Here I am, another blogger in a sea of them writing about sleep.
Because, y’all, we are suffering here at Chez Gayby. Everything is a little bit harder because 3 out of 4 of us aren’t getting enough sleep regularly, and the fourth occasionally joins us when he’s feeling rowdy.
Last night, for example, I headed to bed around 10pm but got waylaid by laundry, and so ended up finally in bed a little after 11. Gus woke up at 12:45, which is when L had just finished pumping, so I took the bottle of milk into him. He’d gone to bed around 7pm but had to be rocked or nursed back to sleep 2-3 times (I can’t recall because, no sleep) before the 12:45 wake up. At 2am, Ansel came into our room and I had to redirect him back to his own bed, which involved digging the ball he’d brought with him out from under the covers, adjusting the turtle nightlight, and then singing to him. Gus woke up at 3am and L brought him to our room, where he fussed for a while before she took him back to his room and rocked with him (while he dozed in and out of sleep) until a little after 5am, at which point Ansel was up and playing on his own, and she tagged out and I got up with them both.
Y’all, I saw almost every hour on the clock last night, L did too. Last night was unusual because Ansel got up so early and had a middle of the night wake up, which only happens 1-2 times every couple of weeks. But Angus is up every 45 minutes-2 hours every.single.night.
I used to think Ansel was a ‘bad sleeper’ as a baby. He woke every 2-3 hours until I night weaned him at 14 months, after my surgery made it necessary. But when Ansel woke up, I’d go to his room or bring him to ours, nurse him, and he’d immediately settle and go back to sleep.
Angus is not so easily subdued. Sometimes a bottle or a boob will soothe him and he’ll drift back off. But just as often, it will take 15, 20, 30 minutes of rocking and shushing and patting to get him back to sleep. Even when L brings him to bed and co-sleeps with him, side lying nursing, he’ll often keep fussing and crying, unable to settle himself. It’s been like this for a while – months for sure – so it’s not some ‘sleep regression’ (isn’t there one at all the months anyway, supposedly?) He just doesn’t sleep well.
With Ansel, we used the Happy Sleeper method at 14 months, and it was incredibly effective. One night of a little crying, another of a little less, and then he would go down easily and sleep very well. Sure, he still has nights when he wakes up, but they aren’t frequent and he settles easily.
But L and I both agree that any sort of crying (controlled or extinction) won’t work for Gus. Even awake, if his needs aren’t met somewhat immediately, he loses his mind and cries and screams and gets himself so worked up he can hardly breathe and seems near vomiting. I don’t have a moral or ethical issue with crying sleep training, but I also have a gut instinct that it isn’t an effective strategy for this baby.
So . . .what do we do? I am reading the No Cry Sleep Solution and while I’m only halfway through the suggestions, there isn’t a lot so far that we aren’t already doing. Maybe I’ll stumble on a gem, still. And of course I’ll finish reading it because I appreciate that there is rarely a single silver bullet when it comes to baby sleep, and the long game is what we are after.
But the lack of sleep is making everything else in life really fucking hard. For L, there’s no break from kids, for both of us, exhaustion is making us feel crappy, anxious, depressed, and snippy. All of the other stuff that is hard but manageable become just unbearable when you are so so tired.
If he would settle when co-sleeping, I don’t think either of us would hesitate to make that the way of things. But even that isn’t effective. He just doesn’t seem to be able to settle. So, today L bought a Magic Merlin Sleep Suit. Angus still sleeps on his back, though he can roll over onto his belly easily while awake, he doesn’t seem interested in it while sleeping (I have tried it, though it is against safe sleep practice recommendations because I figured if he just experienced it, he might settle and then be able to do it himself. No dice.) And while I don’t know that it will be some magic cure-all, I think we are prepared to try just about anything within reason.
Of course I’ll take suggestions. We are going to talk to the pediatrician too, as it kind of seems outside the realm of typical baby sleep. We aren’t asking for 8, 10 or 12 hour stretched. Like, 3 would be great, 4 sounds divine, 5 would be enthralling. We just each need some semblance of a chunk of sleep. What I cannot handle hearing is that this is ‘just the way it is.’ I know babies don’t sleep like adults. But I also know I’m concerned for my health and sanity, and the health and sanity of my partner as well. I’m also concerned about our baby not getting the sleep he should, since he often takes next to no naps, or very very short ones if that. This isn’t sustainable and I am not willing to entertain the idea that this is going to be our life for the foreseeable future. Maybe it is, but I can’t handle that idea. People say baby sleep is only a problem if it isn’t working for you, and this is not working for us.
On the brighter side of things, Ansel is sort of potty trained. By which I mean, he’s peeing in a potty about 90% of the time, though he still is having accidents, especially if we don’t prompt. The sticker chart bribery plan seems to have worked and he earned his Minnie car, even though he’s still not 100% in the clear. The big hurdle is the pooping, which I think is going to take some different strategizing. He’s not an every day pooper, so it’s harder to gauge things. But, he does like to hide when he poos, and we recently put the little potty in his tent win hopes that it will encourage him. He also still occasionally pees on the potty while still wearing his underpants, which is mostly because he kind of can’t be troubled to pull his own pants down. So that’s also a task. But, we are calling this a partial win. And we need a win right now.
And there’s still a lot that’s just kind of hard . . .L’s job search isn’t going as well as we’d like, despite having some really promising leads; my job reclassification continues to be frustrating and resentment evoking; my foot is still numb and the doctor is still an asshole; things financially are ok but not great. All of those things are much harder because of the exhaustion. I’ve had some moments where I’ve wanted to go out for milk and not come back, where I longed again for a life that was more sleeping in and less hourly wake ups, more drinking and dancing and less scraping poop out of Minnie Mouse underpants. I know this isn’t uncommon, but I haven’t experienced it too much in my life as a parent and so it makes me feel uneasy. Of course I adore my children and there are still so many moments of beauty and joy that outshine the shit, usually. But the pace is relentless and sometimes it feels like the time I do get with them I’m so anxious about the state of the house or the general stresses of the day that I don’t always get to enjoy them. I’m trying to let go of stuff like laundry being folded or stuff being put away AND my anxiety goes way up when the house is visually so chaotic and so dealing with it is a way to cope.
Of course, it is also still fucking raining all the damned time and between that and kids and schedules, the lawn is like a jungle. Also, rain isn’t always the best for the mood, y’know.
But the sun will be here, definitely by July but maybe sooner. And Angus will eventually sleep (right? RIGHT!?!) and the waning moon will wax again. I know. I know. But things are pretty dark right now, and I could use a sliver of light.
OMG OMG I forgot, also, Angus is 8 months old and I really need to talk about him beyond just his sleep so I will. Just not today.