Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Wall

We've hit the wall.

I wasn't sure when or if it would happen-- that feeling that if you don't get a good night's sleep you might lose your mind. When you stagger through the house like a zombie, communicating only in grunts and groans. When, in the darkness, hope is hard to conjure.

I thought I was pretty close to the wall this summer in Connecticut as I paced up and down a country road in my pj's at 5:30 am, a screaming Andrew in my arms. If I dared slow down, the screaming got worse, so I speed-walked, bouncing him back and forth in my arms, eventually watching a gorgeous sunrise I would have rather missed.

But that was nothing compared to where Tim and I find ourselves now. If you look at recent photos of Tim, he looks tired and gaunt. I look tired and whatever the opposite of gaunt is. Being tired makes me hungry.

For months 2-5 Andrew slept well at night. I didn't dare mention it here, for fear of the jinx. Even our pediatrician just had us nod at the 2 and 4 months appointments when asked about night-time sleep. He held up his hand to keep us from uttering the words, "He's sleeping well" aloud. Andrew got up once a night during that period, and that worked for us.

Then, at 5 1/2 months we started daycare, Andrew got his first cold, and it turned into croup. Naturally, the night-time routine would be disrupted. But now we are on week 3 of that, and we can't get our mojo back. His 6 month appointment is today, so the doc will tell us it's time to get rid of everything that used to work for us anyway: the tight velcro swaddles, and the miracle worker  Rock and Play that sits next to our bed and allows us to tend to him right away before he goes full-on ape-shit. Its womb-like, angled surface was awesome for a baby with reflux, and the proximity was perfect for quick feedings.

There's a perfectly good crib in his room down the hall. We will be introducing him to it now. So he'll be un-swaddled, un-angled, and without his mom there to pop in a pacifier whenever it pops out. We wish we could find a way to help him acclimate him to his new surroundings that did not involve screaming and waking up the whole house. Poor Margaret, who as a busy high schooler puts in 18 hour days with school, sports, and then homework, doesn't need to be kept up by crying all night long.

Most nights Tim and I take turns hiding in the basement with Andrew when he won't go back to sleep. I whisper-beg him to be content to snuggle up with me the way Margaret and Jack did, collapsing into my warm body in bed and falling asleep. I want to say, "What could be better than to sleep with mom? Win-Win." Nope. I wish he would let me rock him in the roomy recliner, so I could doze off, too. But he insists on more deliberate movement. The circular path around and around the couch. The bobbing this way and that, and walking up and down, up and down the stairs. Occasionally I slow down and try to get horizontal on whatever surface is nearby: bed, couch, floor. I eschew a blanket because I don't want him to think I'm actually going to sleep. Last night I spent some time with my right leg partially covered by a baby washcloth in an attempt to stay warm.

Sometimes, I give up and turn on the lights, place toys in front of him, and let him play. He sits up straight as a school master, and quickly finds his grin. The cries turn to coos within seconds as he gets down to the business of play. I smile at the cuteness, then wonder how much more of this we can take.

The thing is, I have PERSPECTIVE that I didn't have with the first two kids. I KNOW this stage won't last forever. We will get through it. I also know this isn't the end of the world, because we've been there, too. But I also have the perspective that sleep issues, while HUGE, are only the beginning of the parenting issues we will face with Andrew. Can I get an AMEN, middle school parents? That's something that first-time parents don't always grasp when they are knee-deep in diapers and onesies.

And that makes me feel more tired. And old as shit.

I've never been a morning person, but staying up all night with a baby makes me grateful for sunrise when it comes, and for the warm cup (or three) of tea that awaits, because that means the night is finally over.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5


Happy 6 month birthday, Miracle Baby!


30 comments:

Sandra Jerich said...

I guess it's still very true that "the days (or nights) creep, and the years fly"! You certainly have a unique perspective on that, with miracle baby and high-school student down the hall from each other. Will look forward to an update regarding a solid night's sleep! xoxo

Kathleen said...

I have no words of wisdom. Just a virtual hug and prayers and wishes that this phase will pass quickly.

jannybelle said...

How can someone so cute rob you of your sleep!

Angela in VA said...

He sure does have a great smile! Good luck, I hope this is a short lived phase.

Katy said...

Oh... I'm reliving my middle-schooler's first year... the constant crying and vomiting... i remember feeling i might be losing my mind too! that kid turned out to be really loud AND a night owl- maybe Andrew will own a concert venue someday ;)

One crazed mommy said...

Oh I remember those days...but with both of my babies in middle school right now, oy! I miss the days of no sleep, making worn paths through the carpet, and baby grins through teary eyes. Enjoy it, because as you know all too well, it will go by so fast! Every day I'm going through the mantra of "breath, breath, don't murder my children" - as I know this too is just a phase. But boy, I'm ready for the sassy attitudes, rolling eyes and one word answers to cease!

Danielle said...

Bear with me here.. but do you have a white noise machine? Our oldest did. not. sleep. He did not nap. He did not sleep at night. He had colic. It was a living hell. One night, out of an act of desperation, we enrolled in an online course called Moms on Call. It was basically parenting for dummies but WORTH EVERY PENNY OF THE $30 IT COST. It basically taught us the importance of getting him on a schedule, the saving grace that is a white noise machine, etc. We have used it with our daughter and plan on using it with our bun in the oven.

The big things at night were: bath/bed time routine, swaddle (which you can't do now, but may be fine), and white noise. And sweet baby Moses, he slept for 7 hours straight that night at about 3 weeks old (granted he had been up for nearly 18 hours straight, so...). I'll never go back!

Sabrina said...

I remember that wall... in three years I had 3 little boys. My last guy who is 2, didn't sleep through the night until he was 14 months. It was zombieland here for 4 years. Hang in there! I mean, I know you know it gets better, but it definitely doesn't feel like it at 2:30 in the morning.

Gretchen said...

oh Anna. You are so amazing. Not for anything you do, but just because of who you are. hugs. xoxo

A said...

We hit the wall at 9 months when I finally spoke ALL THE THINGS out loud. "I'm exhausted. I'm dying. I can't do this. I won't survive it." When he turned one, just like his sister, he started sleeping 7-7 and the angels sang out in rejoicing (at least in my sleep deprived mind).

Stay strong, mama. And see if a buddy can walk the circles one night for you.

Anonymous said...

I hope it gets better soon. My babies were terrible sleepers. It is truly awful! Andrew has such a cute smile, though!

Donna said...

"Full on ape-shit". I love you so much!!!!!
FWIW, we too had major moments such as this, right out of the gate, with one of our twins. My husbands best friend from med school, now a pediatrician told us two things. 1. In China, they celebrate the baby at 100 days old, as apparently, things typically settle down. (That was no help whatsoever). And 2. Sometimes the blowdryer helps. Meaning white noise. Very loud white noise. We burned out at least 4 mini blowdryers, I wrapped them around sconces with him in the bouncy seat 3 feet away, or held it in my outstretched arm praying for relief. They became our lord and savior. Our baby went from full tilt screaming to wide eyed quiet. My theory is he couldn't (or wouldn't) cry over the sound. It saved US from going ape-shit. Best of luck, wishing you a good nights sleep. xoxoxo

Issa said...

The lack of sleep is the worst this time around. I'm with you. I knew it wouldn't last but oh man I think I had more energy for it when my big kids were little. Difference between having kids at 24 and 36 I guess.

Maybe he actually will do better if left alone? One can only hope. Liam totally did once he was in his own room. also? White noise machines. I swear by them. The baby has one, I have one, my girls each have one. Everyone sleeps better with those little things plugged in.

Michelle DeRusha said...

Thank God he's so cute, right? I feel your pain. Noah, our first, was colicky. I thought I'd died and gone to eternal hell. It was really painful. But we eventually survived and went on to, gasp!, have a second baby! And now they are in high school and middle school, which, like you said, brings a whole other level of ape-shit. ;) Hang in there, girl. I am cheering for you, and if I lived closer, I'd come play with Andrew in the middle of the night so you could sleep (at least one night...I'm not a martyr, you know. ;) xo

Anonymous said...

Oh My, this sounds so hard! Am glad you do have the perspective, but am sure if is very, very hard right now! When my oldest was 4 months old I began to keep track of how much uninterrupted sleep I was getting (I am a scientist and just do this kind of stuff) and I realized I was not getting more that 15 min at a time because he kept loosing his pacifier. I decided it was time for "cry it out" ( a là Ferber ) sleep training. It was hard, but I just did it and after that he was a great sleeper. I am a single mom by choice, so it was only me, and I had to get some sleep to be able to do my actual job at work during the day. Things got better in just a few nights (I kept track in a little notebook that I still have). Maybe you could arrange for Margaret to sleep at a friends for a few nights in a row, or start on a weekend so her sleep would not be so terribly disturbed, or have her sleep as far away as possible in the house?
Monica

Brooke Dooley said...

Oh Anna, I so feel your pain. These days are so hard and even harder when you don't have a good sleeper. I am glad you know these days will pass but right now it sucks! Be kind to yourself, treat yourself in any small way you can, and ACCEPT HELP!
P.S. You wouldn't believe how excited the Charleston Presybterian Book Club was to hear that you were pregnant, soon after we Skyped you. You made a lot of middle aged Presbyterian women happy and we're pulling for you :)
Love, Brooke D. from Charleston

Victoria said...

Anna! We have been going through this for months with our now 8 month old daughter, Harper. We finally bit the bullet and hired a sleep coach, and I kid you not, after one bad night, she has slept in the crib and only woken once or twice at night! We did not do cry it out. This is a gentler approach where we create a consistent bedtimne routine all while narrating what we are going to do next and eventually placing her in the crib. I then we sit at her bedside and repeat the same consistent phrases to her to let her know we are near and she is safe. If she gets worked up, we're allowed to pick her up to calm her and then place her right back down and continue until she's asleep. My girl is INTENSE and stubborn and can outlast me on my best day, but I'm not kidding when I say that this method (called Fading by our coach) has worked beyond my wildest expectations! Might be worth a try with Andrew :) Good luck - whatever way you end up going. Wishing sleepy dust in your future!
Victoria

Melissa S. said...

You know what? Both my colicky girls were exactly the same way - and at six months old I had to say ENOUGH - no more swaddled, time to sleep in your crib, no more every 30 minute nursing sessions (because for the love of God the only time they didn't cry was when they had a nipple in their mouth!) and you know what? IT WORKED! Within three days...sleeping like, well, you know, BABIES!! I pray the same result for you!

Anonymous said...

I know this might sound nuts, but I noticed you said he slept wonderfully on your camping trip. I've known other babies who sleep well with the sounds of the wind and trees and the critters and even a light rain. I've noticed that extreme quiet can be disturbing to babies. As long as there wasn't any chill in the air, I wonder about setting up a super-comfy glam-camping situation on your deck and trying to sleep outside. Could be fun. Could be just dumb. Just Feel the need to offer a possibility for someone who sounds like she's at the end of her rope! Even if it's too cray cray to try, it's fun to ponder!

nappimom said...

Oh Anna, I so remember that desperate need for sleep. Somehow, it's much harder on us as older moms than it was when we were less old!! But you are right about perspective. I think that has been the best gift a late baby has given me. Hang in there!!

twingles said...

with my twins i hit the wall at 4 months. I was doing everything wrong but eventually figured it out on my own. I started letting babies dictate their sleep schedule and within a week they were going to be at 7 and sleeping till 7 the next morning. I was keeping them up too late - and missing the window of when good sleep would come.
I would rather have slept later, which is funny to me now getting up at 6 a.m. without an alarm clock after years of getting the kids off to school!

With my daughter I really don't remember hitting the wall - she slept thru pretty early and i had two toddlers so always tired anyway!

Good luck - you're right, hope is lost in the darkness, and perspective is a good thing.

Gigi said...

What a cutie! Perspective is a huge thing to have in your corner. I only had the one - so I didn't have that bit of hope - knowing that it was just a phase.

Jeanie said...

Who could resist that smile?!? I'm an old grandmother (did I just type that?) and didn't normally have sleep issues with my kids. I've been hearing good things about sleep training these days. Have you considered looking into it?

Anonymous said...

Anna, so sorry to hear this, we had a baby with similar sleep issues, and it was nightmare! (Or it would be, if anyone were sleeping...) We finally called in a sleep specialist, who worked wonders. While I hesitate to recommend anything specific, as each baby is so different, a personalized strategy was extremely helpful.

Regardless of how things play out, wishing you all the best and sending a sympathetic yawn your way...Thanks for these updates, it's great to keep up with your beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

Anna - My suggestion is the same as an earlier one. Let Margaret stay with friends for a few nights. Do Cry It Out per the Ferber method and my friend, your life will be changed. We did it with all three of our sons and it takes 3 to 4 nights at the most. Andrew is plenty old enough to sleep all night! Of course he would like to play with you during the night but he will actually be happier once he is sleeping 12 hrs: 7 to 7 or 8 to 8. I feel for you and Tim . . . suck it up (take turns) and Cry it Out. Three to four nights and you'll ALL be sleeping like babies!

Sally said...

Hmmmm. He doesnt really look likd he feels at all guilty.

Anonymous said...

Whole fat Greek Yogurt. That plus his own dark room with a white noise machine. But also the greek yogurt saved our lives. It meant he was full right before bed and slept for 11 hours.

Julie said...

You poor thing! Those sleepless nights are HARD! It's funny because it's true what they say about forgetting exactly how painful childbirth was, but I totally remember the agony of the zombie stage (& my daughter is almost 17 now). And you're also right about the teenage yrs being brutal (in that now), but I def think boys are easier than girls. When you said you realize this isn't the end of the world 'cuz you've already been there, my heart broke again for you. Yes, you have. Bless you. Sending hugs & prayers that this phase is a short one!

NanaDiana said...

Oh Lord- Every mother's nightmare--a "I want to stay up all night" baby. God bless ya, honey---this too, as you know, will pass. xo Diana

Anonymous said...

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