Thursday, August 04, 2005

You Can't Handle the Truth

This morning I had an appointment with Jack's pediatrician. I brought Jack along, but I knew it wasn't about him. The problem is that my boy doesn't like to eat or sleep. He still wakes every 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the night, has only 45-60 minute naps, and has only 5 minute feeds. Jack has gained a pound in 3 weeks, so he must be getting enough. Actually, he checked out just fine. Then the doctor turned his attention to me, and I had trouble keeping it together. You see, it was never about Jack, but was all about me all along.

It could be that Jack's temperament is just a little more active. Probably is. And maybe his heart meds could have a contributing factor. Maybe, but their main side effect is sleepiness as made most evident by the warning label stating that he not take that medicine and then drive or operate heavy machinery. Janie was such a contented and good baby, that I had all sorts of slack. She slept, she ate, she never cried. She was pleasant and happy in the morning and evening. I figured that I knew what I was doing. That I must be a good mother to have such a happy baby.

With Jack, I doubt and question everything I do. Although things may have worked fine with Janie, with Jack they don't. I have no slack. It's all new again. Like I don't have any experience being a mother. Everything I thought I knew is gone. My tricks don't work. If he could, he would laugh at my attempts.

So, based on the doctor's strong recommendation and what I always knew I had to do but just couldn't do it, tonight he will be moved out of my bed and into his own room. "He does have a room, right?" asked the pediatrician. "Oh, yes. A beautiful nursery. Of course he just hasn't spent much time in there." Not yet anyway. But, tonight he will sleep in there for the whole night.

The question now lingers over the bed in there. Jack will sleep in his crib. Will I sleep in the bed in his room or in my own room? My friend laughed at this question. "Pazel, the idea was not to move him just for you to follow. But to move him and separate you two so that he can learn to sleep and you don't jump up at his every sound." I know, I know. I get it. But dragging myself down the hall every 2 hours does not seem like the right way to get extra rest.

When Janie (see, the comparisons continue, poor little kid) transitioned from the bed to the crib, it was at 3 months, and it was easy. No fuss at all. And we did it because she was sleeping so well. We didn't institute CIO until she was 7 months and clearly didn't need a night feed anymore. Now with Jack at only 4 months, I could let him fuss and cry a little, but I can't imagine CIO, not even for 30 minutes. I just can't. He may be hungry. What about his heart? And I don't think I can stay away.

Over the weekend, I tried to sleep in the other room away from Jack, with Jack and Matt sleeping together. It lasted an hour. I couldn't take it. I knew he would be reaching for me, be wanting to cuddle and to nurse, and was upset that I wouldn't be there for him. I had gone away to get some rest, but it was impossible because of my own defeating thoughts.

Last night, I tried to work on my computer for a bit outside of the bedroom. Jack was sleeping in my bed. He woke up at one point crying and very upset. When I went to him, he wasn't hungry, he just wanted me to pat his back and know I was there. And I felt horrible for having not been there. I decided then that he didn't need to be transitioned until probably a month after his surgery. December. Maybe January. I could sacrafice my sleep for him. He'll only be a baby once.

But, you see, this is the problem. I coddle him. Sure he's only a 4 month old baby, but he doesn't know how to soothe himself or get himself back to sleep, and he should. And he needs this skill, and I need him to get that skill or I won't be getting any sleep. See, the rational mind tells me that this is the answer. Then the irrational heart refuses to hear it. She puts her hands over her ears, closes her eyes, and starts saying over and over "but he needs me. I know he needs me." And due to this stubbornness and guilt, I turn into a sleepless zombie with a cranky baby unable to enjoy his babyhood, having to make an appointment with his pediatrician to hear the obviousness of it all.

So okay, it has to get better. I have to try for both of us before I lose my mind. I need to sleep. Really. Really. What's the worst that could happen? No, really. What is the worst?

6 Comments:

Blogger TexasMama said...

My son was exactly like yours. He woke many many times a night and wanted to know I was there. He didn't sleep well in bed with me, so until he was 5 months old he was in a co-sleeper by the bed. He nursed for a few short minutes, I patted and sang. It was hard.

I moved him to his own room at 5 months. He still woke often, the absolute worst was around 9 months when he rarely slept more than 1.5 hours at a time, often less. I put a bed next to his crib so I could rest with him.

At 18 months, I was finally able to nightwean him. He'd strenuously resisted several earlier attempts. And despite everyone's reassurance that that would make him sleep, he continued to wake regularly. At 20 months he began to sleep long stretches, then he got sick and regressed to waking at least 2x a night, sometimes staying awake for a few hours.

Now at 26 months, he sleeps through the night almost every night. Granted his "night" is NEVER more than 10 hours and often less than 9, but I will take it. We tried many strategies to get him to sleep better, sending my husband or mother in instead of me, laying down to go to sleep instead of rocking, earlier bedtimes, later bed times. The only thing we never did was CIO.

So my guess is, that is about as bad as it can get. You can keep him in your room and in your bed if you want, as long as you want, and he will still eventually learn to sleep on his own. It seems it's usually somewhere between 2 and 3 years old. The question is can you function waking up at night for that long. I seriously questioned my ability to cope many times, but I made it through, and I do not regret my decision. I work for myself, though, and have very little pressure.

But whatever decision you make, I think your are right to wait until after his surgery. He is still a baby and he does need you. But he also needs a mama that can function and not be miserable, so you have to weigh the situation.

Good Luck to you, I hope he sleeps better soon. I know that wasn't terrible helpful, but my experience is all I have to offer.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous amy said...

I have the same feelings about my son, who at 9 months (5 months adjusted) still sleeps in the bed with us. I feel like he needs me, and because he was in the NICU and without me for so long I want to be there for him. The NICU experience can be hard and have long lasting effects. I don't want to give advice, but I do want you to know that you are a wonderful mother who loves her children - take the time you need to recover from what you have been through. Please know that our little family is sending you lots of love and hope of sleep!

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I'm sure the last thing you really need is unsolicited advice, but you sound so tired and I'm still going through rough sleep periods so I feel the need to at least try to help. So here's what worked for us, take it or leave it. At about 3 months we started doing a partial co-sleeping thing: Carrie would start the night out in her crib and the first time she woke up after we went to bed I would bring her to bed and she'd spend the rest of the night there.

Turns out within a month or maybe 6 weeks she learned to sleep better in her crib (more flopping about room) than next to me and I couldn't bring her to bed and expect her to sleep anymore - after all, Mommy and Daddy are great playmates any time of day or night. I'm a little sad about that but I do enjoy being able to move about when sleeping without fear of squashing her now.

Oh, and we started with naptimes a week or so before this (most naps were taken in my arms up until then) so she'd get used to sleeping and waking up in her crib.

Now at 9 months we don't do CIO, but I don't jump every time I hear her until I've given her a few (like 5) minutes to settle back down. Sometimes she'll go back to sleep, other times I go in and she's frantically signing milk or obviously needs a diaper change. Sometimes she'll sleep through from 8 until 7! Sometimes she wakes for no reason at all at 2 and won't go back to sleep for a couple of hours. So it doesn't always work that I get all that much sleep anyway.

That being said, trust your heart. If you're not ready, don't move him. And don't let anyone pressure you to either. I just flat out lied about Carrie sleeping in her crib all night to anyone who inquired.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Meh said...

Don't ask me, I suck at the sleeping thing. Just wanted to send you lots of love
xxx

11:15 AM  
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