Is she taking bottles yet?

A and W mom said...

You know all I've got is HSHHC. It worked great for us but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea and doesn't work for all babies. Good luck; I hope she starts sleeping better soon!

Rachel said...

Sleep problems are the worst. And I have no good advice from experience since we co-sleep and are just up all night. But ... 8 pm sounds awfully late and she's obviously having trouble getting into a deep sleep. What about trying a 6:30 bedtime for a few nights? It will obviously take some time to transition her to that early, but it would at least stretch her first few wake-ups into the time that you're already still awake and might let her go to sleep without being too overtired?

Heather said...

Hopefully you got lots of good advice. I'm curious to hear what works. Our boys slept good as they have always been with each other and I think that made things easier for us. Our daughter was an OK sleeper, except when she finally started sleeping through longer stretches she would go to bed at 8PM and still wake up around 2-3AM for a snack until she was 7 months old. I tried waking her up at 11PM to get her to nurse for a week and gave up when she wasn't taking to it and still woke up in the middle of the night. I just went to bed early and dealt with her getting up in the middle of the night.

Now I'm just dealing with twins that are out of cribs and egg each other on to play when they need to sleep, but it's getting better and the blackout curtains we bought at Walmart are helping with the sun being out after 8PM.

Trish said...

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

Kim) The problem with an earlier bedtime is that she almost always naps right at 4:00. That's when I go get Robbie from school, too, so she tends to fall asleep in the car on the way there, so keeping her up is pretty much impossible. I tried a 7:00 bedtime for a while and she just wouldn't go to sleep.
And as for David helping.. unfortunately that's the one area David's pretty much useless on. He doesn't "do" nights. He didn't with Robbie, and he doesn't with Charlotte. If he's still up, he'll help, but he's so stuck in his "well, I'm holding her, but she's not asleep, so here ya go" mode that it's pointless.

Anne= I haven't. her room is on the other side of the house as ours and I dread having to trudge in there every time she wants to eat. I realize it's possible she'd just sleep through, but the thought of it NOT working that way makes me want to cry. That's my own damned fault, I know.