Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Mama Needs Help!

Being a mother to newborn Baby Joe was easy. Sure I was scared to death and worried every single second as a first-time mother, but looking back on those days… sigh… they were cake. Diaper changes were easy. He just laid there. Now he tries to do back flips and fling himself all over the place. Bathing him was easy. Now he splashes (which I think is funny) but still tries to do back flips and loves to wriggle around. It’s like trying to wash a 20 lb catfish.

The same goes for putting Joe to sleep. It used to be easy for the most part. Sure there was that one week where Ryan had to drive him around to get him to sleep, but other than that Joe went to sleep fairly well. I did suffer that bone-crushing exhaustion by getting up every 2 hours to nurse, but he always went right back to sleep and stayed asleep when I put him back in his bassinet that was right by our bed.

I never considered co-sleeping. I thought it was a nice idea and had no qualms with other parents who chose it as a way for their child to sleep. Both my husband and I were just too paranoid that we would roll over on top of Joe. Besides, he was sleeping very well in his bassinet so it was never a problem.

Then I went I spent two weeks at my mom’s house and that all changed. The room I stay in doesn’t have a rocking chair like my bedroom does back home. Joe would sleep in his pack in play and whenever I had to nurse him I would trudge down the hall to the living room and sit in my mom’s recliner. That got old fast, so I brought him into bed with me to nurse him. Sweet Glory in Heaven was that wonderful! I got the best sleep I had in months! Granted it wasn’t a full-night’s sleep, but whenever Joe would wake up all I had to do was either put his binky back in or nurse him and we’d both go back to sleep. No more getting up out of my nice warm bed! Plus I loved cuddling with him and seeing his bright happy face in the mornings.

Soon he outgrew his bassinet and we got him a crib. He would go to sleep easy and be put in the crib with no problems around 8:00. Around midnight I would bring him into bed with me to nurse.

But now there are three problems:

1. I miss sleeping with my husband.
2. He is just too mobile to be left in bed alone, thus making me a prisoner of my own bed.
3. He won’t sleep in his crib.

My husband won’t sleep with me when Joe is in the bed. I understand and respect his choice. I am comfortable co-sleeping with Joe knowing that he has plenty of space and won’t get overheated. But Ryan and I haven’t sleep together in months and I just don’t feel comfortable with that. I miss him next to me!

Part of me thinks that maybe not sleeping in the same bed as my husband is just a sacrifice we have to make for our son. But now his safety is involved. I cannot leave Joe in bed by himself because… sigh… pin me with the Worst Mother of the Year Award… but… ugh… I once sat Joe on the bed and turned around for one second and….. ugh…. he fell off the bed. He was fine… I cried harder than he did. But now while I do feel comfortable lying in bed with him I will not leave him alone. That means if I am here by myself and he’s sleeping in bed and I have to pee really really really really really bad- I’ll wait. If I realize I left my phone downstairs then it will have to wait. That means that I will lie in the same bed as him while he naps. I usually get on the computer or read, which is fine, but sometimes there is other stuff I need to do.

Finally… the big problem: Joe falls asleep fairly easy when I lie down and nurse him or if my husband rocks him to sleep. But as soon as we even slightly hover him over the crib there’s like a force-field that JOLTS him awake. We lay him down but he flips to his tummy and does this:

Yeah, I know.. maybe he’d go to sleep if we’d stop flashing a camera in his face, but he’s just too cute!

There have been a few times he’s fallen asleep but the past few weeks it has been impossible. We can’t put him in his crib drowsy like the books say to, because he jumps up and wants to party. I have books on how to help your child sleep through the night but how can I even get him to do that when getting him to sleep in his crib is IMPOSSIBLE?! Should I just let him play until he wears himself out? We usually just pick him up and rock him back to sleep but as soon as he is near the crib it’s over. We’ve tried being very gentle and used a heat pad at one point but nothing seems to work.

So now I’m suffering from slight bone-crushing exhaustion but also major frustration.



Sarah said...

Ok, so I am no expert. My baby is younger than yours. But here's my 2c.

1. It is *important* for you and Ryan to sleep next to each other. The *best* thing you can do for your baby is to have a happy, close marriage. If you miss Ryan (and I'm sure he misses you) you need to do what you have to to get him back in bed.

2. A lot of people might jump down my throat here, but co-sleeping is not a miracle solution. Especially, it would seem, in your situation where Ryan will not sleep in the bed with Joe. Yes, if you let Joe sleep in your bed, eventually he will be able to sleep on his own in a bed, but he might be two or three when that time comes. Too long to not have your husband next to you (where he belongs).

3. Try the book No-Cry Sleep Solution. It has a lot of strategies for getting babies to sleep in their own space (crib, bassinet, etc.) but does not advocate or use the cry-it-out method, which is just awful.

I'll be praying you get some sleep mama! :)

Patty said...

Sorry if anyone disagrees with me when I say this...let him cry it out. (And it could take at least three nights.)

I truly believe that the relationship between husband and wife is the most important one next to God. You have to have your "sacred" area kept sacred. I absolutely refuse to allow that sacredness with my husband to quietly slip away.

With that said, we were looked at as though we were monsters when we chose not to co sleep with our newly adopted son. It came to the point were we had to let him cry it out. (Gasp! We all survived and he is the BEST sleeper in the house!)

Everyone has that choice to co- sleep or not. We always knew that we would keep our sacred marital bed just that...our sacred space.

We always welcome little ones in the morning, or snuggle after a bad dream, but they always need to be placed back into their own bed. Once the president has be set, it is mighty hard to break.

Hang in there :)

Patty said...

Meant to spell precedent.

catholicwife said...

Maggie I totally hear ya.

First: Sorry if this sounds a little blunt - You made vows to Ryan, not to Baby Joe. Time to sleep next to your husband instead of your little guy. Don't sacrifice the Sacrament for the fruit of the Sacrament.

Second: I am a big believer in the "Baby-Wise" approach (awesome literature on little ones) and they suggest practicing the routine of eat, play, sleep, repeat. We started Liam on this when he was 3.5 wks and he's been sleeping through the night and going down for naps without protest ever since.

Second: Joe doesn't sleep in his crib b/c nobody MAKES him sleep in his crib. Liam used to jump up in his crib, but after we spent a while letting him cry it out, problem solved. He knows exactly what his crib is for and he goes right to sleep. Yes - hearing them cry can be annoying, heartbreaking, you name it - but the result is a happier, more peaceful home and family. It's a rough habit to break, but well worth it.

I'll say a prayer for you three! It's exhausting when the baby takes ALL of your energy out!

Joy said...

Firstly: Hugs, we are in same place transitioning to the crib.
Secondly: I second Sarah:s suggestion of the "no cry solution". The critical social development skill of the first year is trust versus mistrust; not betraying that trust is important.

BTW Can you nurse him down for a nap on a blanket on the floor where it doesn't matter if he moves, and you can do what you need to while he sleeps.

Michelle said...

Helen co-slept with me as she was the only one of my children I nursed for any length of time (5 months). When that nursing relationship was over, she began sleeping in her crib. And even when we co-slept, it was as you describe...she started in her crib and then came to my bed in the middle of the night.

I think you might need to make the room dark, remove all toys from the crib and leave him in there. Go into the room every 1 minute or so to soothe him and put him back in the crib saying "it's time to sleep, Joe". Then extend the time....make it every 5 minutes and then 7 minutes and then 10 minutes. As you lengthen it out, he will still know you're there and you'll be there, but he can start to sleep on his own. That's how we did it with Sarah (our first and really the only one we had baby sleep troubles with) and it worked for us.

I realize it may not work for you...but it's just an idea to try if you want.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the above, he may be at the age where it is okay to let him cry it out. EXACTLY the way Michelle described it. You just gotta stick with it or it won't work. (nothing works if you are not consistent.) He will not lose trust in you if you are going in every few minutes to reasure him that you are there and laying him back down. He needs to know that this is where he sleeps. I know it is hard. we did this with Tiffany when she was about 9 months old and it was horrible BUT it worked. she was not hurt in any way and yes she still loved us and trusts us to this day. You really do need to put your marriage (and your sanity) first in this matter. It is the most important because if the mommy and daddy aren't happy then the Baby won't be either. :o) You have to think of it as teaching him a life skill. He needs to learn how to self soothe so that he can get himself back to sleep on his own. I have to also agree with Patty....Tiffany did become an AWESOME sleeper as well....many times She took three hour naps in the afternoons until she started kindergarten....then I could move her from the bed to the car and back again without her waking up!
(Had to do that just so I could pick up big sis from school)
Well good luck with whatever you try. You are an awesome MOM!! :o)
Glad you are back.

Mary Lou

Michelle said...

There are always going to be cry vs. no cry.

I agree with Michelle...go in at intervals so he knows you are still there but letting him 'cry it out'. And I know it will kill you to hear him cry...the Mad About You episode where they let the baby cry it out made me cry reliving the moment BUT I knew the monsters I would create if I didn't fix the problem.

Also know that Joe is at that age where he figures out quite quickly that 'maybe if I cry long enough Mommy will come in and get me' so he will try as hard as possible to get you to do just that. Its not always about breaking trust but sometimes a power struggle of baby vs. mommy.

Plus...getting him in his crib/playpen now means and easier time for those that may keep him overnight at times as well.

I also know that its best not to put toys in the crib but we would place either a crib toy (attached to the crib) or some books in the crib after they were asleep so when they woke up they had something to entertain them for awhile before immediately wanting out of the crib. Gives momma a little extra wake up time or a shower!

Good luck and know that you will do what is best for your family.

Abby said...

Just to offer a different perspective/possibly different solution - do you think a side-car crib might work for you? My husband wasn't happy with the idea of co-sleeping when he thought our baby would be right in the bed with us - he was concerned she might get squashed. So we attached a full-size crib to the side of the bed. She sleeps in there - he and I sleep together - and I sleep on the side next to her, so that she can't get out without crawling over me first (making it safe). I put her in there for naps, too - I stack pillows across the front (nowhere near her head, of course) and put a baby monitor on the other side - as soon as she wakes up, she heads for the pillows, which makes enough noise that I can get back in the room immediately. We've used this the whole time since she was born, she's 23 months now and it still works great. Just thought I'd offer that in case you're *wanting* to keep co-sleeping but can't figure out a way to make it work for your marriage.

Also - I don't mean to be the dissenter on the cry it out thing - I do believe everyone has to do what is best for their baby - but I would say do a little research on it first. Even Ferber who originally came up with it has revised some of his thoughts on it, since a lot of research has come out about the affect of sustained crying (and hence high cortisol levels) on brain development. However, I think there's a world of difference between straight CIO and the more modified Dr. Sears-ish method - even Dr. Sears will say that it's ok for baby to cry, as long as you stay with them to comfort them. If you feel like you need to make a change for your sanity and the sake of your marriage, I'd highly encourage you to check out the info on Dr. Jay Gordon's site - He's talking about night weaning from the breast, not from your bed, but I think the approach could be used in the same way. Depending on your housing set up, you could also try putting a mattress on the floor in your room, and staying with him till he falls asleep there. He wouldn't roll far enough to be a problem even if he fell off, and it might give you the time to work towards getting him to fall asleep in the crib (via setting up sleep routines, etc).

Anyway, please don't be offended - this is just my two-cents, and I know everyone has to do what's best for their family. I know lots of moms who've chosen to CIO for various reasons. But I do think there are good reasons to consider that more as a last resort, after you've tried some gentler approaches.

That Married Couple said...

Oh Maggie, I'm so sorry things are tough right now! I'm reading these comments with interest, because I imagine we'll be in a similar place in a few months - ready to transition Miriam to her own crib and finding it impossible :)

The suggestions above are the things we may try, like The No-Cry Sleep Solution. We do have the cosleeper sidecar, so she's on that side of me and Greg is on the other - no worry for him. I think the idea of sleeping on a blanket or mattress on the floor is a really good idea for your situation, so you don't feel so trapped! Finally, one of my friends said that's about the age where she starts putting some sort of lovey (stuffed animal, security blanket, whatever) down with her baby. She also has a special cd to play for sleep time.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

Colleen said...

We firmly believe the baby should be in his/her own crib. Some of our kids were harder to get to sleep than others in their crib, but we would just lay them in their crib and then lay down on the floor (or bed if you have one) next to them until they fell asleep and then we would sneak out. That way they weren't screaming all alone for us (I can't do the cry-it-out-approach...feels too mean) but they were learning to sleep in their own space. It's a phase. All things are phases in a baby's life - you WILL get through it :)

Young Mom said...

Hey Maggie! I remember those days, and I guess I’m about to go back into them when our next baby gets here. : ) First on co-sleeping, my husband felt the same way, and I was fairly uncomfortable with it myself. So with our first baby I got up to nurse her during the night and put her back in her crib when she was done. She was a good sleeper and usually was limp/drunk after nursing, so she was easy to transfer to her crib.

My second was a different story, from day one she could not sleep alone for more than 20 minutes or so. My husband still didn’t want to co-sleep, so I got up to nurse her and get her back to sleep for the first 4 months of her life. When she was 4 months old things really weren’t getting any better, and I was starting to sleepwalk (getting up to take care of her without really being awake!) I would often wake up with a jerk in my bed and not know where I had left the baby! It was kind of scaring me. So we decided it was safer to take her into bed with us, and low and behold she began sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches, as long as her body was touching mine. I was getting more sleep then I had in months! I kept her on my side of the bed, because my husband was still nervous about rolling onto her. She rolled off the bed in the middle of the night one time, so we got a bed rail and rolled up a towel against it to keep her from leaning into it. That worked great! Plus by 6 months old, she was a good 20 pounds, if anyone had rolled onto her she probably would have socked them in the nose!

When our third baby arrived, I was all ready to co-sleep again and it went very smoothly from day one. My husband was completely comfortable with it by then, and actually looked forward to waking up with the baby in the morning.

Just so you know, none of our babies has ever been rolled on, and all of my babies transferred to their own crib around when they began crawling/pulling themselves up (to fidgety in their sleep to handle co-sleeping anymore). Mine weren’t sleeping through the night until about a year old each time.

I'll continue in another comment.

Young Mom said...

On transferring to a crib. Like I said, our first was the easy one (which turned out to be quite a blessing since our second baby came so quickly and was ALOT more work) so she never had a problem with sleeping in her crib. I think there was one night where she cried for short time when she was about 10 months old, but that was it.

Again, my second was a different story. At about 9 months old, she was mobile and was not sleeping well in our bed any longer, so I tried to get her to sleep on her own again. She continued her usual pattern of waking up 9 or 10 times a night, and I was getting up with her to nurse her and get her back to sleep. I tried crying it out a few times, but she just seemed to be one of those babies that would literally scream all night long, and I couldn’t take it. So I tried other ways. First, I stopped nursing her at night, except at her midnight and 3 AM wake ups, instead I would go in and pick her up and talk to her for a minute, and then put her back in bed, alot of times the sound of my voice would be enough to calm her down, and she would relax and go back to sleep. Then I stopped picking her up and instead just laid her back down and patted her for a few minutes and left. Sometimes she would go back to sleep, sometimes she would cry. If she didn’t stop crying I would go back in and repeat. It took a month and a half, but she started sleeping better and stopped waking up so much. Another thing that really seemed to help her was to play staic on the radio at a low volume, it seemed to help her get past the inital 20 minute stretch of sleep instead of startling herself awake.

My third was in her own crib from 10 months or so, but still nursed at night here and there.

I’ve found the biggest help for getting my kids to sleep on their own, has been CONCRETE ROUTINES. I mean it, I do the EXACT same thing, Every. Single. Night. I get the baby’s jammies on, brush teeth, I sing the same song (rocking them if they like it) they nurse, they get laid in their bed in a darkened room (I also hang blankets over the side of the crib to block the view) with their favourite stuffed animal and a blanket with the shiny edges and their spill proof sippy cup of water (and pacifier if they like it, and maybe even a favourite book, whatever helps them feel safe) then I wind up their music box, say goodnight and leave the room and close the door. Usually my kids will look at their book, and talk with the stuffed animal for a bit, and eventually fall asleep. If they start to cry for more than a few minutes, I go in and tell them it’s time to sleep, give a hug and arrange blankets and leave again.

Anyways, sorry for the loooooong comment, and I wish I had good books to recommend. I just haven’t read that many that really helped me.

Feel free to email me!

Dacia said...

Maggie, I can totally relate to your blog today. My son is 13 m and has displayed the same sleep attitudes as you. Like you, many were telling me to just let him cry, something which my husband and I are not willing to try. Also like you we didn't start out co-sleeping but found out that Dominic just sleeps better that way (thus I and my husband do to). Thankfully my husband still sleeps with us, it would be really hard without him so I can imagine your frustration. We are setting up Dominic's crib and attaching it to our bed (taking off one side and making it level with the bed) and I'm excited to give that a try. Hopefully that will give us more room and we will all sleep better. I think Abby suggested that too, I agree! I also think it will help him get ready to eventually transfer to his own bed. Anyway, I am praying for you and understand where you are at. I have had many nights and naps of frustration because my son just won't let me put him down. But when I really think about it, how blessed I am to have a son that loves me so!

Pippi said...

We co-slept with our oldest for several months, and when it was time for the crib he was quite unhappy, but he was keeping me awake so much I figured I didn't have much to lose by letting him holler. We kept the crib right next to our bed until he started sleeping comfortably, so he would know he wasn't alone. I forget how long it took, and it probably seemed longer than it really was, hehe. But it worked eventually. It has to happen someday, and the younger the better once he's past the comfort stage for you.

In the meantime, if you have to go potty, I would suggest laying him on the floor while you're gone. In fact, lying on the floor with him while he falls asleep, then covering him and climbing into bed, could be a good way to make the transition. As long as you know you won't step on him.

Maria said...

Susi was one of those babies that just would not sleep for hours if I left her alone. I totally understand what you mean. Eventually I think her stomach just grew big enough and we made her sleep in the crib at night. At the age of 2 1/2 she still takes naps with me and we both sleep better because of it. Some babies are just like that and you just have to decide what you can put up with and remember that in the end your child won't remember any of it when they are older :).

Calah said...

We've always co-slept with ours, but about six to nine months we start moving them into a crib. Here's my advice:

Begin by putting them in the crib when they are DEAD asleep. I find for mine that I nurse them until they go to sleep in my lap, and then when their mouths are relaxed enough to sort of let go, they're ready to go down. After a few days of waking up in their crib, it will be easier to put them in it.

Also, you may have to let them cry it out. It won't last forever, it won't be as bad as you think, and I'm pretty sure there's no long-term emotional damage. Mine are fine at least. I think.

You should sleep with your husband. I know what you mean, because sleeping with the babies in bed with us certainly puts a damper on time to just be together, so crib training is important. I'd be vigilant about it, even though it will be hard at first. I'm sorry! It is hard. Good luck!

Calah said...

I just read the rest of the comments. I really like what Young Mom has to say. I think a routine will help, and she seems to know what she's talking about!

Anyway, don't be afraid to flout conventional wisdom (like the "put them down when they're drowsy" stuff) and do what works for you. I have friends that have done crazy stuff to get their kids to sleep, and sleep is worth whatever works!

Amy said...

I know I'm a bit late to the conversation, but I read this and relate exactly. Except that, thankfully, my husband still sleeps in the bed w us. But I lay down w Gus for every nap, rarely getting up till he wakes up, and, as a family, we go to bed at 8.30 at night. Although Jon and I usually watch a show on the computer or read / talk before sleeping. We have a co-sleeper crib, so Gus sleeps in the big bed, but on the crib side so he doesn't fall out. But we're going to visit my parents in June, and I don't want to spend half the trip in bed, so I need to sort something out before then! So no suggestions from me, just solidarity and good wishes!


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