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I_am_Blessed 05-21-2010 01:24 PM

Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
Warning... long post ahead.

DD always was a wonderful sleeper. She would sleep 6-8 hours through the night from a couple months on. The only time she ever woke up through the night to nurse was when she was teething or growing through a growth spurt. Now, at (almost) 3, once she falls asleep, she is out for the night.

Now my problem...

DS (16 months old) has never slept through the night. When I say never, I mean NEVER. He had ONE night when he slept 4 hours straight... but other than that one instance, he wakes every 1 - 2.5 hours to nurse. During the day, his naps are about 30 minutes and he wakes up fussing wanting to nurse or play with my hair.

I manage without sleep, but the older DS gets, the more the no sleep is getting to me. I know it's common for moms to feel tired and exhausted, but after 16 months of not getting more than 2.5 hours of sleep at one time, I never feel "refreshed" and I am not the mama I want to be because of it. I am usually grouchy and snappy and I know it shows to my kids. DS has always been a "needy" baby, and although he's happy and smiling, he doesn't have the energy that DD has. I really feel like he'd be a different (and dare I say, "better") baby if he got the sleep his little body needs.

DS always has to hold my hair to sleep (a horrible habit I allowed, but in the beginning, it got me a few more minutes of sleep). He falls asleep nursing and holding my hair, and if he wakes and my hair is not in his hand, he goes into a fit. Even on the rare occasion he falls to sleep by himself, he still hunts for my hair in his sleep and wakes up if he can't find it.

I've tried a variety of different things from putting him down alone and very drowsy to holding him right on me while he sleeps (and not putting him down at all). I've put him in his own crib in our room... everything I try ends the same... he sleeps an hour or two and wakes up wanting to nurse. I've tried to let him cry himself back to sleep, but can't take him crying more than 5 minutes (when I give in and nurse him back to sleep).

I keep telling myself that this will have to pass eventually, but is there anyone out there with a similar problem or who has experienced it in the past? Do you have any advice for me?

MamaWillow 05-21-2010 04:53 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
Well I feel for you. I could have written that same post, minus the well-sleeping ODD and the hair holding. DS is 18 months in a few days, and still wakes up quite a bit at night. A couple of months ago I pretty much had a breakdown and freaked out about the whole thing....not having slept more than 2-3 hours in 16 months, annoyed at him for having to nurse so much, basically totally resentful. I decided that I couldn't do it anymore and was going to night wean. I followed Dr Jay Gordon's plan here. We don't have a family bed, but I do sleep a lot of the night with DS in his bed. Well, it didn't really work. DS continued to wake up and just cry for 10 minutes or so, then he would be up and awake by 5 or 5:30am. Not good, resulted in even less sleep for me. Then DH figured we could try having him go in with DS rather than me. We started having DH put him to bed after a very solid bedtime routine. Bath, jammies, book, then nurse on the couch. At that point, DH would take him and put him to bed. Not without crying but he seemed to sleep for a longer period of time when he didn't nurse to sleep. We did that for a couple of weeks, with DH going in each time DS woke up, and I guess he ended up sleeping in there too. The thing is, DS still woke up at his usual times (11, 2, 4-5, 7) but just cried back to sleep. This didn't help me get more sleep because I could hear DS crying so I would lie in bed and listen and be sad about it. I started going in and taking over around 4 or 5, just to hopefully get DS to sleep a couple more hours. I couldn't shake the feeling that he was hungry and that's why he couldn't sleep. I assumed that after a week or so of not getting what he wanted at night, he would stop waking up, at least that's what sounded logical. But nothing changed. In fact, it seemed like he started waking up more. Then when I was in with him, he was almost frantic and wiggly and scratchy and couldn't settle because either he was so happy I was there OR so afraid I would leave. He did seem to sleep a slightly longer stretch during that time...I think the 2ish wake up disappeared for a little while. (sorry this is getting so long)

Sometime last week though I just felt like it wasn't working and why are we still doing this? I just decided to go ahead and nurse him at night. The morning after that decision, the essay by Katherine Dettweyler (here) showed up in my inbox. It reaffirmed what I had been thinking. So now we are just nursing at night, and sometimes naturally DS will sleep a longer stretch. Last night it was 11 to 4, which is pretty much a record for him.

I don't know if this helps you at all, and sorry for the book, but it's just my story. I figure he will grow out of it sometime....that said, I think every kid is different, and Jay Gordon't method may really work for some kids too.

mommyto3beautifulbabes 05-21-2010 05:48 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
I have two children too that have similar issues.

It was way worse when I was nursing ds and I found that he would sleep 4-4.5 hours per night after we started him on the bottle. I know that this is something that most mamas would not be happy with but I found that I instantly dried up after like one day or supplementing so I was not producing a enough mama's milk for ds. Not that I think you should switch to formula if you are not comfortable with it but I would talk to the MD and see if it might be that he is just hungry that often.

Again please just know that this is my experience and I am saying that it would work for you.

elvenmama 05-21-2010 06:01 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
I had that issue too and recommend Tracy Hogg 'The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems' book. This method worked wonders for me. You just need to be consistent and follow her advice. Mama's NEED their rest. You definitely deserve your rest! Your DS should be sleeping through the night by now. My DS had this problem too and we used her Pick Up/ Put Down Method to teach him how to sleep, without letting him cry for even 5 minutes on his own.

doodah 05-21-2010 06:56 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
Have you considered night weaning? There are many techniques to gently night wean and help your child learn some self soothing. I know I am a better mom when I am rested and we do use a variety of techniques to help both girls sleep thru the night in their own spaces and have been quite successful. I will say though that it will be a challenge changing anything for a child at this age. It will take a lot of time, effort and small baby steps because you don't want to rock his world all at once.

cathrynapple 05-21-2010 07:01 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
This is why I'm glad I got my high needs baby first! Seriously, though, it's just a personality type. Some babies need a ton of help sleeping and are difficult to sleep train and you do whatever it takes to get everyone the sleep they need. Mine has never slept through the night, either.

Just remember that sleeping through the night is defined as five hours for a baby.

I_am_Blessed 05-21-2010 09:00 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
Thanks for the replies and advice. It is comforting knowing that I am not alone. I am going to look through the links/books listed.

I have attempted night weaning, but when DS is screaming bloody murder, I give in after a few minutes and nurse him. Most of the time, he doesn't actually suck to get anything, he more or less uses me as a paci (which he's never taken to). I don't think my supply is a problem, because I still have strong let-downs and leak like crazy when nursing.

I want to say that I am fine letting DS go on like he is until he is ready to sleep through the night... but I don't feel like he ever gets the rest his little body/mind need. He doesn't sleep long and well through the night (or at nap), and it shows through the day. He plays with his sister and is happy for a while during the day, but honestly, most of his day is spent whining and fussing (unless I am carrying him around). He just doesn't have the stamina through the day, and I believe it's because of his poor sleeping habits. I know I feel rotten most of the day, so I can only imagine how he feels.

He's worn out tonight. We spent most of this evening outside mowing and doing some yard work, and after I got him out of the bath, I put him on our bed while I got DD ready for bed. I walked back in our room to find him asleep at the foot of our bed. I am going to leave him and see how long he sleeps. He hasn't nursed in about 6 hours (but he ate dinner), so we'll see how long before he realizes he doesn't have milk in his belly and my hair in his hands.

doodah 05-21-2010 09:42 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
I would definitely keep researching self soothing and night weaning options. Clearly what you are doing is not working since he is so low energy and whiney during the day so don't feel bad if you have to make some changes. Change can be hard for kids but he might surprise you. Perhaps you could fine some methods that you can stick with long enough to see some results. The first questions to answer are, do you still want to continue co-sleeping and/or night nursing? Once you decide yes or no to these questions, you can find a direction of methods available. What is it that you want him to be able to do when all is said and done?

musicalisa 05-21-2010 09:55 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
The problem with night-weaning though is that it often doesn't have any correlation with night-waking. Too many women I talk to are dismayed to find out after those few nights of screaming that their kid doesn't sleep any better! And if you night-wean your toddler, the next time they get sick you're probably going to start nursing them at night again and will have to repeat the unpleasant process. BTDT, not going to do it again, but that has just been my experience.

OP, my son turned two today. He doesn't sleep through the night by anyone's definition – up around midnight, then up again around 3a and on and off 'til it's time to get up to get my eldest ready for school. I have an extremely long "rope" when it comes to this kind of thing and haven't reached the end of it yet. ;) I do plan to bring him to the chiropractor though to see if there's anything "stuck" going on. And I feel better about saying "no" sometimes to a child over two when it comes to night nursing. We're working on just keeping the nursing short and he is getting better about rolling over and falling asleep after a couple of minutes.

BTW re: the hair – if it bothers you, can you get into the habit of nursing him with your hair pulled back in a tight ponytail? Or they do sell dolls with "real" feeling hair – maybe he would dig that?

dragondance 05-21-2010 10:43 PM

Re: Sleeping Issues - is this normal?
Dd2 is like that. Almost exactly like that. Oh, the sleep deprivation. She has sensory processing issues, and she always has to be touching or listening to something. When she finally slept out of my bed, she climbed into her sister's bed & would reach out & touch her every 10 seconds sometimes. And it helped a ton to have background noise--a fan PLUS music. Fan was not enough. Heck, I bet she'd fall asleep to the sound of motorcycles--she LOVED that sound every time a bike gang would drive by. Seriously. Gotta love sensory seeking kids :giggle2: She also nursed forever. Heck, she's still nursing some, lol. She finally started STTN almost every night... at 2.5....

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