I am a very tired mama of two - DS is 3 years old and sleeps well and DD is 6 months and is awake every 1-2 hours. DS slept poorly for the first 2 years of his life, but I continually nursed him back to sleep, reasoning that
"this too shall pass" and that I could sleep when the baby slept. This time around I'm struggling. As much as I'd like to say the same, I'm feeling torn, as DD needs me to be with her to sleep, wakes frequently, and has trouble settling - but I can't just catch up by sleeping when she sleeps as I need to keep up with her brother through the day. I also want to be able to enjoy DS and I find myself more and more irritable and grumpy with him, sometimes snapping over minor things and I can recognize it's just exhaustion. I babywear extensively, but DD will not settle anymore in the carrier with her brother around, unless we're actively walking, which with a 3 year old, we often have to stop on our walks to look at ants or play on a slide etc. She'll wake up right away. And wake up once we walk in the house too. And for sleeping in bed, we've tried white noise and swaddling. Last night I had to nurse her for over an hour before I could sneak away. She nurses actively for about 5 minutes, falls asleep, but as soon as the nipple is removed, she stirs and wakes up. So I kept nursing, while keeping an ear out for her brother who should have been asleep but wasn't - and was nervous the whole time about what he may be getting into (he is an extremely curious little guy!). So it doesn't feel right to stay with her and not alert to him, but it also doesn't work to get up from her and have her sleep deprived and grumpy!
So, I'm starting to consider sleep training options, and I feel guilty about that. I don't want DD to cry, but I wonder if I should move her out of my bed (we have co-slept since birth, and did so with DS for 2 years) or try not nursing her to sleep (I don't even know how to do otherwise) or what to do! I would just deal with it, but it's hurting DS too for me to be so tired, that it's something we need to change. Has anyone faced a similar situation? It seems all the advice regarding sleep coming from attachment parenting sources is much easier when it's just one child! I don't have the means to get extra help in the day to catch up on sleep. Help me think through how I can help the family.
Lots of hugs, sleep deprivation in really tough. Both my kids were horrible sleepers. Tthere was one night that by the time we got them both to bed asleep at the same time it was 5am. Is there any way that your husband could help you out at night or let you get a few hours sleep in the evening to catch up? My youngest was like your DD, getting up all the time at night. I did try sleep training with her and it just made me more anxious and she cried more, so I gave it up very quickly. The only thing that worked for me was sleeping with her. She also did have a lot of ear infections that caused a lot of her sleep problems.
Mommy to Nora 2/19/08 and Valerie 10/19/09
My best advice is to do whatever it takes to get the 6 month old to get enough nap time in. This will make her sleep in longer stretches at night. With my last child,I had to rock him for 3 hours every day to keep him sleeping, but it was worth it when night came!
I can appreciate how it feels to be sleep deprived. DD (now 3) was a terrible sleeper. She didn't start being able to sleep independently (consistently) until 2.5. Even now, her preference is always to sleep with myself and DH.
I totally agree that when you have a challenging sleeper, it's easier when they are your only. DS is 1 month old and at the moment prefers to sleep with/ on me.
A suggestion that I use when I'm totally exhausted is to let DD use our iPad with headphones and watch a few of the shows she likes. She will happily prop herself up on pillows on my bed and watch her programs while I catch a little sleep/rest with DS beside her.
I know some people may not like that idea but for me it was better than being grumpy and short tempered with her simply due to my being tired.
Not sure if a similar set-up is an idea for you.
Good luck, I can empathize completely!