For the past 4 1/2 years, I haven't slept.
Okay, that is an exaggeration but not by much.
I have been wanting to post on this subject for awhile. I get hesitant to write on certain subjects because I don't want to come off as complaining. Not that I truly care what others think, especially those judging.
I wrote this for other mothers out there who may be going through the same thing. I know that there are completely worse things out there and that some women would give anything to have children even if it meant the loss of their beauty sleep (or all sleep). I am not writing this to gripe. This isn't about that. This is about something that has impacted me a great deal over the last 4 years or so. Something that has affected my life a great deal and I'm choosing to talk about it. Most often, I go about life and try not to discuss it much with anyone but close friends or family. It tends to come off as complaining but really it's merely venting. I really feel that suppressing things is the worst way to deal. It doesn't help me and it doesn't let others out there know that they aren't alone. So here it is.
I am exhausted. All the time. Everyday.
There is no other way to put it. I have been blessed with two beautiful, amazing and healthy children....that do not sleep well.
The mothers out there that have sleeping children are saying, "Really!? That is your biggest problem?"And the mothers out there who have experienced true non-sleeping children are saying, "I hear ya, Lauren! It's a cruel, cruel world"......haha.
Do you know what it feels like to not have slept more than 4 hours at a time for over 4 years?? I do. If you do too, God bless ya! When I was pregnant with Scarlett, I worried about a lot of things. Sleep was not one of them. I was always a night person. I thought, I can handle it. When Scarlett was born, she slept pretty good for the first week or so. After that, she decided that waking up every 1-2 hours was the way to be. Doctors assured me, "One night you are going to put her to bed and she will just sleep through the night!" I held onto those words like gold! I waited for this. It didn't come at 4 months. It didn't come at 6 months. It didn't come at 9 months. Hell, it didn't come at 12 months.
And people would ask, "Did you try a pacifier?" Or suggest, "Mix cereal in her bottle before bed." "Let her cry it out." "Go to her at the first sign of distress." "Don't let her sleep with you." "Try co-sleeping" "Is she not getting enough milk?" "Try mixing some formula with the breast milk to help her sleep." "Feed her before bed." "Don't feed her too close to bedtime."
I can assure you, I conquered every single one of those questions or theories head on. I tried them all. Read books left and right. I stayed up countless nights trying this and that, crying because I was just so deliriously tired that there was nothing else to do. The doctor assured me she was healthy and she would one day....grow out of it.
And she did. At about 16 months old she started to sleep through the night. And by sleep through the night I mean she only woke up once a night. She truly started sleeping through the night at 2 1/2 years old. Then came Maxwell. I was so used to not sleeping at this point that I thought, it can't be worse than Scarlett. And I was optimistic that he would be different than his sister. In the beginning of course he would wake constantly to eat but he soon settled and was a good little sleeper for about 4 months. Although he was colicky for the first 12 weeks, he was usually a great sleeper. Great to me was sleeping 4 hours at a time. Then he started waking up every 1-2 hours. The boy hates pacifiers like his sister did. And I found myself in the same situation again.
I wake up in the morning and think, "How is my body physically even able to get through another day with the amount of sleep that I get?" Often, I just feel sick. The sad part is that I have gotten used to this feeling and I just get up and deal with it. I know that this lack of sleep makes me very irritable at times. Sorry Ty. I truly am. Of course my husband, being the amazing guy that he is helps as much as he can. He would always get up with Scarlett once she no longer needed to be nursed. But when you have a baby that only wants to comfort nurse to go back to sleep or a toddler who wants Mommy, it makes it hard for him.
I always say, "This too shall pass." And it will. But my God, what I wouldn't give for a 6 hour stretch of sleep. After all of the reading and trying and worrying and doctor visits I have come to a conclusion.
Babies are all different.Plain and simple. Some are tiny. Some don't like to be put down. Some love being swaddled. Some babies like noise. Some babies hate driving. Some babies sleep well and some babies don't.
I've learned to look beyond the frustration. As hard as it is to wake up hour after hour, as hard as it is to lose parts of my love life or want to run away from the sleep deprivation, I have to take the little glories and be content in knowing that sometimes no matter what we do babies are just going to be who they are. Mine, they don't care to sleep. ha ha.
Maxwell gave me the sweetest little glory a couple months back. After 4 months of spitting out a pacifier, I decided to try ONE LAST TIME. I bought a Nattersuton, (literally the only pacifier I had not tried). He took the pacifier like he had been sucking on it for months, cuddled up to his blanket and went to sleep. Oh Maxwell, I could kiss you up for that!!! Another thing that helped was moving him into his own room. We made this mistake with Scarlett. After the Dr suggested moving out of our room, we tried it and noticed a difference. But then, around month 6 he was waking up 5-6 times a night!!! One night while deliriously feeding him and scrolling through a blog, I found a blog post about a fellow blogger that used a sleep training method for her baby who sounded EXACTLY like Maxwell. It was a book I hadn't heard of before. I literally purchased it on Amazon at that moment and when it came in the mail 2 days later, I thought this is my last resort. I've got to get some sleep.
After reading the book, which was a quick and easy read, I was ready to give sleep training a try. I was skeptical at first since I had tried the "cry it out method" with Scarlett and along with hating every second of it, it really didn't work. But this method was different. It wasn't letting him use me as a sleep prop or letting him cry it out. It was something in the middle. I am on day 6 of sleep training and I must say that Maxwell went from getting up 5-6 times a night to nurse to 1-2 times a night right now. We are slowly weaning him from night eating and he now knows how to soothe himself to sleep. I soon hope to be only getting up once a night or maybe even not at all!!!! Wow......I can't even imagine. I am so happy to have found this great sleep training method! For those of you who are reading this and thinking, this is me! Try reading this book HERE.
...............Do you hear that? No you don't, because it's the sound of nothing as I go to bed and get some much needed sleep. To all of you mothers out there at 2 am....4:30 am.....getting up to soothe that beautiful babe. I hear ya. And you certainly are not alone. Sending you all my love!
A Sleepless Mother.