Tag Archive: sleep deprivation


So… it has been over a year since I’ve posted here. The blog, she languishes…

So much has changed since I last wrote. For one, the first thing that comes to mind as I read the last post is that the whole “CIO” thing? Didn’t last. Nope. Not right for us after all. After maybe a week of sleeping quite well and going to sleep on her own without crying she started waking often and crying (the first couple of times trying the “sleep training” she cried for 15 minutes tops and then went to sleep).  Well, as it turns out, I wasn’t up for letting her cry any longer than that and certainly not denying her nursing at night either.  I started nursing and holding her until she fell asleep in my arms and then putting her back in her crib. Then, after discussing with my husband and realizing he wasn’t in any hurry to come back upstairs into our bed and that he was truly OK with me co-sleeping with my girl and all of that, we quickly resumed co-sleeping and night nursing and no longer trying any sort of CIO.  Within 3 weeks of trying a bit of sleep training, I had decided that we would NOT be doing that again and that it was just not my thing.

I know plenty of WONDERFUL moms who have done some sleep training with their children and they are warm, kind and caring moms. Many of them also have done extended breastfeeding and other attachment parenting types of things. But moms, parents… we need sleep in order to function.  So I don’t fault anyone for sleep training.  I did it too.  For me, and for our family however, it was just not the right choice.  Turns out we get better sleep and are able to feel better during the day, too, when we co-sleep and comfort each other that way.

I did eventually try some night weaning using Dr. Jay Gordon’s gentle method of night weaning but it seemed each time I tried, my little girl would get sick and I felt she needed that night nursing to get better.

Then in early May of 2011 we discovered I was pregnant again!  Yay!  So… what would become of our nursing relationship?  Would my girl continue?  Would I want to?  What about sleeping?  How would that be affected?

We raised the bed up a bit as I got heavier in pregnancy as getting up off the mattress on the floor was getting rather uncomfortable and so we put it on the box springs and that helped.  But we continued nursing to sleep for naps and bedtime.  Then… something miraculous happened and I’m not sure exactly when, but my sweet daughter finally started to sleep through the night.  Perhaps the lack of milk partway through my pregnancy along with my gentle urging that “milk is sleeping” finally did the trick and she started blissfully sleeping until morning.  Once in awhile she’d wake briefly and ask for her water sippy cup using her familiar “drink” sign she amended with a finger in her mouth and a gurgling sound.  Then back to sleep she’d go.  Now if only my bladder had cooperated, but it did not, I was still not sleeping through the night because that pregnant body kept waking me up!

In any case, my pregnancy went really well.  I was never the “burping rainbows and farting unicorns” type of pregnant woman.  Pregnancy was a means to an end for me, but the ends certainly justified the means!  Still, I was blessed with a really uneventful pregnancy aside from a few UTI’s at the end.  I got huge like the previous pregnancy and was pretty uncomfortable.  I had nausea for longer than the first trimester.  And my desire to eat meat was greatly reduced.  But… I was able to continue nursing my daughter through the pregnancy.  I also went the midwife and doula route this time around instead of the OB/GYN route.  It was the most wonderful experience. Hands down.

With my OB/GYN, she was wonderful, but she was not on duty the day I had my daughter.  She also was not often present at many of my appointments and I had her alternate instead who was kind of “old school” for my taste.  In her birth, I had my water break naturally a few days before her due date.  Then the doctor suggested induction and along came the pitocin.  Despite what I had learned prior to birth from our prenatal class taught be a doula, I was so tired at that point having not slept that I caved and just wanted things to “speed up” myself.  If I had only known then what I know now!  But, that was not meant to be.  In time I ended up with gas, some fentenol (sp?) and an epidural which lead to not being able to feel how to push, and eventually a birth with an episiotomy and tearing. UGH.

With my son’s birth, my water broke and things were much different.  I called the doula and midwife.  They told me to eat and rest which I did manage to do a bit.  I went to the hospital and labored for a long time in the shower with the doula helping me through contractions.  Then my husband, doula and midwife all helped me to figure out how to push and I was able to have him with just using the gas to get me through transition.  It was easily the most primal thing I have ever done but I LOVED it in comparison to my daughter’s birth.  I felt so much better afterward.  I had that baby boy on my stomach immediately (as I had with my daughter) and I got to see that they truly waited for the cord to finish pulsing before clamping.  I also breastfed him right away compared with waiting in the case of my daughter until after I was fully stitched up.  It all was a better experience all around and I do have to thank my first experience for informing me of what I DIDN’T want and reading up enough to know what I DID want this time around.  My son and I both benefited!

Anyway, now here we are… my toddler is now 2 years and 4 months and the baby boy is 4 months old.  Things are going well and life is good although we watch more TV than I would ideally like.  🙂  In any case, there is more to update but I hope to be posting soon about my story of weaning my sweet precious daughter right around the time she turned 27 months old (after 3 months of tandem nursing).  So… thought it was as good a time as any to post a quick update.  I hope to fill in the blanks sometime soon and start posting again more often.  It seems like as good a way as any to keep track of so many important memories as well as to carve out some time for me to collect my thoughts.

 

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So, I have been trying really, REALLY hard over the last 10 months or so to get Savannah to sleep well.  I have read enough about baby’s sleep to know that both naps and nighttime sleep are vitally important to their growth and development.  Not enough sleep and they can’t concentrate and learn things, plus I think just physically it can impede growth if they are not getting the restorative sleep they need.

So, yes, sleep is very important to me.  I have been trying to keep a schedule for her for a long many months now too.  From what I understand, routines are ALSO important to babies.  It gives them comfort to know “what comes next” and to be able to count on consistency and routines.  So, I try to make sure the days follow a fairly consistent path from one day to the next.  There are different things that we do sometimes, like trips to get groceries, or appointments that we have.  But I have been trying to make sure we get back home at reasonable times so that we can hit those elusive optimal nap times and to make sure she is fed regularly, etc.

I have to admit, this has all been rather hectic for me.  I’m not sure why it seems like so much work, but it does.  I spend time planning meals and trying to be sure she is getting a good mixture of fruits, veggies, grains, meats, dairy.  And now that I’ve introduced snacks, well, gosh, it takes even longer for my poor sleep deprived brain to figure out what to do each day (yes, I ensure my daughter gets her sleep, but me, on the other hand, I am the all night breastaurant still nursing her every 1, 2 or 3 hours when she wakes briefly so that it is, indeed, brief and we can go back to sleep and not stay up for 2 HOURS).

Should I do peas for lunch?  Dinner?  Have I given her something green?  Yellow or orange?  A fruit?  A veg?  What grain did I give earlier?  OK, maybe I should do this.  How about some dairy.  Oh crap.  What meat am I going to make or use?  Hmmmm.  How long will it take me to cook some pasta and add frozen beef puree so that she gets a meat in?

I swear, it is a full-time job for me right now.

I wonder to myself often how other Moms do this and make it look so darned easy?!?!  Seriously!

I am sure that my sleep deprivation is not helping either as I KNOW I have had “attitude” with the dog and the cat when they meow or bark and wake the baby.  Then I’m seriously NOT happy with them.  One day I was certain I was shipping the cat off to the SPCA I was so frustrated with him… hopping into the crib, meowing to get out of the crib, hopping onto the bed, meowing and pawing at me.  GO. AWAY. NOW. CAT. IF. YOU. VALUE. YOUR. LIFE.

Oh, yes.  And let’s not forget my poor hubby.  Sleeping in the basement as it were.  Because, yes, I am the bad Mom who still co-sleeps with her daughter at 10 months of age.  I just can’t bear night wakings that require me to physically get OUT of bed, so I do what is the path of least resistance.  And, what has felt right for many months as well.  To be there physically to comfort my baby girl.  To build that connection.  To “Attachment Parent” if you will.

But the time has come where I really am starting to think it is in everyone’s best interest for us all to get better sleep.  I need to sleep in order to function at a higher level.  My daughter needs to learn how to go to sleep without requiring nursing to do it (it has to happen sometime, although I am glad to say that I have given her this comfort for this long).  My hubby needs to come back upstairs (besides which, when he is back upstairs and Savannah is sleeping in her crib by herself, when she wakes early on weekends I might actually *gasp* get a day to sleep in and Daddy can get up with the baby… God I can dream about it… if I could only sleep…).

Anyway, so I have gone ahead and contacted a sleep consultant.  It occurs to me that my foggy brain is no longer competent to sift through the rubble and books and make a good plan for us.  So we have help on the way.  A person who has helped other Mommies and Daddies I know.  She comes highly recommended.  And so I am putting my trust in her to help me “sleep train” (choo choo) my daughter.  I am SO nervous about the crying part.  I never ever wanted to resort to CIO.  It truly is, for me, a last resort.  But I am trying to remember that I have given her a really good start with 10 months of cuddles.  And I will make it up to her with as many daytime snuggles as she needs.  But at some point, I am realizing she also will need to learn the hard lesson that Mommy can’t always say “yes” to all her demands.  That sometimes, when something is better for her, I will have to say “No” much as it may pain me (and her).

So, I will continue to be “working on the railroad” with my daily routines and schedules and meal planning.  That part of this choo choo train will keep on turning.  But hopefully, in the not so near future, at least the sleep train will involve ZzzZzzzz’s for all.  And when it does (crossing fingers and toes), I am going to join my Belly Buddy (oops… she reminded me, we aren’t pregnant Belly Buddies any more, so I am going to have to start referring to her as “little mama g”) my friend little mama g in a Slumber Party!

Sweet Dreams!

Seasons Changing

So fall is upon us here in Vancouver.  The leaves are turning colors and there is a crispness in the air that cannot be denied.  It started awhile back and is now in full swing.  We have had some days like today where the sun is shining and it makes for a glorious fall day.  Other days it is gloomy, gray, wet, cool and to be honest, a little depressing.

Fall has often been one of my favorite times of year as it signals colorful landscapes and “back to school” feelings.  The chance to “start over” with a new year of school, brand new corduroy pants, a fresh pencil case and new protractor.  🙂  As an adult, I am no longer going back to school, but it brought fresh fall fashions with gorgeous fall colors, warm cozy sweaters, tall boots and still… those great new corduroy pants!

But now with my daughter, I am realizing how much it is also about change.  For whatever reason, the other seasons bring about changes, but never so much as fall does for me.  It signals the coming winter.  And so many changes in my daughter’s life.  She’s 9.5 months old now.  She is truly crawling now on all fours and not just “army crawling”.  She is sitting up on her own (and getting there by pushing herself up off her tummy).  She is pulling on furniture and things and finding herself standing (with a little help from the furniture).  She is off exploring on her brand new adventures.  The toys that once preoccupied her well are now often left lying where they were and she would rather find a leaf on the floor that the dog tracked in.  She would like to cruise on into the kitchen and inspect the dog’s food and water dishes.  She wants to go places!

And yet she is also right smack at the beginning of separation anxiety.  It is a strange push and pull.  Let me go explore Mommy!  Look at me Mommy!  I can stand!  I can crawl!  I can go places!  No, Wait, Mommy.  Don’t leave me here in my Exersaucer while you use the bathroom.  I HATE being alone… I am going to sob great big crocodile tears until you come back even though I can still see you.  Nope, peekaboo is NOT going to cut it.  I want to be held.  NOW!  I don’t care that you have dishes to do.  Can’t you see I hate being ignored even for a minute??

Sheesh!  We Mommies know NOTHING some days!!  😉

Oh yes, so the seasons are changing and so is my daughter.  But then so is my relationship with my hubby.  Babies are truly tough on relationships.  I can understand this so much better now from the inside than from the outside just reading about it.  It is all such a balancing act.  There is limited time in the day and limited energy in Mommies and Daddies.  And so many things to do.  Chores to be done (the never ending laundry, dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, beds to make, garbage to take out, diapers to wash, recycling to be sorted).  And never mind the time caring for a baby takes.  Bath time.  Meal time.  Cleaning up.  If only the dog would eat fruit it would make the floor clean up easier!  (insert cheeky grin here).  She’ll eat the peas and corn and carrots but heaven forbid she should scarf down that mushy banana that I will inevitably step in and make even messier – le sigh.

So we have had a bit of a rough go at times.  I’m not going to lie to you.  Co-parenting and finding your footing together as Mommies and Daddies is tough work.  But luckily we have come through some rough times and are on better footing now.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get out of the house on my own at least once a week for awhile and let Daddy and baby bond together.  They need that time without me bossing them around (it is hard not to point out how I do things and therefore how I think they *should* be done, so it is just better for me to leave them to it so that I don’t interfere).  I know in my heart of hearts they will do just fine and that Daddy’s way may be different than my way, but that it is OK.  Still, it doesn’t hurt for me to disappear so that I’m not tempted and frankly I need to learn to let go a little bit of that control in any case.  I think it is good for everyone.

So I went shopping on my own this weekend!  It was amazing.  I got a new pair of jeans that actually fit (I’ve lost too much weight running after my almost 23 pound baby) and some new long-sleeved t-shirts for fall.  I felt like a brand new woman with my fresh fall clothes and a chance to just be ME again.  It was amazing.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Baby Bean slept for 1.5 hours while I was out.  Lucky Daddy!!  When I came home I was actually singing again as I cleaned and put away the dishes from lunch.  What a lovely chance for some renewal.

I really hope we can keep up this new way of being together.  I found a part of myself again this weekend.  And in doing so, I KNOW that I became a happier person in the process.  That allowed me to reconnect on a much more positive level with my hubby and that is such a blessing to me, my hubby and our child.  That alone made me want to continue with our new way of being.

Time will keep on moving on, and now I feel like we are moving ahead in a positive direction.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and we are working together as a team again.  What a relief.  I’m still not getting more sleep, but I know this too shall pass.  One day in the not so distance future she will sleep better and so will I.  Then perhaps I will miss our nighttime snuggles.  But hopefully, we’ll just make up for it with daytime snuggles and it will mean I am getting more sleep so all things will not make me as melancholy as they do now living with sleep deprivation.

So here is wishing all of you parents out there a fresh start like we have had recently.  I’m turning over a new leaf!  And it feels pretty good.  Just need to keep the momentum up now to make it through the next school year to come.

So I was reading some Attachment Parenting (AP) articles today on Mothering Magazine and came across one discussing “Cry It Out” (CIO) and how it likely came to be popular in parenting circles.  It then, given the AP nature of the article, goes on to talk about how CIO is not exactly terrific for babies (at least for babies who cry alone) as they exhibit an increase in cortisol which is a known stress hormone.  This after just 5 minutes of crying alone.  I recalled as I read this that I had also seen some research elsewhere that high cortisol levels in adults may also be linked to heart attacks.  Yikes!

Well I must admit I have considered from time to time whether I should use “CIO” to help my daughter to sleep better for longer at night.  Sleep deprivation means you will consider all kinds of things to get more sleep.  But I haven’t been willing or able to listen to her cry yet.  So I have been using more “gentle” methods to get her to sleep and have found that AP really fits with most of my thinking on this and many other things.

But one thing I hadn’t read about or considered before was the potential power of crying for babies.

Now I am not talking about just letting a baby cry for hours on their own.  But the article talks about allowing a baby to cry “in arms”.   It was a new thought to me that babies might have experienced trauma at birth, and may be stressed out or frustrated by things in their life such that they may just need a good cry now and then.

I’m not sure why this thought never occurred to me before, but it hadn’t.  It is strange, really, considering that for many years I have known the power of a good cry for myself.  In fact, I am not ashamed to admit it, but I used to watch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” every Sunday night just so that I could have a good cry to release any pent up stress and or frustrations in my life.  I knew that they would showcase some poor family who had fostered 20 kids, many disabled, were living in a run-down house that was unsafe, and would build them a terrific new home that would thrill everyone to pieces.  Always a great tear-jerker moment for me to see these families rewarded for all the love and support they have given to these kids and their communities over the years.

In any case, I have had a very demanding career for the last 15 years.  Somehow I always seemed to end up working in a job where lots of unpaid overtime was required to get the job done.  It took a toll on my stress levels.  I would wake up at night with a thought about something I needed to do work-wise or a change to an Excel spreadsheet that I should make based on something I dreamt.  I would pick up my cell phone and call my office and leave myself a voicemail.  Yup.  That was what it was like for many years.

But those Sunday nights I could count on Ty Pennington and crew to make me sob like a baby.  And feel immense relief at the physical release of a good cry.  I always felt so much better, and like the world was a more manageable and friendly place after that cry.

So why would it be foreign that a baby might also get release and return to homeostasis from a good cry?  In fact, I kind of love this idea.  That perhaps my baby girl might sometimes have all her immediate needs met (food, breastfeeding, clean diaper, shelter, not too warm or cold, etc) but still need a good cry?  What must it be like when trying to master a new milestone?  Learning how to stand and being frustrated at times that your own limbs do not always cooperate when you want to do something new?  It might just be a little annoying to my baby girl.  So if she needs a good cry, and her needs are met, I am going to do my best to remember to honor her in the way this article suggests.

I will hold her, look into her eyes, tell her I love her.  And I will let her cry.  In my arms.  She will come to know that all her emotions are safe with me.  That my love for her will not change.  And she can “tell” me anything whether it is good or bad.

Sometimes you just need a good cry.

http://www.mothering.com/parenting/crying-for-comfort

So I’ve been talking a lot lately with friends who are parents about sleep deprivation.  I don’t think I really understood how bad it would be until I had a baby.  I also mistakenly thought it would only last for a short while at that beginning newborn stage and then would get better.

Simply put, I was wrong.

There are days I get a blissful 3 or even 4 hour stretch of sleep in a row.  These days are far and few between.  Some people have babies who “sleep through the night” from an early age (it should be noted that this is defined as 5 hours in a row, normally from midnight to 5am or so for babies).  Not mine.

We are in a bit of a catch-22 situation now.  We co-sleep because we breastfeed and it is the quickest way to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night.  She wakes up, puts up a fuss, I roll over and offer the breast and it is a quick nursing and back to sleep for both of us.  No getting up (most nights).  No trying to put a baby back into a crib and not wake them after you’ve gotten them back to sleep.

However, because we co-sleep, my presence in the bed with her is most likely ALSO the source of her frequent waking.  I mean really… why sleep through when you can wake up and have a snack at the all night diner?  It is warm, ready and waiting 24/7 and your most favorite and delicious treat.  Plus it makes you happily sleepy again and you can drift off to sleep in comfort?  So, yup, I am in a bit of a difficult situation now.  I also have thought about letting her “CIO” (Cry It Out for the non-parents among you who are reading this).  The idea of getting her to fall asleep on her own, in her beautiful currently unused crib, and then sleep for many hours straight is extremely appealing.  I’m not going to lie about that.  But the few times I’ve let her cry, even for a short while, it tore me apart.  So even knowing full well that some short-term crying could mean long-term salvation for my sleep deprived brain, I just can’t bear to do it.  Yet.

I am not completely opposed to the idea, but I do admit that every time I read another article or story on how babies crying is not good for them, I cling to that article and notion as a way to justify my reluctance to do CIO.  So although it would appear I AM a sissy when it comes to CIO, I can truly say that I am a trooper when it comes to dealing with sleep deprivation.

I must say that I now realize also why they use sleep deprivation tactics to wear down prisoners of war.  I am starting to believe my Mommy brain may never fully recover from the ongoing lack of sleep.  My language skills are languishing sadly.  I am very forgetful.  I babble.  I am clumsy.  More clumsy than ever before as my battered and bruised body can attest.  At least the upside of this is that my daughter has recently taken to finding my pain hilarious.  She giggled hysterically when I banged my knee on the table and was gasping for breath.  Then every time I said “ouch” she giggled even harder til I thought for sure she would pee her diaper (thank God for cloth diapers!).  At least there are upsides to everything it would seem.  🙂

The toughest part of all, however, would be trying to share in the “go to sleep” duties with my husband.  My hubby, bless his heart, tries to help out when he can hear on the monitor that the baby isn’t sleeping.  However, sometimes his timing is just the worst!  I’ll be letting her roll around babbling, hoping she’ll tire herself out and go back to sleep without requiring the assistance of my breasts.  Then sure enough, just as she has finally rolled onto her stomach and laid down her head to rest… he will appear in the bedroom, ready to save the day in any way he can help.  Up pops her head, excited and ready to play.  Daddy’s here!  Hooray!  I silently curse in my head and plead with him to sneak back out of the room silently so she’ll go back to sleep.  Then in comes the dog.  Click, click, click go her toenails on the floor.  Another excited gasp from the baby and she tries desperately to crawl toward the sound while still trapped in her baby sleep sack.  I bury my head in the pillow and groan at this point.  I will apparently be starting again at ground zero trying to get her back to sleep.

Le sigh.

I love my husband SO much for wanting to help.  I know, too, that this too shall pass.  It is my current catch phrase and I am sure it will remain as such for a long time to come.  In any case, we will figure it out.  I feel terrible, too, for being so frustrated when he has bad timing like that.  It isn’t his fault.  It really isn’t anyone’s fault.  And she does, in time, go back to sleep.  She can’t stay awake forever.  I am also sure that if I got more sleep on a regular basis I wouldn’t be so frustrated by such things.

Thankfully my hubby is a patient man when it comes to me and his family.  It is a big adjustment becoming parents later in life.  I am so happy we met, though, and sleep deprivation and frustrations aside, at the end of the day, I am glad he is my husband and partner and that we have this pretty terrific baby to love.

Now if only we could get some sleep.  🙂

As my Belly Buddy would say… the time she finally sleeps through the night (STTN), we will have to have a party.  But it will be a slumber party!  LOL.  Well said little mama g, well said!

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