Category Archives: sleep

deprived

After two years of talking about our lack of sleep, I’m really just done with it, but here we are again–or still. I honestly can’t believe it. I do understand, however, why sleep deprivation is such an effective means of torture, but there’s no telling that to a two-year-old.

Did I mention that for almost three months, we had a son who went down at 8pm and slept through until at least 6am, and once or twice, even 8am? We did. Those were blissful months. I was sleeping in my own bed, and my wife was there with me. We even had an occasional spontaneous intimate moment. My back started to recover from sleeping in rocking chairs and on floor pads. It may have all been a dream. Right now, it feels like it must have been.

At this moment, I am typing in the dark whilst sitting on the futon in our guest room. My son is trying to get comfortable next to me. He woke up fifteen minutes ago, after sleeping for only an hour, and couldn’t go back to sleep in his room. I’m “working” at the moment, which means I’m waiting for a live student to pop into a chat room. These are my work hours. Our son won’t settle for J at night, which is a very long story which ultimately comes down to me being the nighttime parent because I screwed things up a long time ago with things like night nursing, but that’s all in the past. We can’t do anything about that now.

Unfortunately, our little family is in crisis because of our lack of sleep. Last night, the night before my wife’s first day back at school for a new semester, our son woke up as I was getting ready for bed, and I couldn’t get him back to sleep until well into the one o’clock hour. When he woke up again at 3am, I ushered him as quickly as I could out of our room and to the guest room/office where I opted to sleep with him to keep him quiet. Sadly, J didn’t sleep once this happened–not much anyway–so her first day back was one of total exhaustion. Our exhaustion is deep and ugly. It has resulted in countless quarrels and several big fights. It has us drinking far too much caffeine. I’m hitting the Rescue Remedy as often as I can to combat the anxiety I have about sleep.

This sleep regression is something that was born of the toddler bed transition. Unfortunately, this was also the exact moment our son decided to get his two-year molars. He came down with two nasty illnesses as well, but he was finally sort of starting to sleep in his bed. There was even one fluke of a night when he slept through the night and we rewarded him with a toy. But then he got that dreaded New Year’s ailment, the one that ended in pneumonia, and all bets were off. We coslept a lot–all three of us. I would sleep with him whole nights on the futon. We just did what we could to see our son through the illness. Unfortunately, within all of this, we started to see a major sleep regression. As he felt better, he stopped napping for more than thirty minutes or so. He couldn’t sleep for long at all in his bed. We have had nights (as I recently recorded) where he has woken up five minutes after going back down, thirty minutes after going back down–all night long. We’re in some kind of hell. Counter to our instincts, we’ve put him in his bed and left him to cry only to have a child who’s far too upset to sleep. If I thought it would help, I’d offer to buy him a car as bribery.

In therapy today, we were both a wreck. We worked through some ugly shit that has come up during the sleeplessness, and eventually, our therapist urged us to come up with some way, any way, to get some sleep for a few weeks, suggesting we may need to cosleep again so that we can all get some rest and recover. So we’re loosely cosleeping, which is to say, we’re not going to push the issue of him sleeping in his bed for awhile, and I’m probably going to be spending a lot of nights on the futon with the boy until he works this out and we devise a plan that works. It feels like we’ve taken about ten steps back. Maybe on the other side of this, we’ll see some sort of amazing development. Maybe he’ll start sleeping through the night and reading  and speaking two more languages. Or maybe he’ll just sleep okay and not be such a grumpy little mess. Either way, it’s got to get better from here. (Doesn’t it?)

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a little slice of sleep hell

We are still in the midst of sleep hell around here, which explains my radio silence. I’m so sleep-deprived that I’m numb now. Most nights, I’ve been up no fewer than three times. One night last week, it was something like six or seven within the course of three hours between midnight and 3am. This ended with me in tears sitting in the middle of my son’s room begging him to sleep. That night, he would wake, and I would take him back to his room, wait for him to fall asleep (because if I don’t, he’ll follow me), and then sneak out back to my bed and go back to sleep only to be wakened again twenty minutes later to my son standing next to my bed. Several nights in a row, we just let him get in bed with us, and then my wife opted for the guest room so that she could get a few hours of sleep before teaching. My mom came to visit on Thursday, and the boy woke us all up. She offered to have him sleep with her, and she proceeded to chat with him (apparently so that he wouldn’t get upset) resulting in the whole house being wide awake at 3am. He then came to bed with us where he slept across us, occasionally using my skull as a pillow and my wife’s bladder as a kicking bag. Hell, I tell you.

But after a couple of nights of sleep, and a therapy session wherein we focused entirely on our son’s behavior, we have some new plans. He has a pallet on the floor by our bed where he is welcome to lie down, but we’re not inviting him back into our bed. We’re working with a reward system (you sleep in your bed, you get some sort of great thing, be it a trip to the park, an extra book at bedtime, etc.), but are still scoffing at the star chart our therapist insisted we need to use. I don’t know what my beef is with star charts, but I think ultimately, it’s the rewards system I’m having trouble with, the feeling that I’m training a dog. We’re doing it fairly half-heartedly and instead offering a lot of direct praise as well as letting him “overhear” us talk about how great it is when he sleeps in his bed. Ultimately, I think he wants to please us more than he wants a prize, which I think will work to our advantage. Maybe. I hope.

Honestly, I question whether those months of him sleeping all night (or those blessed mornings where he slept until 8am) were even real. Maybe it was a dream. But one would have to have slept to dream such a thing, right?

I just keep reminding myself that eventually this will pass, that things will change. Tonight, instead of nursing to sleep (oh god, I know, but when the alternative is dancing a thirty-pound kid to sleep because his brain is just too busy to put himself to sleep, you do what you have to do), he nursed for a few minutes, then asked me to rock and sing him. A few minutes later, he asked me to take him to his room, and in his words, “Dance goodnight and lay down on pillow.” This meant me dancing him to the song “Good Night” (Laurie Berkner). Normally, it means many iterations of that song and my back straining (and convincing myself that at least it’s a good workout,) and the boy finally falling asleep. Tonight it meant a single iteration of the song, and then he let me know he was ready to lie in his bed. He held my hand, wanted me to rub his head, and then finally rolled over and went to sleep. It took awhile, but he did it, and he has NEVER done this.  I’m sure all of the hardcore sleep trainers out there are shaking their heads, saying “No wonder this family isn’t sleeping,” but as I’ve said before, CIO was never in the cards for us, and putting him down to sleep on his own has always meant a lot of crying.

I don’t know what any of this means. I don’t know if he’ll actually sleep tonight, or if I’ll be up most of the night shivering by his bed, willing him the fuck to sleep.

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shhhhhhh

Can I tell you a secret?

No, I’m not pregnant.

My kid slept until 8:15 this morning. I haven’t slept past 8:00 since he was born. Over two years of that, and I thought I was fine, but I didn’t remember what this felt like–“this” being rested.

Now, I still have ample dark circles under my eyes, but this feels like a new world. I had multiple dreams last night. I got to sprawl across the whole bed once my wife left for work. I wasn’t the first person out of bed this morning. And when I got up, I didn’t feel as though the only way I could possibly keep my eyes pried open would be to mainline coffee. I was nice without even trying!

I am under no illusion that this will last. He slept through the night for a whole month sometime during the summer, and we were all kinds of bliss, and then he started waking up multiple times a night again. Even then, he woke up for the day at 5:00 or 6:00, so I still didn’t necessarily feel rested, but this new trend of sleeping through the night AND sleeping later is pure loveliness.

Do you hear me, BG? It would be just fine if you kept on sleeping like this, my boy. Just fine indeed.

But don’t tell anyone. Hell, I shouldn’t even be talking about it. Next thing I know I’ll be up half the night begging him to “sleep in” until 4:00. (Oh but it’s lovely right now!)

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night weaning update

Well, we’re past the worst of it, I suppose. It really was only two or three nights that the boy screamed when he wanted to nurse, and then he just started sleeping more, which is really good. When he wakes up, it’s usually around 11:30, and he lets me snuggle him back to sleep. Unfortunately, he only allows this to happen in our bed and not his, which means sleeping with him all. night. long. He then reawakens at 5am. Every morning. He’ll snuggle, and then point at the light. He’ll sit up, ask to nurse, and then lie back down again. Then the whole process starts over again until he finds some sharp object to play with and inevitably pokes me in the eye. But even then, he’ll periodically point at the light, say, “Ka!” which for some reason is his word for “light,” and ask again to nurse.

You see, we told him that he could nurse when the lights came on. He caught on very quickly (like the second day of this), and as soon as the lights would come on in the morning–at 6am–he would get so excited, smile broadly, and shout, “NA-NA!” as though my boobs had just walked into Cheers.

So while he isn’t crying, screaming, or otherwise freaking out about na-na being gone at night, he is expecting morning to come a bit earlier. Before all of this, he would start nursing at about 5am and would do this marathon thing while we kept sleeping. Now, it’s this struggle to get him to lie back down, snuggle with me, and go back to sleep. So far, it’s not happening, so we play this game until 6:00 when we turn on the lights, and NA-NA! arrives once again.

One morning,  I caught him at 4:30am trying to turn on the light. This boy thinks he’s found a loophole.

Some friends of ours who went through this almost a year ago say that this is what happened with their daughter at first–that she kept waking up at her normal nursing times even after she night-weaned, and that eventually she slept straight through. Someone out there, please tell me that eventually this boy is really going to sleep. I cannot subsist on five or six hours of sleep every night (and my work keeps me up until at least 11 most nights, or believe me, I would be in bed earlier).

Our next step will be bed weaning and getting the boy first to sleep all night in his portacrib in our room and eventually (probably after we move due to current neighbor noise problems) in his crib in his own room.

It’s exhausting this sensitive sleep training, but it is worth it, and it is working. He’s taking much longer naps most days (before, he never slept more than 40 minutes at a time; now he’s taking sometimes 90 minute naps all on his own and in his own bed), sleeping longer stretches at night, and when he does sleep well, he’s a lot happier and more even tempered. But somehow, I’m getting far less sleep than before (I became really good at sleeping while nursing, even during those all night nurse-a-thons), and I’m really ready for my kid to sleep and sleep and sleep when I am also sleeping. One day, right?

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night weaning: night six

As with everything having to do with sleep and BG, this hasn’t been as cut-and-dry as we thought it might be. After a few nights sleeping with just J, BG was sometimes sleeping longer stretches and was certainly not asking to nurse as much. In fact, he was startling to settle himself to sleep much more. Then he hurt himself pretty badly one day by falling with a toothbrush in his mouth (we are still beating ourselves up about this), so J and I decided that night weaning was on hold and that I would sleep with him and do what it took to keep him comfortable. Fortunately, he did not have an all-night nurse-a-thon, and in fact slept pretty well. The next night, J tried to take over again, and he simply refused to sleep after his first wake-up at 1:00am or so. This is unusual for him because despite his many wake-ups, BG has always been good about going back to sleep fairly easily and quickly.

We decided after that that a change was in order, especially because J had to go back to teaching today. This meant that last night, I was going to sleep with BG, and from the time he went down to around 6am, I was not going to nurse him at all. It had become clear from the previous couple of nights that even though the boy was sleeping longer, he still knew he could ask for “na-na” when he woke up. Last night, he could ask, but I had to tell him no.

Oh, did it suck to say no.

The first time he woke up, he asked to nurse and tugged at my shirt. When I held my shirt down, he started crying, but he would try again and again. After he calmed down a little and wanted to try to fall asleep again, he tried asking again, and I reminded him that na-na was for daytime that nighttime was for sleep. He replied, “Oh, nooooooo…” and melted into positively devastated tears. Eventually, J popped in, and he calmed for her a bit, and then I walked and walked and walked him to sleep.

Two hours later, he was awake again, asking for na-na, but this time he got mad and started pulling my hair. It took an eternity to get him back to sleep walking and swaying with him, but he finally did fall back to sleep only to wake up the moment I tried to put him down. We did this for an hour until 6:00 rolled around and J and I both decided it was enough, that we would turn the lights on, declare it daytime, and move out to the living room to nurse.

Today, he has nursed every five minutes it seems, just to make sure he still has access. I fear tonight will be another hard one. Every time I’ve read or heard others tell their stories of night weaning, however, it seems that after a few nights, they get it, so I’m hoping my son doesn’t take long. I don’t know how long we can all stand this. At least tonight my wife will have ear plugs to help her sleep.

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night weaning: night 1

Okay, so last night wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It could have been worse, and it could have been better. I had so much anxiety that I couldn’t get to sleep until about 12:30, at which point my wife came out to tell me BG wouldn’t sleep anywhere but our bed. She opted to leave him there with her for awhile. Sadly, my poor J cannot sleep when she and BG are there alone together, so she was awake a lot of the night. Apparently he went down in his bed again around 4:00 and then woke her (and me) up positively wailing at around 5:15. She brought him out and asked me to come to bed and help out, which I did. This was the first BG had nursed since before he went to bed at around 6:30pm–the longest he has ever gone! Needless to say, he was very serious about his nursing once I got there. I’m okay with that, though, and I’m hoping that we can get to about 6:00 most days before he needs to nurse. That I could handle.

As for how the night itself went, apparently, BG only asked J to nurse once or twice, and one of the times, he was lifting her shirt hoping she would finally relent and let him nurse with her (he’s always been convinced that she should). Alas, she did not, and he fell asleep with some cuddles instead. One can’t blame the boy for being persistent! There were no tears between 12:30 and 5:15, which is far better than I had expected. Unfortunately, we’re all also very tired from the disruption in our usual sleep routines (and for J, just from staying up most of the night), but I’m hopeful that once BG is broken of his nighttime habit, the sleep will come longer and more easily. Tonight we’ll do the same thing (after J has a long afternoon nap). After going through it, I doubt I’ll have the anxiety I did, and I’m looking forward to the sleep.

In other news, if all goes well with his naptime, BG is getting his first haircut today! Photos to come, of course.

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sofa surfing

First, I want to thank you all for your wonderful support on my last post. I have been a little funny about sharing this out in the open, so to have such encouraging feedback once I finally decided to throw it out there is very lovely and affirming. I will be sure to keep you all abreast of the developments of this pursuit!

Tonight, I am, for the first time, sleeping in a room separate from my son. My wife is taking over nighttime parenting for the next few nights in an effort to get the boy night-weaned. I am sleeping on the sofa to keep temptation away. I am listening to him cry right now. I know she is comforting him and that he is safe and will ultimately go back to sleep, but this is so damn hard.

When I nursed BG before bed tonight, I told him that “na-na” was going night-night tonight just like he was. I don’t think he understood. I don’t think he will understand, but we are hoping that once na-na isn’t available all night, he’ll be a little less distracted by it and will get some sleep. That’s the theory anyway. That’s what everyone says will happen. I don’t know if it will, but I do know that we’ve only got a few days before J starts teaching again, and then we’ll have another four days before she can solo nighttime parent again. It would be nice if he got the hang of it in just a couple of nights. Do you hear that BG? Sleep, big boy, sleep.

One would think I would welcome a night like this to get a full night’s sleep–something I haven’t had in over sixteen months–but I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much more than J will. The anxiety sets in every time I hear him crying from our room. So much for the no-cry part of the no-cry sleep solution. I have a feeling we’ll all shed some tears tonight. I just have to remind myself that this is going to be good for all of us. It is, right?

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