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The Great Sleep Dilemma

I have found in the past that when I’m feeling at my wit’s end about something – no matter how big or small – writing about it helps. It helps me release the tension and emotions surrounding my issue. Sometimes it helps me organize my thoughts and discover a solution that I just couldn’t see otherwise. Or, as is the case when I blog it, I might get some needed advice, support, and/or encouragement from you. I also hope that this may reach other new mamas who are dealing with a similar situation.

I love my daughter dearly, I really do. But the sleep situation we’ve been working with up until now… well, it’s not quite working anymore.

Before I get into it, just a friendly reminder that everyone’s situation is different and what works for one doesn’t work for another… and sometimes the least desirable option in one’s mind is what ends up being done to ensure one can minimally function. I welcome your thoughts and experiences; your tips and suggestions. I do not welcome negativity aimed at me or another reader. What I’m about to share is quite personal and emotional for me. I’m already hard enough on myself for feeling frustrated and at a loss with a dose of guilt on top of that for feeling frustrated.

Telling me I shouldn’t have gotten myself into this situation is not helpful. And frankly, too late. What I seek now is a way to make changes we’re comfortable with and move forward, not be told that ‘this, that, and the other thing’ should have been done months ago. Generally speaking, no matter what one decides to do, things seem to be able to work out fine as long as baby is kept safe and basic needs are met. There is not only one “right” way to parent.

Thank you for understanding…now to my story…

Never Say Never

The first thing I’ve learned about becoming a parent is that I should never say never. Before getting pregnant and before giving birth, there were plenty of things I’d never dream of doing. I was so certain I’d never do these things. First off, I was never going to cosleep. I was convinced it was unsafe and inappropriate.

For the first couple weeks, Rissa would sleep anywhere, anytime. But then, it became impossible to lay her down. She’d wake up every.single.time. It didn’t matter how deep she was sleeping, swaddled or not…she had to be in someone’s arms. Of course, this started to make life very difficult. We all needed sleep, but she would cry and cry, looking terrified all the while, if we put her in the bassinet.

During the day it wasn’t so bad holding her…cuddling her…except  to go do anything that required two hands (like getting dressed. I couldn’t do that while holding her) meant passing her to someone else who could hold her. Most of the day there isn’t anyone else. We tried three different carriers. That only helped a little.

She refused to sleep in the swing. If she did sleep there it wasn’t long before she suddenly awoke, crying.

Eventually I started to cave, snoozing with her on my chest or next to me. I did everything I could to make this as safe as possible. And then, we all got sleep. I read more about cosleeping, learning about benefits and safety. I didn’t want to…but it was the only thing that worked.

She very quickly became a champ at sleeping through the night. The only catch was I either had to go down when she did, or hold her until it was time for my bedtime (plus holding her for all naps throughout the day).

What Now?

She still sleeps very well at night – as long as she’s near me. I’m not frustrated about that. It’s the lap naps and inability to put her down to sleep. I can’t stand the thought of letting her cry it out. Along our journey I discovered some of my natural/attachment parenting tendencies. I’m starting to feel like it’s my only choice, but I know it won’t work for us. My gawd she gets so worked up in a matter of minutes when I run down to switch laundry loads!

I’m trying to read the “No-Cry Sleep Solution.”  That’s kind of a catch-22. I need time away to read it and actually comprehend it, but I can’t do that unless I figure out how to solve this issue…which is why I bought the book…

From what I read, it doesn’t feel helpful. She sleeps through the night. I just need to get her out of my arms at least for naps! She has slept other places. Sometimes in the swing and during car rides. There were a few other times she would drift off in her infant chair or bassinet, but it’s mostly me putting her to sleep. Rocking, swaying, singing, humming, silence, white noise, nursing, with pacifier…we’ve done it all, it seems.

When she was smaller it was one thing, but now she’s two feet long – practically half my height! And her sleep in my arms is getting more restless (probably because it is less comfortable), but if I put her down…bam! Wide awake and/or crying. Cranky fussy crying or the “how could you leave me?” whimpering wail.

On the one hand it is sweet that she wants/needs me so much. I definitely understood this as a need when she was a newborn, but now she’s about five months old. I’m literally with her 24/7 (minus a few here and there) and it is hindering my ability to get things done. I wouldn’t feel so stressed if that wasn’t the case. Plus her naps seem too short so she’s often fussy throughout the day. I hope transitioning her naps to her crib will help her nap longer…if I can figure out how to do it.

Stacie L

Wednesday 30th of March 2011

Ugh I feel your pain. That is why we co-slept with both our boys until they were 3 and 4! UGH! I was so happy to finally get my bed back, then along came Addie. LOL! I was bound and determined NOT to make the same mistakes (although not mistakes cause I LOVE cosleeping) with her. Of course it was easier as you said to just cosleep with her. Being a nursing mom and needing sleep I found cosleeping the best option. This time however things were a bit different. I work only 2 nights a week 11pm-7am shift. My hubby wasnt comfortable having her in bed with him while I wasn't there; plus she only wanted to be by me. So out of need he put her in her crib! She cried some but eventually she just got used to it and now finally prefers her crib! It amazes me every single time that I put her in there for bed that I have a child who sleeps in their own bed! LOL! Seriously, people look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them she doesn't sleep with me; that's how common it was for us! LOL!! Anyways, all this to say just go with your gut. Maybe start out with laying her in her crib for naps. She will probably fuss, but just go in and shhhhsshhh her and tell her it is ok and mommy is here. It won't work overnight, and I know hearing her cry sucks. But remember, her crying isn't hurting her:) It is making you feel horrible yes, and it is no fun to listen to, but seriously if you stick with it even just for naps she will learn that the crib isn't so bad. Oh we went out and bought one of those sleep things that has lights and music: I love this thing. Addie knows when she is in her crib and this is on it is night night time. She loves it too. I even have caught her turning it on by herself in the mornings when she wakes up! LOL! Good luck, I know it is hard but she will eventually figure it out. And keep reminding yourself that right now it seems like it will never end but it really does end all too quickly and soon. {HUGS}

Leslie T

Tuesday 29th of March 2011

I wish I had advice or a story, but I have none. I can offer a big ((HUG)) from one mom to another....and best wishes on getting some baby free time