Hello. I am hoping for some feedback or help ...
I had a parenting epiphany of sorts as I was putting my son to sleep an hour ago, when I realized that my behavior toward him as a "night time parent" is putting our relationship, and his sleep, in serious jeopardy. I am sitting here shaking and choking back tears because I think I've finally hit my low point with it and now I am desperate to find some answers and change my behavior as soon as humanly possible (TONIGHT!) so that I can stop hurting my sweet little boy.
He is 21 months. He has never slept well. He is a restless and light sleeper who has never slept an entire night out of my arms. He is still breastfeeding at least 2 or 3 times a night (usually more like 4 or 5) I am also a light sleeper who is woken easily, and he kicks, squirms, pinches my nipples (even when he's not breastfeeding) during the majority of the night. I haven't slept more than 4 hours in a row in almost 2 years. I am exhausted and frustrated, frazzled and so sad that he hasn't progressed in his sleep maturation much at all since he was about 3 months old. On top of that, up until about 2 months ago, I was unable to put him down for naps during the day, as well. I had to rock him for all of them. 2, 3 times a day when he was a baby and now we're down to one... but I still have to stay in his room while he sleeps because if he wakes up after a half-hour or so and I'm not immediately there, he'll get so upset that he won't go back to sleep. About 3 times out of 10, he won't let me put him down at all and I have to rock him for 2+ hours. Please don't get me wrong - there is SO MUCH about holding and rocking my son while he sleeps that has been so very, very precious to me and that I wouldn't go back and change for the world... but he is 30 pounds now, almost 3 feet tall and my back, arms and neck feel like they're on fire almost all the time. My hand and arm that his head is resting on for the nap time fall completely asleep and I sit rocking him with tears of pain rolling down my face sometimes.
I am a stay at home mom, and I work so hard during the day to be patient, loving and a calm and reassuring presence in my son's life. I am so incredibly in love with him and I struggle so hard not to lose my temper, yell at him or lose my patience. Besides my husband, who is incredibly supportive, but who has a VERY demanding job, I have no other support. I live 500 miles away from any family. So, in the middle of the night, when my little boy wakes up to nurse, then tosses, turns then tries to get up or when he wakes at 4:45 AM and won't go back to sleep, I snap. It's like I become a different person with him. All the things I struggle and usually win over during the day overtake me at night. I know there's no excuse, but I scream, I yell, I threaten, I plead, I cry, I put him in his room, in his crib and leave him crying in the dark (I've never left him in there for more than 10 minutes or so, but still... it's got to be terrifying for him). My husband sleeps in a separate bedroom because we all got more sleep that way, early on, and now my son won't tolerate my husband in bed with us at all. So, I am alone in this at night. I just don't know how to make it stop and, after last night's ugly battle, I tried to put him to sleep tonight, just like I normally do (stories, lights out, singing, rocking, nursing, etc.) and he totally freaked out. He started crying and begging not to go to sleep (and, believe me, he was totally exhausted), so much so that I ended up having to leave the light on so that he would finally clam down enough to fall asleep. I was astounded, but, a little voice inside my head said "well, what did you expect? This horrible Mommy that comes out every night was bound to effect him negatively at some point!" No wonder he is afraid to go to sleep and has trouble staying asleep. He's probably terrified of me at night time! I looked down at my sweet baby and realized I need help. I need help to change this and I need support.
I don't know who to turn to, so anything anyone has to offer, I would be so incredibly grateful. I need to do better for my son. I need to do better starting tonight. I just hope I can help him heal from this and that he'll learn to trust me at night again... Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for anything at all you might be able to suggest to help.