Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On Sleep...Part I

Oh, I miss you...

     We've had a rough week or so in our house sleep-wise. Now, I realize that sleep deprivation comes with the territory, and I know that there are families out there who have it much worse than we do. I also know that I'm not the first nor will I be the last mother to struggle with infant sleep issues so I'm not trying to get anyone's sympathy...I just wish I could have ONE. NIGHT. of uninterrupted sleep (is that too much to ask?).

My sleepy newborn...
     Tessa started sleeping through the night (and by sleeping through the night, I mean 8-9 hours straight, up for a feed, then back to sleep for another 2-3 hours) at around 11 weeks old. I thought we were set. We were lucky we got a "good sleeper". This sleep pattern only lasted, however, until she was around 4 1/2-5 months old. Then the night waking began. It started after we had been away from home for a long weekend, so I thought she was just a bit off her routine and would get back into it once we were home and back to normal. Nope.

     Then I thought it must be the beginning of teething. Well, she's now 8 months old, just cut her first two teeth a few weeks ago, and is still consistently waking at least once, sometimes 3-4 times each night.

     Growth spurt? That's a mighty long growth spurt. Plus, I wasn't noticing any changes in her eating habits during the day, so I figured it couldn't be that.

     She didn't have a fever, a cold, a diaper rash.

     It was a hot summer and her room is upstairs in our un-airconditioned house so we switched from long-sleeved sleepers to a regular sleep sack to a lightweight sleep sack, cracked open a window when needed, and on the really hot nights, had her sleep in just her diaper.

     We even resorted to Tylenol a few times when she seemed really upset and wouldn't settle back to sleep after waking in the night.

     I'm tired. I'm frustrated. At times I feel completely at a loss as to what to do about this. And as much as I remind myself that I'm not a bad mom and I'm doing the best I can and that this is completely normal, there's still that feeling lurking in the shadows that this is somehow all my fault and that I'm failing my daughter. I have moments of irrational fear: She'll never be able to sleep on her own...I'm not going to get a good night's sleep for at least another 5 years...We're doing some kind of irreversible emotional or psychological damage if we let her cry...We're creating bad habits if we don't let her cry and rush in to rescue her each time...what's a mom to do???

Still one of my most favoritest photos ever!
     For now, we're taking it one night at a time. I'm struggling with actually implementing any kind of "sleep training", "cry it out", or "controlled crying" methods that I've read about (but at the same time, I haven't totally dismissed them either - learned that lesson early on!). Deep down, something just doesn't feel right to me about any of them (and aren't we supposed to trust our gut?). I know they work well for many families, and that's great. I respect the decisions that each family makes for themselves, because I know that when it comes to our kids, no decision is taken lightly and a lot of careful thought, research and discussion goes into them.

     Over the next days (or weeks) I'm going to be writing more about sleep, and my thoughts on some of the various strategies and methods I've read about, and hopefully, by putting my thoughts into words, I'll be able to sort things out a bit more and come to some kind of resolution. We'll see.

     Right now though, this mama needs a coffee.

     (I'd be interested to hear how other parents cope with sleep issues...what's worked for you? Leave a comment below!)


  1. I'm sorry you are struggling so much, mama! You really do have to do what you feel is best...but I know it's hard with so much conflicting information. We are pro sleep guy sleeps from 7 to 7 every night un-nterrupted. One of the ways I make my decisions is by looking at other families I admire and seeing how their kids behave/sleep/respond and interact with their parents. Then I talk to the mom about her strategies. :)

    1. Jealous!! :) Just kidding...that's great that you've found what works. I like your suggestion to talking to moms of families you admire...might have to start doing that! Thanks!

  2. So sorry you're so sleepy! I hope it gets better for you soon. Those rough nights are so hard :(

    1. Thanks - I know it will get better!! Just have to be patient!

  3. I personally love the Dr. Sears mentality about attachment parenting (though, the co-sleeping bit is not for us). We have to be parents at night too, and parent children to learn how to sleep. I feel by nurturing your child at night, they do become good sleepers. I would rather my child cry in my arms than anywhere else. It is totally to each his/her own, and I try not to judge other is whatever you are comfortable with. I feel that this method has worked for might not gain such immediate results, but I think the long term rewards are many!

    1. I agree with many of Dr. Sears' philosophies, but I'm with you on the no co-sleeping! I know it works great for many families, but I can't see it working with us. :) I agree that parenting through the night is just as important as it is during the day. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Aw! You are doing a really good job mama! Hang in there! It's so tough! We did sleep train, but I felt that had more to do with making sure she got enough sleep during the day for naps rather than the whole crying it out aspect of sleep training. I've found that a stricter routine during the day makes for easier nights... But honestly, I have no idea! Haha! I keep saying ill really be tested with the next one! :) I have found this website helpful though she has a great perspective. }

    1. Thanks Hannah, I completely agree that routine is so important. I think we've got a pretty good one down, it's just those odd days here and there where things get thrown off then our nights get messed up too and you're back at square one. It's hard, because I know how important routine is and I want to stick to it, but I also want to be flexible and teach my baby to be that's a bit of a dilemma too! Oh well...this too shall pass!

    2. I also just remembered that I used this site a lot when I was researching (you don't have to be pro Babywise to enjoy it...promise!) :)

  5. The sleeping part is so tough. : ( I am no expert at all. With Reed, this is terrible, but we had to push him in his stroller to sleep until he was like 11 months. We laid him in his crib after he was asleep. I always worked evenings and so my husband and I got into a habit of pushing him to sleep. He also was colicky. He would mostly sleep during the night unless he was teething. Now that I let you in our embarrassing secret he does fall asleep well in his crib and the transition took maybe 3 days with the CIO method but he was older.
    With Reagan who is almost 8 months, we didn't get into any crazy silly methods with her yet. When we lay her down she goes to sleep and when she is teething you know the whole game plan is off! : ) Some things that we have adjusted are shorter naps through out the day. She kind of led us into this one but it has been working great. If she doesn't take her second nap by 3 then she generally does not get one. Sounds kind of mean but if she naps after 3 she doesn't sleep as well at night. We also keep adjusting what she is eating to make sure she is not waking up hungry. It's all so hard to tell and takes time with trial and error!

    Our favorite bedtime items-
    Ladybug- That displays stars on the ceiling. It is for both of them but Reed is enjoying it most now.
    Sound Machine- I cannot express how much we love sound machines! Seriously, one of the best inventions ever!
    Dark Curtains - We have no light in our room when we go to sleep. The darker the better!

    These usually work well for us.

    You are a great mom and don't worry it will take no time until you get her back on her sleep schedule! Hang in there and I hope you are able to get some rest! A tired momma doesn't make for a fun day - at least in my house. Let me know what you figure out because I am sure here soon Miss Reagan will decide to not sleep through the night. : )

    1. Thanks for your comments Shannon. Nothing wrong with what you did - you did what you had to do right? Sometimes you just have to do what works here and now, and "fix" things later if needed (I know, that's not what many of the experts would say, but they don't live with our babies either!).
      Hopefully we'll get this figured out soon...and I hope for your sake that Reagan decides to keep up her good sleep habits! :)

  6. Aww Nancy, these are the TOUGHEST days. I can totally sympathize with ya. And for the record, you are NOT failing! You are a mama with so much love that you're beating yourself up. This mom guilt thing needs some serious instructions. I hope that you get some zzzz's soon - makes a world of difference. Things that worked for us were black out blinds, sound machine, no pacifier, and routine / consistency. You will find your groove and what works best for your family!


    1. I agree-blackout blinds and sound machine! :)

  7. Hi Nancy!! Thanks for following The Active Mum! I've followed you back and I'm excited to read more :-).

    As far as sleep training goes, I'm always wary of giving advice (now), because I've learned that every baby (and every family) is different. We had quite a strict routine with my oldest, he was always hard to settle but once we got him down he was pretty much an 11-12 hour sleeper (with the exception of a few teething and developmental interruptions). My second child, (my daughter) who is now 2 still wakes multiple times during the night (so we know exhaustion!), but she had severe reflux and some other stuff going on in the early days so we couldn't get her into a any overnight routine in those early months. I can't tell you the answer, but I will say two things: Firstly, you're the Mama and you know what's best for your child. You should always trust your gut. Secondly, I've learned that no matter what you choose, bad habits are always hard to break the longer you leave them, so if you think it could just be habitual, be wary! Whatever way you go, best of luck to you. I understand and feel for you!

    Looking forward to getting to know you better!!!

    Aanie x

    1. Thanks Aanie...I definitely value the experience and wisdom of moms who have been there!
      Thanks for following!

  8. I completely feel your pain. My daughter is 18 months old and we have just gotten into a good sleep routine. When she was first born she had reflux so she would fall asleep on me upright, then we do-slept (which I never ever thought in a bazillion years I would do). Then she slept in. Her pack n play in our room. Then she would start the night in her room and then come to our bed. Then she'd been our bed. Then her crib, then and then and get the idea. We let her cry it out, we rocked, I feel like we tried everything. Now she goes to be between 7 and 8 and sleeps 12 hours and I have no idea why, beats me. I'll take it though. I think above all my advice is to trust your mama gut. You knows best for your little peanut.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

  9. That last picture of her passed out is hysterical. Looks almost like she drank too much milk ~ LOL!
    It's hard when you think you have it figured out and then they revert back to behavior you are not ready to deal with again.
    Sleep deprivation is the worst. I hope you get it figured out mama.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo


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