Friday, October 26, 2007

Let's talk about sleep for a minute... (long vent)

I posted the following to a message board this morning and thought I would post it here, too. I'm happy to get some insight from any of my readers, but I also wanted it to be easy to find in the future when I want to look back and remember past parenting challenges. :-)


So, I think I know where I stand on this, but I'm going to write down what I'm thinking and maybe somebody out there will have some brilliant advice for me or can give me a good reason to read one of those sleep books or try a specific technique.

Heather has always fought sleep. Even as a newborn, she would rarely just relax and fall asleep in your arms, it was always a process of paci/rocking/holding tight/swaddling etc. How long she has slept has varied, but she usually seems to wake because she's hungry or because something interrupted her sleep when she was sleeping lightly.

Over time, she gradually started sleeping longer stretches, and at 10 weeks she started sleeping 10 straight hours at night. (2 weeks before mommy went back to work - good girl!)

At 4 months, we hit the first sleep regression and things went to hell. She was waking multiple times a night, but some rocking and the paci put her back to sleep and 1-3 times a night she'd need to nurse.

By 6 months, we came back to a nice sleeping place. She was generally sleeping 10 hours a night, with one wake-up in the middle to nurse. She went right back to sleep after nursing and seemed to be getting easier to put to sleep at night. Less fussing and I could put her down when she was almost asleep instead of dead asleep.

Between 7.5 and 8 months her sleep was disrupted by her first tooth, a stomach bug and then her second tooth. And now, she's at 37 weeks, which is supposed to be the onset of the second big sleep regression.

So my biggest quandry is how to react to her night wakings. I can live with nursing her once a night, but I don't really want to nurse multiple times and set up a 'bad habit'. But if she follows her previous patterns, she will drop the extra wakings when she gets passed her current milestones. We try the paci/rocking when she wakes. Sometimes it works and sometimes she screams for 20 minutes until I nurse her. So if I just went ahead and nursed her DH and I would both get more sleep...but is taking the easy way out going to set us up for more difficult transitions in the future?

I guess my point is, that I really think that Heather has good sleeping patterns in her and her waking is just a reaction to developmental changes, and this is the crux of why I can't bring myself to sleep train or CIO or ferberize. But if anyone thinks that there is a book out there that could give us some insight to make these developmental sleep setbacks easier, I would be happy to give them a read.

(And thanks if you've managed to read my whole tirade here.)


Nadine said...

Oh, I SO feel your pain...people make it sound like once they sleep through the night (or almost do it), your job is done, you're good to go...SO not the truth! It's a constant up and down, or at least it always has been for us. I won't give you any advice--we handled our girls completely differently based on their personalities and our own needs, which were different during their infancies.

If you're looking for a resource that sheds light on typical developmental trouble spots (and, consequently, sleep regressions), I highly recommend The Wonder Weeks by Hetty Vanderijt. It's a fantastic resource. And my favorite parenting website, which often covers sleep regressions and other topics, is Ask Moxie,

I hope it gets better soon...if your misery wants some company, just know that teething, asthma, and now a cold have gotten us into a horrible sleeping pattern with Lainey...we're all running on fumes!! But I know that it will get better at some point. :)

Anna said...

I'm also a fan of Moxie and Wonder Weeks, although I found some (okay a lot) of the expectations for skills at certain points to be way too high.

I've been thinking about what I told you about Ferber last week, and I kind of want to take it back. It saved us, but it was because we'd encouraged bad sleep habits in the first place. The biggest distinction I see between Heather and Henry is that she has slept through -- Henry never had until we nightweaned using Ferber. That makes me think this is more of a "this too shall pass" thing.

It's hard, I know.