The Sleep Blog.

This blog has been a long time coming.

If you’ve been a regular around here, you might have noticed that it’s been quite a while since I’ve bitched about Ronan’s sleeping habits.  I haven’t written this post for a lot of reasons: for fear that it would jinx us, for fear of judgement, for fear of backlash.

In our sleep history, we’d gotten to the point where it was taking us an hour or more to get Ronan to fall asleep every night.  And every nap time.  One of us would sleep in his room with him on a mattress on the floor, as he continued to wake three or four times a night.  Some of his wakings consisted merely of him sitting up and crying until we laid him back down again; he was tired enough to fall back asleep, but didn’t know how to do it himself.

Two Fridays ago, I was going through my regular ‘get Ronan to sleep’ ritual.  It consisted of a bath, lotion, storytime, snuggles, and sleep.  Only, the sleep part never really seemed to come along.  This night, he was wired.  So I threw my arm over him, effectively pinning him down, which usually worked to calm him.  This night, it made him worse.  He was thrashing around, and hit my head with his head – a headbutt, if you will.  He stopped for a second, realized what had happened, and then cautiously threw his head towards mine again.  Contact.  He laughed.  Then he rolled his head over to mine a little harder.  CONTACT.  He was headbutting me so hard it was making my eyes water, and I wanted him to stop.  I pulled far enough away from him that he couldn’t hit me, and he started screaming.

Screaming, hitting, headbutting, fighting, all up until the point where I couldn’t take it anymore.  It had been 13 whole months of bad sleep, difficult bedtimes, struggles and exhaustion… and I snapped.  I really snapped.  I started yelling at him at the top of my lungs.  I am so not proud of it.  I still get ashamed when I think about it.  I was sobbing, hysterical and couldn’t stop.

“YOU HAVE TO SLEEP RONAN.  YOU. HAVE. TO. SLEEP!  THIS HAS TO STOP, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE.  YOU MAKE ME HATE YOU.”

And on and on until Brock came into the room and took Ronan from me.  He told me everything was okay, and to calm down.  He said he was sorry Ronan was being so difficult.  He said he would put Ronan to bed, and for me to go get myself a glass of wine and relax.  I left the room feeling harried and distraught.  What are we supposed to do about this?  I can’t continue to deal with this on a nightly basis.  But at least tonight I didn’t have to do it, tonight Brock was going to put him to bed.

15 minutes later, Brock came out of the room with Ronan, shaking his head and said, “He’s pissing me off.  This isn’t working.  He’s not going to sleep.”

“I know, ” I said, “We can’t do this any more.”

We stood in silence for a moment facing each other.  “Do you want to put his crib back together and let him cry?” I finally asked.

“Only if you do.”

So, Brock and I spent half an hour putting Ronan’s crib back together.  He was excited about it.  He was crawling on the bars, and laughing as we screwed the mattress holder on its lowest setting.  We stood it up, made up the mattress and slid it in place.  We attached the bumper.  We filled it with paci’s, a blanket and a lovey.  This lovey:

(He picked it out himself.)

All the while, Ronan was having a grand old time.  Brock chuckled and said, “You’re not going to enjoy this as much in a few minutes, buddy.”

We laid out the plan for each other.  We hooked up the video monitor.  And then we put him in his crib.  Hugs, kisses, cuddles, lay down and goodnight.  We love you.  Then we leave.

Ronan cries.

He is not hurt, or sad, or hungry.  He does not need anything… he just wants.  He wants mom and dad, he wants us to be where we always are, what he has always known.  He WANTS us to do what he’s used to.  And I want to too, I want to SO badly.  I want to go in, and wipe his tears, and lay next to him and tell him everything is fine, we will do this forever if we need to – but I can’t do it any more.  This can’t possibly be worse than a mother yelling her hurt and anger and exhaustion into the face of her child.

I had support, text messages from a friend who’d done this herself.  Help from afar that helped more than words can say.  Each new message boulstering my courage and fighting off the desire to cave in.  “Stay patient, you’re doing great.”  I couldn’t have done it with her.

Five minutes.

The longest five minutes of my life.  But I know he’s angry, and that helps.  It’s the same as when I take my phone away – a protest cry.  I cry with him.  After five minutes, I go in.  Hugs, kisses, cuddles.  I love you, Ronan.  You can do this.  Go Ni’night.  Lay down, and leave.

Five minutes.

We set the timer, and every time it beeps, one of us goes in.  This time, it’s Brock’s turn.  Hugs, kisses, cuddles, I love you, lay down.  “This is really hard,” he says.  I say, “It’s only been ten minutes.  This could take up to two hours.  Or more.”

Five minutes.

When I go in, he stops crying.  He signs, “Please, please!” at me, and it breaks my heart.  I hate this, I hate every second of it.  He wraps his arms around my neck, and wont let go.  Hugs, kisses, cuddles, I love you, I’m sorry, you can do this.  I love you.  Lay down, and leave.  He cries harder.  Yells louder.

Five minutes.

We trade back and forth, going in and coming back out.  Feeling horrible, and not very hopeful.  And then…

He stops crying.

Check the video monitor.  He’s just sitting there.  He picks up his paci, and puts it in his mouth.  He is still hiccupping from crying… but he lays down.  It has been twenty minutes, and he’s not crying.  He sits up again, and makes some noise, and lays down again.  He turns, and rolls, and shuffles.  He sniffles and hiccups over and over.  But he’s not crying.

Ten minutes later, he is sound asleep.  I want to go in, and check him, hold him, make sure he’s okay.  I can barely swallow the guilt in my throat.  I feel like the worst mother in the world, the WORLD’S WORST MOTHER.  Everything that I said I would NEVER do, and I did it.  I have fought so adamantly against, I have avoided with all of my strength, I have done whatever possible to never get to this point, and it’s done.  We made our son cry himself to sleep.

Only, that night, he slept until 3am.  When he woke, I brought him a bottle, hugged, kissed, cuddled, and laid him down.  And he slept until 8:30 in the morning.

ONE wake up.

Saturday night, he cried for five minutes, and Brock went in.  Same routine, hug-kiss-cuddle, lay down.  He cried for another three, and went to sleep

Sunday night, he didn’t cry.  He laid down, took his paci and his lovey, and went to sleep.

It has been two weeks since we sleep trained, and I can hardly believe how much our life has changed.  I don’t walk around in a haze of exhaustion.  I don’t feel like every day is a struggle to stay awake.  I have energy and the desire to do things.  I have a son that knows how to put himself back to sleep.

I still have guilt.  There will always be a part of me that wishes it didn’t turn out this way.  I miss seeing him in my bed, and feeling him beside me.  I hate knowing what it took.  But it’s really, really hard to argue with sleep.

And now, we all sleep.

My Entirely Unattainable Dream.

I sit here and sit here staring at a blank screen.  I do not have writers block.  When I decide to write something down, I get it out no matter what.

I sit here and sTBRonanSleepingtare at this blank screen because there are problems in my household, and I aim to write about them.  However, I know what kind of comments my writing will inspire, and I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to put up with them.  In my dreams, there is a place where people are supportive, and caring without judging, disapproving, or saying “I told you so.”  And even if the choices I’ve made as a parent seem entirely foreign and quite frankly stupid to you, I’d love you to just be able to comfort, commiserate, and care.

For one blessed week, we had sleep in our house.  A whole week went by where Ronan went to bed at night, and only woke once in the night to eat.  He didn’t scream upon waking, and he didn’t wake to play.  He slept, and I slept, and Daddy slept.  After a whole week, I thought we’d beat the battle, the demon had been slayed, and our son had finally become a good sleeper.  Better days were ahead, bad nights behind us.  That’s what I thought… what I’d hoped.

Instead, we’ve had a massive regression.  I’m not entirely sure what happened, and even though there are other people in this household that would like to lay the blame on me, I don’t think I’m the cause of the problem.  Perhaps that’s just my way of trying not to feel like I’ve messed everything up royally.  Whatever.  It’s my blog.

Ronan goes to bed around 7pm.  I say ‘around’ because we try to be very flexible and guided by his cues.  If he’s acting very tired around 6:30, we’ll put him down early.  We want to get him in bed during his sleepy time in order to get him to sleep easily.  We don’t like to let him get over-tired, which causes a battle.  This is a lesson learned the hard way.  During the day, Ronan has at least three 50 minutes naps.  Every now and then, he’ll get a 2 hours nap, which is great, but difficult to repeat.  At night, Ronan has a bath, then baby lotion, then pajamas, then a book.  His routine has been the same every night for nearly 5 months now, so he KNOWS when it’s bed time.  Usually right around the time we get the lotion on, he starts to cry.  He’s not hurting, or hungry – he’s upset.  He knows that we’re about to try to put him to sleep, and he’s mad about it.

Typically, putting him to sleep for the first time at night is easy.  I no longer nurse him to sleep, so he doesn’t have that sleep association.  We’ve worked very hard at being able to get him drowsy but still awake, and to put him down.  We can put him down in his crib, or in our bed, and he will usually fall asleep.  Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 tries, sometimes it takes 15, but we persevere.  I don’t want him to have to be rocked to sleep every single time he wakes up.

So.  The child is asleep around 7pm.  And… he wakes up around 8pm.  We go up and give him his paci, pat him on the butt a few times, and he’ll go back to sleep on his own.  Why does he wake up in the first place?  Why can’t we make it beyond that 50 minute sleep mark?  I don’t know.  However, the 8pm mark is the easy one.  It’s the 9pm mark that is the cause for distress in my home.  At 9pm, Ronan wakes up for the night.  He’s had a great 2 hour nap, THANKS MOM, and he thinks it’s time to play.  It doesn’t matter WHAT I have done to try to discourage this behavior… I can spend hours in his room rocking him, bouncing him, nursing him, laying him down in his crib, walking with him, singing to him, cursing at him, crying to him, begging him and any other number of activites trying to encourage him to stay in bed – inevitably he wears me down to the point that I can’t take him any more, and quit.  Because I’m about to lose it.

Have you ever lost it at your child?  It’s not a proud moment.  I set him down in his crib, and he starts screaming, and I walk out of the room.  I close the door behind me, and I go downstairs to try to compose myself.  Usually, I tag Brock in, because I can’t deal with him any more.  Usually, Brock gets him up because he’s not willing to get that upset over sleeping.

It’s at this point, from 9pm on,  that Ronan will not go back to sleep until after midnight.  MIDNIGHT.  From midnight on?  He wakes every 2 hours and screams to eat.

No one in my house gets sleep.  Brock has started sleeping in the guest room, which fosters feelings of unfairness – I don’t get nights in the guest room.  And then I get bitter.  Mad at dad, mad at baby, mad at me.  And I don’t know what to do to fix this.  I don’t know where we went wrong.  I hate this feeling, and I just want one good night.  JUST ONE.  Put him to bed, and he stays there.  I don’t even care about the stupid night feedings.  Wake up and eat, just QUIT SCREAMING AT ME.

I take a deep breath.

I close my eyes.

I remember that a few years from now, I will miss every moment of his babyhood.

I tell myself ‘this too shall pass.’

What more can I do?

Finding my Groove, and Sleep Saga Continued.

I think I’m starting to hit my groove at work.  That doesn’t mean I’m starting to LIKE it any more, but really that I’m getting used to the whole she-bang.  It’s about par for the course, it usually takes me about 6 months at a new job to not feel like a total idiot.  It took a little longer this time, but I’d like to believe that a massive lack of sleep had something to do with it.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love getting home in the morning and seeing my two boys still sleeping in bed?  I stand in the doorway and watch them sleep for a few minutes before I do anything.  It does my heart good.

I didn’t want to jinx it by writing about it sooner, but Ronan has been sleeping GREAT for over a week now!  He wakes up once (and sometimes twice) a night to eat.  That’s it!  It seems to keep getting better and better as well.  He’s starting to learn to comfort himself back to sleep.  And by comfort, I mean he throws his body around in all directions until he conks out again, resulting in some hilariously awkward positions.  I must take pictures.  But anywho.  Perhaps the saga of the sleep-bitching is over.  Please, let it be so.  I knew the day would come when his ability to sleep would outgrow his desire to wake every hour.  I’m glad it got here sooner than later.  And I’m glad I never let him cry it out.

On Sleep, and Co-Sleeping, and NOT Sleeping.

TBRonan110509So taken for granted when you’re getting it.  Seriously.

Let’s talk sleeping arrangements.  First, this is a judgement free zone.  I make the choices I make because I feel they are the best for ME and for Ronan.  I do not ever look down upon or belittle another mother for the choices she has made for her family.  I expect the same courtesy.  That being said, if you disagree or dislike what you read here, please keep it to yourself.

Ronan sleeps in bed with me.  I did not plan it, want it, nor did I encourage it.  As a matter of fact, I was violently against bed-sharing… until I had a baby.  I used to hear about friends who let their child sleep with them, and I would turn to look at Brock and say, “We are NEVER doing that.”

Fast forward to when Ronan is about 3 weeks old.  He sleeps well during the day, but at night time I can’t get him to settle.  He cries in the crib, he cries in the pack and play, he cries in the swing.  Lord, how the child cries!  But when I pull him next to me in bed… he is calm;  perfectly calm, and I get to sleep for a few moments.  There is happiness in my household.  “We co-sleep to get sleep,” is my new motto.

From that point forward, I never looked back.  I have enjoyed every single second Ronan has been in bed with me, despite his horrible sleep habits, waking every hour or two, wanting to nurse.  I love the snuffle of his breath, and the little feet he keeps tucked into my side.  It melts my heart when he rolls over and reaches out to touch me, just to be sure I’m still there.  He laughs in his sleep sometimes, and it wakes me… only to make me laugh.  And the smiles – oh the smiles he gives!  When he wakes in the morning, the smile on his face upon seeing me and daddy is what true happiness is made of.  These are the moments I cherish so dearly.  There is no part of sleeping with my son that I dislike.

I know the arguments.  I’ve heard both sides.  The haters will tell you bed-sharing is the most dangerous sleeping arrangement there is – that babies die in bed.  The supporters will tell you that babies that sleep with moms have nearly non-existent rates of SIDS, and that accidents are almost always caused by intoxicated parents; that babies sleeping with mom sleep better, longer and less anxiously.  In the end, I choose to continue to co-sleep because I love the closeness, but I also love how comforting it is for my child.

I can perfectly imagine what it would be like as an infant.

Mom is warm.  She is smells, and curves, and soft and voices.  She rocks and coos.  She is sweet milk and soft touches.  I fall asleep in dark comfort, I smell mom.  Her body is warm and holds me close as I drift away.  I feel mom.  Skin and sounds and movement.  Sleep is so lovely with mom…. Wait.  Where is she?  Where am I?  I didn’t fall asleep here, it’s cold, I can’t see her… smell her, feel her hear her need her where did you go? WHERE ARE YOU MOM???

When Ronan wakes up next to me, all is well in his little world.  I have no desire to “train” him to sleep.  Children develop the ability to sleep more deeply as they grow older, and he is well on the way there.  I have been urging him to sleep through what would have been multiple night feedings, and his sleep stretches have been getting longer and longer, my nights getting better and better.  Last night?  We nursed once after bedtime.  There is light at the end of this wide awake tunnel.

I am hesitant to give up my sleeping arrangements.  His babyhood is already passing all too quickly, and once it is gone I will never get it back.  I know you hate that he isn’t in his crib, but I promise… he’ll be sleeping through the night in his own bed by the time he’s sixteen.  In the mean time, please leave me alone about it.  It’s not ruining YOUR sleep at all.