Saturday, August 12, 2006

I have a secret.

That’s what it feels like, like I have a secret that I keep from everyone I meet, from everyone who reads this blog, from our families, although my parents have some idea of what has been going on. I’ve alluded to it before – in my blog, in your comments, in jokes made to strangers – but I’ve never really explained anything to anyone. We have been harboring this secret, this problem, for 15 months now, because that is how old Sam is, and I think we’ve finally hit the point where we can’t go on like this anymore. I can’t. The truth is I am not actually the hypersensitive, fairly unfashionable, bad haircutted human mommy that you think I am; I am actually a half dead zombie.

Ah, she jests, you think to yourself. But believe me, the lightheartedness ends here, because I spent hours last night sobbing about what I am about to relay to you: Sam can’t sleep on his own…at all. He’s 15 months old, we’ve let him get to be 15 months old, and he can’t sooth himself to sleep. You may think, big deal, so you have to put him to sleep when he goes to bed. Well, if that were the case this would not be nearly the problem that it is. For those of you that have battled with sleep problems you know that we all have what are called “light awakenings.” For adults this is when you sort of half wake up and roll over and instantly fall back to sleep. The sleep cycle lasts several hours, making you have a few light awakenings each night – maybe during one you realize you have to get up and pee. For babies these awakenings are much more frequent, varying according to age between 45 minutes to about 2 hours on the outside. When a baby has a “sleep problem” it means that he cannot get back to sleep on his own not only in the beginning of the night, but for every one of those light awakenings throughout. That’s how Sam is. That means that from the time he was about 2 weeks old he has required assistance, in some form or other, to get himself back to sleep ever hour to 2 hours or so. That means he wakes me up roughly 5 times a night, sometimes more, and needs me to help him. What he requires to help him back to sleep during these awakenings is the part that has changed over time. We started with just nursing, which resulted in him not being able to sleep at all if I was not next to him. So I had lay next to him for every nap of every day, keeping perfectly still and quiet, and I’d have to go to bed with him at 6:30 at night, reading a book in the dark with a booklight while my husband watched TV alone. You may think so what, all babies need that in the beginning; this was until he was 7 months old. And now we jump to what he needs now, which is to be taken out of bed and nursed and then put back in bed and have someone's hand on him as they bounce him in his weird Amby bed (it's like a hammock thing that we can bounce - he had a bouncing thing for a while and this was the only thing that would let us put him down to sleep without being on me. There was a whole phase in there that required and exercise ball...) until he falls back to sleep. But ever since he had that cold a few weeks ago he will only accept the help of me, mommy, so that I am the one dealing with every waking. I’m just going to stop here though. I just can’t. I don’t have the energy to rehash this anymore.

I have started so many posts on this topic and never finished them. There are so many details that I could share about what has happened over time, how we got to this point, how we let it go on so long. I’ve filled pages and pages and still had no end in sight when I write it that way. And I’ve realized why I write it that way. I want to rationalize it to you because I don’t want to be judged, because I know it is extreme to most people. And that is what has really started to get to me. Every time I read a post someone has written, or heard someone talking about putting their baby to bed or their child’s sleep regressing because he no longer sleeps all the way through the night but wakes up once or twice, or waking their child up in the morning…I just want to scream. I want to throw something through the window. I am reminded that what is happening in our house, in fact, is not what is happening in the homes of everyone who has kids. I know no one who has dealt with something like this, not even remotely. And I totally have no resentment toward the people that say these things; I know that what is normal is relative for everyone and it’s certainly not like anyone knows what we’ve been going through. But I have had resentment toward Sam, and toward my husband, and toward myself. And I’m exhausted. I don’t know what it feels like to sleep for more than 2 consecutive hours anymore; it's been at least 16 months since it has happened. I don’t know what it feels like to go through the day without that scratchy eye feeling like you’ve pulled an all nighter. I’m scared to drive because I just don’t have the focus I used to have. And I feel like I can’t do the things I want to do with Sam, the extra things that would make me a better mom, because I’m just barely keeping it together.

I’m finally writing about this today because I know we have to change. I know we have to help him learn to sleep on his own. We have tried everything we can possibly try to make this a gradual change, to avoid crying, to make this easy and slow on everyone – nothing has worked. We’ve read books, we’ve hired a “sleep consultant” and we’ve been working on it for 8 months. We’re going to have to do what I always said I would never do with my children. I’m not the cry it out type – I’m a Dr. Sears woman. And because I made this decision long ago I have loaded a lot of baggage onto what crying it out means and what it does. I’m convinced that I’m going to lose my baby, that he is going to wake up in the morning (assuming he ever falls asleep) and a part of him will be lost because he has learned something new – that mommy will not always pick him up when he needs her, that there is a such thing as fear and being scared. I want to believe he will wake up having learned about what it feels like to be independent, but that’s not how I see it right now. I feel like he is going to change, be hesitant, fearful, anxious, less joyful, because he is going to have lost the security he once had. And so I feel trapped, as I have for so many months now. I absolutely cannot continue this way for the sake of my mothering and my marriage, and yet I detest the only solution that is left.

And so I am asking for your help. I’m writing this so that you can know about our secret, so that we can be held accountable. Being able to hide this problem has allowed us to let it go on and on, rationalizing and perpetuating. And I guess I am also asking for your support. Tell me that you let your child cry some and that they still loved you in the morning, that they still laughed during the day, and that everyone was happier because they were rested. Tell me it made you a better mom in the end.

For 10 months I have dreaded going to bed at night. It’s been one of the worst things about this – to be so tired and to know that going to bed will not give any rest, but will only be a time to work even harder than I do during the day. I have hated not being able to look forward to sleep and being in my bed with my husband. I dread tonight even more.


Blogger ems said...

Okay, so you made me cry. Cry because I not only empathize with you, but I know your pain. Ella, and all 10 months of her, can't fall asleep on her own and it ain't for lack of trying. To this day, we cosleep. Some days are better than others, but then there are days when she wakes up every two hours and needs to either be rocked to sleep or needs the binky. ARgh. I know you're looking for advice, and I wish I had some to give. i guess I just wanted to say that you're not the only person up at 3am.

Can't wait to see what others say. Hoping to get a little advice of my own.

Thanks for your post. It helped more than you realize.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Oh Beth, this breaks my heart to read this. I can't say I know what it is like because Avery has been a relatively good sleeper all along, but we all have our hurdles.
Letting a baby 'cry it out' sounds horrible, and I wouldn't do it unless it was a last resort...which sounds like what you are at. Some people have big success with it too. You both so desperately need a good night's rest. I think it's worth a shot.
Also, I have heard of someone leaving a sippy cup of water in the crib next to the baby. Similar to how we wake up and might like a drink. Just a thought. Good luck, I am rooting for you.

3:59 PM  
Blogger GranolaGirl12 said...

I'm so sorry you're going through such a rough time... my Elijah was nursed to sleep for 10 months, and each time he woke up at night. When I started loosing my temper at my BABY, I knew something had to change. I never wanted to be that mom. I also never wanted him to have to cry it out. BUT.

It really only took about 5 days (well, nights). And yes, there were times when I threw myself on the ground sobbing or banged my head against the wall because I hated to much to hear him cry.

I started out by putting him down right before he fell asleep. If he cried and stood up, I would go in and lay him back down, rub his back and leave again. Wait a few minutes and repeat. Each night I waited a little longer to go in there and soothe him.

On the 3rd or 4th night, I melted into my husbands arms crying because I hated what was happening and hated making him so upset. And by the time he asked if I wanted him to go in there, Elijah had stopped crying. And fallen asleep. On his own.

There are still times he fusses a little before naps, but he can now talk to himself for awhile and eventually gets himself to sleep. It's the best feeling; and that week of h*ll was worth it. It hasn't been foolproof; he still wakes up at night sometimes. But my husband can usually go in there for a few minutes and he'll go right back to sleep.

And yes, he's happy in the morning. He still loves his mama.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Nikkie said...

Oh Beth, I'm so sorry that you are having this problem! My niece was damn near 18 months before she started to be able to sleep by herself, so you are not alone!

When Boo was 3 months old I wanted him to be able to fall asleep by himself, but I didn't want him to cry either. He ended up crying anyway, but it worked. After he'd nurse himself to sleep I'd put him up in his cradel and of course he'd wake up in transit. I'd lay him down and turn on his mobile and I'd sit next to him and rubbed his back until he feel asleep. Some nights I had to sleep on his for a little while. I started gradually easing my way out of the room night by night so he would get used to going to sleep with me further and further away. It took just about forever but it worked. He'd get up in the middle of the night and I'd take him into bed with me guilt free because I knew he could fall asleep by himself. When he stopped nursing it got to be a problem again. I would go in there and turn on his mobile and then leave and let him cry. I felt awful but he didn't cry long.

He wakes up happy every morning, and laughs often. I'd never judge you!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous JD said...

Posted over at my bloggy for you.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Found you through JD's blog.

Sister I know how you feel. I had no idea a person could get so tired until our little man showed up on the scene. My heart aches for you. I have been where you are, so I hope you don't mind if I tell you what worked for me.

Before I start I should tell you that in my life before motherhood I was a social worker who did in-home parent training (sort of a real world supernanny type thing). In my work I would have to say that sleep problems were the number one issue that parents with babies and toddlers face, so you are definitely NOT alone. I must confess that my own little one didn't sleep through the night for a very long time. During that time I learned how hard it was for me to take my very own advice. I knew what I would tell one of clients to do, but I just couldn't bring myself to let my baby cry either. It was hard, but this is what I decided.

I felt that like you said, my little man did not know how to put himself to sleep. A few times I tried to let him cry it out and caved after the first ten minutes. It was so hard, because he really cried like he was being tortured. But finally I tried this approach...the first night I put him in bed when he was almost asleep, and then set a timer for five minutes (I know a timer sounds lame, but it really helped me to get through it). When the timer went off I would go in and comfort little man. Rub his back, pat him, speak calmly to him, but not (and I repeat) NOT PICK HIM UP. It was hard and little man always cried and reached for me and acted like he was dying of neglect, but I didn't pick him up. After a few seconds of comforting I left him, and set the timer for 7 minutes, then 10, then 15, then 20. I think it took about two hours the first night, but he did it, he went to sleep. The next night I started at 10 minutes, and it took about half the time from the previous night to get him to sleep. By the third or fourth night he would cry for a minute and then go to sleep on his own. It was wonderful. I liked this method, because since I got to check on him, I knew he was safe, and also was able to give him the message that I loved him, but he was going to have to sleep on his own.

I have to say that this was HARD. Really hard. I am a die hard supporter of attachment parenting, but I realized that my little boy not being able to sleep without me, wasn't helping him it was hurting him. I also realized something else. I realized that part of the reason that I didn't like to let my baby cry it out, or go to sleep on his own was that it felt really good to be the one that saved the day. I was getting an emotional payoff from rescuing him from his bed when he didn't want to sleep alone. But every time that I did go in and rescue him I taught him that his crying really did payoff, which made him cry that much longer and harder the next time. When his crying was at its worst and my strength was at its lowest I would take my timer and go outside, or plug my earphones in and turn up the music (I could still hear baby he just didn't sound quite so loud and desperate from far away).

Just remember that eventually he will fall asleep, and if he could in the morning he would thank you for helping him learn how to sleep on his own.

Oh another thing that has really helped us is a good consistent bedtime routine.

Hope that helps...good luck, you can do it.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

You made me cry too. I am with ems on all she had to say. It sucks being up so much and dreading the night... prolonging sleep cuz you know it isn't going to be quality no matter what. My heart aches that you are suffering so. And is scares me to think it will be me posting the same subject matter 8 months from now.

I totally understand the guilt you feel and the guilt you dread if you let him cry it out. Crying means he needs something and who are we to deprive them? It's so hard to know what's right. And it's so hard for them to communicate other than crying... so we feel trapped.

Mothers such as you deserve a medal and I surely wish I had one to give you (one that had magical powers to make your child sleep for 8 hours straight)! You certainly deserve a break if you haven't had one in 15 months time. Of course I wonder what 8 hours of sleep would do... probably mess you up if you only got one night.

I am rambling and I have been no help. I hope you find a solution. You are on the right path.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Valarie said...

found you through JD, too.

I just wanted to commiserate a little. My son is 20 months old and still nurses all through the night. It used to be every 2 hours on the dot, but now he does a 4 hour stretch from 8-12 and then it is every 2-3 hours. He sleeps on a mattress on our floor because there's no way I could function if I had to stay awake every time he woke up. We are not a cry it out family either, and he was still in our bed up until about 4 months ago.

He only sleeps that 4 hour stretch to start the night because I had to do 6 weeks of training in the eveings for my job. It took about a week of only my husband responding for him to cut out that waking. He still wakes the rest of the night asking for me, but neither of us are feeling up to another long week for each of those wakings.

We should start a support group or something. I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone.

7:36 PM  
Blogger ksl said...

Poor thing. It is so hard to function on no sleep. I was pregnant with my second before my first slept through the night for the first time. When I put him to bed for the night I would go clean the kitchen while he cried so the water would drown out his cries and I was busy doing something besides thinking about how sad my baby was. I know when my mom was teaching my sister to put herself to sleep she would sit on the curb outside the house and cry right along with the baby. Sam will benifit from having a well rested mom, and he won't remember this at all as soon as it is over with. You are in my prayers.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

I hope your post was a relief and you probably don't even realize how many others will be relieved to read that they are not alone in this, too. We co-sleep with Gray and the only time he goes to bed is with me, by nursing. So far it has worked out... but I have a feeling we'll be dealing with a similar situation as yours sooner than later.

I think that once you take a deep breath, let the relief of this post roll off... things will be ok. There are rules and standards we try to set for ourselves and our babies, long before they are even born. But every situation is different. You need to do what is most important right now: taking care of YOU. You must be able to function and take care of yourself, your family, etc. You need rest. You must look at the overall picture and do what you need to do, try not to let any guilt sink in.

You are such a good mom and are doing great!

10:16 PM  
Blogger kate said...

you poor thing. you are at the end of your rope!

i know i have said this before, but i continue to find a scary number of coincidences between yours and my mothering experiences.

when bb was 15 mos. old i'd had it. i was up at least 2x a night with him. daddy couldn't soothe him to sleep. had to be me. and because of that, it sorta had to be me to put my foot down and say, "i can't do this anymore." when i got to the point of feeling resentment toward my child, i knew that it was time for a change.

i, too, am a dr. sears mom all the way. i was WAY WAY against "crying it out." i found a book thru dr. sears called "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. i admit her "system" didn't totally work for us, however we did learn some absolutely KEY things that helped us to succeed w/ sleeping thru the night. if you haven't read it, give it a try. . . if you can see straight to even read.

when her system didn't seem to do the job i finally read the book by the cry it out guy and found it to be less harsh then i was expecting.
Ferber. that's his name.

so, we did what we call "modified ferber." but the first step was night weaning. i was in no way wanting to rush weaning. at all.
but, it became clear to me that he was waking up in the night out of habit. he doesn't need to eat. in the middle of the night at that age, in fact the process of digestion could be part of his waking. so, we decided to night-wean. for the sake of my sanity. and once we did that, it was smooth sailing. it took only 3 nights and i never let him cry more than 8 minutes. and he never wailed (thank god). it was like he knew what we knew---he was only getting up out of habit and he needed to be taught a new way.

we had taught him that waking up is what you do. well, no, it's not. so we gently taught him that.

if you can bring yourself to weaning, i recommend the night weaning. it may be all he needs.

if not, maybe consider a modified ferber approach. (or in a addition to weaing).

and get your hubby involved. sam will learn that he can be soothed by both his parents.

i wish you luck and i really really feel for you. the sleep thing IS. SO. HARD.

10:40 PM  
Blogger scraphappymama said...

Beth, I so feel for you. Being sleep deprived is the worst for a mom. Both my kids had their own versions of sleep issues. In the end, I found that letting a child cry it out was okay . . . and works.

As a mother, we want nothing but the best for our children. We want them to feel secure, loved, happy, etc. We do everything in our power to help them avoid any pain. But reality is that life is not perfect, sometimes there is no one to rescue us and we have to solve the problem ourselves. Maybe that sounds too harsh. The point is that Sam can sleep by himself, he just hasn't learned how yet.

Sleeping is a skill just like walking, talking, etc. We can't force a kid to talk, or walk, or even sleep. However, we can set the stage, give them the necessary tools to make it work. My suggestion is to put him to sleep after nursing, but while he is still awake. Hug him, kiss him, reassure him that you love him and will see him in the morning. Then leave. Establish a predetermined time that you will allow him to cry before going back to reassure him (don't pick up) and gradually increase the time. Eventually, he will learn to fall asleep by himself. (In the meantime I suggest finding a place to wait it out, a sanctuary. It needs to be a place you can't hear the crying . . . makes it too hard otherwise).

Okay, so this is almost an epistle. LOL. My final advice is this: a child is the quickest to forgive and always willing to trust. I promise you Sam will still love you, smile at you, play, laugh, etc. Whenever I have been at my ropes end and maybe let out a scream or two (yep, not a perfect mommy) Brooklyn has never hesitated to come over and tell me, "i love you mommy." Our kids love us and always will.

Good luck. Sorry for the lengthy comment.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I am so sorry Beth. It is such a hard thing to have to go through this. Both of my babies were nursed until they were a year and they co-slept with us too. It was so hard when I had to wean them--they both almost bit my nipples off--from nursing and from co-sleeping.

I can only tell you what worked for us. I hope that you find something that you are comfortable with and that you feel works for you and for Sam. I can relate however, that is one of our major concerns with having any more children. That first year is SO hard on me because the night care falls almost squarely on my shoulders and I don’t handle so little sleep well at all.

Once I was done nursing, they still co-slept with us until my DH decided that our bed wasn’t big enough for three people, at about fifteen months. I would still let them fall asleep with us and then I would carry them to their cribs. They would wake up there and not even realize we weren’t with them. But that got really old really fast.

So, I had to do the cry it out method with both of our children. I didn’t want to do it either, but nothing else had worked. To be honest, I don’t even remember what it was like with our first one. I know our second one was terrible. We started on a Sunday. That first night she cried for three hours. It was the longest three hours in my life. I bawled and thought about how I was going to ruin her forever and that I was the worst mom out there. I worried that she would scar her vocal cords; that she would somehow have major emotional scars. You know what? In the morning, she didn't remember a thing, and BONUS…she slept through the night because she was so exhausted. She was happy to see me and she was smiley (if not a just a tiny bit clingy the next day) but really, she was fine. The next day was two hours. That day I wised up, pulled out my MP3 player and put in my relaxation music, locked myself in the bathroom and read a book while she cried. I knew she was going to cry anyways, so I might as well not think about it. By the third night she had figured out it was a battle of wills that we were not going to lose, and it only took a half an hour. We spent a week doing this and each day got a little easier. By Saturday night, she whimpered a tiny bit when we put her into the crib and then she rolled over and closed her eyes.

I know three hours seems extreme. I swore I wouldn’t let it go past thirty minutes, but she is still the most stubborn person that I know. I knew her little personality well enough to know that if I didn’t win this battle, I would end up losing many other battles as well, and eventually the war. Believe me, it felt like war that week.

When it was over(and I was sure she didn't hate me), I felt such a sense of accomplishment, not only for me, but for her as well. She learned a new skill and I learned that sometimes it takes giving her a little push to help her fly.

And guess what? She goes to bed at 8:00 every night now…by herself, with nothing more than a bedtime story and a kiss goodnight.

And don't you worry, not a soul here is judging you. We all just hope you can figure out what works for your little family.


12:01 AM  
Anonymous EmLouisa said...

I hate letting by babies cio. I was terrified that they would hate me in the morning,that they would not feel like they could trust me, etc.

We did what Nicole did, let him cry, go in there and rub his back but not pick him up. It took him a week or so but he GOT it.

When he started sleeping through the night it was wonderful. The next morning my little guy looked at me with the biggest smile ever and snuggled in close. I felt like he was saying THANKS, MOM. Thanks for finally letting me learn how to do this on my own.

It isn't easy, but sometimes for your sanity (and theirs) it's what you've got to do!

Sorry you are dealing with this!

12:41 AM  
Blogger Kelli in the Mirror said...

Oh honey, this is so hard. I hope it makes you feel better to get it out there and hear what other people have to say, even if you don't agree with all the advice you may get.

With my daughter, we went through that for her first six months. When I took her to the ped for her six-month checkup, she asked was she sleeping through the night. I said no, and she said, "well, that's your fault." I was totally not ready to hear that and was upset by her bluntness, but I knew I needed way more sleep than I was getting so I was ready to try options that I wouldn't have before.

So we did what Stephanie did. Started on a Friday night, put her to bed, and let her cry. She cried for two hours. I sat in the hall and cried too. Saturday night she cried one hour, Sunday night half an hour, and then started sleeping through with no problems. That doesn't sound like the kind of technique you're automatically comfortable with, and I wasn't either, but it really did work.

Now that she's three and able to get up on her own, she usually comes into our bed in the middle of the night, so we're cosleeping more now than we did before. When she was very small, I was always terrified one of us would roll over on her and didn't like the idea of cosleeping, so I was getting up and going into her room to nurse her back to sleep. Which sucked.

Anyway, he absolutely is not going to feel permanently abandoned if you do need to let him cry. In my opinion it's like shots or yucky tasting medicine: you're doing it for their own good because you love them. You'll be a much more focused mama with a full night's sleep.

Let us know how it goes! You've got lots of people rooting for you. :)

1:03 AM  
Blogger LynAnne said...

I don't know if I can add anything more than what others have already said, but I feel for you. I've been there 2 times already and am on the way there with the third as well.

One thing I've learned though is that it's a lot like colic and teething. It's horrible and it feels like it will last forever. Then, one day you wake up in the middle of the night and realize your child hasn't woken you up for several days/weeks/months/years. Suddenly it doesn't seem like it lasted so long after all. At least that's what I keep reminding myself. I can't remember the last time my 9 year old woke me up at night.

About a month ago I noticed I was getting more depressed and anxious. I pretty much had a nervous breakdown (there's my little secret I try not to discuss on my blog). I decided that I needed to get my baby to go to sleep in her crib by herself. We tried to ferberize her based on what I thought I remembered about the process. I forgot one key element - checking on her after increasingly longer intervals. Instead, I just let her cry it out. One night it went on over an hour. I cried right along with her, of course, but I thought that's what was best. I was horrified when I found out that I should have been checking on her and reassuring her. Oh how I hate myself even thinking back on that! Luckily we had a somewhat happy ending. By the time I realized my error, Ella started falling asleep by herself and now sleeps until about 1 am when my husband brings her to our bed for the rest of the night. Those precious few hours have been enough to put me in a better state of mind. Oh, and we don't let her sleep more than 2 hours at a stretch during the day.

Anyhow, good luck to you whatever solution you find works for you!

3:00 AM  
Blogger Alli said...

Ok, I admit I didn't read all the replies, so I'm sorry if I repeat something someone has said already.

I'm so sorry you are having this issue. Out of all the issues to have while raising small kids, I think sleep has GOT to be the worst! BUT--I've kind of realized something over the last few years....EVERYONE has issues...everyone has a time when they think they cannot cope and that they've really screwed things up for themselves. Everyone has at least one HUGE issue that seems like it will never end. Yours just happens to be sleep. Some people's kids take 2 years to potty train and they have huge issues with that. Other people have very spirited and independent kids who are very aggressive and don't respond well to their parent's discipline. No one is perfect. And you'll figure this sleep thing out. And when you do, you will feel fantastic and so accomplished (not to mention, well rested)!

About your specific issue, I, too, have always been against CIO (cry it out). I have to agree with the previous commenters about a "walk in/walk out" method. Going in to soothe him and to let him know you ARE there and he's okay (saying something like, "You're okay, sweetie, you're just going to sleep now"). And then waiting a little longer each time before you go back in. Or just staying next to his bed maintaining contact (for the first night or so) but NOT picking him up. Then just sitting for a few nights, then sitting closer to the door (like the Supernanny method). BUT- this may not work for some kids and it may just get them worked up more, in which case CIO may be the only way to go. Also, does he have a security object? If not, I'm not sure if it's too late too introduce one. If you can introduce one, that might help. Does he have a bedtime routine? If not, that might help, too. If he does have a bedtime routine, changing it might help him figure out that things are going to be different from now on.

Overall, I just wanted to give you some support. Some kids need more help than others learning how to sleep (and in my opinion, good sleep does have to be learned). And in the end, you'll be doing him a HUGE favor by teaching him to soothe himself. That's a skill he'll be able to carry with him the rest of his life.

Hang in there and keep us updated!!

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Carrie said...

I am so, so sorry you are going through this. I also have a light sleeper, but NOTHING like you have just described. I thought it was bad enough that we are still co-sleeping at 10 months and waking up three times a night to nurse (comfort nurse, not eat). I don't have any advice, just words of sympathy.

7:03 PM  
Blogger sari said...


I found you through Lynanne's blog and had to say I have two boys (8 and 4) and they both STILL fall asleep in our bed...though we do carry them into their room, where they (mostly) sleep through the night.

My first son, we let him sleep in our room until the second was born and then we put a little mattress on the floor and we all slept in the same room, though not the same bed.

When our youngest came along, we thought, Man, we can't do this again and tried to get him to sleep in his crib.

I swear to you, my child could scream an entire night straight if he chose to, and he started out with colic so I just was a wreck.

We finally got them both to realize that it was ok to go TO sleep in our room, but not to stay there. Unfortunately, we waited until they were older to get to that instead of trying when they were young but the point is that nobody does it "right", so don't beat yourself up. Your baby will still love you. I think everyone carries around things they think they've done wrong, no matter who they are, but your baby will be a happy baby if you're happy, remember that!

Good luck!!

12:13 AM  
Blogger Mama D said...

First I'd just like to say that you are AMAZING!!! I'm not kidding. To have gone through what you are going through and still be able to function... Wow!

I feel a little guilty here because I have a good sleeper. Now. And I know I have complained about how she was getting me up once in the night, for like, a week. Don't I feel like a tool now.

When A was first born we went through what you described. I was getting about an hour of sleep between feedings. She was nearly impossible to get back to sleep. We also had several nights when she was up almost the entire night. During that time I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was so depressed. I wasn't happy to be a mother, I didn't feel like I loved my baby and I was a horrible wife. I wanted to throw myself off a bridge. Then, magically when she was about three months old she started sleeping through the night. I truly believe that I would have gone insane if this had not happened. I'm not even joking either. At the very least I think I would have been a single mother. So when I say that you are AMAZING know that I mean it. You are obviously made of something so much stronger than most of us to have endured what you have.

I ask myself all the time why is A such a great sleeper now? I'm not sure if it's luck or if it may be what I did during those first three months. All I can say is that I put her in her crib right from the start. No matter how much she got up or how long it took me to get her back to sleep I put her back in her crib. There were plenty of nights when I fell asleep nursing her in a chair or on the couch but I'd put her in her bed when I woke up. When I think back I wonder if I had brought her to bed with us if I would have gotten more sleep, been less nuts? Maybe. But I got through it and then she actually started to like her bed. Woke up happy there.

And I will say that I have let A 'cry it out' a lot. We went through a long period when she wouldn't nurse to sleep anymore. She was exhausted so I'd put her in her bed. She would cry herself to sleep and I would feel horrible. I also worried, would she remember what I had done and hate me in the morning. The answer is, No. She always had the same bright smiles for me, no matter how she'd fallen asleep the night before. It's still hard. I hate when she cries herself to sleep. I'd much rather her just nurse to sleep. But I know her routine, I know when she is tired and I know she'll eventually go to sleep, even if she cries first.

I've rambled enough. I am so sorry Beth. I wish you weren't going through this. I hope I didn't annoy you with anything I have said. I wish there was something more I could do to help than to just tell you, if you need me, I'm here.

Big squeeze to you and your two guys. You will all get through this.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous katie said...

Oh, Beth! I can so relate. Here's my secret: Jack was swaddled until he was...14 MONTHS!!! We made jokes that I when he got old enough for sleep overs I would have to go over to the kid's house and wrap up Jack in a sheet. Up until twenty months he had to have some form of white noise on all night and he still got up through the night.
Jack weaned himself out of the swaddling one arm at a time, then we started turning off the white noise as soon as he fell asleep.
Jack now sleep fairly well. We have our struggles at bedtime, he doesn't want to go to bed so he wants "one more book", "cup of water", fifty million toys in bed...
but, then he finally falls asleep surrounded by toys. Then anywhere from 1am to the time Piers gets up for work he climbs into bed with us. Our bed is small and this can be an issue because Jack wants to sleep on my head, but I am getting way more sleep than I used to get.
I don't know if any of us can give you a remedy, every kid is sooo different. It will pass, you are not alone, talk about it whenever you need to and don't be ashamed. You are an awesome mother who is comforting her child.
Good luck and if you need to talk feel free to email me!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I. Can. Empathize. At Haddie's 6-month appointment, I was a SLEEP-DEPRIVED zombie. Yes, a zombie who had been living off of three hours of sleep since she was born. She has many of the same qualities you talked about in your blog.

In tears, I sobbed to my pediatrician that I coudn't keep it up. We walked through some basic steps and told me if they didn't work, we were refer her to a sleep expert. Yes, they have those. And I would HIGHLY recommend that if you try to implement a plan and it doesn't work.

What worked for me took a few nights of HELL (did I say hell?) but things started to get better. She was never great, mind you, and never consecutively slept through the night until she was 2. Nice, eh?

Anyway, so many people view crying it out as a horrific thing but my pediatrician viewed it more as teaching them how to self-soothe. I basically set up camp right by her crib those days. The first night, I was told to go in there (not pick her up) and just soothe her for about 30 seconds. I was to do that every five minutes. And believe me, it took three hours before she calmed down and slept.

The next night, it was every 10 minutes I went in there.

The next night, it was 15 minutes. And I stuck with 15 minutes the next couple of nights.

And you know what? It worked. As I said, Haddie has never been a perfect sleeper since but I gave her the tools on how to do it.

I soooo feel for you. So far, baby #2 has been a pretty good sleeper, though the last few nights he's started to wake up more. It has been a harsh reminder of how horrible it is to live without sleep. I'll be tuning in for updates....

3:24 PM  
Blogger New Mama's Nest said...

I don't have any advice to give as this is a problem I've yet to encounter in my mommyhood... you have my support though. I hope it feels better to get this out and hopefully other's have been able to give you some advice.
<3- Ashlee

6:47 PM  
Blogger allysha said...

I must admit that I let my kids cry it out. It is hard! And when my daughter cried in her crib I had to run the vacuum so that I couldn't hear her! But I cannot function if I don't get enough sleep. I just can't. So it was either let my kids cry themselves to sleep for awhile or lose it myself. I also did the 5 minutes, 10 minutes progression thing, and that was helpful, especially when they are that little. Then my sweet babe knew I was there for her, but that she needed to go to sleep! I think of it kind of like shots. I hate to see my kids get their shots, but I know they need it and will be better off for it. I honestly don't think that you will be permanently damaging your child emotionally or otherwise, because you are obviously a caring, concerned and good mom. I guess part of parenting is learning how to balance the present with the future and what will be best for your child in the long run. I wish you all the best in figuring this out!

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Heather from One Woman's World said...

This was a brave and amazing post. I haven't been to your site before, but I wanted to comment. This is, I think, the hardest part about parenting in the first couple of years. I want to tell you that I think you're awesome for putting this out there. It is so painful and hard and .... man.

I read a lot of books, too. I had major theories on sleep that all went out the window once I held that baby in my arms. My child was really hard to teach to sleep.

The book that made it okay for me was the American Pediatrics Guide to your child's sleep. They advocate letting the child cry it out when it is time to sleep, after following a routine. So we have a song and a story and a prayer, and then she cries it out.

One thing they said that really helped us is that they suggest never leaving a child to cry for longer than 10 minutes. I used to lay in bed and make my husband hold me for 10 minute increments while my daughter screamed inconsolably, and then I'd get up and go into her room and pat her, reassure her that I loved her, tell her firmly that it was sleeping time, and walk away.

Some nights it took several trips in and out of her bedroom. She also woke up in increments all night. The crying it out works for those, too. It is a hellish couple of weeks, but here's my theory: You might have some trauma, and so might the baby from 2 weeks of sleep struggle, but not nearly as much trauma as if sleep is a struggle every day for the rest of their childhood.

Whatever you decide, I think you are a great mom and doing the best for your child. I wanted to share my experience, not to judge. Helping my daughter learn the difficult way to go to sleep on her own is the most incredible blessing to our family. I am rested now, and she doesn't view bedtime as a torture anymore. She curls up in bed, tells us goodnight, and we close the door. But it was a tough journey. I have cried over it again and again.

I hope and pray that you'll find some answers. Good luck to you.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Maine Mom said...

I read JD's blog and came over to read your entry. I am so sorry you are going through this trial, but I'm glad you are writing about it and hiding it no more.
I have 4 children and 1 on the way. My 3 oldest girls learned to fall asleep on their own by crying themselves to sleep...and they are very happy girls who love me and their father very much. I wait until after they turn 1 to train them to sleep through the night. I would put them to bed and not go in again until the morning. It didn't take more than a week for any of them to get used to going to bed on their own and to start sleeping all night.
My little boy who is 17 months hasn't been trained to fall asleep in his crib, just because I don't mind him being up with me and my husband in the evening and he'll fall asleep on the floor before I go to bed or I'll bring him to bed with me to fall asleep, but I do plan on training him before the baby arrives. He does sleep through the night though because I stopped getting up with him when he would wake up. It's hard to listen to children cry, but I have found that it works the best and children are very loving and forgiving. My children sleep at night and then I give them lots of love in the morning and throughout the day.
I wish you the best of luck with this. You are not alone!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

We never want our babies to cry, but they have to. I hated to do it, but we let our son cry it out. I will NEVER forget the sound...he cried two hours straight the first time. The second night it lasted 45 minutes. Each night it was less and less until finally he just slept through. It was the hardest thing to do, but he is an extremely happy guy despite all that.

Best wishes! I wish I could give you a big hug while you're going through this.

9:26 AM  
Blogger bon said...

CRAP! I so very feel for you... I am not a big "cry it out" person. Except for LaLa who NEEDED it to fall asleep... but that was, like four minutes of crying and then blissful slumber. She wouldn't fall asleep any other way.

Pearl has just turned 9 months and now we are actually doing a modified cry it out. Like.. the five, ten, twenty minutes between soothing? GAHGK! toooooo much and toooo long! We are a one, five, five, ten, fifteen... we have yet to make it to the fifteen mark with this baby, she falls asleep. I could kick myself, because the past three nights she has done the crying? No waking up in the middle of the night.

What can I say though... I wasn't ready for her to cry it out. Plus, she has had a lot of ear infections and I will NEVER EVER make a sick or distressed baby "cry it out." In my book that's neglect.

Other than that? Every single kid is different. There is no "set" way to accomplish anything... the only thing? If you choose to try any form of "cry it out?"... set a date and get some back up! You might consider having a good friend or family member stay in the house and listen in between soothing. During this time walk AWAY... leave the house and sit on the porch. Do not subject yourself to the torture that it WILL BE.

Best of luck and best of love to you.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was hard to read. I have an 18 month old and was feeling the same way a couple of months ago when she was still sleeping in a pack and play next to my bed and waking up more often every night. I finally talked to the doctor and my mother and they both told me the same thing. It does not hurt a child to let him cry. That was so hard to hear, and I completely understand what you are feeling. I tried letting her cry it out for a while, and she still loved me in the morning. But she didnt start sleeping through the night until I started putting her in her crib in a different room. It really will not hurt him if you let him cry, and I dont know if you have tried it, but he probably wont cry as long as you think. Then you will be a better mother because you wont be so tired. Babies cry. They are not going to die. And you know what? There is a reason we dont remember being babies. It sucked! And learning to sleep on your own is part of it. Just be strong. You are the mommy, he loves you. Good luck!

12:07 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

I was bloghopping and stumbled across your blog. Thanks for writing this. I am going through similar things with my 14 month old. I feel the same judgement from other people. I know what I will do differently with the next child. I have tried everything, to no avail. I get angry with my baby, and at myself for letting it get this bad. Everyone I know seems to think there is a sure-fire way to get a baby to sleep on his own, and I can't help but think how stupid I must be to not be able to find that way.

We tried CIO for awhile, and maybe we just didn't do it "right", because it didn't work. We did some version of CIO at naptime for a month, and he would scream for over an hour. He was too loud, and our neighbors complained (we live in an apartment) so it's not even an option for us anymore. I hated it.

So I don't have any advice. My hope is that my baby will grow out of it. Someday. Hopefully that someday is soon.

Thanks for your post. I think you have encouraged a lot of other moms with your honesty.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your pain. There are solutions in these comments. I am praying for you.

Do you have any strong memories of when you were 15 months old? Most people don't. I know, I know we have subconcious memories and it is in that time that we begin to understand in a most basic way how we relate to the "world" and how the "world" treats us. 99.9% of the time you are building love, safety and security into your childs life.

Your child will not be damaged for life by crying as he learns to soothe himself. He will not even remember it happening if you do it now. The reality of the rest of his life with you ( the 99.9% love, security and safety ) will more than compensate for the small time crying.

He deserves a whole, healthy, rested Mommy. You will be a better Mommy when he's awake if you get some sleep.
Please don't be afraid. Take some of the practical steps in these comments.
He will not be scarred for life or ruined in any way. He will not be defined by the .1% time of crying but by the 99.9% time of wonderful parenting he receives from you.

2:36 PM  

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