Sleep, the Definitive Edition

I like sleep. I like it a lot. I am a champion sleeper, capable of sleeping dozens of hours without need for food or even for potty breaks.  No amount of sleep is too daunting for me to handle.

Sleep is also the one thing that is and has been in short supply in our house for 20 months + some days.  I have rarely had a solid night’s sleep for two years, since while in a gestational state, the discomfort associated with having a nearly-ten pound baby curled up in one’s belly (perhaps that is not a medically accurate phrase) is not conducive to peaceful slumber.

If anyone had warned me that after nearly two years that I would be counting myself grateful for 3.5 to 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep after having a baby I would have a) blithely told them that I would be in control, not the baby and that therefore he would sleep soundly whether he wanted to or not or b) I would have thought better of the whole genetic propogation thing.

Here is the way we roll at our house at night:

There is a twin bed in the TT’s room upon which either T or I sleep so that the other can have some relative quiet to pursue dreamland in what-was-formerly-known-as “our” room.

T is on duty till around 2:30, give or take.

I am on duty from 2:30 till morning.

Theoretically, I could be getting lots of good sleep before 2:30. The problem is that frequently there are such things as chores, work, personal hygiene and some quality reading time that demands attention. Then after head hitting pillow, it takes anywhere up to 30 minutes before my brain will shut down, unless I am uber-extremely-tired, and I can catch some zzzz’s.

Typically the TT is up at least 4 times. T usually walks him or attends to him at least twice before I come over, starting usually around 11:30, after the TT has had his 3-3.5 hours of deep solid sleep or so.  The TT nurses around 2:30, with me bringing him into bed for the rest of the night (you think I am actually going to GET UP and get him out of his crib each time he needs help? HA!), then probably 3 or 4 times before waking. It depends. Sometimes less, sometimes he just needs a comforting pat and shush to settle again.

The TT has never, ever had self-soothing abilities. I remember once being at the lactation consultant’s a few months after the TT was born as we worked on the seeming endless problem of latch. The LC said to me that he needed to get some self-soothing skills. I agreed.  It’s still not his really strong point, though.

It actually wouldn’t be a problem if he would just nurse and go peacefully back to sleep. That would be great. REally great.  The nights that that happens are actually restful. Although I wake up when he nurses, it’s easy to fall asleep again. The greater difficulty is the fact that quite often when he wakes up, he is UP. For an hour or more.  And his preferred mode of getting back to sleep (and when I say ‘preferred” I mean ‘the only way’) is being walked. Sometimes not even nursing will get him back to sleep. Walked and walked and walked.  Either that or he rolls around and around. He is often a very active sleeper.

Of course all babies and toddlers experience these times esp during developmental spurts…or teething…or allergies…or the wrong phase of the moon…or atmospheric pressure changes…or it’s Tuesday.  But the TT is really kind of like this ALL THE TIME since the beginning.  Actually, he slept well (and by well, I mean even getting 8 hours before he would stir) when he was three months old. 

I know you are saying, “just let him cry”.  He would probably never remember that I let him cry in his crib but I would have that as a negative memory of myself as a parent. T and I are unwilling to let him cry for a long period.  We are attentive parents during the day, why would that change at night?  Just because I have the power to leave him in his crib, to not pick him up into the warm, strong arms that he desires so strongly doesn’t mean that I in all conscious can do so.  The TT IS so almost overly sensitive that T and I both think he would probably cry himself sick.  And I for one cannot hear him crying in such sorrowing sadness and longing in the darkness of the night without doing something about it. 

On the other hand, co-sleeping can turn into a battle too (like last night) when he decides that “DA-BOOM'”, it’s time to play Body Slam the Pillows, a game which he loves during the day but which I find, for some reason, highly inappropriate at night.  After an hour of those shenanigans, T got to come back on call and walk him.  (apparently he had to walk him FOUR MORE TIMES between 4 and 6:30 when I went back in again).

Sometimes he will actually have a night or two in which he sleeps relatively peacefully, he nurses a few times and falls back to sleep again. Those are nice nights. I often don’t mind that the day begins at 6:30 for him on those nights (the 5 a.m. thing is a different story, however).

So there you have it. It is a tag-team effort and one that I would not be able to do and stay sane if T weren’t so willing to pull his weight as he is.  (the first part of the TT’s first year was wearing as T was studying for his CPA exams and I took most nighttime duty so he could sleep and be alert to work and study. Life got A LOT better once T was able to start splitting the Night Shift more). It isn’t easy for us and it certainly isn’t what the so-called “sleep trainers” recommend and I am sure that they would be appalled and warn us that a) we are setting him up for disastrous sleep as a child/adult and b) that we are “being robbed” of our sleep to “no purpose” but I am just that obstinate that I know a) SOMEDAY my child will sleep well, that he will get the sleep he needs as a child and adult and b) I will no longer view 4 hours as a luxury and those sleep trainers can stuff it.

And by about that time, Tyrant #2 will be around and we can start all over again.

And if you finished reading this absurdly lengthy and appallingly boring post, you get a Gold Star.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emily
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 19:34:12

    Keep reminding yourself that these times are so short in our lives…someday we’ll look back fondly on them and smile.


  2. Sharon
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 23:44:36

    Give YOURSELF a gold star for your patience, for following your instincts, and loving your little guy so much. And a big gold star for Troy too, and maybe in the middle of the night, you could affix a line of gold stars across TT’s forehead just for fun. No? Or you could put some on the back of his hand, then you drift off whilst he lies there trying to pick them off with his fingers. Auntie Sharon is full of inane ideas, but she wishes the era of solid sleep to befall the TT soon.


  3. The Mom
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 09:05:12

    Many nights (actually most nights) I feel guilty as I climb into bed, knowing that I will get a full night’s sleep while you and yours will not. Wish I could change it for you.


  4. Lisa
    Jun 08, 2009 @ 15:30:42

    ditto on most of the above, but also there’s no reason to think TT #2 will have the same problem. They’ll probably have a different one 🙂


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