Thursday, July 15, 2010

i live with a sleep terrorist

Girlio likes to visit.  At night.  A lot.  And nurse.  And chat.  And practice her fake sneezing.  and pick our noses.  And cry.  And just generally make sure we are still there.    We are.  Still there.  But just barely.

I know lots of folks are comfortable with the cry-it-out method.  It works for them, and they are happy with its results.  I never have been.  I feel like it works because kids just eventually learn that their parents just won't come for them.  The idea that Girlio should have that very realization about me makes my heart hurt.  A lot.  I wonder how parents differentiate between a "my baby wants my company" cry and a "my baby has a fever and threw up all over her bed" cry.  I tell myself that I signed up to be a parent, and I can't just turn the job off when it's inconvenient for me.  Those are my issues, and my worries (Again - I don't begrudge other folks doing things the way that works best for them.  I'm a pro-choice kinda parent). 

But I am at a total loss.  Total, total loss.  Yes, Girlio is teething.  10 teeth and counting at 13 months.  That's a lot.  But this isn't just teeth.  And it has been 13 months since I have had any kind of decent sleep (I'm talking 3+ wake-ups a night.  And usually on the + side of 3).  That's a fair chunk of wakings and a fair chunk of time to function (though the word function might be a bit of a stretch) with such craptastic sleep.  It affects my mental health.  It affects my ability to parent.  It affects all of my relationships.  It affects my ability to live.  It affects L.'s ability to stay awake at work. 

So what next?  How do my lofty-ish parenting goals and my ever increasingly desparate need for sleep meet in the middle?  The sleep experts are polarized into two camps.  You have varying degrees of cry-it-out, or no-cry, attachment parenting and each camp thinks the other camp is full of neglectful idiots.  The general arguments go: It's actually kinder to let your child cry because you need to teach them 'valuable sleep skills' vs. you will cause long term emotional damage if you let your child cry and need to be there, connecting and nurturing, etc. etc.  (The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, I'm just not entirely sure how to pull that off.)  Though they like to call them all sorts of different names to make us buy a zillion books, thinking they might tell us something different, two camps is all it really boils down to.  I know this, because I've pretty much read them all.  Desperation is a highly effective spending motivator. 

Something's gotta give.  But is it going to be my morals, or my sleep? 

(Just between the lot of us, I';m beginning to wonder if morals are just a teensy bit overrated.)


  1. I got so desperate with Imogen that I tried CIO. It was taking 2-3 hours to get her to sleep at night and I had to be with her that whole time. And then there were the endless wake ups.
    CIO was a disaster. She cried til she threw up and was desperately clingy during the day. And it only made bedtime worse. I tried it for three nights; neither she nor I could take it any longer. My critics say I should have stuck it out. I say poo on them, for all the reasons you have cited-- she was just too little and too scared to face being away from me at that time. (Incidentally, she began sleeping, contentedly, in her own bed just over three months ago, at age 4.5, and she's delighted with it.)
    Jude, on the other hand, was an even worse sleeper than his sister. Up at least every hour all night long to nurse. One night, I just couldn't do it. I was bone-achingly exhausted. He was in bed with me and I put him in his playpen... I wasn't trying CIO, I just needed a break, for a few minutes, before I dealt with him again... and he cried. For like, 10 minutes, and fell asleep. And after that, he was willing to sleep alone and for (slightly) longer stretches.
    I'm still anti-CIO. But that unintentional CIO I did with Jude was incredible.

  2. Your struggle is ours too, but we couldn't take the exhaustion anymore with both of us working - we tried EVERYTHING... you name it we did it. From co-sleeping to CIO and everything in between. Every kid responds differently at different developmental points. The method that seemed to match our L's temperament the best AND showed results was the Sleep Easy Solution. Yes it is a variety of CIO - but kinder, gentler, and in our case SOMEWHAT effective. May the snooze be with you.

  3. I hear ya oh sleepless ones!! I'm not sure that there is a "one-size-fits -all" solution, as each child and family is different. Let's face it, whatever we try to do in this crazy life called parenthood, someone is going to have an opinion on it!!

    We did try our own form of CIO when trying to get both our kids to go to bed awake, and in their own rooms. They both have their own little routines. Ethan for some reason needs to be buried under quilts and surrounded by his little family of toys, he talks to them & listens to his "nightime cd" , while Rhiannon has snuggles and story and normally sings her self to the land of nod. When either of them are even looking vaguely sick the rules change though, monitors go on high volume so i hear every breath or cough, Rhiannon knows she can come to our room whenever & mommy radar goes on high alert somehow.

    There are good nights & bad nights (hmmm had about 30 minutes on the sofa all Monday night while dealing with Ethan's night-long croup attack), friends just mainly laugh & tell me this will all pass...yep until they're old enough to be out all night & we're wide awake worrying about what they are upto , right?

    wish i could be more helpful!

  4. Does she sleep with you or just come visit?

    That's the first thing I'd suggest.. either a mattress next to your bed or just tucking her in between you. If everyone goes to sleep in the same room at the same time, it might give you a little more rest. Without knowing much, that would be my first thought.

    I know sleep deprivation sucks. And all those people who just say 'nap with the kids' either never had kids or never had any standards. ;)

    The sleep stuff does eventually work itself out, but that doesn't help right now. Wish I could just wave a wand for ya.

    I hear you about the teeth thing, too. On her 1st birthday, Lyssa had 15 teeth. She started getting them at 7 weeks.

    My latest mother in law at the time though it was 'great' because I'd 'have to stop nursing'. Nursing is unnatural. That's why we have bottles.

    Oh, I'm sorry. I digress.

  5. Ami - Nursing is unnatural, that's why we have bottles! LOVE IT. Your MIL made me snort out loud (however unintentionally).

    Everyone - thanks for sharing and the ideas. We've tried co-sleeping, which actually works worse than the crib for some reason. If it worked, I'd be perfectly happy to do it til she goes to college if I thought it would help us get some sleep. I guess we'll start looking for some more sleep props (try white noise again maybe...)

    At any rate, though I don't wish sleeplessness on anyone, thanks for reminding me I'm not alone.

  6. Claire had recommend the book she talks about above, so we got it and had good luck with it. We did it when G was 6 months and I was a zombie, the sleeping started getting worse instead of better, more nursing at night instead of less, etc. I am not a nice person when I don't get any sleep so I'm really feeling you on this one. Anyway, we used that book and I shit you not, he cried for an hour the first night, less the second, and not at all the third. He's 19 months old now and we've never looked back. I kiss him and put him down for naps and bed and he is all done. I literally NEVER have to go in there at night. I know it's different for every kid so no saying that it would work for you, but might be worth a shot. I hear you on the morals thing but on the other hand I am a completely shitty mother when I'm tired, and I'm the one who stays home so it's good if I'm not a complete bitch. Right? :)

  7. just an idea...when my little guy was just older than girlio we squeezed a double bed into his room (from ikea, low to the ground, pushed up against the wall, surrounded by pillows for the first month). the point was that one of us could go to him and lie down in relative comfort till he fell back to sleep. this got him into the habit of staying in his bed without feeling deserted. sometimes i'd fall asleep there and stay, but mostly i'd head back to my room when he started kicking me in the head (as he always ended up doing when he was in our bed). i know every child is different, so it might not work, but he now loves being in his own bed and started falling asleep on his own (not every night. he still likes a little cuddle occasionally before drifting off.) when he turned three...and if that fails, keep smiling. i hear it helps. ;)

  8. Jane- first of all LOL! Thanks for not being too offended by my cheeky post :) Second of all, thanks for the suggestion. We just might give that a try, even though it'll mean Girlio's bedroom may in fact be all bed. Cheers.