Much has been made about what moms really want for Mother’s Day: sleep. It’s true. I’d like the same thing, especially since LM has been up every night this week, multiple times for multiple hours. It’s exhausting. We’ve removed one side of his crib (Parenting fail: We neglected to purchase the toddler bed conversion set, which has now been discontinued) and blocked most of it off with the play yard, leaving a small opening for him to get in and out.
Last night was our trial run of this new arrangement. The results were mixed. I found it easier to put him down, and thus there was less chance for wake-ups. I could also lie with him in the bed, which is a lot more comfortable for me. I could even sleep there if I wanted (I don’t). But he still woke up, and didn’t crawl back in bed as I hoped he would. One late-night excursion to check on him after he went quiet out of sight of the video monitor had me creeping down the pitch-black hall and peering around the corner into his room. I found him sitting at the gate in his doorway staring blankly into space – until he saw me and resumed screaming.
I have yet to figure out what’s causing his sleep troubles (teeth? anxiety from the child care room at the gym? nightmares? some developmental brain thing? an alien takeover?), but it has not been a fun week, for me or Foggy Daddy. Today, though, was a beautiful spring day, and my mom group had our weekly stroller walk. LM was asleep in his stroller (finally!) so I got to have some adult conversation (which, admittedly, was mostly about our kids) as we enjoyed the nice weather. A day like that makes me feel grateful for all I have, especially for LM. It makes me glad I can finally celebrate Mother’s Day for myself, after so many years of struggle. It makes me take stock of what I really want, even more than sleep. And honestly, all I want for Mother’s Day is what I already have: a family to spend it with.
So that said, this is what I envision for my perfect Mother’s Day:
– FD lets me sleep in. He takes care of LM while simultaneously making homemade pancakes, which he will bring to me in bed.
– I sleep as late as I want. We do not “have to” be anywhere.
– We spend the rest of the day just the three of us.
– We find some kind of outdoor space – a park or arboretum – and have a relaxing picnic. Live music or some kind of event would be ideal.
– We come home to order dinner (I don’t want FD to have to cook again, which would also saddle me with watching LM) and relax on the deck as LM plays.
Sound like a plan? What is your ideal Mother’s Day?
After a year of wake-ups throughout the night, I thought my son finally got the sleeping thing down. For over six months I’ve enjoyed a fairly consistent night of good sleep. Any sleep deprivation has become my own fault. The only time I had to deal with his restlessness was when we slept away from home. But in his crib? He turned into a great sleeper.
I’m not sure what has changed – I suppose it’s some sort of sleep regression. It started with his figuring out how to get out of his crib. One night we were coming home from a wake. As usual, LM had fallen asleep on the car ride home (we made sure to change him into his pajamas before leaving). Normally, Foggy Daddy is able to transfer LM from the car to his crib without a problem – but on this night, he decided to wake up. We were exhausted and hungry, so as he cried we sat down to eat our Indian take-out, waiting to see if he’d settle down on his own. All of a sudden, I heard little footsteps upstairs. “Did he get out of his crib?” I exclaimed, running to the stairs. The gate at the top had been left open, and there LM stood. He startled when he saw me. “No! Don’t move!” I screamed as I raced up, embracing him in my arms as we both cried.
After that, we made sure to keep the gate closed whenever he was upstairs, and also installed a gate across his bedroom door (His door squeaks so we leave it open. Yes, maybe we should just take some WD-40 to the hinges. Talk to FD.) But I still wasn’t sure what to do about his climbing out. Crib tents are dangerous, I was warned. I believed he was too young for a toddler bed. Someone suggested sleep sacks, and miraculously they prevented him from being able to lift his leg high enough to get out. I did have some fear that he would end up toppling out head-first, but so far so good. Problem solved, I thought.
He continued to sleep OK until a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden, his normal wake-up time of 7:30 became 6 am. This was really tough for me. I’m not a morning person. At all. And I couldn’t figure out what was going on – it’s not like his naps got longer, so he was just getting less sleep. I started to worry what this might mean for his development.
Then, the past three nights he has woken up, inconsolable, in the middle of the night. We had been slacking on using the sleep sacks because he didn’t seem to need them – yes, he could get out, but that was only in the morning. He seemed an expert at it, and there is a throw rug on top of wall-to-wall carpeting in front of his crib, so I thought he’d be sufficiently padded should he land on his bum. But when he started waking up in the middle of the night, getting out of his crib necessitated one of us going to him, since obviously he can’t cry it out on the floor. This resulted in very broken nights’ sleep for all of us, and a return to extreme fogginess for me.
Last night I put the sleep sack back on. He woke up again around 1 am, but this time couldn’t get out. I watched on the monitor as he struggled, prepared to sprint to his room should he take a header. He cried for 20 minutes, but just as I was about to go and get him, he suddenly turned around and went back to sleep. He slept the rest of the night – although he still got up at 6 am.
So, there are a few different things going on here: Climbing out of his crib, waking up in the night and getting up early. I have no idea if they are all connected or what to do about it. I had thought I had paid my sleep deprivation dues during his first year, but it appears the sleep gods don’t work that way.
Should I put him in a toddler bed? Should I put him to bed earlier (supposedly this actually leads to sleeping later)? Should I just continue the sleep sacks and ride it out, hoping he’ll go back to normal? Why have his sleep patterns changed in the first place?
If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them! Foggy Mommy is foggy once again!
As I sat down to write this blog post at my parents’ house (hooray for free babysitting), I could barely keep my eyes open. Maybe if I just rest my eyes for a second… I thought. Half an hour later, I woke up. Whoops. But why am I so tired? Was it because LM was up throughout the night? Nope. Was it because he got up super early? No, that wasn’t it either.
It was because I stayed up way too late – completely of my own accord.
You see, I’m a night owl. Always have been, probably always will be. No matter how tired I am throughout the day, I just can’t get my body to relax and go to bed early. How late was I up? I’m embarrassed to admit it. But it was probably about 12:45 when I fell asleep. Yes, I am crazy.
What was I doing up that late? OK, let me give you a rundown of my evening. We usually have dinner around 6:30. Then I get LM ready for bed and bring him up about 8 pm. He’s usually asleep by 8:30. I know this is a little late in itself, but we can’t seem to get him upstairs any earlier if we want to have dinner as a family. After that I come back down and watch TV until 11. Then I go upstairs, get myself ready for bed, and check Facebook. Then I read a book on my Nook until I’m literally falling asleep while reading. This is probably why I can never remember what happened in any of the books I’ve read.
I can see you critiquing my nighttime routine. “Um, who needs to watch two plus hours of TV a night?” you ask. You’re probably right, but as a former entertainment writer, I can’t seem to give up the habit. I loves me some TV. As it is, I feel way out of the loop with what’s going on in the entertainment world, so keeping up on my favorite shows at least helps me retain some of my former life and my sense of self. And I don’t watch crap like The Bachelor or something – no offense to those that do, because maybe that’s your guilty pleasure outlet. But I like stimulating dramas like The Walking Dead, or comforting fare like Hart of Dixie. And yes, my inner teen still has a weakness for shows like Pretty Little Liars.
Next up: My FB addiction. I usually think, I’ll just scroll through really fast. Until I find a linked article that’s really long but I end up reading it and all the comments and then comment on it myself. So I never really know how long a quick jaunt through FB land will last. But I can’t give that up either – it’s my way to feel connected, and because I’m part of a lot of parenting groups, it gives me ideas for blogs.
Then the book reading. For a long time while LM was not sleeping through the night, I wasn’t reading anything. While I nursed him at night books would only put me to sleep. It was wonderful when I could start reading again, because I’ve always been a reader. Plus, it makes me feel smart and in-the-know in an intellectual way. So I have to work it in somehow.
There is just too much I want to do and not enough time to do it, so sleep is that thing that I’ve been sacrificing. But although I do like my child-free alone time at night, I think my problem goes deeper than that.
When I’ve tried trimming these before-bed rituals, what happens is that my mind starts spinning and won’t calm down. I make a million lists in my head of things I need to do. I think about something that made me angry and rehash it over and over. I write blog posts in my mind. Without my wind-down routine, my brain seems to whirl faster.
And so I don’t think the problem is television, or Facebook, or books. I really believe that my body is just somehow wired differently. I get a burst of mental activity at night. I need some way to calm it down, and I just can’t seem to make that happen any earlier than I already do.
This has been a life-long problem for me. I remember staying up late doing homework and then having a really hard time getting up for school. That’s why college was so great – I just didn’t schedule any morning classes. I’ve done a little research, and I think I might have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, in which my body’s internal clock is just set later than most people’s.
But what is a night-owl parent to do when their child wakes up at the normal time of 7 am? I’ve been surviving on six hours of sleep, but I’d really like more. Something has got to give. I think it will take a concerted effort to gradually move my bedtime back. If I want to keep my reading in, maybe I do need to give up some TV shows, at least temporarily and then catch up on them during the summer season. Maybe I need to stop being such a FB hound – it’s not going anywhere.
Every morning when I’m struggling to get out of bed, I say that I will start my new routine that evening. But then night rolls around, my mind wakes up and I don’t do it. And so the cycle continues. Considering how tired I was when LM wouldn’t sleep through the night, it’s stupidly amazing that I’m doing this to myself. But it feels like an addiction that I can’t break.
Any other night-owl moms out there? How do you handle the lack of sleep and early mornings? I need some advice!
Last night a familiar cry woke me from a dead sleep at 1:45 am. LM was up. I watched the video monitor to see if he could settle himself. He almost went back to sleep a few times, but didn’t. Eventually he was standing, pulling himself up on the crib rail and doing some kind of baby pull-ups that left his feet off the mattress and me worried he would somehow be able to launch himself out.
I looked over at my husband. He stirred but didn’t wake up. “I don’t know what to do,” I said. “Should I go get him?” No response.
It was up to me. Because my husband goes to work, it’s my responsibility to attend to LM during the night. That and the fact that I’m the one with the boobs, which is often the only thing that will get LM back to sleep.
I went to LM’s room and realized he did have a reason to cry: a poopy diaper. I changed it and nursed him, but he still did not want to go back down in his crib. I said goodnight anyway and left the room. After five minutes of crying, he was back to sleep.
I never thought I would be the kind of mom to endorse CIO (“cry it out”). I read the debates online – and there are plenty of them, because sleep is one of those inevitable mommy wars topics. “It’s cruel and selfish to let your baby cry,” the anti-CIO crowd said. “I could never stand to listen to the sound of my baby in distress. I just deal with being tired the next day.”
That all sounded great, until I was faced with a baby who just wouldn’t sleep. As a young infant he woke frequently to nurse, which I knew was normal. I thought he’d eventually start sleeping longer stretches naturally. But…he didn’t. And I didn’t know what I was going to do once I was back at work, because there was no way I could function on so little sleep. I was also very worried about staying awake for my 45-minute drive to work.
Then I got laid-off, so work was suddenly a non-issue. I continued to answer LM’s cries several times throughout the night. I would go to his room, sit in the glider and nurse him back to sleep. The iPad and I became very good friends. Frasier, Friends, Seinfeld and all manner of nineties sitcoms and I got reacquainted – they were the only shows I could watch (with ear buds in) that were both mindless enough yet entertaining enough to keep me occupied and awake.
But by ten months I couldn’t take it anymore. I was a zombie (actually a mombie), and even though I wasn’t working I still found it difficult to function at home alone with LM. A couple of times I fell asleep on the floor while he played next to me. I was useless at doing any housework. I wanted to start blogging but I had no energy. I was a shell of my former self.
Then to make matters even worse, LM started resisting being put back in his crib after I nursed him back to sleep. No matter how slowly or gently I tried to do it, he could sense the feeling of being put down and was not having it. (Yes, I know you’re supposed to do the whole drowsy-but-awake thing, but did whoever came up with that actually know any babies? It certainly did not work with mine.)
I was at my breaking point. I either needed to embrace bed-sharing or do some kind of sleep training. I had slept with LM in the bed before – it was sleep but not good sleep, as he would constantly want to nurse. My husband didn’t want him in bed with us on a permanent basis, and I was worried that later we would have a hard time transitioning him out of our bed and into his own. So we decided against it.
Searching for advice, I read The Baby Whisperer. The author condescendingly describes how we get into “accidental parenting,” which is the easiest tactic at the moment but not a good long-term solution. She claims that if we let babies CIO we break the bonds of trust with them. Her “no-cry” method consists of picking the baby up every time he cries, and then putting him down as soon as he is calm. She says to do this for however long it takes until the baby is asleep.
Yeah, well, “no-cry” my ass! The first and only night I tried this, LM wailed every time I tried to put him down. After an hour, I couldn’t take it anymore and left the room. He continued to cry, but then was asleep after a few minutes.
So I kind of fell into CIO. I didn’t follow Ferber or any other kind of method. I still rocked and nursed him to sleep, and would still go in when he woke up crying. But if he wouldn’t let me put him back down, he got a kiss and a goodnight and that was it.
It worked. The longest he cried was 20 minutes, and after a few days it was only a few minutes. Soon, he started sleeping longer stretches, and eventually slept all night. I don’t know if that’s because we let him cry, or if it was finally just time for him to reach that milestone on his own.
Yes, it was tough, but I didn’t know what else to do. I could not hold him all night. I needed sleep to be a good mom.
Have I scarred LM for life? Have I broken the bonds of trust with him? Is his sleeping through the night not so much “self-soothing” as it is an acceptance that I’ve abandoned him? I don’t know. All I know is that he’s sleeping, I’m sleeping and we’re both happier for it.
He does still occasionally wake up, like last night, and then I have the conundrum of what to do. So I let him cry for a little, and if he’s still upset I go in, make sure there’s not something wrong (too hot or cold, is sick, has a dirty diaper, etc) and try to get him back to sleep. If there isn’t and he still won’t go back to sleep, he’s on his own.
That probably sounds callous and cruel. But the effects of long-term sleep deprivation are no joke – I was seriously about to start hallucinating. Now, I am finally starting to feel like human being again. But I still sometimes miss our middle of the night cuddles.
Do you think I’m a horrible mom for letting my son cry? How have you solved sleep issues with your baby?
As I’m writing this my mind literally does not want to think, so sorry if this sounds a bit, well, foggy. That’s been the story of my life for the past year – I just don’t seem to be able to function as I did before I had my son. Why? I blame mommy brain. (Yes, it’s a real thing.)
As most moms know, sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of mommy brain. Sleep is an issue which I’m sure I’ll expound upon in later posts, but suffice it to say that my baby just did.not.sleep. I had a love-hate relationship with his night wakings: I loved to go into his room, take him in my arms and feel the quiet peacefulness as I nursed him. I enjoyed letting my brain turn off as I watched repeats of Frasier and Friends on the iPad to keep myself awake while feeding him. I felt that he should decide when to night wean, not me, so I continued to revel in our special relationship.
But I was seriously tired. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used to torture people. As the months of waking every few hours continued, there was nothing I started to crave more than sleep. And yet when I went to bed, my mind would spin in circles about all the things I had to do, and I couldn’t fall asleep. And so the cycle continued.
I’m also convinced that babies just suck the energy out of you. I don’t know exactly how, but somewhere in between cleaning up poop, wrestling a screaming, wrangling child and trying to decipher their every cry you become worn down to a shell of your former self. It’s not that you don’t enjoy taking care of your child all day long. But it’s exhausting.
Not to mention the lack of mental stimulation. Singing The Wheels on the Bus and reading Goodnight Moon over and over and over will will take your IQ down a few points. You’re just not stimulating the adult part of your brain formerly used for meetings with your boss and PowerPoint presentations. Now when I try to read a novel or even an online news article, my mind makes mental leaps – it can’t hold as much as it used to, so it boils down the information to one useful nugget and throws the rest out. As a result, I know the basics of what I read but can’t for the life of me have an in-depth conversation about it.
Even though my son is finally sleeping through the night, I find myself utterly wiped. Now that he’s turned one, he demands more of my attention when awake. He actually wants me to play with him – or at least watch him play. When I see moms with newborns I’m suddenly jealous – those were the days when he just lay there and didn’t do anything. I also take him to play groups, kiddie activities, swimming… he’s one and I’m already overscheduling him, and me.
Plus, now I’m actually trying to use my brain to write this blog and my freelance assignments. And I want to watch TV and movies again. And read books. And keep up on current events. And Facebook. So I squeeze it all in after he goes to bed and end up staying up late. And I’m still having that insomnia when it’s time to fall asleep.
Will it ever end, or will I spend the rest of my life in a kid-induced fog? Do you have mommy brain, too?