Sunday, February 7, 2010

The no-solution sleep solution.

I know I'm not the only one who can't remember what it feels like to get a whole night's sleep. I'm not the only one to wonder what it's like to feel rested, normal, lucid. I know there are others out there like me, feeling the dismal effects of months or perhaps years of sleep deprivation.

First there are the early warning signs, which at first are quite funny really (at least they make good blog material). Then you become a bit desperate, and so you try one type of sleep training. And when that doesn't work you begin resorting to other strategies that might work. Then, finally, there's a break in the clouds and something works and sleep comes back to you in all its blissful glory like a long lost lover.

Then, it ends. Bang. Goodbye. Hahaha, I was just teasing. What? You didn't really think it was going to be this easy did you? You foooool!

I'm writing this, not because I'm looking for advice (although... anyone? I'll pay you... in, uh, cookies?) but because I feel confident that this phase, as difficult as it is, will pass. I'm not looking for an oh-my-gawd-how-did-I-never-think-of-that! solution, because I don't think there is one. Sometimes an answer isn't what's needed - just the willingness to be patient. The horrible truth, though I loathe to write it, is that I may not get a full night's sleep for a while... Like, another six months. Ouch.

To those who, like me, find themselves walking around in a state of semi-conscious delirium at 3 am., preparing bottles, soothing sobs, exhausted, alone: hey, hello, hi, I'm there too. And if you're silently beating your head against the wall, peeved by the unfairness of it all and wondering when it's all going to end - hello.

There's no shame in chugging the coffee straight from the pot. Or catching a few moments rest by telling the kids it's time to play let's see who can lie still the longest! Desperate times call for desperate measures.

A child development specialist recently warned me, during a discussion about sleep (ha), that all this lack of sleep, this go-go-go lifestyle, this never-resting, non-stop pace, would one day catch up to me. And I was all oh really? Oh great, that's very helpful, thanks so much! I'll just go right home and get eight hours sleep right now!

(That's sarcastic, in case you didn't get that.)

The truth is, there might not be a solution right now. It's hard to hear. The books say your child should be sleeping through the night by XYZ age. Your doctor tells you sleep training will answer all your problems. You want a solution, so, so bad. Because in every other scenario in life, there is a solution - minutes away: I need information - there's google. I need a medical diagnosis - there's my doctor. I want Thai food at 2 am. - there's a place down the road.

I want my kids to sleep. Sorry, this service is unavailable, please try again later.... beeeeep.

I'm looking forward to the day I don't wake up feeling like I've been backed over by a double-decker bus. And I'm pretty sure soon there'll be a time when I feel bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I'm pretty sure...

And until then there's always Red Bull.
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21 comments:

Chris said...

My wife is going through this right now with our 10 month old. Her more than me since she is still breastfeeding and Tessa wakes up every few hours. She has never slept through the night and I know it's starting to take a toll on my wife. Everyone has a "solution" but sometimes it's just the way it is I guess. Good luck to you. Just wanted you to know you're not alone.

Mwa said...

Oh, yes yes yes. Just now it's pregnancy, next it will be breastfeeding. Yes. I'm there with you.

@Chris: Surely if your wife is going through that, you should be too.

CalgaryDaddy said...

As a parent of a one month old...I am with you. Sleep is good!

Shane
www.calgarydaddy.com

Kat said...

Oh, it is just so hard. But I promise, it does pass. You will get sleep again.

I tried to describe the sleep deprivation to my friends before they had kids, and it was impossible. It physically hurts. So awful.

But is DOES get better. :)

jennyre said...

Hey I know you're tackling a new career right now and all...and you're tired...but this is a book waiting to be written. (sort of like that breastfeeding book "Spilled Milk")

While I have loved investing my time and money into books that promise THE magical solution to sleep issues in our kids (ahem), I'd probably have preferred to buy a book that just shows the real world of sleep issues for the *OTHER* parents who are constantly facing sleepless nights despite these rules/philosophies/practises/charts, yada yada yada. I used to feel like a freak when I would talk with other parents (those with no sleep issues) about how little sleep my kids and I would get.

My solution now is similar to yours: coffee. And I would add that I just don't talk about it anymore. The book recommendations ugh. The success stories what.ever. I wanted to just commiserate with other moms in similar situations.

So I'm sure there are other moms out there in the world who would love to read a sassy book about how that stuff didn't work for you in the first two years and you just dealt with it, viewed it as a few years of bags under the eyes, a few sessions of finding the car keys in the freezer - and then suddenly one day when the kids were older, sleep happened...

Metropolitan Mum said...

I am only whispering this, because, ya know, don't wake sleeping doges etc. So here comes: little L is sleeping through again, after a phase of not sleeping for a bout two months. Honestly, when she started to sleep through and then went back to waking, I wanted to kill myself. I. Just. Couldn't. Function. Anymore.
And no, we did not take turns, because my husband has to go to work whereas I can nap during the day. Looking back, I feel like I have napped most of the past 10 months. It's the best thing I could do, but at the same time very frustrating, as everybody else is getting on with their lives, whereas I was napping. News? Blogs? Cooking? Nooooo, I was napping! I felt so stupid. Oh, I still do. Although she sleeps through at the moment, I am still trying to catch up with sleep I didn't get before. Bleurgh.

Lady Mama said...

Chris - Thanks. After a while it does take it's toll.... hope sleep happens for you soon too.

Mwa - it's comforting to know others are there with me.

Shane - I remember the newborn stage well! Things will get better!

Kat - thanks, that's good to hear. And yes, it does physically hurt! Ugh.

Jenny - Oh I would LOVE to do this. If only I could fit it into my day somewhere... I completely agree with you - the books are useless to me now. Where are the real parents admitting that maybe, for a while, things will just suck? Like you say, sometimes you just want to commiserate with others going through the same thing, and know you're not alone.

Met Mum - I think you're wise taking naps. Yes, you missed out on stuff but really so what? You're sanity is more important. I've never been good at it unfortunately...

Lil said...

Yes I hear you! Up at night and then up early in the morning, 6am for these last few days. Hey on the bright side its early morning and I have done most of my house cleaning for the day.

Hot Cross Mum said...

A brilliant post and just so, so true for so, so many of us. As they say, "This too shall pass." Hang on in there mama. x

Elaine A. said...

Baby totally did the "tease" to us. Now she's back up for a bottle at any hour of her choosing and I'm a zombie by 3 p.m. every day. Yay, just in time for school pick up! WHEE!!

God bless all of us non-sleeping Mommas!!

Tammy said...

I only got a 2 night tease.. which didn't get me used to it so I don't know if that's lucky? I get by with drinking Coke.. I"m up to about a litre a day now! haha..

Kate Coveny Hood said...

My youngest children are three and it's still normal for me to wake up a few times with them. I even have to deal with my oldest sometimes since he is a deep sleeper and won't wake up to use teh bathroom. There's nothing like trying to change sheets in a dark room at 3 a.m...

I'm so used to it now that it dosn't phase me. But I sometimes wonder if this is the reason that I look so OLD!

Lady Mama said...

Lil - I know you're there with me Lil. We will sleep again!

Hot Cross Mum - thanks, and yes, I too repeat that mantra often.

Elaine - Wheeeeee!

Tammy - Your vice is Coke, mine is coffee. Whatever gets us through it..!

Kate - Gawd. When you have kids you imagine the sleepless nights will be over by the time they're six months.... alas it's all a big lie!! I find more gray hairs every week...

James (SeattleDad) said...

I feel for you. I really do. The one or two short wakings are hard on me, much less what you have to go through.

I hope it improves for you soon.

Lisa said...

Ahhhh, lack of sleep. I know it well. You'd think now that my kids are sleeping through the night (sleeping in late even!) that I'd be well rested. Alas, no. I'm writing this comment at 12:29 a.m. Insomnia my friend. I am the only one awake in this house of snoozers. I think I may need some warm milk, or perhaps a swift mallet thwack to the head... ;)

Loukia said...

How have I never had Red Bull? And I'm a mom of two boys! Seriously, what is wrong with me?
Okay, about the whole sleeping thorugh the night thing - I don't when that is going to happen for you again. You said maybe in another 6 monthts? Well, I do hope so for you, but um... maybe not, sweetie! It just depends.
So, my boys are 4 and 2. And although getting them to sleep isn't too hard - even though we have to lie down with them reading to them cudding with them until they fall asleep, (not bad) they will wake up a few times. My 4 year old usually wakes up once calling for me or his dad, (the majority of the night his dad sleeps with him, because baby ends up sleeping with me) so there is one wake up there... and then the baby (he's 2!) will wake up at around 1 a.m. and insist on coming into my bed... fine... and usually that's okay but I might tranfer him back to his crib but sometimes he'll just wake up again... and it's not a long wake up, but enough so that I've never had a full night's sleep in 4 years! And I have this stupid problem where I don't go to bed until like 1 a.m.! And I'm up at like, 7 the latest. SUCKS! I miss sleep! Good luck to you!!

Mammatalk said...

It'll happen!

And, when it does, insomnia will kick in. It's like you forgot how to sleep 8 hours straight after all the abuse.

Or, maybe not....

Lady Mama said...

James - thanks, even with one it's still tough...

Lisa - you make me laugh. :) I might try that mallet thwack to the head soon too.

Loukia - I honestly don't know how you do it... 4 years? Hope it happens for you soon...

Mammatalk - those are the words I like to hear "it'll happen!" Thank you. Not the insomnia part so much...

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

I hear you. Every exhausted word.

My youngest is 3. Never slept well, can probably count the number of nights he has slept through on one hand. Latest trick, getting up at 4am for an hour of party time before going back to sleep and then NOT waking up in time to get everyone off to nursery. Worst of both worlds. Sigh. Where's that coffee?

Some kind of Wondermom said...

It's so nice to know we are not alone. I could have written this post myself! Whenever things are bad and I feel like I'm never going to catch up on sleep, I remember that my mother didn't sleep through the night for 12 years (oldest brother is 6 years older than younger brother, who didn't sleep through the night until he was 6!!)It's payback I guess.

MommaKiss said...

My first child was the WORST sleeper ever. Now at almost 5, he's a bugger at bedtime, but sleeps through the night. Finally. The lil one has always been good - which was a nice reprieve. Still, I choose to stay up late after they're in bed to do "me things" you know - like laundry and make meals. So I'm still a zombie most mornings :p