Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tales of a Terrible Sleeper

I am bone weary and appalled at the level of frustration I feel bubbling up inside of me as I run into cradle sweet Caden for the third time in the past hour. I realize as I rock him that he is somehow, impossibly almost 8 months old. And do you know how many times he has slept through the night? Zero. Or how many times he usually wakes up every night? At least three, usually more. And he only takes two or three 15-30 minute naps every day. And I KNOW that sleep begets sleep and that he is overtired and that is precisely why he's not sleeping. But how-oh-how-for-the-love-of-everything do we begin the elusive process of getting him to SLEEP so we can "beget more sleep?"

I'm about at the end of my already-fraying rope, not to mention that I feel like I'm walking around in a constant semi-fuzzy state of losing and forgetting and not quite knowing what time or day it is or whether I've switched the laundry or what Jayci just asked me. And before y'all say anything, I KNOW you are probably oh-so (ironically) tired of hearing about how tired I am. And I'm sorry, but I need to vent somewhere and y'all are the lucky winners. Feel free to ignore this and not read a single word more. I will, however, remind you of my fragile and over-tired emotional state.

Let's take today as an example: Jayci was screaming in her room about how much she did NOT want to have "rest-time" (As usual, and therefore I dread rest-time, which is supposedly a "break" for me. Or not at all). I was bouncing Caden trying to get him to give in to sleep, and finally I went into Jayci's room and LAIDDOWNTHEHAMMER (or asked her in a slightly-whiny voice to please to stop screaming while fighting back tears of frustration). She was quiet for awhile, which was just enough time for me to lay down on the bed with Caden where we both slept for a good ten minutes before she started yelling again and woke us both up. And then Caden wouldn't go back to sleep, obviously.

Fast forward to bed-time. I nursed and gave Caden his bottle, rocked him for a minute until he was super-chill (aka completely asleep). I laid him in his bed, and he immediately FREAKED THE HECK OUT (which is his usual response to being put in his crib). He kicks his feet violently, spinning himself in circles, yelling and crying and getting all sweaty. I try patting him while he's still in the crib, picking him up and rocking him, ignoring him for a few minutes . . . nope. Nothing works. Finally, over an hour later, he is finally sleeping in his bed. But don't worry, he will wake up again in probably less than three hours. And then continue this pattern until morning. He will sleep until seven if we're lucky, but sometimes he refuses to go back to sleep after that 5am wake-up.

I feel like crying in hopelessness just thinking about the night ahead. In fact, it's 10pm on Saturday night, so I should probably go to bed. Immediately, that way I can get a good four hours of sleep. But not in one big chunk, because that would be just crazy. Sigh.

Any suggestions? Oh and we can't really let him cry-it-out too much for several reasons: 1-his health (I get freaked out because he gets all sweaty and gets himself more and more worked up and it takes forever to calm him down if he cries for more than five minutes or so at a time). 2-He shares a room with Jayci who is also not a good sleeper and when she wakes up it's even more of a disaster.


  1. Becca, I am so sorry! It is super, super hard to be a sleep deprived mom. I hate to say it, but neither of my heart babies were good sleepers. It took Sariah until past her third birthday before she could routinely sleep all night in her bed. Too this day, she often "wanders" at night--in the morning we'll find her in the guest bed, her sister's bed, our bed, or even the living room couch. I don't know if it has more to do with her heart or her metabolism.

    There are some things you can do, though. You may want to ask for some metabolic testing, to make sure Caden isn't burning through his calories ultra-quick and waking up because he is hungry. Sleep studies are available for infants, too--as a heart patient, he is at risk for some of the things that interrupt sleep, like apnea. Getting his ears checked for fluid is a must. My oldest (heart healthy) daughter woke up 3-12 times a night from the time she was 4 months old. When we changed pediatricians around the time she was 15 months old, we discovered (to our horror) that she'd been suffering from recurrent ear infections. She never, ever had the "typical" signs of an ear infection--like tugging on the ears or refusing to feed. She just woke up all. the. time. It was exhausting, but the change was almost instantaneous once we got the ear trouble under control (within 48 hours of antibiotics she was sleeping through the night). Another easy thing to check is Caden's urinary tract--discomfort from urinary issues can cause wakefulness, too.

    Sorry for the long comment. It's just I've been there and I know how awful it is to go for months without decent sleep. A good night's sleep is worth digging a little deeper to find out if there is anything going on preventing sleep for Caden that can be fixed. I wish I lived closer so I could come give you a break!

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  3. I have zero advice, but lots of hugs and prayers. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst things in the world. Praying for you right this second. Love you!

  4. Oops - posted under the wrong account. Reposting under the right one :-)

    Ok - so, do you think he has any reflux issues? When you put him down could it be causing problems? Just wondering because it seems that a lot of heart kiddos also have reflux issues.

    How does he sleep in his car seat? Trey sleeps sitting up all of the time. I don't know if he could even sleep laying down. He's slept sitting up better than laying pre-surgery as well.

    Another thing - since he's a heart baby, does he qualify for therapy through either the state or your insurance? We have County programs here. Trey has free services through a program called Infants and Toddlers. So we have a physical therapist and speech therapist twice a month for free from the county. An occupational therapist is coming out to see if he has sensory issues (he won't put his feet down on the floor) and to give me ideas on helping him self soothe.

    That's what it sounds like though... he can't self soothe. It's pretty common for infants to wake a lot but most times they can get back to sleep pretty quickly. I can watch Trey wake while we watch TV a few times and then he goes back to sleep pretty quickly on his own.

    I would say maybe look into getting help from a therapist if they can help you with teaching him how to soothe himself.

    I totally get the not wanting him to cry it out. I actually do let Trey cry it out because well, it's good exercise for his heart... but my thing is I don't ever really let him out of my sight. He's ALWAYS around me or my husband... even when sleeping or napping. I'm quirky like that. Like, I know he'd nap better during the day if I put him in a room by himself but I just can't bare to do that. I have to be able to see him at all times (and a video monitor doesn't do it for me). I've been getting a bit better lately, like right now he's in the next room but I'm feeling a bit nervous because I can hear him breathing from here which is loud so I'm worried I could be missing something.

    Good luck and I'll pray for some sleep for you!

  5. So sorry Becca... our son was this way too, but he wasn't a heart baby, so I can't give any real advice. I do know when I gave up the breastfeeding and plugged him with a big ole bottle of formula and cereal, that started to tide him over for 6 hours, and that helped. Just will pray for you. I know you are exhausted beyond words.

  6. Becca - Sending prayers your way. My Caden is a terrible sleeper too! Must be the name LOL! He didn't start sleeping through the night until like 10 months and it is only for like 2 days in a row and then we will have 5 bad nights of being up 5 times a night. I hope your Caden gets the hang of the sleep thing soon!!

    I do know that there are sleep clinics that can give you plans for babies who dont sleep. I have never tried it but I know a few people that swear by it.

  7. So sorry Becca. I have no advice, but lots of prayers coming your way. My youngest daughter never, ever once slept longer than 3 hours until she was 16 months old. Plus, the 3 hours was when she was rocking in the chair with me! It was complete craziness and she's not a heart baby. All of the other comments look to have some good advice for heart babies so I hope that you can find something that works. I totally understand the sleep deprived mommy stupor and will be lifting you up daily in hopes that you get some sleep soon!

  8. Clover REFUSED to sleep longer than an hour in a crib by herself & we literally tried everything except crying-it-out. We even moved te crib right next to our bed. Nope. I was terrified to co-sleep, but finally (from pure exhaustion) put her in bed with me & low and behold, she slept! All night. I know co-sleeping is very controversial, and I know a lot of people totally disagree with it, but it was literally the only way we all slept. You could try it. Also, I've found with Clover (who sounds exactly like Jayci at "rest time" will rest if I put a movie on for her. I know she's not sleeping (which makes become easier anyway) but at least she stays quiet long enough for Miles to get a good nap in. Or, I drive them both around in the car till theyre asleep & then I sit in the car and read. Hang in there Momma..

  9. I don't have any good advice. My best friend Jen read some book about some sleeping method and she practiced it with all of her kids and she swore by it. I let Kaish sleep right next to me when he was a baby and he slept the whole night through. I LOVED it : ) I will do that the next time too. I don't really care if it is not the best thing or not. It was the best for us because I love sleeping!

  10. Have you tried swaddling? That can help if they have issues with self-soothing. Not that I actually know this from real kid experience, seeing as I don't have any. :-)

  11. I'm right there with you, friend. Preston is a horrible sleeper. His cardiologist told us we could let him cry it out when he was 8 months old, but she quantified so that 10 minutes was the limit he could cry. I never had peace with letting him cry, especially with his heart condition and his heart being in a fragile "remodeling" period ESPECIALLY if his cardiologist had to quantify how long. Therefore, we never have let him cry.

    His 15 months, and sleeps through the night now... in bed with us... right in between us. We've come to the conclusion that he hates his crib so we are going to convert his crib into a toddler bed. If I put him down in a regular bed for a nap or bed time he goes straight to sleep and sleeps for hours even if we leave the room (but I'm constantly freaking out about him falling off the bed even though we put up rails). Different story if I put him in his crib.

    Other than sharing our experience I have no useful tips for you. Just wanted you to know you are not alone and that I know how you feel. Frustrated beyond belief! Thinking about you. Good luck.

  12. hey becca! i'm sorry you're so exhausted. unfortunately, there is no secret that will fix it all tonight! i would try to move feeding time up a little, so he doesn't always fall asleep nursing. try to put him down when he is drowsy, but not yet asleep. then he can learn to fall asleep on his own. sometimes when babies are always fed/rocked/snuggled to sleep that is how they learn to fall asleep. he needs to re-learn how to fall asleep without you! when you go in during the night try to give him a paci, rub his back, etc, but try not to give him a bottle. you could try a bottle of water (if he's thirsty he'll take it and it will make you feel better)...if he gets mad then he just wants snack and snuggle time! i would also get a couple white noise machines so the kids aren't always waking each other up. it takes 2-3 weeks to get a new sleep routine going. good luck!

  13. Hi, my name is Whitney, and I'm a blog stalker.

    Now that that is out of the way, I second the opinion about swaddling. My kiddos were HORRIBLE sleepers when they were babies. I swaddled for a long time and it seemed to give them that "I'm in Mommy's arms" feel. Also, we did cosleep, mainly because I nursed, but it was a huge help with getting us to sleep through the night. The hubs did sleep on the couch a lot, so he didn't like it so much. Also, I would definitely check into a sleep study/medical reason for not sleeping. My oldest had his tonsils and adenoids removed when he was four because he was still not sleeping great through the night. Does Jayci snore? My son snored when he slept as well, and he ended up having apnea. It made a HUGE difference in his sleeping habits AND his attitude during the day (just curious about Jayci because my son also fought naps and wasn't a great sleeper and had some terrible mood swings during the day.) Cereal never helped us, but it's worth a shot. I'm just big on NOT putting it in a bottle. I would give cereal before bed from a spoon, but that's just my opinion.

    P.S. Sent a link to your blog to a friend when her baby was born with heart issues. She said it was very comforting while she was in the hospital.

  14. Oh, man. Oh, Becca. Being tired is so ridiculously draining. It can make a person feel tapped out to their very soul. And coping and working and parenting while so tapped out? Nothing but hardness.

    If your worries about Caden crying it out are health/heart-related (rather than it not being what you want as a parent--as I know some parents don't like it that method), would asking his cardiologist provide a bit of reassuring as to whether or not his heart could handle it?

    And swaddling is great, but I know we needed to wean the swaddling as Ezra got older because he could roll over. But if he doesn't roll over in bed, it might make him feel cozy.

    Does Caden like pacifiers or blankies or anything that makes him feel comforted at all?

    Even if all of our suggestions/thoughts are poo, please know that we love you and offer so many hugs and listening ears.

  15. I have no advice but hope that things get better for you. I have been blessed with great sleepers, but #3 is up every 2 hours at night so right now I know a TINY bit of what you are feeling. :( Will pray for you!

  16. You go on ahead and vent to us every single day about (not) sleeping. That's what we're here for. I wish I could be of more help, but I can at least pray - right this second - for you to rest well tonight. I remember those days, Mama. xo

  17. I can completely relate to what you are dealing with. My kids are 11.5 months apart and my son came second. He NEVER slept. EVER. He just cried. ALL THE TIME. And we live in a loft with no doors to close and no way to drown out noise and my kids share a room (again with no door). All I can tell you to be encouraging is that it ends. One day it will all just work. There are no secrets or things you aren't doing. I tried everything and the truth is one day my little man just grew up enough to be happy and to sleep through the night. I did everything that all the books told me not to do. Mostly if he did sleep it was only in his swing so I let him stay there all night sometimes! My boy, Ford, learned to walk at 10 1/2 months. That night, he slept through the night for the first time and then he slept through the night every night from then on. He also stopped crying that day and has been happy ever since. My kids are almost 4 and 5 now and it is really nice and I can get a load of laundry done and I can have a minute in the bathroom alone! Hang in there. I pray for you rest and sleep and energy because no one needs it more than moms. Your blog is so encouragingly honest to me and I appreciate all your posts so much.

  18. My goodness... you certainly got a lot of wonderful advice to try out here! I hope that something works and gives you some much needed rest. Sounds like you don't get 10 minutes to yourself! Your posts mean so much to so many people,and I am grateful that you share your experiences with others.

  19. Hi Becca,
    I dont know if you would feel comfortable with this, but our boys (6 months and 2 years old) started sleeping much better when we put them down on their tummy. I know everyone says not to do that, but for years that was the way babies slept. If Caden is rolling over then he should be fine on his tummy, but I understand if you arent comfortable with that. My youngest hasn't been sleeping well lately, we have all been sick, so I understand how you feel. It is miserable when your kids won't sleep or let you sleep. Someone else recommended a noise machine, we live by ours. I have them both turned up all the way. That is the only way anyone can nap I our house. My 2 year old is a drummer--enough said.

    I hope things improve for you soon :)


  20. So sorry that you are dealing with this! Have you heard of the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child? We have friends who swear by it. One thing the author suggests is an earlier bedtime (like 5:30) to help overtired babies. It worked wonders for our friends. Good luck!

  21. As a mommy of 3 little ones 4 and under, I've found Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child to be very helpful. Praying for you. Enjoy your blog and appreciate your openness and realness. Thanks :)

  22. I have no advice for you because I am not a mom yet. I'm so sorry for you! Prayers and hugs your way...

  23. Dana Miller of House Tweaking recommends The Happiest Baby on the Block. I don't have any kids so i dont have any personal advice but thought of that when I read your post! Good luck!

  24. I like what Ruth was saying about the metabolic testing...

    I have no wisdom as my Ruby has decided that it is HER way or the highway. Which is ironic because before her, if a mother told me that her child was not sleeping through the night, I would silently think "you must be doing it wrong." Woe is me.

    I am a BIG Babywise momma and Ruby is not really into the system. Lately, I tried to start feeding her at the exact time everyday so that her body would regulate and she would have more consistency. Got hard when she would wake up at 5 one morning and 7 the next BUT we got 3 good days and regulated it and she started sleeping better at night. Albeit she STILL wakes up at 3am and will NOT go to sleep without a bottle.

    Today my 5 year old said, "Don't you wish they (adam and eve) wouldn't have sinned? Then Ruby's heart would have worked the right way."


  25. I tried the crib with all 3 of my kids, and none of them would have it. I read all the books that told me what I should be doing and got totally stressed out trying to schedule everything and be perfect. Finally, I just decided to go with what felt right to me as a mother. I brought my baby to bed. I let them nurse themselves to sleep. If they woke up in the middle of the night, I fed them and barely had to wake up. I got so much criticism. People claiming my kids would never sleep on their own. That they would need milk forever. Voicing worries that the baby would fall out of bed or be smothered. On and on. Guess what, there never were any close calls safety wise with them. They all moved to their own beds just fine when they were ready. They all quit the nursing/bottle at around year. And, they all sleep perfectly well at night. The dangers of co-sleeping really come in when the parents are drinking/on drugs, etc. I'm sure someone will disagree with me, but people not under the influence (unless if they're naturally really deep sleepers) will not roll over on an 8 month old baby. :) If you look at the history of child rearing, it has only been relative recently that all these "babies must have their own room/crib" has come about. I guess for me, it just seemed natural to keep them close to me where I could attend to them on demand, snuggle with them, and actually us both get some sleep. Mark didn't mind, because it was a whole lot better than what we had been dealing with. Wish you the best!


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