Sleep is for the Weak

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babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86
Sleep is for the Weak

Spencer doesn't sleep. I know that compared to what other women are going through on this board...sleep is relatively inconsequential. Nonetheless, it is a major stress in my life. I find myself frustrated, sad, jealous, and feeling inadequate because of it. I often find my thoughts about sleep and what do do about it have no consistent focus (I guess lack of sleep will do that to you). So, I thought writing them down and being able to look back and, hopefully, see progress would help.

I must preface this journal by saying that Spencer is a healthy, happy, loving, curious, and developmentally advanced child. I love him more than I thought possible. It's the lack of sleep that I don't love.

Here is a brief history...

Spencer slept great the first 4 months of his life. He would sleep 6-8 hours, wake to nurse, and then sleep another 4-6 hours. I didn't understand what all the sleep fuss was about. We had a great sleeper!

Around 4 1/2 months Spencer started waking more often at night. At first we thought it was a growth spurt, but it didn't stop. It just got worse. I tried the "No Cry Sleep Solution" for 5 weeks, but saw no improvement.

We tried having him sleep with us, putting him to bed earlier, later, making the room warmer, cooler, putting him in 100% cotton jammies, swaddling, not swaddling, giving him a 'lovey', keeping him awake more during the day, getting him to sleep more during the day. Nothing made even a slight difference.

By the time he was 5 1/2 months old, he was waking 8-10 times each night. Sometimes he wanted his pacifier, sometimes he wanted to nurse, or be held or just see me. I was unable to function. I was afraid to drive anywhere for fear of falling asleep at the wheel. DH's work was suffering. We started rice cereal hoping that the extra calories would help. It didn't.

At 6 months old we went to see our pediatrician sure that Spencer had some kind of sleep disorder. She suggested "Solve your child's sleep problems" by Ferber. I was against letting him CIO, but I also knew that something had to change and we had tried everything else.

DH and I commited to doing the Ferber Method for 1 week. The first night Spencer cried for 30 minutes before falling asleep (with me going in at certain intervals). He slept for 4 hours and then cried for an hour. He slept for 3 hours and then I nursed him, put him into bed awake and left the room. Not a peep! He woke at his usual time. The second night he cried for about a minute, went to sleep, slept 7 hours, nursed, went back to sleep on his own and slept through until morning. It was a miracle!

DH and I were so happy to only be waking once at night that we didn't concern ourselves with the fact that he didn't sleep well during the day. He'd sleep in the car, or on our laps, or in the stroller.

At about 7 months we decided to try the Ferber Method for naps. Spencer went 4 days without a nap. Not even a couple of minutes! Then he started crying at bedtime and waking more in the middle of the night. We aborted the mission. He went back to sleeping in the car, or stroller, etc.

As the weather has started to warm up, I realized that he would no longer be able to nap in the car. So, I went back to the "No cry sleep solution" for advice on daytime sleep.

At 11 months, I started putting him in his crib for naps and staying with him until he fell asleep. The first day took over 30 minutes for him to fall asleep, but that eventually dropped down to 3-5 minutes. I was fine with staying in his room for 3 minutes, the problem was, he would only sleep 20 minutes and then wake up and not go back to sleep. Every once in a while I would get 45 minutes...those days were wonderful, but few and far between.

DH and I decided to try Ferber again now that he was older. 4 days of crying and no naps. Again, he started waking more at night (by now he was sleeping from 8-5:30 straight). Again, we aborted the mission.

That brings us to yesterday. He had slept from 8:00 - 5:45 am. Took a 40 minute nap in the stroller and a 20 minute nap in the afternoon in his crib. I called my pediatrician. She said that 10.5 hours was very low for a 14 month old (sigh, and his mommy I might add). She recommended a book called "Healthy Sleep habits, happy child" that I am going to borrow from a friend today. It suggests letting them CIO for up to an hour at naptimes (Ferber says 30 minutes). I am hesitant to let him CIO again as we just got him back to sleeping through the night after the last Ferber attempt.

I am distraught. I have been praying for wisdom, patience and SLEEP for 10 months. I don't know where to go from here. I feel like I am screwing up my son and depriving him of the sleep he needs. I am also tired and in serious need of some time to myself.

For now, I am going to go back to staying in his room with him until he falls asleep, keeping track of his sleep and try to make sense of it all. Wish me luck.

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

Sleep today:

Last night:
8:30: Fell asleep easily in his crib.
8:30 - 2:30 crib. 6 hours
2:30 cried, nurse 3 minutes, fell back to sleep easily on his own
2:45 - 5:30 crib. 2 hours 45 minutes
5:30 - nurse in our room, then up for the day.

Total night: 8 hours 45 minutes.

Nap #1:
Nap routine, tired
9:17 - 9:32 moved around, no crying, I didn't sush or pat, just sat by his crib. 15 minutes.
9:32 - 9:55 crib. 23 minutes
9:55 - brief waking, I went back into his room and sat by his bed again.
9:55 - 10:22!!! Amazing! 27 minutes!

Total nap: 50 minutes!

Nap #2:
3:17 - 3:25 crib. Fussing. I sat by his bed, no patting, no sounds.
3:25 - 3:52 crib. Woke up fussy.

Total nap: 27 minutes

Total sleep: 10 hours and 2 minutes. sigh.

I used the word jealous before. I am jealous. I am jealous every time I hear someone say, "My child took a 2 hour nap this morning so his afternoon nap will only be 1 hour." I'm jealous of the 1 hour! I'm not even sure jealous is the right word. I am in awe, I am concerned (is Spencer not getting what he needs?), I am in wonder (what do you do for 3 hours everyday? Besides chat on My house would be spotless and I would be sane!)

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

Well, if I wasn't feeling incompetent and horrible as a mother before...I am now! I borrowed "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" from my friend and was in tears after reading just the introduction. Here's a direct quote:

"WARNING: If your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills."


"sleep deficiency in childhood may harm neurological development; the problems remain "hidden" not showing up until later. It is possible that unhealthy sleep habits contribute to school-related problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities. I also suspect chronically tired children become chronically tired adults who suffer in ways we can't measure: less resiliency, less ability to cope with life's stress, less curiousity, less empathy, less playfullness. Sleep is a powerful modifier of mood, behavior, performance and personality."

GREAT! My son now has irrevocable brain damage because I can't get him to sleep! He's going to have ADHD and be a sociopath! I was just beside myself reading that last night, but as I read more I found that I don't agree with a lot of what he says and realized that this is his OPINION and if it were medical fact, all the sleep books would say the same thing.

Today's sleep:

Last night:
7:15 crib. No fussing. (as suggested by the HSH, HC book we put him down substantially earlier than usual.)
7:15 - 4:30 crib. 9 hours 15 minutes
4:30 - 4:40 nurse. back to sleep no fussing.
4:40 - 5:50 crib. Woke up without crying. 1 hour 10 minutes

Nap #1:
8:07 - 8:37 crib. no sleeping. (earlier naptime as suggested by HSH, HC book)
10:45 - 11:35 in the car on the way to visit my grandmother in the hospital. 50 minutes.

Nap #2:
3:45 - 4:15 in the car on the way home. 30 minutes.

Total nap: 1 hour 20 minutes

Total Sleep: 11 hours 45 minutes. Still not the recommended 12 hours. sigh.

Tomorrow is a new day.

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

Another day....without sleep. sigh.

Last night:
7:35 - 7:40 fussing
7:40 - 5:10 crib
5:10 - 5:20 nurse
5:20 - 6:20 crib

total night: 10 hrs. 30 minutes

11:30 - 11:42 moving around but laying down with me in the room
11:42 - 12:07 crib

25 minutes

Nap #2:
3:00 - 3:18 moving around, fussing
3:19 - 3:47 crib

28 minutes

Total Nap: 53 minutes

Total sleep for the day: 11 hours 27 minutes

What is it about the 25 minute mark? I've tried staying in the room and comforting him back to sleep, but he's just awake!

The good news is he is getting more sleep at night. The earlier bedtime adds to his overall total although it is not helping with his daytime naps like the HSH, HC book suggests.

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

just a quick note to say...we're at 33 minutes and counting for the morning nap! I'll give details later!

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

One of my wonderful PG.ORG neighbors suggested that I go in and "bump" Spencer crib after 15 minutes of napping. Just enough to make him stir but not wake up. I figured, what have I got to lose? I tried it this morning and he slept for 53 minutes! WOW!

He is asleep now for his afternoon nap. I am going to try the 'crib bumping' again! I hope it works! Wish me luck!

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

Well, we're back to square one. The crib bumping last week must have been a fluke. It hasn't worked since. I thought maybe I wasn't 'bumping' enough and so today I accidently woke him up...sigh. I've called my peds doctor again (waiting for her to call me back). I am going to ask her to send us to a sleep specialist. It seems drastic, but something has to change.

I am pregnant now and wondering what in the world I was thinking. I am so tired and I don't get a break from Spencer all day. I don't know how I am going to make it through the first trimester, let alone the whole pregnancy.

Today's sleep:
7:30 - 7:45 cry (1 visit, didn't pick up)
7:45 - 2:00 crib
2:00 - 2:15 cry. 1 visit, held, no BF, put down awake.
2:15 - 6:15 crib

Nap #1:
8:45 - 9:30 stroller, was able to transfer into the car.

Nap #2:
2:58 - 3:11 fuss with me in the room
3:11 - 3:26 crib. Bumped crib and woke him. Tried to get him back down for 30 luck.

Total night: 10 hrs. 15 minutes
Total Nap: 1 hr
Total sleep: 11 hrs. 15 minutes

What am I doing wrong?

babysuzoo's picture
Joined: 09/15/05
Posts: 86

I've given up! I have morning sickness really bad and have been really tired! So, here is how most days go...

7:30 - 6:00 crib.

9:45 - 10:45 Stroller (I walk until he falls asleep, park the stroller in the house and leave him in it.)

3:00 - 4:00 On the floor in his room with me. Sigh. He sleeps, I sleep, we both feel better.

That schedule gets us about 12 hours of sleep. I get some rest and a break for a little while. I know it's not the "healthiest" sleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do!