Baby Sleep Woes

When Ruth was a baby, my husband and I would wonder what all the fuss about sleep deprivation and babies was about. She was already sleeping five hours a night when we brought her home from the hospital. She was sleeping eight hours by two months, and twelve by four months. “We are the best parents ever!”, we congratulated ourselves. “All of those parents that don’t sleep at night must be doing something wrong,” we smugly opined.

Then, Rose was born. She wouldn’t sleep for more than three hours at a time until she was four months old. Our faith in our parenting abilities was shaken. That was the longest four months of my life. Until Wren was born.

Wren is now five months old. She does not sleep through the night. And I am a suboptimal mother when I am sleep deprived. I feel crazy and desperate. Like any crazy and desperate mother, I have stormed Google and Pinterest searching for answers. I have even crazily considered spending a fortune on some “sleep expert” to come train our baby to sleep at night. I have tried everything. I have coslept, I have used a bassinet, I have used a crib, I have cluster fed, I have bottle fed, I have fed her cereal, I have eaten gallons of oats, I have put her on a strict daytime schedule, I have fed her on demand, I have let her cry it out, I have nursed her to sleep, I have rocked and patted her to sleep, I have let her roll onto her stomach, I have let her roll onto her side, I have a sound machine, I have a paci, I have a strict bed time routine, I have driven myself crazy trying all the conflicting and contradictory advice from other moms and on the internet.

But she won’t sleep for a stretch longer than six hours at night, and six hours is a really good night. One or two nights, she has teased me with a eight to nine hour stretch, so I know she can do it. I know some of you moms go years without having more than a five hour night, and my hat is off to you. I have no idea how you do it. I’m guessing it involves lots of coffee. But my girls and I need our rest. We are very cranky and get sick easily when we are deprived of sleep. And I don’t really like drinking a ton of coffee while I am nursing. I don’t like accidentally passing out while I’m supposed to be taking care of the girls, either. (I kid, but it is a tempting thought).

To be honest, I really don’t blame babies for not wanting to sleep through the night. Due to the SIDS risk, dogs have more comfortable sleeping arrangements than babies. They have to sleep flat on their backs, with nothing at all that could possibly be construed as comfortable in their cribs, on a firm mattress. I mean, even prisoners get a small pillow and thin blanket for their pallets. But what are we as responsible parents going to do? The experts say if you try and make them more comfortable with cushiness and lovies, your precious child can die suddenly in her sleep! So, putting her to “sleep” on a gated, empty rock it is!

For now, I have thrown up the white flag. Whenever she gets up, I stagger to her crib and nurse her back to sleep. I keep a jug of water by my bed to keep from getting dehydrated. I feel like a complete failure.

So I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of you bleary eyed mamas out there. I was once that bright eyed and bushy tailed mother with the one well rested child, who was rolling my eyes at you and your sleep training folly. Never again, my friend. Never again. The next mom I see at the grocery store clutching her coffee thermos like it is her life’s essence and her children are all still in their pajamas, I am giving her a freaking fist bump. Because some things you will only understand if you’ve been there. I will pass along the words of wisdom my mother (who spent years of sleepless nights herself) gave to me: “this too shall pass.” Looking forward to when they are all teenagers. And I’m staying up all night making sure they don’t miss curfew. Is it time for grandchildren yet?20140701-232347-84227762.jpg


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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18 Responses to Baby Sleep Woes

  1. Pingback: How I night weaned Wren without “crying it out” | Tales from the Mommy Trenches

  2. morgan says:

    I started to wonder whether I’m a bad mom cause for me, three kids were totally enough. The lack of sleep really grated my nerves and usually around 8 a.m. I had my first meltdown – about the same moment when my kids realized themselves, that getting up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. was waaaayyy to early (“BIIIG surprise!!!”)
    But now that I read you article – if any of my kids had slept longer than 3hrs without waking up, maybe I’d had nerves for more than the three I have…


    • sylcell says:

      All of mine are different. If you do ever have another, it’s totally possible he/she is your kid that sleeps like an angel all night long and sleeps in! 😉


  3. Holly says:

    If only we could predict their routines better as well. Just when you get comfy thinking the frequent wakes up are over, their routine changes all over again. But we would miss those middle of the night snuggles once they are all grown up.


  4. Jessica says:

    I feel you! Joe is 15 months and I’m relieved to finally be getting some 6 hour stretches!! Coffee is my friend 🙂 And naps. Naptime is the best of times. The older two don’t nap, but they’ll sit nicely for a movie when I really need to sleep.


    • sylcell says:

      How is Joe 15 months already?!! I refuse to accept that. Ruth and Rose are still napping two hours like champs, thank God. That is the only thing that gets me through the day.


  5. Christine says:

    I’ve only experienced this a handful of nights and I practically lost it. I guess God knows I’m not strong enough for that, I hope you get some good nights sleep soon. Sleep deprivation is the worst kind of torture.


  6. Katy says:

    Oh, mama, I feel you. Our eldest daughter was a textbook sleeper, which we figured was thanks to being swaddled (she slept in a wrap blanket til 8 months, arms in til 4). But baby girl #2 was totally a snuggle baby, and would wake up twice a night just to get mummy time. We did give her a crocheted blanket as a comfort item (figured it was less likely to suffocate her), which helped a little. But man, every night, 1am and 4am. Wouldn’t settle without nursing. She finally started sleeping 12 hours straight at about 11 months, but still puts up a fight every nap and bedtime. I dread weaning her because I know bedtime will become a battle. But I need a break before baby #3 arrives in early 2015!


  7. My first was a great sleeper out the gate (every 3 hours at night then right back to sleep in his crib), until he was about 6 months old. Then we struggled until he was 11 months old with constant waking and screaming.. it was a nightmare, and I was already pregnant with my second when it started. I’ve accepted that sleeping well just may never be his “thing.” But as we neared the age of two, and he’s now three, it does get better all the time. His main issue was reflux, but it didn’t fix everything- he just DOES NOT like to sleep, let alone in his own bed. You may have a no napper by the age of one with her like I did with him!! (That was another huge help when the time came.) Best of luck mama.. I just discovered coffee before I became pregnant with the third, who has rejected even the taste of a half a cup 😉


  8. bakerwoman says:

    I wish it was my infant waking me up. No, at 530 this morning it was my 2yo. He has been a terrible sleeper since the day he was born.


  9. isabeeee says:

    I remember when my baby – JOOD was not sleeping due to colic. During the day i was totally wasted and went around looking like a zombie in a movie.


  10. I’m one of those mums with two reasonably good sleepers and I know it. I have the usual bad weeks when one (or both) is sick or teething, but really, I have it good…and I still feel like death warmed up in the morning. I have NO idea how other parents manage with real sleep deprivation. Hats off to you.

    And you’re right, before we know it, they’ll be teens and we’ll be desperate for tricks to get them out of bed before 2pm.


  11. Mo says:

    I hear ya on this one! My son was a perfect sleeper, our second not so much. I blame myself for cuddling her so much as a baby, since my son hated to be held. I think I over did it, and now we have a 2.5yo who hates bedtime and screams and cries for over an hour until falling asleep at 9:30 every night…I keep promising myself things will be different when this third baby pops out of me next month…but ya know what, some kids just don’t like sleep as much as others, so I should probably stop blaming myself so much, right? lol! and just drink a little more coffee to get through this short phase of our lives.


  12. Emily says:

    How I LOVE this! Ha! When baby number 4 gives me 6 hrs… Usually one of two kids has wet the bed or possibly the third has had a bad dream. I feel crazy half of the time and pray people forgive me for thoughtless behavior. 2 big mistakes most recently. Bleary eyed mom that I am posted a comment on one of our now grown up youth girls FB profile pic… Stating: “so awkward!” (I thought she was pulling her bikini top off in the picture that most thought was beautiful). Well the mother (most-likely menopausal) ripped me a new one about me seeking to bring her public shame by my comment and how she has struggled with her image for years… I apologized deleted my comments and explained to the girl what I thought. Mom, still isn’t talking to me. Then today, I ran a red light, blatantly, I didn’t see it. Wow! I drank a Pepsi after that one. Well, I will eventually recover from sleep deprivation in maybe 18 years, right?


    • sylcell says:

      It is nice to have something to blame my social faux pas on. That is a very good point. Before, when I had to stick my foot in my mouth I had absolutely no excuse, lol. (And your comment seems pretty benign to me, but I suppose teenagers tend to be sensitive. Can’t wait to be burned by that first hand in a few years!)


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