Who Needs Sleep? Well, You’re Never Gonna Get It.

What is it about kids that makes them so anti-sleep? When did we, as adults, reach the point where we no longer really cared what else was happening and could sleep?

Alex has never wanted to miss a thing. It doesn’t matter what is going on, he needs to be there. He needs to see, hear, taste, touch, be a part of everything. This trait of his does not lead to much sleep–on his or my side.

I’m finally realizing that he goes through stages of sleep refusal. For weeks at a time he will sleep through the night, but then BAM! he stops. He wakes up a few times a night and generally very early in the morning. He takes shorter, restless, naps. He fights going to bed at night.

As suddenly as it comes, it goes. He’ll go back to sleeping through the night and taking good naps (good for Alex is over an hour, sometimes as much as two). Putting him to bed at night is a breeze and he wakes up in the morning happy.

Then the sleep-refusal stage comes back. And it’s hard. For me and Alex. Alex is tired, but refuses to sleep. So he becomes more tired. No one needs to hear about what happens when a toddler is tired, so I’ll just say this one word: TERROR.

Thank goodness he’s cute. And he’s lucky he knows it because he is able to completely manipulate me into forgiving his terrible behavior and lack of sleep. “Mommy KISS? Mmmmwaaah! Mommy and Baby HUG? Mmm Hug.”


Happy at the Zoo

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Time Zone Change + Baby = Unhappy Mama

We’ve been in California for going on 7 full days. While most of this trip has been wonderful, the fact that Alex still has not adjusted to the time change is, well, not so wonderful. He is waking up between 3:00am and 4:30am every day. Apparently he doesn’t care that he’s only been sleeping for 7 hours! But I care.

I don’t know how to make him sleep in later. Keeping him up later at night doesn’t help. Putting him to bed earlier doesn’t help. Fewer naps? Still wakes up early. More naps? Still wakes up early.

Hopefully tonight is the night that he gets on schedule. If he sleeps like he does at home, he’ll be out at 8:00pm, not make a peep all night long, and then wake up happy, hungry, and ready to start the day at 6:30am.

Who knew that I would be begging for my son to wake up at 6:30am?

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

Alex slept through the night! Not once, but twice! And in a row! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is a trend. Even if he continues to wake up at 6:30 in the morning every day, I’ll just adjust my bed time and make it work. Sure, 6:30 in the morning is terribly early. In my opinion, waking up that early should never happen. Ever. It’s ungodly. Or something like that. But, if he continues to sleep through the night and insists on waking up at that hour I’ll just go to bed earlier.

I am kind of in shock. To think that I could start sleeping like a normal person! That is, going to bed and being able to stay in bed, preferably asleep, until the morning. Uninterrupted sleep. Glorious sleep!

Who would have thought that interrupted sleep could be so crazy-making? It truly is worse than no sleep. There is nothing quite so awful as being utterly exhausted, overtired, getting into bed and finally falling asleep only to have your infant wake you up crying or moaning or groaning or screaming. At which point you have not only been startled awake for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth time that time, but you have to get out of bed.

For the first 6 weeks after Alex was born, he wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in someone’s arms for more than 10 minutes. If you put him down, he would wake up less than 10 minutes later. He cried in the car, just sobbed, because he didn’t want to be alone. It scared him. Fortunately, by 2 months of age he was slightly better and would sleep by himself for short periods of time. From about 2 to 4 months of age, I would have to rock Alex to sleep, place him ever so gently down and hope that he stayed asleep. If he did, he would sleep for an hour, maybe two or three, before waking up and needing to be nursed and rocked back to sleep.

After 6 months of age, he started getting better. Instead of the 4-5 hour chunk of sleep followed by waking every 2 hours like during his 4-6 month age, he would only get up 2-3 times a night. And yes, that is only. When he started waking up twice a night I was thrilled. Then, that subsided, and I wished for once a night.

Once a night came, and now it seems to have left! The past two nights I haven’t actually slept through the night because I woke up scared. Scared that something had happened to Alex, scared that I just couldn’t hear him crying for some reason, scared that he would be screaming, or would have jumped out of his crib, or something just awful. So, for the past two nights I have crept into his room and peaked at his little body breathing heavily. And for the past two nights he has slept through the night.

Babies and their sleep

I don’t know who first said the following, but I do know that it is unbelievably true:

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”

It’s probable that Alex is a particularly “bad” sleeper, but I do know that it is completely normal for a baby not to “sleep like a baby.”

“Sleep like a baby” means to have a deep, uninterrupted, sleep. I have never taken care of a baby who has completely uninterrupted sleep, and it seems to me that the deep part would not be the best idea for the baby, evolutionarily speaking.

Deep sleeping implies hard to wake. Hard to wake means that if something happens, sleep will continue. Now, we all know those people (Zach is one of them!) who are hard to wake up. You poke, talk, push, and often they’ll still be sleeping. Personally, I’m not one of them. I wake up when someone walks into the room. I wake up at the first sign of Alex making a sound. The latter meant that by 4 months of age Alex had to leave our room (we were co-sleeping) because even though he was sleeping slightly better I was still waking up because, let’s face it, babies are loud sleepers! They moan, groan, gurgle, even cry in their sleep.

Lately, we’ve been struggling with how to make Alex sleep better. One of the main issues is that he hates to sleep. He will fight it with everything he can. He wont lay down, wont put his head down on your chest while you attempt to rock him to sleep, will cry, moan, groan, very loudly, all in order to keep himself from falling asleep. Of course, this leads to long battles every single nap time and bed time.

Beyond that, he wakes up a lot. A lot. On the best nights, he will wake up about three times, putting himself back to sleep twice and needing to eat and be comforted the other. On the worst nights, he’ll wake up every 2-3 hours needing a lot of comfort, so much comfort that you just have to rock him completely back to sleep.

We’re working on him putting himself to sleep more, by doing the least we can to get him to fall asleep. When he’s tired, we put him in his crib. This has yet to work, though, because he will start playing with the crib rails, sitting up, standing up, and talking if not crying. Next, we rock him until he is calm. If he doesn’t fall asleep on his own, we rock him until he puts his head down. Failure on that front means we have to rock him until his eyes are closed (and typically he is moaning at this point, his last attempt at staying awake). That seems to work pretty well, but when that fails, and we’ll try a few times, we end up putting him to sleep.

Then, that whole process gets repeated every time he needs to nap or go back to sleep at night.

Needless to say, it’s exhausting.

Alex is lucky he is so extremely cute. When he’s awake, he’s so much fun and such a happy baby: always smiling, giggling, interacting with the people around him. Sometimes, he just babbles back and forth with you:

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And when he sleeps (after a guaranteed long battle), he’s precious:

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It’s just too bad that sleep doesn’t come naturally. It’s too bad Alex doesn’t “sleep like a baby.”