Tuesday, September 4, 2012

desperate measures

This morning J and I went out to breakfast at a super popular place in town. J was so tired I don't know if he even remembers going. He'd been up since 3am with Bennett. Yep, that's right. Our nearly one-year-old would not settle so J held him from 3-7am and made him sleep.

It's not supposed to be like this, right?

After breakfast Bennett and I went to Target - oh lovely place - to buy a crib soother. J was throwing around reintroducing pacifier threats and I was eager to avoid that since we weaned him once and having to do it twice just seems to be inviting trouble.

You know what that $45.00 crib soother did? NOTHING. Which is what I expected, but I had to try something. This evening I nursed Bennett, turned on the crib soother (lights, music, little fish that swim about) and left the room. I thought he would be interested in it and wouldn't be too upset that I had left.

He screamed (and screamed and screamed and screamed) while I sat on the couch inhaling chocolate chips and J played a video game. After a chunk of time had passed (not revealing how much lest you hate me) I went in and realized he needed his diaper changed. I changed his diaper, held him for a few minutes and then put him back in his crib. And he screamed a while longer. We dug out a pacifier. He refused it. We let him cry a bit longer and then J settled him by sitting next to the crib and gentling him to sleep.

It's quite flattering that he prefers me over lights, noise and simulated swimming fish, but I really wish he didn't. Bennett craves human interaction. He loves people and socializing and hanging out. I've really struggled with his need for me during the night. A small part of me thinks he needs to learn how to hang by himself at night. A larger part of me thinks he's a baby and if he needs his mama he should get his mama no matter the hour. But now that we're transitioning into his second year of life (sigh) something's gotta give.

Guys, we're exhausted. We're short tempered (me, mostly) and worn down and J is just getting over a bout of sickness and we can barely hold our heads up anymore. I feel like we're doing something wrong, or like there is something wrong with Bennett; like he came to us with his sleep wiring all confused.

I feel so selfish for writing this out but I want to put him to bed at night and then be done with parenting for a little while. If he needs milk in the middle of the night, fine, but waking up at 10:20 every night and then every two hours after that is just too much. I've been working on settling him down without milk when he first wakes. Sometimes that works until midnight or 2am, but he's back up at 5 wanting milk and he is up for the day at 6. I'm averaging 4-5 hours of sleep - not all in one go mind you - every night. It's just not enough. A LOT of my IRL friends don't struggle with this issue, which makes me feel more inadequate

Crying it out doesn't work. 

Rocking him to sleep nets three-five hours sleep though a five hour stretch is a rarity. 

Giving milk once a night doesn't work.

Bringing him to bed with us only works half the time, and I would rather not bed share.

Offering comfort items doesn't work.

I don't think it's a diet thing. He's dairy, wheat, egg and nut free.

We're trying the chiropractor next. We just don't know what else to do.

We are so tired. And I'm worried I've unintentionally set him up for a lifetime of sleep problems.

I'm just really overwhelmed right now. Tired, frustrated, a bit sad too.


I'm still eating chocolate chips. I should probably go to bed.


  1. ((HUGS))

    This is so hard. I wish I had a magic solution, but if I did I would have had a lot more sleep in the last year.

    Some kids are just like this, and they go through stages where it's better or worse.

    I think the chiropractor is a good move, and one I didn't think of. It can't hurt.

    I don't generally "believe" in Cry It Out but I've resorted to it out of desperation a few times. Usually with exactly the same results you got - including the guilty realization that the child has been screaming in the crib wearing a messy diaper for an unknown length of time.

    I don't have a solution, but I hope knowing you aren't the only one might at least offer a bit of comfort.

  2. I can't say anything other than I've been there. I'm back there right now with a 5 month old and a 2 year old who is slipping back into bad habits, he is in his "big boy bed" now and realizes he can leave his room whenever he feels the need. I know it's wrong but I seriously want to put him back in the crib! I know exactly what you mean by wanting to be done with parenting come nightfall, a deserve a break too, don't we? I just remind myself that this is temporary (hopefully extremely so) and try not so go crazy. Easier said than done, yeah? Hang in there.

  3. Awwww, hugs. This is such a hard thing to go through. It is so cliche and I know it's hard to believe, but this too shall pass. You are doing awesome. This is not at all unusual and it's certainly nothing you are doing - some babies (mine was most certainly included) are just like this.

    I'm not overall a fan of the cry it out method for tiny babies, but I did realize at one point when our little one was about one that I HAD to get some rest, and also that it's not healthy for some members of the family to sacrifice significant amounts of sleep and sanity for the sake of another member. Family life has to work for everyone, right? So we let her cry herself to sleep, with one of us right next to her. It was horrible for a couple nights and then it got so much better for everyone once she was falling asleep quickly and staying asleep by herself. I am highly opposed to CIO for very small babies, but in that period of great necessity learned that older babies can adapt just fine - they don't think they can at first, which is why you have to be super consistent with whatever approach you pick. A very predictable bedtime routine helped my little girl too. Your little man is getting older and he is completely secure in his sense of the world and the knowledge that you are there for him, even if you are not in the room, so don't feel guilty if you need to make this sleep thing work for everyone. I would just say be as consistent as humanly possible with whatever you choose. And sometimes this is just something you have to get through. With a five year old, I'm looking back and remembering some of that with nostalgia now. Yeah - silly me. It's not fun . . .

    Hang in there!

  4. I'm reading this as I myself can barely hold my head up and Logan is all of the sudden not sleeping more then 3-5 hour stretches. I want to scream. I have NO options because we are moving and boxes are everywhere... and our closing date is nowhere to be seen still... It's impossible to understand this little child - I love him so much but to enjoy our time together I really NEED sleep... ***hugs*** I'm right there with you (who knows how many more times this will occur in the following years and SO not looking forward to how our move will effect his sleep either (sure I myself will have posts regarding it). Praying for you!

  5. I would like to suggest you red two books on baby sleep. The first is Dr. Ferber's book, "healthy sleep habits, happy child". I really don't think people should try cry it out techniques without reading this book. For me it was like someone turned the light on in my brain about why my son wasn't sleeping. And then explained how to fix it. It was done in a way that I could make him understand that he need to go to sleep, on his own (and why that was vitally important), and check on him often enough that I would have an opportunity to know of something was going on, like a dirty diaper, and especially for m to k ow that while I was eating a hard rule about sleep, I was still there for him and always would be.

    The other book is Kim West's "good night sleep tight". It is a great book for parents who have kids that just sort of want them there. She recommends doing something called the "sleep lady shuffle". It MIT take some time, but it may work for you.

    Third, I am a little envious that you have a husband that would do that. If anyone is staying up all night with a kid in this house, it is me and only me. the last few nights my almost two year old has been sleeping poorly, hes is working through a tummy bug.

  6. I soooo completely understand, especially since nursing her to back to sleep suddenly doesn't work either.

    I have no solutions for you but I wish I did, just like I wish someone could come to my house and make sleeping soooo much more consistent.

    We've done and are doing all of the things you are doing with our almost 11 month old.

    I do appreciate and totally agree with what Ann posted. CIO with younger babies seems unnecessary but when we are getting to this age and we just hit the wall, then I guess if you try it and it works, yeah! But, if you are like me and are inconsistent and it's only your measure of last resort when you just feel so frustrated some nights, then at least know that you are not alone!

    Here's what happens in my house, if it helps...

    She goes to sleep pretty well around 7. Wakes up and needs comforted by the hubs around 8 or 8:30. That's pretty quick and easy and she's back asleep. If we are having a great, wonderful night, then she wakes up around 1:00, I change her diaper and nurse her (which I feel bad doing because I know it's only for comfort and, like you said, I kind of want nights to myself), and after the whole process takes about an hour, she's back asleep and stays that way until 6 or 7 am. However, that is the miraculous night that I wish happened consistently every night. Instead, that is 1-2 nights and then we have a terrible night where she wakes up every 2-3 hours.
    On those nights, which like I said, happen every 2-3 nights, I just wonder what I am doing wrong and why she doesn't sleep better and more consistently.

    She is teething as I'm sure Bennett is teething because aren't all kids this age teething? And we have a very consistent bedtime routine too, so as much as people suggest it, and I'm sure it helps somewhat, it isn't a cure-all for us.

    So, I don't have suggestions, but I appreciate reading about your situation with Bennett because, you are not alone!

  7. The only advice I can give you is to pick one thing and stick with it. If you want him to cry it out, stick with that way. I would go in his room about every 10 minutes or so and soothe him. Don't say anything to him, just lay him back down, cover him up, kiss him goodnight and walk out. You may have to do it 100 times, but the more you change up the routine, the more confused he'll be.

    I hope whatever solution you find will be found soon! I know how rough it is to try to raise a toddler on minimal to no sleep!

  8. My friend had luck at this age with giving her son a hearty before-bed snack. It turned out he was waking up because he was truly hungry.

  9. Hang in there.
    I can promise you without any hesitation that you are definitely not setting him up for a lifetime of sleep issues.
    As far as a magic solution; sadly, I don't think one exists. My nephew (now 20 months old) really gives my sister a hard time. But, when he stays at our place, I can get him down without any fuss at all. The complete opposite was true of my niece when she was the same age.
    Good Luck, Angela.

  10. It probably doesn't help, but you are not alone, I am currently going through this with my third child, she just turned 1. My other 2 children were exactly the same, we tried many things with our first but in our case it was really only the passage of time that made a difference and he started to slowly get better at about 18 months then at 2 started to consistently sleep through. It's so so tough though when you're going through it. I just try and catch up on sleep when I can, early nights every now and then, lie ins at the weekend. Hugs to you, I hope it gets better for you soon x

  11. i know you're probably not looking for advice but have you tried:
    a) giving him a bath before bed?
    b) sitting by his crib for a few minutes until he falls asleep?

    Good luck. Don't feel bad for stating your feelings. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel!

  12. We are in the same boat. C will sleep no more than 3 hours at a stretch. I don't think it's a physical issue and I don't think I'm setting him up for sleep failure. I think he just really wants to be with me. He loves to nurse and cuddle. I think it's harder for me to let go of that even though I'm exhausted because I am at work all day and missing him, night time is our only real time together.
    There is a really good method that I've read up on which is supposed to work well but I haven't tried it. It's by Dr Jay Gordon, just google his name and you'd find it. Personally, I think CIO is cruel. I don't think it teaches kids independence, I think it teaches them not to bother because you are coming anyway. I personally don't want my kids to learn that lesson and I've cried myself to sleep before so I know how it feels, it sucks.
    Since I'm in the same boat I don't really have any advice but have you tried napping when he naps? Maybe don't blog during his naps and get some sleep!! lol

  13. So sorry for all you are going through. I remember being so exhausted that i was halucinating while driving. It was not good. I still joke that our six year old slept the first three days of her life and decided she was done with that sleep thing. I wish i could tell you what would work but every kid is different. It will eventually get better. I have come to accept that i will get to sleep through the night when my youngest goes to college and learned to live with broken sleep. I hope you find a better way! Just remember, you are not a bad momma, you just have a busy kid.

  14. I could have written this post (but not nearly as well!). Reading it brings back the feelings of exhaustion and nearly overwhelming anxiety that Aaron's sleep issues gave me.

    You have to choose what works best for you, but like another person said, pick one method to try and stick with it for at least a week. I came to the point where I would DREAD nighttime, even though I was so desperate for sleep. Aaron did the same thing where once he woke up once (which started to get earlier, and earlier), he was up every 1-2 hours after for the whole night.

    We did read Ferber's book (and his approach is so much more than cry it out, people make it out to be this horrible thing without having researched it, I think) and about a million others. His is what worked for us. We did it for nights, and I continued to nurse A to sleep and "co-nap" at naptime.

    I always went in and cuddled him for a few minutes but then I put him down and gently told him he had to sleep. Yes he cried, but mostly it was an angry fuss. Within a few weeks, nights were miraculously better, and my husband wasn't afraid to come home from work, lest he arrive home to the wicked witch who couldn't handle the sleep deprivation and staying at home. Ever since we did sleep training, Aaron goes down happily at bedtime without a peep, and even though it didn't happen at the same time, when I say it's time for nap, he runs to his room and lies down (he's 2 now).

    Prayers that you all get the rest you need soon! It's so hard, but so worth it to figure out what he AND you need, so that you can be a happier parent. No matter what you do or don't do, you're doing the best you can and you're a great mom. :) Hugs!

  15. Well, like many others that have posted, no solutions for you, but lots of empathy!

    I don't think you're doing anything to set Bennett up for sleep problems in the future. And as others have stated, I think some kids are just wired differently.

    It is so so so so so hard. It's hard on your physical health, and mental/emotional health too. And it takes a toll on your marriage too. So hang in there the best you can. And know and trust that you are doing the best you can, with what you have in the moment!

    Love to you. And dreams of sleep sooner rather than later.

  16. Ayup, been there. That's why my kids are 4 yrs apart and we have only 2 kids. They are both crap sleepers, or at least were until age 4 or so. You know what works for us now? It's a melatonin+chamomile melt-away tablet designed for toddlers and children. I don't know if it would work on a baby, but before my eldest required 90 minutes to fall asleep each night - no matter what we tried - and my toddler was up every 2 hours *or* went to bed at 8pm and was up for the day at 3am. It was not a fun situation. But now they are out like a light within 30 minutes of taking the supplement.

    I don't know Bennett and so I don't know why he won't sleep, but both my kids are very, very sensitive to environment; both have sensitive, itchy skin; both were what Dr. Sears calls "high needs" babies and are now what are called "spirited" kids. Both have sensory processing problems. Now lest I freak you out, both are also completely normal kids, smart, strong, funny and all-around wonderful little people. The other things are part of their inborn wiring and temperament, and by the sound of it, perhaps Bennett shares some of the same characteristics.

    Here's what I can offer from my experience and that of other parents in the same boat - you're not doing anything wrong, and he still needs you at night. So your challenge is to find a way that you are all still getting sleep, and making sleep your priority. Not necessarily independent sleep, just sleep - any way you can get it. Some families buy a king-size bed; with others (like us) mom will sleep on a mattress on the floor with baby. Solving your own sleep quirks will help you weather nights when he might be restless or wake and want to nurse. Again, things like melatonin, chamomile, warm bath water, etc. can help, as can keeping lights low and red-to-yellow on the color spectrum after sunset. I do take a tiny dose of citalopram at bedtime, even now that the girls are sleeping better. I find that it helps me be a calmer, less stressed mama - not everyone goes that route but it's not a bad option.

    I wish I had a magic solution for you - but I do know he will eventually outgrow it! As my hero Ann Keppler, RN says, "if you baby them when they are a baby, you won't need to baby them when they are grown". So true!!

  17. Haven't read the other comments, but I want you to know I get it. Lived it with Angus, and some nights he still gives us hell. And Juliet isn't much better. Some days I want to say she is a worse sleeper than Angus. In many ways she's better. But they've both mostly been pretty average sleepers, terrible a lot of the time, and it has been So. Very. Draining. Shit draining is not even the word.
    So I'm hearing you, I'm feeling for you, and I'm sending B very soothing, calming, sleepy vibes! Go to sleep little dude!

  18. I think you and I are on opposite ends. Cameron was an ideal baby. He hardly cried, he started sleeping through the night at 3 months, etc. He sleep in a bassinet until he was almost 6 months and then went to his crib, in his room. (I didn't think our tiny peanut would ever reach the weight limit of that thing. LOL)

    He is now 4 and I feel like a horrible parent most days. When I started working at night, my husband would let him come in our room if he had a hard time getting him to sleep or when he woke up at night. Well, now... he never sleeps the whole night in his room. We've at least got him back on track of starting out in his room. (Which was a nightly argument between hubby and I.) It doesn't help that the hubby and I are on opposites ends of this. (He doesn't care, I do.) He makes me feel like a horrible parent, like I don't want our son, just because I don't want him in our bed. It is wrong of me to want my own space... to be able to sleep with my husband alone?!?!

    I wish I could go back to that first year. It was the best... ;-)


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