Well hello there, dear readers. In case you follow this blog and wonder why I don't post all that much, the answer is quite simple: the baby doesn't sleep and therefore neither do I and therefore I am beyond tired. All. The. Time.
So, I am asking for your help. We are completely tapped out of ideas. I will give you the back story and I would love your advice.
We are second time parents, so this should not be rocket science, but it is. Our older boy is now 3 1/2. Thomas is 13 months old. Jonathan didn't sleep more than a couple hours at a stretch until he was 15 months old, so this isn't new, but lack of sleep when you have one kid is much different than when you have two. Also, as I will detail below, we were able to deal with his waking in a different fashion.
Our philosophy is basically attachment parenting: baby-led weaning (I nursed J until he was almost two and I was five months pregnant with his brother); babywearing (see previous post); co-sleeping (see details below); and being very responsive to the babies.
With both of the babies, we co-slept full time for the first six months or so, and then brought the baby to bed with us after the first or second night-waking for the rest of the night. This was necessary with Jonathan, as we were in the middle of renovations and his crib was in our room.
We were somewhat desperate as he rounded his first birthday and was still waking up four and five times a night, but we realized that any of the sleep "solutions" were very hard with co-sleeping in the picture. So we were waiting until the renovations were finished and the crib went into his own room. And we functioned rather well, all things considered. Though I wanted more sleep, I was able to sleep between his wakings. He would nurse for a few minutes and then we would both fall asleep. It worked ok. It WAS annoying that the intervals between his wakings got shorter and shorter as the night progressed. Four hours, then three, then two, then one, etc. Which meant that he was the most wakeful after 3:00 a.m., which is JUST when I need to sleep the hardest. Nevertheless, we managed. And, miracle of miracles, the NIGHT that we moved into our addition and moved his crib to his room, he slept for ten hours straight. TEN. And the next night he slept eleven. And that was that. He is now a GREAT sleeper and rarely wakes in the middle of the night.
So. We never really had to do any sleep solutions for him, though we were prepared for the No Cry Sleep Solution as well as Dr. Jay Gordon's "program." Now, neither of those has worked for Thomas. And then my wonderful chiropractor, herself a mom of two small boys, sent me an ebook which had a gradual approach, which let the child cry, but we would be in the room with him, first beside his crib, and then a few feet away, etc. etc. etc. Supposed to do a few days on each segment. We have never managed to get away from the crib.
So here we are. I still nurse him, but he does not fall asleep, most of the time. And I am about 90% successful at putting him down when he is still awake, though very quiet. And about three quarters of the time, we are able to get him to go to sleep "on his own" at the beginning of the night. Starting with a book or two and ending with sleep, about 45 minutes. Which isn't bad. Same deal with the 3 year old, only his routine includes a bath and songs, etc. And it is ok if both of us are home, we split the tasks. The OTHER twenty five percent of the time, it takes an hour and a half for him to go to sleep. Much of the time is spent with him in the crib and one of us sitting next to the crib. Most of that time he is not crying, but if we try to leave, he starts screaming. Bah.
But as annoying as THAT is, the real problem comes after that. Some nights he will sleep for about six hours, until 1 or 2 a.m. Then he starts a waking cycle that is enough to make the strongest man weep. He wakes up with a roar and a scream, and continues yelling until we get in there. If it is me, and he nurses, he gets quiet instantly. If my husband goes in, he yells for another three minutes and then settles. About half the time we can get him quiet and back to bed in fairly short order: twenty minutes or so. (And occassionally, about once a week, he actually POINTS to the crib, or tries to throw himself back in it, and he goes right back down, two minutes, start to finish. And each time that happens, we have a glimmer of hope. Sigh.) But the other half of the time, it takes more than an hour for him to go back to sleep. Again, much of that time is spent with him in the crib. It is MUCH easier to rock him back to a deep sleep and put him down, but we are desperately trying to get him more used to falling asleep without being held. On good nights, he wakes only two or three times after he has gone (finally) to bed, usually at about 1 ish and 4 ish, and then 5:30 or so.
On bad nights? Every two hours. And it is making us crazy. Last night is a good example, and please bear with me with the details. Hubs got home at 6:45 and I immediately took the baby in to put him to bed. He was already dressed for bed. At 8:15, hubs came in to relieve me and the baby finally was asleep at 8:30. Did you get that? Almost TWO HOURS. He woke up with a yell at 11:30. I nursed him and put him in his crib and patted him. I was almost out the door at midnight when he jerked up and stood up and started yelling. I finally managed to leave at 1:00 a.m. Did you get that? An hour and a half. And then he woke up at 4:20. Hubs got up with him and got him back down and he crawled back in bed at 5:00. Baby woke up twenty minutes later. M got up again with him since he hadn't gotten to sleep. Baby slept on him for a while and then he was able to put him back in the crib. M lay down on the guest room bed (Thomas' crib is in the guest room) for another 20 minutes. Finally T was wide awake at 6:15. I heard him roar awake without the monitor and got up to give M a break. Marcus wasn't going to be able to sleep since he needs to be up and at 'em at 7 to get to work on time, but at least he could get some space. So, to sum it up, we had a crappy night, and Marcus essentially was awake from 4:20 on.
As I said up at the front of this super long post, I was able to deal with Jonathan because I just pulled him into bed with us. I have tried that with Thomas, but the problem is that he just does NOT unlatch when he nurses. He will nurse the entire time he is in bed with me. Constant. I can fall asleep and then wake up two hours later because I am in a cramped position and he is STILL actively sucking. And that created a real painful situation for me. I actually didn't think that was the problem, and got myself looked at. The doctor suggested not letting him nurse like that and magically, the pain went away. So....no co-sleeping now. We have him in a crib in his own room and we get up and go in there and rock with him or sit by the crib.
Some people say, "Let the baby fuss for a bit before you go in." Which we do, when he is just whining and fussing. But most of the time he is YELLING, at the TOP OF HIS LUNGS. (Have I mentioned that he is a loud kid?) His room is right next to his brother's room, and until we have a plan, we are loathe to just let him cry. And we realize that unless we are totally committed to a plan, if we negatively reinforce the crying by sometimes going in and sometimes not, it will get worse.
His sleep hasn't always been this bad. Couple times a night was routine for the first nine months. Once he started solids more, the sleep got really bad and he would wake up five and six times a night. That is when we started getting super cranky. But we weren't happy about letting him CIO because he really seemed like he was in pain. Finally we thought it might be reflux and the doc put him on Zantac. Worked well after about a week, and the sleep improved for about two weeks. (only waking twice a night) Then got bad again and we upped the Zantac. Better for two weeks and then not so much. So the doc put him on Prevacid. Got better for about two weeks, and now not so much.
I would say that now, about 20% of the time he seems super uncomfortable and REALLY gassy. And 20% of the time he seems really mad. And the other 60%, he is just awake. Sometimes for a looooong time. But I am loathe to let him just wake up and cry and cry and cry if there is a 1 in 5 chance that he is really uncomfortable. That just seems mean to me.
But we are both shattered and short-tempered. The 3yo gets the brunt of my short temper because he is a willful 3 and I don't have much patience for that at the best of times. My diet has suffered tremendously (who wants to eat veggies and fruit when you have had four hours of broken sleep....only cake gets the serotonin levels up to functioning capacity.) Marcus and I have ZERO time together as we HAVE to fall into bed the very second that Thomas has gone to sleep if we are to get any rest.
I am pretty strict about naps for T....morning and afternoon. I don't do things that make him miss them, if I can help it, since he sleeps so little. He rarely naps for more than 45 minutes, and often only 30. I KNOW that naps are important and sleep begets sleep and all that. He just doesn't sleep ever. ONE night this week, for the first time in two months, he woke at 1, got right back down, and then woke at 6:20 for the day. Heaven. I tried to replicate that entire day, as well as the naps and bedtime routine. FAIL. Very disheartening.
So people, I need help. If you have done any kind of sleep solution, could you give me specifics about how it worked for you? I can read the books, but it is disheartening when they say, "for a few nights" and it hasn't changed in two weeks. So I need real-world advice. Did ANYTHING work for you? What do you do about the yelling waking up the pre-schooler in the next room? How many days or weeks did it take to work? HELP!