(Warning: this might get long.)
When I was pregnant with Isabel, I frequently joked that I was owed a sleeper. After months of being woken hourly by Izz, thanks to a combination of constipation and god knows what else, I figure I was due a baby who could at least maintain a sleep period of more than one sleep cycle.
And so it came to be: Oliver was born, and right from the off seemed happy to go 3, 4, 5 hours at night. Honestly, 3 hours is a blessing in this house. Except there was a ‘problem’: he would not be nursed to sleep. This was my biggest #1 sleep tool with Isabel, so I had to relearn a whole chunk of parenting all over again.
Not a problem, or so I thought… because Oliver was happy to *shock* self-settle. You could put him down and he would fall asleep. By himself. You could have knocked me over with a feather! When this didn’t work, he was happy to be rocked in the crook of my knee and transferred to the sofa beside me. Bliss, a happy sleeping baby.
And then the 4 month sleep regression hit, and teething, and cold after cold. And after week on week of finding ways to settle the uncomfortable boy he seemed to forget how to self-settle. He would happily bridge the gap between sleep cycles, but when it came to going to sleep in the first place he would — does — everything he can to resist.
Except now that the sleep regression is long gone, the first teeth are through and he’s not suffering from a cold we’re left with an over-tired, constantly screaming baby. I am spending day after day trying to get him to sleep. On the plus side, he will often nurse to sleep now (yay). However, when I finally do get him to sleep, he is so over-tired that it actually wakes him up (yes, baby sleep is a mystery to me too) and so I then spend another half an hour or more trying to get him back to sleep but I can’t nurse him because he’s fed and isn’t hungry, and angrily rejects the breast. I end up rocking, pacing, jiggling and jogging to get the boy to resume napping, but unless you’ve run around recently with a 10kg sack of potatoes you might not appreciate how hard that is to maintain (he’s on the 91st percentile for weight).
The day before yesterday I decided to hell with everything that needed doing and I just watched him. It became clear quite quickly that I was missing his early sleep cues and so he was getting overtired before I was even trying to get him to sleep. Aha! I’m a genius I thought, and promptly declared to twitter that I’d fixed my baby. For the first time in months he had PROPER naps. I woke yesterday morning ready to do it all again.
But it’s never that easy, is it? Because he showed his sleepy cues and I offered him the breast but he’d fed already, so wasn’t interested. So I rocked him, but he arched his back and shouted protest, getting increasingly more pissed off. In the end I gave up, put him in one of our carriers on my back and mock-jogged back and forth in the hallway. After 30 mins he gave up protesting and went to sleep. But he was already over-tired and so we ended up back in the same cycle of short nap, waking over-tired, short nap, waking over-tired.
When Isabel had issues with sleep I just went with it. I’m not a believer in “you must force them to sleep for their own good / you must teach them to self settle otherwise they’ll never learn!” — Izz demonstrated that was total bollocks herself when she just randomly started sleeping through at about 18 months. However, I wasn’t trying to launch a website and make a living from home when Isabel was a baby so I was a little more flexible in that regard.
And so I try things. I’ve tried slinging him and walking round and round the block. I put him in his car seat and rock him, and it works maybe 1 time in 10. I try methods I’d have not touched with Izz, methods that I swore I’d never do; I’ve tried a dummy, not interested; I tried pushing him in the pushchair I bought for Izz when I was pregnant with Oliver (used all of twice) and he either outright refuses to sit in it, or sits in it but still will not sleep. I looked into commercial swings and bouncers but he’s such a porker he’s already way over the weight limits for them. When I get really desperate I put him in the car, that works, but I can’t afford the petrol to do this regularly.
I read Ask Moxie’s post on tension decreasers after numerous people linked me to it, and left him to cry for 7 minutes. Seven long minutes. He didn’t magically fall asleep after a whine, he got increasingly more hysterical until I went in and picked him up.
So now not only do I have to deal with the guilt of not being capable of getting my tired baby to sleep, but also guilt about leaving him to cry when NOT letting my babies cry is the core of my parenting ethos.
I’m not sure what the point of this post is. I am not seeking an answer from you guys (unless you have one — you’re welcome to make suggestions). I guess I just need an outlet. I have a sneaking feeling the only thing that’s going to solve our little ‘problem’ is time. I’m just not sure how to manage the working and the crying while he sorts himself out.
I guess I should just be grateful that he’s not waking hourly at night.