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slowly losing my sanity

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

My son is almost 19 months. For the first 4 months he slept pretty well - we had a bear of a time with bedtime, but once he was really down (about midnight) he'd consistently sleep for 6 hours.


Then the famed 4 month sleep regression hit, and we still haven't gotten over it. At his worst, he was waking up 10-12x a night (around 9 months.) I stopped nursing him every time and after some resistance his sleep improved to "only" waking 4-6x a night. We started trying to fully nightwean when he was 12 months but were only really successful as about two months ago. It hasn't really helped, however.


After 19 months, combined with the wicked pregnancy insomnia I had and poor sleep before that due to hormonal imbalance, it's been many years since I've had a good night's sleep. I feel like I am going insane. I am so tired that I spend most of the day sitting in a recliner chair zoned out. I am putting on weight rather than losing baby weight. I want to have another baby, but my health is suffering because of getting so little sleep and I really want to be in a better place physically before dealing with pregnancy again. But I can't eat well, cook good food, or workout when I'm so tired. 


I get angry and frustrated when I'm tired. Oh, and depressed.


It feels like I am turning into a horrible person and that this is ruining my life. I am not doing all the cool things I want to do with my toddler because I am too damn tired. 


I am the BIGGEST opponent to CIO you will ever meet, but sometimes I think it is the only way I can get my grip on sanity again. Most days I want to claw my eyes out. Or bash my head into the wall. 


We have tried everything. Bedsharing, same room different bed, different rooms. Nightweaning. White noise. Chamomile tea before bed. All organic PJ's, sheets, and blankets. Lavender oil diffusing in his room as he sleeps. Nightlight (the no-blue-light kind that doesn't disturb melatonin), no nightlight. A long wind down period before bed with no lights on, just candles. Same.exact.bedtime.routine. for many months. Stuffed animals to cuddle with. I'm sure there are more things we've tried that I can't remember. Everything in the No Cry Sleep Solution book. Earlier bedtimes, later bedtimes. Hours of calm before bed, we've also tried high-energy rambunctious playing before bed to try to tire him out. Doesn't really matter what we do, none of it helps (or helps very much.) 


As of now, we nurse and then he falls asleep lying on his bed in his room with me either sitting next to the bed or just outside the door with the door open. Yes! He can fall asleep on his own. But it hasn't helped him sleep better overall. 45 minutes later, on the dot, he wakes up. Sometimes I can just give him a drink of water, help him lay back down, and he's out again. Other times he puts up more of a stink. Then he might sleep an hour. This time it's harder to get him back down. Then he might sleep another hour, during which we've usually gone to bed, and we leave teh doors open so when he wakes up the 3rd time he can just come into our room. (He has a floor mattress in his room.) He climbs into bed with us and this is the only good stretch he'll get all night - 3-4 hours. Then from 3 or 4 am til 7 he is up every 45-60 minutes, wants to nurse (if it's 4 or later I will nurse him), and DH and I get very little sleep during this time period because we are mostly just dozing in between his wake-ups.


Is there ANYTHING else we can do? I'm not sure how much more I can just "wait it out." I am seriously dying here. I've heard of toddlers who don't sleep well until they fully wean (not just nightwean), but I can't even imagine how traumatic that would be for him. Nursing is VERY important to him and he nurses 6-8x a day still (sometimes more.) If I try to put him off or offer him food or drink instead, he gets very upset. 

post #2 of 27

There are so many sleep training techniques which don't involve leaving your child to CIO, take a look at those.


I don't like the CIO technique, who wants to teach their child that they are not going to respond to them when they are asking for help? Not me!


Personally I think it's time you really make some changes to your son's sleep. Your health is really beginning to suffer. Sleep deprivation  effects every single aspect of your life. Remember sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!


Stop torturing yourself and teach your son to sleep more independently.



post #3 of 27

I'm sorry you're struggling, Mama :(  It sounds like you've tried a lot.  The one thing that helped us, was that I wouldn't nurse DD until after she'd gotten up and had breakfast.  If she knew she was allowed to nurse in bed at any point, she would wake up every hour thinking it was time to nurse.  Once we just took nursing out of the equation for night time, we all started to sleep better.  Also, if there's anyone who would be willing to try taking him for the night or if you and your husband could just alternate nights so you could get a good night sleep, that might help, too.  Dd actually did pretty well when she would spend the night at my parents and would sleep a lot better.  Simply getting a few full nights of sleep can make a world of difference.

post #4 of 27

Lots of babes are affected by Electromagnetic Fields.  Mine only slept when out of cell range or with a shielding device like




or a stronger one like this




I've tried pendants and other passive measures with little improvement.


Also, the blue light from screens disrupts melatonin production as well.  Use only yellow, orange, & red lights after sunset!

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Rebecca - way to NOT be encouraging or supportive. That was exactly the kind of answer I was hoping to avoid by posting here vs another mommy group. "Stop torturing yourself" is another way of saying "You're doing this to yourself" or "it's your fault." Frankly, you don't know my son. Sleep training techniques don't work on him. I've tried "pick up, put down." I've nightweaned. I've taught him how to fall asleep lying down on his bed by himself with no "props." The sleep experts say these things should result in a long night of sleep. They haven't. 


Sleep training techniques such as leaving him alone til he fusses, then going back in to comfort him, and leaving again, until he decides to sleep on his own, won't work with my son. First of all, he has much more endurance and stubbornness than I do. I am not physically capable of doing that for 6 hours, which is how long it would take before he'd give up and go to sleep (I've tried similar things for up to 2 hours.) Secondly, a lot of "non-CIO" sleep training techniques are still CIO, in my opinion. "Controlled crying" is CIO to me. I can't think of any sleep training technique (and I am WELL READ in this subject) that would not involve something that is, in my opinion, CIO or the equivalent. If you know of something, please enlighten me. But don't tell me this is my fault.


gypsymama2008 - Grandma has offered to take him for a night but I guess I worry that he would spend the whole night awake. We went out for a late dinner one night and left him with grandma - he was asleep when we left. He woke up at his normal 45 min point, realized we weren't there and grandma was, and that was his cue for playtime. He played until 10:30 pm - he was up for over 2 hours. If I left him with her all night, I worry that he would basically spend most of the night awake. But I'm getting desperate enough that I may try it anyway.


My husband has tried to sleep in his room with him all night on weekends to give me a break. Sometimes he goes for it. Most of the time, at some point he'll wake up and scream bloody murder saying "mama" and pointing at the door until DH brings him to me.


MotheringBliss - thanks for the hint about EMF fields. I have wondered if something like that is affecting him. We do no-blue-light around here after sunset already. 


Last night DS came into bed with me at 9:30 and then slept til 4:30!! Then slept til 6:45 am, fell asleep again til 8 am. I feel like a new person. Now if I could just figure out what was different about last night and find a way to replicate it every night.

post #6 of 27

Do you think you may have night weaned a little early? My son didn't sleep through the night for almost 2 yrs. I fought with my DH alot because of sleep deprivation. I finally decided to try night weaning closer to 2 yrs. It took kicking, screaming, hitting, crying before he got over not having his milk and he now is sleeping mostly through the night. But I believe it may have effected him in other areas.  Are you still nursing during the day at all?  


How about Epsom salt baths? I've read kids who have a hard time with sleep are low in magnesium.


If he is sleeping the best in your bed, have you tried starting him off in your bed? What happens when he wakes up - does he want milk? Cuddles? Does he cry alot? When trying to get my son to sleep on his own we went through alot of crying fits. Its hard though, I know!


Just throwing out ideas as it sounds like you have tried everything!

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

Greenlea - I've been very conflicted about the nightweaning, but it doesn't seem to have affected him during the daytime at all. He is still the same happy-go-lucky kid he always was. He does still nurse during the day - at least 6-8x. Before we nightweaned he nursed less during the day and more at night. I'd say he's nursing the same amount in a 24 period as he was before nightweaning.


We've tried epsom salt baths - don't help.


We've started him in our bed - doesn't seem to make a difference. It *might* make a difference if I was there with him from the beginning, but he goes to bed between 7-8 and I can't go to bed that early. When he wakes up generally he just wants some cuddles and physical connection. Sometimes - usually later in the night - he REALLY wants to nurse. Even though it's been a couple months now that we haven't nursed from bedtime til 4 am, he still wants it. But if I nurse him, he doesn't then sleep for a long stretch - he'll wake up in an hour to nurse again because he realizes he can have it. Nightweaning hasn't been the cure-all that others have described, but I do think it has helped *some*. 


He is a highly relational child and even during daytime hours will come over for hugs and kisses fairly frequently. He does sleep better when he's snuggled up against me or DH, but even that is not a guaranteed night's sleep. It only works sometimes. 


I've heard enough stories of kids with my son's personality who don't sleep well until they're fully weaned, or closer to age 3. I don't WANT to fully wean him, but the thought of going another 18 months without sleep just about kills me.

post #8 of 27

I hear ya on the weaning part. I waited until 2, way past what I probably should have, to night wean him and try to get him to sleep through the night. I'm still conflicted about it and now that its over, miss it - as he stopped nursing during the day too.


Some other ideas I would have is pin worms (they can mess with sleep a lot), food allergy, and to try taking him to a chiropractor. I hope something works for you soon though!   

post #9 of 27

I'm sorry I upset you. You sounded so exhausted in your original post, I wanted to let you  know that it's fine to teach better sleep habits. You don't have to suffer. And there really is so much you can do.


You can try and avoid wake ups before they even happen! Continue to nurse through the night, even co-sleep whilst teaching better sleep habits. It can be done.  Though when we are convinced nothing will work, nothing will work!


I hope you are able to find the help you need and get the sleep you need.

post #10 of 27
Rebecca, I'd love specific references to the methods you're vaguely mentioning. OP has tried a cartloads of different approaches that didn't help. Saying she can change this if only she tries while giving ZERO specific advice only serves to make her feel worse about the situation and doesn't offer any real hope. I've tried many things too and would love alternatives. Either refer to a method by name so we can at least google it, provide books for reference or outline the method in your own words. Your posts sound like OP is at fault here for the way her child sleeps. All that is doing is making matters worse and making you sound like you don't know what you're talking about - because frankly I don't think anyone else knows what you ARE talking about since you won't explain. We would all love a concrete no cry sleep training plan/method we have never tried before. Please either provide specifics or stop implying OP is not dedicated to help her child.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Rebecca - I AM exhausted. But to imply that I just haven't tried to teach better sleep habits ignores almost everything I have said thus far. I cannot nurse all night. I'm not one of those lucky moms who can leave their boobs out and let their little ones latch on in their sleep and never really wake up. I wake up, fully. And since my son would like to stay latched all night, that is not an option. I get much more sleep now that we have nightweaned, even if it hasn't been the cure-all I was hoping for. When I nursed him every time he woke up or even stirred, he was nursing 10x a night. Sure, HE didn't ever fully wake up, but I did. We ARE co-sleeping after about 10 or 11 pm. I have done EVERYTHING that I have heard of that doesn't involve CIO or controlled crying. I have read extensively on the subject of babies and sleep and talked to lots of moms about what worked for them. Please be more specific than "there really is so much you can do." 


Skycheattraffic - THANK YOU. Yes. I have tried everything I know of to try. 


Greenlea - not pinworms. Pretty sure not food allergies, since this has been going on since 4 months when he was EBF (I eat pretty close to paleo, too, so all the major offendors are already out of the equation.) Now that he's on solids he eats EXTREMELY well, solid Paleo, lots of grassfed/pastured meats and eggs, organic veggies, good fats, yogurt, fish oil. He's never had wheat, soy, or sugar. He does have some dairy but it's very limited (yogurt and aged cheese.) We've been to the chiropractor numerous times. Has never made a difference.


The last couple of nights have been better. He had a 7 hour stretch two nights ago and last night had two 3.5 hour stretches (with a brief issue getting back to sleep in between, but we survived.) If I could figure out what's different on the nights when he sleeps better, we'd be golden.

post #12 of 27
We ended up signing up for an account on the baby sleep site (www.thebabysleepsite.com). It was around $100 for the consultation package that we got, and it was worth every.penny. The site founder does individualized sleep plans to help every type of situation and parenting style, including cosleeping and attachment parenting. It helped us out so much! I would definitely recommend looking into it. You will get the opportunity to tell her exactly what you have tried and what worked/didn't work, and then set short and long term sleep goals. My daughter was sleeping a zillion times better after just a couple of weeks. We still have some work to do to get her sleeping thru the night completely, but my gosh,we have come leaps and bounds. Check into it, you may get some great results! Good luck!
post #13 of 27

You eat Paleo!  That explains alot!  More live foods = less sleep needed.  Those folks who only drink distilled liquids & eat live foods sometimes need as little as an hour of sleep each night.  


Add a single cooked starch or carb, and the hours of sleep needed jumps 6 hours or more.  Seem like we've conditioned ourselves to needing so much sleep just to detox from  our processed diets.


Maybe some raw foodists have similar minimal sleep patterns?  Add some sungazing, yoga & good company, and I bet your energy levels would eventually match his!


I hope to get a garden going soon & start going raw!

post #14 of 27
Hi Mama! I have no advice only encouragement because our son did the same thing. I read your email and almost cried because I remember those horrible long 45 min stretch nights. T started to sleep thru at 20months, no reason nothing different, just did. And that is why I'm replying-I believe you are super mom and managing it amazingly even if you feel you are not. You will make yourself crazy trying everything under the sun, accept this is your wee bub and yes just get through. You will, you are! I honestly don't think it's anything you are doing or not doing. Like mine nursing was very important and yes I nursed through the night until I just couldn't take it anymore and felt I was on the verge of mental crack up. Do what you are doing, the very best you can & may the force be with you! wink1.gif
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thank you, cowkisses. That means the world to me. I think sometimes what I need more than anything is empathy - thank you for giving that to me today.


Jill1085 - thanks, I'll look into it.

post #16 of 27
Originally Posted by wilddreamergrl View Post


Grandma has offered to take him for a night but I guess I worry that he would spend the whole night awake. We went out for a late dinner one night and left him with grandma - he was asleep when we left. He woke up at his normal 45 min point, realized we weren't there and grandma was, and that was his cue for playtime. He played until 10:30 pm - he was up for over 2 hours. If I left him with her all night, I worry that he would basically spend most of the night awake. But I'm getting desperate enough that I may try it anyway.



Wilddreamergrl, I hear ya!  We never got over the 4-month sleep regression either.  DD is 11 months, and after trying so many different things, I've finally just sort of given up and tried to focus on getting as much rest as I possibly can (napping with her, etc) in order to stay sane.  I'm glad you've had a couple of good nights, and I hope it continues!


I say this with love (because the exact same thing has been said to me, more than once)...  What's so bad about him staying up late with Grandma, just once?  What if (just what if) you got a complete, uninterrupted, blissful night's sleep, and your son didn't?  The sleep would CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  Your son would get over one crappy night.  In fact, enlist Grandma and DH to help out the next day, too, when he's tired.  :)  


I'm just saying, after the first year or so, surely babies are secure enough and mature enough to handle very occasional disruptions for the sake of the common good.  Your sanity is so important!  For you AND for him.  You deserve to feel rested!  For my birthday this year, DH and I went out to a romantic dinner while grandparents kept our 11-month-old.  When we got home (hours past bedtime), she was indeed fed, bathed, and in PJs, but she was bouncing off the walls.  We knew when we left that there was no chance of her going to sleep.  We knew as we lingered over dessert that every bite was delaying our daughter's precious bedtime.  And you know what?  It was AWESOME.


Hugs to you!  Hope you're reaching a turning point!

post #17 of 27

Hi wilddreamergrl, I'm sorry I'm unable to contribute any advice, but I just wanted to say that your story actually gives me solace. Thank you for sharing. My sons sleeping patterns and personality traits sound very similar to yours. My boy is 12 months now. I fantasise about some stage in the future when I'll get a good nights sleep.

I rarely bring up my sons sleep habits up in conversation now as we've tried so much and I also don't like to offend friends that use cio/controlled crying techniques by explaining why I am against this method.

I hope you will continue to keep us informed of any improvements. I'll be so interested!

Cowkisses, I found your story really hopeful.

Thanks for sharing, you are not alone and sound like a wonderful mother.

When we do ever get a good nights sleep, it will be like winning the lotto! :-D

Take care, Susan
post #18 of 27

Great advice from Zirconia.  We had the same problem with both of our kids and nothing, NOTHING worked.  Having a good night's sleep - just one - helped me cope and brought me back from the brink of insanity!


I would sleep on the couch occasionally and my husband would sleep in the attic with the baby, so I really couldn't hear him crying.  Having a night's sleep helped me cope.  We did this a few times over the 18 months the eldest didn't sleep and 2 years that the youngest didn't sleep - I mean no longer than an hour and a half asleep during that time.  As far as I can remember, not once.  Maybe there were patches of blessed relief but I can't remember them.  It was like wading through treacle, every day; everything was so much effort.


If you have someone willing to help, who knows your baby and your baby knows and that you trust - use them!   


Here's what I would do if you have such a person.


If you can sleep at their house for a couple or 3 nights you won't hear him wake up and you'll be rested to be able to cope with carrying this on if it takes longer than a couple of nights.


The helper would agree to stay up all night and soothe the baby in what ever way you decide - patting his back when he wakes, pick up put down, whatever it is, but it's consistent and the baby doesn't get out of the cot.  The baby is not left alone to cry, there is a loving adult present, he's being soothed but he's not being rocked or fed etc - it's just the quiet comfort of someone there.  Every time he cries, the same thing happens and this person is awake enough to be able to see this through all night long - and not getting distressed by the crying enough to change how she/he is reacting.  


If it takes longer than a couple of nights (which it might as he sounds like he finds this hard, like my boys) you would need to carry on with it but having had the rest needed to be able to see it through.


That's what I would have done and wish I had been able to do.  The one thing I would change about how I raise my kids is to have asked for help more - I'm working on it!

post #19 of 27

Another couple of thoughts:


Seems like at your house (and mine), "If baby ain't sleeping, ain't nobody sleeping..."  As silverring said, maybe you and DH could do more tag-teaming, rather than both being awakened and zonked out.  Split up the night, or give each other 3-hour shifts - ANYTHING to get you more than an hours' stretch of sleep.  What about a mattress in DS's room?  You could take turns being "on duty" in there.


ETA - I just re-read earlier posts and saw that you've tried this.  But maybe instead of only occasional weekend nights, you should do something more regular, to give DS a chance to work through and adjust to a new routine.


Also, have you looked into allergies?  We've done the runaround with food sensitivities and dietary changes to improve sleep - gluten free, dairy free, etc - with only two noticeable results:  1)  Caffeine - I can have 100% decaf in the morning ONLY - after that, no iced tea, no decaf, no nothing, or baby's up all night.  I was in denial about this for many months, because coffee was my only solace.  2)  Restaurants - If we eat out, baby's up every hour and extremely difficult to settle.  We eat in, baby sleeps 3-4 hour stretches.  I order only veggies, fruits, and plain grilled meats for her.  MSG?  Preservatives?  Fats?  Processed foods?  Who knows, but the connection is too clear to ignore.  Actually, DH and I frequently don't sleep after eating out, either - I can only imagine what mystery ingredients are going into the food!



post #20 of 27

I may have missed it, but have you tried melatonin?

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