A (mostly) Depressing Post.

I should probably not be writing right now. In my present state, it’s like drinking and dialling: I might use inappropriate honesty.

For the last many weeks (I haven’t been counting because that just makes it worse) Baby A, and therefore I, have been sleeping in increments no longer than 2 hours, and often 90 minutes or less. Well, there have been a few times we’ve slept three or four hours in a row. (One time I got all excited because I thought we’d slept for five hours, but then I remembered we’d switched to daylight savings in the night and my phone had automatically reset. Only four hours.)

Of course I mostly blame myself for this. We bed-share, and the majority of the time when she wakes up, I don’t have the presence of mind (or the energy) to do much besides nurse her back to sleep, which means I’m assiduously teaching her NOT to put herself to sleep, right?

With that in mind, I’ve been doing some sleep training with Baby A (using the Baby Whisperer’s Pick-Up-Put-Down, because I do not have what it takes for crying it out), and she has been able to put herself to sleep for a nap several times this week, without crying. She is learning more swiftly than I expected.

Last night I thought I had all my ducks in a row. She had napped well during the day, including an evening catnap (which she needs in order not to get overstimulated); she was in a good mood all day, not fussy; I remembered to give her Tylenol in case of teething pain; and I went to bed at the same time she did, so in case she had a long stretch of sleep first, I would get to benefit from it.

She was up less than an hour later. Sean and I spent half an hour or more trying to get her back to sleep – and succeeding, but she would wake up minutes after being put down. I finally caved and nursed her to sleep… and she woke up twenty minutes later. And then we repeated that scenario. Then we tried again, and nursing didn’t soothe her at all. I finally patted her to sleep sitting up, and she slept for about 90 minutes. Next round we got maybe a hundred. At 5:20 a.m., she awoke wailing and nothing I did helped until I turned on the lamp to give her some more Tylenol. The effect of the lamp (which I’ve covered with a starry receiving blanket to make it dimmer, and I guess she thinks it’s pretty) was instant: suddenly she was smiling and sweet and jokey.

Honestly, I was like, WTF, baby??? I was glad she seemed happy, but in that case, what’s wrong? Can babies have bad dreams? Could that have been it? It didn’t seem to be gas (she got very mad when I tried my standard solutions for that) and teething can’t be the whole issue. Obviously not hungry. Diaper was fine, I checked. She was up and babbling until finally falling asleep (nursing) at 6:30. Then we had another 90 minutes of sleep, etc.

So confused.

I feel that I have been dealing better with interrupted sleep this time around than I did with E. This was especially true earlier on, when A was only waking up once or twice a night. (PIECE O’ CAKE.) I felt like an old hand at this, someone who’s adapted. Even with four or five wakeups in a night, I can usually function quite reasonably the next day.

But it’s now been well over a month of the frequent wakeups, and this long-term thing is getting to me. I thought it would be temporary, since A was achieving 5- and 6- hour stretches before she was three months. But now those are a distant memory. (Just to get a bit mawkish on ya.)

I know lots of moms who have pulled through much worse than this with their babies. I shouldn’t complain. But look, here I am complaining.

I guess it’s that I am recharged just enough to keep going, but there is some base level of life-juice in me that is depleting, without getting topped up. I don’t like the kind of person it makes me.

It makes me want to quit and just walk away from poor E, sometimes multiple times in a day (when he melts down, when he ignores what I’m telling him, when he deliberately defies me, or when he decides it’s a good idea to take all the books from his bookshelf and put them on his bedroom floor). I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of what he needs right now.

It puts the tears right up at the top of my throat so that stupid little things make me cry, or almost.

It means that when I get frustrated, I immediately want to throw breakable things against a wall, really hard. (I never do, though.)

It paralyzes my writing, so that when I have thoughts jumbling in my head looking for an outlet, when I most need a “flow experience“, I can’t focus myself to sit down and write.

It takes the meaning out of things, so that I want to say SCREW IT and just give up on stuff I otherwise care about, like my blog, the dishes, spending time outside, getting errands done, socializing… And any larger projects seem laughably unattainable.

Please don’t be alarmed. I don’t sound or even feel like this most of the time. I’ve just noticed that my patience is wearing thin, and last night was like a double-dose. I tried to nap with A (she’s still napping) while E is at the babysitter, but couldn’t do it. Too much crap in my brain. So I figured it was time for me to write something, already.

Since I’m trying to catharsify here, I might as well write about Sebastian. He’s been in my mind a lot these days, and I won’t deny that it’s off-throwing to be going about my day and suddenly remember, with breathtaking vividness, the sound of an empty Doppler, or the pain of him leaving my arms, or crying at the funeral home. For some reason, these memories are sharper and realer than usual lately.

It’s more complicated, and confusing in a deep place I can’t fully access, to grieve for Sebastian, to miss him, now that Baby A is here. Her unique, adorable baby-self would not be alive if he had survived.

Friends of ours lost their firstborn, a son, at about the age Baby A is now (about the same time of year, too), to a congenital heart defect. I think of that sweet baby and wonder how anyone endures the pain of losing a five-month-old. Five months is more than enough time to be head-over-heels in love with every teeny part of your child. It’s an absolutely gorgeous age. (Not that six weeks or seventeen months or three-and-three-quarters years is any less gorgeous.)

The other day, Sean asked me jokingly if we should trade in this wakeuppy baby for one that sleeps better. And though I laughed, it was a good reminder that whatever the side effects, I would go virtually sleepless if I had to, to keep my little girl.

She really is totally awesome in basically all ways – except the sleeping thing.

Here she is, workin’ on her sitting up.
Fun times.

 Wow. See, that helped a lot, just unloading some words on y’all. Hope you don’t mind.

Now, if we can just get some better sleep than last night, I’ll be thrilled.



14 thoughts on “A (mostly) Depressing Post.

  1. Erin T says:

    Wow, she is really adorable!! Just not four times a night, for 20 minutes or more, I know. (When I coo over a baby, people always say: “Doesn’t it make you want to have another one?!” and I say “My memory is not that short.”) Everything seems worse when you’re tired, and especially guilt. You are doing your best for A and E. Heck, people used to give their babies whiskey when they were up at night, and I’m sure that worked, but it’s not like we can do it now! This stage, too, shall pass, which I know you know, and am just saying to encourage you, because, honey, we’ve all been there.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Aw, Erin, thank you. You always say things that make me feel better – and validated. And I find my memory, while not short, is very subjective. When things are good, I remember all the good things and think, “How could I not want another?” When things are tough, I’m like, “How could I possibly want another?” Heh.

      And for the record, alcohol has crossed my mind. She’d probably like rum, right?

  2. Shannon says:

    Oh my goodness, it sounds like A and H are quite alike in the sleep department. I have been so desperate for sleep because I don’t even recognize myself sometimes. I’m a zombie. I sat down here to write because my blog has been sorely neglected too, but I have too much going on in there to write anything coherent, so I gave up.

    I confess, H has been sleeping well the last week. Why? Because Daddy finally reclaimed the bed, which means it’s either I sleep in the freezing spare room with babe, or he finally takes over the crib which I insisted J put together months before his arrival when I was in “OMG WE’RE NOWHERE NEAR READY FOR A BABY” mode (little did I know…). And ok, J did get momentarily romantic when I said I might move to the spare room and sort of confessed/asked/yelled “What do I have to do so you know that I want to sleep in the same bed as you again? Do I have to tell you!?”… um, yeah. You do, buddy.

    Where am I going with all this? H has been in his crib for five nights now and I’ve been using the cry it out method, because any other method would probably kill me. The first night I cried my head off as I listened to him through the monitor and stared as the seconds counted down on my phone (there’s a lot of seconds in three minutes you know! And by the time you get to ten minutes it’s just pure torture) and I could finally check on him again. It truly sucks. But you know what? He never goes longer than two wait periods before passing out, and… he stays asleep! It’s like a miracle. Of course, I’m still not sleeping because I’m freaked out and have to check on him all the time, but eventually I’ll get used to it. He went from waking 5-6 times per night to 1-3 times. The last two nights he’s only woken once at 3am after going down at 8pm.

    Is it that you don’t have what it takes to try it out? Or are you opposed to the philosophy? I totally understand if the latter is true, but I honestly didn’t think I had what it takes… turns out I do. I promise you, he still loves me in the morning 🙂
    Shannon recently posted..Bored BabyMy Profile

  3. Shannon says:

    I should also add that I’m not trying to give that sort of unhelpful “helpful” advice! Just sharing what has worked for me this past week… (I know that sometimes I want to punch ppl that constantly ask if I’ve tried this or that, especially when sleep deprived!).
    Shannon recently posted..Bored BabyMy Profile

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Shannon, thank you for your perspective. It’s really helpful to hear what you’re going through, and what has worked – and I know what you mean about “annoying” advice, but I’m happy to get insights. What I don’t enjoy is people asking if my baby is “sleeping through the night” yet. I know some babies do at this age, but the question ALWAYS makes me feel like a failure. Ev still had a 5 a.m. feed at 20 months until we weaned him – and although I liked the sleep, I missed the closeness when it stopped. Sean has just volunteered to sleep with her for a while to help get her out of the frequent-snacking habit, and even though I want to get sleep, I would miss my munchkin! Ah, the pros and cons of co-sleeping. Sigh.

      Good question about the cry-it-out method… and I’m not even sure what my answer is. One of the first parenting books I read was The Baby Whisperer, and she feels that leaving your baby alone while s/he’s crying breaks trust, but then I’ve read other books (such as Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) that contradict that. I know if I tried it, I would be in a state like you were – like torture – so I guess I figure if it’s that awful for ME, there must be another way. So far, I think the Pick-Up-Put-Down method is helping, and last night I managed to stick to my guns and let her fuss instead of feeding her so that she could soothe herself. It eventually worked. But if all this doesn’t really improve things, I haven’t ruled out a method like the one you used. Your results… DO sound like a miracle!

  4. Erin T says:

    My mother-in-law saw this show on mothers trying to sleep train their babies through a similar stages approach of gradually moving yourself out of the room, sitting on a chair and then in the doorway and then periodic checks. She said it always *worked* for the baby, but it was the saddest thing you ever saw to watch the mothers there, weeping, panicking, going catatonic, drinking, etc. I laughed when she told me, but it’s true! You never know how long twenty minutes ca be until that little thing you love is letting you have it.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Ohhh, man. It makes me feel weepy just thinking about it! You really can’t change the fundamental biology that makes you want to actively soothe a crying baby. I think every chunk of time spent listening to a baby cry actually does sap a little bit of your sanity.

  5. emerge says:

    I know it can be annoying when people tell you how well you’re doing (or it is for me!) when you feel like you’re not! But from an inside-outsider’s point of view, you do NOT seem like a frantic spaz-mom, with either of your kids. You get stern occasionally. Not that I see you all the time, I know. But when I do see you, you appear to be keeping it together well enough that it doesn’t look like you’re trying to keep it together. Although this post did make ME cry a couple times.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      No, I don’t find it annoying. I really appreciate your thoughts, since you’re an insider and you know. If I seem to be keeping it together, that makes me feel better, even if my actions don’t match up with my ideal vision of parenting… 😛 Thank you.

  6. Shannon says:

    The sleeping through the night comments drive me up the wall too! I consider it a victory if he only wakes up twice, and if he wakes up at 3am and then again at 6, that’s pretty darn amazing! Last night he even went to bed for his Zeyde and Grandma within 10 mins so that Joe and I could have a date night. He was up at 11:30, 1:30 and 3 though. It is what it is! It’s a marked improvement from co-sleeping, but I don’t always get the one wake-up night. I’m trying not to nurse him every time he wakes up right now too, and it’s really hard. Having to give up co-sleeping and now trying to break the nursing every 2 hr habit is a little bit heartbreaking. When I do nurse him I end up hanging onto him a little bit longer than I normally would just so I can stay with him a bit longer.

    As for breaking trust, I don’t think that’s true. He still loves me, he is still instantly soothed by me, he still greets me with smiles and chatters away when I come to get him in the morning. Doesn’t seem psychologically damaged in any way! It still sucks, but I think it’s healthier for both of us in the end. I’m coping better now, but when I was in the throes of PP depression I almost drove myself to the hospital. I thought I was losing my mind. I know it was just sleep deprivation, but the combo was bad news bears.

    I had really bad sleep habits as a child, and I still suck at sleeping now at almost 30 years old. My parents didn’t know what to do at bedtime because I never wanted to go down. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but my mom used to sit in my room until I fell asleep until I was 10 years old! Even after that I slept with my lights on until I was 13 and decided on my own that I was “being a baby” (I very clearly remember be mad at myself for this), turn off the lights and never looked back. I do wonder what would have happened if they had suffered through a few sleepless nights while I cried it out. I’ll never know though!

    Ok. Long enough! Whatever you do will be what is best for you at the end of the day. I firmly believe that of all of us. We have so many choices…
    Shannon recently posted..How to (Sleep) Train Your Dragon(s)My Profile

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Oh, Shannon. You are so brave. Motherhood is hard enough without PPD. But it sounds like you feel like you’re through the worst of it? SO HARD.

      And I’m glad to hear that your relationship with little H is the same. I don’t know how you know if you’ve broken your baby’s trust, like how Tracy Hogg would have known that, since babies can’t tell you.

      And poor little you, with so much sleep trouble all those years. I wonder if there would have been any way to avoid that, or if sleep is just hard for some people. I know we had the closet or hall light on for sleeping for many years. I didn’t like dark until I was a teenager – and I still don’t like black dark. I have to be able to see movements or I get claustrophobic.

      I fully agree with your last point: parents have to decide what works for their families.

      I hope we and our babies get to hang out sometime!

  7. Mary Snow says:

    Big hugs, Di. Here’s our experience with Naomi.

    I was initially against crying it out in principle (abandonment issues, breaking trust, etc.) but then there came a point where it seemed like the best option (I think I told you about my attempt of PUPD but all that did was make my back sore). Know what? She took to it amazingly. It only took a few nights and every time, the crying would get significantly shorter, then she would stop waking, and then she was sleeping through. Now, you can put her down in her crib and leave. If she does fuss, it never lasts longer than 2 minutes (I actually keep count). She has the most consistent sleep schedule and I strongly believe she has learned to put herself to sleep (sometimes if she’s tired and it’s bed/nap time she’ll actually walk over to her crib and point at it). I don’t condone any option a mother chooses for her baby as I believe she always makes it with the best of intentions. But I tried a method that I thought I was against and it turned out to be the solution. I honestly don’t feel like she harbours any sort of abandonment or trust issues with me. She is always in the best mood in the morning because she has a great sleep. And she does not balk at being put in her crib (as I’ve read babies could associate the crib as a place of abandonment). I read and bought into the theories against crying it out, believing it to be a cold and cruel method of sleep training. Perhaps it’s her personality – I don’t know – but I do know that the few nights of listening to that torturous crying which seemed to last an eternity (whereas in reality, it was less than 10 minutes) is DEFINITELY worth nights of solid slumber for everyone in the household (baby included). Just thought I’d share our personal experience. All the best in your quest for rest, Di!

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Mary, thanks for this. It’s good to hear that you and Naomi (who certainly seems like a very well-adjusted little girl to me!) had such good success with this, in spite of your initial misgivings. How old was she when you did the sleep-training? I do believe it’s really important to help kids learn to put themselves to sleep, because that’s a skill (or lack of one) they will carry into adulthood. I think it might depend on the personality of the child, and how susceptible they are to “distress”… So far, I’m happy to have avoided CIO because A does seem to be a baby who escalates herself when upset – but sometimes I can leave her alone to go to sleep, and if she’s in the right sleepy “window”, she will go to sleep without getting distressed in the first place. We’ll see! Maybe if we decide to try CIO, I can pick your brain. 🙂

      Ah, parenting. So many puzzles.

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