Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Endymion's Sleep

I have lost count of the numbers of days and nights it's been since I last had more than one hour of sleep at a stretch. Day and night have lost the crisp edges of their distinction: day blurs into night which blurs into day which blurs into night again and so on and so on and so on, without sleep. Day is brighter, night quieter, but it is otherwise difficult to tell them apart. Because at all hours of both day and night, there is this child, ravenous and growing, clinging to me, squirming against me or alongside me, always hungry, always growing, nursing longer than he sleeps.

I am long past delerium. I'm caught somewhere between wakefulness and sleepiness, in some strange purgatory that holds me with my eyes open, my heart open, my mind closed and dark. I can see and feel but I cannot think; my head feels covered in thick gauze, a shroud.

My heart remains open, awake. His gurgles and coos still make me smile. Even in a state of utter exhaustion, I feel love. I feel love. But I feel anxiety, too, when I try to leave the room, the better to attempt a longer, uninterrupted stretch of sleep. I feel anxiety when I hear him begin to stir and grumble and fuss. Anxiety for him, anxiety for me. I pad back into the bedroom and curl up next to him, pulling him to my breast and resigning myself to wear this heavy cloak of exhaustion, resigning myself to its pull and drag and yet still managing to smile, weakly, in the dark, when my boy sighs contentedly and grips my finger with his tiny fist.

I love him so, I love caring for him so, but still. I am so, so tired.

Sometime this morning, in the very early morning, when the light had yet to break over the horizon but its promise was there in the chattering of birds and the faint sounds of an occasional car pulling out into the quiet streets, the cloak engulfed me while I sat nursing. It covered me in its flat, heavy darkness and everything disappeared for a while, I don't know how long, until I startled awake to find the boy next to me, wrapped in his blankets, sleeping soundly, away from my breast and I shook, afraid, having no memory of having pulled him away from my breast, of having swaddled him and laid him down, of having drifted off. I was afraid, because the distinctions between day and night and light and dark and asleep and awake were no longer just blurry, but entirely obscured. When had I stopped nursing, when had he fallen back asleep, when had I laid him down? What if I had fallen, dropped him?

Is it a miracle that I can mother in my sleep, or is it a terrible thing that I sleep while mothering? Endymion slept an eternity with his eyes open, ever-watchful, never losing sight of his beloved; I am not Endymion.

It is daytime now, and the boy sleeps - for half of an hour, maybe, or three-quarters, if I'm lucky - and I fight sleep, knowing that I must be awake when he wakes, knowing that I can't bear the feeling of being dragged back from the point of unconsciousness just when it has begun to overtake me. Knowing that I can't bear the idea of not being dragged back from that point when he wakes. Knowing that I can't be, I mustn't be asleep on the job.

So I sit here, awake, praying for sleep, praying against sleep, knowing that this cannot last.

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80 Comments:

OpenID mommymae said...

oh, my dear. i am so sorry you are so tired. things were very similar for me when i had my boy. my girls have been better sleepers - except that my 6 week old grunts WAY too much between 4 - 7am. i hope that he sleeps better for you tonight and every night.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Can you nurse him lying down in bed? You'd both get a lot more and longer sleep that way. Co-sleeping can be really really great for helping a tired mom get some extra hours of sleep and for helping a young baby sleep longer stretches as he feels his mother right there next to him. Yes, there are several rules you MUST follow to co-sleep safely (look here for details) but if you follow them this can be the answer you sound like you desperately need.

Hang in there, and remember that this too shall pass.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I once attended a workshop presented by an infant sleep researcher. He studied mothers and babies who co-slept, and discovered that the mother truly did take care of their babies in their sleep. The mothers would rouse multiple times during the night to look at and check their babies, but didn't remember waking up at all.

When my second baby was born, my first was two years old and still waking up at night. I was a daycare provider, so I couldn't grab naps during the day. My baby slept in a side-car bed, and in the mornings I literally couldn't remember waking up to pull her to me and nurse her, and then put her back in her own space. My husband would tell me how many times she woke up, but I had not actual memory of it.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Anna Marie said...

Bless your heart, I've been there, and the torture of sleep deprivation is the worst. Sleep, Jasper! Sleeeeep!

3:07 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I agree. You must lie beside him and let him nurse while you both fall back asleep. He'll be fine.
Oh, I remember those days and nights. You'll both live. You will.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Robin - we do co-sleep (following all the guidelines, etc, etc - he has his own little special mattress with ridges on the side to prevent him rolling off, atop our king-sized bed. Which is part of the problem, actually - I'm so alert to his presence - to his gurgling and truffling for boob, to his squirming and mild fussing - that I never actually sleep, unless it overtakes me unexpectedly. I get more rest, maybe, than I would if he were in another room, but I think that I might get less *sleep*. which is why I occasionally move into the other room, where I can't hear or sense him so well. but then I get anxious, and go back.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Oh, I was hopelessly and sleeplessly lost in the pea soup newborn fog myself a couple times!So hard! Good advice, Lisa. I used an Arm's Reach co-sleeper ( side car) with my second baby. Also, miracles started to happen once we bought a white noise machine. I'll say it again...white noise machines rock!

3:37 PM  
Blogger Mama Ginger Tree said...

Oh gosh. I remember that feeling so well. Your words describe it better than I ever could. I used to be comforted by the thought that no matter what time of night or day it was, there was some other mom somewhere out there sitting in the dark doing the exact same thing as me.

For me, misery loves company.

Beautiful writing, as always.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

Sending good sleep vibes your way!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous bessie.viola said...

This is incredible - that you are currently in this state of exhaustion yet able to write about it in a way that is so utterly coherent, that captures the very essence. I remember these days so well... and this post took me immediately back to my place in the glider, rocking and nursing.

Hoping you catch some zzz's soon.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Tina C. said...

The lactation consultant told me that nursing releases a hormone that allows mothers to reach REM sleep quicker than normal, so as to take advantage of the few winks we'll get in between feedings. it helps me feel more awake if i think that the few hours i got were more intense, and maybe more restorative..., than normal sleep. i got a good long stretch from my 4 month old last night cause he cried for 25 minutes moments after i stepped out to go to the grocery store. Whoops! i could hear him screaming as i approached the house.

3:58 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I've read your blog for a while. I don't think I've ever commented before.

I've never had anyone describe with such acuity my own sense of utter exhaustion while parenting a sleepless baby. My son was born eight and half years ago, but, I still shudder when I think about the first year of his life, when sleep for more than about 45 minutes was out of the question. My anxiety levels...they were off the charts. I think there were times when I hallucinated. Even when I was able to dream, I dreamed of sleep. Commercials for prescription sleep aids used to make me cry, because of the line at the end that said, 'people who cannot devote 6 to 8 hours a night to sleep should not take this product.' I didn't believe I would ever get six uninterrupted hours of sleep again. (Those commercials actually still make me tense because I remember how much they upset me.) (I also used to fall asleep with my hand on my son's chest, terrified that if I fell asleep, he would stop breathing if I fell asleep, which didn't help matters at all.)

Anyway, no advice, just empathy. And a hope that you get some real sleep soon.

4:22 PM  
Blogger chaipo said...

Gosh I remember that feeling! None of this may help but I really do feel your pain, having gone through the sleep deprivation gauntlet of nursing six months ago.

Have you tried an Amby? We found that our baby slept longer in those early months in an amby, and the rustling wouldn't wake me up so much since it was a hammock device.

Personally, I was too hyper-sensitive to handle co-sleeping. Baby and I both got a lot more sleep when I started moving into another room with a monitor turned down low. If you have a chance to get a video monitor, maybe that would help too (no need for a visual check on whether baby is breathing or not).

Either way, I really wish you well and hope that you get some sleep soon!

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Oh, wow. You described it so well. I remember being in that hazy place and finally realizing there was nothing I could do about it but accept it and wait. And wait. And wait. My daughter is almost 2 1/2 and only wakes up once most nights now. I'm amazed by how functional mothers can manage to be in such a state of exhaustion.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Syko said...

I don't want to seem like a dissenter here, because obviously nursing even when it is painful and never sleeping is where it's at these days, and I had my babies years ago in a different time and place.

But you really need some rest. I mean, really. And you're not going to sleep with that big baby snuffling and snorting up against you all night. Put him in a nursery, put a monitor in with him, and get some rest! He is definitely big enough, if he has doubled his birth weight of 9+ pounds, to sleep 6-7 hours without nursing. And possibly he might sleep better in a crib where there isn't a big human or two moving around all night.

It's not going to do him any good if you crack. Do something for you. He's a lot stronger than you may think, and he'll be just fine. It's you who is the patient now.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I have been there . For so many years, I, too, have been right there with you. And my children even FELL out of the bed. It was horrible. ANd I was scared. And I felt awful.BUT........ I was exhausted.

I now sleep through the nights,more or less. So, this, too, shall pass. It is not going to be like this forever.

4:45 PM  
Blogger DivaDunn said...

Ohhh, I feel your pain!!! With mine about to turn 2, I've just now started to wonder why I felt her infancy was so hard. This sums it up! I think I had PDD but was just too damn exhausted to rationlly realize it.

Don't hold yourself to Endymion's standards. What a showoff! As long as you're not forgetting entire days, you're doing a great job.

(Here's a confession...We co-slept the first nine months since she wouldn't fucking sleep any other way...I'd even occasionally fall asleep while she was nursing and once she rolled completely off the bed...a 2ft drop onto hardwood floors...and you know what...she's perfectly fine!)

5:31 PM  
Blogger Booba Juice said...

I know how you feel. My first daughter wasn't a sleeper. She still isn't. She will wake up sometimes four or five times a night. But most of the time its just one or two. Sometimes just just craws in bed with us, sometimes she turns one of her barbie movies, and will fall back asleep while watching it.

When she was young, I would long for a few minutes of sleep with out holding her. I would beg all that is good and pure, please...please...just a few more minutes. I remember feeling like it wasn't even worth it.

And then my second chid was born. I expected most of the same...perhaps even feeling like it was my fault that my first daughter doesn't sleep as soundly...(despite the fact that my husband has always been the same way.) And at first I thought it was the same. Even worse. She wouldn't ever really fall into a deep sleep. The first two weeks was a misrible experience. Please, my two children sleep without me....please. But a funny thing happend. I found that my second daughter wouldn't sleep for very long if I was holding her...she wanted her bed.

So, now she is three months, and she sleeps between 10 to 13 hours a night, by her self, in her bed. Sometimes she will wake up to nurse once, around the time that my husband leaves for work, but then she is right back in bed, and she will sleep then several more hours. My first daughter, still gets up several times a night... :)

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Oh dear... I feel your pain.
With my first, I woke up, went into his room to nurse everytime he woke up. I was constantly exhausted.

With #2 and #3, I would bring them into bed with me, slept while they nursed, and it was a totally different experience. I was actually rested, the babies slept better for longer period of times, and I felt like I had my life back!

6:09 PM  
Blogger Listen Up, MoFos! said...

Of all the things that would stop me from having a second baby, lack of sleep is Numero Uno, Dos, Tres, etc, etc. Some do well without any sleep. I, like you, do not.

Assvice: is it at all possible for you to pump and have your husband help you feed the boy at night? Maybe not every day but a couple of days a week?

I know, we are all trying to be useful and this is probably making you more tired than not sleeping. Sorry, we just like you :)

6:22 PM  
OpenID marymurtz said...

My God, this was incredible.

6:40 PM  
OpenID blissfullycaffeinated said...

Gosh you are bringing it all back for me. My second child had terrible colic and for the first 6 months I got almost no sleep. Those were ugly days and I went off the deep end. Co-sleeping didn't help, because she didn't sleep for more than an 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were. The colic eventually tapered off, but she was never a great sleeper. Still isn't. But it is much better now than it was then.

Also, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are right in the thick of it. It's hard for you to see the signs now, but he'll start sleeping better soon, I'm sure.

And people will scream at this - but try sleeping with him next to you, instead of in the little bed. I co-slept with my babies at my side, in between me and the Arm's Reach. Much more comforting for me and them.

Know that it will get better.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter is almost 6 months old and the first 2 months were sheer hell, then a two months of OK, then back to no sleep (up every hour) . .. i turned into "mean mommmy" a few weeks ago and banned the pacifier cold turkey after figuring out that she was waking up every hour to find it (read: mom and dad find it for her!). She is now sleeping a 6 hour stretch and then a 4 hour stretch. it's bliss - not sure if this helps, but my son used to use boob as pacifier and it sounds similar.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Jen Maier said...

Haven't commented in a LONG while but this one brought me out of lurksville. Advice from a mom of a 9 year old who still has NEVER slept through the night (sorry) is do WHATEVER you can to get sleep. And, go easy on yourself. I look back and think - My God! The anxiety! I should have been medicated. Don't be afraid to ask for help or to admit defeat ;) They are powerful little creatures.

When my little guy was that age I would side-lie nurse (as mentioned by many) although it wasn't unbroken sleep it was not fully awake either. I gave up on listening to "experts" as it just made me feel guilty and sub-par. I took the advice of only other moms I truly respected and who shared a similar parenting philosophy.

The good news is, my guy who is not a sleeper is a wonderful, active, happy, smart 9 year old. Remember, you are not alone!

6:52 PM  
OpenID GeekLady said...

Every mom and every baby is different, and what works for one set isn't going to work for another.

What you describe turned out the be the best method for me and my son. After my c-section incision healed, I tried, at my mother's urging, to move him from his cosleeper next to my bed to his crib, and it was even worse than the cosleeper. Neither of us get any sleep unless he's snuggled up next to me, head pillowed on boob. His truffling around does wake me up, but not very much. Even if he starts in his crib at night, he still ends up in our bed by 2am. I don't have the guts to tell my mom, she'd be horrified, would say that he has to learn to sleep on his own, but he's only two months old and I value having a happy baby and some sleep as opposed to a baby that wakes himself once or twice an hour and is cranky.

But you can't find something that will work for you till you aren't so exhausted. Can you get anyone to come and stay with him during the night and maybe bottle feed him with expressed milk, just so you can get a few good nights of sleep?

7:10 PM  
Blogger Dawn Johnson said...

First I have to do my usual "you are such a beautiful writer!"

We coslept our twins for the first 4 months because we got more sleep cuddling them then anything else. And we were madly in love with them. I was never able to get one to nurse in bed so we still had to get up every 3 hours for feedings. But then around 5 months the sleep deprivation started to make me a very angry person and I decided against everything I'd gone into parenting believing, "it is time to get these kids into their own cribs!" And then I spent the next six months missing those night time cuddles. So I empathize with your conflicting feelings about it.

Sending prayers of sleep for you.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Your writing is phenomenal, I enjoy reading your blog every chance I get.

I'm so sorry you're going through this, I remember it well and it is not fun at all. I agree with others who have said "do whatever you need to to get some rest".

I was co-sleeping with my daughter (she was born in Jan) for about six weeks and was totally exhausted. She wasn't even nursing that often, I just couldn't sleep well with her next to me - her simple movements and breathing kept me awake. After co-sleeping with my first two until they were at least six months, I wanted and expected to do the same with my third baby.

Not the case. After frustration and sleeplessness, I moved her to her crib at about six weeks old. She was only across the hall, but if her door was shut I could hear her if she was hungry, yet could not hear the basic noises she was making that kept we awake all night. It ended up being perfect for both of us, she slept well and longer in her crib than she ever did being next to me. And although I lamented the loss of co-sleeping . . . I welcomed the 3-4 hour stretches of sleep I was getting.

Hang in there - you will blink and he will be a "big kid".

8:09 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Co-sleeping is not right for every baby nor every set of parents. If the baby is keeping you awake, maybe you're keeping the baby awake. Maybe you're anxious, on edge, nervous, and freaked out because you are so exhausted. There's a reason sleep and sensory deprivation are used as a form of torture and control.

While your post eloquently describes your concerns for your son's needs, it doesn't honestly address what your needs are nor how martyring yourself to your infant might be affecting the other child you're parenting or your marriage. YOur son is healthy, he's gaining weight, he's FINE. You're not fine. That's not OK.

If you're not sleeping and your son isn't sleeping than your current arrangement isn't working. Dare to try something different. Don't be enslaved to an IDEA of what is best and perfect, look for what WORKS.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Blogversary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:18 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

This is exactly why I keep finger feeding at night - I've dropped the bottle a couple of times when I've fallen asleep suddenly, and nursing makes me even more drowsy, so I am convinced and terrified that I would drop him. The possibility scares the crap out of me, especially with him still so tiny.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Oh Mamma... I feel your fatigue. I have a 9 month old. I was there, that horrible fatigue that just ... encases everything. I can't tell you what to do but for my first 10 -12 weeks Noah slept ON MY CHEST and nursed every 2-3 hours round the clock, usually more often during the day. Around 3-4 months he began sleeping in a crib but was up frequently. When Noah wakes up in the morning (whatever time that is) we nurse in bed, side by side and we fall back to sleep together. At first I was so scared because he was so small but now he's larger and it's nice to cuddle with him. I'm all for doing what works for you so that baby is fed and content and you get the sleep you need. I hated napping when I knew I couldn't get into a real restorative sleep. You need to trust sleep, even some small amounts will help you. I would nap more on weekends when my husband was around. Let the house cleaning and laundry go for a day, take a break from writing. I HATE giving up my "breaks" and my "outlets" but sometimes I had to trade them for sleep...
Good Luck to you, it will get easier soon. You are being a wonderful Mommy and that boy is totally thriving because you are giving him such constant nurturing and nursing.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

You really captured that bleariness of the newborn stage really well in this post.

I know it's scary that we can do these things in our sleep. My kids always slept with me as babies and I had a similar experience of falling asleep while my son was breastfeeding.

You will sleep again one day.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I've had at least two nights like that, when I woke to find the baby next to me and didn't remember putting her there. It's terrifying.

Know you have a friend who is going through the same thing, far away but with you.

9:50 PM  
Blogger April said...

It does get better. I can remember waking up in a panic searching for my son in the middle of the night, only to find that I'd returned him safely to his bassinet.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my son was born, he too ate every hour or two (usually for 45 minutes at a stretch!). My husband and I worked out a way for both of us to sleep; I pumped during the day, in between frequent feedings (I really actually made that much milk, it worked for me). I then went to bed at 8:00 or 9:00, and slept until about 2:00. My husband fed the baby with a bottle (but only breastmilk), while I slept. After 2:00, I woke up and fed my son whenever he was hungry, while my husband slept.
Both of us got a couple of full sleep cycles (makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD). A side bonus -- husband and son have always been very close.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Mommy Melee said...

I had a lot of issues for the months that S was very young. Not sleeping made me crazy, and sleeping for more than 2-3 hours at a time made me crazy AND incoherently upset. It was bizarre.

Pumping a middle-of-the-night bottle was the only way I survived. But it definitely caused me to produce WAY way more milk than I needed. This was better than not enough milk, but it was still pretty uncomfortable and bizarre. I had to wear nursing pads alwaysalwaysalways until I weaned him at 15 months.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I agree about nursing on your side. The ONLY WAY that we get any sleep in this house is for the kids to start the night in their own rooms, and then stumble into ours around 2 am. The big one usually comes in first, and snuggles up on my right. Then the little one will cry and I'll go get her (and I don't always remember doing it, either, which is ok and normal when you're sleep deprived - I'll bet you're forgetting large chunks of the day, too, you just don't realize it) and put her on my left, between my husband and myself.

Thank God for king sized beds.

I remember those feelings. It will get better. I promise.

And someday when they are teenagers and they sleep 23 hours a day, we will gleefully take air horns into their rooms at 3 am and wake them up with them, and we'll say, "THERE! Now we're even for your first 6 months of life!"

Hugs,
Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

11:44 PM  
Blogger Anissa Mayhew said...

I remember crying those miserable tears after realizing I hadn't slept in more than 10 days straight after baby #2. I could barely work up enough energy to eek out a tear, but they came anyway.

I'm just hoping you find your groove, you get your rest and you realize that perfect mothering is a myth...you're living the dream.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Mommer said...

What I can't figure out is how you could be in that state and describe it perfectly, when my writing ability in that state was reduced to a long, meditative silence in which I tried to remember how to turn the computer on. And then gave up trying to find that nice, big, silver shiny button three inches from my hand, since he was awake again and therefore hungry, and why was I sitting at the computer? I forgot.

As every mother of two knows (even if the two are twins), and as you've been told, every baby is different. I knew this, but it took a while for it to really sink in. My girl co-slept with us -- started out in a family heirloom cradle beside the bed, came and slept with us at the first nursing, and I side-slept with her and barely had to wake up to nurse her. We did that until 8 months, I never rolled over on her, she never fell out, it was delightful.

My boy was an entirely different story. He hated the cradle. He hated the bed. Everything woke him up, and (to my utter dismay) we couldn't co-sleep because I woke up every time HE woke up, and when that happened once every half hour to hour all night, I was so exhausted that ... well, you know. You wrote about it.

Our solution was the nursery down the hall, with the doors open and a baby monitor. It broke my heart. He was only three weeks old, and *I* didn't want to be apart from him. But he slept better and I slept better, and sanity gradually returned. It turned out later (this is not to scare you, just our experience) that he was mildly autistic, and the closeness of another human body was -- and still is -- distressing and distracting. His brain just needed quiet to sleep, and so did mine.

Maybe one of my two solutions will work for you, maybe not. The point is that you're the mom -- you have absolute freedom to fool around with whatever variation on all of these themes you want to. Because you sure as hell can't keep doing what you're doing, sweetie.

It gets better. You know it does. It's easy to forget that at 3 a.m., though. *hugs*

12:45 AM  
Blogger Mommer said...

P.S. A paragraph from an old blog entry of mine came to mind ...

Most new mothers almost certainly have a few moments, often at 3 a.m. and hunched over with unwashed hair straggling across their faces, where they look into the red screaming face of their well-fed, thoroughly-burped, freshly-diapered child and emit a despairing growl through gritted teeth, "I don't. Know what. You WANT." And then the mommies start crying because they just said mean things to their baby, and now it will be warped forever, and it didn't even help because now the baby is just screaming louder, which didn't seem physically possible thirty seconds earlier. (3 a.m. is powerful stuff.)

You are NOT alone. Really.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Possibly delurking (not sure) to let you know that I feel your pain. I am so incredibly miserable without sleep that with both kids, I am convinced that is what dropped me head first into PPD (not the only thing, but it sure as hell was a huge contributor). With my 2nd child, we did a couple of things differently. First, right around 6 weeks or so, we moved our daughter into her own crib/room so that we weren't waking ea. other up. The anxiety was a HUGE issue for me, so sometimes (often) my husband slept in there with her. Secondly, my husband took a feeding every night. It took some time to get there so that my production reduced, etc. and sometimes she even got formula. I would go to bed early, my husband would take the first feeding (11 ish or so) and that way I would get at least one stretch of 4 hrs or so. It made a world of difference. I didn't feel great, but I wasn't hallucinating AND my anxiety level in general went WAY down. I hope this is helpful - every situation is so specific and I don't know all the details, but hopefully all this assvice will help you will find a way to get some rest. You aren't doing yourself, Amelia, or Jasper any good like this and you're causing yourself harm. It is so hard to see that part of it when you're so exhausted. BTW, how the h*ell do you write so well this tired??

3:07 AM  
Anonymous Michaela said...

Earplugs. Wear earplugs - I started using them when my daughter was tiny and every little noise she made, set me right off into a state of anxiety and alert('is she going to wake up, is she just kicking around, should i leave her, pick her up, feed her'...). The earplugs just seemed to take the edge off that altertness, allowing me to still be there, quickly, when she really needed me but cutting out the little sounds that were really just her being asleep. Good luck. I feel the pain - it's not pretty but you know, like all of us here, that it won't last!

4:43 AM  
Blogger Goldfish said...

You almost made me cry! There are times when I struggle to put into words how tired I am, how desperate I feel.... My husband is sweet, but he doesn't get it. I know I've survived my two older children's infancies, and I'll get through this one, too. That doesn't help when I'm so tired I can barely keep it together, though. Thanks... and I'm thinking of you!

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you are very pro-nursing, and so was I but when I got to that point I tried giving the baby the pre-mixed formula for her last feeding of the night before she went to bed, and then she slept for 5 hours! I guess it was heavier and stayed in her stomach longer. I nursed her during the day for her other feedings but at night, I gave one bottle of formula so that I could live the next day! Just a thought!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous MLB said...

I have not read all the comments, so my apologies if this has already been said but my 3rd, born nearly a year ago, was Just Like Jasper. He slept with me only (the first two slept in their own bassinets in my room and we did nurse on demand, etc.). I tried him in co-sleeper, bassinet, whatever, in our room and T would have none of it. When he was two months we finally gave putting him in his own room a shot. And it worked. There was no CIO - he just slept better on his own and obviously so did I. I would give it a try. Also I hear the Amby works wonders. Best of luck. I hope this isn't too assvicey.

8:51 AM  
Blogger LazyCrazyMama said...

I think mothers are set up with natural abilities to sleep with their babies. I was always a very heavy sleeper until I had my first baby. He still sleeps in bed with us at 3 yrs old - we'll jump that hurdle soon enough. But everyone said I shouldn't have him in bed with us because of all the dangers. I was nervous and freaked out about it at times. Because the same things would happen - I would nurse him while sleeping and have no recollection of when he would stop and roll over. Usually whenever he moved I would feel it and everything would be fine.
When my daughter was born I was dead set on having her sleep in the bassinet. That didn't even last one night. Babies just sleep so much better in bed with mommy. Just think of how much less sleep you would be getting if he were in a crib.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Oh I do wish that I could help...

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Ashley said...

I went through this. Actually, I developed sort of a phobia of nighttime, you know? I knew what was coming (the wakefulness, the anxiety knowing that any sleep is precious and that I'm not getting any, and wanting to club my husband to death when he "couldn't hear her.") GOD. It has ended, but it makes me wonder if I can handle it again. I was sosososo tired---and sleep deprivation does a lot more than that. I was also confused and angry and bitter. But I still loved her. A whole lot. A more peaceful time is coming.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Mommer said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to say, when I moved my son to the crib at three weeks, we didn't have any CIO issues either. I put him in there and he conked out the first night. If a little more quiet is what Jasper needs, chances are you are not going to have him screaming himself sick because he's in the nursery.

I remember feeling a little offended (in some backwards sort of way) that my son didn't have any issue stopping co-sleeping. I felt like, "Hey, kid, what's up with the sleeping happily in the crib thing? You're supposed to be pining away, you little twerp!" I got over it pretty fast though, after that first 5-hour stretch of sleep.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Kim/2 Kids said...

I can remember that feeling. Hoping it gets better soon. Our daughter was hospitalized at nine weeks because she was septic and I don't think I slept well for the first two years of her life. Every gurgle, snort or cry was tended to. I did, however, come out the other side. Thinking of you.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

All - I think that we'll try experimenting with the nursery come the weekend (when the husband can set up the crib).

And - should I maybe be trying the rice cereal? WILL DO ANYTHING.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous lavandula said...

oh catherine i remember those days and nights blurring together like it was yesterday...do you have someone who could maybe come and watch the children so you could get a well deserved nap?...not getting enough sleep sucks so bad....i was and still am an extremely light sleeper and remember trying to get to sleep with baby in my bed and afraid my husband would roll onto them...the slightest movement or change in their breathing used to awaken me...hope you can get some extra sleep my friend...

11:49 AM  
Blogger r3 said...

1. You sound too sensitive (I was) to co-sleep. Put him in his own room.
2. Get a white noise machine (a fan, at the least) for you. Yes, you.
3. Get a white noise machine for him. Will bring up his sleep time a significant amount.
4. Use your white noise machine. No Matter. What. If he is in distress, trust me, you'll hear through it.
5. Consider a half dose of benadryl for you once he is used to his machine.
6. Turn on your machine.
7. night night.

Signed,
have so, so, so been exactly there and promise you will get through this.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous sweetdreams said...

What's funny, is that with time (lots and lots of time) you'll remember this fondly and may actually want to -gasp!- return to those days. At least I do. My husband thinks I'm insane, and he may be on to something, but when I read your thoughts of caring for Jasper, with all its sleep deprived horror, I think, oh, how I would love to go back and breathe in that sweet baby smell.

You are teaching that lovely baby how to love and feel love. It's a phenomenal gift and tremendous job.

But, and there's always a but, if you need more than support (and you've got it because, mama, you're doing a fantastic job!) then do what you need to do to survive. Try the most gentlest techniques first and be kind to yourself and your children.

Hang in there.

12:17 PM  
Blogger mek said...

I remember a similar point in my daughter's infancy, that merging of day into night and night into day and rally the only thing that existed was that hungry little mouth! I remember being ABSOLUTELY convinced she could in fact speak and at any moment she would open her mouth and tell me something amazing. I was that tired.

Good luck with the nursery solution this weekend!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Gidge said...

At least you have already been there done that once, and know that there is another side.....and that every day you take another step to crossing over to it.......
:)

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have lost track of how old Jasper is. If he is at least 4 months (although some recommend 6 now, I'm not sure you can make it another 2 months) I say YES!!! Give him cereal. Or you are going to have to let him cry so that he learns he CAN go longer without nursing. It sucks, but it sounds like you really need it.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

anon - he's four months. but he's MASSIVE.

2:14 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

Wow, I remember that exhaustion so well. I used to fall asleep nursing while sitting up - but I don't think it was *real* sleep, rather some weird mutation of sleep, mamasleep, tired, tired, mamasleep.

I would say bring him to your bed, if only so you can rest.

Or leave him for a few (possible 8?) hours with someone and take a good, long nap. You need it, and you deserve it. It's not a luxury at this point but a necessity.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

I remember, with utter horror and chills, the sleeplessness. It's the evil thing that is infancy. I know you try everything and I know you have suggestions and I also know you know this doesn't last forever. I know you did it before and was brave enough to do it again.

But still. It's hard. That no sleep thing. So, utterly, hard.

XO

3:50 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I fell asleep countless times while nursing with my son lying on the nursing pillow on my lap while I sat in the glider. We spent hours like that because I could not stay awake anymore. A few times I woke up nursing in the chair having no recollection of getting out of bed and picking him up and sitting down. It was scary and yet, I never dropped him, he never seemed to have close to falling or having anything bad happen. And at least I got a bit of sleep...

3:59 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

I just saw your comment about the rice cereal and YES! Try it!

My middle one was a big baby (9.8) and he needed to fill up his tummy a lot. As for those who say it's bad to give cereal before 6 months, ALL of my kids had cereal at or before 4 months and none of them have allergies or other issues, that's 3 for 3 if you're counting!

Best of luck Catherine!

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did the rice cereal at 4 mos to all 3 sons because they were huge too and were feeding every hour. I believe that big babies need more than the breast milk can provide at a certain weight. None of the kids had any problems. GO FOR IT! Oh, also, do the crib thing too.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

carrie, anon - gonna do the rice tonight. fingers crossed!

4:48 PM  
Anonymous pkzcass said...

I agree with the person who suggested formula before bed. For me, even though I didn't necessarily have to get up to nurse (if husband got up and gave bottle), I still woke up because the boobs were explosive torpedoes and I would be SOAKED. If I were you, I'd:

1. Switch to formula for nighttime feedings and make husband do some. Baby will survive and will be just fine with a bottle or two a day. Or you could pump and use that. But try to dry up at night if engorgement is a problem for you.

2. Tell husband to leave you sleep for many, many hours this weekend. Like all day on Saturday and all day on Sunday.

3. Put baby in crib. If he seems restless, put him in his carseat in his crib. Helps baby feel encased but it's not your arms encasing him. Win win. I did it for my boys till they were about 8 months old.

4. Fans are good. I can't sleep without one now.

Good luck!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, I've never commented but love your writing. this post so resonated with me - the exhaustion is a killer. especially when you have another child. my second baby was 9 1/2 pounds at birth and also nursed all the time. at 4 months, on ped's recommendation, I gave her rice cereal twice a day and it helped a lot. that, a formula supplement bottle at night and the white noise machine really seemed to work. Good luck!!!
joanna

8:46 PM  
Anonymous lizneust said...

Delurking to join the flash-back crew. Dear lord I had forgotten how awful this was. I mean I made all the right noises, but I never let myself truly remember. This took me right back to 4 and 2 years ago respectively. Please do whatever you can to get some rest - pump, formula, rice cereal - heck, even if the crib isn't set up, borrow a pack n play. As long as he's safe, he'll sleep. And I echo whoever said a white noise machine. For the baby, but ESPECIALLY for you. I couldn't sleep through jack, even on the monitor until my husband brought one home, plugged it in, and voila. I slept. I still heard my girls when they needed me, but otherwise, I slept. Take care.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Oh my. I have been right in that exact place, in your exact thoughts and feelings.
I think that is both a miracle that we are able to mother in our sleep, and a terrible thing that we sleep while mothering. But the former we do because we are made to do so- made to be unconditionally mothers- whether asleep or awake or somewhere between. The latter we do out of neccessity. We have to take what we can for ourselves, even if it seems like the tiniest crumb, it somehow sustains us until this too shall pass.

9:58 PM  
OpenID springtreeroad said...

been there. done that. still doing it to some extent. at 5-mo old my daughter took three 30-minute naps a day. that was when i realized that if she nursed as she slept on my lap or in bed, she would sleep almost as long as she was supposed to. i have rocked her for hours upon hours. i have woken 7, 10 times a night.

she's now going to be 3 next month. she still sleeps with us, she still nurses at night (though not during the day, but she needs it to stay asleep past 3am), and i am still tired. tired. tired. i feel like crap most of the time. i think she's slept past 7:30am twice in her life (and that includes the times she's been sick). she has given up her one nap and she's not even 3. she has boundless energy. she wakes up happy, refreshed. but she's better than she was. a lot better. now she might wake up once before 3am. she occasionally gets up at 5am, but usually it's more like 7. i get a little more sleep than i used to. that's all i can say.

one day you will get more sleep (and it's hard to see it from here, i know. oh how i know). and one day my daughter will be a teenager and i will drag her ass out of bed early in the mornings, just for fun.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine,
I didn't read all the posts, so sorry if this is a repeat. My son (age 1) is still a terrible sleeper, but one thing that helped me at least relax and sleep deeply in between the never-ending nursing was to put a queen-sized mattress on the floor in the bedroom beside our room. I start off sleeping in my bed, when he wakes up, I go nurse him and sleep with him for the night. The beauty of the mattress on the floor was that I stopped worrying that he would somehow roll off of my bed - that anxiety was keeping me from sleeping deeply between feeds. Also, by starting off in my room, I get a bit of sleep that is not interrupted by his little grunts. He actually has to cry (just a wee tiny bit!) to wake me up from next door, and then I pad in and feed him. It's still not perfect, but it's better than co-sleeping with him in my bedroom. Sleep Jasper!!

12:01 AM  
Blogger ├╝berburber said...

oh, you phrase it so well. I remember those days with a combination of horror and nostalgia.

my trick: I got in cahoots w/ hubby. I forced myself to go to bed at 8:00 while hubby stayed up w/ or w/out baby 'til midnight. If there was a feeding during that time, baby got a bottle. Then the midnight to 6 am shift was mine and my boobs'. 6-7, it was daddy-time again, since he'd have to be waking up for work anyway. At least I'd know I was getting a good 4 hour chunk of sleep as I rounded the corner into the long, dark night. Hang in, bad(good)mother.!

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Shelly said...

HBM,
I am so sorry you are in this place.
I have been reading your blog for 2 years, have never commented, but today I must.
Please let me be your cheerleader! YOU CAN DO IT! and JASPER CAN DO IT!
I was in the exact same situation with my now 10 month old. We are CELEBRATING 1 month of boy in crib - tomorrow!
In retrospect, I wish I had had the energy to do something about the situation sooner. But sleep depriviation makes it hard to change the status quo, even when you know things are broken.
I think to some extent we were disturbing each other and the nursing became a reflex to soothe us both to sleep. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised by the transition to crib and nursery.
If you would like more details on how we handled the transition I'd be happy to share. You can email me srossiter at ctcweb dot net.
Good luck.
I'm rooting for you.

P.S. Here's one way I look at it: Could YOU sleep with a plate of brownies on the pillow next to your head?!?

1:53 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

But it seems to last forever, doesn't it? I remember calling the early days "The Dark Days" for that very reason. Everything else would just be so much more manageable if I just got some sleep.

I know. I hear you. Hang in there.

P.S. It sucks. Bigtime.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Just Call Me Sleep Deprived said...

I couldn't believe it when I read this post, you described exactly how I feel, I had no idea that other mothers had this same thing happen to them. I remember the first time I woke up to find my newborn daughter in bed with me sleeping peacefully with NO recollection whatsoever of getting up and putting her there, I was so upset and scared of what could have happened. She is now 7 months old and it still happens, she has even fallen out of bed (luckily it was a short fall onto a carpet) Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing, and apparently the instinct to mother is even more powerful! Hopefully you get some sleep soon good luck!

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Ok, sweetie. According to my baby books, just the ones that worked for me...once your child reaches 11 lbs. they are big enough to sleep 8 hour stretches with no loss of weight or terrible consequences. Second, at 4 months you can start using the cereal. I actually had to use it with my twins way earlier in their bottles (1 medicine cup full to 8 oz of bottle, use Y or cross-cut bottle nipple) because of their severe reflux. I had to feed both my boys with a mop bucket around to catch the puke. Couldn't go anywhere without it for months. Try the cereal because I promise it will help. Email me if you have any questions Catherine. I'm here and I'm ready to offer my help if its needed. fetchthis@hotmail.com

4:56 PM  
Blogger Gray Matter said...

Sometimes I forget what a brilliant writer you are. I know that doesn't help you with your sleep deprivation, but maybe while you're lying awake you can think of how much I, and so many readers, love you--and you'll smile.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son's 5 weeks old and I get flack for letting him sleep on my chest but when he startles himself awake every time I put him in a bassinet and has a meltdown, I have to do it if there's any chance of sleep. Last night out of desperation after I fed him we put him in his swing and he slept for nearly 3 hours, unheard of in this house. We aren't making a habit of it, but if I've learned anything in the last 5 weeks, it's that parenting is a bag of tricks, you've gotta do what works.

Try just one earplug in while you're sleeping - I've found it makes things way easier. The best sleep, though is when you can send them with someone and it's their job to occupy them (ie go for a walk) so that you get some rest.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Lotta said...

When my son was that age he couldn't be layed down for more than 15 minutes before he would wake up. Unless he was attached to my breast.

It turned out he had acid reflux. Sucking on the breast milk helped to keep the acid down. Once we got him on some kind of magical dropper medicine he slept.

I was weeping on phone with my Dr. thanking her for helping me to sleep again.

Maybe see if your son's having some kind of medical reaction that's keeping him up?

2:08 AM  
Blogger Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

Isn't is shocking what us mums go through and isn't it fantastic that people have blogs to discover that they are so not alone and most definitely not a bad mother.

Just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It may take a while to get there, but get there you will.

And, make up the rice already!

9:36 AM  
Blogger McCrazy's said...

What you said is so much what I am going through that I cried for you and me. Good luck... I hope the Ativan helps. (I'm pretty sure it will and probably should get some for myself.) They should hand out a years worth of free Ativan samples to Moms leaving the hospital with newborns. Sorry this doesn't make sense... too tired.

7:56 PM  

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