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.
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 , with either nursing or walking around in a sling to put him to bed, or both. And then, between and , 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 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!)