In search of a good night's sleep

July 25, 2009 at 6:57 am 4 comments

I have written before about the sleep issues in my house.  Obviously, a new baby wreaks havoc on everyone’s sleep.  At ten weeks old, Ashley still wakes up every four hours or so, although I have to say she’s pretty good about eating and going back to sleep right away.

Alissa, my two-year-old, is another story.  She has never been a good sleeper, which I credit partially to genetics and partially to the monster I created.  I have rocked Alissa at bedtime every night since she was born.  We still sit in the glider chair and read a couple of stories before bed, a ritual we will have to give up soon since our combined weight is getting to be too heavy for the chair.

Alissa still wakes up at least once a night, and sometimes more than that.  If I go in to her, she tells me, “Rock a minute, mommy.”  Here’s my dilemma – do I rock her, which I know will put her back to sleep, or let her cry it out, which has the potential to wake up the entire house, including the baby?  I usually choose the path of least resistance by rocking her.  It’s hard to have the willpower and stamina to wait through the crying it out when it’s 3:00 in the morning and I’ve only had a couple of hours’ sleep myself.

I know that I need to break her of this habit – and that’s what it is, a horrible habit I’ve let her develop.  We did some crying it out at 18 months, when I was a few months pregnant and the specter of a non-sleeping toddler and the erratic schedule of a newborn baby had me scared.  And I will say, the crying it out worked, at least for a while.  I don’t know when I let it get back to this point, but I know I need to take drastic measures soon to help Alissa get back to a good sleeping pattern.

It has gotten to the point where I dread nighttime.  I go to bed but can’t relax, wondering who will be the first one to cry and how long that will actually be.  In the weeks since Ashley was born, I think we’ve had one night where I slept six hours in a row.  That night, Alissa actually slept through the night with no crying, and Ashley pulled a miraculous stint of sleeping from 9:30 – 5:30.  I’ve been hoping she will replicate that night, to no avail so far.

Mostly, my sleep has been fragmented into two- and three-hour shifts.  The girls tag-team me and wake up at staggered intervals.  For instance, last night Alissa was up at 11:30, Ashley was up at 2:00, Alissa was up at 5:45, and Ashley was up at 6:00.  Seems like I just get into a good sleep when one of them needs me.

Brad does what he can for me on weekends, but during the week he has to work so I take the nighttime shifts and try to let him sleep.  I at least have the option of a nap during the day, if I can get the girls’ naptimes coordinated to fall at the same time in the afternoon.  That’s a crapshoot, though, and sometimes works but more often doesn’t.

I would make a great case study in the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation.  My patience is worn thin.  I struggle to cope with Alissa; it’s hard enough to deal with an independent two-year-old on the best of days, and downright difficult when I’ve had no sleep and I’m cranky.  I have no energy, and things get neglected – housework, mostly, which hangs over my head.  I know I should worry more about taking care of myself than how my house looks, but sometimes I have problems letting those things go.

It’s also incredibly difficult to lose weight when you’re not sleeping well.  Being tired kills my willpower and makes me want to eat, mostly junk food that releases chemicals in my brain that I’d be getting if I was sleeping better.  I chug Diet Coke, and I might as well just open up a vein and inject the caffeine directly into my system.  I have been trying to work out, but there are days when I’m just so tired even the thought of getting us all dressed and ready to go the gym is overwhelming.

I keep telling myself that this can’t last forever, that someday I will get a good night’s sleep again.   Sometimes that’s hard to remember at 4:00 in the morning, when I’m up with a child for the third or fourth time that night.  I’ve had more than one breakdown about that time of day, when I’m overcome with exhaustion and all I can do is sit and cry as I feed Ashley or try to get Alissa calmed down enough to go back to sleep.

Every night when I go to bed, I pray that God will grant us a good night’s sleep, that He will touch my girls and let them (and ultimately me) rest.  And every night we have the same three-ring circus.  I keep hoping, though, that He will grant my prayer, or at least let me see the reason why I am enduring this test.

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Entry filed under: Life in general.

Amen. Future beauty consultant

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aunt Dano  |  July 25, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I think you need a weekend away! Have those grandmas step in and watch 1 child each, then you and Brad either take off or stay at the house w/the kids gone. You’ll enjoy it and so will they.

    Reply
  • 2. anne burris  |  July 25, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Hi Amy, I can completely relate to your plight of lack of sleep, since I have three kids myself who have never been born into this world with natural good sleep habits. As infants they never slept through the night until I forced it upon them through a “cry-it-out” method. A full night’s sleep usually didn’t come my way until about 6 or 8 months of age.
    Certainly not one particular method works for everyone, but this is what has worked for me:

    I let my infants cry it out starting somewhere between 6 and 8 months (you’ll know when you’re infant is ready). It took 3-5 days to work, but it did, and now I’m sleeping like a baby every night.
    Once my infants were sleeping through the night I didn’t really have any problems of night-time waking, but then ran into problems once there was the change from the crib to the big kid bed with regards to not wanting to stay in the bed once put there (before they fell asleep). I resolved that problem after I watched a Supernanny episode where she addressed the putting to bed issue. It goes like this:

    The first time the child got out of bed, you lead them back to the bed and say “It’s time for night-night, I’m not rocking you. I love you” Tuck her in and give her a kiss.

    When she gets up the second time you say “Good night, Alyssa” and lead her back to bed with a kiss, and don’t say ANYTHING else.

    Any getting up from then on is putting her back in her bed with NO WORDs and leaving.

    It is tough in the beginning because the child may get out of bed up to 20 times in one night for the first couple of days, but they do get it, and it wears them down to the point that they just don’t want to do it anymore.

    But, the initial suffering is SO WORTH sleeping well from there on out.

    This works so well that I put my kids to bed at night with the door open and the hall light on and they NEVER get up out of their bed and they don’t wake at night. However, I admit this came through some work at the beginning, but it’s great.

    Now, if only someone can tell me how to get my 18 month old how to sleep later than 6:00 am!!!

    Reply
  • 3. Shannon Hobbs  |  July 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    It’s a crap shoot honey. I did the same rocking thing with Matt, but about a month before Katey was born we talked about how he would be the big brother and have to take turns….
    Katey was a good sleeper until she was Alyssa’s age..then I would wake with her standing over me and startle the CRAP out of me. She got spanked back to her room several times, which I relive in horror to this day. The above mentioned “return” method was very much like what we used. Who knew I was super nanny! Anyway, it is more about keeping your calm at three am so they go back down feeling calm and can go back to sleep. Seemed if I got upset with her she sensed it and was right back by my bed. Deep breath and good luck. I’ll say extra prayers!

    Reply
  • 4. Blankies & Booboos  |  November 30, 2011 at 9:37 am

    […] sleep at my house, or rather, the lack thereof. (Missed it the first time?  Go here.  Or here.  Here’s another one.  Or for a really good post, go […]

    Reply

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