Monday, July 2, 2012

Sleep. Ugh. What Is It Good For? (Absolutely Nothing)

By Heather C.

No sleep for the weary, photo via thegloss.com
There is nothing worse than a long, exhausting day where all you want to do is crawl in bed and pass out than that same day where you have to put a young child (or children) to bed first only to have bedtime turn into an hour long (or more) disaster. It’s just a fact of life. Bedtime never goes wrong when you are full of energy and ready to practice patience!

With our oldest, we used a variety of bedtime routines, all combined into one big “we are obviously new parents” mushy mess. We got lucky. Even if I managed to explain what we did, it is unlikely that it would work for anyone else. I can say though that we stuck to our routine. To me, that is the biggest piece.
Routine. We left parties at 6:30 p.m. to make sure we were home by 7:00 p.m. to start bedtime on time.

We gave her a bath every single night. We did infant massage. We read to her. I nursed her. She had white noise. She was swaddled until she was 10 months old. The nightlight was on. The light was dim. Everything was exactly the same. No, she didn’t sleep through the night but she woke, nursed for 10 minutes and was right back to sleep. Like I said, we got lucky.

I suppose being so lucky with her was payment for what was to come: Twins; Colicky preemie twins with acid reflux and bad latches. At some point around month two, my body just adjusted. It didn’t really need sleep. 2-3 hour stretches for the rest of my life is totally doable. (Insert sarcasm.)
My good friend recommended a book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. She wrote all about it here. I have not gotten a chance to read it all the way through yet but I have it checked out from the library and I’m hoping it gives me some good direction. She gives it such positive reviews that surely there is something in there I can make work for me!
The thing for us is not getting to sleep though. We stick to our very strict bedtime routine, everyone goes to sleep and we do the same. But they don’t stay asleep. Our three year old is going through nightmares right now. She’s consolable after her nightmares and goes back to sleep but it doesn’t change the waking up part. There’s a bit of information about the topic here but for the most part, there isn’t a whole lot of good advice out there. Most sites say, “It’s a phase.” And others suggest putting your child through expensive tests. One extreme or the other, right?
On top of her nightmares, I have two six month olds. They go to bed great, go back to sleep right away after waking to eat but when it takes nearly an hour to nurse them both and bottle them both (see breastfeeding twins blog) sleep is long lost.
Early on, we used many tactics learned from Happiest Baby on the Block teachings. It’s a program we love and would definitely recommend to those around us. Swaddling, Shhhing, Swinging, Sucking, and Side-lying. It’s amazing for naptimes. (If you haven’t noticed, happy naptimes are directly related to happy bedtimes.)             
We’ve studied co-sleeping, the Ferber method, and a variety of other things but still not found the exact method to stick with. Read what everyone has to say, pick and choose what works for your family and just hang on. Kids change as often as the moon. Whenever a bad phase comes along, reassure yourself that something new is on the horizon.
So do I need sleep? Will I ever get sleep? Is there hope for me? Nah.

2 comments:

  1. I've read a good chunk of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I think it's among the better sleep advice books out there, although sometimes I think the author writes in circles and needed a better editor to condense it all. I really found the information on the effects of sleep deprivation to be fascinating, and good motivation for finding some way, any way, to help our kids sleep as well as possible. Good luck with your little ones!

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  2. Just think, in a few months we will look ruefully back at these days and miss the closeness of night feedings. ;) or something.

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