I am downstairs, taking a break. Taking a break from my beautiful, incredible, sweet little boy. (He is with his Daddy)
My little boy whose lack of sleep is slowly driving me to the point of insanity.
I know he used to sleep. I just can hardly remember when.
I know that many many months ago he would regularly sleep six hours at a stretch, sometimes even nine.
But it's been a long time since that happened round these parts.
It's been a slow gradual decline....first it was a five hour stretch, then four, then three and a half.
Somewhere along the line I picked up "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", I remember that when I read it he was still fitting into the normal expected sleep pattern for his age. So I put it away and decided to just continue with what we had been doing. I comforted my tired self with the hope that this would soon pass and the knowledge that he was already growing up so fast and that I would miss these night times with him when he got older. And I was really ok with it.
But then a few weeks ago it got worse. Much much worse.
It's been many months since I have slept more than 4 hours straight through. It has now been several weeks since I have slept two hours or more in a row. I have a constant headache and I am losing my ability to suck it up and function well during the day.
His napping is erratic. I never know whether I will get a blissful two-hour stretch from him or the more common 30 minute power-naps he has become fond of these days. Regardless, I have lost my own ability to sleep on cue when he sleeps during the day - likely due to the coffee I am drinking each morning just to manage.
I can't help but feel that it is my fault somehow - that I am missing something, that I should be doing something differently. I am very consistent with his bedtime routine. I use several cues to let him know it is time to go to bed. And he falls asleep easily. He just doesn't stay that way very long.
I thought maybe it was his teeth, as he does seem really unhappy and uncomfortable every time he wakes. I have tried herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, massage, and good old-fashioned "baby crack" (aka Tylenol or Advil). I might get one extra hour from this but it doesn't seem to make all that big of a difference.
I have nursed him to sleep. I have not nursed him to sleep. I have rocked, I have bounced, I have begged, I have prayed. I have co-slept. I have not co-slept. I have tried soothing him in his bed without picking him up. I have tried picking him up sooner. Nothing seems to make that big of a difference.
His routine now is that after falling asleep, he sleeps about 2 hours and wakes again. I rock him back to sleep and he sleeps another hour, maybe two if we are super lucky. After that it's pretty much a crap shoot. He wakes roughly every hour, sometimes more often. Often he wants to nurse, but he also just can't seem to get comfortable. Finally, Mr. Spicy takes him about 6am and plays with him, changes him, and feeds him breakfast. After that he might come back to bed with me and sleep another hour to an hour and a half.
I am having a hard time holding it together and remembering that he isn't doing this to me. I know he doesn't want to be waking so often. I know he'd probably love to get a nice full night's sleep. I look into his poor sleepy eyes as he whimpers to me in the middle of the night, and calls out for his "Mama" and I feel terrible that I don't know what to do to help the both of us. I am all out of answers and just too damned tired to find any more.
I know I can't survive like this much longer. I just can't. This is torture.
I know I need to enlist Mr. Spicy to take more night shifts on the weekends. It is painfully obvious to me that I can not do this alone night after night. It's just in the past I haven't been able to sleep when he's stepped in to relieve me. I lie awake wondering if they need me and berating myself for not being able to sleep.
But even with the promise of a "night off" soon....tonight is Tuesday night and the weekend feels so very very far away....
And even a much needed break can't solve the underlying issue: Why can't my baby sleep?
What am I doing wrong here? What am I missing?
and why do I feel so much shame for being the one whose baby doesn't sleep? like it is some mark of mothering ability, to have a child who sleeps soundly through the night?
I feel protective of him. I don't want anyone to think of him as the "bad sleeper", or "difficult". I don't want him to be the subject of others' stories: "Well...I know a baby who still wakes every hour and he's eight months old!"
Sure, when he wakes up for the fourth consecutive time that I try desperately to lay him down and I need to pee and my shoulders are burning - sure, I might have a grumbling thought or two about him - but I don't want that to be what others know of him.
There is just so much else about him that is so much more delightful.
I know I am being somewhat ridiculous. I am not the first to live through this, I will not be the last. I know I am not alone - at least I hope I am not.
So, Mamas out there....please help me out: tell me about your sleepless nights, your exhaustion, your frustration - and maybe even what worked for you.
Maybe I can make it through this season knowing that there are others who are staring and who have stared blearily at the clock praying that their babies will just please go back to sleep and sleep for more than an hour this time. Others who could not imagine getting through one more night, and somehow they did.
In the meantime....back to it for me....