Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sleeping Through The Night

I've been had.

I was promised a child who would sleep through the night at about four months, and instead I have a little boy who is becoming increasingly proficient at kicking his mama in his sleep, which lasts about 5-6 hours tops.  When I look this phenomenon up in the baby books, I find that sleeping 5-6 hours at night IS sleeping through the night.  I feel as if I've been sold a bill of goods.

Coupled with this is the fact that LO has decided that the world is far too interesting for him to waste time on such things as naps.  Where I could once count on a two to four hour stretch of napping in the middle of the day, I instead have an overstimulated, red-eyed child teetering on the ragged edge of too-tired hysteria.  He still naps when he eats, so I know he's getting at least a solid 20 minutes of sleep once every three hours.  I think I read that's how much sleep is optimal for a really successful meltdown.

I, meanwhile, have started having really detailed fantasies about checking into a hotel where I will be able to sleep for 12 hours straight.  I can tell you what kind of chocolate is on the pillow, the thread count of the sheets, how the wall is painted, and what nightgown I'd be wearing.  What I can't describe is the sleep, because I simply can't remember.  That's what makes this a fantasy.

The problem is that the lack of sleep has resulted in a patience-ectomy.  I've never been one known for her patience.  I'm an instant gratification kind of gal.  And now what little patience I started with seems to have been scooped out with a melon baller.  There are decorative edges of it left, but the meat of it has been scooped into a fruit salad.  (Along with my ability to create an extended metaphor).

Generally, the member of our little family most likely to see me lose my patience is the poor dog.  Obie cannot help the fact that I am a cat person and he is a dog.  He cannot help the fact that he thinks I am the bees' knees and likes to follow me around the house, even if that just means we make a ridiculous loop around the bed.  I try hard not to say things like "Don't breathe so loud!" to the dog, but even when I do, he's back to following me and leaning on me with love in every fiber of his greyhound being.  I guess that's why people like dogs.  Usually you'd have to join an organized religion to get that kind of forgiveness.

This morning scooped the last little bit of patience out of me.  It's a good thing I'm breastfeeding or else J and LO might have been tempted to leave me.  (I paid attention to that old career advice about making yourself indispensable).  It was another successful night of "sleeping through the night," and I brought LO downstairs around 8 am, knowing that if I did not get some quality sleep pronto, bad things would happen.  LO at first seemed amenable to napping in his swing, and I stretched out on the couch.  I was in the midst of telling my fantasy hotel manager that I had no need of a wake up call when LO began to fuss.  Fussing turned to crying, which turned to screaming, while we went through the baby diagnostic checklist.  The child was clean, dry, not hungry, gas free, warm, etc, etc.  J put him back in the swing, determined to let him cry it out, while I attempted to get the Ritz's manager back on the phone.  No dice. Several anguished, tearful minutes later, during which the sobs got progressively louder, J suggested I might want to stop crying before I frightened the baby.

It was determined the only remedy would be for me to take a bath and read a trashy novel.  While that does not replace sleep, it certainly does fill in some of the ragged patience holes.  Once this plan of action was decided upon, LO suddenly fell quiet, and, glory of glories, fell asleep.  I think he couldn't let himself rest until he knew I would get some relaxation.

I emerged from my submersion with a renewed sense of optimism and regard for humanity and caninity. J and I have agreed that once I have enough expressed milk stored up, he'll take a full night's duty so that I can get a complete night's sleep.  It may not be the Ritz, but it still sounds heavenly.  No Egyptian sheets required.


  1. Oh I remember this feeling all too well. The zombie-like nature of early parenthood is precisely why I will not have another baby.

  2. "I find that sleeping 5-6 hours at night IS sleeping through the night"...I remember reading that in one of my baby books and shouting BULLSHIT out loud. On what planet?

  3. Ahh, the 4 month slep regression. It SUCKS, huh? Happens to all of them, though.

    Seriously, go get Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It'll tell you how to get him into a positive nap routine. At 4 monthsis is when the morning nap develops: he should be going down for a nap no later than 2 hours after he wakes up (so 8:30-9am). Then he needs a long afternoon nap, and a short late afternoon nap, and you want to put him down for the night between 6:30 and 7. When he wakes up between bedtime and waketime (7am), just feed and change if necessary and put right back to bed.

    He's still in the 2 hour rule age: he shouldn't be awake for more than a 2 hour stretch.

    Don't argue, just trust me. It'll work. Nothing prevents the 4 month sleep regression, though.

  4. Megan, you've steered me right so far, so I'll happily trust you. I read through HSH,HC a couple of months ago, but it was a copy borrowed from the library and I'm having more trouble retaining things I read (sleeplessness, natch). I need to just go buy my own copy.

    The 2 hour rule is the one non-negotiable in our house so far. It's done a lot of good things for us. I'm also trying to start a consistent bedtime routine. Prior to now, we've just kind of been winging it at night based on when LO is sleepy. Thanks for the advice!