To Sleep, Perchance, is a Dream

Miles doesn’t sleep well. 

Maybe you have noticed that theme running throughout my life recently.

The number of days or weeks that he has slept well, slept through the night could be counted on one hand.

He is almost one year old and he is not even sleeping through the night for the 5 hours that breastfed babies sleep to qualify for ‘through the night’ status.  Sometimes he does, sometimes he’ll go 4.5 or 5 hours between going to sleep and first waking, but usually not. 

Nights like last night are all too frequent. The hourly waking, the being up for 1.5 – 2 hours or T or I being up for that long, anyway, trying to keep him in his restless sleep, patting, holding, singing, walking, rocking (altho not much rocking; he’s not a rocking-type of baby).  The night before last, he soundly slept till 1 a.m. before waking to eat, went right back to sleep for another 3.5 hours before eating again, and then was up at 5:30 because when he does sleep well, he gets up earlier.  But I prefer that to last night.

In fact all the nights like last night are just so difficult.  I try to make light of it in the light of day when it doesn’t seem so dire.

These almost 11 months of fractured sleep are certainly taking their toll. I feel like a big pile of yuck. I find myself living from sugar rush to sugar rush to caffeine rush to make it through the day.  I would exercise–I am sure it would help me feel better–but that requires effort and, at least initially, the energy to get out and do it.

Even more than that is the gnawing self-doubt, the wondering if I am doing something wrong. It seems that many babies who are almost 11 months old sleep in general relatively well with set-backs here and there as they develop. I know that Miles is not unique: I have talked to parents whose marriage was pushed to the brink by a baby with sleep issues like Miles’s.  When their second baby came, they worriedly consulted with a doctor when she slept so peacefully and well, wondering what was wrong with her.  I have talked to my cousin, who paced the floor with her firstborn until she was 15 months, all the while wondering “what am I doing wrong?

You wonder if your instinctual reactions are wrong. The comment that his waking is just a nasty habit sticks with you. The knowing (smirk?) smile your (childless) pediatrician gives you when you mention his sleep problems and that you co-sleep. His difficulty to get back to sleep when he wakes up.  His frequent restlessness and rousings. You just wonder what you are doing wrong but can’t really envision doing anything other than what you are.

I know he will grow out of it…the other babies that I have heard about did.  But meanwhile the sleepless nights, the ennervated days will continue, probably for many months.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 10:50:51

    I wish I could wave a magic wand and cause Miles to sleep better, but since I can’t, all I can say is that when I saw you with Miles in April, I thanked God for having chosen the very best mother in the universe for this particular baby. Being so patient and caring for his needs as you do no matter how exhausted or frustrated you are–that is what is known as doing the right thing. You are not doing something wrong. You are loving him as he deserves to be loved.


  2. bejewell
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 22:19:02

    I honestly don’t know how you are doing it — like Sharon above I wish I knew some magic cure-all, or at least had the number of the Sandman and could send him with a couple of hits for Miles. But I think some babies just DON’T SLEEP, just like some babies don’t like broccoli (the Bean) or don’t like to have their diapers changed (the Bean) or have to CLIMB EVERYTHING (the Bean).

    Honestly I think he’ll pass through this stage soon, and in the meantime you are doing such an incredible job – just the fact that you were able to stay awake long enough to write this is a friggin’ miracle, as far as I’m concerned!!


  3. The Mom
    Aug 22, 2008 @ 07:45:38

    You are doing EVERYTHING WAY RIGHT! You are not causing your baby’s sleep patterns, and your patience and devotion are off the charts. I, too, wish I could change him for you.


  4. Nerida
    Aug 25, 2008 @ 20:23:16

    I really feel for you. Sleep deprivation is a cruel thing. If only we could store sleep up like…fat! Then we could draw on it when we are starved for some.

    Every child is an individual and if your family doctor is happy with the health and growth of your gorgeous little Miles, then that’s a great sign.

    It’s not uncommon for young children to wake up 3 or 4 times a night. You may have to just ride it out. All of a sudden you’ll hit the stage where you just can’t get him out of bed!

    You could have a think about what happens during the day that may be influencing him to wake more frequently at night.

    How many naps is he having during the day? Could they be cut back a little? How are your nap and bedtime routines? Is he getting to bed around the same time each time?

    If he’s still having a feed at night,maybe you could sneak in a feed on your way to bed to help him sleep a longer block while you are too?

    You are doing a great job. No one can care for your son as well as you are.

    Forget the household chores and ALWAYS take a nap when Miles does.


  5. Olivia
    Sep 30, 2008 @ 19:53:49

    Resurrecting an old post just to say that I feel your pain. My 15 month old breastfed baby still wakes up 3 or 4 times a night. You are not alone and you’re not doing anything wrong. Eventually it will get better. Because they will go off to college. Ahhhh….sweet sleep.


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