18 month old DOES NOT SLEEP- serious negative effects on family life - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-29-2011, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm desperate.  After a brief stint of STTN from 7-11 months, my 18 month old is a horrendous sleeper, and it's to the point where a lot of the time, I'm unable to manage life in general, or take care of my other kids, and it's affecting our marriage.  She won't nap unless she's in the ergo, or in the car.  Sometimes I can get her to sleep on a mattress and sneak away, but she'll wake up numerous times and I'll have to lay down and nurse her.  She wakes up if I make any slight move or attempt to unlatch her.  So I have zero breaks from her during the day, or time where I can sit down or do anything at all with two hands.  All of this would be completely normal for a 2, 6, 9 month old, but 18 months is a bit much.


Bedtime can take 3-4 hours of rocking and nursing, first to get her to sleep, then to get her into the crib.  It is usually 10-11pm before dh or I are done with her and can finally eat our dinner, and she wakes up again within an hour, and multiple times during the night, and by 5-6 for the day.  DH takes care of her mostly at night, rocking her, giving her water, etc to get her back to sleep.  If it really won't work, he brings her to me and she restlessly nurses and thrashes all night long.  Maybe 1-2x a week she'll go to bed easily and sleep most or all of the night.   She's been teething nonstop since she was 6 months and nearly has all her teeth now.


Complicating this is that I have a sleep disorder- I cannot fall asleep without medication most of the time, once I'm woken up at night I am unable to fall back to sleep, I cannot nap during the day, and am physically incapable of cosleeping (I'll literally be awake the entire night and am not able to care for my other kids or drive safely, and get into a frightening emotional state and do crazy/potentially dangerous things.)  AND our older child is high needs/special needs and is a terrible sleeper as well, and is up most nights wanting to sleep with dh.  My poor husband is a walking zombie.


Having her attached to me 24/7 and me being horribly sleep deprived and weepy means that most of the time I do not get to eat, pee, spend quality time with my other kids, and I definitely get no time at all with my husband, even for brief conversations.  I had to give up the part time business that I was starting because I'm so sleep deprived and emotional most of the time that I can't trust myself to act professional around clients.  It is really not a healthy way to live and honestly I am resentful.


I have always been strongly anti-CIO, and while cosleeping is tough for me, I am an advocate of it, and definitely believe in responding to babies/kids at night and meeting their needs, knowing that eventually they'll move on and it's all temporary.  I think I have reasonable expectations- i don't expect her to STTN every night or never need to nurse or get comfort at night.  I don't expect to get a great night of sleep every night or that parenting will be easy.  But having a huge chunk of my life devoted, fruitlessly, to getting her to sleep to the point of seriously affecting my mental and physical health, my marriage, my relationship to the other kids, and our family life is just not acceptable to me.


At this moment she is crying in her crib while I eat because I just do not know what else to do.  I tried all day long to get her to nap and she wouldn't.  I tried for 2 hrs to get her to sleep, it is past 9pm and I haven't eaten and my other kids are running wild because they need to be put to bed.  I got her drowsy, said night-night, I love you, put her in the crib, and she absolutely flipped out.  I don't know if there are any other solutions but if anyone has any encouraging words, I'd appreciate it.

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#2 of 7 Old 05-29-2011, 08:29 PM
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I know you said you are anti CIO, but there are modified forms that might help you.  I used the Baby whisperer for our son.  You do your normal bedtime routine and then lay them down but stay right there.  Baby will cry.  You pick baby up, pat them and lay them back down.  Rinse and repeat.  Try increasing the time between pick up and put down.  Yes, baby is crying, but you are also right there and baby can see you too.  You are NOT leaving your baby alone and your child is 18 months.  Evnetually you lay baby down and start moving further away from the crib/bed, but that took us at least a week to get to that point.    It did tatke more time in the beginning and It wasn't easy, but it worked for us to be able to leave DS alone for night time.  Of course now we have other going to bed problems, but that's for another post.  If this is too harsh for your parenting then I appologize, but you sound desperate.  it worked for us and I too did not want to do CIO.

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#3 of 7 Old 05-29-2011, 09:23 PM
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hug2.gif mama...


It sounds very extreme to go from STTN for 5 months to having such pronounced sleep issues! How long has it been going on? Could it just be a temporary thing like a sleep regression or as you said, new teeth? Has something in her diet changed? Could she be having an allergic reaction to something?


I know how hard it is to have a toddler that has problems with sleep...it's so, so hard....I feel your pain :(

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#4 of 7 Old 05-29-2011, 10:23 PM
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Poor Mama!


i knew a woman who had something similar going on, and I cannot imagine how one survives with so little sleep on a regular basis. Not to mention the affect upon the entire family. 


I am a strong supporter of co-sleeping,but as a pp mentioned, there are methods of CIO that are more sympathetic to attachment parenting.

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#5 of 7 Old 06-07-2011, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for your responses and talking me down!  I haven't had time to come back to the thread!  It's been going fairly well...I almost think my presence in trying to get her to sleep and/or get her unlatched and put down is keeping her awake.  She keeps wanting to interact with me, act cute, play with my breasts, and on and on as long as I'm there, even though I know she must be exhausted.  After 3 hours of this I'm in a really bad state emotionally.  So, that night I was desperate I just put her down when she was obviously sleepy, she cried for less than 10 minutes, and went to sleep.


So it's been a mixed bag since then- I've tried to get her sleepy or asleep so I know she truly is tired and ready for bed, do the whole relaxing bedtime routine, set a limit for myself (something insane like 2 hours!!), tell her we love her, put on soft music, and put her down.  She has cried from 30 seconds to 5 mins each time and goes to sleep after that, and a couple times was easily put down already asleep. 


Just having a time limit has helped me tremendously.  I have felt for so long that this could go on all night, I could be attempting to de-latch her and put her down in vain for hours and hours and hours and get nothing to eat or do nothing I need to do or see my dh.  Just knowing that there WILL be an end point helps me handle this better mentally.


We haven't attempted to change anything with night wakings yet, but they haven't been terrible this week and I think the bedtime put-down is enough of a big change for now.


Thanks again for your encouragement!

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#6 of 7 Old 06-07-2011, 06:55 PM
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I was there with my son. It is so difficult.  Your baby is old enough to understand even if not verbal. So the crying it out imo is different than doing it with a baby. Am I making sense?? I night weaned my 2 yr old saying that the "ninnies" were sleeping. After a while he got it. So, explaining that it's bedtime and that you are leaving the room but will be right there is something she can understand. My son was comforted when I said things like " I am going to wash dishes and then I will come back" and I did. Finally, I would come back to a sleeping baby.

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#7 of 7 Old 06-07-2011, 07:24 PM
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Would it be possible for you and both your little ones to be tested for adrenal issues?
You mention sleep issues for yourself, and that makes me think that you have adrenal issues that you have passed on to your little ones.
When a mama is deficient, she will draw cortisol from her babies during pregnancy, thus depleting their cortisol and depressing their adrenals all at once.
It takes time and good help from an understanding dr, but you can recover sufficient function to begin sleeping better.

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