Friday, November 20, 2009

Night Owl

Sleep, ah sleep.

I posted a lot about it during Will's newborn days. It was the angst of my early momhood.

Will has actually been a fantastic sleeper since about 11 weeks on. He did have a touch of the 4-month sleep regression, and of course, we've had the odd night here and there. But for the most part, he is solid STTN guy.

This week, that has not been the case. He goes to bed just fine and then wakes up screaming bloody murder at about 11:30 PM. Since he has never had trouble STTN, I have always just gone in and done a little rocking or cuddles to calm him and get him back to sleep.

The problem now is that even if I do rock him, the moment that I set him in his crib, he starts screaming. He is ready to get up and play. The first couple of nights, I indulged him. He had been wrist deep into his mouth during the day and I could see a pesky tooth poking its way through. I gave him some Ty.lenol and a "chewy" (our word for teething ring) and rocked and read and sang. . . for three hours. In the past, even if he had one or two bad nights, he was back to his old STTN habits shortly.

We are now on night FIVE. I am afraid a habit has begun. The night before last, desperately in need of some sleep myself, I did do modified CIO. I hate CIO with a passion, but I love the results. I laid in bed and cried while he laid in bed and screamed. I had to have a little pep talk with myself: Teaching my child to sleep is my job. He will not be emotionally scarred from CIO. He is not in there feeling abandoned and alone. I went in every few minutes and, eventually, he went to sleep, but I could hear the hiccups and snuffles on the monitor for quite some time and it broke my little heart.

Of course, as in all times of crisis 'round these parts, I turn to the good Dr. Google. Most of what is recommended to do we already do. And have been doing since he was six weeks old. He has a bedtime routine, we put him down drowsy but awake, he takes a scheduled nap, we use a fan for white noise, etc. He is dressed warmly enough (but not too warm), he has a comfort "lovey," and a humidifier.

The only thing that Dr. Google mentioned that got me thinking was that any change in his schedule or new developments could throw sleep off. We recently started attending church and leaving him in the church nursery. He hates it. According to the reports, he doesn't cry the whole time, but he is always crying when we leave and crying when we return. The women there are kind and lovely and say that they hold him the entire time.

His separation anxiety has been a lot higher lately. I can't even walk away from him to go to the bathroom sometimes. He really freaks out. M thinks that we should force the nursery issue because he has to "learn" to be away from us sometime. I think that if you "force" someone already freaked out about being abandoned to be left with virtual strangers, that might not make for good results.

Now, I really don't know that this is what has caused our recent string of night wakings, but it's the only thing that is different. Last weekend, we went to two church events, and his usual friend that goes with us didn't go to either, so he was truly "alone" in the nursery. The night wakings started then. My concern is that if it's separation anxiety that is causing the night wakings, does doing CIO solidify his fears and just make it all worse.

So. . . any advice? Any strategies? Thoughts?

7 comments:

Beth said...

Ugh, the dreaded sleep topic.

My guess is teething (have you tried mo.trin? my boys do better with teeth with mo.trin as opposed to ty.lenol) or developmental milestones or change in routine.

it's most likely just a phase...and yes, normal for separation anxiety at this age. my boys hit it between now & 18 months was the worst of it, I think.

CIO has worked for us....but it's not for everyone, I know. And it's horrible for a Mama's heartstrings.

I would keep up the church/nursery attendance, and reassuring Will that "mama always comes back".

This too shall pass....
until then, I hope you are able to catch up on some sleep somewhere!

Praying for your family, and your newest Little One ~

Anonymous said...

As tough as CIO is for mommy, it really does seem to do the trick sleep-wise. And at this age, you know he's not hungry, you've checked on him to make sure he's safe. It's ok. I think you're doing all the right things.

As far as the church thing, one of my sons was a definite mama's boy and always cried when I dropped him off... then cried to come to me as soon as I walked in the nursery door or he heard my voice. From experience working in my church's nursery, too, that's really common at his age. I'm sure he's having fun other than that, though. With some kids, drop-off/pick-up times of seeing other mommies and daddies coming in may bother him a little but for the main portion of the hour, he'll be playing and getting all kinds of fun attention I'm sure!

Joy said...

Separation anxiety is what it sounds like to me! He's afraid that when you leave you won't come back. I'd just reassure him, in as few words as possible, "Mommy is not leaving you. Mommy is just downstairs."

I think you have to take a more gentle approach with separation anxiety than what your husband wants to do. For example you can stay in the church nursery with him one Sunday and show him all the wonderful toys, introduce him to the kids and teachers so he develops relationship. The next time stay for a little bit but leave after he's a little more settled and engrossed in something.

You'll find what works for you! So sorry! This part is really hard. My 2 1/2 year old is going through this (late) so I definitely understand. It helps her to have me encourage her and especially if her big sister is able to be with her as well.

HereWeGoAJen said...

What if you try not leaving him in the nursery for a while and see if that solves the sleep problem? I would also say that the type of CIO you are doing is fine. You are showing him that even though you might not be there, you will come back.

Nicky said...

I could have written this post. After months of great sleeping, LL suddenly started insisting on being held all night long. It started out as separation anxiety (that part lasted about a month) and teething, with a cold in there as well. All in all, the sleep disturbances went on for two months. It sucked. And just when we were ready to CIO out of pure desperation, he started STTN again.

On the separation anxiety, I'll say that CIO tends to not work during those phases. And you can't really do anything to get them past separation anxiety faster. Just keep reassuring, and he'll eventually internalize that mommy always comes back.

For the teething, I'll second the motrin suggestion. When it's really bad, we do motrin AND tylenol AND teething tablets. Any one alone doesn't work, but they're awesome in combination.

Red said...

Hi, I found your blog through stirrup queen. I noticed that a few days ago you got a double line - congrats and I hope it is sticking around still. Did the night waking start at about the same time?

I know it sounds all weird and freaky, but could Will 'know' about the new baby? My almost 2 year old had weeks of night wakings (after generally STTN) and super clingy behaviour through both of my pregnancies this year. As soon as I miscarried both times he stopped waking. Some people say you 'smell' different during pregnancy or that kids pick things up that adults can't.

I know that that doesn't offer you any advice, but it might be something to look out for if he is clingier and waking for you.

Roadblocks and Roller Coasters said...

As someone who has struggled with a sleepless baby for over a year, I can say that the only thing that worked was when I stopped going in and responding to Lemy when she cried. Instead, we used modified CIO, but after I put her to bed and she would cry only G would go in. At first she fought him and cried for me, but eventually she gave in and started STTN. Now, unless she screams continuously like she's being murdered we don't go in at all because she does end up going back to sleep on her own.

Long story short, send M in from now on and see how that works. I know sleep struggles are the worst! Keeping my fingers crossed that things get back to normal soon! ((hugs))