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Freelance Mama III

First of all I need to preface this post with the fact that I am coming from a very dark place. A place not a lot of mothers feel comfortable or sane - the no-sleep-battlefield. It is a war zone in my house and I feel like I'm always losing. OK OK, enough of the drama! Here is how it goes down (and how it has been going down for the last 13 months, 3 weeks and 2 days) - Henry is not a sleeper. Never has been. Poeple tell me he will be someday, but I don't beleive them. I am writing this post for all of those other moms out there, and I know you exist, that have sweet angel babies who hate sleeping. For those moms who feel like the walls are caving in because they can't function on this little of sleep let alone calmly and peacefully train their baby to sleep. 

Up until recently I was under the false pretense that I could get most of my work done during naps and after bedtime. It has been stressful to say the least. I have since hired a baby sitter to come 1 to 2 afternoons a week and worked out a schedule with Conor to take him Wednesday afternoons. Hiring a babysitter is another Freelance Mama post in and of itself which I can't wait to talk about later. But back to the subject at hand: my anti-sleep baby. I have been so jealous of other mothers who tell me that their babies take 2 and 3 hours naps since Henry was born. It would sure make my life so much easier! For the first few months of his life I just kept waiting for him to turn in to that kind of baby. He never did. So, I got creative and read a lot of books. On a good day I could get Henry to take two thirty minute naps. And then his nights were wonky- waking up 2 to 3 times. My whole life has been consumed with his sleep habits for over a year now.

It is common knowledge that sleep deprivation makes a person crazy. Grumpy. Not themselves. Well what you may not know is that when a mother hears her baby crying it makes her even crazier. At least it did me. I physically can not stand to hear Henry cry. I would do anything to make it stop, comfort him, make his life happy again. My blood starts to boil when he cries in the car. Not becuase I am mad at him, No! I am mad at the car, the traffic, the traffic lights, the clock. Anything that exists in that moment is against me and my son and I want to destroy it all in the name of making my son happy again. Is this normal? Probably. 

Cry it out? Now there's another sore subject. I vowed to never let my baby cry it out before Henry was born. I used Babywise as a door stop and threw it out the second I didn't need a door stop anymore. But after months of waiting for Henry to turn in to the kind of baby that slept in my arms, or even fell asleep nursing, or would be rocked for an hour and then fall asleep I finally tried just letting him sleep on his own. He went to sleep just fine at night. If he could talk I think he would have said, "Oh bless you mother for placing me in this sweet little crib filled with fluffy friends and this beautiful quilt you made for me! I love you so much! I am going to roll over and go to sleep now! Thanks for everything!" But for naps I think he would have said something a little more like, "$#%$ $#%*!! You little $%%*!! I never $@$%*# want to see your *%#@% face again!" It hurt. Imagine a grown women literally tearing at her hair and crying her eyes out at the foot of her baby's door. That was me. 

Some weeks have been better than others. Sometimes Henry goes to sleep after nursing or being rocked for an hour or being walked in his stroller for an hour... and sometimes I am just more patient and can deal with the tantrums. Other weeks (like this one in particular) are so much harder. I feel like cursing the heavens! and I am convinced I am the worst mother in the world. We haven't really found a great method. 

You are probably wondering what the whole point of this post is. Yeah me too! I just know that when I find other moms who have similar experiences and can relate I feel so much better about myself and Henry. I love when other moms tell me about their similar experiences and then tell me how smart and brilliant and entertaining their now 2 year old is. I want to say YES!!! I know he is so smart! I know he is just going to be the funniest, most determined little guy ever! But it really is nice to hear that I am not alone and I'm not crazy and I'm not failing! So if you are fighting this no-sleep battle too just know you're not alone! Your little one is still just as awesome as those little ones that do sleep. This wont last forever. And when you think of how fast it really flies by you kinda start to think you can handle it. 

PS I feel really Benjamin Button about that photo up there. Wheeling Henry around in his "wheel chair" is a favorite past time on those sleepless days. 

Reader Comments (15)

Oy. I go crazy when my cats keep me awake! Not sure how I'll do when I have sleepless children. Best of luck with your little one! Like you said..."this won't last forever". ; )

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

Sad to hear his sleeping hasn't gotten any better. But at least you have pretty much the cutest kid alive who we love SOOO much!! Miss you guys like crazy!

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErin Humphries

You are not alone. My little boy (he is 9 months old) is not a sleeper either. I feel like I am the only mama out there that has a non sleeping baby...so thank you for posting your struggle. I am right there with you. I am hoping that one day my little boy and Henry will sleep. I feel so guilty when I get so tired and frustrated....I am never mad at my sweet little boy but the tiredness just takes over. I guess working all day doesnt help that either...

I hope Henry get the hang of sleeping soon :)

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkit

That is the precise reason why I CANNOT have another child. When people ask me the hardest thing about having a baby, it wasn't the emergency c-section, or the troubles breastfeeding, or the weight gain...it was the lack of sleep! I think I could deal with all of those things again if I knew I would get a good night sleep and at least one good nap in a day.

We tried everything as well. I think it just depends on the child. My first born didn't sleep through the night until after she turned one and we got her a "big girl bed". I think she just hated the crib. My youngest got the luxury of my trauma from his older sister and got to sleep in our bed a lot...and it's 5 years later and he still doesn't want to leave. But man, does he love his mamma.

It will get better, I just wish I could give you a date of when that will happen. I think the "will this ever end??" feeing is super overwhelming. And you're right, no one understands unless they've gone through it.

You will get there. Keep going.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChelsey

I know!! I know!!! I know that place you are coming from - I visit there, too. I hate it and I have to choose to listen to other, positive voices. I have to fight this battle in my head over and over again - the one that makes me feel guilty, like I do nothing right, etc, etc. Axton has been sleeping better at night, but lately has only been taking half hour naps, too. It's the pits and so frustrating, but he wakes up with the hugest grin on his face, ready to go again and I hate being mad for something as silly as "30 minutes?@?@!! that's it?!@?@?"

Sigh. What can you do, right?

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan Harrison

Jane, I know exactly what you're talking about. My eldest son is 2.5 years old. Till he was about your Henry's age he was a short napper and intermittent nighttime sleeper. He always had to be rocked or breastfed to sleep – never settled on his own. We started getting our evenings back once he could self-administer a bottle of milk. These days he's an epic napper (2–3 hours if we let him), however, if he naps during the day, we're struggling to get him to go to bed by 9 – 9:30pm. He's also not a guaranteed sleep-through either – if he wakes during the night, he demands more milk and one of us has to stay with him till he's asleep again.
My youngest son is 5 months. He rarely self-settles, has 40 minute naps and is currently waking 3 times a night. I'm feeling quite mental! (And eating ridiculous amounts of sugary treats.)

I can't offer any solutions, but offer my solidarity and hope that Henry turns his sleeping habits around for you soon!

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJosephine

My son would hardly ever take naps as well. All of my friends would have kids that napped in the day but I just could not get mine to do so. A lot of kids just will not! If I ever wanted to get sleep I just had to force myself to sleep when he does early and get up early or else I just would not get any. My son is now 5 and hes tamed down a bot since he turned 4 before that my life was a nightmare. So just hang in there it does get a bit better.

So you have a swing for him? I had the FIsher Pricer rainforest one and my son really liked that and it would put him to sleep a lot of times.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoor

Oh my gosh, I'm SO THERE. My son, Hobbes, is 8 months and we've just started doing some gentle sleep training (RIE method? Whatever. Doesn't really matter.). I actually got 7 hours of sleep last night. It was amazing! But I have four friends who had babies just after me that are SO mellow and so sleepy. All the time. Their kids have slept through the night since being only a few weeks old and take epic naps multiple times a day. I can't. I just want to throw things when I hear about this. And, of course, I think they silently assume I'm doing something wrong since Hobbes doesn't nap well and hasn't (in the past) slept through the night. It doesn't help that he's going to daycare three days a week and rarely naps there AT ALL. Talk about an unhappy, overtired baby. The guilt over that is excruciating, especially because then he's so stressed he doesn't sleep well at night either. Ugh. Anyway, I hear you. I feel your pain. It has to get better at some point. It must!

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea B.

So sorry to hear this! I just had my second and know how hard it is to be without sleep or a break in the day! The clock watching can be tough, too. Psalm 23:1-3 always helps me when I'm up at night so wishing to be sleeping.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

I just came across your blog, but I felt strongly compelled to comment. I feel for you. I really do. My first son did not sleep through the night consistently until a week before his brother was born--he was two and a half. We tried EVERYTHING. Everyone had suggestions and opinions and I felt like I was doing it all wrong. Hearing "he'll sleep through the night at 6 months, " then, '9 months," then "he'll definitely sleep when he's a year!" also drove me insane because he would reach that age and nothing would be better. No light at the end of the tunnel. His first year was a total blur of stress and sleep-deprived depression. When it finally clicked for him, it was HEAVENLY. I had become convinced he'd go to college without sleeping through the night! It WILL happen for you and Henry too, and it will feel amazing.

Now, my second son, who I feared would be a repeat sleep disaster, was the easiest baby ever and has slept well since four months. I never, ever take it for granted!

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Oh gosh, sleep.

My 7.5 mth old has had a completely different pattern but no less irritating.

He used to be a great sleeper even though it would take him a really long time to fall asleep (didn't get to sleep until 11:30pm but would sleep till 5am and the feed and go back down till 8:30) after a round of colds this fall and teething he has totally lost the ability to settle at night. We have him on a routine of getting to sleep after a bath, books and some singing/rocking to sleep but he doesn't stay asleep for more than a couple of hours at a time which makes me bring him into bed in the wee hours and then he wants to nurse all night in his sleep.

The constant interruptions are killing me and they make me feel hung over the next day.
He naps okay but only if I say with him, otherwise he wakes up in forty min which is not enough for him.

I thought it was a growth spurt but it's gone on for a couple months and I just don't know what to do.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMF Miller

my girlie who is now 3 1/2 never took naps. I felt crazy at time working so hard for a nap at leat a hour and would get 45 minutes, tops! it was a challenge but she was relatively good at night and thought i'd rather sleep then :) she has quiet time in room everyday for at least one hour, i read a story, turn down the lights but once i'm gone she has permission to turn the light on and play with her toys until i come and get her. we now have a 6 week old so we'll see how things go! good luck :)

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermj

oh goodness, I so know how you feel. I too work from home and those naps are like gold to get stuff done. My little guy (9 mo) is a terrible napper. I never know what I can count on... so I get really frustrated when it's only a 30 min nap. His naps are so unreliable. I told my pediatrician the other day that I was having a really hard time getting him on a good nap schedule and he just said don't worry about it. He said his babies don't have nap schedules. They nap in the car, the stroller, running errands, sometimes none, but they don't stress about the schedule. I was so grateful for those words. Now I just let him nap when he wants and then if he doesn't have a good nap I try not to stress about it and it has helped so much. And the good thing from this... his night sleeping has gotten better. I think maybe because he is more sleepy and the idea of laying down isn't traumatic?? who knows, but I'm grateful.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

You are not alone. I have two beautiful daughters under the age of 3 that I adore and would do anything for. They weren't sleepers. It is literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. In fact I questioned why we went ahead in trying for a second child after going through it once. I am not myself. I am fearful. When either of them would cry in the night fear would strike through me. It is so "normal" to feel how your feeling. Women don't talk about this or other issues (i.e breast-feeding problems etc) because we want the image that we have it all together and that it all comes naturally. I'm here to say that yes, both my girls now sleep through the night. No book or solution will solve it. But when he's ready to sleep, he will. Just love on that baby all day (and night) long and then inflict massive guilt on him as he grows up for all these sleepless nights.....Hoping the best for sweet baby Henry to be a sleeper! Claim it!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTabitha

I am so glad I found your blog and this post. I wish I had read something like this a few years ago with my son Cooper. He is now 4. Same exact story. He hated to sleep. Hated it. Naps were always just 30 mins. Unless I could nurse him back to sleep right at the wake up mark, or take him for an hour long walk in the stroller to sleep. I hate to say it, but he still is a terrible sleeper. It was wonderful when he stopped needing a nap in the day. I would just put him to bed at 7 and he would be exhausted. It used to take me at least an hour every night to get him to sleep, but now, since he was about 3, he is so worn out, he passes out. But, he still wakes up in the night crying around 1 or so every night and so then I run and get into bed with him. I finally started sleeping with my husband again this year. We now have a 1 year old daughter. I always thought I 'messed" Cooper up with his sleep. But honestly, it must be genetics. Lily loves to sleep. I didn't think I could handle a second child, but now I think I could handle even a third. Having a sleeper is SOOOO much easier. I love Cooper more than anything in this world, but man on man, I wish he would sleep! It is nightmares these days. I think he has a lot of anxiety issues like his father and that plays into. Not sure. All I know is I am totally happy to hear others can empathize!

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

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