Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Regress

I think being perpetually tired is a universal sign of motherhood. Almost a badge of honor, if you will. Most playdates find me with other moms, comparing how many hours of sleep we haven't gotten since our babies were born.

I am actually fairly fortunate when it comes to Will and sleeping. He was rough on us in the beginning and, at times, I thought I would never sleep more than two consecutive hours again. Then one miracle night (at 11 weeks), he slept for seven hours straight. I woke up with rock hard boobs and yet still wanted to run around the neighborhood sans sports bra shouting with glee! Over several weeks, that miraculous seven hour stretch eventually lengethened until we were getting 8 hour stretchs consistently. He still nursed in the early morning (around 5 AM or so) until 7 months. Since then, most nights, Will gets a solid 11 - 12 hours, with nary a peep from his room.

But there nights when he doesn't sleep well. Now, they don't alarm me like they used it. I know that he can and will sleep through the night. It used to be that a string of bad nights would send me into an utter panic, straight into the evil, loving arms of Dr. Google. During those quests for information on how to get my baby to sleep, I found a few priceless resources. I have referenced this site before and I just love her no-nonsense, no-guilt approach. I first found her during Will's 4 month sleep regression. That one almost killed me, folks, because he had been sleeping so well from 11 - 16 weeks and then BAM! we were back to hourly wakeups. I always found it harder to go backwards and feel as if we are losing ground and I had never heard of these regressions, so I figuerd I had messed something up. Turns out, my kid was perfectly normal, and he hit five months and started sleeping like a champ again.

Moxie also saved my life by introducing me to the 2-3-4 schedule. I had been doing an "up two, down two" schedule, but it didn't seem to be working anymore at about five months. The 2-3-4 worked like a dream until about 14 months, when he gave up his second nap. But man, how I loved the 2-3-4 and hope it works as well with Emma.

If you read about the sleep regression business, you'll also see that it doesn't happen at four months, but also at nine and. . . yes, folks, 18 months. Which is where we are right now, smack dab in the middle of another Sleep Regression [said in a scary voice].

This regression has not been nearly as bad as the other two. First off, because of my perspective and the fact that I don't freak out when he stops sleeping. Secondly, because he usually doesn't need much, if any, help from us in getting back to sleep. He will cry for less than five minutes and just get himself back off to dreamland. As our walls are paper thin and his room his just across the hall from us, he still wakes us, but I usually don't have to get out of bed.

Last night, however, he was up too many times to count. Several of them required intervention. He has also started this rather "charming" habit of telling us that he is hungry when he wakes up. He will loudly, insistently, desperately announce, "Eat! Eat! Eat!" When your kid is telling you that he is hungry, especially when that same toddler ate only one slice of banana and a quarter of a string cheese all day, you start wondering if perhaps a midnight (or 2, 3, or 4 AM) snack isn't in order. It makes the whole crying it out thing even harder, because you wonder, "Am I starving my child?"

You might (if you are a weakling, like me) even give in and bring a packet of Ritz crackers into his room and give him one, which he didn't eat, but instead wanted to take to bed like some sort of uber-crumby-choking-hazard-transition-item (for those inquiring minds about to call CPS, no, I did not let him sleep with the cracker). In addition to multiple trips to Will's room last night, Emma has also decided that it's fun to jump on Mommy's bladder at the alternate hours that her brother doesn't wake up.

So, today, I am tired. Like stretch marks, sagging boobs, and gray hairs, it is yet another sign of motherhood. It is all so worth it, and I find that each time we come up against a new challenge, I am little more equipped to handle it. It's not that I handle it any better, per se, but I feel less defeated. I still feel exhausted, but not as if the world will end. Just like I need a nap! Hopefully, this will also apply when Emma arrives and doubles my trouble!


Sunny said...

Ugh!! Sorry about the sleep regression, that's awful. :( We never really went through that with Bean, although he didn't sleep through the night until he was 14 months old. A trade-off, I suppose.

My favorite sleep book is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." It saved my life when Bean was 7 months old and wouldn't nap AT ALL!

Katie said...

Yep, I am a Weissbluth fanatic myself. Love. Him. Helped me to understand the why behind the sleep. I credit him with Will's successful sleeping.

Tracy said...

I may get harshed on for this, but we've had nights here and there where one or the other (and usually Evan) wakes frequently. We let him/them cry for up to 15 minutes, and if they don't put themselves back to sleep, we go make sure they're okay. Sometimes they need a drink, sometimes it's just a hug. Scott sometimes says, "are you sure his teeth aren't bugging him?" My response? If it didn't bug him all day, it's probably not bugging him now. He's just thinking about all the things he'd rather be doing than sleeping. I know. I'm hardcore. But I'm just not going there again.

Rebecca said...

Ummm...I must be a complete idiot b/c I didn't even know there was a sleep regression at 18 months...that explains a lot! We've been trying to wait 5 minutes before going in, but if my extremely grumpy husband freaks out, it's just easier to go in than calmly explain to him my rationale (again)! Hang in there!!!

Katie said...

Oh, Tracy, we don't usually go in, either and handle it very similarly to what you are doing. He just isn't sleeping as well, we're not sleeping as well, and it shows during the day. I just like the nights that I put him down and don't hear a peep until morning, and that is no not what's happening these days! I am pretty stern, too, about sleeping, because I feel as if it's really easy to learn bad habits.

Danifred said...

We also had a hideous sleeper and also LOVE "Healthy Sleep Habits."

Tot, the hideous sleeper, is now a fabulous sleeper, so... there is hope :)

PamalaLauren said...

My kid tells me she's hungry right before bed and when she wakes up. It's her way of not going to sleep. She can have eaten like everything in the house and still be hungry.

Laura said...

I didn't know about the 18month thing. My Roo right around the Holidays, when she was 18 mon, was horrible about sleeping. I was so exhausted that I almost took her to daycare one day during our holiday break so that I could sleep.

Red said...

Wow, your son is text book!

I read the Moxie site when Champ was having sleeping issues. Unfortunately his was more to do with never actally learning to fall asleep without being fed and/or rocked. Once he learnt that (thanks to 'the no-cry sleep solution') we were saved! He did however continue to wake once per night for a quick breastfeed long after he needed to until he weaned at 15 months.

I too get scared when he wakes through the night now. Just a couple of nights of broken sleep send me panicking that he is going back into bad habits. It never is the case though, just usually an impending sickness or a paticuarly hot night (with him overdressed by yours truely).

Hope the regression is short lived.

Beth said...

Ah, yes, motherhood...the "perpetual state of exhaustion". Nice to hear we're all in this together - it makes me feel less crazy! :)

Do you have white noise machines? We use air purifiers in each room, as we all have allergies and it doubles to help drown out nighttime baby/toddler/dog noises.

I laughed out loud when you wrote that Emma has been up, opposite Will - because I can so relate. My first two were like that for a long time!

I hope for your sake that Emma takes after her big brother and starts STTN at a very young age! The only bummer about having a second (or more) is that you can't nap when the baby does to catch up. The upside? You already know this, and have the tools you need to help you through just about any phase of sleeplessness or regression!

Hope this new phase of Will's passes quickly.

Ms. J said...

I got nothing to offer, 'cept commraderie at present (zzzzzz, soooo tired on my end!).

Reaching for my diet coke ;o)