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Headed for remedial sleep school

standard March 5, 2008 7 responses

A long long time ago, way before my discovery of Word and spell check, I was part of a group of “Special Spellers” at school. We met every morning before Homeroom and we learned basic spelling rules, mnemonic tips, and other tricks to keep our spelling in check. Our teacher thought the name of the group would keep the other students from guessing the true nature of our group; remedial spelling, but she never fooled anyone.

A week into it and Little L and I might need a Special Sleepers class. For a day or two it looked as though we were making some progress, she was falling asleep after minimal crying and sleeping for good long stretches at night; I really thought a few more days was all it would take for us to be Sleep School graduates.

And then…

And then I think she cottoned on to what we were doing and she started falling asleep during her last bottle. I would sit there trying to get as much milk into her as possible so she could sleep as long as possible, and she would drift off into la la land, completely dead to the world, no matter how much poking and prodding I did before putting her in her crib. So much for going to bed drowsy, but awake.

The two nights she did that she didn’t sleep very well, waking up more often and earlier to eat than she had in a long while.

So I decided to let her cry a bit during the night, to see if I could get her to soothe herself back to sleep and maybe skip a feed.

Want to know what she said to that?

She said “HA!” OK, not really. She really said “WAHHHHHHHH! Ha mama. Ha mama. Ha mama.” Repeat that over and over again, louder and louder, until you want to claw your eyes out and stick your fingers deep in your ears so you don’t have to hear it any more. Have I mentioned that she sleeps in our room?

Last night just plain sucked. She was so worked up that by the time I decided that she really did need to eat she didn’t go back to sleep once she was full. Her bright little eyes kept staring up at me, refusing to shut. So I put her back in her crib, where she just started screaming all over again. So I changed her diaper, and put her back into her crib, only to set off the screaming machine. By 2:30 I was a wreck. I still hadn’t slept. I was worried about getting up and having to function at work, and I just couldn’t take the screaming any more. So I pulled her into bed with me and held her tight as she settled down. She latched on for comfort and we both finally fell asleep.

When we don’t try to let her cry herself to sleep she actually gets a lot of sleep. Sure she’s up a few times a night to eat, but she goes right back down, and she’s been averaging 10 or so hours of shut eye a night. She takes two or three good naps during the day, so she’s definitely meeting her goal of 13 or 14 hours of sleep a day. She sleeps in her crib for the most part, even for naps, but she’ll also sleeps in her car seat, her bouncy, or the bjorn. It’s really not so bad.

I think I need Special Sleep School, not to get her to sleep better, but to come to grips with the fact that this is it. Maybe she’s not going to give up night time feedings for a few more months. Maybe she won’t stop nursing at night until I wean her. And maybe the only change that needs to take place is in my head; maybe I need to stop thinking that something needs to be fixed and just accept our routine as reality.

One day she’ll be weaned and she won’t snuggle against me in the middle of the night. She’ll be a big kid sleeping in her own bed and I’ll miss holding my sweet baby in the middle of the night. So for now I’m letting go of the anxiety and the “shoulds.” We’re going to go with what works for us as a family and take it one day at a time. I’m going to keep putting her down drowsy but awake. I’m going to keep working towards having her learn to put herself to sleep, but I’m taking a break on the screamfests in the middle of the night. And maybe, just maybe, tomorrow I won’t feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.

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7 responses

  • So sorry you’re having such a tough time but I think you’ve got it right. I never had luck with Ferber or any of the other sleep advice. I had to go with what worked in my house and for that you just need to heed your gut. Hang in there, you’re doing just fine.

  • hang in there. seriously … who cares what others say you should do for your child? you know what’s best for your child and what works in your house.
    but maybe you should wean her so at least you can get some coffee in your system!

  • I don’t really agree that “this is reality” but if it works for YOU then I think it is fine. I think part of the problem is that she is in your room. Does she have to be? Our Dr. once told us that having her in our room is like having a cookie next to your bed. When you wake up how you can not want to take a bite of the cookie.

    Just a thought.

  • There may be solutions, but having the attitude that she will grow out of all this is absolutely true. My husband is constantly reminding me of the fact that soon they won’t want anything to do with us. Snuggling is always nice, although I could do without the kick in the face….

  • I think that sounds like a wonderful idea.

    I have to admit, I really really miss being able to snuggle my little one to sleep. She won’t let me anymore. She woke at 5am (unusual) and after being changed and fed, she refused to sleep with me in my bed. She wanted to go back to her own room. It makes me so sad that she’s growing up so quickly. Sometimes I just want to go back in time and really appreciate the closeness we had before she got to be so independent.

  • Audrey

    I so feel your pain! We are attempting to get our nearly one-year-old daughter to sleep through the night, or at least return to her crib in her room after nursing. We had a good night, then last night was awful. Of course, after the good night, the morning was rough: I think she actually missed her snuggle time in our bed. When I got her up and was getting her ready for daycare, she kept pointing to my room as if to say, “Mommy, I think we’re forgetting an important part of our morning routine.” I wouldn’t have a problem with co-sleeping, except that she really doesn’t sleep well in our bed, which means I don’t sleep well…and then there’s trying to function at work on little to no sleep. I think I am at the same point as you: once she’s weaned, we’ll all sleep better. But, neither of us are quite ready for that, so we just keep on not sleeping…

    Sorry to got your comments section, but I thought you might like some reassurance that you’re not the only one failing sleep school!

  • My first instinct as I was reading was, “Dude, she’s IN YOUR ROOM!? Are you frigging CRAZY!”

    But by the time I got to the end, and realized how fraught and frazzled you are, maybe you’re right to let it go. It will certainly work itself out.

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