Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adventures in Sleeping

 Let me start by going ahead and admitting that while I've tried to read up on the subject, I still have tons to learn. I in no way consider myself an expert, and have likely done everything regarding this matter incorrectly. Please don't judge me ;)

Sleep. I think I remember what that word used to mean. While I was pregnant with Evie, I was constantly told by other moms, "enjoy your sleep cause you won't be getting any for awhile." And you know what I thought? I thought, "these women are being really negative." as well as "I'm PREGNANT! Do they really think I'm getting sleep now? Because last time I checked being giant and uncomfortable 24/7 and getting up every hour to pee doesn't constitute a good night's rest." Even after Ev was born, I thought of the nay-sayers and mused, "this isn't SOOOO bad."

 But here's the thing I never thought about before--it's ongoing. It's night after night after night. It's 7+ months of waking up every morning thinking there's absolutely no way you can possibly get out of bed and go to work and fake like you're normal because you are, in fact, a ZOMBIE. It's eye cream and lots of under eye concealer, and coffee, and wishing you could take a nap and acting like you're hearing what people are saying to you.

Here's my sleep story with my sweet sweet baby: This blog begins when Ev hit 4 months. There is good reason for this--she was really colicky from about week 2 to about week 14ish, which meant (in her case) that she basically cried like she was pain anytime she was awake and not eating. We had her checked by a couple of pediatricians who basically just told us, "babies cry. this one obviously cries more than some." We fed her, changed her, gave her less stimulation, tried the 5 S's, etc. What it came down to was that she needed to be held and walked pretty much all day every day, and she was still going to cry cry cry. Hence, my instantaneous loss of baby weight (now grad school/desk job weight...that's a whole other story) from pacing while carrying her for hours and hours a day.

We had a cradle set up in our bedroom for her, but when she woke up in it and couldn't easily see us, she would panic and scream. It became much easier to put her in bed with us (especially since I'm nursing full time). Then, she got too big for the cradle, and we kept her in bed out of fear that she would topple out of the cradle. When she hit about 6 months old, we decided it was time to help her transition to her crib in her very own nursery (right down the hall from our room). She did not love this plan. For awhile, I would nurse her to sleep, then put her in her crib. When she would wake back up in the night to eat, I would sometimes put her back in the crib and sometimes bring her back into my bed.

Then she started waking up as I set her in the crib and crying like I had just taken her birthday away. I caved and started bringing her back into the bed with me. But the thing about all that is--this means I haven't spent a whole night in bed with just my husband in 7 months. Plus now that's she's bigger, Everleigh kicks in her sleep and sometimes make her body into a big X. Then, other times, she will trap herself up against me and I can't move. We have a queen sized bed. It is TIME.

So last week I made the next logical step right? Wrong. Out of sheer exhaustion, I decided to make up a pallet on her nursery floor and sleep with her there. While I got a little more sleep, we really got no closer to getting her in her crib. She still wakes up between 2 and 5 times per night.

This might not be so bad if I stayed at home during the day and could "sleep when baby sleeps" but I work full time. So even if Miss E parties all night, I still have to fake it the next day while she naps at home.

At first I felt really opposed to the whole "crying it out" method, thinking it was kind of mean and used primarily to benefit fed -up parents. Now that I am a fed up parent, I'm giving it second thoughts.

Anyone have helpful advice about getting baby to sleep? Getting baby to stay asleep longer than a few hours? Getting baby to stay in their crib without crying like they just might be dying? Anything would be appreciated. Even though I will probably ignore your reasonable advice and opt for sleeping while standing up, or something equally ridiculous ;)


Rachel said...

My favorite book on sleep is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. It goes from birth all the way through the teen years and has helped me a lot.

ladysherwood said...

I'm sorry to tell you, I think that the crying-it-out method *might* just be the best solution. I eventually had to resort to this with Carisma, too. Put something that smells like you in her crib, like something you can spray some body spray/perfume on. It's a comforting mechanism, meant for when baby wakes up but isn't really totally awake. In addition, maybe try a bit of cereal to thicken up formula or something before bedtime, it should keep her fuller for a longer time.

Aside from the mediocre-at-best advice, I have to tell you that I was highly entertained by this post. I can tell you are a great mommy.

Amira said...

Goodness gracious, I feel for you. I don't know if I have any advice per se, but I definitely have a lot of empathy.

I tried what ladysherwood suggested with Aiman too --having something that smells like you near them. I used to take off the shirt I'd been wearing that day and wrap it around Aiman or place it over him like a blanket. It didn't work for us because Aiman, and Ev, from what it reads like, wants you to physically be there and not so much your scent.

Honestly we didn't even try putting Aiman in his crib past one night because it was obvious that it wasn't going to work. The most helpful thing for us has been co-cleeping. He sleeps more soundly and wakes up less, and when he does wake up, it's a lot easier to put him back to sleep.

But as you mentioned, co-cleeping the bigger they get is not as easy. Our bed isn't huge or anything and we've had some horrendous nights of no sleep and aches.

Personally, I'm not too keen on cry-it-out, BUT feel that it can be a solution once a child is a certain age/developmental stage. It doesn't hurt to try new things based on what you feel your baby if ready for.

I doubt any of that is helpful, but hopefully it's of some sort of consolation. Aiman is a huge two year old and we just recently -as in two nights ago- very slowly started adjusting him to a toddler bed. He skipped the crib stage entirely.

You're definitely not alone! At least it won't last forever...the end will eventually come.

Erika said...

guys, THANK YOU for reading my rant and for responding with compassion and ideas! You are awesome.
Rachel--I am ordering that book today!
Erin--You sound like you might just be right.
Amira--I appreciate your empathy, and the whole time I was writing about this I was thinking about your co(erced) post and your funny funny pictures and giggling a little to myself. I know you've been there!

Tiffany said...

Oh my. I NEVER had a problem with Ellie. Connor came along and it was completely different. It was like being a first time mom again. My sweet girl always slept through the night 9pm-9am until she was about 2. The boy comes along and he's up every 3 hours for a feeding. And when he was a real newborn he was on all kinds of a weird schedule. So bad that I slept with him in the living room because I felt bad for Mike having to work the next day. Then I'd get him to sleep and Ellie would be up. Even though I'm at home I can't just sleep with a 4 year old running around. It was highly frustrating and no wonder I was a hot hot mess for MONTHS. Borderline crazy even.

I eventually just went to cry it out. I kind of felt it was mean but seriously? I was so sleep deprived. And moody. And? You know I would never hurt my babies but I was on the verge of a snap. I figured cry it out was better than snapping. I like Erin's suggestion of putting something in her crib that smells like you.

One other thing we have done and it has really helped is to establish a bed time routine. We get a bath, we watch a show on Nick or two, we read a story and brush teeth. Then it's bedtime. I have found that establishing this lets them know what's coming. I know E can't watch tv but maybe something you could do with her every night. The same activity or the books. It will probably take a couple of weeks but if she knows it's coming it might be less painful.

I'm sorry for you. Being sleep deprived is NO fun. I don't know about you but I'm a you know what if I don't get my full night. Good luck!