You guys: I am so tired. And we are so frustrated.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge the fact that I know many of you out there hate me when it comes to baby sleep. Nora was a rock star sleeper from the very beginning and I know for sure now that a lot of that was pure luck. We definitely put in a lot of effort into keeping it that way—sticking to routines, schedules, and even doing short bouts of modified cry-it-out when we needed to as she grew older. But I know how fortunate we’ve been. And I know that although we’re having our challenges, they could be so.much.worse. So please know that if you feel the need to roll your eyes at me as you read through this, I DON’T BLAME YOU. Still, this is my experience and as with a lot of other things, I feel the need to put it out there so that 1) some of you might be able to commiserate with me, and 2) someone might be able to HELP ME. Pleasepleaseplease.
So let’s talk about Vivienne and her current sleep situation.
Vivienne. She is seriously the sweetest right now. As I mentioned in her 3-month post, she took a huge turn a couple of weeks ago and suddenly… stopped fussing so much. Oddly enough, this coincided with me returning to work, which has led me to conclude that I was obviously just boring the crap out of her at home. I’m trying not to let it hurt my feelings.
ANYWAY, we are having one little HUGE issue. She is giving us a run for our money with her nighttime sleep.
It started with daylight savings time. My god, remember when daylight savings time meant that you GAINED an hour of sleep? It was the most glorious weekend of the year. Now? Well, now I would hunt down Benjamin Franklin and kill him if he wasn’t already dead for more than 200 years. Franklin clearly didn’t have small children at the time he “invented” daylight savings time. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
At any rate, my life right now is crazy, so I can’t even remember what exactly Vivienne’s sleep was like before we changed the clocks. But all I do know is that Sunday night was so terrible that I decided on a whim on Monday morning that Vivienne was going to make the move to her nursery. It was something I was trying to work up the courage to do soon anyway (we moved Nora at about 3.5 months, so the timing was getting there) and Sunday night’s sleep—or lack thereof—was the push I needed. I ran around on my lunch break buying the last things we needed to make her room suitable for sleeping… a white noise machine, a space heater. And then we made the switch.
Now, because of this timing, you might all start pointing fingers at the crib transition. But here’s the thing: I really don’t think the crib is the problem. Like, really REALLY don’t think it’s the problem. After all, the reason I moved her to begin with was because she was driving me crazy in our room, too.
But things have been not-so-great ever since. She is a BEAST to put down to bed at night. At first, I thought this was due to her being overtired. Long day at daycare, then we weren’t putting her to bed until 7-7:30, which was her “normal” bedtime… but with the time change, that was REALLY 8-8:30 according to her internal clock, right? So we busted our asses after work to get her to bed as early as possible (so hard, I get so little time with her as it is!) and… it still didn’t make a difference.
Vivienne will usually get very, very drowsy or fall asleep completely at the breast. I then burp her, say a little prayer, and lay her down. But this has changed. Most nights, her eyes pop open and she acts wide awake as soon as I lay her in the crib. Sometimes she starts crying pretty much immediately, and other times she will lie there and stare at the rainforest lights/sounds soother. Then it goes off, and she cries. There have been nights this week when it has taken us the better part of TWO HOURS to get her to sleep.
And then there are nights when she goes down relatively easy—or so she would make us believe! But then, 20-45 minutes later… she’s awake. It never fails. THEN she makes us work for it (sometimes an hour or more) to get her to sleep again. We’ve made many trips up and down the stairs, I can tell you that.
Once she’s sleeping for the SECOND time, we can usually count on a pretty solid stretch of sleep. She’ll wake sometime between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. to eat, then I put her back into her crib. After that, sleep is pretty crappy. She’s up more often, sometimes needing a pacifier placed back in her mouth, sometimes just to whine and cry and writhe around a little bit. And in these wee hours of the morning, our normally sound sleeper Nora is more “alert” than earlier in the night and sometimes ends up waking up earlier than she should. Which is so NOT awesome.
To add insult to injury—because of all of this, with each passing night, my “mommy ears” have grown more and more sensitive so that I hear every sound she makes, even over the monitor. (Before anyone tells me to shut it off—I can’t. I just can’t. Too SIDS paranoid. But it IS on the lowest volume setting it can go.) And honestly, I’m more and more anxious about when she’s going to wake up, so it’s harder and harder for me to fall back to sleep after feeding and/or hearing her. Because as she makes noises I’ll think, “Oh god. This is it. She’s going to wake up. I’m going to have to go in there. She’s going to cry. Wait for it, wait for it… wait for it…”
To try to fix all of this, we’ve tried so many things. I’ve tried feeding her again a couple of hours after her “bedtime” feeding. I’ve tried unswaddling her (epic fail, she lied awake moving her arms and legs a mile a minute for two hours)… instead, the last two days, she’s been swaddled with one arm out. I can’t say it has really made a difference in her sleeping habits—it’s no better or worse—but I figured if we’re going through all of this right now anyway, might as well make progress toward ditching the swaddle. We’ve let her fuss it out a bit (not really cry it out—once she escalates to a full cry, we do go in, because I think she’s still too young for cry it out). We’ve used the lights/sounds soother. White noise. We’ve put her down awake. We’ve put her down sleeping. We’ve put her down earlier. We’ve put her down later.
I know she CAN sleep. In fact, one of these nights, she actually did sleep through until the morning—but it was after putting us through a few hours of the asleep-awake-asleep-cry-upstairs-downstairs-pacifier-soother-rocker routine. So it wasn’t without struggle, at least at first.
So, all this time, I’ve been blaming daylight savings. Because how could my baby—who was a pretty good sleeper before—all of a sudden be so horrible at it? Or maybe it’s a developmental milestone. The whole “4-month wakeful” thing that some babies start to go through as early as 3 months old. It’s funny, too, because we went through sleep hell with Nora around this age, too, but it turned out she had an ear infection! It’s crossed my mind, of course, but Vivienne doesn’t have the same signs. Nora had been sick with a cold for a few weeks prior, and Vivienne hasn’t been sick. And Nora was literally waking up EVERY.SINGLE.HOUR. crying in the middle of the night.
But, tonight, a new theory did dawn on me. Her reflux. Maybe? Could it be?
I fed her like normal and she fell asleep on my shoulder as I burped her. I laid her down and her eyes shot open, but I gave her a pacifier, turned on the soother, and left the room anyway. She was crying within minutes. Michael went up to rock her and she SCREAMED the entire time—it had to have been 15 minutes, if not more. I finally went up to relieve him and found him rocking her in the typical cradle position. As soon as I lifted her up into an upright position, she calmed down. I rocked her like that for a few minutes and then as I saw her eyes drooping, I lowered her into a cradle position. Eyes immediately opened and she started crying again. I quickly popped her back up into an upright position and… silence.
I know it’s possible that her reflux is bothering her in the lowered position, but not in the upright (duh. that’s reflux 101). But could it be that her reflux is what’s making it difficult for her to transition from one sleep cycle to the next, both at the beginning of the night and then again after her middle-of-the-night feedings?
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking since reflux is—as far as these things go—something we can more than likely “fix.” But I’m definitely calling the pediatrician in the morning to discuss the possibility of increasing her dose to give it a shot.
Anyone with similar experiences? Either with reflux or not? If it’s NOT reflux, what can we do at this point, since sleep training isn’t really an option at this age? Is it normal for babies to be pretty good sleepers and then take a sudden turn for the worst?
I sure hope we find our answers soon. Mama needs some sleep.
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 31 and have been married to Michael for five years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
Heather Drive Archives