It is no wonder sleep deprivation is a form of torture—it is torture. It’s torture for anyone, but it especially feels torturous as a busy working mom of two kids 2 and under. Getting up out of bed and off to work by 6:30AM becomes pretty difficult when you feel like you’ve gotten no sleep!
Our daughter Brooklyn (age 2) has always been dream when it come to sleeping. She fooled us into thinking that’s what life would be like with all our kids.
This blog was inspired by two nights of absolute exhaustion, panic, and hopelessness.
Two night when our nearly 6-month old decided that he would only sleep in 30-minute blocks (max) and that lying anywhere butin arms was simply unacceptable.
I realize for some of you, two nights seems like nothing, but this wasn’t your typical “oh, he wakes a few times at night” kind of night. Normally our nearly 6-month old son, Jameson, does wake 1-2 times per night. However, it’s usually a quick diaper change, breastfeeding and he’s right back down. I actually start a breastfeeding timer on my phone and I start it before I walk into his room. Typically I'll be done with a quick diaper change and feeding in about 12 minutes or less. Pretty awesome, right? Not this time.
I have no clue what happened and why these two nights were so different. If you’re a parent, I have no doubt you’ve done the same where you completely analyze everything you did that previous day. If they slept terribly, you switch it up. If they slept amazing, you try to keep the exact same routine. Right?! We hadn’t done anything differently, but looking back we realized that Jameson hadn’t been his usual self the past few days. He didn’t want to be put down, he was fussier than normal, and he was eating like crazy.
The Sleep Strike Began on Sunday Night
I kid you not, between 9 and 2AM he was up every half an hour. I tried feeding him which would pacify him for a bit, but the second I tried to lay him back down he would cry.
Jameson finally fell asleep around 2AM, and I woke up at 4:30 in order to get my workout finished before heading to work. (People call me crazy. Haha!) Truthfully, I’ve found over the years that if I workout before work, then I’m much more energized throughout the day compared to days when I chose to sleep that extra 30 minutes.
That's why I'm loving Beachbody On Demand—I have so much flexibility to workout at home early in the morning, get ready, and be to work on time!
So I started working out and 5 minutes in, Jameson woke again (nothing like a 2.5 hour power nap!) Went back upstairs, fed him, took a deep breath, and went downstairs to workout. He woke 10 minutes later and I nearly cried. Thankfully, my amazing husband got up with him and told me to finish my workout. (He knows I’m a much more pleasant person to be around if I’ve worked out. Hehe!).
Off I went to work, feet dragging, coffee in hand.
And I made it through the work day.
That afternoon we picked our kiddos up from daycare and our daycare provider said that Jameson had a rough day. He would not lay flat, he didn’t nap all day, he was fussy. She was afraid that, perhaps, he had an ear infection given that he was not his typical smiley, easy-going self.
Ah-ha!! A solution to the horrible night's sleep.
With the suggested possibility of an ear infection, we decided we would take him to the local Walgreen’s that had paired up with the hospital I work at (Providence Regional Medical Center). I was able to schedule an appointment within the hour, as opposed to waiting in a walk-in clinic bound to be full of sick patients. Mind you, there is a huge influenza outbreak right now and the last place you want to be is exposing your child to more sick people!
So, we schedule an appointment at Walgreen’s, arrived early and waited. We waited 45 minutes of waiting only to be brought back to the patient room and told they didn’t see children under the age of 18 months. I almost cried. So, off we went to the nearest walk-in clinic (the same one I was hoping to avoid!)
Thankfully, the wait was “only” an hour. Nearly 90% of the other patients in the waiting room were wearing masks. Hand sanitizer became my best friend. The doctor was amazing and awesome with Jameson and saved his ears for last. We held our breath as she said, “His ears look great!!! Perfect TMs.” (TM = Tympanic membrane aka ear drums. She knew I was a Nurse Practitioner and was speaking medical speak). Yay... I think? No ear infection, but now we didn’t have an answer as to why he was sleeping so horrible. HA!
What a weird spot to be in. Did I want him to be sick? No way! But at the same time, I also thought that if he did have an ear infection, then we’d have an answer to the horrible night of sleep.
Feeling defeated, we went home, hopeful the night would go better.
The next night...
Could it be his teeth? He has been drooling like crazy.
We gave him a little dose of Tylenol that night. We crossed our fingers, jumped in bed shortly after he went down and it was déjà vu of the night prior. Except maybe worse. He was up sometimes 15 minutes after I put him down. The longest chunk of sleep I got was 2:30-4:22AM. Again though, I decided to get up, workout and put one foot in front of the other.
I honestly barely made it through the day. My eyelids were heavy, it felt like I'd been hit by a mack truck. And it had only been two nights! Some parents deal with this all the time.
Soldiers are tortured for days, weeks, and who knows how long with sleep deprivation! Why? Because it works. Holy Toledo does it work. You become hopeless. Exhausted. Desperate. You will do anything to get some sleep.
The thing about babies and sleep is you never know what you are going to get.
It would be so much easier if we knew they’d wake every 2-3 hours and we could mentally prepare for that. Or if you could know that you were going to have a really rough night and could brace yourself for it. The hardest thing is when you get used to a certain pattern—maybe it’s just 5 hours at a time, but it’s 5 hours.
And in “Mom World,” 5 hours straight is pretty freaking amazing.
But, when you go to bed expecting one thing and wake 30-minutes after shutting your eyes, you become panicky. Or, at least I do.
Then came night #3...
I said to my husband, Dan, that third night, “How do you think he will do?” He had a great day at daycare. He ate a ton of food with dinner (already doing solids: oatmeal and pureed fruits and veggies), and we crossed our fingers. He. Did. It. He slept through the night, which meant I got seven hours straight. I felt renewed and rejuvenated.
And I thought we were right back on track… until last night. It was better than the nights of hell, but he was up from about 11-1. Same story. The second we put him down, down he cried.
I’m at a loss. I seriously don’t know what it is or why this is different. We have no clue what to expect for tonight. Is it a tooth coming in. Could it be an early ear infection? Or maybe he’s so close to rolling back to front and this big developmental milestone is making him crazy? Truthfully, I may never know the answer.
We've tried everything!
- We read some of the books, we loved Baby Wise and Cherish the First Six Weeks
- Kept a consistent routine.
- Used the Magic Merlin.
- We’ve done a bath before bed.
- We even changed from cloth diapers to disposable diapers (just at night) when we thought the wet diaper was waking him. I adored these eco-friendly diapers!
- He doesn’t take a pacifier so we can’t do that.
- Recently we tried putting him in the Rock n’ Play Sleeper (slight incline) with the vibration on.
- We have let him cry it out, probably for longer than most would.
And, to answer the ever popular question: we are not co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping seems to be something that people will either totally support or highly discourage. I honestly don't judge anyone either way, and did it work great for us for a while! As selfish as it might seem though, I couldn't stand the grunting noises all night long, so we moved him to his own bedroom at around 8 weeks.
At this point, we're chalking it all up to a rough period that hopefully will be short lived.
And For Now, I Just Want to Say This:
To all of you Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Caregivers, etc., who know what I am going through, my hat is off to you.
You have been there. You’ve had these sleepless nights. And most likely, you didn’t say a word. Didn’t complain. You just rolled with the punches.
So that is what we will do. We will roll with the punches (and maybe drink more coffee). People have said to me, “You’ll sleep when you’re dead.” Or “Welcome to the club, it’s a parenting badge of honor.” HA!
I like to look at it a few different ways. For one, I truly want to just embrace the exhaustion and chaos and realize that our kids are only little for so long. One day I will wish more than anything I could have these sleepless nights back. The snuggles, the sweet baby smell, the breastfeeding bonding. These are all things I never even knew I would be able to have.
Throughout my struggle with infertility, I dreamed of these nights. I would cringe at the moms complaining about not sleeping because I wanted that so desperately.
Before I had my son, my sister gave me a beautiful bracelet that said, “This too shall pass.” I’ve shared this before, but I love this phrase for so many reasons.
Yes, this phase of sleep deprivation will pass. But again, so will all of the other beautiful and amazing moments that come with watching children grow up. Those moments will also pass, and, they will pass faster than we hope. It will be gone in the blink of an eye and I want to hold on tightly to it for as long as I can.
While others sleep, I’ll get these precious minutes with my sweet baby that I’ll never get back. So instead of complaining, I’ll take a deep breath and say a thank you prayer that I have been fortunate enough to become a mother. That I am fortunate enough to have two healthy and beautiful children that I love more than imaginable.
I will remember that for good or for bad, this too shall pass.
But I’m still open to suggestions! What has worked for your kids in the past? Let me know in the comments, because us moms have to stick together!