My 17-month-old daughter has never slept through the night. And when I say "never slept through the night", I mean she's often up every 10-20 minutes, with a few hour-long (two hours if we're lucky) sleep stretches. There have been a few rare instances where she's slept 3 or 4 hours straight. When she wakes, she is mildly distressed. She does not want to play or get up. She wants to sleep but can't. She needs to breastfeed to get back to sleep, then lay on my body for quite awhile until she is soundly asleep enough to be laid down on the bed, but she is often up again almost immediately. She doesn't seem to be in any great pain when she wakes, though it's possible she has a tummy ache or something like that. She tends to do better during naps, but not always.
I am concerned for my health, but more so for my daughter's. She looks very healthy--was a big Buddha baby who has transformed into a more slender but solid toddler. However, she has very poor digestion and is not terribly interested in food (with the exception of breast milk--she wants to nurse all the time during the day too). I have to turn on videos (something I never thought I would allow) to distract her to get her to eat. Much of her food comes out the other end undigested--even purees (at least the ones that are identifiable like sweet potato). The only things she digests well are meat and dairy, which are her favorite foods. She was extremely colicy as a little baby with doctors and midwives all saying it was the worst case they had ever seen. She had issues with food (breast milk) not staying in the intestines long enough to be digested properly (though it didn't stop her from gaining weight).
She is intelligent and very active, hitting all the normal milestones. She is very strong-willed and some might think "difficult"--though not in the extreme. She is extremely active, though she can sit still when obsessed with mastering a new task. She can be quite irritable and sensitive, but who wouldn't be with so little sleep? I am too exhausted to practice effective positive reinforcement and end up responding to crying and whining, so that is certainly part of it too.
Anyway, I have been waiting for her to grow out of this like she grew out of the colic, but it is clearly not happening. Neither of us has gotten more than 4 hours sleep a night for almost 1.5 years. I have been advised to slowly eliminate one night feeding at a time, but with 20-30 feedings a night, she would be off to college before we were done! I am now very seriously wondering if there is a medical cause like silent reflux, sleep apnea, or food sensitivities.
Other details: She usually naps 1-3 hours (usually 3). When she naps for 2 or 3 hours, she will wake at least once an hour but often much more. Sometimes I have to lay beside her the whole time and let her nurse almost continuously to keep her down. We live in an extremely dry, high-elevation environment. I go through 1-2 pints of water a night myself and still wake up dehydrated. Humidifiers don't even make a dent in the dryness. I am an herbalist and have tried many things to help her sleep with no major effect. When she was EBF, I eliminated all major allergens from my diet with no effect on colic or later on night waking.
Well, I didn't mean to write an essay here, but thanks for bearing with me. Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated. Is this within a range of normal or should I be treating underlying causes? Anyone else have a kid like this?
Thanks so much!