Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Science Of Sleep

I think that I've said it here before, but I'll say it again: I'm exhausted. I'm going to say more about it right now, so if the topic of my slow spiral into sleep-deprived madness bores you, click away now.

When Emilia was a baby, I was pretty certain that I had the night-time sleep thing figured out. She refused, for the most part, to nap during the day, but was sleeping through the night from infancy and so I counted myself lucky. More than lucky: I was smart. I knew what I was doing, if only in this one area of motherhood. There were a lot of things that I couldn't figure out (like naps, which I bitched about heartily), but getting baby to sleep at night? I knew all about that. When I spoke to other moms who couldn't get their babies to sleep through the night, I shared my tactics - consistent bedtime routine, liberal use of loveys and binkies, a willingness to let baby fuss it out - and nodded sympathetically when they said that these tactics didn't work for them. I nodded sympathetically, but secretly, I wondered: were they doing it wrong? They must be doing something wrong. My formula worked like magic. Of course it was because it was exactly the right formula, and not because Emilia was simply disposed to sleep at night. I wasn't just lucky. I was doing something right.

I was wrong. I was lucky. Mostly. I mean, my tactics certainly helped - Emilia's bedtime routine was made all the more straightforward for its consistency and its props. She did need to fuss it out sometimes, and my willingness to allow that helped us through some difficult periods. But mostly? She was, and is, a good night sleeper.

Jasper is not. And nothing that I do seems able to change that.

I've tried everything - routine, props, fussing it out, crying it out, nursing before sleep, not nursing before sleep, swaddling, not swaddling, vodka (for me) - and then tried it all again, and none of it has worked. Sometimes he settles easily into his crib, sometimes he will only fall asleep in his car seat, but regardless of how he falls asleep, he does not stay asleep. He wakes up, always, a couple of hours after going down, and then he will not return to sleep unless he is tucked in at the breast, in bed, with me, and then he will wake up, invariably, every two hours or so to nurse or just to grab at me and make sure that I am still there. If I sneak away to another room - as I have been doing most nights, just to remove the temptation of boob and try to extend the minutes between wakings - he still wakes up, and yells Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma until I return.

And so it goes, night after night. The husband gets up with him in the mornings, when he can, which affords me a couple of hours of rest, but beyond that there is not much to be had. I stumble forward into each day, ever more tired, ever more slow, ever more blurred and bleary and dazed. I'm coping, in a way - there are worse things, certainly, than to be exhausted from caring for a beautiful, healthy, ever-happy baby - but still: I look ahead at the days and weeks and months of Jasper's babyhood and wonder whether I am fated to remain awake for the duration. And I wonder whether I will stay sane.

Of course I will stay sane. I'll be fine. Millions of mothers before me have endured sleeplessness. Many, indeed, have done it without the advantages of helpful husbands and king-sized beds and spare rooms and Ativan prescriptions. So I resist the urge to proclaim myself overwhelmed unto defeat. If my own mother could do it, so can I.

What I am having more trouble overcoming: the nagging worry that I am not just unlucky, that I am, in fact - against all evidence to the contrary - doing something wrong, that I am missing some vital resource, some work of science or art or magic that would change things, that would make my baby sleep at night. I think back to the nights of Emilia's babyhood, when I would stand outside her door and listen to her breathing and fight the urge to go in and - the mind boggles, it just boggles - wake her up to snuggle her, to have more time with her in her babyness, and I wonder whether that was a different woman, a different mother, a mother who knew things, things that I do not know, or have forgotten.

And then I wonder whether I am going crazy, and I shake the Ativan bottle to see how many pills are left and I calculate the odds of Jasper deciding to sleep through the night before they run out.

And I tell myself that I am very probably not that lucky.

Okay, maybe I'm a little bit lucky. It's just, you know, it'd be nice to look at them and not have them be blurry.


(I apologize - do I need to apologize? - for turning off comments so much recently. I've been doing it when a) I know that I need to back away from the computer - to, you know, maybe sleep a little bit - and won't be able to read comments, and b) when I'm just posting video of the babies, because that whole thing where you give way too much thought to whether people are going leave comments saying how cute they are and ohmigod what if no-one says they're cute? I don't like that. So I avoid the issue altogether. Feel free to tell me that you think that this is terrible of me. Because I worry about that, too.)

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92 Comments:

Blogger ewe are here said...

Both my boys were good sleepers, like your Emilia. And even knowing that, I can tell you without doubt that nothing that you're doing is making Jasper a bad sleeper. Some babies just are.

And, to be honest, that's the one thought that terrifies me with incoming baby no 3 this summer... because we have been so lucky... and I'm not sure we could survive without such luck.

hang in there.

4:40 PM  
Blogger G Love said...

I have this feeling to.

My son is my first child, 9 months old, and he only just the last two weeks or so has started to mostly sleep through the night. But up til now, he hasn't. Ever. And I have several friends who've had kids since, and their babies slept through almost from day one. And I joke about being jealous, and ha isn't my kid a pain! But really I'm worried that I'm doing something wrong. I'm with you on all of that - nighttime routine, daytime schedule, same binkit, same music, same noisemaker, same all of it. Cereal before bed, boob before bed, nothing before bed, how about formula before bed? Nothing worked. He seems to be working himself out of it now, but Gawd it was a long time coming and I'm not sure I trust that it will last. I also feel very keenly the smug judgment of my friends whose babies have slept through from day one, like they have this secret. I know that half of this I'm making up in my own head, but the other half is borne out of all of the passive aggressive comments I've gotten from people.
It helps me when I meet another woman who has a non-sleeping baby, and ESPECIALLY a woman who has had at least one of each. That way we know that it's the kid, and not us. Right? Right?
Her Bad Mother - if you're a bad mother, then I'm one too. We can be bad with our vodkas and wines and Ativans together.

PS - my kid is 97th %ile for growth, maybe he's just hungry all the time to support his massive weight gain? This is my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Oh, hon. I'm still bitching about tiredness and I've just got the toddler ... People get through it, yeah, but it's okay to feel a little rotten about it.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I had one of those babies too and truly, I thought I would go insane from lack of sleep. I did a little bit but we both lived and now she is 23 years old and about to make me a grandmother.
And still, I can remember the frustration and sleep deprivation like it was yesterday. However, having already had two children, I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong. And neither are you. Some babies are just like that.
You'll survive. I swear you will. But you will remember.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

I feel for you and with you. I had NO IDEA how obsessed I would become with sleep. Clutching at it, wishing for it, talking about it...
My girl is 9 months and just started sleeping thru the night about 3 weeks ago.

All I can say is hang in there... and yes, you have ADORABLE children!

4:55 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I've been there. My daughter didn't sleep through the night until all her teeth were in. She begged to nurse and cried and thrashed for two and a half years and then all of a sudden it was over. The last tooth broke through, she weaned and started sleeping all night in her own bed.

Hang in there.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Veronica said...

My daughter did not - does not - sleep very well. She is 29 months old now.

Wait, I think the phrase 'doesn't sleep very well' is a bit of an understatement, but it's what you come up with when all the other children you know are like Emilia.

She is much better now than she was 6 months ago. She sleeps through the night 5 nights out of 7 now, but it has taken this long to get her to do it. And really, it wasn't anything I did, it was simply her getting older that worked.

And since I was awake all night nursing my newborn, I'm not convinced I am ever going to sleep again.

5:00 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I don't think you are doing anything wrong. Firstly, because you have a daughter who does not have sleep issues and you are presumably doing the same things with Jasper that you did with Emilia. And secondly because my son did exactly the same thing and I lost my mind more than a little bit.

My son was a lousy sleeper from day 1. He fought going to sleep and woke many times during the night for the first two years. It was awful. It felt like hell on earth. (I mean, I love my son, but I began to wonder if he wasn't some kind of CIA experiment in sleep deprivation.) My son's "undifferentiated sleep disorder" (doctor speak for, 'we know he doesn't sleep well but we don't have a clue why') was one of the worst experiences of my life and it went on for a very long time. I, too, tried everything.

Eventually, he started sleeping a solid 8 hours...to this day, he fights sleep. He is 9 years old, and he reads until he is sleepy and then has to do times tables (8 by 8 is 64, 8 by 9 is 72, that kind of thing) in his head before he actually falls asleep. Once he is out, he is out until 7:00 AM precisely, at which point he bounds of bed full of energy. I don't understand it.

All of this is to say - you're not doing anything wrong. Some children are terrible sleepers. It is likely they will always be terrible sleepers but at some point, they will learn to read and leave you alone until 8:00 AM.

In the meantime, I'm just sending you a ton of empathy.

5:01 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I don't think you are doing anything wrong. Firstly, because you have a daughter who does not have sleep issues and you are presumably doing the same things with Jasper that you did with Emilia. And secondly because my son did exactly the same thing and I lost my mind more than a little bit.

My son was a lousy sleeper from day 1. He fought going to sleep and woke many times during the night for the first two years. It was awful. It felt like hell on earth. (I mean, I love my son, but I began to wonder if he wasn't some kind of CIA experiment in sleep deprivation.) My son's "undifferentiated sleep disorder" (doctor speak for, 'we know he doesn't sleep well but we don't have a clue why') was one of the worst experiences of my life and it went on for a very long time. I, too, tried everything.

Eventually, he started sleeping a solid 8 hours...to this day, he fights sleep. He is 9 years old, and he reads until he is sleepy and then has to do times tables (8 by 8 is 64, 8 by 9 is 72, that kind of thing) in his head before he actually falls asleep. Once he is out, he is out until 7:00 AM precisely, at which point he bounds of bed full of energy. I don't understand it.

All of this is to say - you're not doing anything wrong. Some children are terrible sleepers. It is likely they will always be terrible sleepers but at some point, they will learn to read and leave you alone until 8:00 AM.

In the meantime, I'm just sending you a ton of empathy.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Mary Moore said...

Ohh, I feel for you. {hugs}

Been there. It's very difficult. I ended up letting my son sleep in bed with us. As well, I've had them both on the floor by our bed for awhile. Both worked. Eventually, they were fine to go into their own rooms, but at their own speed. I just took each day as it came.

I don't know if that helps...

5:10 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

As the mom to a nonsleeper turned sleeper turned non sleeper, and then the mom to a mostly good sleeper who occasionally wakes every hour shrieking for no reason...

shoot, I lost my point. I'm tired.

(You're not alone.)

5:21 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

My first child slept like a dream, my second not so much. I was also pretty sure I had the winning formula, and then also discovered that I was just lucky. Anyways, I understand the crazy, and I hope that you can find some rest soon.

As for me, I've just been bringing the little man in bed with me, and I've gotten to the point where I can latch him on without really waking up. So I know he's been awake, but it's not quite as hard on me. Still not easy, though...

5:41 PM  
OpenID LSM said...

With my first two children, I was the mom who did something right on the sleep front. I totally didn't understand how it could be all that hard when I heard friends talking about their babies who didn't sleep.

What was that whole "pride goeth before the fall" thing? My son did not sleep through the night on a regular basis until he was 13 months. I did nothing different with him than I did with the first two.

His sleeping did improve after I weaned him, something I'd suspected but wasn't willing to test out prior to his being a year old. Oh, and now at 10 he sleeps just fine. :)

Wishing you sleep on a regular basis soon!

5:42 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Izzy nursed every 2 hours around the clock until 11 months.
I feel your pain...and sleep deprivation.

Hang in there.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Boy have I ever been there... I felt the same way. I felt as though I failed, as though I didn't read enough, didn't DO enough to get her to sleep through the night. All I can say is that you can do it. It might not be now, but you will have success and it will be sweet. I know it doesn't help much now in your sleep deprived state... it took Peanut over 10 months to do it but finally we found a method that worked. At least, I like to think it was our hard work. Part of it is teaching them to self-soothe and the other part is whenever they are developmentally ready to do it.
Most importantly, you're not doing anything wrong. You know your child better than anyone else.
((HUG))

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have access to a sleep consultant? They have helped several friends of mine who were in your situation. I think they assessed the entire day of sleep for their babies and id'd different strategies, etc. It did make a big difference for them. The worst thing about being sleep deprived as a mom is that its so hard to see the big picture and think creatively (well, speaking for myself). So, it might help to have an 'expert' give you some other suggestions?

Hang in there.

6:20 PM  
Blogger auntie said...

I have no motherly advice or child-rearing empathy for you, as I have no children. What I do have is an understanding of how I get when I'm sleep-deprived, and all I have to take care of is myself! I don't know how mothers do it, but you are truly amazing.

Also, there's no need to apologize to anyone for turning off the comments anytime you want to. If they tie you to your computer or interrupt your life at all, then do what you gotta do! We'll all still love you.

6:32 PM  
Blogger cathy said...

I'm a mom of 2 kids that didn't sleep as babies either - for a loooong time. I tried it all too - and felt like a failure because they refused to sleep. All I can say is that it was damn hard, but at 2 and 5, they're both sleeping so much better. They're not perfect sleep-through-the-night sleepers, but pretty close.

Keep trying. Keep searching for the thing that makes him sleep. Don't beat yourself up (or let anyone else) if the only thing that keeps you sane is bringing him into bed with you. It WILL get better. It can't get any worse, right?

6:33 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

I have one child, and she is not a good sleeper. We have the consistent routine, etc etc. We did everything "right". She didn't care. She was still waking up 5 times a night when she was 8 months old. She was down to 1-3 times/night at about a year, and now, at 22 months, still wakes up once a night. Every night.

Honestly, once I accepted that she was a bad sleeper and stopped trying to fix her, things got better. I concentrated my energies on figuring out ways to make my life more bearable, and that has worked. I had different tricks at different stages. Right now, our sleep strategy is to let her sleep in bed with us after she wakes up for the first time. It means that the wake up is short, not some prolonged rocking chair session to get her asleep enough to go back in her crib. And then we all sleep in our bed until morning.

Listen to your gut. Deep down, you know whether there is anything else you can do that will make Jasper sleep better. If there isn't, then just let go of the worry about it and instead figure out how you can cope with your sleep reality.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Marina said...

Delurking because he sounds so like my son, who didn't sleep through the night until he went to school, sorry, and then not all the time, I tried everything and was at my wits end, ended up on anti depressants when he was 3, did the specialist thing, the expert thing, to be told, he's a perfectly healthy baby who just doesn't sleep! Well, thanks, that helps, in the end I just did whatever it took, moved into the spare room with him so at least hubby could sleep for a time, had him in with us for a time, walked the floors, [many a time!]

However, when he was 6 and we were at a regular dental checkup my dentist asked, was he a bad sleeper? YES Did he have an unexplained cough? YES Did he feed a lot? YES Does he drink coke? No, it gives him tummy ache Tomatoes, Oranges? No, doesn't like them Hmm, I think he has reflux. Oh no, said I, they checked for that, and he never threw up, at all when he was little. Well, never the less she said, I want him to have a barium xray, the back of his teeth have badly eroded enamel, like a wine taster!!! And guess what, the poor kid suffered with reflux! No sign of it, except for unexplained tummy aches, that the hospital told me were tummy migraines! But it was the gas, burning his throat[and teeth] Got him on medication, [unfortunately for life] but guess what, no tummy aches, no cough, and slept through the night ever since! If he misses a couple of days he gets the burning back, he's 17 now, which of course he couldn't tell me when he was little. Sorry for the essay, but my heart goes out to you, and maybe, just maybe, it might be something to check out.

7:20 PM  
OpenID turningoveranewleaf said...

Empathy & caffeine to you.

I think your son must be a friggin genius. Apparently the smartie pants people of the world don't need much sleep. (Although that doesn't help you out much).

Have you tried blackout blinds, white noise fan, or even melatonin?

And no...you're not doing anything wrong.

steph

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

I could nearly have written this myself. My daughter is 4, a natural sleeper. My son is 10.5 months, and sleep for him is a struggle. It's only in the last six weeks that he's been able to sleep longer stretches at night, but still only if he's in bed with me. He must have help with his pacifier to keep from waking entirely for the first six or seven hours of the night. And, no matter how full his belly at bedtime, he's still demanding (!!!) to nurse at 4:00 in the morning. My husband has little patience for the shared bed, but it's my only option to get an acceptable amount of sleep myself. I'm exhausted, true. My solace is knowing that this will pass, and all too soon. He's our last baby and when he does graduate to sleeping entirely on his own, those precious cuddles will be a thing of the past. It takes everything I have to treasure this.

No fault, my friend. This is just who they are and for such a (relatively) short time. Wishing you many zzz's.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a great mom. And I have to tell you -- my son, my only child, was a terrible sleeper for his first two years. Yes, I'm sorry, I just said two years. He did not reliably sleep through the night until he was 22 months old.
He's done everything else "right." Just as an example, this child, at 7, now feeds himself, voluntarily and with no encouragement from me, helpings of brussels sprouts, salmon sushi, asparagus, and kale. Honest.
One of the very, very best childcare books I ever read, by Chess and Thomas, contained the single most profound and helpful statement that was ever made to me. They said, and I pretty much quote, "Every child has a weak point. For some children, it is sleep."
That was my child's weakness. Even now, when he has a very stressful day, he'll have night terrors.
Your Jasper? His weak point is sleep.
it's not you. It's him. And eventually, he'll outgrow it. Just hang in there.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first born was a good sleeper and napper. My second son paid me back ten fold. He woke up every 2 hours for an 8 oz bottle for 13 months. I thought I would lose my frikkin mind. He would only sleep in his carrier with a blanket tucked on the side of his face. Can you say picky? He eventually figured it out and so to shall your Jasper. You're doing nothing wrong, his circadian rhythm just isn't where it should be yet.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first born was a good sleeper and napper. My second son paid me back ten fold. He woke up every 2 hours for an 8 oz bottle for 13 months. I thought I would lose my frikkin mind. He would only sleep in his carrier with a blanket tucked on the side of his face. Can you say picky? He eventually figured it out and so to shall your Jasper. You're doing nothing wrong, his circadian rhythm just isn't where it should be yet.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Must be the second child syndrome. At least that is what I am telling myself. My 2nd baby has had sleeping issues from day 1 about sleeping on his own. While he usually sleeps thru the night now, he must sleep in my bed still at the age of 3. But I'm like, whatever, so long as everyone sleeps I'm OK with wherever they want to crash. He also doesn't nap anymore. If he does he's up until midnight so no more of that even though he's a cranker by dinner. Anyway, waaaaay too long of a comment. But hang in there. One day he will sleep.

9:36 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

I never fucking sleep. well, i do. I pass out from 12 to 3. Then am half awake until about 5, then wide awake and crazy until 7.

I look like hell, I have gained weight, my hairs are grey and strange things are happening to my body.

But shit woman. your kids are cute.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Karen (miscmum) said...

Both of my children were atrocious, doing exactly what you describe.

When my youngest was 16 months I was on the verge of madness. We hired a professional night-nurse-sleep-expert to see what *I* was possibly doing wrong. I was ambivalent, and even a little defensive, about it but it was one of the best things I ever did. It took only 2 nights - no kidding - to sort him out.

Good luck with it.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a poster said before, Jasper is probably a genius. My son slept so well and everyone told me 2nd children are so easy and girls are so easy. The first night Ella came home, she wouldn't let me put her down. At first she would only sleep in her car seat. That stopped the morning we found her on the floor instead of the seat. She didn't sleep through the night until 9 months. She's almost 2 and she does well now at night but doesn't nap at daycare. I fear she'll get herself kicked out! In any case, I often said to people that Ella had better find a cure for cancer because seriously. Coffee, family, friends and knowing it will get better helped. And time because I feel your pain but it doesn't hurt after the fact.

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Where I live in the US there is a nurse who is a baby sleep specialist (for lack of a better term) she works out of one of the hospitals and has been called a life saver by many moms. My point being-maybe there's someone like that in your area? That can help diagnose the sleep issues. I wish you luck. And some sleep.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous workout mommy said...

I have two boys that don't sleep. They are 3 and 1 and I literally cry everyday from frustration and exhaustion. My husband travels all the time so he is no help.

I am convinced it is a boy trait because all of my friends with girls have excellent sleepers!

So you are doing nothing wrong (at least that is what I tell myself!)

In the meantime, I have gotten used to the "I-look-15-years-older" look that I get from my friends.
I hope sleep comes your way very soon!

10:51 PM  
Anonymous workout mommy said...

I have two boys that don't sleep. They are 3 and 1 and I literally cry everyday from frustration and exhaustion. My husband travels all the time so he is no help.

I am convinced it is a boy trait because all of my friends with girls have excellent sleepers!

So you are doing nothing wrong (at least that is what I tell myself!)

In the meantime, I have gotten used to the "I-look-15-years-older" look that I get from my friends.
I hope sleep comes your way very soon!

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Meagan Francis said...

I've had two Emilias and two Jaspers. With the Jaspers, I finally just had to resign myself to sharing a bedtime, a sleeping space, and waking times. That "me time" in the evening I so hoped for just wasn't.going.to.happen and the more I longed for it the harder it was to deal with reality.

The good news is that all my kids (ages 3 - 11) are great sleepers now, including the Jaspers (#2 and #4). My youngest still wakes occasionally at night crying--we think he may be having bad dreams or night terrors--but most nights, he snuggles off easily to sleep and stays that way a good 10-11 hours. So all the fears I also had that I was doing something wrong turned out to be unfounded. It was just how those two kids "did sleep".

Hang in there. It really WILL get better, though I know it's hard waiting for it to happen. With both my Jaspers it got markedly better right around age 2.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous anita ovolina said...

Trenches of sleeplessness ..atrocious. So hard, you know when I don;t sleep I feel like I am going crazy, I mean really crazy. My husband who is in the military told me that interrupted sleep is in the advance torture class (that's not what it's called but we jokingly refer to it as torture class)
Right now my daughter who is 7 months wakes up constantly throughout the night. When I put her back in the crib and she is screaming after breastfeeding (she sleeps in the room with me, hubby is gone and the other four girls get woken up by her screams if she is close) I feel I'm going crazy. I try to make myself small and immobile in bed eyes wide open just staring at the darkness really pissed...
OK that didn't help and I was hoping that I could leave a helpful comment.
I empathize and hope that you'll sleep very very soon.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

have you considered taking him to an ear/nose/throat specialist? maybe he has apnea?

hoping you get some rest.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Glennia said...

If this continues, you might want to have him checked for apnea. An ENT can tell you if he has enlarged adenoids or other issues that affect his sleep patterns. There could be a physical reason for it, or he may just be a night owl. My sympathies and hugs to you.

PS: Will you really say "y'all" in your talk at the Bliss conference? If so, can I get someone to record that on a loop and send it to me? I would go myself, but I've been banned from Nashville since 1989 due to an incident involving a pool cue, a bottle of Absolut Citroen, and a wheel of Jarlsberg. Don't ask. xoxo

10:58 PM  
Blogger Momo Fali said...

They ARE adorable and yes, you need to turn off the comments. I have no other advice though. I haven't slept well in over a decade. Feel free to punch me for saying so...maybe it'll knock me out and I'll finally get some rest.

11:01 PM  
Blogger dawn224 said...

Alex is 21 months and doesn't sleep through the night. I'm the mom at playgroup who all the other mothers look at like I'm a mutant and go home and talk to their families about.

We'll talk this weekend. I'll tell you everything I know about coping.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Your children are SO beautiful! I hope you get some sleep soon.

My kids slept more than your Jasper but the firstborn liked to sleep right next to the boob, too. I thought I was going to lose my mind before he finally learned to sleep more than a few inches from me.

I know it's hard.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Chicka said...

My first wouldn't sleep wihtout touching me. We tried Cry It Out. Honest.

My second slept like a dream. I had to check her routinely to make sure she wasn't dead. Seriously - she slept that good (especially compared to my first).

Both kids - no binkies or lovies would do. Would NEVER take a bottle no matter how hard I tried (or how engorged I got). TMI? Sorry 'bout that.

But now, these two have flip flopped. My horrible sleeper is now a champion sleeper, wakes up well, and is my all around fantastic child. My excellent sleeper now has allergies, asthma, and Asperger's (which affects sleep), and generally spoiled me for the first three to four years of her life and then said, "HA! I'll show you!"

I guess I have no real advice except vodka. Lots of vodka.

And benadryl sprinkles on their ice cream.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Some kids are just not good sleepers. I myself was one, and I still am not a good sleeper.

My oldest child has never been a great sleeper and continues (at 6 1/2 years old) to wake multiple times during the night. She's now scheduled for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy and the doctors think that she will sleep much better after the surgery. While I am nervous about putting my child through the procedure, if it helps her sleep better for the rest of her life then this is the right thing to do for her.

My point is, some kids just don't need as much sleep or have other reasons that they CAN'T sleep. Stinks, doesn't it?

11:33 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

If the sleep issues are your fault, then they are mine too. I have terrible sleepers, it stinks.
Have you read The No-Cry Sleep Solution? She has some excellent strategies in there that have really helped me.
I am so sorry you are so tired. Know you're not alone. Even though it feels like it, I know.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

My first was a rotten sleeper until he hit 2 years old and then it was like a switch went off. And he sleeps fine.

Lots of us go through it. Doesn't make it feel any better when you're in the middle of it.

12:25 AM  
Blogger paperfairies said...

Have you tried pumping for the amount of time he normally latches on to nurse in order to know exactly how much he's eating and figure out if it's enough to keep the gorgeousness of a son that you have satisfied and full?

12:35 AM  
Blogger The Scholastic Decoder said...

Here's why I know it's not you - my children ar the opposite. Pumpkinpie would sleep 20 minutes in hr crib, or 2 hours on me for the longest time. It didn't get a ton better until about 10 or 11 mnths, when miraculously, it did. I could hardly believe it when the day came. Before that, I had started climbing in her crib with her, or sleeping on the floor next to it with my hand in the crib for her to feel as she got bigger. It sucked, and I remember feeling nearly psychotic from lack of sleep.

Then The Bun, who sleeps pretty well. Right from the start, he was capable of going 4 hours, even 5 sometimes. Nothing that I have done has anything to do with that.

Understand that your kids are different, but also know it will get better. Meanwhile, sending you sweet pillowy dreams for those few hours you do get to sleep.

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Ami said...

Our first two babies slept through the night like a dream from 9 weeks on. When they would occasionally wake up in the night when they were older I "let them cry it out." I couldn't understand why other moms had a hard time with their children. Oh the smugness! I probably glowed with it.
Then the third baby came. There is no more smugness. She was/is a terrible sleeper. She knocked me flat on my butt. I tried to let her "cry it out" and she cried for 3 hours, passed out for 45 minutes, then woke up to cry for another hour.
She's a little easier now (she's 21 months) but a straight shot through the night isn't completely automatic. Any little thing derails the midnight train to oblivion: teeth, a cold, the temperature, etc. Good luck!

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Rosemary said...

Just stopping by (while the comments are open!) to tell you how much I love your site.. sometimes you make me laugh, sometimes you make me cry, but I always love to read your blog!

I have two teenagers.. one was a great sleeper the other was not. Like I read in a comment above though, eventually they are old enough to stay in their rooms and read and play until they see the big seven (or whatever) on the clock by the bed.. I feel your pain, but I promise, for the most part it will get better. (since they're teenagers now, they still make me lose sleep, but not for the same reasons!)

You are a wonderful mom.. and your kids are ADORABLE!!

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Joyce said...

I was the worst sleeper in the world when I was little! I don't think I slept through the night till I was 10 and even then, I still wanted my dad to sit by my bed until I fell asleep. Now my baby is giving me payback on my parents' behalf. I so know what you're going through! It's groggy and miserable and confusing and actually painful to not get any sleep. I'm sorry and I just hope it gets better. You are obviously not doing anything wrong! Don't add the dreaded "Mommy Guilt" to the mix, it just makes you feel worse. Just wanted to post because I think sleeplessness loves company.

7:48 AM  
Blogger k_sra said...

You are doing fine with the no-comments. An audience is an audience is an audience. Our job is just to come and enjoy what you give us. It's free entertainment. So, don't feel the slightest bit guilty for prioritizing some sanity over your readers' need to vent. Let us vent somewhere else if we need to. We'll still come back for more.

you are an excellent writer and this is an excellent adventure to follow. : )

Hang in there with Jasper. Just when you think your eyeballs will fall out from sheer fatigue, things will change and become stressful in an entirely different way. :)

8:03 AM  
Blogger April said...

i'm so sorry you're having such a rough time. my first was also a good sleeper (with a consistent bedtime routine that i thought was my personal magic)... and my second one is NOT. he's sleeping through the night about 4/7 nights, but i am very fortunate that my husband deals with all the night fussing since i weaned him from night nursing at 6mo (he's 10mo now). At this point he's also (mostly) fussing himself back to sleep after a while. but not always.

maybe hubs can take over night duty and give you (and your chest!) a break? the first week for us was HELL. JJ cried for hours, but then it was much better...

again, so sorry you're going through this :-/

8:05 AM  
Blogger kgirl said...

Honestly, I think I take pragmatism to a new level.

Both of my kids were/are exactly how you describe Jasper, and as such, I have not had a decent night's sleep in almost 4 years.
I have never tried to look for a solution beyond, one day they'll grow out of it, but for now, they need me.
And it's true - they will, and they do.

I know you're suffering, and I'm not advocating that, just suggesting that not looking at it as a problem or a failure, but simply the way it is FOR NOW (not always) might help you get through it.

8:22 AM  
Blogger sam {temptingmama} said...

You have described my children to a tee. Seriously. We are going through the exact same thing at the same time!!

You know I'm here to vent with you! Always. Need anything, just let me know.

*hugs*

8:32 AM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

I had the same problem - Big C was a great sleeper and it was the only thing that I did "right". Then Little G came along and he was a ridiculously bad sleeper and it was killing us. So we got outside help with the sleeping.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Meg said...

Hugs to you. I've been there. My daughter did this every night until she turned 1. Then it was like a switch flipped and she started sleeping at night. The DAY she turned one. Crazy.

You're not doing anything wrong. If you're like me, you've tried everything. It's just Jasper and the way he's hardwired. I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with all of this, but I hope that it all ends soon.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

paperfairies - that's an interesting thought, to measure, but I'm pretty sure that he gets enough. I've worried about it in the past, but now that he eats solids (REAL solids) he gets his tummy pretty full, especially before bed - full helping of boobie plus regular dinner. Hasn't changed his sleep habits one iota.

9:48 AM  
Blogger sheSaid.purplehouseonpearl.com said...

I don't know if you have ever read askmoxie she is a big advocate that people (and babies) sleep how they sleep, like other personality traits.

My little guy is a solid waking up every two hours kinda guy. All night, since he was born. I have often felt like I was doing things wrong, but I don't think so, I think people just sleep how they sleep. I wake up frequently through out the night, and get myself back (I remember being that way as a child).

The worst was every 45 min (the entire month of jan. last year) that did nearly kill me, I started to go insane.

Now the every two hours to nurse doesn't seem to have the same effect on me. I have adapted. Unless he doesn't settle quickly, or shrinks the times. I think you will adjust (and hopefully your husband can be used for comfort in increasing amounts to you guys can hand it off, and get some solid sleep)

10:00 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

You, me, Sam... Ditto. Maybe they were born under some weird moon phase or something.

Pass the vodka.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Candy said...

I think that boys are just different. I too have an older daughter, younger son. They happen to be 18 and 16 now, but I went years...YEARS...without a decent night's sleep, and my boy very rarely made it through the night until he was probably 10. We had rules...he could come in our room but slept on the floor in blankets there only for him. He tried to be quiet. But honestly, he just lacked the ability to get himself back to sleep after waking up, and that didn't change for a long time.

I'm sorry. I know how tired you are. It gets different, if not entirely better. But I don't think it's anything you're doing, other than worrying about it too much, maybe.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous fidget said...

Bo and sleep are not friends. I'm tired too. Do you think they conspired against us while you all were here?

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Tina C. said...

i am so sorry for you; i will light a candle for you. that really, really sux. sometimes i wonder how i can still love my kids even though they act like little sh-ts and can't do something so simple like sleeping, for pity's sake.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

fidget, conspiracy, YES. Must be that.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I so understand you on this.
My baby is 10 months and still wakes up a lot at night. I've given up the crib thing, put her in bed with me, and wear ear plugs. If she really needs me she grabs at me - but at least I tune out some of the whining.
But, I just went back to work, so as much as I'm tired I value the time with her too. My perspective kind of changed because I miss her during the day.
It goes by really quickly though.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two boys. One is almost four, the other is 19 months. The elder never slept through the night until he was 18 months old, the "baby" started sleeping through the night at about a year. Both were nursed a year. I think some kids just sleep easier than others. Their father is a great sleeper. I have had insomnia since I was a kid. The difference now is that the lack of sleep makes me cranky and I worry about how that is affecting the kids. If you figure this out, please share your secret.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Not to discourage, but my two year old STILL doesn't sleep through the night. My first two? Awesome, awesome sleepers. I beat myself up constantly over what I could possibly have done wrong... you would think that a third child would be the best sleeper. sigh. Kill me.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My now 7 yr old whom I did not co- sleep with, gave formula and let CIO is the best sleeper in the world. Seriously, he can't even wake up to pee in the middle of the night :)

My 18 mth old whom I co-sleep with, nurse and refuse to let CIO has never sttn and doesn't seem like he ever will.

No advice but I feel your sleepy-ness.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

My baby was EXACTLY like Jasper. Until 3 weeks ago. Now she sleeps about 7 hours straight, wakes up once, nurses and goes back to sleep for another few hours. READ READ TEARS AND TANTRUMS by Aletha Solter. You will not regret it.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Every child is different! I learned that with my second, as well.

Here's hoping the sleep fairy is kind to you tonight...cuz apparently that Sandman hasn't been doing his job. Men!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I have three girls. My oldest didn't sleep through the night until I let her fuss it out. She became a good night sleeper but did not nap. My second slowly worked up to near hourly night waking. I tried to let her fuss, but a little crying always led to more crying, then hysterical crying until I gave up and let her sleep with me and breastfeed all night long. She was a great napper, but didn't sleep through the night until I night weaned her sometime between 12 and 18 months (I can't remember - possibly due to long term sleep loss). My third, who is 8 months, goes to sleep easily but wakes frequently and is a short napper. She never just fusses. She's a screamer. So, she's in bed with me breastfeeding all night long. I really think each kid has his/her own sleep personality. However, I'm starting to think night weaning will be the solution to our current sleep problem. Just not sure I have the energy to do that right now. I always like reading about your sleeping woes because I take comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my tiredness :)

1:57 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

My kids are now almost 3 and almost 5. I tell people expecting their second that there is NO WAY to understand how hard having two is. It is physically exhausting. If there is one thing I've learned about parenting, though, it is that nothing lasts forever. They DO eventually sleep (and stop pushing other random kids out in public!)
Take Care.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Badness Jones said...

Like you, my first child is a girl, and a wonderful night sleeper. My second, a boy, is not. He is 25 months old and has slept through the night exactly...once. I live my life in a fog, but I try to treasure those moments in the night when he calls for me, reaches for me, holds me and says, "momma...seep me. Seep ma bed". Because although it seems endless, this time of him wanting me, of his warm little body snuggled tightly into the curve of mine, is short. And someday I'll miss it. I don't always succeed, some days I scream with frustration and exhaustion, but sometimes, sometimes, I manage to live in and savour the moment.

Good luck honey. Sleep tight.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Bubba's Mom said...

I feel for you! I have 4 kids, 2 good sleepers, to horrible sleepers. One of the horrible sleepers is 9 and the other is 7, 9yo has gotten much better, but I'm still sharing a bed 1/2 time with the 7yo. Both of my bad sleepers though are that way for other reasons. 7yo has reflux (since a baby), and is autistic. 9yo is autistic and adhd, and just never really needed much sleep. He's pretty quiet now at night, just doesnt sleep well.
All I can say is take it one day at a time, it does get better. Theres a time for everything, and all phases do end eventually. It's just a matter of getting yourself thru to the end.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

I swear Jaspar and my Zachary are twins separated at birth. Well, they would be if I weren't so darn sure where Zack came from. Same deal with Zack--happiest baby on the planet, but is not interested in sleeping by himself, has to be with me or my husband, loves to nurse at night. I've just decided (with the help of your blogging, I have to say)that's the way he is, that he NEEDS this from me, and that some day down the road he'll (a)sleep through the night and (b)thank me for this.

Hang in there.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

I don't have much advice, I'm afraid, except to say that my Bug is 2-1/2 and still usually wakes up at night. When she was Jasper's age, she was doing what he's doing and I was completely confounded by her. I slept with her, letting her nurse at will and not getting much sleep and generally going slowly insane. She eventually did start sleeping on her own, but it took for-freaking-ever to get to that point.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this and I wish I had more words of advice for you.

And turn off comments whenever you want/need. It's your blog. Do whatever you want to do.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

Totally. Boy1 was a freaking wonder in retrospect. We were talking about this last night and my husband said, "You don't know how good it feels to get pissed on until the shit starts to fall too."

good thing all these genius (that's why they don't sleep, right? genius?) babies are the ones inheriting the earth.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous badmuthablogger said...

Glad to hear I'm not alone. I blog about sleep (lack of) all the time, because it is the biggest, most disruptive thing happening in my life. My 11 month old wakes up every hour or so to feed, all night long. Always has, and I'm starting to think he always will. As for naps, I'm lucky if he takes 20 minutes. I think he's a "wakeful" baby, whatever the fuck that means. And no, he does not have apnea or anything else "wrong" with him. And yes, I've tried every trick in the book, he's just not a good sleeper. End of story. One day, I'm sure I'll have a hard time getting him to wake up and get his lazy butt out of bed, but that day is a LONG ways away. Anyway, at least he's cute as a button, and a happy chappy the rest of the time. It's amazing how little sleep one can get away with and still (sort of) function, isn't it?

10:31 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

If you do everything wrong and they are like that.. and you made me laugh like that... you are something 10 times better than lucky.

NB: Myself and a wise review of motherhood in the sun and wind Feb morning... Granville & Broadway. 5 members in the audience, quoted you 4 times... you were right and much nodding. Just wanted to pass that on.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

i had good sleepers (night-time. NOT daytime. no naps for the martells) and for so long i kept thinking that i was doing something right and my friends were doing something wrong.

but then i realized. they were just good sleepers. and i was just REALLY lucky.

now i don't offer any sleep advice and keep my mouth shut when people discuss at what age their children FINALLY slept through the night.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Eva Robertson said...

I don't know how old Jasper is, but after six months you should make it a priority to get him to sleep through the night, or failing that, to wake and not need/expect you. Both my kids sleep through the night, but they both had to be, to varying extents, trained to do so. I think all babies (and older people for that matter), wake up periodically through the night; they just don't remember it if they've learned how to fall back asleep. Your baby does need sleep and can be trained to put himself back to sleep without you, if you're serious about it.

If you don't want a week of crying it out, then do it incrementally -- take away the crutches gradually, decrease the time you spend with him, or gradually extend the time he has to be alone. And don't put him to bed when he's already asleep -- make him fall asleep on his own. I made the mistake of making sure my eldest son was asleep before putting him down (partly b/c it was easy and fast), but as he got older, boy did this practice become onerous! It was awful to break him of the need to fall asleep with me. Now we're out of it, but he still has crutches and I wish I'd been more firm.

Good luck!

12:07 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Eva - I've deployed every sleep-training technique that I know of, seriously. The only thing I haven't tried is getting outside help, but that can be expensive.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Sounds like you've tried everything, some babies just won't sleep. My first was excellent sleeper, my second didn't sleep through the night till 14 months old, I swear. It was awful. I tried everything, including crying it out even if that meant waking the other sleeping child and a CPA husband who had to work 12 hours a day through tax season. Nothing worked. He just HAD to have me comfort him. He didn't even need anything, just had to see me come in his room and tell him to go back to sleep and he did...every 2 hours for 14 months.

I feel your tiredness for you. He looks adorable though, blurry and all.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I had a HORRIBLE sleeper with my first baby. By the time she was 18 months old I had effin had it. Seriously, I was heading for a nervous break down. Plus my shoulder could no longer take rocking her to sleep every night for 30-45 min. I finally bought the Dr. Ferber book and it worked magic. The second child, I never had one bit of problem from. Thank God! All the advise I can give you is to hang in there. It sounds like you are doing everything you can. Jasper is just not a good sleeper. At least when he gets a little older you can at least work with him a little more. Not that that helps you now...

1:05 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

My daughter was very similar to Jasper. My husband had to take over so I wouldn't lose it. He would rock her to sleep - and she was angry - but he was there comforting her. She was entitled to be mad about her all-night milk bar closing, but I was entitled to some sleep. And she was getting comfort for her frustration. Just not from me. After she stopped the first night feeding - her tummy stopped craving it. And the 2nd wake-up was pushed later, too!

One thing... my breastmilk supply dropped a bit when the night feedings went away. I think it's good to keep at least one in there (around midnight-1am) until the solid feedings start kicking in more. For me, I needed greater supply until she was 9 months. But 9 months in the span of a lifetime is not much of a sacrifice. And then it's OVER. And even though it feels like forever now, it will be a distant memory some day.

BIG HUGS

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

(((HUGS))) to you, in your sleep-deprived madness. I read this post after all three of my children (7, 5, and almost 2) took turns tag-teaming me ALL NIGHT LONG with wakefulness!!! Every freakin' half hour, one or the other was in my room, and all trying to crawl into my bed! AGK!! That is not to say that they always do this, because usually the older two are great sleepers, NOW, and the youngest is getting better, really, she is. But it's taking time for them to mature and grow, and it depends on so many external day to day criteria in their little worlds for how well they sleep. For my children, the magic age was about 2.5, 3 for consistent sleep through the night.

And BAH to the "you're just not trying hard enough" camp. YOU ARE. Anyone who goes without sleep tries their best. Because, seriously?, who would actively or passively choose to go without sleep?!? Kids are different - they eat differently, grow differently, play differently, and sleep differently too.

So, hugs once again, and I'm toasting you and all the sleepless moms out there with my vermouth (because I just can't do vodka) and say welcome to this sucky sleepless club, until we're lucky enough for our children to start sleeping!!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I suppose one other thought is to keep in mind that no one (no matter their age) really sleeps "through the night," - we all wake up periodically and go back to sleep. Its just that some kids wake up and want to stay that way or can't go back to sleep. My little one wakes once or twice each night and, because he doesn't want to get up and party or anything (hence putting me in the "lucky" category), he just goes back to sleep with a little nursing or cuddling (we cosleep). But my point is, we all wake up, it just takes different kids different amounts of time to adjust to the idea that its better to go back to sleep right away!

I join Joy in saying "bah" to the "try harder" folks, and toasting everyone in the sleepless club.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

My oldest son (he is 7 1/2 now) was a terrible sleeper. His naps lasted 15 to 30 mins max and he slept for just over 2 hours at a time. He only started napping regularly around the age of 10 months and that was just a few weeks before I was to put him in day care (I felt cheated!). We lived in a century home and I had learned every creak in every floor board and would walk around the house in a strange dance of "skip that floorboard, hug the wall, turn, turn, through the door". It was crazy. I was crazy. I remember coming to tears almost daily when people would question me - "What isn't he sleeping, my kids always slept" UGH. I wish I had the magic answer that will help but I guess the only thing to say is that he will grow out of it. It may take time. But he will. And eventually your sanity will come back. It will.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous kata said...

Haven't commented much yet but I often think of you.

You are handling what you're going through really, really well. I cannot deal with what is, I think, much less sleep deprivation with anywhere near that kind of strength and grace.

I'm only on my first child and I'm finding that one of the hardest parts of motherhood is that there will always be someone out there who will need to use your worst experience to make themselves feel better about their own worst experience. Your insecurities make them feel better about their own. But as mothers I think our emotions are so raw that we take this otherwise normal part of life much harder. I used to think, oh, I'm the kind of person who doesn't give a rat's ass about what other people think. But it turns out, I do. And I don't think it's in my daughter's best interest either. Somehow though, I can't help it.

So all I can say is, you seem to me to be handling all this really, really, really well. And have a great time in Nashville!

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine,

I was introduced to your blog by a friend and colleague who took one of your Philosophy courses at the University. I've been reading your writing a little over a year now.

Recently, I became a first time mother, and sank into extended periods of madness I hardly anticipated. Your recent post on sleep helped me more than all avenues of assistance I've sought, and I simply want to thank you for the courage you've shown in openly articulating experiences common to many women, judging by the number of responses here.

I wish you and your family all the best.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Janna said...

As someone who went through this with my first and then had a great sleeper with my second, I can totally feel your pain. My first born was such a terrible sleeper (and still is) but he does sleep through the nights (barely). I have already made a promise to myself that when he hits his teenage years I am going to sporadically go into his room at 4am and cry. Paybacks are hell.

11:08 PM  
Blogger zakary said...

Both of my children were breastfed co-sleepers. Baby Troy (14 months) stopped nursing a few months ago and I'm kina glad he did because HE WAS KILLING ME SOFTLY. He did NOT sleep and had nursing parties every two hours. Now, he takes a bottle of milk and goes to bed at 9pm and stays asleep until the morning. Me? I have my life back. And I drink wine.

Hang in there. This will pass. I promise! Your kids are adorable.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say I know what your saying.
My bub is almost 10 mnths, has never slept thru the night and everything you just said about Jasper could have been about my Henry.
I hope one day I wont be summoned from the dark with frantic cries of ma ma ma ma ma, and clutched tight while he burrows his head into my neck, whimpering because I left him.

Emma
qotfu72@yahoo.com.au

4:09 PM  
Blogger Slice of Paradise said...

My first girl was just like yours ~ perfect sleeper, easy to put down & Godloveher slept in her crib all night at 7 weeks. GO NEW MOMMY!!!!

This second baby is paying me back & kicking my ass for all the smug thoughts I had the first time around. I know nothing, she refuses to sleep at night & I'm starting to wonder if she's part vampire ... and my boobs are soggy from the Con.Stant. night time feedings. It's a good thing she's cute.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous StumbleBee said...

The blog is a healthy place to talk and as you see the many posts, we feel your pain. I really went for 3 months in a semi-conscious state. I have no memories from that time, I was too tired to think. I hope you build up good karma points and have it easy during potty training. Good Luck.

5:25 PM  

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