Sunday, November 25, 2007

Waking Nightmare

I’ve finally decided to get some help with the sleep problems we’ve been having with James. There seems to be no medical cause for his sleeplessness, which is good, but at the same time, we are so tired during the day that I know all our lives are being negatively affected by it. (Also proof: it took me at least two minutes of staring blankly at the screen to remember the word ‘negatively.’)

So I’m going to go to one of my favorite sources for parenting advice and information: Ask Moxie. Here is the letter I am sending her, so that you, dear reader, can see a glimpse of what our lives are like right now, and perhaps forgive me for my somewhat-less-than-lyrical writing of late. I’m just too tired to write this and come up with another post right now.

Dear Moxie,

I know you get a million questions about sleep, but if you’ve answered mine, I can’t find it anywhere. Then again, perhaps that’s because the sleep deprivation has dulled my senses to the point where I can’t see the computer screen so well, much less find pertinent information. So please bear with me.

My seventeen-month-old son has never been an easy sleeper. He has always needed a LOT of help to fall asleep and sometimes to stay asleep. We co-sleep, and we still night nurse. Every night and for every nap, I have to nurse him and/or my husband has to walk him around in a sling. We have tried many other ways of getting him to sleep, and none of them has worked. This is the way our child is, and we have learned to accept that. We don’t even really feel like it’s that big of a deal nowadays. In the grand scheme of things, it could be worse.

So in the last couple of years we’ve missed a lot of sleep. But for the last two weeks, our life has been basically a living hell. My son has been going to bed at his normal time, around 7:45, with either nursing or walking around in a sling to put him to bed, or both. And then, between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., he wakes up, and is up for at least two hours, sometimes three. No matter what we do or don’t do. Every night except for one. For the last two weeks. (And no, we don’t think we did anything different the one night that he did sleep.) And this prolonged middle-of-the-night waking has happened before, I’d say about once a month for the past 5 or 6 months, so it’s not completely new, either. (Oh, and I should mention that the 2:00 thing is not the first time he stirs. He nurses once or twice before that, but doesn't really "wake up" and can just roll over and sleep when he's done.)

I know there are tons of people out there who would be more than willing to criticize all the things we’re doing to help our child get to sleep, who would tell me to night-wean him immediately, let him cry it out, whatever. But the point is…even if we did that, which wouldn’t work for our child…we still have this problem where he can’t fall back asleep in the middle of the night no matter what we do. From what I’ve read, that is not the normal problem. What I’ve read suggests that when kids have trouble sleeping through the night, it is because they’re not getting the “sleep aids” that they got when they fell asleep the first time, or something similar. But that’s not the problem with us. We DO all the same things that we do at his bedtime. And it never works.

And I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get some sleep. I can't even tell you how out-of-my-mind the lack of sleep is making me feel. And sadly, we don’t have family nearby to give us a break, and we can’t afford a babysitter. I am willing to try almost anything, but I don’t even know what to try any more. I would try to night-wean him or wean him from walking to fall asleep or whatever if that seemed like it would help with the middle-of-the-night madness…but I’m worried it will just add to our problems and give us an even more stressed-out baby and family. I also know that CIO is not for my son. He would just keep crying all night long. He needs to be near us to sleep. But we need to find a way to get him to stay asleep so we can sleep too! I don’t feel like I have any energy reserves left to figure this out on my own.

So what do we do?

I feel like if anyone can help, it will be you. Thanks for taking the time to help so many other parents! I can't wait to hear your take on our situation.

(And to anyone else reading this blog: if you have any suggestions, please, advise! Just be gentle and remember that what worked for you might not work for us...but we're probably willing to give it a try!)


At 10:48 PM, Blogger Jimmie said...

Hey, this is just a thought from someone who has no children (haha), but...

What if it's the consistency of James' routine and nighttime sleep environment that has him in this habit of waking at an awful hour each night?

Maybe changing things up a bit (different bedtime, different bed or different location in the room, etc.) might help throw him off a bit so he's not in his same routine of waking up so early.

Like I said, no experience here, so I'm basically just rambling, but perhaps it might be worth a shot. I know when I sleep somewhere else besides my own bed, my body doesn't have that sixth sense it usually does to wake up at a certain time.

At 1:53 AM, Blogger OUWxGuesser said...

When the kitties meow and walk on me in the morning I just ignore them and keep sleeping. Hmm... maybe I'm not ready for kids yet :P

At 3:54 AM, Blogger Elin said...

Hi Susan.

Snorri had a lot of trouble sleeping - getting to sleep and sleeping through the night. We ended up getting help from a nurse that specializes in sleep solutions for babies. This was when he was very young. Our situations are so different, we don't co-sleep (nobody would get any sleep that way) and we only nursed for a short time. If you want to hear about our battle, tell me, I'll send you a long email!
The only thing I can think of is the book "The no cry sleep solution" which some of my friends have used and liked,
I'll be thinking of you!!

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Susana la Banana said...

Good thoughts, all of you!
I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution and really liked I tried EVERYTHING in there....and this was BEFORE the crazy midnight vigils even started! Argh. I was trying it before to get him to slowly lower his night-nursings (which worked enough to get us down to only 2 or 3 a night instead of 9 or 10) and potentially sleep in another bed on the floor of our room. (HA! Not his style just yet.)
And Jimmie, your suggestions were right on target with what the No-Cry said to try! I think maybe we'll bring out some of the old tricks that we didn't *permanently implement* already and see if anything good can come of that.
Of course, the only problem is that when you're so's hard to try new things! Sigh.
Thanks for all your kind thoughts. I'll keep you posted!

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Sounds to me like Jimmie's ready for a baby! Hear that Aaron??? Wink Wink.

And, um... I thought getting pregnant would be a good idea because???? Remind me, please, I've forgotten!!

I'm sorry, Susan, and I have no suggestions! I'll probably be coming to you with this letter in a year or so!

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a horrible problem! When you say there is nothing medically wrong, does that mean that a doctor has examined James? I can't remember what the dr. situation is for him. I'm glad you are reviewing the solutions proposed by the book. When you're in the middle of something like this, it's so hard to remember even the simplest things. I'm praying that you will be reminded of something that you haven't tried this time. That said, I found a remedy called Serenite Jr. and I ordered one bottle sent to you immediately. I hope it helps!
Love you,


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