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sleep

Nora is not a good sleeper. There I said it. It is the first time in my 7 year career of motherhood that I have utter the phrase “My child is a bad sleeper.” Not because I had bad sleepers and didn’t want to admit it. I have been able to avoid it because my girls are good sleepers. Well, at least until the last 6 months or so with Nora. The last 6 months or so have been rough to  say the least. Nora isn’t sleeping well, which in turn means I am not sleeping well. A sleepy Lisa makes for a grumpy, impatient Lisa, which, as you can imagine, makes things a little crazier around this already crazy house.

When Nora was a wee baby, really for the first 9 months or so, she was an excellent sleeper. She was sleeping through the night, like 10-12 hour stretches kind of sleeping through the night, at 6 weeks old. She always went down easily and sleep like a charm all night, rarely waking and if she did usually only once and then right back to sleep. She even slept in a bit in the morning a lot of the time. It was fantastic. It made me so incredibly grateful and I didn’t talk about it much for fear I would jinx the perfectness of it.

When she started teething things began to take a turn. She began to wake at night more often but at first she always returned to her good sleeping habits. Then something happened. I don’t know what. It began one week when she was working on her first molars and had a cold all at the same time. She was so obviously not feeling well and was grumpy pretty much all day long. I did what I could by giving her tylenol for her teeth and setting up the humidifier for her stuffy nose. It didn’t help much. She began waking up 2, 3 and even sometimes 4 times a night. It went on for weeks. Long after the cold went away. I figured maybe it was the teeth more than the cold. The frequent night wakings continued. Month after month, tooth after tooth.

And here we are a good 6 months or so later and Nora is still waking up 2, 3 and sometimes 4 times a night. It is beyond exhausting. Now that she is fairly vocal she no longer cries, she stands up in her crib and screams, I mean screaming at the top of her lungs kind of screams, for me. I am rudely awakened by the sound of a blood curdling “Mooooommmmm!” at all hours of the night. She won’t let me just rock her, I have to nurse her every time. It is maddening and exhausting.  She is hard to resist though in all her cuteness!

I’m ready for something to give. Something has to give, I need more sleep. I know at some point I’m going to have to play the bad guy and refuse to nurse her or let her cry it out or something. I obviously haven’t hit rock bottom yet because I’m not quite ready to do that.  Plus, given the volume of her screaming if I let her cry (or rather yell) it out she is bound to wake up the rest of the house and the only thing worse than being up with one child multiply times a night is being up with more than one child multiply times a night! So, I guess for now we will carry on being sleepless in Seattle until she final returns to sleeping well (I secretly hold out hope that she will) or I hit by breaking point and force nudge her in that direction.

 

It is no secret that for a while Nora was the rockstar of sleep. She was sleeping 12 hours at night by 2 months old. She was such a good sleeper, and so consistent, that I got lulled into thinking it was a permanent thing. I let myself forget about the very common babyhood demon called sleep regression.

I am no longer in that peaceful, well rested dream world with a baby who happily sleeps away for 12 hour stretches at night. I now find myself smack dab in the middle of an exhausting sleep regression phase. Have I mentioned that I hate sleep regressions!

Starting about 3 weeks ago, right when she started rolling over and discovered that she loved to sleep on her tummy, and right around the time she came down with her first cold and ear infection, she suddenly began waking up at night. At first I thought it was maybe just random and she would go back to sleeping well once she was over her cold. But, nope, cold is gone and she is still waking at night. Some nights she’ll wake up several times and other  nights just once. Some times she’ll wake and I’ll hear her talking to herself and fussing a little over the monitor for a few minutes before she drifts back to sleep. Other times her talking and fussing will turn into full blown “you better get in here right NOW!” cries. Most nights I have to go in at least once and either rock her or nurse her before she’ll go back to sleep.

Sleep regressions suck. I am exhausted. I know this is just a phase and before I know it she’ll be back to sleeping through the night (please!), but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the sleep deprivation. My brain is mush and I often feel like I’m swimming through mud. As a result my house is less than clean and my fuse with the other girls and Lorne is short (which makes me feel super guilt). Both the other girls had sleep regressions around this age too, which lasted about a month or so. Hopefully Nora’s is much the same and we are on the tail end of it. This mama could use a full night’s rest for a change.

At least one of us gets to nap during the day to make up for the lost sleep at night 😉

 Photo: Watching my family eat dinner is exhausting!

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it.
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for?
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you’re getting.
There’s a guy who’s been awake
Since the Second World War

-Who Needs Sleep, Barenaked Ladies

Whenever my kids (and by kids I mean Anna) are keeping me up at night and I’m feeling a little extra tired this chorus from the Barenaked Ladies song, Who Needs Sleep?, plays on repeat in my head. Like right now for example. It is on constant repeat because Who Needs Sleep? This girl needs sleep.

Anna is suffering from a double whammy of teething, she is working at least 2, possibly 3, molars and has a cold that just won’t go away. This double whammy is keeping her up at night. Several times every night for the past week or so, some nights every couple of hours, I hear her stir in her bed and beginning whimpering and eventually crying. Between the stuffy nose making it hard for her to breath and the pain caused by her molars trying to break through the skin she just isn’t sleeping well and that makes her mad, which makes her cry. Most of the time she isn’t even completely awake, she’s just whimpering and crying in her sleeping (poor thing) and I don’t have to physically get up and go rock her. Other times I have to go pick her up and rock her for a bit to calm her down and get her back to sleep.

This lack of sleep is getting to me. I feel as though I’m operating on fumes at this point. What I wouldn’t give to sleep in until *gasp* 7am and feel rested for a change. Even going to bed early doesn’t help because being woken up every few hours by the sound of Anna’s whimpers and cries, even if I don’t have to actually get out of bed each time, doesn’t make for a restful sleep. I’ve tried tylenol and motrin at night to help with the teething pain, I’ve tried the humidifier and vaporizer in her room to help with the congestion but nothing is working right now. She is uncomfortable and it is causing her to have a restless sleep, which makes her sad and pissed off, so she cries out. Who can blame her? I feel so bad for her and I wish there was more I could do for her (for her sake and mine).

Who needs sleep? I do, and so does my sweet little Anna. For now, neither of us are getting much of it so the chorus keeps playing over and over in my head. This too shall pass and those stubborn teeth will pop through and this endless cold will go away and we’ll both get back to sleeping at night. In the meantime, pass the caffeine.

I feel like I was just writing about Anna’s sleep regression and the resulting lack of sleep for both her and I, and now here I am about to tell you how amazingly she is sleeping. Something clicked for Anna in the last couple of weeks and now she is sleeping like a total champ.

Her sleep regression lasted for about 3 weeks. I wouldn’t say she was a terrible sleeper even on the worst days. But, I’m certainly thankful it seems to be over. At the height of her sleep regression she wasn’t napping well, only taking short 30 minute naps and never seeming particularly rested. She was getting up 2-3 times a night, which, as I mentioned in my previous post, was so uncommon for her. The lack of sleep made her a bit fussy and she just always seemed tired. I was hopeful our sleep troubles would be short lived as that had been my experience when Maya went through a similar phase during her babyhood.

As luck would have it, it was short lived. Something all of a sudden just seemed to click for her. It all started with her being able to soothe herself to sleep. Up until a few weeks ago I was rocking her to sleep for naps and bed time. One afternoon rocking her wasn’t working so I decided to just put her in her bed and see what happened. To my amazement she fell asleep on her own. I listened to her over the monitor cooing to herself for a minute or so and then she fussed a little, no crying just sort of whining and then silence. When I hadn’t heard anything for a couple of minutes I cracked her door and checked on her, she was sound asleep. She slept for over an hour. The next day I did the same thing for naps and she napped over an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Since then she has been napping wonderfully and seems so much more rested and her awake times last a little longer.

Once she was napping better she started sleeping a little better at night too, there is a lot to that whole “sleep begets sleep” thing. She returned first to getting up only once at night and each night her first stretch of sleep was a little longer. Then last week she started sleeping 12 hours straight through. I’ll hear her on the monitor occasionally some nights. She’ll coo a little for a minute or two and then falls back asleep. She goes to bed between 6-6:30 and gets up between 6:30-7, it has been wonderful.

Between the great napping and the super awesome night time sleep I finally feel like she is getting the sleep she needs, and I am too 😉 The girl loves her sleep.

So, for all you other mamas out there with kiddos going through sleep regressions, hang in there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

When Maya was about 4 months old she started having trouble staying asleep at night. She would go down fine but within a couple of hours would be awake again. She had previously been sleeping long stretches of 8-10 hours, and even sometimes completely through the night, so to have her wake up after only being down for a couple of hours completely threw me. I distinctly remember one week that was particularly bad, she was up every hour or two for several nights in a row. At the time I had attributed it to the fact that I had just started trying to put her to bed without being swaddled and I figured maybe she was going through a growth spurt. I went back to swaddling her and her sleep seemed to get better after a week or two so I didn’t think anything of it and didn’t really research it at the time.

Enter Anna at 4 months. Low and behold her sleep has also started going haywire. Last week in particular was bad with her getting up 2-3 times at night, sometimes as often as every 3 hours. This is completely unheard of for her. Since the day she got home from the hospital her first stretch of sleep has never been less than 5 hours, most nights she sleeps 8-10 hours and pretty regularly sleeps 12 hours straight through. When she started getting up more frequently I began having flashbacks to when Maya did the same thing. This time I hadn’t changed anything. Anna is still swaddled at night, her bedtime routine is the same, I really couldn’t think of anything different. I, again, thought maybe growth spurt, but figured I do a little research.

Well, apparently 4 months is the magic time for changes in sleep habits that “experts” often refer to as sleep regression. At around the age of 4 months a baby’s sleep patterns begin to change. The length of their sleep cycles and how frequently they cycle through them changes. A baby’s sleep cycles at 4 months old are 45-50 minutes long, which means that every 45-50 minutes they come out of a deeper sleep. They don’t always wake up completely but often will every few sleep cycles. If your baby hasn’t figured out how to self-soothe they will often cry and require attention from mom or dad in order to fall back asleep. That may mean they need to nurse if they are used to nursing to sleep, or they may need to be rocked, etc. Over time, and each baby is different some take only a few weeks while others take months, your baby will begin sleeping better again.

There are ways you can help your baby get used to this new sleep pattern including establishing and sticking to a bedtime routine, helping your child learn to self-soothe by giving them a few minutes before responding to their fussing to give them a chance to fall back asleep on their own, making sure your baby is napping well during the day as being overtired can mess with nighttime sleep as well. It is frustrating when a baby who normally sleeps very well at night all of a sudden is waking frequently, just remember that it is just a phase and eventually (hopefully quickly) he or she will return to better sleeping habits.

Maya returned to her regular, good sleeping habits within a few weeks and Anna seems to be doing the same since this week has started out with much better sleep than last week. I know Anna is putting herself back to sleep already because I’ll hear her on the monitor for a minute or two either fussing or just talking to herself but she quickly falls back to sleep. Plus, I’ve started putting her down for her naps drowsy but still awake and she is falling asleep on her own.

Doesn’t it always seem like babies throw us a curve ball just when we are getting used to their little routines.