Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bewilderment and Sleep Deprivation

I thought Oceana was a horrible sleeper when she was little (up to about 18 months - 2 years old). To be fair, she really was. We co-slept for a while (unintentionally, because I thought it was the *worst* thing I could do, but I was so tired I had no choice). Around 18 months we heard some sage advice from 2 different families (with 7 children who were sleep through the night, so ... you know ... I listened!), and finally Oceana started sleeping through the night (not every night, but most nights).

She's now a great sleeper and goes to sleep without (most of the time) a fuss. The sage advice was pretty simple - crying's not going to kill her, bedtime is resolute, and we didn't need to rock her to sleep (or wait until she fell asleep in our arms each night).

So with Naomi I felt more prepared! We coslept for a long time (most of those months in there where they wake more than once a night), and then we got to a point that we would lay her down in her crib and then whenever she woke in the night, she'd sleep with me from there. That worked well for a while. Then I noticed she was sleeping much worse with us, than without us. So we changed up our method.

But here's the thing. For over a year now, Naomi has been going to sleep at the same time, with the same routine, new diaper, full tummy, warm jammies, lullabies, prayers, kisses, and hugs. And every night she screams. Often inconsolably, for a long time. And she never actually settles back down until we try the routine all over again. Now, this may sound like I'm being played by her, but I'm telling you, my Momma-Insticts are truly uncomfortable with the way she cries/screams after a certain point.

I thought --- and this has been said to me --- that if we just had a good routine for bedtime, and kept it that eventually she'd settle down, get used to sleeping and that would be the end of Nightmare On SleepyTime Way. But it's not! A year later, she's still fighting sleep. A year later she rarely sleeps through the night.

And just two weeks ago she figured out how to get out of her Pack N Play, so now we have another bit of fun to add to our bedtime saga - with lots of thudding as she climbs out of the PNP and falls on the floor (she's physically fine, but it scares me every time).

Tonight I requested to only two books our library system has on children and their screwed up sleep habits --- I'm going to go back to the books here and see what it is that I'm doing wrong. I know some kids may just be worse sleepers than others, but this is killing me slowly.

Last night Naomi crawled across my head most of the night because she couldn't sleep and I was so tired I didn't have the umph to get out of the bed and try the bedtime routine all over again (3am'ish).

So here's my request - make me feel like I'm not alone in this sleep deprived struggle! *Hugs to the rest of you who are up in the night!*


  1. Vivi is that way when she doesn't want to take a nap. Which is more often than not now :P There is no "crying it out" for her. She'll scream until she makes herself (literally) sick. Longest I ever left her cryin gin her crib was for about an hour and I couldn't take it anymore. I was afraid she'd hurt herself. So...No advice I guess unfortunately, but you aren't alone. Some kids are just stubborn as all get out! Hope it gets better for you soon!

  2. OH!! You are NOT alone! I was juts sitting herecontemplating if tonight would be the night that I start letting my nearly one year old cry it out a bit. He wakes up 2 xs most nights. I have a 4yo, and 3yo as well, and I AM TIRED! I know it won't last forever, but I just keep wondering how amazing I would feel if I got more than 3 hours of sleep at a time : - ) Hang in there!!!

  3. You're not alone. With our oldest, she didn't sleep through the night consistently til she was about 18 mo. old. We rocked her to sleep every night for the first year or so of her life and the second she hit the mattress, she'd wake up & scream bloody murder and we'd go back & start over & went through that cycle over & over til she finally exhausted herself & stayed asleep. But then she'd wake up part way through the night & scream til we went in & got her and like you, we'd usually just bring her to our bed out of desperation for sleep! Usually somewhere later in the night, I'd tip-toe her back to her bed & pray that she'd stay asleep til 5:30-6am. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't.

    With our 2nd one, we thought we had it all together & figured out because, from day 1, we put him to bed wide awake and he'd just lay there til he dozed off. He didn't scream & cry, he'd just look around & then fall asleep. It was wonderful & we felt really accomplished.

    Then we had Sarah. She was a combination of baby 1 & baby 2. We figured out then that we didn't have it all figured out with Samuel. We just got lucky that he was a great, super content baby who slept well all the time (and still does). Sarah was like Savannah. She'd scream & holler & act like she was being tortured til we came & got her. We did eventually get her "sleep trained" and she sleeps well now, but man....I remember the years of no sleep.

    I wish I had sage wisdom for you. I mean, I can tell you what we did w/ Samuel, but I think that only works if you start on the day they're born & cross your fingers that they're decent sleepers naturally.

  4. My son will be 3 in a week and he has only NOW in the last 10 days started sleeping through the night some nights. We tried everything, we read every book and it just didn't work. I couldn't let him cry it out once he got all worked up. We have noticed a snack right before bed helps him.
    I have no real advice, i just wanted to say your not alone!!
    Hang in there, HUGS

    Sagga02 (A Aussie living in Iowa)

  5. Our little girl is 5 months old, and while she generally sleeps well all night - she is a shocking day time sleeper (hence why she does sleep at night), and we still rock her to sleep as well. It is driving me insane also; as I get no down-time during the day - IF she gives me 2 hours (in 2-3 different lots) during the day then I think it is a good day! Hears to good sleepers in time... (my girl is still up now, and her Dad is trying to deal with her as I just spent 1 1/4 hours trying to get her down)!

  6. You are not alone at all! My 17month old wakes for a little milkies and cuddle several times a night. Its not a problem to me, since she sleeps in a crib which has the side taken off and is fixed to my side of the bed, so she's right there. It takes all of 2minutes then she's back asleep. But certainly I think with a lot of kids (especially the more feisty ones!), unless you want to do some very heartless sleep training, waking in the night is very normal!

    We have a set routine like you, but at bed time I lay her in her crib, and sit next to her and read a book until she's asleep. At around 10mths we did what I would call "gentle training" to get her to this point, cos she kept trying to crawl back into my arms when I laid her down. I said "no, its sleepy time now, mummy will stay with you as long as you lie down and try to go to sleep". Then if she kept sitting up I'd leave the room for about 30sec (at which point she'd scream) then I'd go back in and say "are you ready to go to sleep now?" and usually she'd lie down and drift off. Kind of the reverse of sleep training!
    Now I read my book for about 10min while she falls asleep, then I creep out of the room. Works for us!

    Sorry so long winded. But yeah...You're def not alone. My antenatal group is particularly honest, and out of the 7 of us with 16-18mth olds only 1 sleeps through the night consistently.

  7. ugh... that sounds very difficult Susie!! I just asked my mum if me and my siblings were like that, and she said she got hardly any sleep for the first two years after any of us were born!! (5 of us) o.O so that's 10 sleep-deprived years! eek!

    What is it with babies not sleeping?! it's weird...!

  8. I have 4 kids (3 girls & my youngest is a boy) & all 4 were different. I co-sleep with all of them. The girls were, I say, easier. By the time they were about 2 - 2 1/2 yrs old, they slept all night in their own rooms. My son.. he's a different story. We have tried EVERYTHING we can think of, we've taken advise from everyone & every book we have read to get him to sleep by himself in his own room. He's 4 & not only he is not sleeping threw the night yet, he also still sleeps with us sometimes (when we 'need' sleep) or crawls into bed with us at 3 am. And sleeping with us isn't really any better than when he sleeps 'alone.' So I am right there with you on being sleep deprived!!

  9. Nope. You're not alone. My son, now 5-1/2, had reflux as a baby. From six weeks till 3 months I put him to sleep at night in his swing (a travel swing, low to the ground) and propped up the foot of the swing so he would be reclining. I feared never getting him to sleep in a bed. I had chosen not to co-sleep since I was terrified of suffocating a kid and couldn't sleep well with one in bed with me, though it has happened on occasion (the co-sleeping, not the suffocating!).

    At three months I was able to get my son to fall asleep on a flat surface, but we certainly had challenges getting him to sleep and to stay asleep for months. At seven months of age I tried the "Ferber" method and got relative success within a few days. Tolerating the crying was hard, but it helped J learn when, where, and how he needed to go to sleep.

    So, over the last 5 years... he can put himself to sleep in bed, though we cuddle a lot beforehand usually; he's my cuddler. HOWEVER... he just doesn't sleep well, and he doesn't sleep long. He used to get up at night and go potty without my help (age 3-1/2 or so), but now he's back to demanding my attention when he's up at night, once or twice a week. Thankfully I can usually talk him through getting back in bed quickly, but he sometimes falls apart emotionally and requires going to sleep on the floor of my bedroom or on the couch in the living room. Of course I'm praying hard at that point!!!

    Have I got suggestions? Not many. I do have a wonderful Christian lullaby CD that I play softly in J's room all night, as well as a nightlight. I am firm but gentle (well, when I'm displaying self-control). When he chooses to be difficult because he's emotionally overwrought, I give him a couple of acceptable options - going to the couch with a nightlight or (last option mentioned) sleeping on the floor in my room. Other than those things, I pray a lot. I also sometimes check with hubby to see if he's been given any gems of wisdom from God.

    I'll try to get the name of the CD to you after church; I'm running late.

    Hugs in Christ!

  10. Sleep deprivation is the worst! My first was a dream baby - slept through the night at 6 weeks, was incredibly independent, and needed next to nothing....uhhh...little did I know how "abnormal" this was ;)

    18 months later, my second was born --- who didn't sleep through the night until he was almost one, and getting him there was a scream-fest (he had really bad reflux), and all of us were zombies...not to mention the books, blogs, and parenting websites all made me feel CRAZY because he fit into none of the "categories" and I had already been-there-done-that with everyone's advice. It was literally maddening.
    Eventually, he just got it. And now, at almost 3 years old - he

    Here's what works for us aside from routine: white noise machines in everyone's rooms (we use large air purifiers by Holmes), a small boxfan going in the hallway - pointed into the corner, and doors all closed at night. We live in a 3 bdrm ranch style home, so we're all in very close proximity when it comes to sleeping! I also keep my boys' rooms completely dark, with room darkening shades (even though they're pointless, they rise with the sun anyway, LOL). We have done some nights of crying it out - modified to what worked for us.

    Long story short, NO, you are not alone! I hope you find something that works for you -- and if nothing else, at least you're closer to family that might love to take the girls for an overnight or two???! :)

    Hang in there, Mama. Hugs to you.

  11. You are not alone. I have five kids and each one was different. The ones who were the worst sleepers indeed had reasons for not sleeping well. My momma instincts told me that there was a reason and years later we have confirmed what it was that was keeping them awake.

    My first was a horrible sleeper. We tried to train him to sleep, but it was NOT happening. Now we know that he had food allergies and sensory issues. My second was a good sleeper. We let her cry it out a few times at 5 months. No big deal. She cried a little, went to sleep, and woke up happy. After a few days, we would lay her down and she would talk herself to sleep and talk to herself when she woke up. Our third woke up every hour all night long for a year. I almost lost my mind (seriously)! She has food allergies and still wakes in the night at six years old with leg cramps. As a baby she would scream and grab at her leg and I wondered if her leg was hurting her. Our fourth was the best sleeper ever until he reacted to a vaccine and suddenly started waking in the night screaming in pain. It's gotten better over the last year, but he still wakes up on occasion. Our fifth woke every 1-3 hours for a year with a few 4-5 hour stretches here and there. Right around his first birthday, like magic, he started sleeping 12-13 hours at night plus a short nap in the middle of the day. Go figure.

    Sleep deprivation: you are not alone. My thoughts: if routine and standing firm are not bringing an end to the fussing, consider physical causes. Pray and ask God to reveal to you what is the underlying cause of the problem and ask Him to give you answers for how to resolve the issue.

    God bless all of you!

  12. so of course I am no expert just passing along info a friend of mine just told me last night that they did with their little girl and it worked... Now Im sure you have tried it alreayd but just in case...

    this info was given to them by their pediatrician.
    she said have the usual bed time routine, bath, bottle, diaper.. something soothing massage, or book, or cuddling in the rocker but just for a short time less then 5 min. then put her in the crib and if she cries let her cry for 1 min, then go back in and comfort her for only 1 min put her back in her crib, then if she cries give her 3 min then comfort her for 1 min, then again give 6 min with one min of comfort, and increase that way the DR told her most ppl dont make it past 6 min and baby is fast asleep.

    my friend jaimie said it has worked for the past few nights on her 1 year old

  13. I got incredibly lucky with both of my kids when it comes to going to bed, sleeping, and sleeping in their own beds. But I have heard GREAT things about the book The No-Cry Sleep Solution and I think she now has one out for toddlers (as well as one for babies). Good luck!

  14. You are so not alone! It took me two months to convince my doctor to send us to a pediatrician to get what I knew was GERD treated in my son. By that time, he was deeply ingrained in the habit of sleeping somewhat upright in my arms. He's nearly two and he still sleeps with us, though we hope to transition him into his own bed sometime around his birthday. Despite being surrounded by Ezzo fans (Babywise), we determinedly said we would not do their method and did not believe in crying it out. My son could cry for hours, take a ten minute break, and then pick it back up again. So it does not work for We were beaten over the head with people's opinions and recommended books, but in the end, we chose to go with our gut on the matter. And we're glad we did.

    Yes, it takes more work to do it the way we do, but my mama's heart knows it's best for us and my son shows the fruit of being well attached and feeling safe with us. (We're more of a Dr. Sears kind of family.) The no-cry sleep solution helped a bit with a few suggestions for us. I can't remember the author's name, but that might be something worth checking into.

    In the meantime, just keep telling yourself that she will be sleeping through the night by the time she's 16. =) That's what I tell son will be potty trained, talking, and sleeping on his own by then. Well, hopefully much sooner, but that's how I get my worries to be quiet. Even though this season of difficult sleep seems to last so long, I keep telling myself it is actually very short in the scheme of things. For now, I'm learning to treasure the hours I spend cuddling my little one to sleep, for I know soon enough he will be too busy to cuddle with me let alone give me a hug.

    And I've already put in my order with God for a good, automatic sleeper for the next baby. ;) So no, you are not alone. There are many members of the sleep deprived mama club. =)

  15. You're not alone. My twins are 14 months, and they both still wake up several times each night. I have high hopes though, because their big sister used to be a terrible sleeper, but she started sleeping very well around the time she turned 3.

  16. You mentioned that she's waking up crying/screaming in the middle of the night. My nephew has done that pretty much since birth. He's now 7 & they discovered a few years ago (basically when he could talk when he was half asleep) that he was having severe leg cramps. Now he sleeps w/ a rice bag that they warm up @ night plus he gets up in the middle of the night & warms it in a microwave they keep in their room. No more screaming!

    My daughter though, didn't sleep well @ night but it was just because she needed (& yes, I say needed) to co-sleep. And no, I'm not pro co-sleeping.

    We didn't co-sleep w/ our oldest but our youngest was just different & needed that reassurance, although it truly felt like forever!

  17. When my youngest was capable of climbing safely off a bed, we put a queen bed in the girls room (22 month apart). The bed was big enough for me to lie down next to or between the girls. I didn't talk to them, except to occasionally say "Shhh, it is time to be quiet and go to sleep" if they needed a reminder of what activity was on the agenda. Once they were asleep, I could carefully remove myself from the bed and they usually kept sleeping. If I happened to doze, I counted it as good. Otherwise it was a nice peaceful time to contemplate the day, or to pray or think about whatever.

  18. you're so not alone! i often feel alone and have just stopped talking about it to friends and family as my almost 14 month old still wakes (on a good night) once, or (bad nite) every 3 hours per night. sometimes to nurse, sometimes to snuggle, sometimes to just be with me, sometimes to ask for 'cracker'. it's difficult for sure, especially having a rambunctious, well-sleeping 3 yr old as well. My "baby" had/has reflux and I know the nights he is up a lot is because of him having dairy (he has dairy allergy, but they keep trying to get me to give it to him, insisting he's outgrown it at a year--NOT!) he burps, hiccups and wants to be more upright, or nurse several times to get that taste out of his mouth.

    you are definitely right and listen to your gut. you can tell the difference between habit waking and something else going on. sensory issues, reflux, diet, allergies (sensitive stomach? gas pains? constipation? diarrhea? etc.) vitamin/mineral deficencies, all these things can cause poor sleep habits. yes kids outgrow it, but if it can be helped, even better. I too cannot let him 'cry it out' because it is hard for me, but he also will get so worked up in a matter of 5 minutes to hyperventilating. We partially co-sleep as well to maximize sleep for all of us. I wish I had answers or help, but for us it's avoiding dairy at all costs and (due to his poor weight gain and constant hunger) feeding a fulfilling snack just before bed (peanut butter sandwich or oatmeal, etc.) helps to keep him sleeping longer...Good luck!

    ps check out some sensory issues--can google sensory integration or sensory processing. some kids can't stand certain fabrics, tags, textures, etc. and if a blanket or pajama is bothering her (either over or under sensitive, etc.) she won't sleep, etc.

  19. sorry another thought i had, i notice with my son if he has had a busy day and not much "mommy contact" (ie holding, hugging, snuggling) those are also nights he wakes and doesn't want to nurse but just BE with me. so sometimes i take longer pre-bed routine to just snuggle and read with him to give him more contact. maybe individual snuggle time with just her could help as well? but if you find the cure-all key please share!!

  20. Here's the title of the CD I use for my son: "Close Your Eyes"

  21. yeah....we still have two up in the night on occasions. abigail's not quite two and is a little jealous her sister gets to go with mommy in the middle of the whats she do? she comes too. The only difference I can put Israel back in the crib after her feeding, but abigail will refuse to go back into her bed:/ i know how you feel. i haven't gotten a full nights sleep since my last trimester with abigail