Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

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Late Night Ramblings of an Upset Parent

October 18, 2009

I’ve realized a couple of times lately (but haven’t said anything to anyone), I am now older than my mom. Sound weird? My mom committed suicide when she was 5 months past her 28th birthday. She will never be older than that, but I will continue to age, hopefull WELL past there. I am now 28 and a half. The last 2 years or so I’ve lived with a completely irrational fear that something would happen to me while I was 28 where I would commit suicide too. There’s no evidence that would make me think that, hence ‘irrational’ fear. I just thought it would happen because it happened to my mom. I know some of you who read this will be able to understand why I would think that, just as some would be ready to call the police thinking I am suicidal. I’m not. I don’t want to end my life, I haven’t thought about it, haven’t dreamt of doing it. There is absolutely no reason in my life to want to.

But thinking about my mom, that fear creeps in. And when I realize my mom just didn’t have those maternal instincts, I start to wonder if I’m not the same as her in other ways too. See, my mom realized when I was quite young that she just didn’t have it in her to be a mom. Or not a full time mom anyway. She knew, somewhere inside her. So after letting my dad have custody of me, she got pregnant again when I was 6. Rather than deluding herself, she knew right off the bat that she was going to give my sister up for adoption. Long story short, my sister’s aunt and uncle adopted her and we’re still in contact now. But knowing that she couldn’t be, or didn’t want to be a mom, makes me wonder now.

I’ve always wanted children. Way back when I was 17, I wanted a baby SO bad. I wasn’t stupid enough to get knocked up, but I wanted one. I’ve always thought I’m meant to be a mom – both in physical aspects and mentally. So how is it that one little 20 pounder with the cutest little vampire teeth and most infectious smile can make me doubt myself, doubt what I’ve wanted for so long?

In the last month we’ve been having such horrible sleep problems. Just when I think I’ve figured something out, Penny switches up how she’s screwing with her sleep patterns. Whatever. She has sleep problems. And I’m trying to fix everything. But missing even one nap throws us into this painful spiral of tears and frustration. I can’t stay cooped up at home all day, every day in fear of missing one of her naps! But I’ll tell you, I can’t go on with life the way it is at the moment either. Something’s gotta give, and I don’t know what.

This isn’t the ramblings of a sleep deprived parent. I’m frustrated beyond belief. Between Penny going for half hour ‘naps’, being awake for 5 or 6 hours at a time, back arching, refusing to be held yet screaming when you put her down, constant nipple pain from breastfeeding, a desire to see my family, a wish that I had a backbone to tell my family to stuff it, and an utter lack of sex (sorry if that’s TMI for you. It’s a fact, and it plays into my frustration too) I’m really starting to wonder if I’m cut out to be a mom.

Just when I think we’ve put Penny down for the night successfully, half an hour later she’s crying and standing up in her crib. Half an hour is enough to keep her going for another 4 hours. When she’s standing it means she’s awake. It’s not as simple as putting her soother back in to get her back to sleep. She won’t let me cradle her to rock and walk her, she won’t lay down, carrying her upright facing me just makes her straight-arm away from me. She throws herself backwards, she arches her back. She cries and whines and grumps, and spits out her soother. And it all makes me want to run away, as far as I can and as fast as I can. Court has moved beyond patience with a hint of annoyance, so full blown frustration as well. And I can’t be bothered to soothe him anymore. When he gets upset, I just get this feeling of ‘about time you had to deal with her’ and an overwhelming urge to leave the house and just make him figure it out.

Penny wakes up happy in the morning, and when she’s happy Court and I just look at each other and say “she’s so cute!” Then she gets tired and my entire day just goes downhill from there. I can’t deal with these sleep problems. I can’t deal with Court’s frustration – I’m trying to get a handle on my own. I can’t deal with the criticism advice that’s dished out to us. I can’t tell anymore when Penny’s teething, or if she’s just tired. I can’t snuggle her, but I can’t get away from her.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. I no longer feel like a proud parent. I’m sick of rocking and shushing. I want to give up on breastfeeding because I can’t deal with the pain anymore. I just want to give up on all of it and walk away.

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Changing Penny’s Sleep Patterns

October 13, 2009

I bought the no-cry sleep solution by Elizabeth Pantley, with the goal of changing Penny’s sleep patterns. Of course the first step it lists is to have the desire to change them. The author asks you to really look at yourself and the situation and decide if you want to change how your baby is sleeping. I had already decided this well before I bought the book.

Most people who read this book will be looking for ways to get their child to sleep through the night. I honestly don’t care whether Penny sleeps through the night or not. I don’t mind getting up to feed her. Now if we were getting up and it took an hour to get her back to sleep, I might have a problem. Luckily when Penny cries when she wakes up, I grab her from her crib and take her to our bed, and nurse her – all while she’s not quite eyes-open awake. When she’s done, I simply re-wrap her, shove a soother in her mouth, and put her back in her crib. I want to change how she gets to sleep in the first place, and at what time this happens.

Goals

After reading the book and implementing what is in it, I’d like Penny to go to sleep at 9, theoretically sleep till between 7 and 9 am, and wake up twice. She should be down to 2 naps during the day, so I’d like her to go down twice. She should be getting 2.5-4 hours of sleep from her naps, but because we get up so late, there’s no way she’ll have a long nap in the morning. I think an hour in the late morning, and a two hour (or more) nap in the late afternoon would be good. But as I’ve heard, the mistake most parents make with children is that they “plan.” My goal is not unreasonable – Penny just may not conform to what I want. That’s fine, and I get that. But it’s still my goal, it’s something to work toward.

Naps

According to the book, for Penny’s age she should be getting two naps for 2.5-4 hours total, and 11-12 hours of sleep at night. In the 24 hours that I logged, Penny had 3 naps for a total of 4 hours, and slept for 9.25 hours at night. Her naps should be mid-morning and early afternoon. Yesterday they were late morning, early evening and late evening. The late evening nap wasn’t intended as a nap – I had hoped when she woke that I could convince her to go back to sleep after feeding her, but it didn’t work. Luckily she was only awake for 2 hours after waking, instead of 4 or 5.

Prebedtime

One of the first things to be done is to track the hour before Penny goes to bed. What kind of activities are being done? How loud are they? How bright are they? For the 2 hours before Penny went to sleep last night, we rocked her and played music for her in her dark bedroom. I nursed her (twice) in our dim bedroom. We gave her a shower, which was the brightest and loudest activity we did – although our bathroom light is on a dimmer so we had the light turned down. And I read to her about Nutkin the Squirrel. Normally the time before bed wouldn’t be so dark and quiet for her, but we’ve been making a conscious effort to help Penny get to sleep. Court had started a bedtime routine with her last week, consisting of a shower, pyjamas, reading a book, and music. We will continue with that routine for now.

Night Wakings

Next was to log Penny’s night wakings. Too many… Penny still wakes up almost every 2 hours. Again, I don’t mind feeding her at night, but I would like to see the number of night wakings reduced. Last night she woke up 3 times (I think. I forgot to right everything down till this morning and I vaguely recall. But it seems like there was one more wake-up in there where I convinced her to go back to sleep right away). I can’t really say how long she was awake at each one because she barely opens her eyes as I move her and nurse her. Then she falls back asleep while nursing. I am learning that if I go to her while she’s still in the whimpering and grunting stage, I can potentially get her back to sleep without getting her up. The first time she woke up last night I managed to do that. She’d scooched herself up in the crib so her head was against the bars and she was grunting and getting upset. I went in and slid her back down away from the bars, put her soother back in, and folded her blanket back over her. And she went back to sleep for almost another 2 hours. 4 hours is about her limit though, then she needs to feed. Up until now if she made any noise I would just get her and feed her. Now I will make the effort to see if her soother and her blanket will help get her back to sleep. Also, I know I need to feed Penny more calories during the day so she doesn’t need them at night. We’re working on that a little at a time and it’s VERY slowly progressing.

What I’ve Learned So Far

Now that I’ve paid attention to when and how Penny sleeps (or doesn’t as the case may be), I can continue reading the book and start implementing some of the ideas and suggestions. From what I understand, the author will outline a number of different steps to help your child sleep longer at night, and you take what you want to implement and make a game plan from those. Then it will take a few weeks to a few months to get your plan to work. While I’m still reading and until I come up with my plan, we’ll focus on a few things:

  • quiet time in the hour or 2 before bed
  • dropping her early evening nap or discouraging it
  • getting her naps under control – putting her down around the same time every day, and not being out running around all the time
  • eating more during the day
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Sleep… It’s All The Rage!

October 7, 2009

So why isn’t Penny doing it?

Months ago, Penny evened herself out during the day. Our days went a little something like this:

  • 9:30 – wake up
  • 11:30 – 1/1.5 hour nap
  • 3:00 – 1/1.5 hour nap
  • 7:00 – 1/1.5 hour nap
  • 11:00-midnight – bedtime

This varied a little each day, meaning I didn’t go put her in her crib at 11:31 every day. Some naps she slept for 45 minutes. Some she slept for 2 hours. Occasionally she slept for 3 or 4 hours. But this was generally the routine we followed.

Now a couple of weeks ago we had 2 very busy days in a row. It seemed like every time Penny fell asleep, I woke her up. You know… doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. I TRIED not to wake her up when transferring between car and stroller or into the house. Or if she did wake, I really tried to get her back to sleep – usually unsuccessfully.

Since those 2 days, we’ve had nothing but problems. There was the day she wouldn’t sleep. Literally! Between 1:30 pm and 1:00 am she slept for a grand total of 1.5 hours. She was miserable, crying at everything and everyone. I was at my wit’s end and didn’t know what to do. Court was on-call for work and had a number of phone calls to deal with that evening (due to some moron rolling out a software upgrade and leaving on holidays the next day). He couldn’t help, on the day when I needed it the most.

Now she’s changed up the game plan again, and if nothing else she’s staying consistent. She won’t go to bed before 2 am! She still naps around 11:30 (unless we sleep until then because of being up so late). She still seems to get a nap in around 3 and around 7, just like she normally would. But come bedtime, we start fighting. After a shower with daddy, a new diaper and sleepy-time outfit, and a book or two, we try to put her to bed. Bedtime may or may not correspond with feeding time, but in the end I try to feed Penny to get her to sleep too. Sometimes swaddling her helps, sometimes she fights as soon as you start wrapping her. We figured out that she automatically cries if we close her door all the way, so it stays open a bit now. Sometimes she likes having the light on (it’s a dimmer light), but it’s overhead and then she fixates on it. So I bought her a blue glowing night light. I’ve tried walking her, and rocking her, singing too. She fights sleep like it would be the death of her to close her damn eyes. She’s SO obviously tired! She rubs her eyes. She cries if you put her down. She cries if you pick her up and hold her too tight. She cries if you give her the wrong toy. She cries if you take away whatever ‘toy’ she did find. And mommy cries.

It feels like a never-ending battle the last 2 weeks. Penny won’t sleep, and that means I can’t sleep. Court can’t be expected to get up in the middle of the night when she can’t sleep. He needs to get up at 6:30 to go to work. That’s sort of important… we’re building a house and get possession in November. So nevermind bills to pay now, we need to pay down a bit of debt and not dig ourselves further because we have a mortgage to sign next month. So when people suggest that he help, between him and I, that’s not an option. I’d love the help – really I would. I’d love to sleep while he stays up with her, in all her fickleness. But financial stability means more to us right now.

So, after describing my battlefield, I’d like to ask you, my fellow moms and friends, for advice. First, how can I get Penny to sleep before midnight? I’d like to get her to sleep earlier than that, like 9pm. But right now I’d be happy with before midnight. How can I transition her to sleeping earlier? With an adult you’d normally progressively move bedtime back half an hour or an hour a night (or over a longer period of time) until the desired bedtime is reached. I did read to do that with an infant too, but um hello? If she doesn’t want to go to sleep half an hour earlier how do you enforce it, how do you make it work? It was suggested last night that I tweak her nap schedule, but I’m unclear on what to change. This is the schedule she’s been following for months and it’s worked until now. And before you say it, I realize most babies get up before 9:30 and go to bed before midnight. We are night owls, these are the times that work for us. At the moment I simply don’t want to be getting up at 7:00 in the morning.

Please, for my sanity, leave your thoughts, comments, suggestions and links to resources here! Keep in mind that letting her cry is not an option. I think I’ll be buying that Baby Whisperer book later but have read that it takes time to work. I’m thinking more immediately right now, or we won’t make it to the long term!