baby sleep, babyhood, motherhood, parenting, sleep deprivation

On sleep-training. Me.

As memory has it, according to my parents, when I was a baby, I was a good sleeper. [I’m actually still a good sleeper if only I was permitted the opportunity to, you know, sleep]. I clocked in 12 hour stretches from nearly the get-go and my younger brothers, while still providing baby-boot-camp style waking sessions the first six weeks of life, quickly followed suit in the sleeping department as well.

And yet over here at Casa Iqbal, sleep is still a thing of daydreams. My eldest was also a finicky sleeper at Musa’s age and considering I was a good sleeper, I can only assume my boys inherited this I hate sleep thing from K and karma is making us both pay for the sleep deprivation his mother surely endured [She has no recollection of how well or poorly K slept which makes me think she’s blocked it out lending credence to my theory].

The issue: After putting him down swaddled in his crib, he wakes an hour later for rocking and soothing and sometimes nursing. And then, an hour later. And then, well, rinse and repeat all night long. Lately I’m blissed out over two hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is problematic as I can’t just sit comatose on the couch due to the lack of REM cycles. At the moment I’m visiting my parents so can sleep in during the mornings, but really, a long stretch of uninterrupted sleep is pretty much impossible since as the nursing mama the buck stops with me.

Concerned he might be hungry, and seeing how he clamored to eat anything we put in our mouths, I started him on cereal, just a tablespoon or two each day which he adores but its not helping with sleep. In fact, its correlating with more nightly frustrations. Memory is a faulty mechanism, but I don’t remember it being this rough with my eldest and as much as I grit my teeth and chant the mantra they grow up fast, sleep deprivation is getting old fast.

Wise and veteran parents, have any of you experienced anything like this? Been in these shoes? Do you have any advice or experience that could possibly help and guide? While cry-it-out is the light at the end of the tunnel for some it’s just not for me but any advice or perspective or plain old commiseration much appreciated!

16 thoughts on “On sleep-training. Me.”

  1. Aww poor you. I remember with my youngest didn't want to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time during the first 2 months. I tried everything but what worked really well was a bath right before bedtime and a massage with Johnson's lavender baby lotion.
    Sumi

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  2. Ugh. No advice, just a lot of commiseration. Hen went through bad patches (though nothing like what you're enduring) and I still remember the desperate horribleness of being so sleep deprived. Thinking of you, and hoping he gets the hang of it soon.

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  3. ughghghghgh. I feel for you. My first slept through the night consistently at 6 weeks. My second – not until 10 months. Do you swaddle him? That always seemed to help.

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  4. I wish I had great advice but all I can say is, hang in there, mamma, you're doing great! Little Man still wakes up 2-3 times a night (because we were too wimpy to sleep train him) so handling two babies pretty much makes you my hero! 🙂

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  5. So been there. I think the sleep issues are by far the hardest thing about parenting young children. I thought my daughter was a sketchy sleeper until I had my son, whose lack of consistent sleep just *wrecked* me. So many people reminded me that it was a relatively brief phase in my children's lives, but that sentiment is particularly unhelpful when you are walking into walls and forgetting your own name because of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can have serious effects on your health. It is not something to be glossed over.

    My only advice is to throw out the advice books and just do whatever it takes that gets you and Musa the most sleep possible. Don't worry about creating bad habits. If a habit is created you can break it later when he is old enough for you reason (somewhat) with. (You can have a conversation where you are sure that he understands the situation, even if he's not thrilled.)

    For me, it meant letting my son sleep with me instead of in his crib. Unlike his sister, he actually didn't roll around in his sleep and I could sleep and he slept better. Nothing else worked and I tried everything and every sleep book out there.

    Also, he would sleep very well in his swing. We had one that would go up to 35 pounds and we kept him in that for naps. Toward the end of its use (we topped the weight limit or I'd still be using it), it would no longer move back and forth, but he liked the seat so much, we could just sit him in it awake and he'd put himself to sleep.

    So, whatever is safe and will work for him and for you and for the rest of the family. Sleeping together, him sleeping in a swing or a carseat or with the TV on or *whatever*. If you can find something that works for right now.

    When my kids were smaller I was worried that I would set up some bad habit or crutch and they would *never* learn to sleep on their own. But that's not true. At some point, you may have to cut them off from whatever they've gotten used to, but it's actually easier, I think, when they are older.

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  6. Sumi, thank you for that advice, I haven't tried giving him a bath right before bed but will try that now!

    Susan, thanks! xoxo

    Jen, I do swaddle and its not helping— ten months?!?! Was it every two hours? Oh no!!!

    Azmina, oh noooooo!!!!! How old is your babe now? Well hopefully at some point we'll both sleep, no? :0/

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  7. hahousewife, thank you SO much. I do end up cosleeping with M the latter half of the night, otherwise I can't sleep. K wants to put him in his own room but I think that would add more work for me. I appreciate the advice— do what needs to be done and worry about the rest later. Thank you, I appreciate it so much!!!

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  8. Co-sleeping saved my sanity – my babies would “dream feed,” allowing me to be half-awake, half-asleep through their feedings. It's definitely not “regular” sleep, maybe not even sufficient sleep, but it was better than my available alternatives for lots of reasons. All kids are different, however, and mine seemingly were particularly restless sleepers. There are pros and cons to all approaches; you just have to find the one that best suits your families needs – “best” being a tough concept here I know, since you're probably choosing from a menu of not-great options. I hope you all get longer stretches of sleep soon!

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  9. Kris, Dream sleep! I think that's what I do. The alternative of waking and feeding and returning to bed to repeat would be untenable— like you said, the best is a tough concept but thank you for sharing your strategy— I really really appreciate everyone telling me to do what I think is best and that its okay to co=sleep=== there's such a taboo about that lately but its the onlyw ay I can rest.

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  10. thinking of you. my boys are nine months and i can't seem to break the habit of three-hourly feeds. sigh. having said that, one of them is a better sleeper than the other, who i just end up putting on the bed with me. and you know, he seems to sleep better that way..

    it is so nice to read ppl saying do what works for now -i agree totally! i so have not got the hang of the discipline i am meant to impose on the twins.. but i hope this does not mean the twins will turn into walking ads for bad habits!

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  11. I'm not trying to criticize you in any way, but I think they wake up more when you co-sleep. I know mine wake up until I wean them because I nurse on demand and don't do much in way of sleep training. But because they are in their own crib (and in their own room after 6 months), they at least only wake up 2-3 times per night.

    Just my two cents! Good luck!

    Rasha

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  12. The bath is a good suggestion followed by some warm massage with baby oil. increases blood circulation and makes the baby sleepy (there's johnson night time shampoo)

    I read this somewhere- lack of sleep isn't fatal- lol

    Maybe you can enroll Waleed in some sort of play group/pre nursery? When he's active during the day, he'd most likely have some sort of schedule and actually feel tired/sleepy.

    One of my cousins recently had a baby with the same sleeping issues. her husband is handling everything at home while she stays up with her daughter. Perhaps your husband can take care of things on the domestic turf while you give in the babies department? few less things to worry about.
    Are you pumping? that might give you a couple of more hours sleep.

    good luck

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  13. Little E was probably almost a year and still waking up multiple times to nurse (2-5x). At that point I knew she wasn't hungry and did not need to eat each time. I read somewhere to pick the baby up, comfort, re-swaddle and soothingly place them back in the crib/pack-n-play/co-sleeper thingy. It acknowledged her need for mom time without resorting to cry it out and was soon buying me another hour in a row of sleep. After a while I was able to cut out all of the night wakings. If I had read it earlier I probably would have started the soothing sleep training method long before a year. Good luck!

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  14. MD, one [among many of course] benefit of having an older child is knowing a bit of a preview of what will be— W was a rough sleeper too and he now sleeps without issue for 12 hours at night with nary a peep. . . . And I did no sleep training or any of 'what you're supposed to do'. . . its just hard in the thick of it, and I'm sure in your case truly and literally, doubly so. Hang in there mama!!!

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  15. Rasha, I am not offended at all, I appreciate any advice. I dont cosleep all night. I start him off in his crib and then when its 3am and he wakes up I'm so tired I get him in, from that point forward though he's up every 90 minutes it just feels easier to have him there to nurse when he needs to. I'm scared to move him out of the room and have to do a long journey back and forth but my husband agrees with you and thinks that perhaps he'd sleep longer if in a sepearate room away from the'scent' of milk. Might try it, thanks for the perspective!

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  16. Thanks for the advice anon! W is not a problem putting to bed at all, its the little guy— one day though 🙂

    HM great idea! How long did it take for this to do the trick?! I like that idea a lot.

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