I wish.

Yes, friends, we are having some serious sleep issues in Madtown. I hesitated to post about it because in daylight hours Daniel is a delight and he is, after all, a baby. They often don't sleep well.

Our problem is not getting him to bed. He goes to sleep happily between 7 and 8 every night and sleeps soundly for three or four hours. It's that chunk of time between midnight and 4a.m. that is so brutal. Typically, Daniel wakes up to nurse at 10:30 or 11, when we're headed to bed. And then again at 12, 1, 2, 3, 4--you get the idea. If we're lucky, he goes happily into his crib. Every so often, though, he pretends to be asleep but as soon as he hits the crib mattress he fusses and whines. He easily sits up on his own and can also pull himself up to standing on his crib bars, so once this child has decided to be awake, there's no leaving him to cry it out. Believe me. We've tried.

The other night was particularly bad. He had eaten well during the day, including an afternoon snack of mashed banana and hearty dinner of assorted mushy vegetables, and breastfed plenty before going to bed at 7:30 or so. (I present this as evidence that he wasn't waking from hunger.) At 11:00, though, he woke up in need of milk and comfort, which I willingly gave...and gave...and gave...and gave. By half past midnight, I had nursed him to sleep and returned him to his crib probably half a dozen times and every time I failed. Stuart tried to help but it was just one of those times Daddy wasn't good enough. I was so tired I ached. My brain was shutting down from the exhaustion of cumulative sleep-deprivation of many interrupted nights. My breasts were so tapped I felt myself shrivelling. My patience was done.

Those of you who know me well know that while I experience anger, sadness and frustration just like any normal person, I almost never lose my cool. I am blessed with an even temperment and general ability to keep things in perspective, even when I'm upset.

But that last time I tried putting him down and he writhed and fussed, I cracked. I mean to say that I completely lost my cool. Too exhausted to cry, too angry to be rational, and too frustrated and impatient to suck it up and try one more time, I started to scream. I screamed and screamed and screamed to drown out the sound of his crying and my growing feelings of failure and incompetence.

When I finished, Daniel was still crying and I was still an exhausted mess, but I felt a little better.

"My goodness," said Stuart's timid voice from the other side of the bed. (He told me the next day he was afraid the neighbors would call the police, but was probably too terrified to say anything to me at that moment. He is wise, my husband.)

It took another twenty minutes or so, but eventually the little demon went to sleep - for a couple hours anyway. Things have been predictably dicey since then, but I am dealing with it. I have to tell myself that this will not last forever, that someday, even if it's years from now, I'll get a full night's sleep again. After all, he's just a baby. I should have known to expect this.

(By the way, don't tell me he's teething. We've been blaming all of his behavior on teething since May and he still doesn't have any teeth. I'm sick of people telling me he's teething.)


annalu alulu said…
Maybe he's tee...oh, sorry.

I've never had any kids, but I do teach 18 three year olds every day from 9-3:30, and from 7-9, I have Daniel's age babies. So I know about losing my cool. What if you kept him up later? Do you think that would work? And I have a parent who lets her three year old "cry it out" in a dark room by himself. What if you put him in his play pen? That way, it wouldn't matter if he pulled himself up, and eventually he'd get tired again, right?

Certainly this is a cartload of crap, since I've never had a baby, but I thought I'd try, just cause I feel so sorry for you.
Thorny said…
Ooogh. How old is he again? He could just be going through kind of a developmental leap (sort of like a growth spurt, but mental instead of physical); that often messes with kids' sleep for a few weeks or so.

Also, and I know you don't want to hear this, my two first starting showing teething symptoms about five months before their teeth actually broke through. And then from that point until all their teeth finally were in? I felt like I spent the better part of two years going, "Oh, they're teething."

At one point we were going through a similar difficult time, and a friend suggested they might be teething, and my reply went something on the order of, "Of course they're teething! They're always teething! They've been teething for 18 months now!"

Which was not precisely true - there were odd little breaks here and there along the way. But it still /felt/ pretty obnoxious.

As far as getting enough sleep... is cosleeping an option for you guys? We never coslept as our "policy", but if it happened it happened, and I know for a couple-month span there we wound up having Henry in our bed for the last four hours or so of every night. He'd wake up in the middle of the night (Ben was sleeping through pretty much at that point) and be clingy and wanting to nurse, and I'd be exhausted, so I'd just haul him off to our bed and I'd doze off while he nursed himself back to sleep. If cosleeping is something you guys are open to, that might help meet Daniel's needs /and/ get the sleep you need to be able to function during the day.

*Anti-Mommy Wars note: I only mention cosleeping as an option, and have absolutely no opinion nor stake in whether you give it a try or not. You know your family and will, of course, make whatever decisions suit all three of you best. :)

Otherwise, good luck and keep taking deep breaths or screaming in the middle of the night or whatever you need to do to help you soldier on. This will pass, honest.
Thorny said…
Oooh! I forgot!

Swaddling can be helpful too, even well past the newborn stage. When my two were at that standing/cruising stage, getting them into their cribs once they were asleep was tough, and so we wound up turning to swaddling again, and it helped us out a lot.

Just another idea! Good luck!
jen said…
Andy goes through that when he's growth spurting and when he's learning a new physical skill and when he has a cold and when he gets an ear infection (that's the worst one). We cosleep for a number of reasons (space & money being two big ones), and I am certain it's the only thing that has saved what little shred of sanity I have left. It might not be an option for you guys, but maybe sidecarring the crib or moving it closer to the bed might be. And he might not be waking up hungry, but thirsty; a lot of adults keep water by their beds for this reason, but he's a baby so your boobies are his glass of water.

I've screamed, too. And then cried and self-flaggelated. And then realized that I still love him and he knows that.

You will be ok, he will be ok, and this, too shall pass.

And I recommend, if you haven't tried them yet, Hyland's teething tablets. They're homeopathic and work like a dream. Andy was "teething" for MONTHS before the first tooth broke, and I figured it was teething because why would the teething tablets work if it wasn't teething?
Anonymous said…
Susan - I just want to tell you you'll get past this. And I know you know this, but it's good to remember that no matter how exhausting and hard parenting is (and it IS!!!! no matter what great parents you are) it's never not worth it. I've been amazed at the human potential. . . at how many times I've thought "how can I possibly get through this?" and then I just do, because that's the option -- to just do it. It really DOES get better. And it really IS worth it.

Steph said…
eeeks. i'm sorry.

no wisdom to offer, just sympathy.
Tooz said…
I wasn't going to give you any advice until that one person mentioned thirsty. When Everett was about 12 months old, he started waking up in the middle of the night. He was a bottle baby, so I would give him a bottle of watered-down Gatorade or juice. One night, before I went to bed, I stuck a bottle of water into the ice box, and then when he woke up, I gave him that. He tried again the next night, and once again, I gave him the water. Never again did he wake up for his middle-of-the-night bottle. I guess he decided it wasn't worth it.
canadahauntsme said…
Hooray Thanksgiving!

p.s. I love you
canadahauntsme said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenn Hacker said…
I was going to suggest what Ann suggested, so far as not letting him go down to sleep so early. I'm trying to remember what I did with Jamethan (other than screaming just like you did! I swear, my lungs got a big workout back then!). I think there was a lot of co-sleeping out of sheer exhaustion, as well as not letting him go to bed quite so early. And you might try the water thing. Babies by his age are allowed to have water.

Sending you big hugs and lots of encouragement!

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