“Ugh! Our baby does not want to seep tonight!”
~One of many sleep related text messages to my Husband
My son was an awesome sleeper as newborn. I thought we had hit the jackpot. In those early weeks when I really needed it the most we got some pretty good sleep.
I was getting 4 hour stretches of sleep at a time and if I went to bed early I could get 8-10 hours with pretty minimal interruption. Not bad!
Things only got easier once we really got the hang ofbreastfeeding. We got into a rhythm where I would wake him up for a feeding when I went to bed around 9 or 10 and then he woke up once more for a 3am feeding. No biggie, I can handle this!
“I’m going to bed. I don’t care how stupid early it is.” ~text message to the husband
At around 12 weeks old or so things started to change. He started waking more frequently at night. Much more frequently.
He would go down for the night around 6-6:30 and wake up again at 9 or so. This was his longest stretch of sleep and I didn't even get the benefit of it unless I went to bed ridiculously early (which I sometimes did). From there he would wake up again at 11, 1, 3, 4,5,6.
Really from 3 am on he was in a super light sleep and I often could not put him down (even right next to me in his co-sleeper!) after nursing him or he would wake right back up! So from 3 am on more often than not he was sleeping in the bed with us using me as a human pacifier for the rest of the night. Ok, no problem. It’s a phase, we will get through it.
“I can’t put a baby down! Looks like I don’t get dinner tonight! Ugh."
~text message to the husband
And then things got worse. Some nights I could not put him down in the evening or he would wake right up so I ended up holding him all evening and he slept in bed with us all night.
Even if I could put him down his wakings were all over the place. It would be something like, down at 6 then wake at 9, 11, 11:30, 2, 3, 3:30, 4, 5, 6. There were several nights where he didn't stay asleep for more than 45 min (average baby sleep cycle) all night long! This is getting seriously out of control.
Believe it or not things just continued to get worse!
He started having trouble napping. His morning nap started to get shorter and shorter, down to only 45 min. And he started to have trouble taking his mid-day and afternoon naps at all.
“Gesh I’m bad at this! He has barely slept since his morning nap, we have bounced, nursed, drove, walked, even left him in his room for 10 min or so to see how that would go… I give up, at some point we will both just pass out for the night I guess. He is not too cranky, I just know he is tired. Poor sleep deprived baby!” ~text message to the husband
I started to do anything I could think of to help him nap! I would nurse him for ages, I would walk with him in his baby sling/wrap sometimes for 2-3 miles, I would drive him around in the car, or bounce and shush him. I pulled out all the stops. All my Mommy tricks out of the bag. I tried everything!
Often all this hard work would result in only a 20-30 minute nap if I could get him to sleep at all. There were several days where he missed either his mid-day or afternoon nap and sometimes he missed both! Being awake from 10:30 in the morning until a 6 bedtime is far, far too long for a baby so young! 2 hours awake time, maybe 3 absolute tops.
I kept trying to just hang in there. I mean, babies don't sleep well, what else is new? But it felt like things were just spinning out of control.
I was so tired from getting so little sleep at night that it was very difficult for me to put in all this energy to try to help my baby nap during the day. To be completely honest I started to fall apart.
I became depressed, irritated, I resented my baby and everything he was demanding of me. I was feeling very insecure as a Mother. I lost a lot of confidence that I could give my baby what he needed. We were having big, big problems!
Part III: Finding a Solution